Everyone has seen a film that makes them step back, and say "These guys had to be high while making this movie." But, the truth is usually far more mundane than that.
Directors like Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, and Terry Gilliam never touched marijuana while making their films, as it interfered with their creative processes (or they were just very straight laced).
But, for better or worse, there are a few films that were made by directors who were at the very least high. The results, though, are varied. Some films become surrealist masterpieces, and others... are bad. Sometimes, a director being high can elevate a film into bizarre majesty, and sometimes a high director can bring a film down to rock bottom.
Death Bed: The Bed that Eats
You would think that a movie titled Death Bed would be a strange film. George Barry's single directing credit is a movie where people wander into an abandoned home, sit on a mysterious bed, and end up sinking into it, only to be digested by what I presume to be stomach acid. I presume that's what it is, since the only other thing it can be is super-acidic orange juice.
The film is weird. It should come as no surprise that George Barry was high the whole time while making it. He has gone on record saying that he has forgotten the entire creative process of the film, other than the fact that he came up with the idea after having a very vivid dream (kinda like how Stephen King has no memory of writing Cujo, but, don't worry, King will have his day soon).
Of course, this should surprise no one who has seen the film. After all, there is a scene where a guy's hands melt off, leaving nothing but bones, and he just stares at it with an expression of disinterested confusion. This movie is weird.
This classic road movie is also one of the best examples of a mainstream film made completely on drugs. Dennis Hopper, for most of the film, had paranoid spells thanks to being high. Jack Nicholson described being high for many scenes of the movie, and even stated that the cast and crew would get in on the action from time to time.
In many ways, this makes complete sense. After all, the film served as the ultimate anti-establishment film of the 70s, setting the scenes for a decade of turmoil and civil unrest. Is it any surprise that it was made on pot?
Stephen King is a best-selling author who has never lied about his issues with alcohol and smoking weed before. He's admitted to going into watch 2001: A Space Odyssey while stoned (that said, neither Stanley Kubrick or Arthur C. Clark used marijuana while making 2001, so, despite being a very trippy movie, it won't be included here).
King has only directed one movie. Maximum Overdrive. It is truly a bizarre little movie, about a comet that passes overhead that somehow makes machines come to life. ATMs call Stephen King an asshole, a kid gets crushed by a steam roller, and a monster truck with the face of Spider-Man villain, The Green Goblin, holds a gas station and the people inside hostage.
Oh, and the soundtrack is all AC/DC.
Shockingly, Stephen King was high and drunk throughout the entire production, and, shock, he isn't very proud of the end result.
A stoner comedy was made by stoners. Shocking, I know.
If you're reading a list like this, chances are you've seen this film. Pineapple Express is one of the best collaborations between Seth Rogan and James Franco, and completely relishes in its pro-marijuana characters. It's a comedy, crime thriller, action story... but, above all, it's a stoner film.
And, yes, everyone behind the scenes smoked some pot. And if they weren't smoking, they were inhaling some fumes.
Cop Out is arguably Kevin Smith's worst film. It's bland, the cast looks bored, and the plot is generic. It's no shock that it had something of a rocky production, and, while Kevin Smith would like to say that's because of Bruce Willis, the truth may lie closer to home.
Kevin Smith has never kept his thoughts to himself, so, of course, he's admitted he smokes marijuana. Everyone who knows anything about Smith knows about his rants concerning the production of Cop Out, in particular Bruce Willis being uncooperative.
But Bruce Willis's perspective? He states that Smith was high half the time, which left him questioning the director's judgement half the time. Which resulted in another entry in the ever expanding body of Bruce Willis's work where he looks bored out of his mind, questioning why he signed up at all for whatever film he's in this time.
The truth is, though, that it really doesn't matter why Cop Out sucks. It just does.
The Holy Mountain
Alejandro Jodorowsky is one of the greatest film makers no one's ever heard of. His small body of work consists of some of the strangest, most surreal films ever conceived. It is well documented that he does a massive amounts of LSD during and before the production of his films in order to put himself in a dream like state where any of the insane visuals of his work make any sense.
However, it is only in his masterpiece The Holy Mountain where it is known he smoked any weed. In certain scenes, he smoked both peyote and cannabis in order to put himself in the proper mindset to create a convincing scene. Seeing as how The Holy Mountain is a masterpiece of filmmaking, he clearly succeeded.
"The gun is good! The penis... is... evil!"
There is no way on God's green earth that a film this insane could have made sober. John Boorman has openly admitted to being on so many different drugs while making Zardoz that he doesn't understand how he came up with anything in the film.
And God, is this film a trip.
So a giant floating stone head that's piloted by a small little man rules over a post-apocalyptic wasteland ruled by savages... that encourages Sean Connery to wear a red codpiece while shooting people up. And there's a society of people who never age? And this all ties back to The Wizard of Oz somehow?
Let's be blunt: if the director has no idea what is happening, what chance do we have?