Reefer Madness

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Although it was made in 1936, Reefer Madness didn't become a cult hit until 1972 when the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) rescued it from the Library of Congress film archive. Thereafter, it was a mainstay on the midnight movie circuit. And it's easy to see why. The ostensible story involves a group of upstanding young high school students who succumb to the allure of the "killer weed." What follows, as if by natural progression, is a catalog of crimes that includes hit-and-run driving, loose morals, rape, murder, suicide, and my personal favorite, permanent insanity! The action is at times so hysterical, in both senses, that you may forget to inhale. Honors go to the wild-eyed, cackling hophead David O'Brien; his performance reaches a raw intensity that is hard to imagine. One measure of this film's pervasive influence is the extent to which its title continues to be invoked in news stories about decriminalization and medical marijuana. Such posterity for unintentional humor must be rare. A great film to see stoned, man. -

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Release date

December 3, 2007

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