Reefer Madness (1936) — A Rifftrax Live event

20 Aug

Oh maaaaan. I am having the moooost violent craving for Cool Ranch Doritos, like, ever.

It’s completely impossible to review a movie watched at a Rifftrax event in any kind of meaningful manner. By virtue of being a Rifftrax experience, you know the film is a total piece of crap. But a crappy movie does not always a successful Riff make. The real question is always: Will this work? For “Reefer Madness,” I thought it did.

For the blissfully uninitiated, “Reefer Madness” tells the story of a bunch of red-blooded All-American teenagers and the utter horror and destruction that occurs when they start smoking weed at some creepy people’s apartment instead of hanging out at the corner malt shop after school. The financing of this particular exploitation film was provided by a church group. The movie was a flop until it was resurrected as a cult comedy — albeit an unintentional one — in the late 1970s.

And it’s absolutely terrible. The colorized version shown for the Rifftrax event was particularly ridiculous, with its clouds of neon-colored smoke accompanying every lit joint. Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett — well-known from their work on the beloved “Mystery Science Theater 3000” television series — had plenty of material to work with, and they did so with verve. The film played well, although I didn’t have any of those huge laugh moments that I had at the Christmas Rifftrax shorts extravaganza.

I think sometimes it helps to be more familiar with a movie for the riffing to really hit. I’d never seen “Reefer Madness,” so the actual plot was all new to me. Even though it’s completely off-the-rails crazytown bananas, there are a few scenes that are hard to crack jokes at. But these are all minor complaints; it was awesome fun and worth every penny.

The next Rifftrax Live event, set for Oct. 28, will feature “House on Haunted Hill,” one of my favorite schlocky horror flicks from cinema innovator William Castle. I can’t wait.

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