• Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story Of National Lampoon

    Released by:
    Magnolia Pictures
    Released on: April 19th, 2016
    Director: Douglas Tirola
    Cast:Danny Abelson, Judd Apatow, Kevin Bacon
    Year: 2015
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    The Movie

    Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead is a film documentary based upon the 2010 book from Rick Meyerwitz, detailing the writers and artists which rose to prominence in the early seventies under the National Lampoon banner; a magazine, radio show and eventual movie brand which would redefine smart and subversive comedy for decades.

    It may be easy for some to deride the idea of National Lampoon for its modern day connections with low budget, direct to video or Netflix comedies featuring a who's who of absolutely no one, but if this documentary does anything, it reminds us of just how many brilliant artists rose through the Lampoon's ranks over the years. Not only did a large chunk of that iconic first cast of Saturday Night Live first cut their teeth on the National Lampoon radio show, comedy albums and concert performances, but the magazine went on to greatly influence and impact impressionable college-age youth during the post-Nixon era of the 1970s and 80s.

    Director and co-writer Douglas Tirola clearly sees this documentary as a labor of love, and Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead practically exudes admiration from nearly every frame. The film's narrative primarily follows the National Lampoon founders Doug Kenney and Henry Beard as their parody rag evolves from the Harvard Lampoon into something steeped in post-Watergate cynicism and intellectualism, while simultaneously playing up the sex, drugs and rock 'n roll angles of the burgeoning seventies.

    Tirola follows the magazine as different writers, cartoonists, art directors and publishers being contributing to the tree which would eventually grow different branches of talent from the roots of National Lampoon, right on through Beard and Kenney's selling of their stock shares, and the latter's foray into movie acting and producing with the classics Animal House and Caddyshack. Kenney's story is given particular focus by Tirola, as he attempts to get the closest semblance of how the man was by interviewing people as varied as Chevy Chase, John Landis, Beard and other Lampoon contributors.

    Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead is shot primarily in a relaxed interview style, intercut with plenty of classic comedy footage and ephemera from the Lampoon archives, making it both a great trip down memory lane for those who grew up on the magazine, as well as a lightning strike of inspiration for those who might only know the brand for their Vacation or parody films. It's an inspiring tale of maverick artists who were lucky enough to come up and work during a particularly vibrant period of time when it came to culture, and who were bold enough to comment on it while simultaneously creating some truly memorable, hilarious satire.


    The transfer here for Magnolia's Blu-Ray of Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead, which is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 1.78.1 widescreen, is bright and colorful, showing no signs of pixilation or glitch, while the DTS-HD Master Audio high def audio track is clear without any drop outs, featuring well translated English and Spanish subtitles. There isn't an audio commentary track from Tirola, but the disc does come armed with a wealth of extras, including quite a bit of unused, deleted and rough interview footage from the cast. Most of these anecdotes are presented in brief chunks which rarely last longer than five minutes, and discuss everything from the Lampoon's aborted Jaws spoof, titled Jaws: 3 People: 0, recollections about shooting Animal House and some of the interview subjects reading some of the absolutely FILTHY articles penned by beloved director and former Lampoon contributor John Hughes. If you've ever wanted to see Anthony Michael Hall read Hughes' "My Vagina" while lamped out on a beach near LAX Airport, then this is the disc for you.

    The Final Word

    Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead absolutely rules, and is a great snapshot reminder of just how subversive some of what the National Lampoon was then, and still is today. Oh, and it's fucking hilarious.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Sounds awesome!