We human beings love to get high, from the moment it was possible to smoke, chew or swallow something that would alter our reality we were on it. And just as much as we love getting high, we love making movies about getting high and the things that get us high… and what happens when you get too high. A case in point is this Wikipedia list of “drug films” that seems to go on forever. The list claims to include “films that depict either drug distribution or drug use, whether as a major theme or in a few memorable scenes”, which is what I’ll be basing this top 10 on.
A Scanner Darkly (2006)
Starring: Rory Cochrane, Robert Downey Jr, Keanu Reeves
Use/Distribution: A bit of both
Pro/anti drugs: Anti
Drug: Substance D (fictional), weed
“Fred: D… Substance D. “D” is dumbness, and despair, desertion-desertion of you from your friends, your friends from you, everyone from everyone. Isolation and loneliness… and hating and suspecting each other, “D” is finally death. Slow death from the head down. Well… that’s it.“
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle
Pro/Anti drugs: Anti
Drug: Heroin, opium, MDMA, Amphetamines, Valium, Hashish, Morphine, Diamorphine, Cyclozine, Codeine, Temazepam, Nitrazepam, Phenobarbitone, Sodium Amytal, Dextropropoxyphene, Methadone, Nalbuphine, Pethidine, Pentazocine, Buprenorphine, Dextromoramide, Chlormethiazol
“Mark “Rent-boy” Renton: We took morphine, diamorphine, cyclizine, codeine, temazepam, nitrazepam, phenobarbitone, sodium amytal, dextropropo xyphene, methadone, nalbuphine, pethidine, pentazocine, buprenorphine, dextromoramide, chlormethiazole. The streets are a wash with drugs you can have for unhappiness and pain, and we took them all. Fuck it, we would of injected vitimin C if only they’d made it illegal.”
Starring: Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer
Use/Distribution: Focused on distribution
Pro/anti drugs: Anti
Drug: Cocaine, heroin, Quaaludes
“Omar: Alright! Alright, big man? You wanna make some big bucks? Lets see how tough you are. Do you know something ’bout cocaine?
Tony Montana: You kidding me or what?
Omar: There’s a bunch of Colombians coming in Friday. New guys. They say they have two keys for us, for openers. Pure coke. Hotel in Miami Beach. I want you go over there. If it’s what they say it is, you pay ’em and bring it back. You do that, you get 5 grand!
Manny: [to Tony] Go, pay, bring it back, yeah?
Omar: You know how to handle a machine gun?
Manny: Yeah man. We’re in the army in Cuba
Omar: You’ll need a couple of other guys.
Manny: That’s no problem, man.
Omar: Be at Hector’s Bodega at noon Friday. You get the buy money then. And chico! If anything happens to that buy money, y pobreci! My boss is gonna stick your heads up your asses faster than a rabbit gets fucked!
Tony Montana: I’m scared!”
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Starring: Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Ellen Burstyn
Pro/Anti drugs: Anti
Drug: Heroin, cannabis, MDMA, cocaine, amphetamines, barbiturates
“Sara Goldfarb: [about her pills] Purple in the morning, blue in the afternoon, orange in the evening.
Sara Goldfarb: There’s my three meals, Mr. Smartypants.
[back to pills]
Sara Goldfarb: And green at night. Just like that. One, two, three, four.“
How High (2001)
Starring: Method Man, Redman
Pro/Anti drugs: Pro
“Silas: So, you trying to get something to bring your nerves down too, huh?
Jamal: Yeah. I figure if I study high, take the test high, get high scores! Right?
Jamal and Silas: Right… “
Human Traffic (1999)
Starring: John Simm, Lorraine Pilkington, Shaun Parkes, Danny Dyer
Pro/Anti drugs: Non-judgemental
Drug: Cannabis, cocaine and MDMA
“Jip: The weekend has landed. All that exists now is clubs, drugs, pubs and parties. I’ve got 48 hours off from the world, man. I’m gonna blow steam out my head like a screaming kettle, I’m gonna talk cod shit to strangers all night, I’m gonna lose the plot on the dancefloor. The free radicals inside me are freakin’, man! Tonight I’m Jip Travolta, I’m Peter Popper, I’m going to never-never land with my chosen family, man. We’re gonna get more spaced out than Neil Armstrong ever did, anything could happen tonight, you know? This could be the best night of my life. I’ve got 73 quid in my back burner – I’m gonna wax the lot, man! The Milky Bars are on me! Yeah!“
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Tobey Maguire
Pro/Anti Drugs: Non-judgemental
Drug: Cannabis, mescaline, thorazine, LSD, cocaine, amphetamines, barbiturates, ether, amyl nitrite, opium, hashish, hash oil, heroin, adrenochrome
“Raoul Duke: We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers… Also, a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can. The only thing that really worried me was the ether. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge, and I knew we’d get into that rotten stuff pretty soon.”
Starring: Heath Ledger, Abbie Cornish, Geoffrey Rush
Pro/Anti Drugs: Anti
“Drug: Heroin and Cannabis
Dan: They say for every ten years you’ve been a junkie, you’ll have spent seven of them waiting. On the one hand it was nice having all that time to think. On the other, anxiety was a full time job.“
Starring: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Franka Potente
Pro/Anti drugs: Non-Judgemental
Drug: Cocaine and Cannabis
“George: So, what’d I tell ya, Derek?
Derek: It’s great, but what am I supposed to do with it?
George: Sell it.
Derek: Jesus Christ, George, I don’t see you for two years and you show up on my doorstep with 110 pounds of blow.
George: Just fucking sell it, Derek.
Derek: Okay, but it’s going to take me a year.
[scene shift to interior Derek’s bar surrounded by stacks of cash]
Derek: 36 hours, 36 hours, I can’t believe we got rid of it in 36 hours.
George: I think it’s fair to say you underestimated the market, Derek.
Derek: Right on. It’s going to take us longer to count it than it did to sell it.“
The Basketball Diaries (1995)
Starring: Leonardo Di Caprio, Lorraine Braco, Mark Wahlberg
Pro/Anti drugs: Anti
Drug: Heroin, cocaine, cannabis, solvents and various pills
“Jim Carroll: First, it’s a Saturday night thing when you feel cool like a gangster or a rockstar- just something to kill the boredom, you know? They call it a chippie, a small habit. It feels so good, you start doing it on Tuesdays… then Thursdays… then it’s got you. Every wise ass punk on the block says it won’t happen to them, but it does.”