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[Nettime-nl] 31 Januari, Utrecht, Movies with roots in hell - Drugs in American Film


Impakt Event:

Movies with roots
 in hell
Drugs in American Film

The American filmcollecter and cultspecialist Jack Stevenson will show a collection of historic shorts, out-takes & trailers that stretches from 1916 to1972 and show how drugs were dramatically depicted on film in America.

Tuesday 31 January, 19:30 hours
Filmtheater ’t Hoogt, Hoogt 4, Utrecht, Hall 1
Entrance: 7 Euro (6 Euro with discount)

“Hysterical laughter, screams of terror and freaked out hallucinations punctuate this roller-coaster ride...”
( about the programme of Jack Stevenson)

People who thought that films and drugs did not meet until the sixties are thoroughly in the wrong. Just look at the slapstick film The Mystery Of The Leaping Fish from 1916, in which detective Coke Ennyday has to round up a drugs gang, while he has trouble to keep away from the white powder himself. Later on, in the thirties, various melodramatic films were made, focusing mainly on marihuana. Murder, manslaughter, orgies, spontaneous insanity, all found their origin in a joint. For many filmmakers, these films were a welcome excuse to display degenerate behaviour that would never have survived censorship otherwise. In the late sixties the American government entered the arena. Films like LSD: Trip To Where and Hooks were supposed to warn soldiers and marines for the mind expanding effects of LSD. Filmmakers could indulge in colourful special effects for depicting LSD trips. Amateurish acting further enhanced the camp qualities of the films.
The American film collector Jack Stevenson will present a program with various gems from the ‘drugs cinema’.

Reservations can be made by calling to ‘t Hoogt: +31(0)30-2328388 or mailing at
More information will be available at:

Note for the redaction:
For more information or visual material you can contact or call +31(3)30-2944493 and ask for Marjet Wullink or Arjon Dunnewind.

THE MYSTERY OF THE LEAPING FISH: 1916, 20 min., stars Douglas Fairbanks Sr., as Detective “Coke Ennyday”, along with Bessie Love and Alma Reubens (who later went on to become one of Hollywood’s most notorious drug addicts in real life). Written by Tod Browning (who made DRACULA and FREAKS) and supervised by D.W. Griffith, the plot revolves around a nervous drug-snorting private detective who breaks up a drug ring based in Chinatown, with Coke Ennyday played as a hilarious parody of Sherlock Holmes. One of the classic “midnight movie” cult hits of the early 70s, this film is one of the craziest, strangest silent movies ever made. We have added our own soundtrack of up-tempo period jazz music.
THAT OLD REEFER MAN: 1933, 5 min., A song performance excerpt from the 1933 feature film, INTERNATIONAL HOUSE. In this out-take we see the famous Jazz singer, Cab Calloway perform REEFER MAN (Reefer of course referring to “Marijuana”)
SWEET MARIJUANA: 1934, 5 min., Another song performance here taken out of a 1934 feature film called MURDER AT THE VANITIES. In this extremely strange dance number we see singer Gertrud Michaels sing “Sweet Marijuana” - one of the most bizarre drug-related performances in 30s American cinema.
MARIJUANA: WEED WITH ROOTS IN HELL: 1936, 5 min., A full-length theatrical trailer to Dwain Esper’s legendary exploitation film about the Marijuana menace of same name.
THE PUSHER: 1955, 15 min., by Social Service Pictures, directed by Dwain Esper. A filmed lecture that harps on the evils of drugs and includes all the best scenes from Esper’s own 1936 film - MARIJUANA: WEED WITH ROOTS IN HELL which we just saw the trailer to.
CURFEW BREAKERS - Trailer to this 1957 film directed by Alex Wells that deals with the evils of partying, drug-taking teenagers. (“Curfew” means a time-limit set by the police after which no one is allowed to go outdoors)
HOOKS - 1972, 5 min. An out-take from a U.S. Army-produced film that visualizes the hallucinatory effects of drugs and is narrated by Michael Landon (well known to Dutch viewers from his role on the 80s TV show, “Little House on the Prairie”) Here we see a cascade of psychedelic special effects.
LSD: TRIP TO WHERE - 1968, 10 min., this is the classic opening 10-minute “hallucination scene” of a U.S. Navy-produced film that has achieved cult status in American film buff circles. In this scene we witness the nightmarish hallucinations that result when three American sailors go to a Hippie’s house and take LSD.
LSD: CASE STUDY - 1968, 5 min., produced by the Lockheed Aircraft corporation to be shown to employees in order to warn them off the use of LSD. A small gem of drug cinema - a girl takes LSD and her hot-dog comes to life!
NAKED UNDER LEATHER - a short trailer to this 1968 Jack Cardiff-directed feature film that stars Marianne Faithful and Alain Delon. Here we briefly see some of the first hallucination effects generated by use of video.
ROCKFLOW - 1968, 9 min., directed by Bob Cowan. An psychedelic underground film from Bob Cowan who was involved in the 60s New York scene. ROCKFLOW is a record of the music and dancing that took place at the gala opening of a mod boutique. Main stars of Kuchar brother’s movies, Donna Kerness (in bug antenna head gear) and Hope Morris - who designed most of the fashions - can be seen on the dance floor. The film becomes increasingly experimental and psychedelic. Features The Chambers Brothers rock band (“Time Has Come Today”)
THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR - 1970, 15 min., directed by David Greene. Five dramatic excerpts from this scandalous feature film are presented in chronological order and showcase the talents of actress Debra Winters who plays “Maxie”, a 16 year old suburban girl who drives her parents (played by Eli Wallach and Julie Harris) crazy by experimenting with drugs and sex. One of the most hard-hitting and outrageous of the many features that dealt with drugs at the start of the 70’s.
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