Reefer Madness (film #120 on Feature Films. Also, film #2 on disc #1 of Schlock Hysteria, section #10 of Total Movie & Entertainment free DVD set). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

This is the quintessential pseudo-documentary exploitation film, and it deserves it. A dope-pushing ring gets some nice teenagers hooked on marijuana, resulting in murder, suicide and permanent madness. This is actually somewhat more competently done than most of the films of its type, with a plot that actually moves and actors who can actually act a little bit, though scenery is chewed aplenty. It’s the supposed “educational” component of the film that is most laughable––it’s obvious the filmmakers knew nothing about marijuana, other than it was a bad, scary, evil substance that corrupts youth. Everybody, including the teenagers, smokes tobacco cigarettes in the film as a matter of course, so all the drug pushers have to do to get a nice high school girl like Mary to try one is to offer her a cigarette and give her a reefer, pretending it’s a regular one (and they all look indistinguishable from regular ones in the film). The effects of the drug vary with use, going from acting drunk (mild use), acting like you’re hopped up on speed (moderate use), to acting violently insane (heavy use). Everybody is immediately hooked the minute they smoke their first reefer, even though nobody inhales. Even when promoting this sort of misinformation, the film has to resort to a farfetched plot involving accidental murder to show consequences negative enough to justify the partying and sex scenes that were the real purpose of the film. This makes for quite an entertaining and campy film, though a rather predictable one as well, without the weirdness of films like Maniac or Assassin of Youth. Still, this is essential viewing for fans of the pseudo-educational exploitation genre.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.


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