• The Scare Film Archives Volume 1: Drug Stories (AGFA/Something Weird Video) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: AGFA/Something Weird Video
    Released on: November 27th, 2020.
    Director: Various
    Cast: Robert Mitchum, Florrie Fisher, Timothy Farrell, Sal Mineo
    Year: Various
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    The Scare Film Archives Volume 1: Drug Stories – Movie Review:

    From the depths of the Something Weird Video vaults comes this three-and-a-half-hour long collection of vintage classroom scare films from the sixties and seventies, all centered around keeping students on the straight and narrow by educating them about the perils of drug and alcohol use.

    Here’s a look at what this release is all about…

    Beyond LSD is a goofy bit where some parents learn about LSD use from one Dr. Wright, who does less to calm them down than to get them fired up. From here, parents and kids mostly just kind of argue about drug use.

    The Bottle And The Throttle is a cautionary tale about drinking and driving – which is a noble enough endeavor when taken at face value. Narrated by Timothy Farrell, who also narrated Ed Wood's Glen Or Glenda, it shows us the trouble that a teenaged boy winds up in when he has 'one too many' at a beach party and decides to drive he and his girlfriend home while under the influence. He hits a mother and child as they are crossing the street and we learn how booze affects your judgement through some goofy reenactments and strange animated sequences.

    Curious Alice is a seriously trippy animated short that is an utterly bizarre cartoon take on Alice In Wonderland. It’s seriously psychedelic and more likely to make you want to take drugs than to turn you off of them but the intent here was obviously to keep kids away from drugs of all kinds as Alice gets her hands on some substances in the home that she shouldn’t be toying with and winds up going down a very strange rabbit hole.

    The Distant Drummer is narrated by none other than Robert Mitchum, which makes it interesting in and of itself, as her tells us all about the current counter culture where some men have hair that’s even longer than The Beatles’ mop tops! We get a look at the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco, spend some time in New Orleans (which Mitchum slurringly pronounces as ‘Nawlins,’ of course) and hang out with some bikers in NYC. Along the way we learn of the dangers that troubled teens have to deal with and why they should stay away from drugs and booze.

    Drugs, Drinking And Driving opens with some strange scenes in a lab that educate us the perils of substance abuse before witnessing some of this trouble first hand when a man almost gets hit bit a train and a woman loses control of her car. This is hosted by a guy named Herbert Moskowitz who looks exactly like someone named Herbert Moskowitz should look.

    LSD: Insight Of Insanity?, which is narrated by Sal Mineo of Rebel Without A Cause, shows us all about what happens teenagers drop acid. This involves swallowing a goldfish, ironing their long blonde hair on an ironing board and riding a tricycle down a flight of stairs before then dealing with deformed rodents, terrible hallucinations and Russian roulette!

    LSD-25 stands out because it is narrated in the first person by a tab of acid! In this piece we learn about the origins of the drug, the effects of the drug and the potency of the drug and how it can be harmful to teenagers foolish enough to partake. It's goofy and awesome and almost but not quite shows us how to make our own acid. It also features some cool kids in very interesting glasses, wacky cult members and bad actors having bad trips.

    Narcotics The Decision: Goofballs And Tea opens with some strange animations as a narrator explains to us how a child's brain develops and how kids can grow from innocents to junkies based on bad decision making. This leads us to the story a pretty blonde teenaged girl who decides to get into her parents alcohol when left alone one night. From here, it's a slippery slope as she moves on to weed and then gets involved with criminals at a malt shop and starts selling dope herself! It's all downhill from here, baby.

    None For The Road introduces us to a guy named Jerry who pokes fun at his pal Dan for having a soft drink instead of an adult beverage. But see, Dan's driving so he's staying sober. He's also macking on a pretty young lady impressed with his wheels. As their night plays out, we see what happens to them based on their decisions regarding alcohol use.

    The absolute highlight of the disc, however, is The Trip Back, a filmed document of a ‘motivational speech’ of sorts conducted by one Florrie Fisher. Here she speaks to an occasionally horrified looking group of high school students about how her drug use led to prostitution, plenty of jail time and all manner of horrible things. At one point she tells the crowd that anyone she knew who smoked a ‘stick’ of pot and didn’t wind up moving on to hard drugs was instead electrocuted by the state for committing murder! She’s got an amazingly thick Brooklyn accent, continuously flouts her Jewish heritage for no discernable reason and has unusually large ears and is, as such, eminently watchable. Seriously, this one is worth the price of admission alone.

    Users Are Losers is a reasonably amazing short about juvenile junkies. We learn how a kid named David takes his lunch money, the money that his mom gave him to go to a movie and finally cash from her purse to buy drugs! When he goes out to buy some amphetamines, he comes across the corpse of an overdosed girl and then learns some important life lessons from a cooler older kid.

    The Scare Film Archives Volume 1: Drug Stories – Blu-ray Review:

    Each and every one of the shorts in this collection is taken from a 2k scan of whatever elements were available, and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.33.1. Taking up 31GBs of space on the 50GB disc, the transfers are fine for what they are but keep in mind they were taken from prints, some of which probably saw play in high school projectors and what not. Expect some print damage, frame jumps and color fading, but it all sort of just adds to the experience here. The disc is well authored, showing no noticeable issues with compression, and neither noise reduction or edge enhancement are ever a problem. This transfer does a nice job of replicating the classroom scare film experience!

    All of the shorts in this collection are presented in 16-bit DTS-HD Mono, there are no alternate language or subtitle options offered. Audio is on par with the video in that the limitations of the source material are evident but, again, it’s part and parcel to the experience. There is some hiss, some popping and other audible defects but it works and the dialogue is generally always easy enough to follow.

    Aside from chapter selection and menus, the only extra on this disc is Drug Stories!: Narcotic Nightmares And Hallucinogenic Hellrides, which is an AGFA ‘mix tape’ running an hour-and-twenty-minutes. This is basically just a collection of clips from the feature attraction.

    Some rad reversible cover art is also included, so you get your choice of warped faces to display with this release – always a nice touch.

    If slipcovers get you hard, you can buy this directly from AGFA’s distributor, Vinegar Syndrome, and get yourself a limited edition piece of super dope (ha!) cardboard with some rad embossed art that is limited to only 1500 pieces. Support these guys directly and get a nice bonus at the same time.

    The Scare Film Archives Volume 1: Drug Stories - The Final Word:

    The Scare Film Archives Volume 1: Drug Stories is great collection of oddball shorts from days gone by that offers up a nice mix of content that is often as staggeringly bizarre as it is unintentionally hilarious. The presentation is pretty solid when you take into account what elements were available, and at over three-hours in length, there’s plenty of material here to keep you engaged and entertained.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Scare Film Archives Volume 1: Drug Stories Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Ian Miller's Avatar
      Ian Miller -
      I might have to watch THE TRIP BACK again tonight, Florrie rules!
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      They were still showing these types of films when I was in grade school. Amazing if people were ever convinced to stay away from drugs because of them.