NY Obscura Society Cinema Club: Death Drug - Atlas Obscura
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NY Obscura Society Cinema Club: Death Drug

A cult drugsploitation film and a fascinating look inside the mind of a bizarre 80s celebrity...

Death Drug is the story of two men. The first is Jesse Thomas,  a Los Angeles plumber and aspiring musician, with a supportive wife and big dreams of showbiz success. These dreams are derailed however, as they inevitably are in the "drugsploitation" genre, by a smooth talking dealer offering PCP, a.k.a. “the wack”, a.k.a. “the stick with the kick”. Thomas’ life quickly deteriorates into a series of angel dust-induced freakouts that escalate to a final showdown in a supermarket that must be seen to be believed.

Death Drug is also, and arguably more interestingly, about the actor Philip Michael Thomas who plays Jesse Thomas. At the height of his Miami Vice popularity (and convinced of his own brilliance), Thomas was infuriated when his costar, Don Johnson, released a hit album. Thomas released one of his own but could not get any airplay for his low budget music video, "Just the Way I Planned It". The solution? Re-release Death Drug with an opening monologue by present-day Thomas, explaining the film’s continued relevance, and “seamlessly” work the bizarre video into the story of the film. The experiment marked the beginning of the end of Thomas’ career. (For more background on PMT, check out this 1985 profile from People Magazine.)

The result is an often hilarious, quintessential drug scare film which also serves as a fascinating examination of a man who flew too close to the sun during an era of excess and was brought down by his own hubris. Sometimes, fame is a drug in itself.


Sunday, April 24th, 7-8:30pm

Videology Bar & Cinema



All ticket sale are final.