6 More Stoner Movies You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

They Live screenshot
One of “Them” from John Carpenter’s “They Live” (1988)

Here are six more favorite films that should keep you twisted stoners busy for awhile. Try to watch these on a larger screen and not on your tablet or cel-phone; monsters, aliens, and gore weren’t meant to be reduced to postage-stamp-sized experiences. 

reanimatorRe-Animator (1985)

Directed by Stuart Gordon. In the mid 80’s, half a dozen movies were made based on HP Lovecraft short stories. Re-Animator was the first. From Beyond was the second. Don’t waste your time on the rest.

Re-Animator is one of the best mad scientist movies ever made. Over-the-top gore, but well acted, this movie wastes no time drawing in the viewer. Dr. Herbert West creates a glowing serum that brings back the dead. Look for a naked Barbara Crampton restrained on an autopsy table, having a conversation with a disembodied head that makes a very creepy proposition. Streaming on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon/Shudder, and VUDU.

frombeyond_v1From Beyond (1986)

Also directed by Stuart Gordon. The second of Brian Yuzna’s Lovecraft adaptations, possibly even better than Re-Animator. Another mad scientist’s invention runs amok. Beware the Resonator! Many of the same acting crew from its predecessor, Barbara Crampton this time dressed up as a dominatrix. Truly out of control fun. Great double-billing with Re-Animator if you can stomach 3 hours of crazy gore. Streaming on Amazon and VUDU.

theyliveThey Live (1988)

Directed by John Carpenter, starring ex-pro wrestler Roddy Piper & Keith David. An underrated gem of big brother paranoia, aliens, and greed. The longest non-boxing fight scene I’ve ever seen on film. Piper and David wail on each other in a back alley for over seven minutes. “I’m here to chew bubblegum and kick ass,” Piper announces in another scene. A very political and important film from Carpenter, who also penned the screenplay. Streaming on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon, VUDU, Google Play and Cinemax.

Check out these inspired riffs on the original movie poster.

fleshgordonFlesh Gordon (1974)

That’s right, not Flash Gordon. A soft-core porn movie, insanely inventive, and a surprisingly well conceived parody of the original Flash Gordon serial from 1936.

Ming the Magnificent becomes The Perverted Emperor Wang, Dale Arden is Dale Hardon, Dr. Arkoff becomes Dr. Flexy Jerkoff, you get the idea. Wang creates his ‘sex-ray’ and points it at Earth, so Flash must travel to the planet Porno to stop him. Lots of claymation, with the funniest, at the very end of the film when a talking, Kong-like creature captures Dale, and climbs with her in his giant hand to the top of “…the Tower of Murder, it’s where I hang out sometimes.” Silly stoner fun. Side-note, my ex-wife knew one of the women from Wang’s never-ending orgy scene in his throne room. You can’t stream this anywhere but the DVD can be had for a reasonable sum (click on the image for the Amazon link). Click here for a two-and-a-half minute trailer.

eraserheadEraserhead (1977)

David Lynch‘s surreal film school project that took several years to complete. I happened to be living in Los Angeles during the initial release of the movie and hitch-hiked down Pico Boulevard to the Nuart Theatre to see what all the fuss was about.

A very disturbing film, with underlying, industrial, dissonant audio, at least a third of the audience walked out halfway through the film. When it ended, I wasn’t sure what I had just seen, but I had a feeling that the film was much more cohesive than it seemed after my first viewing. A few years later, when I watched it for the second time, I went with my friend, Mary Jane. Suddenly, the entire (well, most of it) made complete sense. It is actually a very common story, told through a surreal lens. Boy meets girl. Boy gets girl pregnant. Boy meets girl’s family. Girl has baby. Boy freaks out when mom leaves baby with him. Visually, a beautiful black and white movie, one of the original 6 films that led to the creation of ‘midnight movies’. Streaming on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play. It may also seem odd that you can find it on Hulu Plus – until you find out that Hulu has about 900 films from the Criterion Collection available for streaming.

A little trivia – acting in the lead role was Jack (John) Nance who appeared in most of Lynch’s films and television (Twin Peaks) series.

Hiddenposter1987The Hidden (1987)

An underappreciated sci-fi thriller about a murderous, symbiotic, alien criminal hunted by alien cop Kyle MacLachlan through the streets of Los Angeles. Based on the sci-fi novel, Needle (1950), by Hal Clement about two aliens crash-landing on Earth and the teenage boy who helps the “good symbiote” track down his criminal prey on a remote Pacific island. The film interpretation is basically cop-versus-criminal in the big city – still lots of fun with some interesting visual effects. Streaming on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon, VUDU, and Google Play.

6 Great Stoner Movies You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Brian and Aylmer having a heart-to-heart talk in Brain Damage.

Hello geeks & freaks, stoners and other fans of the weird world of B-movie horror and science fiction. For years I’ve been giving friends movie lists of films they should watch, often for selfish reasons; I gain great satisfaction observing their excitement of discovery, with the hope that they too will pass along these cinematic treasures. Often hilarious, sometimes disgusting, occasionally insanely creative, these films may not be perfect, but they are rarely boring (at least to those of us that are a little warped). Under the influence of the magical herb cannabis, they lend themselves to wonderful memories of evenings of movie nights with friends, laughing hysterically, grabbing forearms with fright, and being scared shitless en masse.

My goal is to tantalize with enough information to pique your interest, but without giving away too much of the story. These movies are listed in no particular order.

brain-damage-dvdBrain Damage (1988)

Directed by Frank Henenlotter. Possibly one of the greatest films ever made about addiction. Bizarre, hilarious, graphically violent, one of the great ‘sleepers’ of the 80’s. Please send my regards to the main character, Aylmar, a centuries-old, turd-like, talking parasite, that produces an addictive, wildly hallucinogenic, blue juice. Crazy fun. Buy it  or stream it on Amazon. Here’s one of many clips that you can enjoy on YouTube.

q-winged-serpentQ: The Winged Serpent (1985)

A truly spectacular monster movie, written and directed by one of the great early independent American filmmakers, Larry Cohen. Many familiar faces: Michael Moriarty, Candy Clark, David Carradine, Richard Roundtree. In my opinion, the best piece of acting I’ve ever seen from Moriarty. Carradine, as usual, is stiff as a sheet of cardboard. Q stands for Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god. Watch as Cohen, on a miniscule budget by today’s standards, terrorizes Manhattan with a giant, flying lizard. And this ain’t no vegan bird-god.  This one streams on multiple services: Amazon/Shudder, YouTube, VUDU, Google Play, and iTunes.

god-told-me-toGod Told Me To (AKA Demon) (1976)

Written & directed by Larry Cohen. The strangest of all Cohen’s films. Tony Lo Bianco plays a NYC detective that is drawn into a series of murders by different perpetrators that are oddly connected. Look for a chase scene through the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. The cop is a young Andy Kaufman. Cohen was able to shoot the scene for free during the actual parade by convincing Mayor Lindsay that he was filming a historical documentary about the parade itself. Ingenious and ballsy when you can’t afford to stage a parade and pay all those extras. If you can explain the totally bizarro ending, please call me and fill me in. Streaming on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play.

lairLair of the White Worm (1988)

Directed by Ken Russell. Familiar faces: Hugh Grant, Amanda Donahoe, & Catherine Oxenberg. Based on a Bram Stoker novel, this movie took me by surprise. Campy horror fun, with fantastic editing, costuming, and perfect over-the-top acting by Donahoe. Rather than give anything away, just watch it. Warning: extremely sacrilegious towards Catholicism. Looks like the DVD is out-of-print but you can still buy copies on Amazon (click on the image to the right) or eBay. Streaming on YouTube, Amazon, VUDU, and Google Play.

rawheadRawhead Rex (1986)

Screenplay by Clive Barker, starring David Dukes. Taking place in Ireland, a menacing creature is accidentally released from his underground prison. Not the greatest production quality, but this movie really got under my skin. Look for a few exceptional scenes; Rawhead’s release at the beginning of the film, the monster making eye contact with Dukes’ character from far away on a hill, and Rex relieving himself on an apostate priest in a lovely baptismal moment. The ending is all about girl power, but I find it to be a letdown, given everything leading up to it, but the film is still worth viewing. DVD is out-of-print (click on the image to the right and check out the outrageous prices on Amazon.) BUT, it’s streaming for free on YouTube – apparently since 2013. 

alteredAltered States (1985)

Another special film directed by Ken Russell, the novel & screenplay written by none other than Paddy Chayefsky. Chayefsky is the only writer in the history of the Oscars to have won 3 individual Oscars for Best Screenplay.

Altered States stands as a landmark film for special effects. The story ain’t bad either. Mix 1 part brilliant scientist and philosopher played by William Hurt, with 3 parts powerful hallucinogenic drug borrowed from an ancient indian tribe somewhere in South America, crossed with a sensory deprivation tank buried somewhere in the bowels of an old building on a college campus, and, how could the movie possibly be boring? Well, actually at times, in the first 30-45 minutes it can be a little ‘talky,’ but stick with it, the last hour of this film is visually amazing. You’ll recognize quite a few actors. One of the earliest uses of CGI in film history.

If you’re interested in reading more about the history of the making of this film, it was filled with controversy. Russell and Chayefsky fought constantly, and the writer eventually had his last name removed from the credits. The writing credit reads Sidney Aaron, Chayefsky’s first and middle names. Look up Altered States on IMDb to read more and select ‘trivia’. DVD is out-of-print but you can find very reasonably priced copies. Streaming on YouTube, Amazon, VUDU, and Google Play.

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