Is Ten Dollar Death Trip Worth the Price of Admission?
We missed Ten Dollar Death Trip when it first hit the streams a couple years back. Then again, with so many hot shot docs knocking on death’s door during the pandemic we’re not entirely surprised. After all, even an undertaker can get tired of singing “Another One Bites the Dust”. And when fentanyl forced its lethal way upon the dope scene, that seemed to be the only song in town.
In too many respects, Queen’s classic rocker is still the only song in town. That goes double for a town like Vancouver, where a confluence of craziness opened the door on a bedlam not even the late, great Freddie Mercury could’ve sang to sleep.
And a deadly bedlam at that. In fact, Coast Reporter’s Stefan Labbé says that nearly 600 British Columbia residents died from a drug overdose over the first three months of 2023.
That’s not only the second-highest total ever reported, but it comes seven years into what’s become the longest public health emergency in the Canadian province’s history.
“Since the emergency was first declared, more than 11,000 people have lost their lives due to the unregulated drug supply,” said B.C. Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe.
And almost each and every one of those early demises can be traced back to a little bag of evil dubbed the Ten Dollar Death Trip.
Ten Dollar Death Trip
That endless cycle of ten dollar death trips can largely be traced to The Couve’s Downtown Eastside, setting and scene of the same-named flick. It’s a shredded strip of inner city; as much as what you might expect from such a place, as it is what you might fear. It also seems to exist in a dimension all its own. Whether or not you consider that dimension to be of its own making depends on what side of the street you woke up on today (if, that is, you even woke up at all). But it really doesn’t much matter who gets called out. After all, there are enough culprits for everyone to finger someone.
There also seems to be an equally large number of fingers to do the pointing. That’s bound to happen, especially where so many deaths are concerned. The finger-pointers better remember though that four of those crooked digits point right back at the accuser. In other words, whether you blame the addict or the bureaucrat; the chemists or the Cartels; ennui, ADHD or even social media, the blame is gonna end up being on you.
And yes, that includes those yous who have nothing to do with Vancouver’s rash of dead bodies.
Who’s really responsible for the insane amount of death and destruction? Well, that’s another story. And it’s one we’ve neither the time nor the inclination to get into here. It is something to think about though while you’re watching the devil carve yet another notch in the world’s longest gun barrel.
Or to ponder while you take the Ten Dollar Death Trip. Because if there’s one doc that’ll getcha thinking about what if and why, it’s this one.
A Vision and a Dream
Director, producer, interviewer and narrator Dominic Streeter made Ten Dollar Death Trip with keen-eyed focus and unmitigated poise, despite (or maybe because of) the many roles he played. He also made what might be the bleakest piece of reality ever to be tied to a fairy tale. And we’re not talking just any fairy tale either, but one that began and ended with the Fairy Godmother named Netflix.
That’s right, Dominic Streeter took the Desktop Documentaries course called Selling to Netflix & the Streamers and kept his proverbial fingers crossed. Then, one year later, the director sold Ten Dollar Death Trip to Netflix.
Streeter wasn’t a rookie though. Far from it. He’d been in the doc-making racket a good decade and had already delivered goods for such clients as Channel 4, the BBC and Germany’s Deutsche Welle. In fact, the German powerhouse had featured Streeter’s doc on its YouTube page, where it garnered a rather impressive eight million views before getting platformed up by the even mightier Der Spiegel TV. Streeter says the same process followed for the channel True Story Documentary.
Of course, top shelf platforms only pick up top shelf product, and top shelf product generally takes either money or timing or, preferably, both. Streeter didn’t have a budget for much beyond a three-person crew (including himself). He did have timing though – spot-on timing. More importantly, he had drive.
“This film started in 2019 when I went to Vancouver and witnessed the fentanyl crisis on the ground,” said Streeter. “I had the feeling, a compulsion, to make a film right away and raise awareness of the issue.”
Six months later Streeter and his drive-by-sized crew were back shooting on the streets of Vancouver. And within a month filming they were done. Finito.
“I felt that we could spend 12 months in preproduction researching the film, but within two days on the ground it wouldn’t be worth the paper it was written on,” said Streeter. “The nature of life out there is just so fluid and transient.”
After wrapping the production, he doubled down on those beliefs:
“To be honest, the best stuff came from just knocking about there and meeting people and making friends. Waking up each day and seeing what happened.”
Once the doc was shot, Streeter got to work arranging a distributor. Fortunately, he landed a deal with the good folks at Sideways Film almost immediately. The rest, as they say, is celluloid history.
Buy the Ticket; Take the Ride
“No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride… and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well… maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”
It’s been over half a century since the inimitable Hunter S. Thompson published those immortal words. And though things have certainly changed since Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas racked in 1971 (and the subsequent movie screened in ‘98), the change hasn’t always been for the better.
The worsening seems especially acute when it comes to narcotics, which is now caught between cut-throat dealers and throat-cutting users. It’s not so much that everyone is out for themselves (though there is that, in sickening abundance), but that everyone is going out of their way to take down someone else. As if a cut-throat offense will protect them from the throat-cutters who stand in their way.
And we mean cut-throat throat-cutters in the most literal sense of the terms. We’ve gone well beyond the addict’s “normal” propensity to beg, borrow and steal for drugs, and have instead entered a realm where simple cut-throat tactics come in tandem with actual violence. The violence doesn’t even seem to be linked to feeding the need either. Not the need for drugs anyway. For addicts now often lash out simply as a matter of course – the course of their day.
So no, the days of an addict committing a crime so they could get high and crawl back into their opioid stupor have given way to a nightmare of addicts committing crimes as part of the drug-using experience. Sure, they need the money. But they also need the rush of blood to their increasingly impaired heads.
The dealers, for their part, are also paving new lows. After all, it takes a certain type of bottom dweller to make killing the customer an integral part of their business plan. It takes an even lowlier sort to make bragging about murder just another day-to-day sales tactic. And yet.
Blame fentanyl and tranq or both. (We do.) Blame what the drugs do to people’s pocketbooks as well as their heads. Because we’re at a point where profit and psychosis have become inextricably linked to devastating conflagration. And until we eliminate the fuel, we’re going to keep experiencing fires.
How ’bout it?
Easier said than done of course. For everyone. Yes, Ten Dollar Death Trip shows the problem’s not limited to the States. (That, in turn, proves the problem goes well beyond borders.) It also shows that even the most well-meaning, best-intentioned folks don’t yet have the answers. (That, in turn, only proves we need to get back to our drawing boards.) But Streeter didn’t make this flick to provide solutions; he made it to inspire people to find solutions. And he did it so with the kinda candor only truth can produce.
How about you? Did you buy the ticket and take the ride? And? Are you ready to shut down the entire (un)amusement park? Healing Properties is right there with you. In fact, we’ve been right there with you since 2002. And if you give us a ring, we’ll help you get there too. Whaddya say?
Image Courtesy IMDb