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 at the official site links.

SCREENINGS (Various theaters nationwide, Dec. 3):

Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (Rifftrax Live): Read the Certified Weird entry! You will probably enjoy this unbelievably cheap Florida-based Christmas movie more with the humorous commentary from the Rifftrax guys, which helps you avoid the otherwise inevitable Ice Cream Bunny headache. The big news here, however, is that the film will be screened with the rarely-seen alternate Jack and the Beanstalk insert footage (rather than Thumbelina), making for an all-new experience (since the insert footage comprises the majority of the film). Check the following link to find a theater near you. Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (Rifftrax Live) from Fathom Events.

SCREENINGS – (Silver Springs, MD, AFI Silver Theater, Bov. 27 & 30):

Repulsion (1965): ‘s mind disintegrates over her fear of men in ‘s Certified Weird classic. Also of note at the AFI Silver Theater: the “European Union Film Showcase” runs Dec. 1-20 and includes screenings of Liza the Fox Fairy (see Alex Kittle’s brief screening note) and ‘s bloody fantasy Tale of Tales among its many offerings. AFI Silver home page.

SCREENINGS – (New York City, Lincoln Center, Nov. 27-29):

“Todd Haynes: The Other Side of Dreams”: The Film Society of Lincoln Center highlights films by, and films that influenced, indie provocateur Todd Haynes. Highlights for the weird-inclined: I’m Not There (2007), a fantasy biography of Bob Dylan with six different actors playing alternate versions of the troubadour (11/27 & 29); Velvet Goldmine (1998), Haynes’ trippy Citizen Kane-styled search for a fictional glam rock star (11/28-29); and most notably the Certified Weird Performance (1970), with an ambiguous and androgynous Mick Jagger making gangster James Fox all kinds of uncomfortable (available alone or in a double-feature package with Goldmine 11/28). “Todd Haynes: The Other Side of Dreams” at Film Society of Lincoln Center.

SCREENINGS – (Los Angeles, Cinefamily, Dec. 3):

Nutcracker Fantasy (1979): A Rankin/Bass styled stop-motion Japanese adaptation of the Nutcracker, with a two-headed Rat King and no mention of Christmas whatsoever. A holiday screening of this never-on-DVD oddity is becoming an annual tradition with Cinefamily. Nutcracker Fantasy at Cinefamily.


The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant (1971): Doctor grafts a murderous hillbilly head onto the body of a man-child, because why not? This double-headed feature is even worse than The Thing With Two Heads, and we mention it for completeness’ sake. The release includes an optional comic commentary track by the Rifftrax crew. Buy The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant.

The Mask (1961): An otherwise drab B-movie about a magical mask that gives the audience bizarre 3-D color hallucinations when instructed to put on their anaglyph glasses. Classic replicas of the original red/blue 3D “masks” are included (yay!) in case you don’t have a 3D TV (chances are you don’t). Buy The Mask.

Star Leaf (2015): A veteran searches for a grove of extraterrestrial marijuana (!) to cure his PSTD, but finds himself in trouble when he refuses to follow the directions for safe use.  I’m fairly certain that the screenwriter would happily cop to being high when he came up with the idea. Buy Star Leaf.


The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant (1971): See description in DVD above. Buy The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant [Blu-ray].

The Mask (1961): If I’m reading this right, the Blu-ray release includes a new 3D short and several 3D extras, but unlike the DVD edition it does not come with 3D glasses (what the…?) Buy The Mask [Blu-ray].

“The Quay Brothers: Collected Short Films”: There are several competing compilations of surreal stop-motion shorts by the on DVD, but this is the first time they have been released in the Blu-ray format. Includes the frequently-requested “Street of Crocodiles,” ‘s short documentary “Quay,” commentary by the Brothers, and three post-2010 shorts that have never been released on home video before. A must to stuff in your weird love’s stocking. Buy “The Quay Brothers: Collected Short Films” [Blu-ray].


Mondo Cane (1962): The first successful exploitation documentary by examines such odd human behaviors as pet cemeteries, interspecies breastfeeding, drunks at Octoberfest, nude body painting, cargo cults and more. The title translates as “a dog’s world,” and the resulting documentary is duly cynical about mankind. Watch Mondo Cane  on Sang Film (the full film, despite being incorrectly listed as “Part I”).

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.


Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight (2015) is now playing in select theaters. It opened in half a dozen cities nationwide, was critically well-received, and did brisk business. It was only after that promising start start the studio seemed to have any faith in it, which is unfortunate. It is not only a well-made film, but also an important one. Thankfully, it does not take the attitude of being Important, and commendably refrains from on-the-sleeve melodramatics, which is a rarity in films with potentially explosive themes.

The image of Bing Crosby’s congenial Irish Father O’ Malley has gone the way of the dinosaur. That is apt, because even the velvet-voiced actor behind the collar was reportedly an abusive father (one son wrote a “daddy dearest” tell all; two additional offspring committed suicide). The Church itself was the cause of its own bad press, and most of the world became privy to its dirty laundry when the Boston Globe published a series of articles in 2002 exposing pedophilia in the ranks of Catholic clergy.

Actually, cracks were beginning to show elsewhere before that infamous exposé. A few years prior, the Indianapolis Star ousted sixteen pedophile priests in the ranks of the Lafayette diocese. Still, that does not compare to the Boston Globe revelation of (approximately) 90 priests who were serial pedophile abusers in the diocese of Cardinal Bernard Francis Law. This is the topic of Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight. 

When new editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) arrives at the Boston Globe, he inquires about a follow-up to a recent column about a lone pedophile priest. In a meeting with Walter Robinson (), Baron speculates that this may not be an isolated incident and deserves further investigation. That’s how things happen; like a silent wind blowing with no indication where it came from or where it is going.

Still from Spotlight (2015)Robinson assembles a crack team, which includes Mike Rezendes (), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matty Carroll (Brian D’ Arcy James). With barely a journalistic scratch, the number jumps from one pedophile priest to six, then to possibly thirteen. Perhaps the most unnerving scene in the film follows. A disembodied voice, belonging to an insider, calls the “Spotlight” team.

“Do you think thirteen pedophile priests is an accurate number?” the caller is asked. “Oh no,” he answers. “Too high?” “Too low. It’s probably closer to 90.” His reply is so nonchalant, it makes the hairs on the nape of the neck stand on end and gives credence to an attorney’s previous observation: “If it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to abuse one.”

There is no dimly lit John Huston figure or a Deep Throat informant hiding in the shadows of a subterranean parking garage. McCarthy Continue reading SPOTLIGHT (2015)




FEATURING: , Clara Furey, Victor Andres Turgeon-Trelles, Caroline Dhavernas, Paul Ahmarani, Noel Burton, , ,

PLOT: It opens (and ends) with a hygiene lecture about the importance of baths, and in between flows back and forth between tales about men trapped in a submarine, an apprentice lumberjack seeking to free a woman captured by bandits, a bone surgeon who falls in love with a motorcycle crash victim, and many more.

Still from The Forbidden Room (2015)

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: We have an unofficial rule that no movie is placed on the List until after it is released on home video. But for that restriction…

COMMENTS: Wrapped in a robe (and draped in washed-out Super-8 color), Mrav (Guy Maddin stalwart Louis Negin) confidently explains how to take a bath for bathing novices (“carefully insert your big toe into the waters. This will tell you if it’s too hot or too cold.”) The camera tracks down the bathtub drain until it finds a submarine, stuck at the bottom of the sea, with only 48 hours of air remaining and a captain who has left orders not to be disturbed. The sailors scarf down flapjacks, because the air packets trapped inside the pastries provide them with extra oxygen. Suddenly, a woodsman walks through a hatch, with no memory of how he got there. He explains, in flashback, that he is an apprentice lumberjack (a “saplingjack”) from Holstein-Schleswig on a quest to rescue the beauteous Margot from a group of bandits called the Red Wolves. After earning the brigands trust through a series of trials including finger-snapping and offal-piling, the saplingjack earns their trust provisionally and is allowed to sleep in their cave. There, Margot, now the leader of the Red Wolves, dreams that she is an amnesiac who wanders into a Casablanca-style cafe…

And that’s just in the first twenty minutes of this two hour feature which continually segues, Phantom of Liberty style, from one retro-absurdist vignette to another. Sometimes the next story is a re-enactment of a newspaper headline glimpsed by a character in the previous tale, sometimes it is a dream of mustache hairs. Along the way we get “The Final Derriere,” the lament of a man “plagued by bottoms,” sung by a scrambled-faced crooner; a bone surgeon erotically assaulted by curvy women dressed as skeletons, and “forced to wear a leotard!”; and a man who bids on a bust of the two-faced god Janus against his own double. This epic phantasmagoria is mostly presented in glorious two-strip Technicolor, but the film stocks vary and jump around (some segments are black and white). Periodically, a recurring morphing effect causes the entire screen to waver dramatically. Although this is a sound film, sometimes the movie turns silent and dialogue is conveyed by Maddin’s famously melodramatic intertitles; the characters soon forget they are in a silent film and start to speak again. Intriguingly, the stories backtrack, and then lurch forward in new directions, and by the end the entire Chinese puzzle box telescopes in reverse, backtracking through the labyrinth of stories and ending up where it began, with a wrinkled swinger in a bathrobe extolling the virtues of a good scrubbing.

The Forbidden Room is a tour-de-force summation of Maddin’s evolution-through-regression style. Disunity and fragmentation are the themes here (the opening epigraph from John reads “gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost”). The lack of a strong central theme may be a slight weakness here that holds Room back from being one of Maddin’s top-rank masterpieces (compare the single-minded autobiographical obsessiveness of My Winnipeg or the Freudian incest hysteria of Careful). Yet, the film overwhelms us with shameless excessiveness, hidden treasures, visual marvels, and Maddin’s subconscious wit. It is the master’s most unabashedly surreal picture in some time (which says quite a lot), occupying a place in his oeuvre similar to INLAND EMPIRE‘s position in David Lynch‘s canon (although hopefully it will not be Maddin’s final word on the subject).

Just as the seminal Maddin feature Cowards Bend the Knee arose out of a “peephole” art installation, The Forbidden Room arose out of the “Seances” project (which in turn arose, ghostlike, from the ashes of an abandoned short film project called “Hauntings”). The premise of “Seances” is that Maddin reimagines lost films from the silent and early talkie era, which are today known only by their titles. The opening sequence of The Forbidden Room, for example, appears to be based on a lost hygiene film called “How to Take a Bath.”

One of The Forbidden Room‘s deepest mysteries is the identity credited co-director Evan Johnson. Who is he? The movie has Maddin’s sensibilities written all over it, and if no co-director were named none would have been suspected. What did Johnson contribute? Why was Maddin so impressed with him to make him a protégé? And furthermore, who is the presumably related Galen Johnson, who gets credits for music, a co-credit (with Evan) for visual effects, and titles? (The actual answer is prosaic: Evan Johnson was a former film student hired as a research assistant, whose contributions to the project became so significant that Maddin felt he deserved a co-director credit. Still, we like to think of Evan’s sudden elevation from Rug Doctor bottling plant worker to near-equal partner of the most celebrated avant-garde filmmaker of the day as the kind of plot twist that could only occur in Guy Maddin’s universe).


“What narrative momentum there is has the choppy feel of unrelated serials crudely stitched together into a chaotic assemblage that operates, like all Mr. Maddin’s work, on hallucinatory dream logic. As a viewer you can supply whatever subtext comes to mind.”–Stephen Holden, The New York Times (contemporaneous)


DIRECTED BY: Carol Morley

FEATURING: Maisie Williams, Maxine Peake, Florence Pugh

PLOT: The students at an all-girls school experience a collective mass hysteria after one of their group unexpectedly passes away. But what is really causing this strange illness, and can its spell be broken?

Still from The Falling (2014)

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: The Falling is a symphony of opposites, a nauseating yet excessively beautiful film, one that simultaneously rejects and then accepts the extremes of female sexuality. Purposefully instilled with a sense of obscurity, it could be viewed as an extended analogy or a horror film without a monster, depending on how weird you want it to be.

COMMENTS: Following in the footsteps of more familiar New Weird British directors and , Carol Morely has crafted a film full of plausible deniability. Actions and reactions seem to offer explanations, before wrenching them away from you at the last moment. Like its recent predecessors, The Falling is impressive in that it can be so disturbing in direct opposition to its visual presentation: stark and quiet, empty but beautiful, each frame uncluttered, the pace perfectly languid. Not many films can find stability between intellectual stimulation and visceral distraction, but The Falling manages it more often than not, primarily due to its dedication to the autumnal, timeless setting and lack of any exposition.

This lack of exposition could be mistaken for general weirdness in any other film but, a lot like ’s Innocence (another brilliant film set in an all-girls school), The Falling isn’t obfuscating for the sake of obfuscation. Morley has written extensively on her obsession with mass hysteria among teenage girls (a more common occurrence than you would think) along with the total lack of explanation for these mysterious events. Seeing the phenomenon presented on screen is a chilling, confusing experience. It is also an immediately arresting concept, and Morley runs with it, from the humble beginnings of an eerie teenage friendship through to sexual awakening, identity issues, and even suggestions of witchcraft. Whilst there is never an overt explanation for the fainting spells, facial tics and personality changes that the girls go through, the sexual awakenings of many characters seem to be a starting point for their sudden transformations. At some points, the film is a satire of Catholicism’s fear of sexuality: the idea that if just one teenage girl were to become sexually active and pregnant then it would sweep through their ranks like an epidemic, stealing their individuality away from them and creating beings who act impulsively, flustered by their sexual desires. At other times, it’s character-driven, a study of youthful diversion and identity crisis for our young protagonist Lydia.

The films provocation would not be as powerful without the stirring performances of the girls that inhabit the pristine surroundings of the school. Maisie Williams, better known as “Game of Thrones”‘s Arya Stark, sheds her more famous character with immense maturity, willing her character forward despite challenging scenes of incest, abuse and supposed insanity. In fact, credit should go to Morley and all her actresses for working together to eek out impressively subtle performances, especially in a film with such difficult content. The constant musical dream-pop interludes are a little excessive and redundant, and the conclusion isn’t quite worth the set-up, but if this is the future of British film, we should have a lot to look forward to because of the continually expressive and experimental efforts that Morley should certainly be a part of in the future.


“There are shades here of Joseph Losey and Ken Russell, albeit with a staunch feminist perspective. The storytelling may waver in conviction after a woozily riveting setup, but not enough to impede healthy domestic arthouse prospects…” – Guy Lodge, Variety


DIRECTED BY: Ferdinando Baldi

FEATURING: Tony Anthony, , Lloyd Battista

PLOT: An abandoned town, a gypsy family, a very Spanish princess: enter, the Stranger. Offered $50,000 to ferry the displaced sovereign back home, before she can be reinstated there’s a question of reclaiming an ancient treasure. Alas, standing in the way of our Hero is a sadistic fop, a hot-tempered Mongol chieftain, and a Shakespeare-quoting hunchback.

Still from Get Mean (1976)

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: By setting the bulk of his Spaghetti Western somewhere along the coast of Spain, Ferdinando Baldi’s Get Mean elicits an initial reaction of “oh realllly…,” then cranks things up to all the way to bizarre with its visionary combination of temporally and geographically misplaced clashing adversaries. Tony Anthony adds to this movie’s peculiar brand of “magic” with his gristly voice and an unceasingly sardonic grin in lieu of a stoic Clint Eastwood imitation. Toss in no fewer than three main villains, chin-stroking xenophobia, and a string of food motifs, and you’ve got yourself a Western.

COMMENTS: This breezy little movie starts off with weirdness hanging off its sleeve. A man (Tony Anthony) is being dragged through a desolate countryside past a mysterious reflective orb nestled among bedraggled plants. Pulled into an empty town, he stumbles into one of the buildings. Inside, of course, is a family of gypsies. The eldest woman of the group says, ominously, “We have been expecting you.” The Stranger accepts their task of bringing a Spanish princess back to her home country. After a quick brawl with some local toughs, one dressed in Mongol garb, the Stranger heads off on a burning-map travel montage. Starting from somewhere in the Great Lakes region and heading across the sea, within minutes we find the escort and his ward on the beaches of Spain, staring down two hostile armies.

By this time, things have not gone well for the stranger. Nor have things gone well for those who prefer a little historical accuracy, even in their Spaghetti Westerns. The rival bands are Moors, who in this world seem to be soldiers of the Spanish monarchy, and a clutch of barbarians, which explains the outfit of the baddie in the opening fight. I’m not certain how many Central Asian warriors are named Diego, but Get Mean taught me there’s at least one. Aiding the Mongol antagonist are a refined, bordering-on-maniacal hunchback (Lloyd Battista) and one of those caricatured homosexuals only found in ’70s movies. These three are keen on the power that can only be unlocked through the discovery of the ancient “Treasure of Rodrigo” (!).

Quips, beatings, explosions, and large firearms are scattered throughout the movie. These are to be expected in a low budget Western. Less expected is the Stranger’s trial in a quasi-Land of the Dead. Conniving with the hunchback, the Stranger infiltrates an ancient mosque that has teamed up with Christian clergy. He squares off against the psychic attacks of unhappy undead in a chapel, travels through some chintzy-looking caves, and dispatches perhaps the least effective treasure guardian ever encountered in cinema. Enough? Heavens no — an explosion renders him black(face)ened for a stretch, during which he matches wits with a wild bull in the middle of nowhere. Get Mean‘s writer and director have cheerily decided to throw believability to the wind in pursuit of a movie that looks like what might’ve happened had ever tried his hand at the Western genre.

Tony Anthony’s performance is reminiscent of something by Clint Eastwood’s illegitimate half-brother. We know he’s either in for travel or trouble whenever a very jaunty, very Spaghetti tune gears up—perhaps the only note of consistency to be found in the movie. The combined elements of this Western set over 4,000 miles East of the Mississippi were enough to make me wonder what the heck would happen next. Sadly, Get Mean was ignored upon release and didn’t find a cult following in the intervening four decades. Thankfully, that did not stop the good people at Blue Underground from resurrecting it. Perhaps over the next forty years Get Mean might find the fringe adoration that eluded it.


“One of the strangest and most obscure spaghetti westerns ever to come out of Italy…”–TV Guide


It’s Thanksgiving week here in the U.S., and here’s what we’ll be showing our thanks for this week. Giles Edwards is thankful for insane Spaghetti Westerns (like 1976’s Get Mean) that feature Moors rather than Indians as adversaries. S. Ryder is thankful that we’re willing to consider The Falling, a British film about hysterical fainting spells among schoolgirls, during the week Americans celebrate their Anglo ancestors triumphant escape from their homeland. (No offense intended to Brits, who have the misfortune of being stuck this week on an island with no indigenous turkeys and a tame idea of what constitutes “football”). G. Smalley is thankful that he has the opportunity to bring Americans the scoop on The Forbidden Room, the latest work by Canadian absurdist and 366 fave . Finally, Alfred Eaker will take a break from his series on the movies of as he will be focusing on breast of turkey rather than breast-filled turkeys, and he so is thankful for the opportunity to instead spotlight Spotlight, the new (non-weird) newspaper flick about the Boston Globe journalists who broke the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal.

We don’t want to seem ungrateful on this, the most thanksful of weeks, but you guys have not been feeding us the greatest weird search terms this past week. We’re forced to spotlight the meagerly bizarre “movie where puppets are the court to a human but he thinks hes dreaming it 70s” as among the very weirdest of searches we saw this week. We did receive a hit for the mysterious search term “go”; no idea why someone searching for those two letters would be directed to our site, but we’ll take the traffic. We’re thankful that we can at least share “odds goccia top moves,” the very weirdest search term we encountered this week, with you, our beloved 366 family.

Here’s how the ridiculously-long and currently-neglected reader-suggested review queue stands: The Fox Family; Angelus; Conspirators of Pleasure; Love Me If You Dare; Fando y Lis; Rampo Noir; Christmas on Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE


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 at the official site links.

IN DEVELOPMENT (Pre-production):

Okja (est. 2017): After his bitter experience with studio interference on his apocalyptic train allegory Snowpiercer, Korean has signed a deal to produce a monster movie for Netflix with the assurance he will have full creative control. That could mean he’s free to go weird in this film about the relationship between a girl and a friendly giant monster. “I want to depict the two characters’ bizarre journey and adventure across the tough world in an original fashion,” says Bong. and are attached. Read more at Twitch.


Catch My Soul (1974): Have you ever heard rumors about a rock opera version of “Othello” set in the American Southwest, starring folkie Richie Havens and directed by “The Prisoner”‘s Patrick McGoohan? This film disappeared soon after opening to lousy reviews, and had long been considered lost; we’d categorize it as an oddity. Released in a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack. Buy Catch My Soul [Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack].

Deep Dark (2015): A suicidal sculptor discovers a talking hole in his wall with magical powers. One Amazon reviewer calls it “just weird.” We received notice via an anonymous email tip. Buy Deep Dark (or rent on demand).

Living in Oblivion (1995): An indie comedy about the making of an independent film, done in three segments reflecting various on-set disasters. This film is something of a cult item, and features a great performance by James LeGros as a narcissistic heartthrob and  ‘s debut as the dwarf typecast to play in the dream sequence. A DVD/Blu-ray combo pack. Buy Living In Oblivion [Bluray/DVD Combo].


Catch My Soul (1974): See description in DVD above. Buy Catch My Soul [Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack].

The City of Lost Children (1995): Read the Certified Weird entry! Remastered and with new bonus features, this “20th Anniversary Edition” is a welcome upgrade for this classic dream-stealing fairy tale that was previously unavailable on Blu-ray in English. Buy The City of Lost Children [Blu-ray].

“The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki”: This set includes all eleven movies directed by legendary animator , including the two fantasies that we Certified Weird (Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away). Each disc includes the original subtitled versions along with Disney’s excellent dubs. Say what you will about the Mouse, but he has treated these international cinema treasures with tremendous respect. Buy “The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki” [Blu-ray].

Living in Oblivion (1995): See description in DVD above. Buy Living In Oblivion [Bluray/DVD Combo].

Lost, Lost, Lost (1976)/Walden (1969): Two experimental diary films from critic-turned-director Jonas Mekas. Walden is probably more popular for its glimpses of celebrities like Timothy Leary, and John Lennon than for its chaotic visuals (Mekas likes to jerk and spin the camera incoherently). Buy Lost Lost Lost/Walden [Blu-ray].

Trashology (2013): Three gag-inducing vignettes involving Ouija boards, fat fetishes, and revenge killings. Low-budget tribute to style filmmaking shot in beautiful Louisville, KY. Buy Trashology [Blu-ray].

Troll (1986)/Troll 2 (1990): Two bad movies on one disk! The original Troll was a strangish PG-13 B-movie fantasy set in an apartment building pitting an actual troll against a kid and a good witch. Troll 2, related to the first in name only, is a laugh riot of incompetence that contains no trolls, only man-eating vegetarian goblins (you heard me right). Buy Troll/Troll 2 [Blu-ray].


In Dreams (1999): Annette Bening plays a housewife who sees visions of a serial killer in her dreams that turn out to be premonitions. Trippy sequences abound in this psychological sleeper (hee hee) from courtesy of the Paramount Vault dump. Watch In Dreams free on YouTube.

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.

Celebrating the cinematically surreal, bizarre, cult, oddball, fantastique, psychedelic, and the just plain WEIRD!