From the sumptuously surreal poetry of Alejandro Jodorowsky to the lurid beauty of 1981's The Evil Dead, psychedelic horror movies have a rich history. Acid cinema isn't limited to LSD, either: drugs like cocaine and heroin have played significant roles (for better or worse) in many cinematic visions.
Who knew that one of the most harrowing scenes in 1974's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was filmed under the influence of pot brownies? Or that reefer paranoia almost derailed one of Friday the 13th's most memorable slaughter-sequences?
Whatever your feelings about drugged-out filmmakers, stoned stars, or getting high might be, check out these trippy horror movies, which prove that altered states do, in fact, translate well to the big screen.
- Photo: New Line Cinema
The original, irreplaceable The Evil Dead (1981) is as artsy, splattery, and surreal as it gets. In fact, it often appears as if this story of teens who end up vacationing in a haunted/possessed cabin was shot entirely on LSD. (Acid wasn't actually involved in the production, but the movie's drug scenes weren't staged).
"Marijuana was somehow forced upon us in Tennessee... and I therefore became, let’s just say, affected... I lost any sense of time and where I was, and that’s [when] Sam Raimi decided that he needed to shoot Ash having a breakdown."
Everyone else also got compromised. As the film journal ihorror put it:
"Being that the film revolves around a group of friends partying in this cabin in the woods, Sam Raimi originally wanted the film to seem as authentic as possible. In the original script, while the recordings of the Necronomicon were being played back, Ash and company were to be smoking weed... so instead of faking it, the cast actually got high. The scene had to be reshot due to everyone acting out."
The Mental Floss piece also points out that many of the corpse-guts were ingeniously fashioned "from marshmallow strings," so one can assume that when the munchies kicked in, there were at least easily accessible (and stringy) sweets available for the taking/disemboweling.
- Actors: Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi, Scott Spiegel, Ellen Sandweiss
- Released: 1981
- Directed by: Sam Raimi
- Photo: New Line Cinema
1974's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a masterpiece of visually brilliant minimalist horror, but there was nothing minimal about the amount of blood, sweat, and psychedelic edibles that went into its making. According to reports, the actors and crew spontaneously decided to shoot the movie's final scenes while under the influence of pot brownies.
Gunnar Hansen (AKA Leatherface) was new to marijuana, and, as filming went on and the drug began to take effect, things got really intense. Hansen was at the apex of the kick-in, and was dizzy and disoriented during a scene in which he had to chainsaw through a door and come at his victims. Fortunately, he managed to pull off the sequence without accidentally mangling any actual flesh.
- Actors: Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, John Henry Faulk, Jim Siedow
- Released: 1974
- Directed by: Tobe Hooper
- Photo: IFC Films
If Danish auteur Lars von Trier is to be believed (he's famous for his self-deprecating sense of humor), he's written and shot pretty much all of his films under the influence of something or other. That includes the intense drama Antichrist (2009), as well as the lesser-known Epidemic (1987).
According to numerous interviews and reports (including this one from The Independent), von Trier has copped to drinking a bottle of vodka a day, and to using substances, in general, as "creative fuel." The director once told a Danish newspaper that:
"There is no creative expression of artistic value that has ever been produced by ex-drunkards and ex-drug-addicts. Who the hell would bother with a Rolling Stones without booze or with a Jimi Hendrix without heroin?"
Though von Trier is apparently sober as of 2014, he's expressed concern about clear-headedness being a possible hindrance to his ability to make films.
- Actors: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Storm Acheche Sahlstrøm
- Released: 2009
- Directed by: Lars von Trier
- Photo: Paramount Pictures
The Friday the 13th films - in which teens abuse substances, have sex, and meet ingeniously ghastly deaths, usually in that order - are notorious for their on-set drug extravaganzas. Legend has it that Final Chapter star Lawrence Monoson, who memorably gets stabbed through a projector screen while watching porn and clutching a teddy bear, decided to get high prior to his own murder scene. He promptly freaked out, going into a paranoid tailspin as the sequence became all-too visceral.
In fact, A New Beginning and The Final Chapter in particular were "riddled with" cocaine use by just about everybody on set.
- Actors: Kevin Bacon, Tom Savini, Betsy Palmer, Irwin Keyes, Laurie Bartram
- Released: 1980
- Directed by: Sean S. Cunningham