The Many Shades of Grey
Reefer Madness (1937)

This movie is just… stupid. It deals with the ever-growing threat of…. MARIHUANA! (and no, I didn’t just mispell marijuana. That’s how they spell it in the movie) Basically shaping how uneducated people view pot for generations to come, this movie was very big for it’s time, among anti-pot people and stoners alike. The movie was directed by Louis Gasnier and is chock-full of unknown actors. It was originally financed by a church group and called Tell Your Children. Sounds like a sweet little indie film, doesn’t it? Ooh, boy, just you wait.

The film starts out with a forward, which I guess movies did back then. Still, I had a big laugh thinking how this should be called Reefer Madness: The Audiobook. But I digress. The text, which scrowls from the bottom to the top of the screen a la Star Wars, we learn that public enemy number one of the 30’s wasn’t gang violence, bootleggers, or economic recession. No, its marijuana. Marijuana, of course, leads to uncontrollable laughter, overpowering sexual desires, horrid hallucinations, and sooner or later, it leads to permenant insanity. If you’re already laughing, then don’t worry; this is only the first three minutes of the damn film.

After the foreword, we are treated to a parent-teacher conference, led by the wormiest guys I’ve ever seen. At this meeting, we’re treated to gems like, “More vicious, more deadly, than these soul-destroying drugs, (cocaine and opium) is the menace of marijuana.” Sensing that the crowd’s BS detectors are going off, the wormy guy goes off into a tirade, while the scene fades out to the real movie.

Starting out, we see an apartment owned by Mae Collman and her lover, Jack. Jack is in the business of wheelin’ and dealin’ drugs to high school students, luring poor, unsuspecting children into his clutches… But anyway, as Mae is getting ready, Jack goes out to meet up with Ralph, who is by far the funniest person in this movie. More on that later. Jack spots our other main characters, Bill, Jimmy, and Jimmy’s sister, Mary. 

As Jack tries to smooth talk all three of them into coming with them to a party, the strong-willed teens refuse, except for Jimmy. Jimmy, aparently not noticing the devil-horns underneath both Jack’s and Ralph’s hair. Jack leads the two to the party, where we see our first horrible side-effect of smoking pot: Being awesome at the piano. As the party dies down, Jimmy is lead to ANOTHER party. Again, one of the monstrous side-effects of pot smoking: being invited to parties.

Fearing that the lesson they’re trying to teach is already falling apart, the movie decides to cut to Bill and Mary, studying for math. But, since any normal man knows that Shakespeare gets girls hot, Bill decides to read her some Romeo & Juliet. As they are mid-make out, the mother of Mary and Jim comes out to shoo horny Bill away. At Bill’s home, we see he lives a quaint life, with his younger brother, mother, and father. And why, movie, was this important?

The next day, Mary has lent Jim her car for the day while she shops. Jim takes Bill over to the bar, where they meet up with Ralph and Co. Ralph suggests that they head over to Mae’s house, for another party. Jeez, they have more parties than the Vegas Strip. When they get to Jack’s, Jack realizes he doesn’t have a lot of weed left for the party, and his car’s at the shop. Mae suggests to use Jim’s car to go get some more reefer. While Jack’s getting some reefer, he gives one to Jim, who lights up right away. As Jim drives, we can see even worse effects from weed, as it makes him drive speed demon’s speeds of 45 miles an hour, and cause a hit-and-run. Back at the party, we see Bill being peer pressured into taking his first puff! NO, BILLY! Think of your young, no-named brother! There’s also the first reason Ralph is the funniest character in this movie. He jsut starts laughing for no reason. True, the movie says that uncontrollable laughter happens, but still, it’s funny.

This movie is so full of subplots, I’m just going to describe a few of them really fast. The wormy guy is concerned about Bill’s declining school skills, the cops are looking for the hit-and-runner, which makes her want to look for Jim. Meanwhile, Bill’s at Mae’s house, getting his freak on with Ralph’s girl. Mary’s at Mae’s, where Ralph gets a little too frisky with Mary. Bill, who comes in thinking she’s giving herself up to Ralph, is understandably angry.

As Bill attacks Ralph in a drug-fueled rage, Jack comes in with a gun to knock him out. Bill, ever the quick little thing, gets into a fight with Jack who accidently shoots Mary, which begs the question as to why he chose to use a gun instead of something a little less… bullet-shooting. Also, if you look closely, you’ll notice that marijuana also dries up all your blood, because Mary isn’t bleeding out of her wound at all. Anyways, she dies. Jack, being the clever devil that he is, decides to frame Bill by putting his fingerprints on the gun. 

Bill is in deep doodoo as he is found guilty for manslaughter. Meanwhile, at Jack’s hideout, Ralph is spazzing out like never before, adding to the whole, he’s-funny-as-hell thing. While on a walk, Jack decides the best way to make Ralph calm down is by giving him a new smoke hole for his head. Ralph, using his newfound power of telepathy, deduces that Jack wants to kill him. So, he beats him with a cue stick, while his cheating girlfriend uncontrollably laughs at it. The cops come and find Ralph crazed and take Mae, Ralph, and Cheating Girl into custody.

At the police station, Mae tells them everything, Jimmy confesses, and Cheating Girl gets Bill off the hook. Oh, and Cheating Girl kills herself. Some horsecrap about feeling guilty or something, I didn’t really care at this point. I wanted to know what happened to Ralph. He is, of course, completely and utterly INSANE. And all this happened because of the demonic, horrible, monstrous, disastorous, bad MARIHUANA. The movie ends with the wormy guy giving a very half-hearted speech which ends with him breaking the fourth wall. END.

This movie is so bad, that it’s great. It’s so unintentionally funny, mainly because of the general misconceptions of marijuana, the spelling of marijuana, and the amazingly-bad overacting. If you’re a fan of overacting, then watch this film. If you’re a stoner, watch and laugh. Basically, if you haven’t been living under a rock and actually know that pot really isn’t that bad, then watch this and laugh your butt off. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars, if only for Ralph.

Atom Age Vampire

I gotta say, this movie is just… silly. Seriously. Ed Wood would be proud of this movie if he had made it. Hell, at first I thought Ed Wood had directed this piece of horribleness, and I was surprised when I found out it was Italian director Anton Giulio Majano (try saying that five times fast).

Anyway, the plot concerns a young stripper who is horribly disfigured (disfigured here meaning a little bit of good ole’ Hollywood plastic just below the right eye) trying a new process which requires beautiful women’s…glands. Trust me, it doesn’t make sense to me either. The local mad scientist gets said glands from local prostitutes, because all prostitutes are beautiful. And how does he keep it secret? He transforms into… THE ATOM AGE… Mr. Hyde rip-off. Seriously, the only thing this movie has to do with vampires is the transformed doc comes out at night. What the hell, movie? I came to see a bloodsucker, and all I get is a Mr. Hyde mixed with a werewolf.

Jeanette, played by Susanne Loret, AKA Marilyn Monroe wannabe #298, is arguing with her boyfriend about her occupation. He wants her to quit and go to school, but she has no other way of getting money. Gee, those schools are just so darn hard to get into when you’re a young, attractive, white girl, isn’t it?

So the boyfriend decides to leave his stripper-girlfriend to be a sailor. Hmm. Seems to me he may have more than one reason to be a sailor… but I digress. She realizes the crappiness of her job, (or she’s just bipolar) and drives after her boyfriend. Where she gets in a wreck. Derned women drivers. This movie proves, beyond a doubt, that women can’t drive.

So, because the plot revolves around her and she’s the designated damsel, she survives. Which is weird, because the fiery car should’ve produced ten times as bad scars than the tiny plastic ones she has on her face. They also strangely seem to alternate positions between scenes. 

She wakes up in a bed, her face covered with bandages. After she’s tended to for a little bit, we get to see the horrible scars on THE LEFT SIDE OF HER FACE which could be covered up by her hair easily. In fact, they do this in the movie when she’s suppose to be disfigured. VERY CLEVER, MOVIE, VERY CLEVER.

After seeing the UTTER HORRIBLENESS of her face, she decides to do what any hot girl would do after being HORRIBLY DISFIGURED: Commit suicide! Yes, because beauty is in the eye of the people AROUND the beholder, right? Right??? As she contemplates filling her head with lead, one of the doctors tells her of a new procedure which would restore her former beauty.

She decides to go through with it, and the process is a success, except for the small fact that it’s only temporary. I gotta admit, the whole regeneration part was pretty good, especially for the 60s. The doctor, played by Alberto Lupo, realizes that if he doesn’t have the glands of beautiful hookers, the process will be reversed and she’ll be HORRIBLY DISFIGURED.

His choice of keeping his identity safe? Inject himself with the first version of the serum, which makes you a monster! Hooray for messing with your genes!

After killing a few hookers, he messes up, and tells the girl that he loves her, and wants to take her away with him. After she rejects him, he says, and I’m dead serious, says “What I will have to do is kill you, to make you know how deeply I love you.” Of course, he’s stopped by her boyfriend, and they get back together, and forget anything bad happened. The end. 

This movie is… stupid. The lead girl is helpless and idiotic, and the doctor is the most cliched mad doctor ever, even going so far as having a possibly “special needs” henchman. Would I watch this movie again? No. Do I think I wasted my time watching it the first time? I honestly can’t say no. Its that hilarious. Its kinda like Plan 9 From Outer Space. Its that bad, its ok. I’d give it a watch, especially since its in the public domain and it’s free. All in all, I give this 2 out of 5 stars.