CAPSULE: 2012 AFICIONADO DVD ZINE: ISSUE #0 (2012)

Beware

DIRECTED BY: None credited

FEATURING: N/A

PLOT: A two-plus hour “mixtape” of video clips, some rare, some shocking, a few weird, arranged with a minimum of editing.

Still from 2012 Aficionado DVD zine issue #0

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: The “mixtape” concept is easy to  do, hard to master. This one contains little of interest and much that’s in terrible taste, with extremely irritating editing experiments as the rancid topping on an unappetizing pie. Few will be able to watch it to the end; many could not make it five minutes into this “movie” without giving up. For aficionados of 2012 only.

COMMENTS: Way back in the VHS era, tapes of rare video material—embarrassments taped off public access TV, censored news footage, forbidden clips from video nasties, strange home videos found in thrift shops—circulated among collectors who would often edit them into anthologies or “mixtapes.” In the age of the high-speed Internet, when everything has been uploaded and we are able to select our own clips with a mouse click, watching a video mixtape is like being trapped inside someone else’s YouTube playlist. Unless you invest your compilation with some sort of thematic coherence—like the ensemble, who elevated the genre to an actual artform with Doggiewogiez! Poochiewoochiez!—-there is no reason for anyone to watch it. Just stringing together stuff you think is cool is no longer sufficient.

“The 2012 Aficionado DVD Zine” falls into the “stuff the editor thinks is cool” school of mixtaping. If you don’t agree this stuff is cool—and most adults won’t think much of it is—then you’re not going to be interested in sticking with it through the bloated 2-hr. plus runtime. The “original” source material seems to be videotape, and the images are blurred and fuzzy, which adds more eyestrain than charm. Time stamps are frequently visible, particularly when some editing experiment is being done (in an attempt to add some artistic input of his own, the compiler is fond of looping the material so that the playback repeats and stutters, which becomes highly irritating—see below). There is only occasionally any kind of logical flow to the material—at one point, a George W. Bush speech segues into an anti-capitalist Afropop music video, which is about as close to a creative statement the assembler makes. Most of it is a random stream of fuzzy Bollywood dance scenes, evangelical propaganda videos, animated softcore porn, homemade amateur punk/rap/metal videos, a puppet singing about unrequited interracial love, John Kilduff’s public access exercise/painting program, exploding anime heads, Japanese softcore porn, a slo-mo version of “Soul Train,” a homemade sex tape of a furry making love to an inflatable dolphin, and so on.

It’s not as much fun as it sounds. First off, there is the horrible video quality and the fact that there is no flow to the clips. Second, there are several objectionable Faces of Death-type atrocity scenes added merely for their offensiveness and rarity. The clip of cat abuse (it is still debated how much of this scene was achieved through special effects) comes from the Hong Kong exploitation film Men Behind the Sun. Even more tasteless is the footage of combatants being eliminated by drone strikes, and a film purporting to show a man being burned alive without a trial by a vigilante mob. Since the mixtape provides no political context to these scenes—we aren’t even told what country the immolation occurs in—this is pure snuff entertainment. Finally, as if all that wasn’t enough to turn you against the project, there are the aforementioned irritating editing experiments, culminating in a one second clip of Pokemon characters yipping that is looped to run for—I kid you not—nine minutes. When I reached that point in the tape I had to turn it off and finish it the next night. You don’t have to go that far in; you never have to watch any of it at all.

I don’t understand how “the 2012 Aficionado DVD Zine” is, as it advertizes itself, “the first ever zine in DVD format.” A zine was an underground magazine composed of original material written or drawn by hobbyists. It did not consist simply of unauthorized reprints of other people’s work. Other than the ill-advised edits, nothing here was actually created by the person who assembled it. Still, it’s available here, along with five more episodes which are also each over 2 hours long. Some of you will doubtlessly be tempted to try this—but don’t say you weren’t warned.

(This movie was nominated for review by someone [almost certainly the original editor/uploader] whose comments have since been lost. Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

First up, a reminder that you have until February 22nd to vote for the 5th Annual Weirdcademy awards. We have our first official campaign in the short film category, as if looks like partisans of “Earthworm Heart” have streamed in to give that film a huge lead over presumptive favorite “Too Many Cooks.” The feature competition indicates strong preferences for The Dance of Reality and Under the Skin. Dance leads Skin 30-26 in the Weirdest Movie category, while Pamela Flores is currently leading by a lone vote in the Weirdest Actress category. In the other races, (s) hold a narrow lead over and his fake head in the Weirdest Actor contest, while Dance is running away with Weirdest Scene (for Ms. Flores’ rather unique cure for plague). Cast your vote here.

Next week we’ll cover 2015’s very first weird release, the direct-to-DVD “Memento-with-a-hot-chick” thriller 88. Then, we’ll reach deep into the reader-suggested review queue for a couple of odd odds-and-ends that just happen to be available for free viewing online: the amateur “mixtape” 2012 Aficionado DVD Zine Issue #0, and Jean Renoir’s surreal 1927 short “Charleston Parade” (with a guy in a gorilla suit—always a good thing to put in a weird movie). Alfred Eaker returns to Something Weird’s “roadshow” catalog for a couple of “harder” sexploitation films: 1961’s Damaged Goods and 1970’s pre-hardcore hippie sex shocker The Hard Road.

Speaking of twisted libidos, it’s time once again for our weekly survey of bizarre search terms used to locate this site, a popular feature we like to call “Weirdest Search Term of the Week.” We’ll start out with “animated movie with a woman dressed as a cat and a pregnant lady and robots,” which sounds like something we’d love to check out. Stranger still is “ice shanty erotica clips,” which is definitely a new fetish to us (and also something we’d love to check out). But it was “brandi and demon feet pedaling free online video” that earned its place as our official Weirdest Search Term of the Week. We wouldn’t necessarily love to check it out, but we couldn’t resist at least taking a peek at Brandi and her demon feet.

Here’s how the ridiculously-long reader-suggested review queue now stands (note: we are slowly researching and moving more titles into the “out of print/not yet on Region1 DVD” holding pen we print at the end of the list, so if you think something’s missing you might check there): 2012 Aficionado DVD Zine Issue #0 (next week!); “Charleston Parade” (next week!); The Fox Family; AngelusThis Filthy Earth; Conspirators of Pleasure; Bubba Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 1/23/2015

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):

The Duke of Burgundy (2014): Peter Strickland’s followup to his giallo-tribute Berberian Sound Studio is a strange erotic melodrama about sadomasochistic relationship between an aristocratic butterfly collector and her servant. We have no idea where it’s playing or even how to access the advertised VOD release (UPDATE: it’s been spotted on Comcast cable systems), so we’ll likely have to wait for a DVD. The Duke of Burgundy official site.

R100 (2013): A sadomasochistic sex comedy from about a businessman who joins a secret club that arranges for dominatrices to attack its members in public places. We’ve been waiting on this one since it’s North American debut at TIFF last year; Drafthouse makes sure it hits all the major metro areas. R100 official site.

SCREENINGS – (Cinefamily, Los Angeles, Friday January 23, 8:00 PST):

R100 (2013)/Symbol (2009): Speaking of R100 (see above), the Cinefamily is hosting a double feature to celebrate the film’s release, pairing it with Symbol, the auteur’s bizarro 2009 comedy about metaphysical emptiness and Mexican wrestling. R100 gaijin co-star Lindsay Kay Hayward will be there, and there will be a “sushi eating whipping” contest with prizes. Los Angelinos rush out there now, ’cause it starts at 8:00 PST. R100 (2013)/Symbol (2009) at Cinefamily.

FILM FESTIVALS – Sundance Film Festival (Park City, UT, Date):

The 2015 movie season officially kicks off with Sundance, where a hundred hopeful independent movies, including some off-the-wall ones, come to vie for a handful of distribution contracts. Last year brought us The Double, and the previous year’s Sundance sensation was Escape from Tomorrow, so there is almost always at least one weird winner to be found here. Here are the ones we’ll be keeping an eye on:

  • Beaver Trilogy Part IV – A documentary about the making of Beaver Trilogy, an odd movie about an oddball kid from Beaver, Oregon. Screens the 23rd, 27th and 31st.
  • The Forbidden Room – This might possibly be of interest: a new movie, with a cast of , and . Try to catch it on the 26th, 28th, 29th or 31st (but expect to be put on the wait list).
  • H. – The story of two women named Helen in Troy, NY who descend into madness, or the end of the world, or something. Screening 1/25, 27, 30 & 31.
  • The Tribe – A graphically violent and sexually explicit Ukrainian film, with no dialogue, about students at a school for the deaf who run a prostitution ring.  Screens the 24th, 26th & 27th.
  • White Dog – There’s been some buzz about this allegorical movie about dogs who go to war with the city of Budapest after it enacts a tax on mixed-breed canines. 1/23, 25 or 31 are your chances to check it out.

Sundance Film Festival official site.

NEW ON DVD:

La Belle Captive (1983): A man finds a beautiful woman lying bound in the road, takes her home, makes love to her, and sees visions of the paintings of René Magritte.  The belated interest in the sadomasochistically surreal films of continues, with Olive taking the torch passed by Redemption Video. Buy La Belle Captive.

Coherence (2013): Read our review. This “Twilight Zone”-y story about a comet that metaphysically disrupts a dinner party isn’t the weirdest out there, but it was one of last year’s very best ultra-low-budget sci-fi features. Buy Coherence.

Lucy (2014): Read our review. ‘s dopey sci-fantasy about using 100% of her brain was inexplicably popular; at least the visuals are trippy. Buy Lucy.

My Winnipeg (2007): ‘s fantastical, surreal documentary about his hometown of Winnipeg. Maddin and the Criterion Collection are a match made in movie heaven. Buy My Winnipeg.

Winter in the Blood (2013): An alcoholic Native American wakes up in a ditch, then returns to his home on a Montana reservation to discover his wife has left him, taking his beloved rifle with her. A modern vision quest with surreal elements. Buy Winter in the Blood.

Zero Theorem (2013): Read James Harben’s review. ‘s latest didn’t make mucho weird waves, but it’s always good to watch the master at work. Buy The Zero Theorem.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

La Belle Captive (1983): See description in DVD above. Buy La Belle Captive [Blu-ray].

Lucy (2014): See description in DVD above. This is a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack. Buy Lucy [Blu-ray/DVD].

My Winnipeg (2007): See description in DVD above. Buy My Winnipeg [Blu-ray].

Zero Theorem (2013): See description in DVD above. Buy The Zero Theorem [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.

ATTACK OF THE MORONBOTS!

Dear readers, in the past week we have been under intermittent attack by an idiot botnet trying to brute-force admin passwords so it can insert spam links that would take us a few hours to clean up. There were over 15,000 login attempts over night!

The situation is as if I had a car with two separate keys (username and password), one for the door and one for the ignition. The botnet is like a car thief with a massive keyring of thousands of keys (password guesses). He tries out each key hoping it will magically work. If by some miracle he finds the right key (username) to open the door, then he would need to go through the whole thing again to get the car to drive (by guessing the password). Then, I would recover the car a few hours later with LoJack anyway.

Unfortunately, despite having no chance of success, this moronic behavior taxes our server resources. Therefore we’ve taken some extra security steps to try to keep the scripts from ever reaching the login page in the first place.

The TLDR point of all this is that if you find the site behaving oddly (especially in regards to logging in or commenting) due to the defensive maneuvers we’ve been forced to take, we’d appreciate it if you’d contact us and let us know.

Thanks brave readers!

 

TIM BURTON’S BIG EYES (2014)

Big Eyes (2015) is probably ‘s most satisfactory film since Ed Wood (1994). Alas, that is a minuscule compliment. Burton began as a refreshing original working within a tinseled industry, but formulaic demands soon rendered his later work imitative and an example of style over substance.

Burton was once the hip auteur for the perennial college and goth crowds. Now, he is the butt of their humor: a cautionary warning of a sell-out losing all originality and vitality.

He went the distance in proving the cynical naysayers correct, reaching his nadir with Alice in Wonderland (2010), which jettisoned authentic Carrollesque surrealism in favor of populist fluff and a cringe-inducing slice of Johnny Depp ham.

In vain, one hoped Burton had nowhere to go but up, but he only continued his slide, proving nostalgia is fleeting with an ill-advised and execrable update of Dark Shadows (2012). He followed this with a pointless, self-plagiarized feature, Frankenweenie (2012), which predictably worked better in its original version as a compact short.

Burton is certainly not immune to critical fallout. Of course, it has hardly affected his box office standing, but popularity with aesthetically illiterate masses is only salt to the wound.

With Big Eyes, Burton belatedly responds to critics by playing the narcissistic victim, projecting himself onto the figure of artist Margaret Keane. In doing so, he damn near kills the film, but, surprisingly, his opus (barely) survives him.

Still from Big Eyes (2014)Burton’s epic misstep is in subduedly addressing Keane’s art as kitsch. It is kitsch. There is nothing original about her mass-produced  art for the Walmart home spread. Her illustrations are a kind of synthetic parody of Modigliani.  Yet, Burton is a Keane fan, and fan is short for fanatic.  Naturally, he takes the fanboy approach in identifying with his object of adulation. Undoubtedly, Burton can find affinity in Keane’s strategical marketing to a bourgeoise public.

In pedestaling Margaret Keane’s gimmicky, one-note cartoons, Burton casts the art critics and gallery dealers as two-dimensional, jealous predators. It’s the equivalent of a cinematic exclamation point, or a big bang at the end of a pedestrian symphony. The homogenous Tim Burton/Margaret Keane hybrid becomes a much put-upon martyr. Cue big, puppy-eyed closeup.  It is the kind of manipulative choice that Spielberg used to be so goddamned guilty of.

Big Eyes would have been a far better film had Burton made a smarter choice by avoiding the topic altogether, or in taking either an objective or idiosyncratic approach (as he did in Ed Wood). In many ways, Big Eyes serves as little sister to Ed Wood, but in that earlier film, a younger, fresher director did not succumb to tomfoolery. Continue reading TIM BURTON’S BIG EYES (2014)

189. THE RULING CLASS (1972)

The Ruling Class is a rather… unusual film.”–original trailer to The Ruling Class

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Peter Medak 

FEATURING: Peter O’Toole, William Mervyn, Carolyn Seymour, Arthur Lowe, Coral Brown, Alistair Sim, James Villiers

PLOT: The 13th Earl of Gurney dies, leaving Jack, a madman who believes he is God, as his direct heir to inherit his seat in the House of Lords. His relatives scheme to trick Jack into marriage so that he will produce an heir to carry the Gurney line, and then seek to have him declared incompetent and have him committed. Unexpectedly, however, his psychiatrist’s drastic treatment cures Jack, and now that he no longer believes himself to be God, his disposition is not nearly as gentle.

Still from The Ruling Class (1972)
BACKGROUND:

  • Peter Barnes adapted the script from his own play. (The play is till occasionally performed; at the time of this writing, was starring in a performance at Trafalgar Studios). Peter O’Toole bought the rights from Barnes, and director Medak convinced O’Toole to exercise his option after a night of hard drinking (naturally).
  • O’Toole was nominated for an Oscar for his performance here, losing to Marlon Brando in The Godfather.
  • The original U.S.theatrical release omitted Carolyn Seymour’s striptease scene so that the film could be released with a PG rating.
  • The Ruling Class‘ VHS release was cut by 13 minutes so that it would fit on a single tape. Some TV broadcasts used the same shortened version.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: Some would say it’s Peter O’Toole as J.C. taking a flying leap off his cross on his wedding day, an image the director liked so much he highlighted it in a freeze frame. We prefer the penultimate hallucination, where the House of Lords is seen as a gallery of cheering corpses and clapping skeletons draped in cobwebs.

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Peter O’Toole’s literally insane performance (“bless the pygmy hippos!”), accompanied by frequent hallucinations and left-field musical numbers, turn this literate upper-crust satire from a pointed class parable into something eccentric enough to deserve the designation “weird.”


Original trailer for The Ruling Class

COMMENTS: Although only making it onto film in 1972, the Continue reading 189. THE RULING CLASS (1972)

LIST CANDIDATE: THE PIANO TUNER OF EARTHQUAKES (2005)

Weirdest!

DIRECTED BY: ,

FEATURING: César Sarachu, , Amira Casar, Assumpta Serna

PLOT: A doctor brings a piano tuner to his remote asylum to prepare automata for an opera he is staging for the benefit of a beautiful, nearly comatose patient who was once a singer.

Still from Piano Tuner of Earthquakes (2005)
WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: The general consensus is that The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes is one of the weakest of the Quay Brothers‘ cinematic efforts; on the other hand, there is no question that this fairy-tale of dreams, madness and opera is one of their very weirdest.

COMMENTS: “After a while, you get used to the confusion,” the housekeeper tells the piano tuner, as she explains that they call the silent men who are always scurrying around in the background of Dr. Droz’s estate “gardeners,” although they are really patients. Of course, the declaration is actually meant as a reassurance for the audience—but by the time the housekeeper drops that line, thirty minutes in, confusion-averse viewers will have already fled in terror. Dr. Droz has either killed and resurrected, or simply abducted, an opera diva, and is keeping her on his private island, where Alpine architeture mixes with tropical flora. The doctor needs a legendary piano tuner, who also happens to be  dead ringer for the singer’s lost love, to fix his seven automata, and to take part in an elaborate opera he is staging. The piano tuner flirts with the seductive housekeeper until the beautiful mute patient catches his eye. Each night, he has a dream, which is the Quay brothers’ excuse to indulge in the types of bizarre fantasy sequences that they made famous in their short films (although here with only minimal stop-motion animation). We see grotesque singing teeth, boats piloted by disembodied hands, and scenes where everyone moves backwards. We soon strike a rhythm of dreams interrupted by dialogues between the tuner and the housekeeper or doctor, which explain very little of what is ultimately going on on the island. Instead, the doctor likes to tell little stories about fungi that infect the brains of ants and eventually form spikes which bursts through the insects’ heads to release spores.

Piano Tuner is a stylistically overstuffed film. That is both a strength and a weakness. It’s one of those movies that looks like the filmmakers suspected they were never going to get another chance to work with a budget like this again, and felt pressed to get all their grandiose ideas up on screen while they had the opportunity. Individual frames of the film look like they come from paintings or drawings, but from a very eclectic museum: some scenes exhibit the swarthy classicism of a Carvaggio, others look like they come out of a medieval woodcutting, while still others like storybook illustrations from a Grimm fairy tale. There are luminous grottoes, ghostly animations, and distorting lenses. Much of the film features people and objects half hidden in shadows, making them as difficult to make out as the story is. The overall intent is to force us to give up on trying to process the narrative and imagery in the conventional sense, and simply submit to its beauty.

The Quay Brothers explained that, as a condition of funding, Film 4 demanded that they make a more “accessible” movie than their previous effort, Institute Benjamenta. Other than shooting the film in color, it’s hard to see how Piano Tuner could ever meet that standard. Terry Gilliam came in as executive producer to save the project; his name and reputation allowed the Quays to raise the remainder of the money they needed to film their outrageously odd visions.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…the most strangely and subtly variegated march-past of Love’s delirious mechanisms ever committed to film… Absolutely entrancing!”–Guy Maddin, Film Comment (contemporaneous)

(This movie was nominated for review by Kat, who described it as containing “beautiful dreamlike imagery and some all too short sequences of the Quay’s miniature automata.” Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)

YOUR VOTE DETERMINES THE WINNERS OF THE 5TH ANNUAL WEIRDCADEMY AWARDS

As usual, the announcement of the 2015 Academy Awards nominations elicited rounds of finger-pointing over the surprise snubs. Here at the Weirdcademy, we’re no stranger to controversy, either. In the past we have received complaints over us using the “w-word” to characterize Quvenzhané Wallis, leading us to stress that the “Weirdest Actress” award is really just shorthand for “Best Actress in a Weird Movie.” More to the point, just like the Academy Awards, this year we nominated mostly movies made by white males. Only 1/2  of our contending films were directed by women, and we nominated no movies made by African-Americans (though one was directed by an African-Brit). While we are actually quite a bit more diverse than the Academy, we’re still not where we would like to be. Our message to women and minorities: Hollywood doesn’t have your back, direct more weird films!

Although the editors of 366 Weird Movies select the nominees from the pool of available movies, the Awards themselves are a naked popularity contest and do not necessarily reflect the artistic merit of the films involved. The Weirdcademy Awards are tongue in cheek and for fun only. Ballot-stuffing is a frequent occurrence. Please, no wagering.

The Weirdcademy Awards are given to the Weirdest Movie, Actor, Actress and Scene of the previous year, as voted by the members of the Weirdcademy of Motion Picture Arts and Weirdness.

Who makes up the Weirdcademy, you ask? Membership is open to all readers of 366 Weird Movies. The rules for joining the Weirdcademy of Motion Picture Arts and Weirdness are as follows. To officially join the Weirdcademy, locate an official online ballot (such as the one below) and hover your mouse pointer over the radial button representing the choice of movie you would like to see win any award in any category. Then, simply depress the left button of your mouse to make your selection. Selections made using the right mouse button will be disregarded, and you will be forced to reapply. If your application for membership is approved, a dot will appear next to your choice. You are not done with the application procedure yet, so continue reading. To be certified as a voting member of the Weirdcademy, at some point subsequent to making your selection, you must navigate your mouse button to the box marked “vote.” Now, again depress your left mouse button to confirm your membership as a voting member of the Weirdcademy.

(Vote as many times as you like, but only once per day, please. We’ll keep voting open until February 22 at 1:00 PM EST, so we can announce our results before the Academy Awards and steal their thunder).

There is no requirement that you’ve have to actually see all the movies in any category before voting.

Be sure to also vote for Weirdest Short Film of the Year. To watch all five nominees and to cast your vote, please click here.

Without further delay, here are the nominees for the 2013 Weirdcademy awards:

(Weirdest Actor, Actress and Scene ballots after the jump) Continue reading YOUR VOTE DETERMINES THE WINNERS OF THE 5TH ANNUAL WEIRDCADEMY AWARDS

WEIRDEST SHORT FILM OF 2014

We’ve collected all five nominees for 2014′s Weirdest Short of the Year together in one place, for ease of voting.  Just click “continued” for a mini film-festival of weirdness. Be sure to vote for your favorite! (You can cast a vote once every 24 hours). Polls close February 22  at 1:00 PM EST.  A special thanks goes out to Cameron Jorgensen, 366 Weird Movies under-appreciated shorts Czar, who discovered most of these films through his own research. This year’s lineup includes cigar-smoking angels, killer worms, Sammy Davis Jr. impersonators, philosophical lessons, and a viral sensation. Click below to view all the nominees and vote.

Continue reading WEIRDEST SHORT FILM OF 2014

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