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APHRODISIAC (1971; Impulse).

As a longtime fan of hippie-era drug-fueled cinema, I was stoked to finally check out an uncut print of this outlandish counterculture lark (subtitled THE SEXUAL SECRET OF MARIJUANA) which definitely lived up to my expectations. Directed and written by Dennis Van Zak, it's essentially a hardcore porn flick posing as a treatise on the spiritual and (mostly) sensual worth of pot. Most importantly, it succeeds on both levels! Promising to teach its viewers about this "mind-bending" plant's sexual power, this "factual documentary" is actually an unhinged, uncensored celebration of schtupping while heavily baked. For an early glimpse into marijuana's positive attributes, the filmmakers compare a party full of drunks versus a modern young stoner soirée. While the alcohol partakers end up sloppy, limp and unsatisfied in bed, the cannabis smokers are blissfully happy as they screw (with a woman boasting, "I must've come six times in the space of an hour"). What more "proof" could you possibly need, folks?! It then proceeds with a wonderfully exploitative mix of man/woman-on-the-street interviews (one sidewalk-Q&A highlight has ex-WIZARD OF OZ Munchkin Billy Curtis extolling the virtues of grass over depressant-booze); educational tidbits about marijuana's place in American history (such as NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia's 1944 report on marijuana's harmless effects); vapid testimonies ("Pot really opened my head about sex"); and incredibly silly, "true" recreations about marijuana's miraclous merits, complete with hilariously idiotic narration. A frustrated husband with a frigid wife uses pot-cookies to enflame her libido, and finally gets some head from this prude! A boss (John Holmes!) lusts after his hot secretary, but is too insecure to follow through, until a handy joint has both of them in carnal ecstasy. Even if you're an uptight virgin, this shit'll numb any inhibitions, so even an innocent college protest leads to nude 69'ing in the bushes. Though primarily a sex film, this also makes the case that marijuana is a hell of a lot less addictive and harmful than alcohol, tobacco or even coffee -- which is fairly common knowledge nowadays -- and that if you're looking for fun in bed, a joint could provide some desirable results. Honestly, it's not bad advice. APHRODISIAC is a lovably heady mix of pro-marijuana tips for newbies and explicit sex, from back in the good ol' days when you could still score an ounce of grass for a whopping ten bucks.

© 2011 by Steven Puchalski.