Death in Small Doses (1957)

“… the picture that crosses the forbidden territory … of THRILL PILLS!” A campy little B-movie (think Reefer Madness but with speed), Death in Small Doses features Peter Graves (Mission: Impossible) as “Tom Kaylor,” a federal agent who goes undercover to track down a drug ring providing illegal amphetamines to truck drivers. Chuck Connors (The Rifleman) chews the scenery as frenzied, pill-popping junkie “Mink Reynolds” (for some reason he reminded me of Willem Dafoe’s “Bobby Peru” character from Wild at Heart sans the bad teeth). Just watching the maniacal Reynolds popping “bennies” (he also refers to them as “co-pilots”) as he barrels his truck down the highway or channels his inner hepcat at the roadside diner is worth the price of admission alone. Directed by Joseph M. Newman (This Island Earth), Death is Small Doses was based on a 1956 article published in The Saturday Evening Post. The cast includes Mala Powers as rooming house owner “Val Owens,” Roy Engel as seasoned trucker “Wally Morse” and Merry Anders as pill-pushing waitress “Amy Phillips.” The film opens with a disclaimer stating that “Nothing in this picture is intended to minimize the importance of the drug ‘Amphetamine’ when properly used under a doctor’s prescription.”

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