Illustration by James the Stanton

Stash Box: Marijuana at the Movies

Three classic films that are better when you’re high.

One of the first times I got really, really high, I was with some friends who all lived the classic ’90s-stoner lifestyle: Bob Marley blacklight posters, lava lamps, and one guy even had a weed leaf stick-&-poke tattoo. After several hits out of a Day-Glo pink plastic bong, it was suggested that we kick back and watch a movie. Being it was another 110-degree day in sunny Las Vegas, I was more than happy to stare at a screen while a fan swung lazily back and forth over my head. Perhaps I would nap.

Ideas were bandied about until finally someone brought out Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I had seen this film a dozen times and was inwardly rolling my eyes at the “drug movie” cliché, so I was honestly surprised how much more I was getting out of its rich symbolism while high. We all sang along at a few points, and by the end I’d fallen back in love with not only the movie but the album. As life went on, I found other films best viewed from an altered state: Dazed & Confused, The Big Lebowski, Die Hard. But with this week being the kickoff of SIFF, I’d like to share my favorite films that are trippier while toking.

Up in Smoke (1978) The movie that kicked off the stoner genre, Up in Smoke is a classic caper comedy following the goofy adventures of Anthony “Man” Stoner and Pedro de Pacas (Peter of the Bales) as they cruise up and down the California coast stumbling from one odd situation to the next, getting themselves and everyone else completely blazed along the way. While this film definitely crosses the line in terms of lowbrow comedy (it reads racist, ableist, and sexist from one scene to the next), C&C really pushed a lot of boundaries in a time when cannabis prohibition was thick. This flick is even better with a big group of friends and maybe a smoking game: Take a puff every time someone flashes a peace sign.

Fantastic Planet (1973) This is an awesome French animated sci-fi story that takes place in a far-flung corner of the universe where tiny and huge humans dwell together not so peacefully on the planet Ygam. The larger beings regard the smaller ones as animals and treat them as such, even culling their populations when they are perceived as a nuisance. Roland Topor’s animation is hallucinogenic and surreal, and the soundtrack by Alain Goraguer is just as psychedelic. This is a great film to put on in the background of a party. Just watch it weird people out.

Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954) Experimental warlock filmmaker Kenneth Anger blew the world away with his cult-fantasy vision of modern ritual and magic. Deeply influenced by Thelema, the religion Aleister Crowley founded, Anger takes the viewer on a wild ride through religious symbolism and mystical metaphor. Colors and genders and whole paradigms shift in front of his lens, revealing a new edict for the 21st century’s New Magickal Human. While this film is great to watch with a group of open-minded friends, I actually recommend watching it alone. Get nice and high and watch it through once, then go back and watch it again. Whenever you are struck by an image, for any reason, pause the film and write down those feels.

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