It wasn’t always bears, kids. In other movies, people use drugs, although the result – limbs akimbo and carnage aplenty – usually still follows. Here are our favorite druggie horror flicks.
5. Cabin in the Woods (2011) (weed)
There are countless reasons to love Drew Goddard’s 2011 horror mash note Cabin in the Woods. Not the least of which is Fran Kranz as Marty, pothead.
Easily the favorite character (inside the cabin, anyway), Marty not only provides the levity necessary for this particular trope to work, his weedy logic is all that actually makes sense in this world.
The entire film is a trip, but it’s Marty’s trip that’s most worth taking.
4. Cocaine Bear (2023) (cocaine, obviously)
The year is 1985, from what I can piece together from an inspired soundtrack of pop hits spilling out of speakers, and one Jefferson Starship fan is about to make a jump from his plane with an awful lot of coke. Things don’t go well, and next thing you know, drug kingpin Syd (Ray Liotta in his final screen performance) is sending his reluctant son (Alden Ehrenreich) and best guy (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) to Blood Mountain to retrieve $14 million in missing blow.
As you may have guessed from the title, a bear found it first.
Inspired, manic carnage follows. Entrails spill, children fill their mouths with cocaine, skate punks lose their heads (well, parts of their heads), EMTs really earn their pay, and we all have an incredible, brightly colored, viscera covered good time!
3. Climax (2018) (LSD)
Oh, Gaspar Noe, you scamp! The provocateur returned to screens in 2018 with a bad trip full of percussive dancing and concussive beats that will leave you as bewildered, wrung out, unsettled and horrified as the characters.
Sofia Boutella leads an ensemble of dancers locked into a French warehouse post-production to just party. But there’s more in that sangria than fruit and soon enough, the party is an inescapable hellscape.
Noe has a way with pummeling an audience, overstimulating and punishing us into submission. Turns out, he can also choreograph a decent dance number!
2. Hagazussa (2017) (mushrooms)
Making a remarkably assured feature debut as director, Lukas Feigelfeld mesmerizes with his German Gothic poetry, Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse. Settled somewhere in the 15th Century Alps, the film shadows lonely, ostracized women struggling against a period where plague, paranoia and superstition reigned.
Albrun’s is a tragic story and Feigelfeld crafts it with a believable loneliness that bends toward madness. He’s captured this moment in time, this draining and ugly paranoia that caused women such misery, with imagery that is perplexingly beautiful.
He’s cast a spell and you should submit.
1. Mandy (2018) (LSD)
A hallucinogenic fever dream of social, political and pop-culture subtexts layered with good old, blood-soaked revenge, Mandy throws enough visionary strangeness on the screen to dwarf even Nicolas Cage in full freakout mode.
Not just Nic, either. Andrea Riseborough, cannibal bikers on LSD, The Chemist, and a religious sex cult led by a terrible folk singer. Plus a sword, an axe, a lot of blood, and did I mention the LSD?
Like director Panos Cosmatos’s 2010 debut Beyond the Black Rainbow, Mandy is both formally daring and wildly borrowed. While Black Rainbow, also set in 1983, shines with the antiseptic aesthetic of Cronenberg or Kubrick, Mandy feels more like something snatched from a Dio album cover.
It is as insane as any beautifully conceived, expertly executed film has ever been and you must give yourself to it.