420 Triple Feature:
Drug Scare films have long been a source of pleasure for those into mocking the establishment, (ahem) with the advent of home video meaning most of us are pretty familiar with their goofy charms. Comes now Apprehensive Films with this short collection of educational featurettes designed to - if not scare you away from marijuana, at least make sure you're crushingly bored by it. Boredom is but one of two major flaws in this DVD package, which is suitable only for serious camp completists.
Flaw number two is a simple one; you can't call this a triple feature, since all three short subjects combined barely total 60 minutes in length. That's less than one feature, let alone three, but maybe they were hoping you stoners wouldn't notice that. So, let's get on with it, shall we?
Keep Off The Grass from 1969, at 20 minutes length, is the most entertaining and energetic of the three shorts. And that ain't sayin' much, boy. A young man, unable to commit to being either a hippie or a square, sports lame medium length hair and nascent sideburns. His buddies want him to "blow pot", but his establishment dad wants nothing to do with it. Sure, he tosses back a few highballs every night after work while chain-smoking, but those things are legal, maannn.
Drug Addiction from 1951, is a black and white 20 minute short of a much more educational bent. A smartly attired gent warns of all the dangers of addiction and gateway drugs and such-like. There are no real horror stories, (in any of these shorts) mostly just learned, dispassionate facts and philosophy, accompanied by a little deco-trippy animation - the only thing cool on display. Boring! Oh yes, booze and cigarettes aren't all that good for you either, but they're legal, maannn.
Marijuana is a 20-minute short from 1968, hosted by, wait for it, Sonny Bono! (Believe me, this is nowhere near as exciting as it sounds, and since it doesn't sound exciting in the first place, be prepared for Bono's ultra-bland and thoroughly disingenuous card-reading to induce only mild, unintentional chuckles.) Other than Bono's nasally drone and gold jumpsuit, and the guy with the Captain & Tennille hat who turns into a lizard, the one truly funny bit here is the brief tale of a girl so whacked out on grass that she laughingly drives her car off of a cliff. Too bad she wasn't trying to light up a legal cigarette while drunk on booze, she never would have lost control of her car then, maannn!
So what have we learned in our hour of learning? Pot may or may not be as bad as booze or smokes - we just don't know! So stay away from all of that stuff, and don't be a big, chain-smoking boozer like the adults in these shorts. Is anyone freaking out and going on a rape spree after blowing some pot? Nope, just sitting around listening to boring white guys playing the old 'do as I say, not as I do' rap. I'm not sure if these pretty thoroughly scratched-up fullscreen prints have appeared on any other compilations. If they haven't, there's a good reason, so only completists will want to give these bummers the time of day.
These fullscreen, 4 X 3 images are pretty roughed-up. The middle segment from the 1950s looks best, while the two color segments from the '60s feature consistent print damage. The first segment has large, green, vertical scratches among other specks and blips and skips. Bono's segment is better, but none of these could be considered archival prints, more like public domain loss leaders. At least compression problems aren't apparent on this brief disc.
Digital Mono Audio is similarly in rough shape, with Rice Krispies-style snap, crackle and pop, plus dropouts and skips where applicable. Overall, you can understand what people are saying, but it's not a quality listening experience.
Some other Apprehensive Films Trailers represent the sole extra.
Since this small collection amasses three, count 'em, three 20-minute-long short subjects, then it not only doesn't qualify as a triple feature, it's got barely enough content to equal one feature. And that's not splitting hairs, since the DVD case has no mention of program length at all. That said, these three scratched-up shorts trade hysteria for almost levelheaded talks about pot and addiction. The main message seems to be that drinking and smoking are bad enough, so don't bother with pot or other drugs, since they're illegal, maannn. A few laughs and dated terminology aren't enough to make this worth it, when there are better collections and features out there. Reefer Madness springs instantly to mind. Even if you've seen them all, this one still isn't really worth it, so Skip It, maannn.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com