Reefer Madness (Formerly Tell your Children), is a 1936 propaganda film on the dangers of marijuana. It focuses on some straight-laced high school students Bill, Jimmy and Mary, who are slowly tainted by the evils of ganja, and the sinful drug pushers that tempt the young innocents. The drug causes a hit-and-run, a rape, more than one death and all around debauchery (including some ill-advised dance moves).
When looking at this movie as it was intended (aka a serious cautionary tale), this is a terrible movie. A TERRIBLE movie. The writing is stale, the plot is predicable and the acting is sub-par. Let me put it this way; a gun goes off and the bullet hits someone. HOWEVER, it hits the character in the back, which is not physically possible from where the gun was shot! It blew my mind how terrible the direction was, even for a B-movie.
What really makes this a terrible movie is how badly it portrays pot use. While I am far from an advocate of marijuana, I can tell the normal side effects of the drug. The characters acted much more like they were on a combination of crack cocaine and alcohol. Honestly, the teens were WAY too energetic on the stuff. And I found it a little insulting that all of those pure, honest American teens smoked cigarettes and that’s all fine and good, but smoke pot and oh no!
Now, if you look at this film from an ironic point of view, it’s hilarious. It’s helped by Legend Film’s coloriziation of the movie. They have actually made the pot smoke various over-the-top colors, adding a little more silliness to an already ridiculous film. I would actually suggest watching it with Rifftrax commentary (by Mike T. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett of MST3K fame). I do NOT promote smoking pot while watching it, but I know that won’t stop some of you.
Overall: Hilarious if you forget it was supposed to be serious, pitiful if you remember.
.5 out of 5
(but 4 out of 5 with Rifftrax)