Celebrate 4/20 by watching the weed exploitation classic Reefer Madness

Today is 4/20, the unofficial day to celebrate cannabis culture. In honor, please enjoy the classic 1936 exploitation film Reefer Madness. From a brief history of the film by Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney:

Reefer Madness began its cinematic life as a 1936 cautionary film entitled Tell Your Children. It was financed by a small church group, and was intended to scare the living bejeezus out of every parent who viewed it. Soon after the film was shot, however, it was purchased by the notorious exploitation film maestro Dwain Esper (Narcotic, Marihuana, Maniac), who took the liberty of cutting in salacious insert shots and slapping on the sexier title of Reefer Madness, before distributing it on the exploitation circuit. Esper was an absolutely notorious figure who would do things like stealing unattended prints of studio films out of projection booths and film exchanges, and then physically drive them from small town exhibitor to small town exhibitor until the authorities caught up with him. A delightful, poignant and detailed portrayal of this lunatic opportunist is featured in exploiteer Dave Friedman's autobiography, A Youth in Babylon, which is a book every cult movie or pop culture enthusiast ought to read.

After a brief run, the film lay forgotten for several decades. There was no concept of after market in those days, especially for films that existed outside the confines of the studio system, and were therefore considered "forbidden fruit." For this reason, neither Esper nor the original filmmakers bothered to copyright the movie, and it eventually fell into the public domain.

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“Pretty Maids All in a Row”: Roger Vadim’s outrageous early 70s sex-and-murder black comedy

Nightflight has a great article about the weird and wonderful cult exploitation 70s movie, Pretty Maids All in a Row, with a screenplay by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry!

Pretty Maids would end up being Roddenberry’s first — and only — feature film writing credit during his impressive and long career. He transformed the problematic first draft of Pollini’s original story completely, deepening the dark comedy (it’s pretty black, actually) and softcore semi-misogynistic erotica of the original story — about a high school guidance counselor and football coach who sleeps with a lot of his foxy female students and then murders some of them (the ones who fall in love with him, and ask him to leave his wife, and daughter) — and turning the story into a whodunit that one writer later described as “an episode of ‘Kojak’ written by the staff of Penthouse Forum.“

I also like the opening song by the Osmand Brothers, called "Chilly Winds."

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