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The Dope Show

For many, Hollywood is their first exposure to the vice-riddled world of drugs. None offers a more alluring come-hither stare than the sweet opiate bliss of Mother H. That's right, I'm talkin' 'bout Tar, Chiva, Junk, Horse, Smack, Mud, or Scag et al. Shit, she got more names than the devil himself. Remember--the first one's free, kid.

- Permanent Midnight (1998)--Ben Stiller carries this movie with a stellar straight-faced performance as the writer who created the sublime '80s TV hit, Alf. Oh, and the dour dramafest known as ThirtySomething. Stiller is a stellar junkie here. The comedic moments are generated organically, as it's impossible not to be tragically funny while simultaneously trying to have a "normal" life and mainlining horse.

- Midnight Cowboy (1969)--Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman star in this gritty tale of big-city life. Hoffman's performance as Ratso is the definitive cinematic portrait of a junkie, and was the only "x-rated" film (for extreme content) to receive an Oscar. The scene where Hoffman is almost hit by a cab and yells, "I'm walkin' here!" was a happy accident that turned out to be a much-quoted classic.

- Rush (1991)--Jason Patric turns in the performance of his career as an undercover Narco who loses his shit and succumbs to the warm tantric blanket of narcotic bliss. Patric and co-star Jennifer Jason Leigh paint a believable, graphic portrait of addiction and temptation. Behold the gluttonous maw of addiction! But hey, they're cops, so they deserve it, right?

- Naked Lunch (1991)--David Cronenberg blends William S. Burroughs' (the patron saint of junkies) biography with his famous novel of the same name. The "Bug Powder" employed by Burroughs (Paul Weller) and his wife (Judy Davis) is a thinly veiled reference to Scag. The bizarre meandering of this film really portrays the process by which a man's mind unravels during an extended hiatus from pain and/or reality. LANCE CHESS

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