The stoner movie sub-genre emerged in the late 60s, just as the hippie weed-loving counter-culture was entering the mainstream.
What constitutes a stoner film is up for debate, but it most generally refers to any film which is ultra mind-blowing when you’re high, with a storyline and visuals enhanced by marijuana.
In this list we’re going to forgo the classic comedies featuring stoner protagonists, and instead opt for trippy cinematic adventures that will quite simply frazzle your high mind. Read on to discover our list of the best stoner movies of all time.
Top 10 Stoner Movies
The Trip (1967)
Delving into the world of psychedelics, this movie follows Peter Fonda as he tries to cure his mid-life crisis by tripping.
Dropping acid at “a freak-out” organised by his friend (Dennis Hopper), he proceeds to see wild visions of death, carnivals, erotica and everything between.
The Trip falls into the category of counterculture-era psychedelic, and was actually written by screen legend and LSD enthusiast Jack Nicholson.
Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi is the first of his Qati trilogy, a series focused on presenting the relationship between humans and nature. With a score created by composer Philip Glass, the film takes viewers on a cinematographic journey through still and untouched natural scenery, then starkly contrasts it with crude shots of technology.
More like a kaleidoscopic voyage into the capacities of cinema, this film is the perfect complement to a stoned state of mind.
Altered States (1980)
Psychopathologist Edward Jessup becomes convinced that “other states of consciousness are as real as our waking states.” He decides to test his theory by conducting experiments using a sensory deprivation tank, as well as by taking sacred mushrooms as part of Mexican tribal ceremony. As you might expect, this results in various hallucinations, epiphanies and access to said “altered states”.
For its intellectual and psychedelic pursuits, Ken Russell’s sci-fi masterpiece is up there as one of the best stoner movies of all time.
Under the Silver Lake (2018)
Under the Silver Lake is a neo-noir black comedy thriller created by David Robert Mitchell (It Follows, 2014). Andrew Garfield stars as a laid-back cannabis smoker whose life changes when a mystery women, who he met for one night only, mysteriously disappears. As he tries to find answers, he opens up a whole web of conspiratorial worms which lead him on a dangerous journey of paranoia.
The film premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and competed for the Palme d’Or. While only having a limited release and not performing well at the box office, Under the Silver Lake has since developed a cult following and is widely considered one of the most underrated films of recent years.
Jack Nicholson appears in Psych-Out, another film centred around the hippie and psychedelic movement of the 1960s.
The highly original plot follows a deaf runaway who finds herself in San Francisco’s hippie district, but the ensuing kaleidoscopic visuals steal the show.
Certainly one of the best stoner movies, Psych-Out film is a realistic snapshot of the flower power era.
Idle Hands (1999)
If you’re looking for something a little less heavy, then Idle Hands is your best bet. This black comedy horror follows an indolent stoner teenager who finds himself caught up in a nightmare when his own hand becomes possessed and murderous.
Inspired by the old adage “the devil makes work for idle hands”, this stoner movie is absurdly funny and features a 90s Jessica Alba — what more could you want?
Easy Rider (1969)
Following on from The Trip, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper set out to create their own counterculture film. Outlining the various tensions and social issues facing adolescents in the United States, the film documented the rise of the hippie movement and experimental drug use.
The authenticity of the film comes from its improvisational plot and the use of real-life hippies they picked up en route to work as cameraman. Jack Nicholson, Fonda and Hopper all smoked weed throughout shooting, and scenes which featured marijuana use where 100% real. After the film’s release, Nicholson claimed the trio got through 155 joints during the campfire scene alone. That, plus the two Oscar nominations the film received, undoubtedly make Easy Rider one of the best stoner movies of all time.
The Beach Bum (2019)
Creator of Spring Breakers (2012), Harmony Korine, is back with another jarring seaside black comedy. The film follows hedonistic stoner Moondog and the interconnected lives of other Floridian locals. The supporting cast includes the King of Stonerdom, Snoop Dogg, and other high profile comedic actors such as Isla Fischer and Jonah Hill.
Mixing arthouse and Hollywood-esque comedy, The Beach Bum is probably the best stoner movie to be released in recent years.
If you’re looking to journey into the weird and wonderful, then House is your film. A young girl and a group of her schoolmates visit her aunt’s countryside home for the Hollywood’s. As they discover the house is haunted, things start to increasingly non-linear and unapologetically phantasmagorical.
Anyone who knows cinema will know the Czech New Wave is by far the trippiest movement in film history, and this horror drama film by Juraj Herz is no exception. A gothic, surrealist feast with sumptuous visuals, Morgiana has a meaning so deep you’ll get lost in it.
The Holy Mountain (1973)
The Lighthouse (2020)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Fantastic Planet (1973)
Enter the Void (2009)
There is enough sweet stoner content to keep you going for aeons. Light up and enjoy your venture into the surreal.
Looking for more ideas of what to watch high? Check out Best Trippy Movies to Watch High.
Do you have more burning questions around cannabis?
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