Crazed Drug Moments in Movies
Taking drugs on the big screen is not new. Often glamorised, parodied, or lamented, movie heroes and heroines using narcotics can also provide the inexperienced viewer insight into what a trip might actually be like. It also grants directors a unique situation where more non-conventional effects and techniques can be used. Funky lighting, distorted sound, CGI, puppets â€“ all have been employed to explain the unexplainable. Beneath are just five of my favourite freak-out scenes from a host of doped-up films throughout the years.
An ever popular favourite of cinema exploration is the subject of the taboo. From the peep shows of the late 1800â€™s, to the stark (at the time) violence of Hughesâ€™ Scarface
, over to the crass gorno of Human Centipede
, cinema explores the gamut of the unspeakable and the inexperienceable.
Drugs are no exception to this.
Much maligned in media, drugs can be both incredibly dangerous and incredibly fun. And much like skydiving I suspect a lot more people would like to try them but are otherwise too concerned with the risks. While we could argue that most people take drugs everyday (beer and coffee anyone?), there is still a line between what is legal and what isnâ€™t. What is known and what is unknown.
Cinema has used drugs to both scaremonger and fascinate audiences forever. Chinese Opium Den
(1894) could be perhaps traced as the first example of a film used to explore what it is to be involved with drugs. Nowadays we have the likes of Pineapple Express
where smoking weed is the primary backbone of the (flimsy) plot. Letâ€™s not even mention Cheech & Chong
It doesnâ€™t always have to be consensual drug-use either. How many heroes have we seen smashed off their faces after being dosed by some exotic pill, poison or psychic power?
you can see there are a lot of â€śdrug filmsâ€ť. Each will of course provide you with a different insight into the whole process and the whole experience of drug-taking, for better or worse. None of course will replicate the real thing, naturally. But beneath are five of my favourite, and dare-I-say perhaps most accurate attempts in druggy cinema history.
5 â€“ Chopper
I love this little sequence. First itâ€™s just so incidental, like theyâ€™re having a simple smoke or a coffee. Secondly it starts off with a seemingly easy special effect. It appears theyâ€™ve just sped up the film. But wait...what the fuck...how are their mouths matching the dialogue?! Such a simple effect really captures the intensified speed while under the influence. And youâ€™re still left baffled how the hell they did it.
4 â€“ Easy Rider
annoyed me as a young cineaste. Much similar to 2001
: A Space FUCKING
FREAKOUT or Performance
, it melded a pretty standard plot with a lot of crazy metaphysical shit. As I was (and still am) in my Arnie-is-the-greatest-cinema-icon-of-all-time phase, I didn't dig the film as a whole. On the other hand though the crazy New Orleans drug scene I could appreciate.
While it wasnâ€™t as badass as riding around on motorcycles or anything, it did provide young me a glimpse into what taking drugs was all about, and why it can be really, really stupid to do it in a graveyard. According to legend the film stock was accidently over-exposed and this along with some quick editing created a wholly bad ride. Also Hopper and co. were apparently totally tripping off their tits in this sequence (and for most of the actual film). No shit.
3 â€“ Crank
my beloved. Simply the best post-millennium action film to date. Disagree, and not only will I scoff in your foolish face, but Iâ€™ll get old Chev Chelios to show you the error of your ways. Crank
â€“ come on itâ€™s got drug slang for a title! Of course it features drugs. Dear Mr. Chelios is poisoned with a drug that will kill him unless he can keep his heart-rate sky-high. So he basically shoots himself with a meaty cocktail of adrenaline, coke, speed â€“ anything he can get his hands on.
He even gives his old George Best (...chest people, keep up) a quick blast with a defib kit. The camera work is frenetic, as is snappy pacing. The colours, the sound, everything is jacked in an effort to raise your own adrenaline. I especially love the hand-held work as he enters the bar at the beginning. But the ultimate trip old Chev takes is on the oldest opiate in the book â€“ the love drug. And whatâ€™s more crazy than having sex in front of a load of Asians?
2 â€“ Dead Manâ€™s Shoes
Paddy Considine infiltrates a gang house and spikes the tea with a mean special brew of hallucinogens. Sitting down to relax, weirdness begins to happen. First itâ€™s a communal visit to the bathroom â€“ for safetyâ€™s sake, as Paddy could be anywhere. Switching from paranoia to obsessive compulsivity, they then rigorously clean the kitchen with the pan-handed grace of a gaggle of simpletons. The Speed-wrought energy kicks in then so itâ€™s off to the living room for a spot of weightlifting to some classic mindless trance. Muddled speech, bad vibes, and a loose face follow as the trip turns bad. Only after total loss of motor control does Paddy the Avenger finally appear.
â€śGet up and dance at my fucking partyâ€ť.
1 â€“ Fear & Loathing Las Vegas
What else could be number one? A film less about the actual destination but the journey itself, Fear & Loathing Las Vegas
charts the furious binge habits of one Hunter S. Thompson at the height of his shamanistic gonzo powers. Featuring a bald Johnny Depp and a fat Benicio Del Toro, we are thrust deep into a world of ether abuse, acid excursions and human body-parts. What is actually a story about a botched attempt at finding the American Dream is really wall-to-wall freakiness.
Animated bats, crazy mating lizards, melting carpets, White Rabbit, and touchy-feely Gary Busey cops all inhabit the landscape of the insane. It would be impossible to pick a favourite drug clip from this film. Skipping into the movie at any point and youâ€™ll probably find either character high on something. Letâ€™s settle for the scene during the D.Aâ€™s conference on marijuana addicts. Hilarious.
â€“ Not for the freaky Scarecrow stuff, but when Bruce getâ€™s blazed on the blue flower juju - Neesonâ€™s flashy eyes, the throbbing room, BATS. Weâ€™ve all been there.
â€“ Bit conflicted that I didnâ€™t put this in the top 5.
â€“ Love the camera work and acting when Bond leaves the card table to throw up his poisoned drink.
â€“ If this article was about best overdoses, Trainspotting would be number one.
â€“ Weed makes you want to dance?!
New Jack City
â€“ Crack, kids, makes Chris Rock cry. So donâ€™t do it, mâ€™kay? read