Take Me To The River on Blu-ray & DVD Feb 5Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956) on Blu-ray & DVD Jan 5Condemned on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 5Broad City: Season 2 on DVD Jan 5McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Jennifer Esposito Is Your Newest NCIS Agent in Season 1...
Critics Are Split on Ghostbusters Reboot ...
'Respect is key': The Game, Snoop Dogg lead march to LA...
Kristen Stewart's Sheer Dress At 'Equals' Premiere -- S...
"A Slow Slipping Away"-- Kris Kristofferson's Long-Undi...
Fox News' Roger Ailes Sued for Sexual Harassment by Ous...
Garrison Keillor Retires from 'Prairie Home Companion' ...
Jennifer Aniston is Pregnant: Star Steps Out in Loose D...
Hiddleswift Is One Big Song Promotion -- A Theory...
Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley files for ...

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Fox Home Entertainment presents
Reefer Madness (Tell Your Children) Special Edition (1938)

"We administrators can't do anything until the public is sufficiently aroused."
- Dr. Alfred Carroll (Joseph Forte)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: April 20, 2004

Stars: Dorothy Short, Kenneth Craig, Lilian Miles, Dan O'Brien, Thelma White, Carleton Young
Other Stars: Warren McCollum, Pat Royale, Joseph Forte
Director: Louis Gasnier

Manufacturer: Ambient Digital Media
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (drug use, violence, language on commentary)
Run Time: 01h:07m:56s
Release Date: April 20, 2004
UPC: 024543102465
Genre: cult

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
D- C-B-D+ B+

DVD Review

For nearly two centuries, hemp (cannibas sativa) was one of the biggest cash crops in America. But in the 1930s, the plant was utterly demonized and taxed out of circulation through a conspiracy of the Hearst syndicate, DuPont, big liquor, the cotton growers and the lumber interests, depending on which tinfoil hat you're wearing. But it was certainly one of the most successful public relations campaigns ever, with the anti-drug hysteria that it created still alive and well 70 years later, a testament to the propaganda skills of the anti-marijuana forces. This film, originally entitled Tell Your Children but re-released under a multitude of titles, was a centerpiece in the crusade against pot and remains a hilarious cult classic under its most familiar title.

Pusher Jack Perry (Carleton Young) is busily addicting America's high school students to marijuana through pot parties at the apartment of Mae (Thelma White). Although Dr. Alfred Carroll (Joseph Forte) engages in a straight-faced campaign against Satan's smokes, young Bill Harper (Kenneth Craig) and Jimmy Lane (Warren McCollum) fall under Jack's spell. Before long, they are not only involved in vehicular manslaughter, attempted rapes, and murder frame-ups, but excruciatingly bad dancing, weird ragtime piano playing, and maniacal laughter to boot. Oddly enough, no Doritos or pizza are anywhere to be seen. Marijuana use in 1938 must have been much more difficult than today.

Reefer Madness is justly reviled for its utterly terrible script and acting. Most of the performances here would be rejected off a high school stage, ranging from wooden to lethargic, with a smattering of gross overacting to spice things up every now and then. The latter is especially the case with hophead Ralph (Dave O'Brien), who is consistently leering maniacally, when he's not actually groping teenage girls. The pot escapades are interwoven with endless lectures from Forte, who lacks any kind of conviction other than a determination to bore his listeners to death. One clearly understands how time is slowed down under the influence, for the opening crawl goes on, slowly....slowly.....slowly.......for what seems like an hour. Static camera, uninteresting compositions, pathetic effects and incredibly cheap production values combine to make this a painful viewing experience in any kind of serious frame of mind. Even at a mere 67 minutes, the picture is mercilessly padded with the drug pushers mixing drinks, making dinner, and other boring scenes of domesticity that add nothing whatsoever to the mix.

This picture was produced at the behest of a group of church leaders, who no doubt were seriously disturbed by the notion that someone, somewhere might be having a good time. It's difficult to believe that the producers of the film exactly shared that sentiment. One subsidiary newspaper headline proclaims "G-Man Dick Tracy in Sensational Raid," a tip that things aren't exactly on the level here. And that's probably why the drug sequences seem like so much fun (if arbitrarily weird) and the straight ones are so deathly dull. For generations of viewers, this film has had the opposite effect from that which was intended by its sponsors, being viewed almost universally by the heavily stoned. Your reviewer, I will point out, maintained complete sobriety through three viewings, as difficult as that may be to believe.

As camp classics go, Reefer Madness is right at the top of the list. It goes way beyond "So bad it's good" clear through good and back into very, very bad again. Take another toke, and maybe that'll make sense.

Rating for Style: D-
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The primary feature is provided in a colorized version (no doubt to provide a copyrightable aspect to this PD staple), done in psychedelic colors in the style of 1930s picture postcards, complete with multi-colored puffs of smoke. The source print is in surprisingly nice condition, although there's a bit of a shake to the picture. There's also the original black-and-white version for the purists, but it doesn't have all the extra features and juiced-up audio tracks. Considering its very-low-budget origins and PD status, this looks pretty good, though the colorization won't be for everyone. The picture here is much better than on any other home video version to date.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish (B&W feature)no
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The disc producers have gone way overboard on the audio, giving the noisy and crackly mono not only a DD 5.1 but DTS treatment as well. Frankly, the effort's pretty much wasted, since there's no audio quality to work with in the first place. Music is tinny, and there's plenty of noise and hiss throughout. The surround aspect sounds unnatural and unnecessarily tricked up, with exaggerated directionality on occasion. The black-and-white version is in the original mono, which doesn't sound any better, but at least it doesn't jerk about strangely.

Audio Transfer Grade: D+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by 1) Michael J. Nelson 2) Legend Films colorizers
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Short subject Grandpa's Marijuana Handbook
Extras Review: Fox goes wild with this disc, providing not one but two full-length scene-specific commentaries. By far the most entertaining is one by Mike Nelson, former writer and host of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The commentary starts off giving a little background as if he's going to be serious but by the time we're five minutes in he's mercilessly riffing on the picture. Even though he doesn't have the bots to play off of, he still has the knack and it's guaranteed to make you laugh even if you don't have a stash handy. The second track features the colorizing team discussing how they made their creative decisions, which will probably be interesting only to color theorists. They can't resist taking jabs at the feature either, however, so it's not without merit for the rest of us.

There's also a 24m:32s humorous 1999 short featuring Evan Keliher, author of Grandpa's Marijuana Handbook, discussing the history and use of pot. It's pretty amateurishly shot on video, but still manages to be moderately amusing. A set of outtakes of Keliher screwing up his lines will probably appeal most to the more completely baked audience members. Finally, there's a trailer for the colorized version of the film.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

Although there are plenty of PD versions of this film out there, the extras and the quality of the print make this one the obvious choice. It's perfect for riffing with your friends, or you can just let Mike Nelson do the heavy lifting for you.


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90


Microsoft Store


television, jennifer esposito, blue bloods, ncis, mark harmon. duane henry, wilmer valderrama, michael weatherly, bull, movie, ghostbusters, comedy, chris helmsworth, melissa mcarthy, kristen wiig, celebrity, rap, game, shoop dogg, jayceon terrell taylor, alton sterling, kristen stewart, equals, jonathan simkhal, nicholas hoult, music, kris kristofferson, country music hall of fame, alzheimers, lyme disease, fox news, gretchen carlson, fox and friends, steve doocy, roger ailes, the real story with gretchen carlson, radio, garrison keillor, a prairie home companion, jennifer anniston, baby bump, justin theroux, taylor swift, tom hiddleston, calvin harris, lisa marie presley, michael lockwood, riley and benjamin keough, danny keough, michael jackson, nicolas cage, tom affleck, boston fan, bill simmons, hbo show, any given wednesday, tom brady, deflategate, hamilton, lin-manuel mianda, periscope, heart tweet machine, hamilton mixtape, cable, hbo, curb your enthusiasm, larry david, bernie sanders, saturday night live, maya and marty, christina grimmie, murdered, plaza live, before you exit, marcus grimmie, nashville, cmt, president brian phillips, the tonight show, jimmy fallon, president obama, the roots, hillary clinton, tim mcgraw, faith hill, maggie mcgraw, humble and kind, ellen degeneres show, titi pierce, coldwell banker robbins & free realty, hairspray live!, tracy turnblad, york theatre company, john waters, jennifer hudson, harvey fierstein, martin short, derek hough, j.k. rowling, harry potter and the cursed child, noma dumezweni, emma watson, judd apatow, paul freig, melissa mccarthy, romance, history channel, roots, remake, anika noni rose, t.i., malachi kirby, josh duhamel, transformers, fergie, black eyed peas, axl, double dutchess, abc, music city, grand ole opry, chip esten, lennon stella, the voice, alisan porterm, christina aguilera, ceelo green, ariana grande, sia, the little big town, 2016 billboard music awards, pink, just like fire, pamela neal, warrior princess, send my love (to your new lover), billboard music awards, adele, patrick daughters, bryan cranston, lbj, all the way, melissa leo, frank langella, todd weeks, hard sell, kristin chenoweth, wicked

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store