Heady Entertainment: Get Elevated with Awkwafina and Toke to “The Turning”
Welcome back to Heady Entertainment, MERRY JANE’s weekly guide to just-released movies, books, and music — all fresh, dank, and THC-friendly. In specific, we choose our picks based on how they can enhance your combined consumption of cannabis and entertainment.
Worth toking up for on the way to theaters this week, The Turning is a classic chiller updated with cornea-bugging visual effects, The Gentlemen puts Guy Ritchie back in the director’s chair with an A-list cast, and Color Out of Space is cult filmmaker Richard Stanley’s wigged-out take on an HP Lovecraft story with Nicolas Cage and Tommy Chong(!).
On the stream scene, fierce, funny, and spellbinding women rule with the debut of Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens, the second season of Aidy Bryant’s Shrill, and a third dose of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Even this week’s requisite old guy is dope: Patrick Stewart reinvigorating his signature role in Star Trek: Picard.
This week’s vintage cult flick picks include the early-’70s shock-fest Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, the crazy ’80s adventures Jake Speed and She, and all three installments of the outrageous late-night cable film series Vice Academy.
And new marijuana-ready beats come our way from Royce da 5’9”, Joey Trap, and ShitKid.
So, let’s get straight — but not “straight” — to this week’s fresh-rolled recommendations.
Color Out of Space (2020)
Director: Richard Stanley
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Madeleine Arthur, Tommy Chong
Color Out of Space is a meeting of madly hallucinatory minds, as cult director Richard Stanley (Hardware, Dust Devil) teams with the one-and-only Nicolas Cage to adapt a sci-fi horror story by visionary author HP Lovecraft. Cage plays a married dad who quits the modern rat race by moving his family to a rural farm, only to have a meteorite crash on property that exudes a bizarre color and complicates matters by warping time, space, and everything that comes into contact with it.
The Gentlemen (2020)
Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Michelle Dockery, Charlie Hunnam
With The Gentlemen, UK cockney master Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels; Snatch) returns to his signature combo of grueling grit and elegant wit for a banging blowout set in our favorite milieu: the world of professional marijuana.
Matthew McConaughey stars as an American-born cannabis baron who built his empire peddling mass amounts of weed to England’s upper class. After he lets on that he’s looking to liquidate the business, an array of cohorts, conspirators, and crackpots attempt to wrest the fortune from him with wildly violent, crazily entertaining results.
The Turning (2020)
Director: Floria Sigismondi
Cast: Mackezie Davis, Finn Wolfhard, Brookklynn Prince
The 1898 gothic novella The Turn of the Screw has been translated to big-screen chillers numerous times through the years and, at last, The Turning gets its right for contemporary audiences, especially when viewed with cannabis enhancement. Mackenzie Davis stars as a nanny hired to look after two severely off-putting orphans on a Maine estate. The kids, played by Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) and Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project) at first just seem like little creeps, but steadily deeper, darker, and more diabolical realities come to light — which is always a great cue to light up while watching!
Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens: Season One
Cast: Awkwafina, Bowen Yang, BD Wong
Watch It: Comedy Central
Highly hilarious actress and comedian Awkwafina is running a welcome side-hustle to her soaring movie career by creating and starring in her own Comedy Central series, Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens. The Nora of the title is a twentysomething living on her own for the first time and contending with all the ups, downs, and sideways crack-ups of outer boroughs NYC. Weed, naturally, figures hot into the mix.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Season 3
Cast: Kieran Shipka, Ross Lynch, Miranda Otto
Watch It: Netflix
Kieran Shipka bewitches again in the title role of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Netflix’s series based on the comic-book teenage spellcaster and set in the same black-hearted universe as the CW’s Riverdale.
Season three opens with a mysterious voice instructing our heroine: “You know what must be done, Sabrina. Claim the throne. Save precious Greendale. And your boyfriend.” From there, Sabrina mesmerizingly mixes fun and fear attuned to the pleasures of passing a pipe.
Shrill: Season 2
Cast: Aidy Bryant, Lolly Adefope, John Cameron Mitchell
Watch It: Hulu
SNL’s Aidy Bryant is back for another dose of Shrill, Hulu’s uproarious, elevating sitcom inspired by the memoir of journalist Lindy West. Aidy stars as Annie, who’s described as “a fat young woman who wants to change her life — but not her body.” Up against societal obstacles, wack boyfriends, and a hothead boss (hilariously played by John Cameron Mitchell), Annie’s struggles and triumphs are a joy to behold. So, roll a joint, and get Shrill.
Star Trek: Picard: Season One
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Alison Pill, Santiago Cabrera
Watch It: CBS All Access
From the moment the Starship Enterprise took off all the way back in 1966, Star Trek has been one of television’s supreme stoner touchstones. Star Trek: The Next Generation truly did induct an entire new generation into the ritual of “beaming up” by ingesting bud and joining the Starfleet crew on their intergalactic adventures. Heading up TNG, of course, was Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, and now he’s got a fresh solo series on CBS All Access, created by novelist Michael Chabon. Dropping in on Stewart throughout Star Trek: Picard will be TNG and Voyager favorites Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, and Jeri Ryan. Set bongs to stun, and blast off.
Cult Classic Collectibles
Jake Speed (1986)
Director: Andrew Lane
Cast: Wayne Crawford, Karen Kopins, John Heard
Get It: MVD
A low-budget Indiana Jones rip-off that took on a life of its own among stoned VHS viewers, Jake Speed stars Wayne Crawford in the title role. He’s literally a hero in pulp adventure novels who leaps to life after a French woman (Karen Kopins) calls on him to help rescue her sister from kidnappers in the jungle. Complications arise when Jake realizes that the missing sister is in the clutches of arch-villain Sid, played with campy hysterics by John Hurt.
Jake Speed is a crazily engaging eruption of hyper-’80s action so extra-cheesy it might give you a case of the munchies — of course, you’ll also be smoking weed while you watch it, so that will factor in, too. Thank you, Arrow Video, for putting out this special edition Blu-ray complete with amazing extras.
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1973)
Director: John Hancock
Cast: Zohra Lampert, Barton Heyman, Gretchen Corbett
Get It: Shout Factory
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is a gothic shocker that has terrified deep-toking audiences for decades and is just now being rediscovered by a new generation of lit horror enthusiasts. Zohra Lambert stars as Jessica, a nervous breakdown victim who, after a psych-ward stay, aims to recuperate in the chill New England countryside. Of course, no such rest and relaxation is possible, as hallucinatory horrors haunt Jessica, steadily pushing her toward total madness.
Between bouts of mind-rewiring frights, Jessica pieces together that an undead girl may be possessing everyone around her — or is that just her broken brain talking? Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is almost lethally terrifying and ever more so than when mixed with marijuana. The Shout Factory special edition Blu-ray, as always, is astonishing in its restoration and special features.
Director: Avi Nehser
Cast: Sandahl Bergman, Gordon Mitchell, Elena Wiedermann
Get It: Kino Lorber
Following the smash 1982 success of Conan the Barbarian, grindhouses and video store shelves flooded with sword-and-sorcery cash-ins from all over the world, some of which became stoner cinema classics in and of themselves (Deathstalker; Barbarian Queen). Unsung at the time but ripe for rediscovery (with reefer) is She, an off-the-wall showcase for Conan co-star Sandahl Bergman in the title role (yes, she’s just called “She”), the warrior queen of a post-apocalyptic female-run society. She’s adventures pit her against toga-clad werewolves, ninja knights, mutant mummies, a clairvoyant communist, an invisible sailor who multiplies under stress, and a tutu-wearing giant. She rules, and Kino Lorber’s gorgeously restored new Blu-ray is the way to see her doing it.
Vice Academy 1, 2, & 3 (1988-1991)
Director: Ken Sloane
Cast: Linnea Quigley, Ginger Lynn Allen, Karen Russell
Get It: Vinegar Syndrome
Toward the end of the ‘80s, laughably ludicrous, rambunctiously raunchy sex comedies captivated late-night cannabis-ingesting cable viewers with tremendous success. As a result, B-moviemaker Rick Sloane (Hobgoblins) hopped on the trend by making Vice Academy (1988), which, as the realm of bong-ready VHS confections went back then, became something of a blockbuster. Two sequels of equal popularity among pot-puffing fans followed.
Each Vice Academy flick features scream queen Linnea Quigley (Night of the Demons) and adult-film legend Ginger Lynn Allen (Blame It on Ginger) as undercover detectives out to infiltrate penal code violators — and also to get into slapstick high-jinks at every opportunity. Vinegar Syndrome astounds once again by collecting all three Vice Academy epics in a box set loaded bonus features.
By Royce da 5’9”
Get It: Royce da 5’9” Official
Booming forth from the dank Detroit orbit of Eminem, Royce da 5’9” rocked us earlier this month with his Westside Gunn collaboration single, “The Overcomer.” Now, he’s here to finish the job — and to continue his beef with Yelawolf — with The Allegory, his latest long-player. Aside from Gunn, all-star guests on this puff-pass-and-listen must include TI, Conway the Machine, Emanny, Kid Visihi, Ashley Sorrell, Benny The Butcher, Sy Ari Da Kid, White Gold, CyHi The Prynce, Oswin Benjamin, DJ Premier and — whut?! — Cedric The Entertainer.
Get It: Bandcamp
Under the moniker ShitKid, Asa Soderqvist began unleashing raw, trippy freak-rock in 2015, establishing herself as a sonic wildcard from whom anything seemed possible.
For last year’s Detention album, Soderqvist both confounded and astounded fans by turning ShitKid into a twosome with Lina Molaring Eriksson and creating a pop-punk concept album inspired by their mutual childhood affection for Green Day and Sum 41.
With Duo Limbo, ShitKid amazes again by combining crazed experimentation with pure teen grunge, ably assisted by lysergic punk legends on the order of Paul Leary of the Butthole Surfers and Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover of the Melvins.
Sing in a World That’s Falling Apart
By Black Lips
Get It: Bandcamp
For their ninth album, Sing in a World That’s Falling Apart, Atlanta’s ear-smashing Black Lips “go country” the same way they previously took on garage rock. That’s to say the quintet has inhaled every strain of the genre, bolstered it with dope doses of punk, electronica, and other seemingly disparate forms, and then exhaled it all in a mushroom cloud of madly creative, masterfully crafted songs that intoxicate on contact.
By Joey Trap
Get It: Apple Music
San Diego rap slapper Joey Trap first hit in 2016 with his delightfully delirious “Sesame Street,” followed a year later by his other kiddie-TV-centric (but very adults-only) collaboration with Smokey, “I Got Top in Bikini Bottom.” Still just 20 years old, Trap’s maturing style on Wild West just means he’s getting faster, looser, and more inventive with his beats and rhymes. Spark up, cowpokes — Wild West rips like a six-gun loaded with lit fun.