Reefer Madness DVD Review

Cover Art & Menu: 6/10
Fun and functional is about the best I can say for the cover and menus of this DVD. I think, no, I KNOW I could have done the same if not better with the graphic presentation on this DVD, but then again this one is a budget disc, so I can live with the amateur-ness. I actually think it goes with the film perfectly, so if it were polished and swank, it might have seemed out of place.

Extras & Features: 6/10
One bonus feature I love is that they included the original black and white version of the film. I appreciate this because I don’t like colorizing movies to begin with. In Reefer Madness even the smoke takes on a personality of its own by being made into different colors. It’s cool to look at and makes it seem even more hilarious, but I it’s still colorization and that bugs me.

  • Audio Commentary By Mike Nelson Of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 – I told my husband that I was not that interested in the commentary by Mike Nelson because I was never a fan of Mystery Science Theatre. I think he was a bit shocked. I realize that it’s a beloved show and all that, but hey, maybe I just didn’t give it enough of a chance. Admitting I’m wrong is not what’s happening here, please, be sure of that. I’m just saying that once I listened to a bit of Nelson’s commentary I did get an urge to watch reruns of MST 3000, go figure. Nelson says what we are thinking. Usually I don’t like it when people pick on movies for the smallest things. I find it obnoxious and it’s mostly because I might like a movie for the very reasons someone is picking it apart. However, Reefer Madness is custom designed for being made fun of. Nelson is hysterical so this is a great extra to lavish in with this crazy film.
  • Audio Commentary By Color Design Team – Finding out how the color process happens and the issues that come up is really interesting. However, I am not a fan of colorizing any film. I don’t care if it’s supposed to get more people interested in the movie, I find colorizing black and white films to be insulting. So, I was not that interested, but I do love any process that has to do with filmmaking. I can live with it, I suppose.
  • Reefer Madness Trailer – For a crazy film there is not much you can do but put together a matching trailer. I can imagine seeing this thing in a theater in 1938 and being scared straight in my seat.haha
  • Grandpa’s Marijuana Handbook: The Movie – Now this is a real bonus. We didn’t even know it was on the DVD. This is Grandpa Ganja and his own little movie. It’s funny as all get out and this guy is like a crusader for the legalization of marijuana, or at least for old people. That’s his whole thing, he is an older guy who professes to have smoked pot every day since 1967. He’s pretty clever and he’s damn entertaining to watch. They even include some outtakes so it’s like a mini-dvd hidden inside, which is cool.

The Movie: ?/10
Who the hell can give this movie a score? If you can come up with a number between 1-10 that fairly describes this beast of a film. I do love it, it’s so outrageous. I can’t believe it was ever made. What was I thinking? “The Burbs”, enough said.

This movie was financed by a church group that wanted to warn parents about the evils of smoking pot. It was originally called “Tell Your Children” and was intended to scare the crap out of people. We can always count on those church people to cause panic and unfounded paranoia in the masses.

There are so many things wrong with the film it’s kind of difficult to give a quick over view. And it might just seem mean to pick on this movie because it’s ultimately harmless. It’s almost like it should be on “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” it’s such an anomaly in the history of films. Why? Well from the start you will discover that acting is not a consideration, directing might not have been in the budget, and the dialogue becomes painful within the first 12 seconds. There are so many bad movie making mistakes it could be a drinking game, “Spot the cinematic screw up and make your neighbor chug a beer.” Everyone would get wasted with that one, there are enough calamities on the screen to go around. There are cheap sets, horrible props, really bad camera work, abysmal editing and the list goes on. I suppose a film class could watch it as an example of how NOT to make a movie..haha

When a film is made to promote an agenda like this, it’s safe to say they get a bit blinded by their cause. I admire conviction, but then again, I think it’s completely insane. I mean, to make such a propagandist flick hoping to actually influence society in a positive way is naive to say the least. And to look back at it almost seventy years later it’s laughable.

I do agree that it’s hysterically funny, but that was not it’s intention. From the heartless but upscale couple who lure innocent high school kids to a den of drugs and sex in a metropolitan apartment to the homicidal tendencies of anyone who smokes pot, it’s got a lot of fact checking loop holes to answer for. I realize it’s not meant to be a dose of reality, or was it? I think the people who made this film truly thought that they were portraying the effects of getting mixed up with drugs as sincere and accurate as possible.

The plot is not much different from a lot of other drama flicks, strangely enough. There are the bad guys who sell drugs and then there are the simple folks who get dragged into the evil lifestyle which leads to tragedy, deceit, and eventually the downfall of the big bad criminal dope peddlers. Sorry if you think I’m giving anything away, you won’t mind once you start watching the film. It’s not the kind of story that takes you from beginning to middle to end with any kind of anticipation. It all just floats past you as you think to yourself, “were these people for real?”

Remember it was made in 1938 and even back then they tossed us a few grown up nuggets like a woman putting on her stockings, elicit sexual encounters between virtual strangers, and even homicide. Whew, they were ahead of their time. Just don’t be looking forward to a serious movie, you will be too busy with your dropped jaw in amazement at just how badly made it really is.

There is a gripping (sarcasm) court room scene that kind of surprised me. Back in 1938 it must have been somewhat progressive to put women on even a make believe jury…so that’s a bonus.

It’s a great one to watch though, believe me, as much as it’s a piece of poo movie, it’s a classic. I highly recommend that you pick it up and get ready for a huge laugh. I think that is it’s redeeming quality. It’s so bad it’s good. It’s also a great one to have in your collection. This one is unlike anything else you will have on those shelves and it’s an excellent flick to pop in when you have a party. For those things alone this one does get a few extra points. It ain’t always the quality of the original movie that matters I guess, but the overall entertainment value of it that keeps it from being a complete waste of time.

One other thing to mention is that for a movie made by Bible thumpers, this one has an awful lot of women getting undressed, and sexually charged moments that seem a bit over the top for the times. I guess if it gets the young people to watch that’s what it takes. I mean, just look at the solid uplifting messages of that one show, you know, umm…oh yea, Bay Watch.

Value: 9/10
It’s available for little more than ten bucks online and I say go for it. You will get a huge kick out of it and you get Grandpa’s little movie as a bonus, not to mention the cool commentary by Nelson. It’s well worth that price and you know how I can be about the price of DVD’s these days.

Overall Score 7/10