Drug Abuse: The Chemical Tomb (1969)

Herbert P. Caine is the pseudonym of a frustrated academic and genre movie fan in Pennsylvania. You can read his blog at https://imaginaryuniverseshpc.blogspot.com.

Drug Abuse: The Chemical Tomb is one of the worst examples of anti-drug PSAs that I have ever seen. It lacks the drama of films like Reefer Madness and Narcotics: Pit of Despair, while including all of the monotonous sermonizing. It is reminiscent of the worst educational films we were shown in school as children.

Unlike the aforementioned films, The Chemical Tomb does not feature any central figure the viewer can focus on. There are no promising college students or high schoolers ruining their lives through using the demon weed, popping pills, or injecting heroin. After a brief opening speech over some footage of hippies about how the youth of the 1960s had the chance to change the world (spoiler alert: they didn’t take it), we are treated to a fifteen-minute-long lecture from Dr. John T. Burroughs, an official with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, about the effects of drugs, with the main focuses being marijuana and speed.

The film cannot even scaremonger properly. When Dr. Burroughs discusses the dangerous effects of some drugs, it still fails to be interesting. For example, when talking about speed, he warns about the depressing lows that can follow a speed high, which can even lead to suicide. However, to illustrate his point, the film only shows a young woman sitting in a dark living room doing nothing. A Reefer Madness-style mental breakdown would have been a good insert here.

If offered the chance to watch Drug Abuse: The Chemical Tomb, just say no.

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