Owen is a popular and athletic student at the exclusive college of his choice, fending off girls and friends alike as he runs dead ass from class to his dorm on a Friday afternoon, determined to spend the weekend studying. Alas, his buddies literally pick him up and force him to go to a party. “Would you like to smoke some grass, Owen?” asks his best friend from his hometown. “No, I have to study. But do you have some of that dust we smoked the other night? I want to clear my head after I study.” “That’s bullshit,” says his friend, to paraphrase, “Just admit you like getting high.” So Owen smokes his “dust,” flips out, trashes his dorm room, and then trashes the downstairs hall where they keep a bunch of trophies in glass cases. This kid really hates trophies, as we will come to see.
The next morning, his perfect suburban upper middle class family is getting ready for a huge bourgeois lunch when they get the call: Owen has lost his damn mind! They transport him to the hospital in their hometown where he sits drooling for a month or so until he snaps out of it by falling and hitting his head. He claims he only smokes pot, he is not a drug addict, and that someone laced a joint with PCP. The doctor, played by that guy who did the creepy voiceovers for every 80s horror trailer, lets him go home, where he proceeds to take all the Valium his dad keeps in the bathroom cabinet. He also trashes a bunch of trophies AGAIN, and then in a later scene throws them all at his dad! He ends up back in the hospital taking more downers and making ashtrays, and then finally in a group home where drug addicts “rap” about their problems. Will this kid ever admit that he is a druggie? Could the mom of the perfect family, played by Owen’s real life mom Edith Bunker, be any more fucking annoying?
Seriously, I hated All in the Family because of her and I hate her stupid hair and whiny voice here. Her character nails herself to a cross in every scene while screaming about how she is trying to keep this family together. All I wanted to see was campy (and hopefully inaccurate) scenes of a college kid on a bad trip, not his buzzkill mom losing her shit on her own brain chemistry! Of course, the scene where she runs off and her idiot husband has to try to do the dishes for the first time in his miserable chauvinist life is classic, as is the portion of the film in which Edith’s secretary accuses her of having an affair because she keeps sneaking off at lunch without telling anyone at the office Owen is in the booby hatch. Angel Dusted is listed under “mondo/cult” on the Warner Archive but it’s pure TV exploitation drama. The parents of this idiot do everything they could possibly do wrong: blaming each other, refusing to participate in therapy, forbidding the other kids in the household to talk about what has happened, keeping him in a hospital on tranquilizers when he needs drying out, and comparing him to his brother, while Owen remains the least sympathetic addict in all of television history.
I know I saw another film about angel dust in the 80s that had Helen Hunt screaming and flipping out on the drug (this one also has Hunt, but she doesn’t do any drugs here) and although I was a little kid, I have to wonder if angel dust really was such a big problem among middle class kids in the 80s that they needed two of these ridiculous movies! Wasn’t it more of the crack of its day? What kind of moron is smart enough to get into a good school and still thinks that PCP will help you calm down after a rough night of studying?
The only thing I can see that this movie does right is that it does not dispute the assertion that a little grass never hurt anyone; Owen’s perfect older brother the medical student also smokes weed and nothing bad happens to him. I watched the whole movie to see if Owen would perish spectacularly on a burning pyre of trophies but I had to hold myself back from punching the TV every time old Edith opened her mouth. Actually, the whole family plus Owen’s friend and the stupid hippies running the rapping group home deserved a good smack, although it was cool to see the voiceover guy play the ultra serious doctor. I recommend Angel Dusted only to those who really can’t get enough of Reefer Madness style scare films. For everyone else, just go watch Up In Smoke again.
P.P.P.S. This forum user only wanted to track down a copy, but he got a private conversation between two geniuses that goes on for two years! The fun never stops with Angel Dusted, cupcakes!