I've decided to dedicate this month to drugsploitation and juvenile delinquency films. I've been sitting on a hoard of these for quite some time and in attempt to keep my hands off the horror movies until next month, these fiendishly silly exploits should keep me tide over. I started with Reefer Madness which I surprisingly held off this long without seeing. Upon finally having watched it, my prior disinterest was validified. In fact, it was probably the least entertaining of the triple feature. Although it is certainly entertaining watching kids take one puff of pot and start acting like it was laced with crack, heroin and lsd. Overall it was a bit boring and probably would have been more entertaining had I actually been high, which from what I've gathered from this film's fan base is exclusively how it should be viewed. How delightfully ironic and self defeating!
Which brings me to the second bill on the triple feature, Marihuana: the Devil's Weed! This one was less about Marihuana, more about avoiding bad guys with villainous moustaches. A group of carefree teens party at a dope peddler's house, the girl's decide to go skinny dipping (you see nipple! 1930's nipple!) one of the girl's drowns, because you know, you're supposed to wait 30 minutes after smoking marihuana. This event sparks a series of misfortunes for our female protagonists , somehow this is directly related to her leaving home, living in sin with her boyfriend, getting knocked up, him becoming a gangster thug to try and support her and her unborn child and getting himself killed in the process, she has her baby, gives it up for adoption and becomes a drug dealer. Actually, what made this movie different from the others I watched is that it actually was kind of depressing, completely unrealistic, but still just really negative and trashy. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, I guess that's what they were going for and probably achieved it more so than the others.
The final film in my triple feature was the most difficult to find the poster for. I watched it under the title "Marijuana Menace" , which I had never heard of, come to find out the reason is because it's more commonly known as "Assassin of Youth". Despite all three films being somewhat slow at times, this one kept me smiling through out the majority of the film. What makes this drugsploitation flick different from the others are it's great characters. Aside from the infamous piano playing Ralph (Dave O'brien) from Reefer Madness (who simply was NOT given enough screen time) and the moustache man from Marihuana none of the characters are very memorable. In Assassin of Youth, the bad kids are comically bad. Particularly in the opening scene when Ms. Frisbee (that's right, FRISBEE) falls off her bike and a group of teenagers cackle at her injury, HA! This set the tone for the whole movie. Ms. Frisbee was played by an actress named Fern Emmett, who looked like a cross between Margaret Hamilton and John Turturro. I enjoyed her so much as the gossiping small town spinster that I had to look her up and see what else she was in, I was surprised and impressed by her body of work. She was in over 200 low budget movies between 1930 and her death in 1946, making her a hero in my eyes! I'm making a special effort to see her 1939 film "Romance of the Potato", which is a contender for the most amazing title of all time.
I also really enjoyed Faye McKenzie who played Linda Clayton, the bad girl. Though maybe not the greatest actress to grace the silver screen, she embodied the essence of what the role needed, and really knew how to work that pretty face. I think the movie would have been better if it had just been Linda Clayton and Ms. Frisbee hurling insults at each other.
Alas, these are propaganda films. I think I deserve some kind of award for sitting through all three of these movies stone sober. Oh well...