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MR. BURTON’S BRAND OF PECULIAR MOVIES: A TIM BURTON ROUNDTABLE

As we approach the culmination of the List of the 366 Weirdest Movies Ever Made, hard choices need to be made. There are some directors (including , and ) who, while their overall contribution to the field of weird movies might not rise to the heights of a , a , or a , nonetheless possess singular enough visions to demand representation in some form or other on the List. The thorniest of these artists is almost certainly (with whom our Alfred Eaker, in particular, has aired his very public love/hate relationship).

After a couple of shockingly original short features that were so odd that Disney Studios canned him as a storyboard artist, Burton’s career began in earnest with the out-there kid’s comedy Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, an askew road movie starring an abrasively endearing man-child in a series of near-surreal adventures. He followed this unexpected hit with a series of comic-Gothic films featuring weirdo square-peg protagonists trying vainly to fit into society’s round holes. As a complete oeuvre, there’s no doubt that Burton has crafted an aesthetic that’s unique and auteurial. Stripes, organic spirals, Victorian costumes, and pallid pancake makeup serve as recurring visual signatures. Thematically, no one else whips the whimsical and the macabre into such a piquant froth. His late work, however, has unquestionably become both repetitive and qualitatively inferior (note that none of our contributors selected a Burton film made after 1999 as his best). At the same time, Burton has set new box office records with some of his lamest work, like his execrable Alice in Wonderland rehaul, reaping financial rewards that reinforce his worst habits and instincts. This has led to a well-deserved critical backlash against his films, and some on-point parodies:

But despite recent disappointments, there’s no doubt that Burton’s early work was among the most original and gruesomely lively Hollywood-backed product to appear throughout the late Eighties and early Nineties. The problem is that no single Burton film rises confidently above the rest, pronouncing itself as simultaneously his best and his weirdest work. This troublesome fact became even clearer when I solicited staff writers to pick the one Burton film that they thought should unquestionably make the List; I got five different responses, not all of them movies I personally would have considered. Our staff’s suggestions are listed below, in order of release.

El Rob Hubbard Beetlejuice (1988)

Still from Beetlejuice (1988)Although most of Tim Burton’s work has a weird aspect in some form or other, it’s my opinion that Beetlejuice was where he was allowed to let his freak flag fly freely, and it paid off with box-office success. How weird is it? Well, there’s Geena Davis and a Continue reading MR. BURTON’S BRAND OF PECULIAR MOVIES: A TIM BURTON ROUNDTABLE

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

First up, the deadlines: tomorrow is your last day to enter our latest free DVD giveaway. You also have exactly one week left to vote for the Weirdest Picture, Actor, Actress, and Scene in the 2016 Weirdcademy Awards (also, Weirdest Short, which is the only runaway race at the moment).

Next week, “GoregirlTerri McSorley checks in with a review of ‘s Eurosleazy mindbender Night Has a Thousand Desires, while G. Smalley takes a second look at ‘ Polish Surrealist epic, The Hourglass Sanatorium (‘s original review is here). Alfred Eaker takes a break from his chronological survey of exploitation films to bring us the first part of a two-part series on Amicus horror anthologies of the Sixties and Seventies. We’ll also have an unusual roundtable feature about 366 problem child : five different writers each give their mini-take on a Burton film that should make the List of the 366 Best Weird Movies. Reader input is highly encouraged as we struggle with what we’re dubbing “the Burton Conundrum.”

Speaking of conundrums, it’s time once again for our survey of the Weirdest Search Terms that brought visitors to the site. We saw someone looking for “what would a movie weirdo,” which, while being an incomplete sentence, somehow describes this whole feature (i.e., “what would a movie weirdo” type into a search engine?)  Apparently, a lot of them type “www sax com 2012”—which makes no sense, yet brought three different people to 366 Weird Movies this week (it helps that we rank 10th on Google for that search term). While a surprising number people search for sax on the Internet, others eagerly search for sex. When you have, um, unique fetishes and only a passing familiarity with the English language, you often end up on 366 Weird Movies rather than the porn site you seek, as did the guys searching for “sex malf turkey teenagers girls x master” and “black nude comedy movie about girl with hairy laps before sex.”  We also have to give a special mention to “egg sex pasta porn movie,” which apparently is what comes out when you hit up Google while you’re simultaneously hungry and horny. We’ll go in a completely different direction for our official Weirdest Search Term of the Week, however, and select “hollywood movie in which 1 chip made for free internet and 1 woman with fake legs.” A movie revolving around free Internet and fake legs (exactly 1 of each)? Count us in!

Here’s how our ridiculously-long-and-ever-growing reader-suggested review queue stands: Uncle Meat; Nuit Noire; Grendel Grendel Grendel; Twilight of the Cockroaches; Indecent Desires; Daughter of Horror [AKA Dementia]; The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie; Beauty and Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 2/17/2017

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 THEATERS (WIDE RELEASE):

A Cure for Wellness (2017): A young executive goes to a remote, cult-like wellness center to retrieve his company’s CEO. Reviews of ‘s latest psychological thriller have been (to put it charitably) mixed, but movies this weird don’t often get wide releases, so we feel obliged to check it out. A Cure for Wellness official site.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

American Fable (2017): A dreamy young girl discovers a man hidden in her farm family’s silo. A fantasy with some very dark elements from IFC Midnight. American Fable official site.

SCREENINGS – (New York City, IFC Center, Fri., Feb. 17 – Sun., Feb 9):

House [Hausu] (1977): Read the Certified Weird entry! Japan’s nuttiest haunted house movie—the one with the girl-eating piano—re-enters IFC’s impressive midnight movie rotation. Held over from last week: 2001: A Space Odyssey and soon-to-be late night cult hit The LureHouse at IFC Center.

SCREENINGS – (Los Angeles, Cinefamily, Weds., Feb. 22):

The Color of Pomegranates (1969): Read the Certified Weird entry! ‘s hallucinatory biography of Armenian poet Sayat Nova is presented with Nicholas Jaar’s electronic score (we prefer the original soundtrack, but it’s still sure to be a one-of-a-kind experience). Two screenings. The Color of Pomegranates at Cinefamily.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Suddenly in the Dark (1981): A Korean housewife suspects her husband of infidelity with a young housekeeper who carries a mysterious wooden doll. Mondo Macabro rescues this early South Korean erotic horror film, described as “bizarre,” from obscurity. Buy Suddenly in the Dark [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.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

First up, a couple of deadlines: you have until Feb. 20 to enter our latest DVD giveaway contest (The Devil Lives Here), and until Feb. 26 to get in your votes for the Weirdcademy Awards (features here, shorts here). We have seen our first campaigning, as fans of “Metube 2: August Sings Carmina Burana” have surged into the voting box to make that short a prohibitive favorite, unless another fanbase mobilizes to vote up their favorite. (It could be Russian hackers influencing the election, of course).

Next week we’ll get to that reader-suggested review queue for looks at Brain Dead (not Dead Alive again, but the mindbending B-movie psychological thriller starring and ) and the underground metaphysical mockumentary Wax, or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees (for an idea what it’s like, check out this week’s Saturday Short by the same director, and imagine that style extended to feature length). Shane Wilson will bring us a look at the underground thriller Marvelous Mandy, while returns to his exploitation triple feature series in 1970, the year that brought us Equinox, Trog, and The Vampire Lovers. That should keep you guys busy for another week.

Vaginas were a popular subject in this week’s survey of the weirdest search terms that brought visitors to the site. We saw both “a ant inside women vagina movies hollywood horror movies” and the even stranger “video vagina during sex to robbe to have emoootion feeing.” Taking a break from genitals for a brief moment, we also have to mention the inscrutable search for “father mother ded deby isa safe big gorila film movis in.com.” But our official Weirdest Search Term of the Week concerns neither gorillas nor vaginas, but rather boobs, specifically “1922 full bigboobs punishment by psyco kings.” That would be a bizarre search term anyway, but specifying the year 1922 puts its weirdness way over the top in our book.

Here’s how our ridiculously-long-and-ever-growing reader-suggested review queue stands: Brain Dead (d. Adam Simon) (next week!); Wax, or The Discovery of Television Among the Bees (next week!); Uncle Meat; Nuit Noire; Grendel Grendel Grendel; Twilight of the Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 2/10/2017

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 THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

CANDiLAND (2016): Two lovers retreat into an apartment where they create their own utopian reality, a paradise whose peace and harmony is threatened by the existence of Gary Busey. It’s a plot many Americans can relate to. CANDiLAND official site.


IN DEVELOPMENT (announced):

The Beach Bum (201?): ‘s next project will be a “stoner comedy” starring Matthew McConaughey. That setup doesn’t sound at all promising, but maybe Korine can put an odd spin on it. Read more at Variety.

IN DEVELOPMENT (currently shooting):

An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn (201?): Greasy Strangler auteur strikes while the iron is hot, moving on to his next comedy project. Beverly Luff Linn concerns a woman in an unhappy marriage whose ex-lover comes to town to perform a show called “An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn; For One Magical Night Only.” Aubrey Plaza, Emile Hirsch, Craig Robinson, and Jermaine Clement highlight a cast forgoing Hosking’s usual crew of weirdos. Given the respectable names attached, you can be sure Hosking will tone down the greasiness, which may not be a bad thing as long as he can still keep it weird. Read more at The Hollywood Reporter.

NEW ON DVD:

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004): Robots are killing cyborgs in the future. We liked the original Ghost in the Shell, but passed on adding it to the List of the 366 Weirdest Movies; is this sequel any weirder?  Buy Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence [DVD/Blu-ray combo].

Girl Asleep (2016): Read our review. An adolescent Aussie Alice in Wonderland in the style of (but with more heart). Buy Girl Asleep.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004): See description in DVD above. Surely this is a better watch than Hollywood’s upcoming live-action adaptation of the original Ghost in the Shell. Buy Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence [DVD/Blu-ray combo].

Girl Asleep (2016): See description in DVD above. Buy Girl Asleep [Blu-ray].

NEW ON VIDEO-ON-DEMAND:

Glass (2015): A giallo-inspired mindbender; we can’t tell more than that. The ad copy describes it as “a mind bender that Cronenberg and Lynch could argue about over lunch,” and the trailer promises a lot of sex and blood, some vomit, and a black-gloved killer. Watch the mildly NSFW teaser trailer and rent it at Vimeo.

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.

CONTEST: WIN A COPY OF “THE DEVIL LIVES HERE”

366 Weird Movies brings you a new DVD giveaway contest! With the Weirdcademy Awards coming up, we thought we’d make this an awards-themed contest. Now, we started awarding the Weirdcademy Awards for Weirdest Picture, Actor, Actress, Scene and Short in 2010. Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to nominate a movie/short/actor/actress/scene for a movie from a year before 2010, and post your choice in the comments below. For example, you might say, “I nominate the bit in Eraserhead where the lady in the radiator stomps on the giant sperm creatures that fall from the ceiling as ‘weirdest scene’ of 1977″ or “I nominate as Weirdest Actress of 1966 for Persona—or, was that ?” There are many, many obvious choices, and you don’t have to be clever to win—you just have to show that you’re paying attention. We’ll index the responses and pick a winner randomly using random.org from all entries that meet the criteria.

As usual, please observe the following eligibility rules: to receive the DVDs, you must supply us with a mailing address in the United States, and you must not have won a prize from us in the past six months. If you don’t meet those qualifications you can still participate for fun, but let us know you’re not in it for the prize. We’ll be closing the contest Monday, February 20 at midnight.

Our prize is once again provided by  Artsploitation Films (distributors of the Certified Weird Der Samurai). This is a factory-sealed DVD, not a used review copy. The movie is The Devil Lives Here [AKA The Fostering], a 2015 Brazilian horror film based on local folklore. From the box cover:

THE DEVIL LIVES HERE Cover“Candyman meets Brazilian mythology in this terrifying tale of demonic spirits, black slavery and the group of young people terrorized by what they have unwittingly unleashed. Three teens visit their friend at his remote family farmhouse. Bad timing, because every nine months, a vengeful evil takes over this ancient house, which is this exact day the teens gather. What was supposed to be a night of scary stories and fun becomes instead a violent, bloody descent into hell.”

You have your instructions, now get to it!

READER RECOMMENDATION: ESCORIANDOLI (1996)

AKA Trash – T.R.A.

Reader recommendation by “Tracian”

DIRECTED BY: Antonio Rezza

FEATURING: Antonio Rezza, Valeria Golino, Claudia Gerini, Isabella Ferrari, Valentina Cervi

PLOT: Five connected stories where the protagonist is always played by Rezza. An affair during a funeral is spiced up by the occasional comments of the deceased; the two lovers of a woman suddenly exchange their ages; a terminally bored girl is forced to join a totalitarian rehab clinic; a poet consumes his life searching for forgiveness for having stepped on a man’s toe; and a professional event-crasher loses control of his own body and is forced to cut it to pieces until only the head remains.

Still from Escoriandoli (1996)

WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST: Because it is a rare example of an arthouse film that is not pretentious but actually fun, highly committed to weirdness and yet serious in its (admittedly well-hidden) message.

COMMENTS: While you have to understand Italian to fully appreciate the lyrical, offbeat and hilarious dialogues, everyone will be amazed by the physical and vocal contortions of the protagonist(s). Pretty much everything in Escoriandoli (the title itself is a pun that roughly means “confetti-like joy in excoriating them”) is odd: an example may be how all the actors on a bus react to its movements—although the vehicle is explicitly shown as being still—but almost no scene can be considered “normal”.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Italian surreal comedy consisting of a series of satirical vignettes… Fun at times, but the acting is way too silly.”–Zev Toledano, The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre

WHAT’S IN THE PIPLELINE

First up, a reminder to continue voting in the 2016 edition of the Weirdcademy Awards (feature categories here, shorts here). If the voting ended today, the major awards would be split between The Lobster (Weirdest Picture and Weirdest Actress) and Swiss Army Man (Weirdest Actor and Weirdest Scene). But with over two weeks to go, things can still change.

Next week we’ll bring you a new reader recommendation from Italy, for the absurd 1996 comedy Escoriandoli. We’ll also have Shane Wilson‘s review of Ron Reiner’s shockingly un-P.C. 1970 farce Where’s Poppa? (about a lawyer who wants to kill his demented Jewish mother) and Pete Trbovich‘s take on ‘s flop comedy Nothing But Trouble (marking the third time we’ve reviewed that troublesome little film). Alfred Eaker takes a break from exploitation triple features to bring you a six pack of  movies. And finally, we’ll also start a new DVD giveaway contest on Monday, so be sure to direct your browser to 366 Weird Movies next week!

Now is when we survey the absolute weirdest search terms that brought visitors to the site, a feature we call “Weirdest Search Terms of the Week.” We’ll start with “netrebko v las vegas” (we’ll take Las Vegas and the points). And while we wouldn’t mind watching “random films about a nymphomaniac alien,” we’re less certain about the appeal of “+old cinema films before 1950 with man thst has big beard.” We’ll also pass on “southern indian moustache latest porne videos to watch.” For our official Weirdest Search Term of the Week, we’ll take the rambling “what is title of the movie where they said like a diamond beyond beyond now appear where a girl entered a kettle because she was turned small and later became big when she was put in a coffin.” Uh, wasn’t that Beaches?

Here’s how our ridiculously-long-and-ever-growing reader-suggested review queue stands: Brain Dead (d. Adam Simon); Uncle Meat; Nuit Noire; Grendel Grendel Grendel; Twilight of the Cockroaches; Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPLELINE

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 2/3/2017

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 THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back (2017): Pacifist demon hunter Xuan Zang continues his journey to India begun in the original Journey to the West, facing new demons. This second installment of the  original international hit sees taking over the directorial reins. Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back Facebook page (mostly in Chinese).

The Lure (2015): Read Alex Kittle’s screening note. Janus Films distributes this long-awaited release of the Polish mermaid horror musical, which means that a future Criterion Collection release is likely. The Lure at Janus FiIms.

SCREENINGS – (Manhattan, NY, IFC Center, Fri., Feb. 3-Sun, Feb. 5):

Brazil (1985): Read the Certified Weird entry.  IFC Center continues to keep the midnight movie flame burning with Terry Gilliam‘s dystopian black comedy about a bureaucratic mix-up that has devastating consequences for a poor dreamer. Also playing all week: 2001: A Space Odyssey (as their Stanley Kubrick series comes to a close) and The Lure (see above). Brazil at IFC Center.

SCREENINGS – (Brooklyn, NY, Spectacle Theater, Fri., Feb. 3):

Daughters of Darkness (1971): ‘s weird, arty foray into lesbian vampire territory has Countess Bathory toying with a honeymooning couple at a nearly deserted inn. Part of a tribute to . Daughters of Darkness at Spectacle.

NEW ON DVD:

At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964): Read our capsule review. The first of unique movies starring the repulsive “Coffin Joe” is his best… but not his weirdest.Includes a new scene (shot in 2002!) and an old Marins short. Buy At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul

“The Coffin Joe Trilogy”: Set includes At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964), This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse (1967), and Embodiment of Evil (2008), plus all the special features found on the individual discs. From Synapse Films. Buy “The Coffin Joe Trilogy”.

This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse (1967): Marins’ second Coffin Joe feature is notable for its vision of a Hell as a Technicolor perdition full of beautiful nude women. Buy This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

The Lair of the White Worm (1988): Read the Certified Weird entry! Vestron Video releases Ken Russell‘s nutty Gothic horror in a nice “Collector’s Series” edition, with two commentary tracks (one from the late Russell, rescued from a previous release) and other goodies. Buy The Lair of the White Worm [Blu-ray].

Parents (1989): A boy living in 1950s suburban America suspects his parents are cannibals. This black comedy has been sitting in our reader-suggested review queue for a while now; it may be time to get around to it. Buy Parents [Blu-ray].

PODCASTS:

“Robot Monster Lives!”: Phil Hall’s “Online Movie Show” podcast brings us the behind-the-scenes true story of the Certified Weird Robot Monster and its diving-helmeted, gorilla-suited Ro-Man. Anders Runestad, author “I Cannot, Yet I Must” is the guest expert. Episode drops on February 6. “The Online Movie Show” at Soundcloud.

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.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

The first votes from the 2016 edition of the Weirdcademy Awards are in. The Lobster is the early favorite in the Weirdest Movie race, although Swiss Army Man is coming up fast from behind. ‘s corpse-like performance (for once, that’s a compliment) easily leads the Weirdest Actor category, as his performance as a jet ski is even more dominant in the Weirdest Scene contest. The most competitive race is for Weirdest Actress; ‘s Lobster psycho currently leads but the prize is anyone’s to grab. So too with the Weirdest Short category—which always receives the fewest overall votes despite the fact that it’s the only category where everyone can see every nominee. There, it would take only four votes to unseat Adult Swim’s latest 4 A.M. experiment, “This House Has People in It.” The good news is you can vote once per day throughout most of February, meaning there’s plenty of time for things to change.

Next week, we’ll continue dining on 2016 leftovers as Giles Edwards wrestles with and ‘ latest underground experimental feature, The Kingdom of Shadows. Then we’ll return to the long-neglected reader-suggestion queue with a pair of horrific reviews: one of the 1985 expressionistic horror homage Screamplay followed by Bryan Pike‘s take on ‘s 1992 gore-o-rama Dead-Alive [known as Brain Dead outside the U.S.A.]. And Alfred Eaker is up to 1969 (the year that brought us Scream and Scream Again, It’s Alive and Satan’s Sadists) in his exploitation film survey.

Our weekly survey of the weirdest search terms that brought visitors to the site suggests that there are a lot of weird movies lurking out there that we’ve never even heard of—although most of them seem to be ephemeral porn. Take, for example, “vampiress hypno doctor/nurses suck then dry,” an intriguingly strange mix of hypno-vampires and a medical setting.  There’s also “girl fell own sperm by rubber spanish movie play” (why did the girl have her own sperm in this movie adaptation of a Spanish play?) On a more conventional note, there’s the search for an “animated movie with robot seletons who invade their host’s navel.” For our official Weirdest Search Term of the Week, we’ll go with “chinese film un which girl is made to sit on horse where metal flower get into her vagina.” Unlike some of the others, we suspect this movie actually exists, but that doesn’t stop it from being weird.

Here’s how our ridiculously-long-and-ever-growing reader-suggested review queue stands: Screamplay (next week)!; Brain Dead [AKA Dead Alive] (next week!); Brain Dead (d. Adam Simon); Uncle Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE