Not a lot is known about this exploitation clip-collage which examines the classic marijuana scare-films of the 1920s through the 1940s. However, the year of release, tone of the narration, and the complete lack of credits indicate that The Devil's Joint
may well have been some kind of underground film. After all, it was released around the time when vintage drug films like the 1936 Reefer Madness
were being rediscovered by a new generation via midnight screenings at smoke-filled theaters and college universities.
The tone here is cleverly set from the opening text which informs us that the film has been made without the cooperation of the Whit House, FBI, or local police authorities. In case you still didn't get the hint, The Devil's Joint then shows us a clip of TICHARD NIXON stating that he is here to tell us the truth despite his honesty and integrity being under question, before cutting to grisly newsreel footage of Chinese opium users being executed in the 1930s. What follow is essentially a series of extended clips from a number of the most notorious roadeshow drugsploitation films including Reefer Madness (of course), as well as a silent film from the 1920s called The Pace That Kills
For the most part, the film wisely lets these clips speak for themselves, although a narrator does give us a quick rundown of all the propaganda clichés used in the drug scare genre, and during sequences which depict stoned people fighting, Batman-style "Pows!" and "Zaps!" flash across the screen. Occasionally, silent-movie-style text cards pop up displaying lurid pulp blurbs like "An Innocent young virgin under the spell of the Killer Weed! Will she fall prey to man's lust?"
The narrator also takes the time to alert us to "The Big Lie" -- those moments in drug scare-films where blatantly fabricated case studies and incidents are presented to us as authentic facts in an attempt to instill fear in the viewer. One specific example shown here is the hilarious sequence from Reefer Madness where the high-school principal calmly discusses the case of the youth who, high on pot, butchered his entire family with an axe!
Predating Rom Mann's Grass (1996) by some 30 years, The Devil's Joint should be considered not just a rousing party film, but an important document of a period when our views on marijuana use, as well as our perception of social-behavior films -- and the misguidance they preached -- was changing almost as rapidly as society itself.
From a 35mm print with a very pungent odor -- John Harrison, The Graveyard Tramp