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WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 5/29/09

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

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

IN THEATERS (WIDE RELEASE):

Drag Me to Hell (2009):  Sam Raimi returns to the horror genre, but judging by the trailer I wouldn’t expect anything Evil Dead-esque or too out of the ordinary; the in-demand Spiderman director now has too much to lose by being innovative.  Prove me wrong, Sam!  Drag Me to Hell official site.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

Daytime Drinking [Not Sool] (2008):  Per the press release, this low-budget South Korean pic about a drinker on “an increasingly strange odyssey nursing a never-ending hangover.”  The publicists compare it to quirky indie films like Stranger than Paradise and SidewaysDaytime Drinking official site.

Pontypool (2009): An intellectual zombie movie from Canada wherein zombism is spread in a surprising (and allegorical) way. Pontypool official site.

NEW ON DVD:

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009):  What could we say about this product that the title doesn’t already tell you?  Well, it’s got a dream cast of Lorenzo Lamas and Debbie Gibson and it’s from Asylum, a  studio that specializes in rushing out direct-to-DVD movies that sound a lot like recent hits (e.g., Transmorphers).  How bad could it possibly be?   Buy from Amazon.

The Sky Crawlers [Sukai kurora] (2008):  Latest visually impressive sci-fi anime from Mamoru Oshii, director of Ghost in the Shell, about children who are trained from birth as pilots to fight in an endless dogfight.  Buy from Amazon.

NEW ON YOUTUBE (LEGITIMATE STUDIO-SANCTIONED RELEASES):

Christmas Evil (1980):  Offbeat, low budget character study about a killer Santa that’s not as exploitative as future films exploring the same “killer Santa” territory.  Read our capsule reviewWatch 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.

WEIRD HORIZON FOR 5/21/09

A 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.

NEW ON DVD:

Eden Log (2007): Judging by IMDB comments,  this French sci-fi/horror/thriller about an amnesiac who wakes up in a cave confuses the hell out of mainstream American genre fans, which by itself makes it sound pretty darn intriguing. Buy from Amazon.

Glen and Randa (1970):  This low-budget, post-apocalyptic, love-it-or-hate-it cult movie is one of those films that few have actually seen (including me), but many have heard of.  Actually released a couple of weeks ago, but with zero fanfare, so I missed it.  If you’ve always wanted to see this semi-legendary film, or just wondered about it, here it is.  Buy from Amazon

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Fast Company (1979):  This early and almost-forgotten David Cronenberg exploitation entry about the drag-racing circuit (featuring drive-in legends John Saxon and the delectible Claudia Jennings in her last role before her tragic death) has been exhumed from the grave by William Lustig’s Blue Underground label.  Even more intriguing is the presence on the disc of two weird-sounding early Cronenberg experimental shorts, Stereo (1969) and Crimes of the Future (1970), which makes this disc a must-buy for Cronenberg completists. Buy from Amazon

CABLE TELEVISION: TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES

The Wicker Man (1973):  TCM will be airing the classic confrontation with weird pagan beliefs (likely shorn of the abundant nudity) on Saturday, May 23rd at 10:30 PM E.S.T; Sunday the 24th at 1:30 AM; and Wednesday the 27th at 1:30 A.M.

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.

FREE (LEGITIMATE) WEIRD MOVIES ON YOUTUBE

In a move that says “if you can’t bring yourself to actually police people uploading copyrighted movies, you might as well encourage copyright holders to upload their own,” YouTube has recently invited movie studios to upload copies of their own movies.

I’m personally against watching full-length movies on YouTube (or any computer service), at least with current technology. The quality of the video is typically so bad that it’s often an insult to the film, and even the most expensive monitor usually provides an inferior viewing experience to an inexpensive television. You also have to deal with clumsy navigation, occasional network outages, and of course, ads. Ads inserted into the YouTube videos are unskippable and occur about once every twenty minutes. But, the service is offered for free, and you get what you pay for.

As might be expected, the initial selection of films is motley. Currently offered are a few moderately popular older movies (like DePalma’s Carrie adaptation and Sylvester Stallone’s Cliffhanger) mixed in with public domain features, some forgotten B-movies that (given their limited audience) might as well have lapsed into the public domain, PBS documentaries, a few Bollywood movies, and some independent productions of varying quality. There are also a few gems on offer. I’ve tried to list some of the titles that may be of interest to our readers (keep in mind that I haven’t viewed any of these all the way through and make no guarantees as to quality or editing).

Animal Farm (1954): The animated version of George Orwell’s classic cautionary fable about the Russian Revolution.  Watch.

Casino Royale (1967): With five directors and an all-star cast (David Niven, Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, Orson Welles and Woody Allen, among others) in an out-of-control nonsense plot, this non-canonical Ian Fleming spy spoof is the weirdest Bond film ever made. Watch.

Do You Like Hitchcock? [Ti Pace Hitchcock?] (2005): Recent Dario Argento thriller/giallo. Watch.

Elvira’s Movie Macabre: Blue Sunshine (1976/1983): This movie about some bad LSD that turns hippies into serial killers years later is viewed as both atmospheric and ridiculous; voluptuous 1980s horror hostess Elvira comments on the latter aspects between commercial breaks. Watch.  Also available for Elvira fans:  Monstroid (watch).

Even Dwarfs Started Small [Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen] (1970): This early Werner Herzog movie about little people overrunning an institution is his most surreal effort.  Watch.  There is actually a wealth of Herzog of youtube courtesy of Anchor Bay: you can also find the classic Aguirre, the Wrath of God (watch), Fitzcarraldo (watch), Woyzeck (watch), and the documentary My Best Fiend about the director’s stormy relationship with intense actor Klaus Kinski (watch). NOTE: As of 5/23/04, the Herzog material has been removed, with the exception of My Best Fiend.

The Film Crew: Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett’s post-MST3K direct-to-video
Continue reading FREE (LEGITIMATE) WEIRD MOVIES ON YOUTUBE

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 5/15/09

A 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):

Anaglyph Tom (Tom with the Puffy Cheeks) (2009): Here’s a weird one I wasn’t aware of.  In 1969 SUNY Binghampton film professor Ken Jacobs took the old Thomas Edison Biograph  short Tom, Tom the Piper’s Son (1905) and performed nutty psychedelic manipulations on the film stock to create what some regarded as an avant-garde masterpiece.  Now, he’s revisited the same material using modern film techniques, and it’s in 3-D!  Unlikely to play much outside of Manhattan, but keep an eye out of you live in a large city with an artsy community (there’s also a showing in Salt Lake City).  No official site.

Big Man Japan [Dai-Nipponjin] (2007):  A postmodern Japanese superhero tale about an unglamorous slacker who transforms into a giant man periodically to fight kaiju (giant monsters a la Godzilla).  Very well reviewed.  Big Man Japan official site: (English)

The Brothers Bloom (2008):  Looks to be a quirky indie comedy about a pair of con-men brothers pulling one last job.  Kurt Loder of MTV called it “wonderfully weird,” but for all I know he thinks “Masterpiece Theater” is weird.  The Brothers Bloom official site.

O’Horten (2007): Apparently a pleasant quirky comedy about a recently retired (and therefore directionless) Norwegian train engineer.  Opens this week in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. O’Horten official site.

NEW ON DVD:

S. Darko: A Donnie Darko (2009):  The much-dreaded sequel to Donnie Darko (2001) lands directly on DVD.  Try to keep an open mind. Buy from Amazon.  Also available in 2-pack that includes both Donnie Darko and S. Darko.

Wise Blood (1979):  John Huston’s adaptation of Flannery O’Connor’s (only) novel is a southern Gothic tale of a preacher who founds his own church sans Jesus Christ.  The movie fell through the cracks on release and is finally being released on DVD.  Buy from Amazon.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Fargo (1996): Not really weird, but the Coen brothers are always offbeat enough to be worth a watch, and this is one of their classics for videophiles who want to upgrade their copy.  Buy from Amazon

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.

JAMES MANNAN’S TOP TEN WEIRD FILMS

In this occasional feature where we ask established directors and critics to list what they feel are their top 10 “weird” movies.  There are no constraints on what the author can pick. This list comes from James Mannan, owner of Liberty or Death productions.  James has directed and produced Wannabe, To Haunt You and Hallow’s Dance with partner R. Panet.

  1. Un Chien Andalou (France 1929; dir. Luis Buñuel):  The keystone of surrealist cinema. In its short 18 minutes this film turned the cinematic conventions of its day on their ear. The disturbing, subversive aesthetics continue to challenge today’s audiences and filmmakers.
  2. Die Nackte und der Satan aka The Head (West Germany, 1959; dir. Victor Trivas): The ultimate summation of the mad scientist/transplant sub-genre, this is far more artistic and conceptually challenging than the better known knock-off The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (which was made in the US 3 years later).  Expressionist production design was by Hermann Warm (Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) and atmospheric cinematography by George Kraus (Kubrick’s Paths of Glory).  The most amazing (and later copied) image is, of course, the living severed head of Michel Simon as Dr Abel, but seemingly all of the characters are touched in some way by mad science, including the villainous Dr. Ood.
  3. Manos, the Hands of Fate (USA 1966; dir. Harold P. Warren):  This is a favorite of the “Mystery Science Theatre” crowd, but Manos needs no running commentary to point out its delicious oddities–chief among which is the performance of John Reynolds as the servant “Torgo.” Every element of this below-grade-Z production is sublimely dreadful in a way neither Ed Wood or Al Adamson could have achieved.
  4. Satánico Pandemonium (Mexico 1975; dir. Gilberto Martínez Solares):  A Mexican Nun is possessed by the devil and is soon corrupting the innocence of her fellow nuns and the nearby villagers. And you thought Linda Blair masturbating with a crucifix was shocking…
  5. Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (USA 1973; dir. Richard Blackburn):  Blackburn was fresh out of film school when he directed this gothic coming-of-age tale, inspired in parts by both H P Lovecraft and The Night of the Hunter.  Extraordinarily ambitious, considering the low budget, the film has a unique atmosphere of weird dread.  Lemora benefits enormously from the performance of Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith as the “singing angel” Lila Lee.  Smith marvelously projects the adolescent girl’s wariness at each new threat to her innocence, in what amounts to a kind of a demented version of “Alice in Wonderland.” Continue reading JAMES MANNAN’S TOP TEN WEIRD FILMS

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 5/8/09 (WITH “ILL-ADVISED HOLLYWOOD REMAKE” SUPPLEMENT)

A 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):

Little Ashes:  Not itself a weird movie, but an art-house drama about primal Surrealists Salvador Dali, Luis Buñuel and Federico Garcia Lorca, exploring a long rumored love-affair between Dali and Lorca.  Reviews are poor; it doesn’t appear the movie transcends its intended gay romance audience.  Little Ashes official site

Since there’s so little this week either in theaters or in new DVD releases to appeal to fans of the weird, we turn to… 

IN DEVELOPMENT (ILL-ADVISED HOLLYWOOD REMAKE EDITION):

Angel Heart:  Scheduled for 2011 per IMDBAngel Heart has dated well and features Mickey Rourke and Robert DeNiro, who still have box-office drawing power, so why not just re-release the original?

The Birds:  In my opinion, Michael Bay should keep his damn dirty paws off Hitchcock.  The original The Birds was a great movie with horrible special effects; we should expect the exact reverse from a Bay-produced remake.  Here’s the rumor from Film Junk.

I Walked with a Zombie:  The atmospheric and literary Val Lewton classic is getting a Hollywood update.  What director could tackle this project with the sensitivity it deserves?  The first name that comes to mind, of course, is Adam Marcus, who showed with the subtle Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday that he is the true spiritual heir of Lewton’s “quiet horror” aesthetic.  Per IMDB it’s a go.

Let the Right One In:  I haven’t even fit the original into my busy viewing schedule yet.  I suspect it will be a dumbed-down version aimed at people who loathe subtitles and quiet passages.  Unlike some of the other ill-advised titles on the list, remakes of foreign hits are inevitable.  Readers at BloodyDisgusting.com are infuriated.

The Man Who Fell to Earth:  This is slated for 2009 per the IMDB, though it’s not in production yet so time is running out.  One would assume the point of remaking Nicolas Roeg‘s cult sci-fi film would be too sanitize and de-weirdify it for mass consumption, but who knows for sure? 

Plan 9 from Outer Space:  Um, how (and why?) do you remake a movie that is notoriously considered the worst ever made?  (By the way, Ed Wood’s Plan 9 was not the worst movie ever made, not by a long shot, but it is probably the most unintentionally hilarious Z-grade film ever created).  Direct-to-video director John Johnson suggests he will do “a serious-minded retelling of the original story,” which sounds like he will simply strip off everything that made Ed’s original beloved and produce another schlocky, forgettable B-movie.  It’s set to be released in September 2009, with scream queen Brinke Stevens (in the Vampira role) apparently top-billed, and Conrad Brooks returning from the original (he’s been promoted from patrolman to lieutenant).

But not so fast!  An underground outfit named Drunkenflesh films (no website, but a Myspace page) has rushed out a virtually contentless teaser trailer announcing their own remake of Plan 9, under Ed’s preferred title, Graverobbers from Outer Space:    

 

Continue reading WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 5/8/09 (WITH “ILL-ADVISED HOLLYWOOD REMAKE” SUPPLEMENT)

R. PANET’S TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

In this occasional feature where we ask established directors and critics to list what they feel are their top 10 “weird” movies.  There are no constraints on what the author can pick. This list comes from R. Panet, half of the production team behind Liberty or Death Productions. With partner, James Mannan she directed Hallow’s Dance, and also directed Revenant, along with assisting on numerous other productions, including Blood Moon, Quench and Going All The Way.

It takes a lot to really unnerve or disturb me these days, but these 6 films were all viewed in the 80’s when I was barely legally able to intoxicate myself, when my mind was young and unmarred by such weirdness, despite the fact that I was myself deemed weird by most anyway, and I personally blame these films for my quest to seek out all things weird, bizarre, and of the illimitable creative artistic expression, and yes, to add to my own wonderful weirdness. Before I viewed these films I did not know such a world existed. My experimental film cherry was popped.

The 6 weird movies that left a lasting impression on my young mind- in order of disturbance;

1. Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo-120 Days of Sodom and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s La Montana Sagrada [The Holy Mountain] tie for first.

3. Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.

4. John Waters’ Pink Flamingos

5. Richard Kern’s Fingered

Continue reading R. PANET’S TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 5/1/09

A 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):

Eldorado (2008): Belgian comedy about an antique car dealer and a burglar/ex-junkie who hit the road together.  Road movies are traditionally quirky; it remains to be seen whether this will cross the line into the genuinely weird.  Features the music of freak-folk icon Devandra Banhat.  Eldorado official site (in French).

I Can See You (2008):  From the New York Times:  “[Director Graham Resnick has] one eye on genre mechanics, one eye on avant-garde conceits and a third eye for transcendental weirdness.”  Sounds like a must-see to me; hope it makes it to your (and my) neck of the woods before it shuffles off to video.  I Can See You official site.

The Limits of Control (2009):  The latest from Jim (Dead Man) Jamursch about a mysterious criminal working on an unspecified job in Spain has been described as “dreamlike” and “hypnotic”.  Heavyweight thespians John Hurt and Bill Murray appear in small roles.  Definitely promising.  The Limits of Control official site.   

NEW ON DVD:

Johnny Got His Gun (1971): It’s about time this anti-war classic about a quadruple-amputee–told in hallucinations, flashbacks, and conversations with Jesus Christ (played by Donald Sutherland)–got DVD release. Buy from Amazon.

Martyrs (2008):  It sounds like an art-house version of The Last House on the Left (wait, wasn’t that The Virgin Spring)?  Whatever it is, it’s clear that the violence and cruelty is extreme, and it’s been gathering powerful negative/positive reactions from viewers, and looks like it may be on it’s way to becoming a modern cult film.  Buy from Amazon.

SCREENINGS (INDIANAPOLIS, IN):

Thomas Pynchon: A Journey into the Mind of P. (2001):  A conspiracy-minded documentary about reclusive, postmodern (and quite weird) author Thomas Pynchon.  Showing at the Earth House Collective in Indianapolis on Thursday, May 7th at 7:00 pm.

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.

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 4/24/09

Every Friday, we take a 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.

NEW ON DVD:

Dante 01 (2008):  This sci-fi penal colony film with messianic overtones slipped well under the radar, which is somewhat surprising since it’s directed by Marc Caro, who together with Jean-Pierre Jeunet was one half of the directing team behind the classic weirdfilms Delicatessen (1991) and City of Lost Children (1995). Poorly reviewed. Buy from Amazon.   

The House of the Sleeping Beauties (2006): Allegorical German adult fairy tale about a brothel where men pay to spend the night with beautiful women who are trapped in a permanent slumber.  From the Japanese story “Nemureru bijo” by novelist Yasunari Kawabata, which has been adapted on film three times in Japan (1968, 1995, 2007).  Buy from Amazon.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Sin City (2005):  The Robert Rodriguez-directed, Frank Miller-penned, noirish comic-book-come-to-life receives a 2-disc Blu-ray special edition, with the original theatrical release on disc 1 and a “recut” version (actually, it sounds like it’s four new versions, since each of four separate storylines is edited into it’s own mini-movies).  Contains 20 minutes of extra footage and abundant extras.  Buy from Amazon.

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.

SIR TIJN PO’S TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

This list is part of a new feature where we ask established directors and critics to list what they feel are their top 10 “weird” movies.  There are no constraints on what the author can pick.   This list was composed by Sir Tijn Po, director of Coming Soon.

When people ask me if I believe in god, I always ask them to define the word “god” first, since without that definition my answer is meaningless; if by “god” they mean a bearded male sadist then my answer is “no”, if by “god” they mean “an abstract power larger than myself” then my answer is “yes”.

Similarly, when asked by 366weirdmovies.com to provide a list of my 10 favorite weird movies of all time, I would first like to explain my definition of “weird”, without which my list strikes me as irrelevant.

I assume that, unlike the vast majority of English-users, the founders of 366weirdmovies.com don’t see “weird” as a pejorative, otherwise they wouldn’t be spending so much time promoting “weird” films.   I, too, don’t see “weird” as a negative; to me the word describes those areas of life which don’t quite fit into the rational, or conventionally emotional, yet effect us in powerful, and often pleasant, ways.

Some attribute this phenomenon to the sub-conscious, where, if you dig deep enough, all is supposedly explainable, etc.  Fair enough.  But I don’t feel the need to dig that deep.  I think our rational faculties are only one portion of our governing structure and there is another, often contradictory, portion which simply enjoys, and oftentimes even craves, the irrational.  No explanation needed.   No need to dig into the subconscious to make it rational. We simply have it, even though we can’t explain it.  Just like non-reproductive fetishes, etc.   They make no sense, but they’re there.

Thus, to me “weird” movies, or “weird” anything for anything for that matter, are those which describe, or stimulate, the irrational within us.

So my 10 favorite “weird” films of all time (which aren’t necessarily my 10 favorite films of all time, since my rational favorites are not included here) are:

  1. Sir Tijn Po’s COMING SOON (the portions that I didn’t write, and still keep me up at night.)
  2. Jan Svankmajer‘s CONSPIRATORS OF PLEASURE.
  3. Pier Paolo Pasolini’s THEOREMA.
  4. Walon Green’s THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS.
  5. Frederico Fellini’s SATYRICON.
  6. Continue reading SIR TIJN PO’S TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES