11 Heroin Movies for Aspiring Addicts

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 9:04 am

Have you ever fantasized about overdosing in an alley while several bums fight over the contents of your pockets? If so, you’ll want to check out these 11 heroin movies for aspiring addicts. While these films offer cautionary tales about the debilitating effects of the drug known as Smack and Horse, you can also pick up nifty tricks like how to chase the dragon, how to elude the cops, and how to put a bullet in your dealer’s face when things turn sour.

You can rent these movies from Netflix. That’s a good thing, because a heroin habit can get pretty damned expensive. We do get a commission from Netflix, by the way, but we’ve also got our own addictions to feed.

Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, let’s dive right into these 11 heroin movies for aspiring addicts. If Sid Vicious, Layne Staley, Janis Joplin or River Phoenix were here, I’m sure they’d give it their stamp of approval.

The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) – Frank Sinatra could do more than sing, and he proves it in this gritty black-and-white film, the first to tackle the realities of heroin addiction. After getting clean in prison, Frankie Machine (Sinatra) tries to avoid a relapse on the outside, but temptation lurks around every darkened corner of his old life. An influential film, it forced the MPAA to change their policies, thus allowing more films about prostitution, abortion and drug use.

Pusher (1996) – The first Danish-language gangster film, Pusher marked the debut of director Nicolas Winding Refn. Set in Copenhagen, the movie follows Frank (Kim Bodnia), a drug dealer who finds himself in hot water with a crime lord following a drug deal gone bad. Bodnia seethes with intensity in the role of Frank, a man trapped in a doomed spiral of lies and violence. Another standout is Zlatko Buric in the role of Milo, a cheerful Serbian drug lord who enjoys baking.

Trainspotting (1996) – Set in Edinburgh during the 1980s, the film follows the lives of a group of heroin-addicted friends. Far from glamorous, Trainspotting is littered with horrific nightmares, dead children, senseless violence, and all-encompassing squalor. The stellar cast includes Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner and Kevin McKidd. Considered by many to be the finest Scottish film ever made, this was director Danny Boyle’s second feature-length film.

Pulp Fiction (1994) – Divided into numerous stories that occasionally intermingle, Pulp Fiction does include one segment showing the dangers of snorting massive amounts of heroin. Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman), the seductive wife of an L.A. crime lord, and Vincent Vega (John Travolta), the employee of said crime lord, are having a fine time out on the town, at least until Mia mistakes Vega’s stash of heroin for cocaine. Minutes later, Mia is overdosing and Vincent is desperately looking for a way to save her life (even if it means driving a giant needle through her breastbone). Leave it to director Quentin Tarantino to add multiple layers of humor to an otherwise tense situation.

Drugstore Cowboy (1989) – Matt Dillon and Kelly Lynch star as the leaders of a loose-knit “family” of drug addicts during the ‘70s. Traveling around the Pacific Northwest, they get their fixes by robbing hospitals and pharmacies. As you might have guessed, grim reality eventually comes crashing into their hazy world. Directed by Gus Van Sant, the film features subtle performances (especially from Dillon) that deserve far more attention than they ever received.

Candy (2006) – Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish star as a couple of free-spirited artists who share a love of heroin, sex and each other. While this gets their relationship off to a great start, it quickly sends their lives careening out of control. Lost in addiction and desperate for their next fix, the couple resort to any means (including theft and prostitution) to scrape together enough money for more drugs. The film is divided into three acts entitled Heaven, Earth, and Hell. Geoffrey Rush co-stars.

Requiem for a Dream (2000) – A mother, her son, and his friends are slowly destroyed by various addictions. I know that’s a rather bare bones description, but don’t let it stop you from seeing this amazingly bleak film from director Darren Aronofsky. Ellen Burstyn received an Oscar nomination for her role as the delusional mother, and Jennifer Connelly is lovely despite her character’s willingness to debase herself for another fix. Jared Leto and Marlon Wayans round out the primary cast, and Aronofsky makes creative use of the camera and editing to get his point across. Rated #61 on the Internet Movie Database Top 250, as voted by the site’s users.

Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo (1981) – Depicting the harsh drug scene in 1970’s Berlin, a bored 14-year-old girl journeys to the city’s hottest dance club. She meets an older boy and soon becomes tangled in a web of addiction and prostitution. Soundtrack by David Bowie.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007) – Two brothers (Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke) conspire to have their family jewelry store robbed. No one is supposed to get hurt, but that goes right out the window when their mother produces a gun and opens fire, killing the man they’d hired to do the job (and getting shot herself in the process). From there, brother turns against brother. Not surprisingly, the sibling addicted to heroin is the more dangerous of the two. Fans of Marisa Tomei get to see her too-hot-for-40 body on display. Albert Finney has a small but rage-filled role as their vengeful father.

Party Monster (2003) – Based on the book Disco Bloodbath, the film follows the real-life rise and fall of Michael Alig (Macaulay Culkin), the “King of the Club Kids.” Heroin plays a large part in the film, eventually leading to murder and dismemberment. Also starring Seth Green, Marilyn Manson, Chloe Sevigny and Dylan McDermott.

American Gangster (2007) – Ridley Scott directed this film starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Denzel plays Frank Lucas, a real-life criminal who had heroin smuggled into the United States via planes returning from Vietnam. Crowe is Richie Roberts, the honest cop who’s trying to bring him to justice.

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This entry was posted on Friday, February 5th, 2010 at 9:04 am and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

11 Responses to “11 Heroin Movies for Aspiring Addicts”

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September 6, 2010

djole car

Bullet (1996)with Mickey Rourke is the great movie for aspiring addicts

January 21, 2011


What about Panic in Needle Park and Blow?

January 24, 2011


Those are both fine selections, as well.

March 12, 2011


Basketball Diaries. you know this..be easy.. take showers. eat apples. kick

April 5, 2012


There are only 3 movies on this list that make sense; Candy (which in reality was spelled Kandi), Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream. All the other movies definitely do not make the cut. There are so many other good/great movies based on heroin addiction. You definitely can’t leave out Basketball Diaries from such a list. With all due respect, the author/writer of this article needed to have spent a little more time and invested a little more effort into doing his/her homework. This list is off by a great margin. AND I KNOW ALL THIS BECAUSE I WAS A HEROIN ADDICT FOR 5 LONG YEARS!

February 1, 2013


Ummm…. Sid and Nancy? High Art?

February 20, 2013


Ummmmmmmmm…..Sorry, I was high on smack on left this one out.

April 9, 2013

Shawn Hicks

Basketball diaries is literally based on drug addiction.


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