Stories of heroin addiction are a staple of Hollywood films that tackle drugs and drug abuse.
Anybody who has giggled with delight in the past from watching Something Weird Video’s double feature DVD release of THE VIOLENT YEARS and GIRL GANG will love this. THE NARCOTIC STORY is the full-length educational feature film version of GOOFBALLS AND TEA, the hilarious drugsploitation short found in the supplemental features of the aforementioned Something Weird disc while the line, “Drugs…often the introduction comes in the form of a goofball” has graced itself as part of the Something Weird intro for years.
Produced a few years before such films were manufactured and released to the general public, THE NARCOTIC STORY was made by a group called the “Police Science Productions” as a guide for the diligent and devoted law enforcement officers of an era in which drugs were fast becoming even more deadly than the Commies. Narrated by none other than Art Gilmore (the famous actor from DRAGNET, ADAM-12, and the narrator for most of the Joe McDoakes shorts), THE NARCOTIC STORY attempts to alert police officers on how to pick up telltale signs of drug pushers and users in action. The 74-minute film starts out by telling us how the children of the 1950s weren’t shown enough love and affection by their unhappily married parents (who should probably have never reproduced to begin with), and so they turn to cigarettes and alcohol. But that’s OK, at least according to this film. Hell, we all know that the kids’ll dive in to those two commodities. Of course, booze and tobacco lead to much bigger -- and far more perilous -- vices…such as a goofball (barbiturates)…which then drops them off on the dangerous doorstep of the dreaded marijuana.
Marijuana is one of the two major drugs featured in THE NARCOTIC STORY as an evil, corruptive force. It’s laughable at best…especially to anyone that’s ever bothered researching -- or at the very least, smoking -- the subject. After a while, the film switches subjects and focuses on heroin, to which we are treated to the bizarre, seemingly lethal, and completely unsanitary method of injecting heroin at the time. Following a bust on some pot-smoking teens in an alley, a young woman (hopelessly hooked on marijuana after one puff) shacks up with a junkie/pusher guy who eerily resembles that joint-smoking piano player in REEFER MADNESS. And there, on-camera, someone is shown shooting up.
Although the process is shown as anything but enjoyable, you still have to wonder how many cops dropped out of police academy and started joining the ranks of the drug addicts. You know, just like you have to wonder how many kids started taking acid after watching all of the weird ultra-hip, anti-LSD films, complete with pretty swirly colors…or, in very extreme cases, just like when kids refused to drink milk after watching the National Dairy Council’s propaganda shorts.
The film appears to have been shot without sound (a few voices are dubbed in, but nobody really ever says anything on-camera) and most of the dialogue is covered by narrator Gilmore. On DVD, budget label Alpha Video displays THE NARCOTIC STORY in a full-frame 1.33:1 presentation with a decent mono stereo soundtrack. The film was made in color -- though you may have a hard time noticing such at times. The color has really faded away over the years and, at times, appears to disappear completely. But, of course, that should not discourage you -- this is, after all, the only DVD release available to the best of my knowledge. The only bonus materials found on this release are some previews of coming attractions from Alpha Video, as well as a look at other catalogue titles.
Hopelessly outdated and unintentionally hilarious, THE NARCOTIC STORY is another rare, factually-inept, bygone relic from those good ol’ days when our government at least told us they cared about our wellbeing. Enjoy. (Adam Becvar aka Luigi Bastardo - firstname.lastname@example.org)
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