If decades of horror movies have taught us one thing, it’s that certain demographics don’t typically make it to the end credits alive. But while we’re all aware that promiscuous teenagers, popular jocks, and practically any minority are often met with a grisly fate, the stoner also often finds him or herself at the pointy end of a machete.
How frequently does a cannabis enthusiast get got? To find out, I dug through four and a half decades’ worth of horror movies and found 25 examples where enjoying a joint toke or bong rip resulted in an abruptly shortened life span, proving that while in the real world we have yet to come across a marijuana-induced death, in the horror movie universe, cannabis really does kill.
Disclaimer: I’m both a movie buff and a horror movie enthusiast, but even I admit that my knowledge of stoner deaths in horror movies was somewhat limited to a couple of examples. To come up with this data, I combed through a list of horror movies that have been released from 1970 through 2016 and searched for plot references to cannabis, marijuana, pot, weed, joint, stoner, and stoned. I primarily focused on mainstream movies, so I’m sure you’ll chime in with an obscure title that didn’t make the cut. Also, I disregarded any stoners who managed to survive throughout the entire movie (looking at you, Idle Hands), as well as any obvious spoofs (e.g., the Scary Movie franchise, Tommy Chong’s absurd Evil Bong film series). Is the resulting data 100% comprehensive? No, of course not (I did miss this gem of a scene from Freddy vs. Jason, alas). Should you enjoy it, anyway? Yes, absolutely.
Movies Featuring Stoner Deaths by Decade:
- 1970s: 1
- 1980s: 10
- 1990s: 1
- 2000s: 10
- 2010s: 3
The 1970s had a lone entry in stoner death canon, but it’s a classic: Halloween. Not only does it feature a stoner demise, but the stoner chick who does survive to the very end is Ms. Ultimate Final Girl herself, the main character Laurie (played, of course, by the iconic Jamie Lee Curtis). In the beginning of the film, she shares a joint with her friend Annie, and while Annie later gets her throat slit by Michael Myers, Laurie lives to puff another day.
Unsurprisingly, the ’80s were a popular decade for horror movie stoner deaths, coinciding with the rise in slasher genre popularity (the Friday the 13th franchise, Slumber Party Massacre, Sleepaway Camp II, etc.).
If you were a stoner in the ’90s, however, your chances of survival were far greater. The ’90s were a collage of subgenres, with teen slashers dwindling in favor of tonally serious adult films (Misery, Jacob’s Ladder), ghost stories (The Sixth Sense, Stir of Echoes), and the beginning of the Asian horror movie boom (Ringu, Audition). When teen-oriented slashers did emerge (Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend), they were shockingly absent of onscreen cannabis use. (I guess the D.A.R.E. program was successful, after all!)
The sole death from the 1990s goes to Jack Black, who cameos in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer as a dreadlocked Rasta poolboy that gets impaled with a pair of garden shears (but not before he enjoys some top shelf bud one last time).
Thankfully, the 2000s marked a return to glorious stoner deaths. Genre-wise, this decade was far more diverse than the 1980s.
Genre Breakdown of Movies Featuring Stoner Deaths in the 1980s:
- Slasher: 9
- Zombie: 1
Genre Breakdown of Movies Featuring Stoner Deaths in the 2000s:
- Monster: 3
- Slasher: 2
- Exploitation (Revenge): 2
- Supernatural: 1
- Zombie: 1
- Virus: 1
While slasher films were represented in the new millennium, we were also treated to a few monster movies (werewolf, leprechaun, and vampire, respectively), throwback exploitation films (Death Proof, The Last House on the Left), and the beginnings of the supernatural genre that would become more prevalent in the 2010s (along with the current resurgence of “found footage” movies).
So far, the 2010s have three entries in the “Movies That Kill Off Stoners” Hall of Fame: Paranormal Activity 3, The Cabin in the Woods (a favorite among many cannabis enthusiasts), and V/H/S. If our current decade is to outpace the glorious output of the ’80s and ’00s, movie studios need to start picking up the pace over the next 3+ years. After all, if we can get legalization happening in this decade, why not some more stoner representation in horror films? Better yet, how’s about some more Stoner Final Girls (and Guys) à la Halloween? It’s time to buck the stereotype that cannabis enthusiasts are too baked to make it to the end. We can be survivors, too!
Stoner Death Awards
Biggest Death Toll:
Slaughter High, the 1986 slasher film that racked up an impressive nine deaths. (While I’m not entirely sure the whole group of killed characters smoked cannabis, as I haven’t seen the entire movie, enough members of the group did to warrant inclusion on the list.) An important caveat is that the end of the movie discloses that the killer merely dreamed all of the deaths, so technically they didn’t actually happen, but he vows revenge on everyone, anyway, so I’m assuming these demises are a foregone conclusion.
Best Stoner Death Quip:
Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers, in which the killer, who witnesses two sisters smoking cannabis, sets the young women on fire while declaring, “Let this be a lesson to you: say no to drugs.”
Best Stoner Death:
Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood, in which one cannabis enthusiast gets impaled by his own bong.
Most Heroic Stoner Death:
Resident Evil: Extinction, in which a character drives a truck full of dynamite through a zombie horde, sacrificing himself as the truck explodes and takes out hundreds of undead creatures…but not before lighting up one last joint.
Most “Friday the 13th” Stoner Death:
The iconic slasher film franchise has four entries on our list (probably more if you consider how many characters from the films are implied stoners), with the 2009 remake going self-referential in its opening sequence that features a group of young people seeking out a fabled hidden cannabis grow nestled deep in the woods. One character manages to stumble across it, much to his delight. Unfortunately for him (and for the rest of his friends), Jason Voorhees takes his job of guarding illegal cannabis farms very seriously.
What’s your favorite horror movie, and how did (or would) a stoner character meet his or her demise in it?