209. BLACK MOON (1975)

“I see it as a strange voyage to the limits of the medium, or maybe my own limits.”–Louis Malle on Black Moon

Weirdest!

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: Cathryn Harrison, Therese Giehse, , Alexandra Stewart

PLOT: A young woman is driving a car during a shooting war between the sexes. Escaping from a checkpoint where male soldiers are executing females, she finds refuge at an old farmhouse inhabited by a batty old woman, a mute brother and sister, a band of nude animal-herding children, and a unicorn. Initially rejected by the chateau’s residents, she gradually finds herself becoming part of this strange alternate society.

Still from Black Moon (1975)
BACKGROUND:

  • Although Louis Malle had dabbled in light surrealism before with the whimsical Zazie dans le Metro (1960), there was nothing in the respected director’s then-recent oeuvre (mostly documentaries and historical pieces like 1974’s Vichy drama Lacombe, Lucien) to prepare his audience for the bizarreness of Black Moon. Sven Nykvist won a Caesar for his cinematography, but the film was mainly a commercial and critical failure, and quickly lapsed from circulation.
  • Black Moon was a transitional work in Malle’s move from France to the USA. He shot the film in France, at his own estate near Cahors, but in the English language, with a British, American and Canadian actor in the cast. After this movie, the director went to America where he scored a series of critical successes with Pretty Baby, Atlantic City and My Dinner with Andre.
  • Joyce Buñuel, Malle’s co-writer, was ‘s daughter-in-law.
  • Therese Giehse, who plays the bedridden woman, died before the movie was released, and Black Moon is dedicated to her. Malle credited her with partly inspiring the idea for Black Moon by suggesting he make a movie without dialogue (although the eventual script did have dialogue, it is sparse and often nonsensical).

INDELIBLE IMAGE: Appropriately for a dream-movie, the indelible image is an imaginary one; it’s the transgressive event you see transpiring in your mind’s eye the minute after the film officially ends on a provocative freeze-frame.

THREE WEIRD THINGS: Gender genocide; portly unicorn; resurrection by breast milk.

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Black Moon concerns a young girl’s flight from an absurd world—where camo-clad men line up female prisoners of war and execute them, while the gas mask-wearing ladies returning the favor to their male captives—into a totally insane one. The movie is an unexpected assay of the irrational from nouvelle vague auteur Louis Malle, and although it’s congenitally uneven, it makes you wonder how wonderful it would have been if every master director had indulged himself by unleashing one unabashedly surreal film on the world.


Original trailer for Black Moon

COMMENTS: A frayed fairy tale set in no time or place in particular, Continue reading 209. BLACK MOON (1975)

LIST CANDIDATE: OF FREAKS AND MEN (1998)

Pro urodov i lyudey

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Aleksey Balabanov

FEATURING: Sergey Makovetskiy, Dinar Drukarova, Viktor Sukhorukov

PLOT: The lives of two bourgeois families and a crew of pornographers cross paths in pre-revolutionary Russia.

Stil from Of Freaks and Men (1998)

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: With its sepia-tinted, silent movie feel and its clutch of strange denizens—conspiring maids, conjoined twins, and eerie criminals—Of Freaks and Men straddles the line between black comedy and social commentary with a combination of non sequiturs and S&M photography.

COMMENTS: The tone is set early and thoroughly as a series of sepia bondage photos are projected beneath the opening credits. The story begins in a style that would not be unfamiliar to the first movie-goers, as a brief montage displaying the primary characters plays through in black and white (accompanied by the background crackle of a scratchy film projector on the soundtrack). The film switches to sepia, and the theme of connivance is introduced when we see a young woman, obviously a maid, furtively whispering in Johann’s ear. What follows is an unlikely but believable tale of plots, peril, and pornography (known, of course, as “the 3 P’s of cinema”). Through underhanded means Johann, a purveyor of obscene photographs, manages to infiltrate the household of a bourgeois engineer and his daughter. Meanwhile his assistant and hatchet-man, Victor, comes across a surgeon who is the adoptive father of conjoined twins.

Their combined efforts allow them to move their “studio” from the basement of a nearly derelict building (that seems to be more than half a dozen floors underground) to an upscale flat in the heart of the town. The engineer’s daughter Leeza is immediately coerced into posing for their wares, stripping on demand to be lightly whipped by Johann’s grandmother who is carted out of a nearby cupboard for the purpose. The criminal’s cameraman, Putilov, is hopelessly smitten by Leeza, as is one half of the set of conjoined twins.

Things go on this way for “months” (according to a title card), with repetitive photos thrown together, sometimes taken in front of a paying audience. Henchman Victor eploits the twins more benignly, as they both sing and play the piano (and, most amusingly, the accordion, each half held by one of them as they perform a song). All good things must come to an end, though. Nana passes away, prompting Johann to break down and experience a seizure. The captives take this chance to get outta there and try and make it on their own—with limited success.

One could well argue that storyline alone is enough to plant this film firmly on the “weird” side of things, and as you would hope for from a movie given space at this site, it cements its position—and then some. While certainly not the first modern movie to pose as a throwback to silent pictures and sepia tinting, Of Freaks and Men does so with off-key humor and an appreciable lack of pretension. An out-of-the-blue the title card appears reading “Johann readied himself to make a wedding proposal,” and we see the stone-faced criminal, dressed as best as he knows how, on the prow of a small steam boat. His expression then is of a in need of exorcism. When Leeza is first photographed in the nude and when she sleeps with one of the two conjoined twins, the title cards announce, “And so, Leeza became a woman for the first time”, and “And so, Leeza became a woman for the second time”, respectively.

Russians widely viewed the movie as allegorical. The conjoined twins, Kolya and Tolya, symbolize Russia. Kolya, on the right, is intelligent, talented, and spurns the offers of liquor from the various ill-intentioned adults. His twin Tolya, on the left, is buffoonish— talented, yes, but quick to fall under the spell of a licentious maid who shows him some of the Johann’s photos, and then happy to adopt the regimen of alcohol his overseers foist upon him. Kolya represents the Russia that could be; Tolya represents what Russia so often has been (and is likely to continue being). Not knowing their father has been murdered, in the end they head to his hometown, in the East. Pursuing this path, the twins rush toward tragedy.

There is sadness in Of Freaks and Men, but it is coupled with wonderfully black humor. Its weirdness is best seen in its self-assured tone. The world this movie creates is believable, while at the same time flying in the face of expectation. I haven’t even mentioned its other weird accessories: the blind wife of the doctor who “[falls] in love for the first time” with Victor when he forces her to expose herself to him, the recurring train yard scenes, the sinister quality of the two antagonists, and the nebulous ending with its beautiful ice flows. Now that I’ve mentioned them, I can promise the curious amongst you that there are plenty others to be found.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“When I first saw Alexei Balabanov’s Of Freaks and Men at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 1998, I thought it was touch and go whether a film quite so original, provocative, perverse and calculatedly offensive – not to mention weird in the extreme – would get British distribution at all… fans of Borowczyk, Peter Greenaway, Guy Maddin, early David Lynch and Jan Svankmajer’s Conspirators of Pleasure will have a field day, as will broadminded devotees of the more fantastical Russian novelists…”–Michael Brooke, The Digital Fix (DVD)

LIST CANDIDATE: THE HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS (2001)

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: Kenji Sawada, Keiko Matsuzaka, Shinji Takeda, Naomi Nishida,

PLOT: The Katakuri clan retires to a remote mountain area to run a bed and breakfast, but the place seems cursed, as every guest who stays there dies.

Still from The Happiness of the Karakuris (2001)
WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: They don’t come any closer to making the List on the first ballot than Katakuris. The only thing that holds it back is a dreadful unevenness, combined with the fact that there are already so many Takashi Miike films either already on the List of the 366 Weirdest Movies Ever Made or still out there in contention.

COMMENTS: The Happiness of the Katakuris begins with a four-minute scene, which has nothing to do with the rest of the movie, in which a claymation imp rises from a woman’s soup, falls in love with her heart-shaped uvula, and flies away with it. Unlike the serious and searing Audition, where the director springs the weirdness on an unsuspecting audience in a blistering last act, Miike does not allow anyone here to complain of stealth weirdness. After this bizarro prologue, the story about clan of hoteliers who break out into song whenever their guests die seems refreshingly sane and conventional.

The movie settles down into a narrative after that introduction as we meet the Katakuris: a patriarch and matriarch still very much in love, a feisty grandpa, a son with anger-management issues, and a desperate-for-romance daughter and her love child (who serves as the film’s narrator). The characters are well-drawn and likable, but ill-starred, as the location of their bed and breakfast proves too remote for foot traffic (and also too near an active volcano). When they finally do get a paying customer, he’s only checked in to commit a gruesome suicide (also the occasion for the film’s first musical number). The songs are definitely Karakuris’ high points; the dancers aren’t professionals, but neither that fact nor the unfamiliarity of the language to non-Japanese speakers impedes Miike’s imaginative stagings, which are decorated with simple special effects and colorful, kaleidoscopic green-screen backgrounds. The most memorable moments are a matrimonial fantasy that sends the bride spinning through space with her dashing half-Japanese sailor groom; a disco-ball love ballad between Masao and Terue with the cheesy production values of a 1980s K-tel records commercial; the final number, a direct parody of The Sound of Music; and any time the corpses peek out of their graves and try to dance along.

It may seem strange to criticize a project this deliberately loose and goofy for its aimlessness, but it really is a weakness in this case. Katakuris has energy, but lacks focus. It never decides whether the semi-serious family drama or mordant black comedy is most important, and the claymation action interludes just knock it farther off its axis. There isn’t much of a conclusion, just a series of incidents that eventually fizzle out. It’s much better in its parts, especially the musical numbers, then it is as a whole. But those parts are strange enough to make it a hard-to-forget oddity.

The Happiness of the Katakuris is actually a remake of a Jee-woon Kim’s (non-musical) Korean black comedy The Quiet Family. Miike made it the same year as Visitor Q, an even blacker comedy which also deals with the theme of a “happy” Japanese family. Arrow Video just released a 2-DVD or 1 Blu-ray special edition of the film, although most of the extra features appeared to be recycled from the 2003 Eastern Star DVD release.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“As weird movie openings go, this one’s in a class of its own. The rest of Miike’s musical extravaganza isn’t exactly your usual collection of song and dance numbers either.”–Mark Stevens, BBC (contemporaneous)

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

Next weeks movie review slate: Giles Edwards will cover the Russian faux-silent porno comedy Of Freaks and Men, while G. Smalley considers Takashi Miike‘s killer musical black comedy The Happiness of the Katakuris. This week’s reconsideration review is a second take on Black Moon and its portly unicorns, while Alfred Eaker watches get raped by a lobster as one of  Multiple Maniacs.

And, where is the print version of the 366 Weird Movies 2014 Yearbook? We’ve been wondering about that, too. We’ll see if next week brings an answer to that question.

Wow, is it ever getting tough to find weird movie search terms! We are blaming Google’s privacy settings, which are allowing more and more people to search anonymously. Good for privacy = bad for 366 Weird Movies’ Weirdest Search Term of the Week contest. Can’t we get our priorities straight here? Nevertheless, we’ll soldier on, sharing the meager weirdness we did see with you, our loyal readers.  We’ll start with “human cows nude farm,” which while weird by normal websites’ standards, is just a slightly stranger than average fetish search to us. Next we’ll try out “a group of people run into a gym and ask if anyone can fly a helicopter to escape the city but crash into boiling water,” which sounds a little bizarre but probably is just a bad description of a bad disaster film. Because something has to win the week, we’ll grit our teeth and hand the laurel to “inception hollywood of the weird?”, which probably started out as a normal thought (something like, “Inception was weird for a Hollywood movie”) but was mangled into a literally incomprehensible phrase, adding a “?” at the end to highlight its own confusion. Acceptable for a weird search term, but just barely. We’re not the types to tell deranged lunatics how to go about their business, but you guys need to step up your twisted Googling!

Here’s how the ridiculously-long reader-suggested review queue stands: Of Freaks and Men (next week!); Multiple Maniacs (next week!); Society; The Fox Family; Angelus; Conspirators of PleasureThe Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 6/26/2015

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):

WarX2 (2014): A documentary arguing that a spate of suicides of U.S. servicemen can be attributed to the influence of evil spirits, possibly directed by foreign terrorists. Interviews with the world’s top witchdoctors support the thesis. Playing in Houston and Katy, TX. WarX2 official site.

SCREENINGS – (Cinefamily, Los Angeles, CA, Fri. June 26 [midnight]):

Brain Dead (1990): Not to be confused with ‘s Dead-Alive (released in 1990 as Brain Dead overseas), this mindbender stars  (not to be confused with ) as a neurosurgeon solicited by Bill Paxton (not to be confused with Bill Pullman) to try to extract information from the brain of a former employee who’s gone insane. Confused yet? Director Adam Simon will be present for this screening. Cinefamily is hoping this overlooked gem will become a new midnight classic. Brain Dead at Cinefamily.

SCREENINGS – (Cinefamily, Los Angeles, CA, Sun. June 28 & Tue. June 30):

Human Highway (1982): The apocalyptic comedy done by folk rocker Neil Young on a lark, featuring insurance fraud, flying saucers, and DEVO.  Young has been sending this director’s cut out on the festival circuit throughout 2014 and 2015, which we hope means a first-time-ever DVD will appear soon. Human Highway at Cinefamily.

IN DEVELOPMENT:

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (est. 2016): It looks like will finally make his Don Quixote project, thanks to a deal with Amazon that will also see him producing an exclusive miniseries for their Prime streaming platform. The film was to star Jack O’Connell and as the leads; this was announced, of course, before Hurt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. IndieWire’s The Playlist announced the news (along with many other outlets).

NEW ON DVD:

The Fisher King (1991): A depressed ex-shock jock gets a chance at personal redemption when he meets a homeless man who believes he is a knight-errant seeking the Holy Grail. This drama from 366-fave Terry Gilliam is perhaps not as weird as some of his others but contains a few wonderful fantasy scenes. Buy The Fisher King [Criterion Collection 2-DVD].

Horsehead (2014): French horror about a woman who explores her nightmares through lucid dreaming. Via Artsploitation Films, who declare it depicts a “psycho-sexual world of nightmares.” Buy Horsehead.

Meet Me There (2014): A girl who can’t remember her childhood visits her childhood home in small-town Oklahoma, and weirdness ensues. This low-budget indie horror got decent reviews from the few outlets that covered it; it’s biggest draw is pro-wrestler “Goldust” as a creepy preacher. Buy Meet Me There.

The Thing With Two Heads (1972): A racist brain surgeon (Ray Milland) has his head (accidentally) transplanted onto the body of a black death row inmate (Rosey Grier), who then tries to prove his innocence while whitey on his shoulder complains. “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” claimed the trailer in 1972. Buy The Thing With Two Heads.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

The Fisher King (1991): See description in DVD above. Two discs of DVD content fits onto one Blu-ray, and it’s cheaper, too. Buy The Fisher King [Criterion Collection Blu-ray].

Horsehead (2014): See description in DVD above. Buy Horsehead [Blu-ray].

Meet Me There (2014): See description in DVD above. Buy Meet Me There [Blu-ray].

Sugar Hill (1974): Read Brandon Engel’s guest review. Blaxploitation zombies: ’nuff said. Buy Sugar Hill [Blu-ray].

The Thing With Two Heads (1972): See description in DVD above. Buy The Thing With Two Heads [Blu-ray].

FREE MOVIES ON SHOUTTV:

Wonderwall (1968): Read our review. Go back to a simpler time, when a nutty old professor spying on a beautiful bisexual hippie model through the hole in his apartment wall was considered groovy, not creepy. Watch Wonderwall free on Shout TV.

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 (BONUS COVERAGE): INSIDE OUT (2015)

Pixar’s Inside Out (2015) is one of those “eat crow” moments.

The glories of Wall-E (2008) and the Toy Story trilogy have been overshadowed by the pedestrian equivalent of Disney Big Macs with such junk fodder as Monsters Universty (2013), Brave (2012), Cars 2 (2011), and Finding Nemo (2003). Pete Docter and Ronlado Del Carmen are the writing/directing team on Inside Out; their previous credits do not suggest anything resembling exceptional caliber.

Thus, when my Portland tribe voted on Inside Out, I made sure to grab the Rolaids on the way out, anticipating an overdose of saccharine banality. Within moments of this astoundingly remarkable film, my mirror of preconceived notions had delightfully shattered.

Inside Out is one of the most innovative (animated or not) films since The Lego Movie (2014) and, as an entertaining catapult into emotional intelligence via an adolescent girl, it actually surpasses, and is more important than, last year’s animated blockbuster.

The plot is threadbare and can be easily summed up. Riley ( Kaitlyn Dias) moves, with her parents (Diane Lane and ) from Minnesota to San Francisco. She initially hates her new school, her new hockey team, her new town, but learns to acclimate herself.

Of course, that is something many of us have experienced at least once, so the excitement level, upon reading said plot, may not even register. Except that Inside Out honestly goes where few films have gone. It takes us into the fear of change. What better subject is there for that journey than an eleven-year-old girl?

Children fear change, which is why they often are obsessed with familiarity (of course, some adults are just as prone, but we will stop there in the spirit of avoiding polemics, for once).

Still from Inside Out (2015)We are taken inside Riley’s heart/mind to a very busy control room and introduced  to Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). The characters are color coded: Joy/Yellow, Sadness/Blue, Anger/Red, and so on.

Although the emotion controllers are often at odds with one another, they work together for the benefit of Riley. They, like Riley herself, learn to adjust through trial and error to unexpected turns of events, mitigating circumstances, and the pains of evolving. Naturally, the lessons taught from either/or vs. both/and approaches are often painful ones, and commendably Inside/Out does not flinch.

This may sound vaguely existential, for a reason: it is existentialism. However, there is no need for trepidation; the production team smartly hurls everything at us at such an entertaining, kinetic pace that never once does it become pretentious. Rather, by the time we sink back into our seats during closing credits, we are inspired to comfortably smile, having matter-of-factly experienced familiar memories.

Riley’s dreams are produced in a dream factory, which gifts Inside Out enough breath to venture into ian terrain. An imaginary friend weeps Wonka treats and sacrifices himself so that Riley may survive adolescence. A future potential (and hilariously vapid) boyfriend also makes a similar sacrifice.

We visit the islands of Riley’s conscience—Honesty, Family, Friendship, and Hockey—and are pulled to the seat edge when those landscapes are threatened. Subtle shades of Rankin and Bass abound.

Joy is kind of the designated Captain Kirk of the emotion control team. She enjoys her position and clout as she runs back and forth manning an assortment of pinball levers. However, just as Bill Shatner did, she learns that, indeed Riley needs Sadness (Spock) and Anger (McCoy—true to form and tradition, Black, like De Forest Kelly before him, often steals the show without much effort). Beneath that realization is a layered critique of imposing false happiness on a child, who requires an essential full range of emotional experiences. MacLachlan’s thoroughly suburbanized father is another scene-stealer, an almost ironic subtext for the former Blue Velvet star.

There are moments of surrealism and abstraction, but these are filtered through a mesh of middle Americana, so much so that it would be easy to imagine the late composer Charles Ives being inspired to write a new a score for the film.

Seated between two clinical psychologists, I was not surprised to hear their approval. This may be the most un-Disney movie produced by Pixar. One can only hope Inside Out will inspire a whole new school in the art of filmmaking; one that could potentially change the way we think. It prompts us to think about thinking and, in doing so, it may be the most original and innovative movie of the year. Who would have thunk it?

208. THE APPLE (1980)

“I’ve never been so high in my life!”–Bibi in The Apple

DIRECTED BY: Menahem Golan

FEATURING: George Gilmour, Catherine Mary Stewart, Vladek Sheybal

PLOT: Alfie and Bibi are a naive duo of musicians from Moose Jaw, Canada. Mr. Boogalow, a Faustian music producer who controls the entire world’s music industry with his BIM corporation, tries to sign them to a contract; Alfie refuses, but Bibi is seduced by the lure of fame. Bibi becomes the world’s biggest pop star as Boogalow extends his influence to government, forcing all citizens to wear a “Bimmark” or be fined; Alfie tries to win her back.

Still from The Apple (1980)

BACKGROUND:

  • Together with his cousin, Yolam Globus, The Apple screenwriter/director Menahem Golan ran the Cannon Group, which produced hundreds of B-movies in the 1980s. Golan personally directed 46 films and produced or co-produced over 200. Some of the films Cannon later produced or distributed included ‘s King Lear, The Company of Wolves, and Lifeforce, along with exploitation movies featuring Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris and a handful of lucrative ninja movies. Their story is told in the 2014 documentary The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films. The Apple was made near the beginning of their moviemaking careers.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: Alfie’s vision of glam-rock Hell, featuring Napoleon, a dancing chorus of the damned, and a giant plastic apple, with a Roger Daltrey clone in a gold lamé G-string serving as master of ceremonies. It’s all capped off by the moment when an actual, actual, actual vampire (with a Bride of Frankenstein hairdo and a sheer periwinkle scarf) pops into the frame, displaying her fangs and jazz claws, cocking her head, and generally acting like a vampiric village idiot.

THREE WEIRD THINGS: An actual, actual, actual vampire; pop dictatorship; deus ex Cadillac.

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: This science-fictiony musical satire/religious allegory is an attempt to cash in on the camp credibility of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but with the disco sensibility and glittery production values of Xanadu (also made in 1980). The results are spectacularly uneven: the bizarre costuming, choreography, and psychedelic production numbers are actually pretty good in their deliberate excess, the songs range from annoying to hummable, and the rushed, out-of-left-field messianic ending is an unforgettable cinematic disaster.


Original trailer for The Apple

COMMENTS: The Apple pulls you in many different directions: Continue reading 208. THE APPLE (1980)

LIST CANDIDATE: INNOCENCE (2004)

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Lucile Hadzihalilovic

FEATURING: Zoe Auclair, Berangere Haubruge, Helene de Fougerolles, , Lea Bridarolli

PLOT: A young girl of about 6 wakes up inside a coffin and finds herself in a strange girl’s boarding school, planted in a forested park walled off from the outside world.

Still from Innocence (2004)
WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: Mining a calmly enigmatic vein of weirdness, Innocence is a graceful metaphor for childhood. The pacing, however, makes Picnic at Hanging Rock feel like a nonstop thrill ride.

COMMENTS: Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s debut film as an odd one, a quietly menacing reverie about girls blossoming under strict supervision. There are no men in this world, and a limited number of adults; only two teachers guide the girls, demanding obedience in the art of dance. There are no explanations for this school in which girls arrive packed in coffins and graduate only after they meet the mysterious headmistress’ unspoken specifications. The film mimics the atmosphere of disorientation a child might feel when shipped off to a strange boarding school where no one is exactly mean, but everything is distressingly unfamiliar. “Obedience is the only path to happiness,” stresses one of the schoolmarms, but even though the overseers are not cruel, we instinctively root for the disobedient girls.

Butterflies are used as a symbol of the girls’ progress to womanhood. I’ve never been a proponent of the theory that a symbol’s profundity increases in proportion to its obscurity, any more than I’m a proponent of the theory that every image needs to function as a symbol. The best metaphors are bold and obvious, and this one blossoms perfectly. Meanwhile, the school’s other mysteries are allowed to linger without elucidation. Innocence is a rare blend of the allegorical and the inexplicable, satisfying both hemispheres of the brain. It doesn’t feel essential, but it is so verdant and lovely that it should be seen by more people than it has been.

Innocence barely received any distribution in the United States, and has only been released on a region-free French DVD (with English subtitles for the film, though not for the extras). Part of the reason for its poor exposure may be the minor controversy revolving around some topless preteen nudity in the film, especially when combined with the perceived fetish value of the schoolgirl uniforms. These aspersions of exploitation seem to affects mainly over-sensitive Americans. While concerns over child sexualization are valid, I suspect most pedophiles have “better” things to do than to scan slow-paced surreal art films looking for brief glimpses of the types of pictures they could find in their neighbors’ “childhood memories” photo albums. This material is provocative, but thematically appropriate and largely innocent.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…weird picture of very young girls trained for ambiguous future roles at a woodsy community… genuinely odd and unsettling…”–Dennis Harvey, Variety (contemporaneous)

(This movie was nominated for review by “Kat,” who described it as a “dreamy, beautifully filmed tale set in an isolated girl’s school .” Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)

READER RECOMMENDATION: AMERICAN POP (1981)

Reader recommendation by “Jackie”

DIRECTOR:

FEATURING: Ron Thompson, Lisa Jane Perksy, Jeffery Lippa

PLOT: Centering on a family of musicians from the 1910s to the 1980s, American Pop takes a psychedelic look at the history and evolution of American music whilst telling a story of its own.

Still from American Pop (1981)
WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST: American Pop contains many vivid and flashy surreal images. It’s like a trip through psychedelia that encompasses it’s plot and structure beyond measure.

COMMENTS: This film is important not only for its creativity, but it also has a unique take on American culture. Bakshi’s talent is at its peak with this film. His style is fluid and the film’s visuals are stunning.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Bakshi… continues to push animation techniques to the outer limits more frequently explored by film makers who call themselves avant-garde, but who seldom are. His newest film, ‘American Pop,’ is a dazzling display of talent, nerve, ideas (old and new), passion and a marvelously free sensibility.“–Vincent Canby, The New York Times (contemporaneous)

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