top of page

"The 20 best stoner films... that you've never seen before"

Mathew Klickstein | Colorado Daily | April 18, 2011

Mathew Klickstein's piece in the Colorado Daily

"Head" obliterates "A Hard Day's Night." We're talking the Monkees here, but look past the glitz -- as do the Monkees themselves in this surreal, self-reflexive comedic romp through '60s pop culture -- to director Bob Rafelson of "Five Easy Pieces," co-writer Jack Nicholson and guest stars Frank Zappa, Sonny Liston and Annette Funicello.

"Arizona Dream" stars a young Johnny Depp, an aging Faye Dunaway, Lili Taylor and Jerry Lewis. Fish fly freely through the air, Eskimos appear who have nothing to do with the "plot" and Vincent Gallo pretends to be Cary Grant from the famed crop duster sequence of "North by Northwest." When Serbian director Emir Kusturica once called for a duel against ultranationalist movement leader Vojislav Seselj, Seselj declined, saying he "didn't want to be accused of the murder of an artist."

"Alice" is the most apt, frightening and visually stunning adaptation of Lewis Carroll's immemorial "Alice in Wonderland." It will take you on the kind of trip that not everyone is ready for, whether under the influence or not. Everything is equally alive and inert in this film, and you never quite know when a sock might get up in a huff and leave the room for no discernible reason.

"The Point" puts all other animated stoner films to shame. Originally conceived by Harry Nilsson as a concept album, this one's narrated by Ringo Starr and tells of a young boy and his dog finding their way through the complicated world around them. There is no better "children's film for adults."

"Smiley Face" is the stoner comedy to end all stoner comedies. Film follows the crumbling misadventures of Anna Faris who accidentally eats her psychotic roommate's pot cupcakes only to find herself lost amidst a day in the bustling metropolis of Los Angeles.

"Hashish" might be a little too "real deal" for your high on a lazy Wednesday afternoon, but it's also a gentle, slow and simple documentary about a tribe of mountain people in Morocco who grow, smoke, harvest and try to sell hashish. Includes stoned chickens.

"Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?"enjoys the dubious distinction of having the longest title for any Academy Award-nominated film. It's also the only feature film that includes footage of Shel Silverstein (playing in his band alongside star Dustin Hoffman as a kind of latter-day Bob Dylan on stage at the famed Filmore East in front of an actual live audience awaiting the Grateful Dead). Need I say more?

"Dead Alive" is vintage Peter Jackson before he got into that whole "Lord of the Rings" ballyhoo. This "horror" film is really as gross-out funny as any you'll ever see, with a plot that twists and turns in ways you would never expect. Zombie babies in 1992? You'll never look at mother-in-laws (or evil monkeys) the same way again.

"Withnail & I" is more of a drinking movie than a smoking movie, sure. But, it's also damn funny in the most British of fashions. Think of a more realistic "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas," involving two down-and-out ne'er-do-wells who admittedly "go on holiday by mistake" and end up drinking their way through the rest of the film's comical torpor.

"Master of the Flying Guillotine" is a kung-fu movie for those of us who don't really care much for kung-fu movies. This 1976 masterpiece won't keep you on the edge of your seat as much as it will make you laugh right off the couch. It's really too much at times, and that's what makes this flick about an ancient, blind traveler equipped with a "flying guillotine" (that has to be seen to be believed) a raucous ride unlike any other.

"Videodrome" stars James Woods and Debbie Harry as two celebutantes in the near future who are interested in shattering the reality of those who watch them on television. Television that, in said future, not only completely encompasses every aspect of life but also might very well kill you. This is one movie that could end up watching you!

"9 Songs" is a perfect film for those who get a little... "amorous" after smoking. It's quite literally a digital docudrama about a young couple who attend actual concerts followed by actual sex (yes, actual) in their London apartment.

"Sweet Movie" is a film for stoners who need some intellectual stimulation. It's difficult to explain and might be as difficult to watch for some. Complicated, weird, disgusting, disturbing and truly shocking, it's also beautifully rendered in the most vivid colors you've ever seen onscreen. Could be strangely erotic, too, depending on your level of perversity.

"Weekend" is a French film from Jean-Luc Godard, who is to cinema what Miles Davis was to jazz. Godard understands film, loves it, was educated in it... and then decided to poke innumerable holes through it, farting new life through said holes to create films like "Weekend" that would infuriate everyone socially, aesthetically, politically and spiritually. After watching "Weekend," many of Godard's closest friends and family became worried that he might be suicidal.

"Female Trouble" is one of the most disgusting movies ever made. It's John Waters at his very "filthiest." Nothing is sacred here, whether it's rough sex involving carrots and screwdrivers or a mother murdering her allegedly "retarded" child for laughs. The title sequence runs with an original song by Debbie Harry and exhibits a wooden helicopter built (in prison) by Manson Family member Charles "Tex" Watson that was given to Waters as a gift.

"The Joy of Painting" may be television and something you've probably seen before (Bob Ross, man!), but it should never be forgotten from any stoner list, no matter what category. Let Ross lead you into a merry world of wonderment as you watch him -- as an afro'd God -- construct an entire world before your very eyes... in under 30 minutes. (Hint: Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" will have the same effect and is available now on NetFlix.)

"Truck Turner" is the kind of blacksploitation film that will make you forget all about "Super Fly," "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" and "The Harder They Come," with all the dignity lacking in "Blacula." It's time for Isaac Hayes himself to be one bad mother, going up against Yaphet Kotto's superpimp and Nichelle Nichols of "Star Trek" fame who, as she so colorfully puts it, hasn't "had to sell my p***y since I was 15 and found out I could sell other bitches' instead."

"3 Women" is Robert Altman's light and airy meditation on Shelley Duvall and Sissy Spacek stuck in a dead end job handling old people at a sanitarium. The duo spends the rest of their time fighting, drinking and messing around with an aging cowboy actor in dusty middle-of-nowhere Texas. The music is as strange as you've ever heard, and the entire thing is hallucinatory in a way that is perfect for 420, day or time.

"Gerry" is part of Gus Van Sant's "Death Trilogy," which also includes Kurt Cobain biopic "Last Days" and Columbine re-visitation "Elephant." This is a film for those who need a calm, leisurely kind of trip. "Gerry," along with its said cinematic cousins, asks little of its viewers, and allows one to drift dreamily to sleep or his own thoughts while watching Matt Damon and Casey Affleck get more and more lost in a desert with no obstacles aside from their own encroaching demise.

Early Marx Brothers films are a great way to be introduced to the comedy troupe that you've heard of, read about and maybe now should actually go out and watch, particularly in the state of mind you're in right now. Later down the road, the movies get rather trite and suffering (the boys were working to pay off Chico's gambling debts by then), but when you start off with "Animal Crackers," "Monkey Business," "Horse Feathers" and "Duck Soup," you end up with something that's not simply historically interesting, but piss-your-pants funny.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page