Originally released in 1938 as a cautionary tale (but plays more like an exploitation movie), Reefer Madness went on to become one of the most popular "B" films of all time and has been the subject of discussion amongst fans of "bad" movies and dope enthusiasts for nearly 70 years. Chock full of unintentional humor and just plain bad acting, the flick's a hoot even if you are stone-cold sober.
It centers on the tale of woe that is Bill, glorified white-bread 1930s teenager, who is thrust into a world of seedy (yet incredibly well dressed) weed peddlers and his girlfriend, Mary, the innocent soul whose life is ended tragically because of the evils of the devil plant, "marihuana" (the popular spelling of the 30s).
Remember.....it could be your child next....or, yours....or YOURS!
Hats off to the team of Legend Productions and Off Color Films, for this is the best this film has ever looked. One of the few films in history that the colorization process actually helped in it's presentation, revealing subtle aspects of the picture I'd never seen before. Even the track featuring the original black and white version, while not pristine, is incredible to look at after years of substandard, grainy VHS and DVD transfers. Yet, this version of Reefer Madness still retains the faded look of vintage film, a decision made by the production team during the remastering process.
Lively animated menus take advantage of some of the more outrageous moments of the movie, backed by pot-themed rhythm and swing tunes of the era ("Reefer Man", "Save Me That Roach"). The scene selection feature is a blast, even if it is because of the hilarious titles of the Chapter Stops.
Commentary by Mike Nelson - The main selling point of this disc for B-Movie fans. Oddly, I feared before listening this may have be an audio version of one of the "reviews" from the former Mystery Science Theatre 3000 host's book, Movie Megacheese (funny stuff, though incredibly irrevelant). But surprisingly, Nelson is toned down, heckling the film at hand. Plays like a bot-less episode of MST3K.
Color Design Commentary by Legend Films - The team of Executive DVD Producer Barry Sandrew and Creative Director Rosemary Horvath provide the disc's second audio commentary. Obvious fans of the film who had a lot of fun with the project, they lay out a track that is funny and informative, without being dry and boring. If only all technical commentaries could be the same.
"Granpa's Marijuana Handbook"- Short film featuring author Evan Keliher. Witty (in a sarcastic sort of way) little piece that plays like a pro-pot version of Swift's "A Modest Proposal" in which Keliher "informs" the viewer of the "advantages" of weed. Best line: "A lot of people think that pot smoking is a sin, but they're mostly idiots."
New Reefer Madness Trailer - A hilarious piece that was produced for the release of this disc.
Reefer Madness Original Black and White Version - Included as a supplement on the disc. As stated above, looks great. According to the Legend Films crew, the transfer was made from "the best print available".
All in all, this film hasn't looked this good possibly since it's original release. The extras really make this a must-have disc for "Bad" movie fans and fans of former MST3K host Nelson.
Anthony Conn, aka The Hong Kong Cavalier, 4/28/2004