This week, “Countdown” and “Paradise Hills” deliver slick seasonal frights for properly high audiences, while “Jesus Is King” documents Kanye West’s “Sunday Service” in big-screen Biblical proportions.
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.
At the movies, Countdown and Paradise Hills deliver slick seasonal frights for properly high audiences while Jesus Is King documents Kanye West’s “Sunday Service” in big-screen Biblical proportions.
Streaming options for your lit viewing beguilement include the Netflix teen zombie comedy Daybreak; HBO’s Silicon Valley takes one last lap of hilarity around the smoking circle; and The Misery Index, a new TBS game show with the stoner dream cast of The Good Place’s Jameela Jamil and the goofballs from Impractical Jokers.
With Halloween high on the horizon, our vintage cult flick pics offer exactly what your spooky bong-passing viewing party requires. The Devil Rides Out is a Hammer Films shock-fest about Satanic sorcery; Paganini Horror depicts the demonic ghost of a classical violinist wreaking late-’80s havoc; and The Ringu Collection gathers the original Japanese fright classic Ringu (The Ring) and its two sequels into an extras-loaded package full of tricks that are also all treats.
Music to puff to this week ranges from the popping avant-garde art of FKA twigs to the ambient swirl of Cigarettes After Sex to the electronic conquest of everything by sonic pioneers Underworld.
So let’s get straight — but not “straight” — to this week’s fresh-rolled recommendations.
Director: Justin Dec
Cast: Elizabeth Lail, Peter Facinelli, Anne Winters
Let’s say there’s an app out there that can tell the exact moment you are going to die. Would you try it? And what would you do next if you did? It’s the sort of question we’ve all pondered to various degrees of paranoia while passing a joint. The new movie Countdown goes one better and plays out that exact premise on screen.
Elizabeth Lail stars a nurse who discovers the app and learns she’s got three days left to live. Naturally, she aims to avoid her fate by any means necessary and thereby brings on all manner of supernatural terror. Countdown is both a nail-biter and a cannabis-boosted brain-teaser.
Jesus Is King (2019)
Director: Nick Knight
Cast: Kanye West
Yes, you’re stoned, but that’s not the reason it seems like Kanye West just keeps getting weirder. That’s on him. So, keep smoking.
Jesus Is King chronicles Kanye both on his Wyoming ranch and mounting one of his curious “Sunday Service” shows at Roden Crater, an installation by artist James Turrel located in Arizona’s Painted Desert.
Regardless of your spirituality (smoke-enhanced or otherwise) Jesus Is King captivatingly presents Kanye performing 13 songs with a choir inside a mind-bending art-piece that’s, in turn, located in one of the most hallucinogenic-friendly natural environments on Earth. So, you get all that on a huge IMAX screen with a fully booming movie theater sound system. Praise whatever lord you want, and pass the lighted substance.
Paradise Hills (2019)
Director: Alice Waddington
Cast: Emma Roberts, Awkafina, Milla Jovovich
In yet another reefer-friendly riff on the mind-control/body-swap horror of The Stepford Wives (1975) and Get Out (2017), Paradise Hills stars Emma Roberts as Uma, a young woman of high society who wakes up in the opulent island facility of the title.
Paradise Hills is where global elites ship their daughters to be reinvented (literally) as perfect cogs in the secret order that not-so-secretly runs the world. Our heroine, of course, won’t simply smile and comply, so she teams up with fellow anti-make-over marauder Yu (Awkafina) against a diabolical ruler known as The Duchess (Milla Jovovich).
Daybreak: Season One
Cast: Colin Ford, Alvia Alyn Lind, Matthew Broderick
Watch It: Netflix
Adapted from a popular graphic novel, Daybreak puts a dope spin on zombie apocalypse tropes by having its action take place in a Los Angeles high school, where teenage survivors are amusingly desperate to maintain some sense of normalcy post-collapse. Since most adults are either dead or flesh-munching “ghoulies,” teens rule more than just the school. Daybreak is a refreshing reinvention of horror-comedy that pairs niftily with nug-consumption.
The Misery Index: Season One
Starring: Jameela Jamil, Joe Gatto, James Murray, Brian Quinn, Sal Vulcano
Watch It: TBS
Jameela Jamil, who plays Tahani on NBC’s thoroughly weed-worthy sitcom The Good Place, hosts The Misery Index, a sort-of game show that amplifies its instant must-see-stoner-TV status by also featuring the cast of Impractical Jokers.
With those masterfully funny talents assembled, Misery showcases teams ranking and riffing on real-life individuals in hilariously horrifying predicaments — from a bow-hunter getting “bitch-slapped by a bear” to an unfortunate woman who accidentally sexted her own grandfather.
Mrs. Fletcher: Season One
Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Jackson White
Watch It: HBO
If you ever wondered what kinds of fresh freedoms your mom explored after you left home for college, the new HBO comedy miniseries may provide answers you’d rather not ponder. Regardless, the show will also make you laugh, especially if you watch while inhaling stuff your mother may well have warned you about.
Kathryn Hahn stars as Eva Fletcher, a forty-something single mom. Jackson White plays Brendan, her 18-year-old son that heads off to the dorms. Mrs. Fletcher then parallels their two coming-of-age stories, with Eva undergoing a mid-life sexual awakening while Brendan just tries to cope with normal first-year student jitters.
Silicon Valley: The Final Season
Cast: Thomas Middleton, Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr
Watch It: HBO
Like the place it’s named for, HBO’s Silicon Valley has been a cannabis culture fixture from the jump. The main difference, though, is that the TV show is so hilarious it often hurts. For its sixth-season send-off, our harried heroes Richard (Thomas Middleditch), Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani), and Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) take on big-tech baddie Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) in one final battle to the digital death. Dirty money, government probes, and micro-dosing-gone-macro all figure in to the high-minded, side-splitting satire.
The Devil Rides Out (1968)
Director: Terence Fisher
Cast: Christopher Lee, Sarah Lawson, Charles Gray
Get It: Shout Factory
Beginning in the ‘50s, England’s premiere horror studio, Hammer Films, made its bones with gothic, gore-bathed reinventions of Dracula and Frankenstein starring fright icons Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.
As the late-’60s counterculture took hold with hallucinogenic drugs, sexual liberation, and occult spiritual exploration, Hammer made the leap with The Devil Rides Out, a sinister and psychedelic scare epic inspired, in part, by real-life sorcerer and drug explorer Aleister Crowley.
Lee stars here as nobleman Duc de Richleau. When a friend’s son gets involved in a devil-worshipping cult hellbent on unleashing demons all over the earth, the Duc deigns to take them down, along with their Crowley-like leader Mocata (Charles Grey).
The Devil Rides Out is highly stylish, feverishly frightening, and elegantly brain-bending. Sacrifice some of your most cherished stash while watching Shout Factory bloody glorious collector’s edition in its honor.
The Ringu Collection
Directors: Hideo Nakata, George Iida, Norio Tsuruta
Get It: MVD
Chances are you’ve smoked hard and freaked out to The Ring, the classic 2003 Hollywood hair-raiser about a videotape that gets secretly delivered to unsuspecting individuals who invariably watch it — and then die seven days later.
No disrespect to that Ring or the years of trauma it’s caused you to toke over, but Arrow Video’s new The Ringu Collection showcases Ringu, the 1998 Japanese film that inspired the US remake; as well as its sequel Ringu 2; the “lost prequel,” George Iida’s Spiral; and another prequel, Ringu 0: Birthday.
In addition to the films themselves, The Ringu Collection features hours of bonus features that delve deep into the franchise’s unique blend of ancient Japanese folklore and the Y2K-era terror surrounding technology, as well as the phenomenon of J-Horror, and how The Ring reshaped our modern concept of scary stories.
Paganini Horror (1989)
Director: Luigi Cozzi
Get It: Severin Films
In the 19th century, real-life violinist and composer Niccolo Paganini packed performances and made concertgoers pass out from the intensity of his performances, truly making him one of history’s proto-rock-stars.
More specifically, since many church officials believed Paganini’s masterful playing and power over audiences emanated from the Devil, he’s also one of the forefathers of heavy metal.
Paganini Horror updates that mythos for Italy’s splatter-horror ‘80s, portraying the legendary virtuoso as a demonic ghost out to exact revenge on an all-female hair-metal band that shoots a music video in his haunted home.
Italian fright queen Daria Nicolodi (Deep Red, Tenebrae) stars in a fever rush of neon spandex, possessed violins, explosive gore, and howlingly over-the-top, bong-burning hard rock from director Luigi Cozzi (Contamination, Starcrash) and producer Fabrizio De Angelis (Zombie, The Beyond).
Severin Films’ splendid collector’s edition Blu-ray of Paganini Horror is ideal for Halloween video parties, or anywhere else you plan on smoking pot this weekend (so, yeah, that means everywhere).
By Cigarettes After Sex
Get It: Bandcamp
Dream-pop spellbinders Cigarettes After Sex up the spellbinding ambience and cinema-styled ambition on their sophomore album Cry, by somehow also scaling down and creating music that feels almost impossibly intimate. As a result, Cry is one of the year’s richest and most transfixing trip soundtracks. Dose yourself and go.
Drift Series 1
Get It: Underworld Official
Nearly 40 years in, UK electronica pioneers Underworld continue to inventively blaze trails for audiences enthusiastically blazing other things. Drift Series 1 is monster Underworld undertaking contained in a box that includes seven LPs (or CDs), a Blu-ray, and an 80-page full-color book. Let your dealer know you’re expanding your order this weekend, so you can fully keep pace with the epic scale of how Drift Series 1 will expand your mind.
By FKA Twigs
Get It: FKA Twigs Official
Avant-garde storm-bringer FKA Twigs shatters sonic expectations and invents her own genres with skills and dexterity that render her every release an occasion to spark up, press play, and follow her sometimes frantic, sometimes chill, always enrapturing lead. With Magdalene, FKA Twigs explores her personal roots, the iconography of Mary Magdalene, and the outer edges of what’s possible in brilliant electro-pop music circa right now.
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