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The List Thus Far (Certified Weird Movies)

3 Women (1977)

8 1/2 (1963)

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953)

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension (1984)

Akira (1988)

Alice [Neco Z Alenky] (1988)

Alice in Wonderland (1966)

Allegro non Troppo (1976)

Altered States (1980)

The American Astronaut (2001)

Antichrist (2009)

Archangel (1990)

Bad Boy Bubby (1993)

Barbarella (1968)

Barton Fink (1991)

The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Begotten (1991)

Being John Malkovich (1999)

Belle de Jour (1967)

Black Swan (2010)

Blood Diner (1987)

Blood Tea and Red String (2006)

A Boy and His Dog (1975)

Branded to Kill (1967)

Brazil (1985)

Bronson (2008)

Careful (1992)

Carnival of Souls (1962)

Cemetery Man [Dellamorte Dellamore] (1994)

Un Chien Andalou (1929)

The City of Lost Children [La cité des enfants perdus] (1995)

Clean, Shaven (1993)

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Cowards Bend the Knee, or, the Blue Hands (2003)

Daisies [Sedmikrásky] (1966)

The Dark Backward (1991)

Dead Man (1995)

Dead Ringers (1988)

Delicatessen (1991)

Dillinger is Dead (1969)

Doggiewogiez! Poochiewoochiez! (2012)

Dogtooth [Kynodontas] (2009)

Dogville (2003)

Donnie Darko (2001)

Don't Look Now (1973)

Elevator Movie (2004)

Enemy (2013)

Enter the Void (2009)

Eraserhead (1977)

Escape from Tomorrow (2013)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)

Evil Dead II (1987)

Eyes Without a Face [Les Yeux sans Visage] (1965)

Fantastic Planet [La Planète Sauvage] (1973)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Fellini Satyricon (1969)

Final Flesh (2009)

Forbidden Zone (1982)

Funky Forest: The First Contact (2005)

Glen or Glenda (1953)

Gothic (1986)

Gozu (2003)

La Grande Bouffe (1973)

Greaser's Palace (1972)

Gummo (1997)

Häxan [Witchcraft Through the Ages] (1922)

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

Help! Help! The Globolinks [Hilfe! Hilfe! Die Globolinks] (1969)

Holy Motors (2012)

The Holy Mountain (1973)

The Horrors of Spider Island [Ein Toter hing im Netz] (1960)

House [Hausu] (1977)

Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

I Can See You (2008)

Idiots and Angels (2008)

I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK [Saibogujiman Kwenchana] (2006)

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle (2009)

L'Immortelle (1963)

Ink (2009)

INLAND EMPIRE (2006)

Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life (1995)

Jacob's Ladder (1990)

John Dies at the End (2012)

Johnny Got His Gun (1971)

Keyhole (2011)

Kontroll (2003)

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Kwaidan (1964)

The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

The Legend of Suram Fortress [Ambavi Suramis Tsikhitsa] (1984)

Lisztomania (1975)

Little Otik [Otesánek] (2000)

Lost Highway (1997)

Love Exposure (2008)

Lucifer Rising (1981)

Maelstrom (2000)

Malpertuis (1972)

Maniac (1934)

Marquis (1989)

Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

The Milky Way [La Voie Lactee] (1969)

Mr. Nobody (2009)

Mulholland Drive (2001)

Naked Lunch (1991)

Night of the Hunter (1955)

Night Train to Terror (1985)

Nosferatu (1922)

Nostalghia (1983)

O Lucky Man! (1973)

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Paprika (2006)

Performance (1968/1970)

Persona (1966)

Phantasm (1979)

Pi (1998)

The Pillow Book (1996)

Pink Flamingos (1972)

Pink Floyd the Wall (1982)

Prospero's Books (1991)

The Red Squirrel [La Ardilla Roja] (1993)

The Reflecting Skin (1990)

Repo Man (1984)

A Report on the Party and Guests (1966)

Repulsion (1965)

Robot Monster (1953)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Rubber (2010)

Run Lola Run (1998)

The Saddest Music in the World (2003)

Sans Soleil (1983)

Santa Sangre (1989)

The Science of Sleep (2006)

A Serious Man (2009)

Shanks (1974)

Shock Corridor (1963)

Silent Hill (2006)

Sin City (2005)

The Singing Ringing Tree (1957)

Skidoo (1968)

Solaris [Solyaris] (1972) -

Songs from the Second Floor (2000)

Stalker (1979)

Steppenwolf (1974)

Strange Frame: Love & Sax (2012)

Suspiria (1977)

Sweet Movie (1974)

Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Tales from the Quadead Zone (1987)

Taxidermia (2006)

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

Tideland (2005)

Time Bandits (1981)

The Tin Drum (1979)

Tokyo Gore Police (2008)

El Topo (1970)

Toto the Hero [Toto le Heros] (1991)

Trash Humpers (2009)

The Tree of Life (2011)

The Trial (1962)

The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

Tromeo & Juliet (1996)

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

Upstream Color (2013)

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)

Vertigo (1958)

Videodrome (1983)

Visitor Q (2001)

Waking Life (2001)

Weekend (1967)

The Wicker Man (1973)

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Yellow Submarine (1968)

You, the Living [Du Levande] (2007)

Zardoz (1974)

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 7/25/2014

Our weekly look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs, and on more distant horizons…

Trailers of new release movies are generally available on the official site links.

IN THEATERS (WIDE RELEASE):

Lucy (2014): directs as a woman who develops nearly omnipotent psychic powers after being accidentally dosed with an experimental drug. The trailer makes this movie look particularly stupid, and we would have avoided mentioning it if not for early reviews proclaiming that it “ends as a bad LSD trip” (Rolling Stone) and talking up “the sheer weirdness of Lucy‘s imagery…” (A.V. Club). Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, “Lucy” is a slang term for LSD. Lucy official site.

SCREENINGS – (Cinefamily, Los Angeles, July 25-27):

“Sexperiments: A Collection of Turned-on Cinema”: Three nights of libidinous cinematic excess at the venerable Tinseltown institution. Friday night is “a collection of turned-on shorts” featuring obscene experimental movies of the 196os and 1970s, headlined by Warhol/Velvet Underground associate Barbara Rubin’s pre-hippy body painting/orgy film Christmas on Earth (1963), with live musical accompaniment. Saturday and Sunday’s features turn to the X-rated work of , with the post-apocalyptic sex tale Cafe Flesh screening Saturday night (with Sayadian and writing collaborator Jerry Stahl in attendance), followed by the Surrealist porn flick Nightdreams on Sunday. Altogether, it promises to be an erotically exhausting weekend of bizarro sexiness for lusty Los Angelinos. Promo for Sexperiments: “A Collection of Turned-on Cinema at Cinefamily” (warning: trailers are NSFW).

IN DEVELOPMENT:

Overlook Hotel (est. 2015):  is in negotiations to helm a prequel to The Shining, showing how evil took root at the Overlook Hotel. Fans of both Stephen King and are already expressing emotions ranging from nervous skepticism to premature outrage. Variety has the scoop.

NEW ON DVD:

“The Essential Jacques Demy”: The Criterion Collection releases a 13-disc (!) DVD?Blu-ray combo set of the works of the famed French musical director. The only film of particular interest to us is the 1970 fairy tale adaptation Donkey Skin, wherein a princess (Demy muse ) magically disguises herself as a donkey to avoid marrying her father (!!).  Also includes the five features Lola, Bay of Angels, Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rochefort, and Une Chambre en Ville, along with four Demy short films, three documentaries, and all the usual Criterion bibelots. Buy “The Essential Jacques Demy” [Criterion Collection Blu-ray + DVD].

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

“The Essential Jacques Demy”: See description in DVD above. Buy “The Essential Jacques Demy” [Criterion Collection Blu-ray + DVD].

FREE (LEGITIMATE RELEASE) MOVIES ON THE WEB:

Evil Brain from Outer Space (1964): Undercover alien superhero Starman fights an evil brain and its band of mutant henchmen. Edited together from three different Japanese films, with about half the original footage removed and furious voiceovers racing to explain why new characters keep popping up all the time, this is the most incoherent of the four Starman features unleashed on unsuspecting American kids in the early 1960s. Given the strangeness of Attack from Space, that’s quite a feat!

..

What are you looking forward to? If you have any weird movie leads that I have overlooked, feel free to leave them in the COMMENTS section.

25TH ANNIVERSARY: TIM BURTON’S BATMAN (1989)

A quarter century after its debut, ‘s Batman (1989) is still among the brightest of the comic book genre films; an odd thing, given how dark it is. However, Burton’s Batman has a glamorous darkness. Burton was young, energetic, and at the top of his game in 1989. His interpretation of the caped crusader remains groundbreaking and is more astute than ‘s The Dark Knight (2008). Nolan went the mile to distance the avenger from his comic book origins. Burton embraces the source material.

Upon Batman‘s monstrously hyped release, many critics lamented the dominant personality of ‘s Joker as compared to the title character. In hindsight, Nicholson’s killer clown seems less innovative than Heath Ledger’s radically different interpretation. Today, it is easier to recognize Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne as the eye of Tim Burton’s hurricane: he inhabits the quintessential capitalist fantasy. In a case of shrewd casting, Keaton’s Batman has no extraterrestrial powers, nor does he even look like he has spent his life in the gym. Rather, Wayne is fabulously wealthy and it is all those “wonderful toys,” bought by all that wonderful money, that makes him an all-American noir Superman, free to wreck vengeance upon a fascistic Gotham’s lower criminal element. Like Humphrey Bogart and Gary Cooper before him, Keaton went through the script, pruning his dialogue down to the bare essentials, making this an internalized performance.

Burton’s casting inspired controversy among unimaginative comic book fanatics, who only saw Keaton in his previous comic roles. The actor and director proved them wrong. ‘s Wayne, in the Nolan films, resorts to a dull playboy act. Keaton’s Wayne can’t help revealing that he has as many screws loose as his alter ego. Burton says in less than ten minutes what Nolan takes an entire film to tell: Vicky Vale (Kim Basinger) and Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) stumble upon a hidden Wayne manor room of armor and weaponry, explaining the inspiration for the costumed alter ego.

From Boss Grissom’s mafioso penthouse to the Axis chemical plant and a quack surgeon’s back alley office, Anton Furst’s set design is among his best (in an impressive career that unfortunately ended with the artist’s suicide in 1991). Also noteworthy are Roger Pratt’s cinematography, Bob Ringwood’s costuming and Danny Elfman’s resonant, Wagnerian score, all done under the guidance of Burton, elevating pulp into anarchic poetry. Like the Burton-helmed sequel, Batman consistently surprises enough to nearly render its flaws secondary. 

Still from Batman (1989)Nicholson’s Jack Napier shines most when he wrecks havoc upon pop culture, sabotaging consumer products and brooding over popular media’s not so subliminal sales tactics. The chief flaw of the film lies in a lack of a substantial female character, which Batman Returns (1992) remedied in spades. Vale is merely there as a decoration for Bruce Wayne’s arm. A second noticeable flaw is in the intrusive music by Prince (otherwise, a very good artist during his youthful prime). However, the related MTV videos were considerably better, and a wonderful example of how big a pop phenomenon Batman was.

Homages to ‘s Metropolis (1927), ‘s Vertigo (1958), and The Wizard of Oz (1939) are prominent, but, for the most part, Burton keeps cinematic references down to a minimum, something he would not do in Batman Returns (1992). Naturally, Tim Burton’s Batman is not as much guilty pleasure fun as “Scooby Do Meets Batman” or “Superfriends,” and it certainly isn’t the delicious morsel that Adam West gave in his legendary camp take on the character. Yet, Burton manages to make a tale of two sociopaths, spawned from the gutter, into highly stylized entertainment.

Batman was birthed by the then new graphic novel trend, most notable Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight.” The script was written by Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren, based on Bob Kane’s original characters. The violence in Batman is comic bookish and stately: the Joker fries a mafioso with a hidden hand buzzer, and the murder of boss Grissom is devoid of blood. At times, the film seems to be enveloped in a Tex Avery ‘toon: after mating with his girlfriend, Wayne hangs upside like a bat, the Batplane soars upward to the moon (creating a bat signal), a joker card is flipped over with Carl Stalling-like sound effects foreshadowing Napier’s fate, the Joker’s hand melodramatically emerges from acid, the silhouetted Caped Crusader moves like wet ink atop a roof, and the Joker shoots down the Batplane with a gun that looks like it might have been ordered from Acme supplies. The henchmen are really not too far removed from Cesar Romero’s sycophants. Batman is crepuscular, and, thankfully, it’s never realistic. 

Apart from Heath Ledger, Nolan’s believed-to-be superior Dark Knight is devoid of humorous touch and is so utilitarian, with one plot too many, that it is doubtful the film would have worked without the late actor’s turn as a pathological clown.

Unfortunately, neither Burton nor Keaton went beyond their two entries in the series. Perhaps a man dressed up like a bat might revitalize both artists.           

CAPSULE: A FANTASTIC FEAR OF EVERYTHING (2012)

DIRECTED BY: Crispian Mills, Chris Hopewell

FEATURING: Simon Pegg, Alan Drake, Amara Karan, Paul Freeman

PLOT: A neurotic writer researching a book on serial killers develops a fear of everything (but especially of laundrettes); when he has an important meeting he decides to face his fear and wash his socks.

Still fro, A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It’s a bit weird, sure, but in a random, disjointed way, as if the co-directors weren’t sure what to do with the material and kept spinning the film off in a new direction, hoping this next one would lead somewhere.

COMMENTS: As we begin Everything, Jack (the redoubtable Simon Pegg) is a shaggy-headed shut-in who carries a butcher knife everywhere with him to defend against imaginary murderers. A former children’s author, Jack decided to stretch his talents by writing a teleplay about Victorian serial killers; his obsessive research into the insidious poisoning techniques of the Hendon Ogre and his ilk shattered his naturally sensitive temperament and sent him into a seething pit of paranoia. If this sounds like tough subject matter to milk for comedy to you, you’d be right; although, utilizing a combination of superglue and dirty socks, the offbeat script does manage to dredge up some farce from the pit of despair. Two lip-sync dance numbers—a gangsta rap performed by Pegg and an ironic boombox version of Europe’s “The Final Countdown”—cut through the depressive gloom with welcome wackiness, but in general the movie struggles to find a comic tone. Although Pegg’s performance hits the right notes of hysteria, his Jack is so riddled by anxieties that it’s hard to laugh at him. Pegg also spends about a third of the movie in filthy underwear, which is more pathetic and upsetting than funny. Fortunately, there is a lot of extraneous stuff going on to distract us from the movie’s nerve-wracking protagonist—eyeball hallucinations, self-aware Psycho references, paper doll reenactments of famous murders, creepy anthropomorphic stop-animated children’s stories, guided meditation with a pirate psychologist—and thus Everything manages to remain watchable by keeping itself busy.

Everything writer/director Crispian Mills is better known as a musician; he brought in music video specialist and animator Chris Hopewell to help out as a co-director. The uncommonly literary script (full of self-deprecating jokes about the foibles of writers and their similarity to serial killers) is an adaptation of a novella. Pegg seems to have been drawn into the project as part of a push by Pinewood studios to promote low-budget British filmmaking. The hodge-podge of talents and influences here never really coheres, nor is it incoherent in a particularly fascinating way. The movie gets by on bursts of creativity, but never develops the consistently crazy energy it needs. Simon Pegg’s personal draw aside, Everything isn’t much of anything: it’s too strange to be a mainstream success, but not eccentric enough to work as a weird film. It’s a misfit even among would-be cult films.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…a singularly bizarre new horror comedy, both exhilarating and frustrating: it allows for Pegg to stretch as an actor, going to some pretty whacked out places, but the film itself ultimately stalls out, leaving a great performance at the heart of a movie most won’t particularly care for.”–Drew Taylor, Indiewire (contemporaneous)

CAPSULE: THE END OF TIME (2012)

DIRECTED BY: Peter Mettler

FEATURING: Peter Mettler (narration)

PLOT: Documentarian Peter Mettler interviews people from various walks of life about their thoughts on time, using poetic footage of lava flows, particle accelerators, and digital mandalas as visual backgrounds.

Still from The End of Time (2012)
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: While The End of Time is way, way outside the average filmgoer’s wheelhouse, despite a few acid flashback moments, it’s not really weird per se. It is also somewhat overshadowed by similar visionary non-narrative documentaries like Samsara and the Koyaanisqatsi trilogy, more expensive productions that achieve more spectacular vistas.

COMMENTS: The subjects of The End of Time include a 1960 record-setting skydiving free-fall from over 100,000 above the earth, lava flows on a volcanic island, and a squadron of ants bearing away a grasshopper’s corpse. None of this has much to do in particular with time, and yet it all does, because time is inescapable (despite the documentary’s occasional implication that time is an illusion). Rather than talking about time per se, the narration begins with the words “in the beginning there were no names,” and as the movie slowly flows and curls about like magma it returns periodically to what appears to be that central point: ultimate reality is inexpressible, and language (and abstract concepts like “time”) are our feeble (and possibly counterproductive) attempts to freeze and analyze the endless flux of reality. At least, that’s my view of Mettler’s position; the documentary is ostensibly time-neutral, giving equal weight to all experiences. Speakers are never identified by name or credentialed, and so the doc gives the same weight to the particle physicist’s opinions as those of the guru, the hermit, the artist colony potter, and a woman I’m guessing is the director’s grandma. Some of the earnestly proffered opinions, particularly the New Age-y ruminations from the granola crowd, are easy to mock, but please resist the urge. It is so rare for people to actually discuss grand, abstract concepts in movies in an irony-free way that it’s incredibly refreshing, and I’d hate to discourage future explorers from setting out towards similar territory.

Philosophy aside, the cinematography (by Mettler, Camille Budin, and Nick de Pencier) makes End of Time worth your time. Mettler draws visual parallels between the circular construction of particle accelerators and Hindu mandalas, between a corpse carried on a funeral bier and a meal carried away by ants. In between monologues Mettler throws in pastoral passages of eye poetry: stars dissolve into snowflakes, and we see a cat in a field quietly perceiving time in his own way, then camera draws back to show the same footage on a big screen television in an editing studio. The most remarkable scenes are the mesmerizing flows of magma from an active volcano; it’s amazing how quickly the outside edges cool to a black crust while the inside still glows red hot, and the entire mass creeps along, knocking down trees and incinerating the ferns that grew up since the earth’s mantle last leaked to the surface. The final act is a lysergic digital freakout presumably representing “the end of time,” beginning with the extinction of the sun, which turns into a bunch of glowing green mandalas and segues into a cosmic Malickian montage. The overall result—abstract and meandering, sometimes deep, sometimes pretentious, beautiful but frequently slow as molasses—is definitely not for all tastes. At times the movie gets a little too trippy-hippy-dippy for it’s own good, leaning too far to the “far out, man” end of the profundity spectrum. But you have to give Mettler much credit for his courage in thinking big and tackling deep questions that would terrify less ambitious filmmakers.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“There’s a touch of the acid mindset here, certainly: towards the end, many of Mettler’s images come together in an abstract montaged freak-out that might have made a very effective credits sequence, but feels too trippily ‘heyy-wowww’ when incorporated into the main body of the film. At moments, The End of Time come perilously close to a tone of nebulous new-age amazement, a touch too Koyaanisqatsian for comfort.”–Johnathan Romney, Film Comment

LIST CANDIDATE: THE CONGRESS (2013)

DIRECTED BY: Ari Folman

FEATURING: Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel, John Hamm, Danny Huston, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Sami Gayle,

PLOT: Robin Wright has reached the worst time for actresses: middle age. The roles have started to dry up, and her reputation for being particular has not helped at all. She is persuaded to accept a deal from Miramount Studio to have herself digitally scanned and her image, kept young, used by the studio for its projects for 20 years, in exchange for a hefty sum of cash and agreeing to never act again.

20 years later, on the contract’s expiration, she attends The Congress—a studio convention featuring new technology allowing people to transform themselves into animated avatars. The studio wants to extend their deal with Robin, which would allow anyone to virtually “be” her.

WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST:: This is a visual and intellectual feast for the eyes and mind, in a way that is graspable for the average viewer. Plus, there are so many visual references in the animation, it will reward multiple viewings.

Crobin wrightOMMENTS: For all of the trippy mind-bending wonderfulness of The Congress —and for those who enjoy weird films, there’s quite a bit to like—it’s the Hollywood satire and visual allusions (to , Bakshi [in spirit and 'tude], Kubrick, and lots of others) that makes it special. The most arresting visual image is the opening close up of Robin Wright, sans makeup, as her agent (Harvey Keitel, in a notable supporting role) berates her for her previous career choices. It’s probably the bravest performance you’ve seen from an actress in a LONG time.

The movie uses Stanslaw Lem’s 1971 novel “The Futurological Congress” as the starting point to get into the weirdness, but it takes a good half hour to set that up and provide the necessary grounding. Underneath the bitter satire and trippy visuals, The Congress is ultimately about identity, and how it becomes another commodity to be bartered—at first, hesitantly by Robin, and ultimately as a way of life for the populace.

The Congress is now available from Drafthouse Films via Video on Demand starting July 24 and is scheduled for theatrical release August 29.

PIC_The Congress_2013_04_19_02-12_04ALEX KITTLE ADDS: Positioning its characters between the contrasting poles of heartbreaking realism and completely bonkers fantasy, The Congress juggles a multitude of ideas but manages to present a fairly cohesive story. By grounding his tale with a real-life protagonist, the actress Robin Wright, Folman is able to gradually incorporate stranger and stranger concepts, with the final destination barely resembling the starting point. The world he creates is definitely weird, distinguished by its ever-fluctuating landscape and psychedelic colors, populated by people who are limited only by the reach of their imaginations. The animation retains the superficial sheen and flatness of Folman’s previous film, Waltz with Bashir, but the visual style varies, overwhelming the viewer with different aesthetics and effects, conveying the befuddlement felt by Wright when she enters this unfamiliar animated world.

The story is all over the place, jumping across decades at different points to reflect the extreme changes in society, and attempting to simultaneously focus on Wright’s personal experiences of caring for (and later trying to locate) her son as well as the structure of this crazy future. But somehow it all mostly works, with Wright remaining strong as the protagonist whose confused perspective comes to mirror the audience’s. The whole thing is an emotional experience, weird and funny and satirical and honestly rather touching. I would nominate it for the List, primarily for the jarring and imaginative cartoon shift that takes place halfway through.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“So while The Congress might seem a hallucinatory trip through a cityscape of the imagination, it also allegorises our own very real relationship with the mythopoeic worlds of cinema (from which this film quotes with relentless, voracious postmodernism) or of the internet.”–Anton Bitel, Grolcsh Film Works (festival screening)

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

Next week we’re turning back to new release reviews with looks at Ari (Waltz with Bashir) Folman’s partially-animated sci-fi opus The Congress; the trippy philosophical documentary The End of Time; and Simon Pegg’s bizarro phobia comedy A Fantastic Fear of Everything. Meanwhile, having wrapped up (for now, at least) his reviews of today’s s, Alfred Eaker turns his attention to the hits of yesteryear with a new mini-series of “25th Anniversary” remembrances. First up:  ‘s Batman (1989).

It’s time once again for our weekly survey of the weirdest search terms used to locate this site, a little feature we like to call “Weirdest Search Terms of the Week.” First up, we’ll mention this strange trio: “strange please,” “being strange,” and “strange much” (we like to think of that last one as a rhetorical question directed at us: “gee, is that 366 Weird Movies strange much?”) Speaking of strange, there was also the person looking for “strange creatures living on woman’s fingers.” But our official selection for Weirdest Search Term of the Week isn’t strange: it’s “sexy voids.” Because nothing turns us on more than Nothing.

Here’s how the ridiculously-long-and-ever-growing reader-suggested review queue stands: Abnormal: The Sinema of Nick Zedd; Rubin & Ed; The Real McCoy; Themroc; Candy (1968); The Fox Family; Angelus; Cloudy with a Chance of  Meatballs; Yokai Monsters, Vol. 1: Spook Warfare [AKA Big Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

SATURDAY SHORT: KILLER CUISINE (2010)

After having disappeared about three years ago, the first installment of ‘s “Killer Cuisine” series was just recently recovered and uploaded in better quality. Enjoy a new recipe while getting your necessary dose of surrealism for the day.

 

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 7/18/2014

Our weekly look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs, and on more distant horizons…

Trailers of new release movies are generally available on the official site links.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

Mood Indigo (2013): A wealthy bachelor inventor falls in love with a woman who has a flower growing in her lungs. The latest from stars erstwhile Amelie Audrey Tautou; diabetics and the whimsy-averse are being warned to avoid this cutesy confection, but rest assured we’ll forge ahead and tackle it (it’s in our reader-suggested review queue, but we’d surely hit that even if it wasn’t). Mood Indigo official site.

FILM FESTIVALS – Fantasia (Montreal, Canada, Jul. 17- Aug. 6):

As its name implies, Montreal’s Fantasia Festival originally began as a showcase for fantastic films from Asia; it has since morphed into a major event on the genre cinema calendar, a venue so big that geek event movies like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy hold special pre-release screenings there. Not that they’ve let mainstream success get to their heads; there’s still more rare weirdness to be found at Fantasia than at just about any film festival on the globe. We make watchlists from Fantasia’s programming, and we’re always saddened when only half of the most daring films find meaningful distribution in the U.S. We’ve been following a number of 2014′s entries as they slowly make their way across the festival landscape: s Cheatin’, the post-apocalyptic love triangle in The Desert, the inflated-head indie rock comedy Frank, the horror-of-Hollywood allegory Starry Eyes, s White Bird in a Blizzard, and ‘s long-awaited The Zero Theorem. Here’s the stuff that’s new to us (along with a couple of the odder highlights from the festival’s blaxploitation and Shaw Brothers revival programs):

  • Bag Boy Lover Boy – A photographer specializing in unusual human specimens takes a hot dog vendor for his muse; the synopsis evokes the work of seedy underground New York filmmakers like . Screening July 23.
  • “La Buche de Noel” – The insane animated adventures of Indian, Cowboy and Horse (A Town Called Panic) continue in this 23-minute Christmas-themed short. Screens July 31.
  • Darktown Strutters (1975) – A rare blaxploitation/comedy/musical about a black female motorcycle gang fighting white supremacists led by a Colonel Sanders clone. This oddity is very rare—almost legendary—so catch it July 27 if you can.

  • Demon of the Lute (1983) – A kung fu maiden sets out to destroy the titular instrument with the help of the Three Armed Beggar and Old Naughty (who wields a giant pair of scissors). One of the craziest-sounding of the classic Shaw Brothers features screening at Fantasia; this one plays July 19 & 26.
  • Honeymoon – Well-reviewed psychological thriller about a groom who finds his new wife acting strange after the nuptials. Screens July 22.
  • I Am a Knife with Legs – Absurdist microbudget musical comedy about a pop star hanging out from a fatwa; the programmer’s synopsis uses the word “weird” to describe it more than once. Catch it July 25 only.
  • Jack et la mécanique du coeur - 3-D animation described as a “Gallic surrealist fairy-tale musical with a dash of Gothic macabre and a streak of steampunk.” It appears that it is playing in French only with no English subtitles on July 26.
  • Koo! Kin-dza-dza - An animated remake of the satirical 1986 Soviet cult sci-fi comedy about two Russian men teleported to a desert planet. Playing August 2.
  • Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter - A backwards Japanese woman mistakenly concludes that the movie Fargo is a documentary and sets out for Minnesota to discover the lost ransom money. July 23.
  • The Man in the Orange Jacket – An employee kills his rich boss and assumes his identity, only to be haunted by surreal occurrences. Screens July 27.
  • The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji‘s latest is a comedy about an undercover cop, with animated sequences and “surreal fight scenes.” Catch it July 19.
  • Nuigulumar Z - The English translation, Gothic Lolita Battle Bear, may explain why this title caught our fancy; the less sane of two movies making their North American debut from the ludicrously prolific . Screening July 20.
  • Puzzle – Masked figures invade a school and force the adults to play strange and deadly games; are local bullies behind it? July 26.
  • Real – A man uses technology to enter the subconscious of his beloved as she lies in a coma, where he encounters “philosophical zombies” and other strangeness, in ‘s latest. Plays August 3.
  • The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow – A satellite transforms into a cyborg and romances a brokenhearted man who has metamorphosed into a cow; the animation style resembles with a more surreal bent. Screens July 19.
  • Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song – Arguably the first, and certainly one of the strangest, blaxploitation movies ever made, Melvin van Peebles’ explosive race revenge fantasy is as much avant-garde as it is exploitation. See it on the big screen July 23.
  • Thou Wast Mild and Lovely - A hired hand has an affair with the farmer’s daughter in what the director herself describes as “an intimate magical realist erotic thriller.” Screening July 19 & 21.
  • Zombie TV – Sounds like a sort of Japanese version of Kentucky Fried Movie themed around the undead; Twitch‘s Todd Brown is quoted as saying it “provides the viewer with a respite from one kind of weirdness by punching them in the face with another.” July 19 only.

Fantasia Film Festival home page.

NEW ON DVD:

Scanners (1981): A good Scanner (a telepath with the power to literally blow people’s minds) infiltrates a gang of evil Scanners. This gory cult favorite, made by before he fully transitioned out of his upscale exploitation mode, is something of a surprise acquisition for the Criterion Collection. Buy Scanners [Criterion Collection].

SX_Tape (2013): A couple play sex games in a spooky abandoned hospital, which proves to be a bad idea. We wouldn’t have taken any notice of what looks like a sex-heavy found-footage horror if not for an (actually negative but prominently displayed) review claiming the movie “dives face first in the deep end of weirdness.” Buy SX_Tape.

Under the Skin (2013): Read our capsule review. Trippy visuals highlight this minimalist arthouse sci-fi hit in which plays an alien who hunts lonely men on the moors of Scotland. Buy Under the Skin.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Scanners (1981): See description in DVD above. This combo pack includes two DVDs. Buy Scanners [Criterion Collection Blu-ray/DVD combo].

SX_Tape (2013): See description in DVD above. Buy SX_Tape [Blu-ray].

Under the Skin (2013): See description in DVD above. Buy Under the Skin [Blu-ray].

What are you looking forward to? If you have any weird movie leads that I have overlooked, feel free to leave them in the COMMENTS section.

ALFRED EAKER VS. THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2014)

In the 1960s, producer Arthur P. Jacobs purchased screen rights to Pierre Boulle’s novel “Monkey Planet” for Twentieth Century Fox. It became Jacobs’ dream project, facing an uphill battle with skeptical executives. Not helping the producer’s cause was Boulle’s public statement calling “Monkey Planet” his worst novel.[1]

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) posterRod Serling and Michael Wilson co-wrote the screen adaptation for the original Planet of The Apes (1968). The script is far more “Twilight Zone” than Boulle. Jacobs wisely cast  in the lead role. Heston, who loved the script, was helpful in influencing studio heads to greenlight the project and to assign director Franklin J. Shaffner, whom the actor had worked with in the underrated The War Lord (1965).

Studio misgivings were laid aside when Planet of the Apes (1968) proved to be a monstrous success. Before Star Wars, Batman, etc, Planet of the Apes was the original blockbuster franchise, spawning four sequels, a short-lived television series, an animated series, and a comic book. The original film retains its classic pop status, despite revisionist opinions, usually by those who have not seen it and dismiss it as a cheesy byproduct of the sixties and seventies. Actually, it is science fiction cinema at its most preferable: the cinematic equivalent of Cracker Jacks with its prize being smart dumb fun amidst caramel popcorn and salty peanuts. Who, in all honesty, would find ‘s academic psychedelia 2001: A Space Odyssey, made the same year, as fun an experience as American icon Heston being put through Sterling’s pulp karma in the form of gorillas on horseback? Heston’s Col. Taylor, disdainful of mankind, is replete with character flaws, yet we root for him as he is catapulted through a physical and emotional nightmare, in which he is forced to do a philosophical about-face, only to learn in the end he was right all along. Heston’s physicality responds perfectly to Sterling’s blunt ironies.

It is the hippest performance of the actor’s career and one can understand his hesitancy regarding the sequel, Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (1970). Heston’s performance there amounts to a cameo, with James Franciscus filling in, albeit in a second-rate Heston imitation. Still, once past the unnecessary rehash of the first film, Beneath, in its innovative second half, proves to be the strangest, most underrated entry of the franchise. It is also the only sequel that retains the original’s flavor.

Escape From The Planet Of The Apes (1971), the best of the sequels, benefits from the quirky performances of Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowell. Writer Paul Dehn crafted an inventive, humor-laden narrative that delighted in seventies pop culture. Dehn, a noted film critic, drew on Rod Sterling’s original script draft for the first film, as well as Boulle’s novel in which Apes and humans coexist in a modern society. Escape‘s Sterling-esque first half gives way to Dehn’s pre-apocalyptic sensibilities and pop social commentary on racism and violence.

Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes (1972) is Bazooka Bubble Gum Armageddon,especially in the unrated version found on home video. The slavery Continue reading ALFRED EAKER VS. THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2014)

  1. Boulle had previously written the novel “Bridge on the River Kwai” and received credit for the screenplay, but declined to show up for the Academy Award. The reason for the no-show was that Boulle did not write the script, but agreed to receive credit for the film’s back-listed writers. []

176. ENEMY (2013)

“Chaos is order yet undeciphered.”–epigraph to Enemy

Recommended

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: , Mélanie Laurent, 

PLOT: Adam, a professor of history, catches sight of a movie extra playing a bellhop who appears to be his exact double, and becomes obsessed with tracking him down. When they eventually meet they discover that Anthony, the actor, is Adam’s exact physical match, but has a nearly opposite personality, slick and scheming where Adam is passive and meek. Anthony, who has a rocky relationship with pregnant wife due to her accusations of infidelity, is drawn to Adam’s girlfriend; and though the professor wants to withdraw from their association, the actor’s machinations intertwine the two men’s lives.

Still from Enemy (2013)BACKGROUND:

  • Enemy is based on the novel “O Homem Duplicado” (literally “The Duplicated Man,” although the English translation was titled “The Double“) by the Portuguese Nobel laureate José Saramago. The novel has a very different, though equally chilling, ending than the film.
  • Director Denis Villeneuve and star Jake Gyllenhaal made Enemy back-to-back with the higher-profile, reality-based thriller Prisoners (2013). Enemy was made first but released second.
  • Villeneuve said that the plan to do the adaptation with Gyllenhaal came after a night of drinking in which the actor told the director he wanted to do the movie but needed to “dream” about it first.
  • Villeneuve said he wanted to make Enemy because he wanted to do something “free” in light of his anxieties over working under the constraints he feared would be imposed by a Hollywood studio on the upcoming Prisoners.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: Enemy is one of a few movies whose most unforgettable image can’t be mentioned without entering the territory where spoilers dwell. Fortunately, there are plenty of runner-ups to chose from. With arachnid imagery dominating the hallucinatory scenes, it’s easy to pick the picture of a giant, spindly-legged spider looming over the smoggy streets of Toronto as the film’s iconic image. The movie’s TIFF poster took that precise route.

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: As tightly controlled as a dictatorship and as enigmatic as a tarantula on a gold serving platter, the inscrutable Enemy evokes a panicky existential dread in the tradition of . The final scene will provoke debate for as long as people watch weird movies.


Original trailer for Enemy

COMMENTS: Enemy begins with the epigram “chaos is order yet undeciphered,” and I admit to having yet to decipher the twisty web of chaos the Continue reading 176. ENEMY (2013)

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