30+ movies to watch while you’re high
Some actors, like Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin with Up in Smoke and other films, centered their entire careers around stoner comedies.
Here are the best movies to watch while high
Some movies are simply weird or trippy or just so bad they are good. One doesn’t need to be high to enjoy such movies, although you can watch them completely sober and wind up feeling high.
The movies on this list are a little different than weird or trippy movies in the sense that drugs—usually marijuana—play a crucial role in the plot, and by smoking weed before watching the film, viewers feel more like participants than passive observers. Many of these films are also steeped in the drug lore surrounding marijuana.
Then again, a minority of these films—such as Fantasia and 2001: A Space Odyssey—make no direct references to marijuana or drug use, but their psychedelic imagery attracted stoners to the extent that they “adopted” them as movies that must be watched while high.
Which leads to another question—if someone has to be high to enjoy the movie, does that mean it wouldn’t be a very good movie if you watched it while sober? That’s a deep philosophical question, and you may need to smoke a few joints while you read about the movies on this list.
Best Movies to Watch While High
Reefer Madness (1936)
For even more fun, get your hands on the 2004 special edition DVD that re-colorized Reefer Madness with bizarre, psychedelic colors.
If paranoia about communism was known as the Red Scare, movies such as Reefer Madness were are the forefront of the Green Scare, a wave of over-the-top misinformation about the Demon Weed that warned anyone who even took a puff would become a hopelessly insane and possibly murderous addict. The film’s basic plot involves a trio of weed dealers who lure impressionable teens into smoking “reefer” cigarettes and the absolute ruination of their lives that naturally follows. The film was partially based on the real-life story of Victor Licata, a young man who axe-murdered his family in 1933 and was found to be under the influence of marijuana when he committed the crime. It’s pretty clear in retrospect that Licata was a schizophrenic with homicidal tendencies, but publicity around his crime led to the federal Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which outlawed sales of weed in the USA. The film’s propaganda was so overwrought, hippies started flocking to midnight screenings of Reefer Madness in the 1970s just to get high and laugh. TimeOut writes, “It’s basically a lousily made film, but the one-dimensional ‘vice’ and portentous didacticism more than make up for that. One of the most absurdly earnest exercises in paranoia you’ll ever have the good fortune to see.”
Fantasia is the only animated Disney movie to be over two hours, so you’ve got a long time to bliss out and watch.
This was another movie like 2001: A Space Odyssey that was not directly intended as a “movie to watch while you’re high” but that pot-smoking and acid-dropping hippies latched onto due to its incredible mixture of animation and classical music. Choosing Fantasia as one of “20 Movies to Watch While You’re Stoned,” the LA Weekly wrote, “Walt Disney’s experimental extravaganza brings together animation and classical music. Beethoven, Stokowski, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky. Hippos in tutus performing ballet, dancing flowers, [and] Mickey Mouse having a helluva time with mops and buckets.”
Rat Pfink a Boo Boo (1966)
Ron Haydock, who plays Rat Pfink, was a rock musician who provided four songs for the soundtrack.
An absolute mess of a film that can only begin to make sense if you’re high—and even if you’re high, it makes no sense at all. Director Ray Dennis Steckler was known for such cinematic abortions as The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies, but he outdid (or “under-did”?) himself with this Grade-Z production that he claimed cost only $20 to make. According to legend, the typographer who rendered the opening titles misspelled the word “and” in the original title, Rat Pfink and Boo Boo, but Steckler claimed they didn’t have the $50 to correct the typo, so it stuck. (Steckler also later claimed that this was a lie and that his young daughter kept chanting “Rat Pfink a Boo Boo,” and he liked the way it sounded.) Barely an hour long and shot in black and white with NO natural ambient dialogue—any time you hear a character “speaking,” the dialogue is dubbed in—it starts out as a gritty crime drama where a trio of thugs seek to abduct and hold a rock star’s girlfriend named Cee Bee Beaumont (Steckler’s real-life wife, Carolyn Brandt) for ransom. Then, feeling as if the film was going nowhere, Steckler abruptly changed gears and made it a comic-book superhero movie where Rat Pfink and Boo Boo (two caped crusaders based on Batman and Robin as well as the mid-60s’ popularity of Ed Roth’s iconic “Rat Fink” cartoon character) seek to rescue Cee Bee not only from the thugs, but from a gorilla named Kogar. The film is peppered throughout with surprisingly catchy rock music. Indie Film Cafe writes, “For pure silly, whimsical fun, its really hard to beat this oddball whackadoodle comedy superhero movie featuring hot (for 1963) singer Lonnie Lord and mild mannered gardener Titus stepping into a closet to become the mighty Rat Pfink and Boo Boo!”
Yellow Submarine (1968)
If you want the full experience, look for the 1999 re-release of the British version for five extra minutes that were cut from the American release of Yellow Submarine.
In a vividly psychedelic animated feature inspired in equal parts by marijuana culture and LSD culture, The Beatles travel in the eponymous Yellow Submarine deep into Pepperland, a mystical wonderworld deep beneath the sea. A group of music-hating killers known as Blue Meanies seek to eradicate all music from Pepperland, and this is one injustice The Beatles will not tolerate. Roger Ebert writes, “Yellow Submarine was also embraced as a ‘head movie,’ leading to an observation attributed to Ken Kesey: ‘They say it looks better when you’re stoned. But that’s true of all movies.’”
To add more confusion to the motivations of the filmmakers, they advertised the movie as having nothing to do with The Monkees–a blatant lie.
Marketed as “a movie for a turned-on audience”—meaning an audience that was high on illicit substances—this is the film that essentially destroyed the career of The Monkees, AKA “The American Beatles.” Whereas they were mostly known as an untalented pop group who sang insubstantial ditties and didn’t even play their own instruments, Head tosses The Monkees into a deep psychedelic stew of surrealist head-tripping. The screenplay was written by Jack Nicholson, and Head was produced and directed by the team of Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, who had created The Monkees hit TV show. Some speculate that the film was so weird, it was purposely intended to wreck The Monkees’ career. Roger Ebert writes, “I suppose it flopped in 1968 because Monkees fans were offended by it, and non-Monkees fans (i.e., anyone over 14, in either age or IQ) devoutly stayed away.”
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Despite critical acclaim, over two hundred people walked out of the premier, including Hollywood elite Rock Hudson.
Director Stanley Kubrick’s game-changing foray into science fiction is considered by many to be one of the greatest films ever made. The basic “plot” involves the trajectory of human life from apes all the way to a transcendent future beyond Homo sapiens, with some dark drama in between involving a malevolent AI computer. The film’s last half hour is essentially a nonstop psychedelic head trip, which is what rallied hordes of hippies to flock to this film, which was marketed as the ultimate trio. Reel Views calls it “a cold, majestic motion picture, a movie that seeks to remind us of the vastness of space and our relatively insignificant place in it. Kubrick’s intention with 2001 was not to thrill us with battles and pyrotechnics, but to daunt us with the realization of how much there is that we do not understand.”
Published: October 17, 2022
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