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Review: Reefer Madness – Tell your Children (1936)

Directed by Louis J. Gasnier | 65 minutes | drama, crime | Actors: Dorothy Short, Kenneth Craig, Lillian Miles, Dave O’Brien, Thelma White, Carleton Young, Warren McCollum, Patricia Royale, Joseph Forte, Harry Harvey Jr.

Anti-marijuana documentary “Reefer Madness” (original title “Tell your Children”) has been on the books as a cult classic since the 1970s. Since then, the incorrect facts and the excruciatingly bad story have mainly worked on the laughing muscles, rather than on the conscience. Actress Thelma White, who built a solid career after “Reefer Madness”, once said in an that she was deeply ashamed of this “terrible film”.

And it is terrible. A schoolteacher tells the story of a pair of unsuspecting all-American high school students who are seduced by a rogue couple to smoke weed. All this led by a big boss who oversees marijuana distribution for the entire state. Sadly, the students fall victim to the untold serious consequences of smoking weed. Incidentally, which is worse than cocaine and heroin, the school teacher tells us, with a stabbing finger at the screen.

Since “Reefer Madness” can under no circumstances be taken seriously, the viewer is forced to have fun with the untruths in the film. These are the funniest. If we are to believe the documentary, cannabis causes extreme debauchery, killing tendencies (boy slaughters with ax!), Rape, suicide, and even permanent insanity. To add to this, the smoke that the cannabis smokers exhale is a bright poisonous color, as if they swallowed a color smoke bomb.

But despite all the craziness, “Reefer Madness” doesn’t last long. The cultural difference with the Americans is too great. Although it is easy to imagine that Americans (certainly in the 1970s) are screaming with laughter at the silly standards and values ​​of the 1930s, the cult value for cannabis-legalized Netherlands is significantly less. Apart from the misinformation, a very boring hour is actually left with bad acting and the ridiculous story.

Although this of course screams to be watched while enjoying a sticky, you have to assume from your reviewer that even under the influence of the “devil weed”, “Reefer Madness” is not to be enjoyed.

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