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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.

Sadly, there’s nothing of even marginal weird interest debuting in American theaters this week.


TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Horror—House of Wax (1953) / The Haunting (1963) / Freaks (1932) / Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941):  All good movies, but it’s Freaks, Tod Browning’s one-of-a-kind disquieting exploitation fable, that catches our attention here.  Weird freaks might also get a kick out of seeing Ingrid Bergman’s head used as a champagne cork in Dr. Jekyll. This two double-sided disc set is an interesting way to start a high-end horror DVD collection if you’re not interested in the extras you would get from buying each individual film (all of these films are out on single disc DVDs in more lavish editions). Buy from Amazon.

TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Science Fiction2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)/ Soylent Green (1973)/ Forbidden Planet (1956)/ The Time Machine (1960): All good films, but the obvious weird draw here is 2001, Kubrick’s trippy and ambiguous sci-fi parable about… well, there are lots of theories as to what it’s about.  Apply the same caveats about this set as about the Horror collection above—no extras here, in case you want a definitive edition of a particular movie, but a good way to start a collection of smart science fiction films.  Buy from Amazon.

Not weird, but potentially of interest to some, is TCM’s collection of classic murder mystery/film noir movies including the beloved The Maltese Falcon (1941) along with The Big Sleep (1946), Dial M for Murder (1954), and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). Buy from Amazon.


Fire and Ice (1983): Seldom seen animated sword-and-sorcery fantasy by weirdish Rotoscope auteur Ralph Bashki (Coonskin).  Animation fans may want to check out the Rotoscoping, which is said to be much better than the story.   Poster/book cover artist and chainmail-bikini fetishist Frank Frazetta was involved in some capacity. Buy from Amazon.


The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953):  A boy dreams that his piano teacher is enslaving children on surrealistic sets in this classic weird children’s musical movie with nonsense lyrics by Dr. Seuss.  Show your kids at a young age to ensure they grow up weird.  Too good to watch on YouTube, but if you can’t resist… Watch The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T free on YouTube.

Freakmaker [AKA The Mutations] (1974):  A scientist experiments with mixing human and plant DNA in this bizarre grindhouse wonder that’s almost a remake of Tod Browning’s FreaksWatch Freakmaker free on YouTube.

The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield (1968):  The most exploitative biopic ever made, mixing Jayne’s most salacious footage with the slanderous sexcapades of a “lookalike,” ending with totally tasteless footage of Jayne’s fatal car crash and grieving family.  Incoherent and unbelievable; will leave you feeling fascinated but very dirty.  Watch The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield free on YouTube.

What are you looking forward to? If you have any weird movie leads that I have overlooked, feel free to leave them in the COMMENTS section.


The “Reader Recommendation” category includes films nominated by our readers as deserving of consideration for the List of the 366 Best Weird Movies of all time.

by Trevor Moses, film archivist at the National Film, Video and Sound Archives (South Africa)

DIRECTED BY: Jans Rautenbach

FEATURING: Cobus Rossouw, Jill Kirkland, Hermien Dommisse, Phillip Swanepoel, Katinka Heyns, Don Leonard, Lourens Schultz, Patrick Mynhardt, Betty Botha, Sandra Kotze, George Pearce, Jacques Loots.

PLOT: A catatonic mathematics professor with an Oedipus complex (as if the poor man didn’t have enough hassles already) is committed to an asylum which is a microcosm of South African society, circa 1970.  The inmates band together to attempt to restore him to life once more and when one of their number commits suicide because of him, they then attempt something more on his behalf: murder.

Still from Jannie Totsiens (1970)

WHY IT DESERVES TO MAKE THE LISTJannie Totsiens is rather like Milos Forman’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, only far, far more weird, disturbing and funny than that Oscar winning film.  Jans Rautenbach’s film is a microcosmic view of South Africa circa 1970 and an indictment of the blinkered Afrikaner Nationalist enforced attitudes and very dubious morals of the time.

COMMENTS: Allegedly autobiographical in tone, this was South Africa’s first film in the avant-garde genre, one of its very few horror films, and also its first black comedy.  It is now known to be an allegory about the South African situation in 1970 – showing said situation and the country’s inhabitants in the milieu of a home for the insane whose inmates’ lives are flipped by the arrival of a catatonic, mute mathematics professor, the “angel of discord”, as he is referred to by one of the loonies.  Among this merry little band, we find a jilted bride (Hermien Dommisse) whose wedding portrait depicts her holding the hand of a faceless man who locked her up in this house until she went insane, a knife wielding nymphomaniac with Bible thumping parents (Katinka Heyns), an ex Ossewabrandwag soldier with an uncanny resemblance to John Vorster (Don Leonard), a judge (Jacques Loots) who went mad (and consequently hangs up the plants in the asylum’s hothouse in a makeshift gallows) after his daughter’s killer was let off scot free, and a psychotic, lovesick woman (Jill Kirkland) who continuously writes unsent letters to her dead daughter.  Other characters include the sane, disabled artist Frans (Phillip Swanepoel) whose parents locked him up in the asylum because they were ashamed of him, and the Director of the asylum (Lourens Schultz), a weak-willed, gambling, drinking good-for-nothing, almost as mad as those he cares for, whose only purpose in life is to give injections and make his inmates swallow pills.  The seemingly mad and mother-fixated Jannie Pienaar  was supposedly based both on director Jans Rautenbach’s treatment by the critics and some of the more sensitive sections of the South African community, and Rautenbach’s experiences as a clinical psychologist.  He finds himself restored to life because of two major factors: a love triangle which involves him and two of the inmates and the horrific finale when, on the suicide of one of those inmates, Jannie is condemned to death by hanging.  For real.  Not by his neck, but by his feet.

One would have to go very far back or far forward into the future of the South African film industry’s history to find a film as horrific, comic (yes, it is very funny in parts) and perfect as this, with brooding photography (courtesy David Dunn Yarker and Koos Roets, ACS ), an eerie credits puppet show in which the spectre of death intrudes and is frightened away, haunting music by Sam Sklair and oppressive, claustrophobic set and art design.  To unsuspecting first time viewers, this film’s impact is still felt months and years later.  Judging by its’ initial reception in 1970, it is clear that the movie going public in South Africa did not know that they were actually looking into a mirror with themselves as the subjects, notwithstanding the fact that each viewer of this film feels like they have just been dinged on the head with a very large, heavy board when the film ends.

Bruce Lee says in Enter The Dragon, “Boards….. don’t hit back.”  This one does.

This film is available solely in the Afrikaans language and can be purchased from


The winner of the review writing contest, and the A Clockwork Orange Blu-ray, is Pamela De Graff for her review of Happy Here and Now (2002).  Ms. De Graff’s review will be published on these pages on Sunday, September 6.

Thanks to all who contributed!  We will also be publishing the other entries we received under the category “Reader Recommendations.”  Look for a new reader review contest in the future.


Here’s what’s coming up on the site next week…

Reviews of the Jeunet/Caro weird cannibalism black comedy Delicatessen and “Weird Al” Yankovic’s cult star vehicle, UHF.

Alfred Eaker will be finishing up his series on the westerns of Budd Boetticher with Comanche Station.

The winner of the review writing contest will be announced on Friday, Sep. 4. You still have time to get an entry in as long as we receive it before midnight (US Eastern time) on Sep. 3!

Cameron Jorgensen will present another Saturday Short (even I don’t know what it will be!).

Weirdest search term used to locate the site this week: “pommel horse bondage.”

Here’s the ever-growing reader suggested review queue to give you an idea what will be coming further down the road: Nekromantic (still looking for a copy), UHF (next week), Delicatessen (next week), Pi, Angel’s Egg, Institute Benjamenta, Pan’s Labyrinth, Ex Drummer, Waking Life, Survive Style 5+, The Dark Backward, The Short Films of David Lynch, Santa Sangre, Dead Man, and Inland Empire.

Enjoy the week!


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.


Orgies and the Meaning of Life (2008):  The story of a man living inside his own head and fantasizing about orgies, all while writing a novel about a stick figure trying to find his way into the third dimension.  Beyond quirky, definitely verging on weird.  Also, not very popular with either audiences or critics.  Playing in Los Angeles—looks like a token theatrical release before it arrives on DVD in a couple weeks.  Orgies and the Meaning of Life official site.


Children of the Corn (1984):  Adapted from a Steven King novella (usually not a sign of weirdness, unless Kubrick‘s doing the adapting), this story concerns a small town of children who kill all the adults and start a cult worshiping “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.”  In a slow week for weird, this horror movie with a small cult following may be worth a look, especially if you like the idea of seeing Linda Hamilton crucified. Buy from Amazon.


Black Sunday (1960):  Mario Bava’s black and white classic with bewitching Barbara Steele in dual roles.  Not weird, but full of great Gothic atmosphere that evokes the Universal horror cycle.  Watch Black Sunday on YouTube.

Track 29 (1988): Described as “bizarre black comedy about a love-starved woman, her nerdy husband who’s obsessed with model trains and a stranger who claims to be her long lost son.”  A very overlooked movie from the great Nicholas Roeg, with Gary Oldman, Theresa Russell, Christopher Lloyd, and Sandra Bernhard.  Watch 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.


Just a reminder of what’s going on with the site…

First, we hope you liked the first in what we hope will be a long-running feature… the Saturday Short, where we plan to feature a new short film (usually by an up and coming filmmaker) weekly! Please welcome Cameron Jorgensen, who has graciously agreed to watch short weird movies and select the best for your enjoyment, to the 366weirdmovies team!

Hopefully, with the addition of this column we can begin to update 7 days a week, so you no longer have to wait through the weekend to start getting your weird movie fix again on Monday.

As for what’s coming up next week… reviews of the softcore surrealist flick Dr. Caligari and Chan-wook Park’s ultraviolent psychological epic Oldboy are definitely on tap, with a surprise or two (read: we haven’t decided exactly what to publish just yet.)

Don’t forget that you could win an A Clockwork Orange Blu-ray by writing a review for the site. As of now, we only have two entries (both of which will be published in the future), so your chances of winning aren’t too bad. The contest is open until September 3, 2009. Get all the details here.

We love to look at server logs (who doesn’t?) and check out the oddest search terms used to locate the site. Over the past few weeks we’ve seen “Coraline phallic” (missed that connection in our review of the children’s film), “amateur defecation movies” (weird indeed, but you’re not going to find what you’re looking for here), along with such odd requests as “busty zombie,” and “deadphallus.” But our favorite search term had a touch of honest bemusement to it: “What’s with these weird Japanese movies?” I’m not sure we can answer the question, but if anyone finds out the answer, please post it.

The reader suggested review queue looks like this: Dr. Caligari (upcoming this week), Nekromantic, UHF, Delicatessen, Pi, Angel’s Egg, Institute Benjamenta, Pan’s Labyrinth, Ex Drummer, Waking Life, Survive Style 5+, The Dark Backward, The Short Films of David Lynch, and Santa Sangre. We hope to knock off at least one of these per week, two on a good week. Some of those are out-of-print and difficult to locate, so they may be tackled in a different order than they were submitted.

Enjoy the upcoming week!


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.


Inglourious Basterds:  Led by Brad Pitt, a group of Jewish soldier/vigilantes in World War II hunt and slaughter Nazis in this alternative history lesson from the irrepressible Quentin Tarantino.  Unlike to be more than mildly weird, but QT is always worth a gander.  Inglourious Basterds Official Site.

Shorts:  While Tarantino hogs the opening week spotlight, sometime collaborator and fellow offbeat auteur Robert (Sin City) Rodriguez quietly releases this kiddie fantasy about a rainbow-colored rock that grants wishes.  Critics describe it as hyperactive and unfocused: Toby Young of the Times goes so far as to say that it’s “[S]o structurally complicated that it almost qualifies as an experimental film.”  Shorts Official Site.


Confessionsofa Ex-Doofus-ItchyFooted Mutha:  If nothing else, now septuagenarian Melvin Van Peebles has given us the weirdest movie title since his own Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song with this semi-autobiographical, semi-allegorical piece of picaresque performance art adapted for the big screen.  Van Peebles plays a teenager and has a love scene with a gorilla: this one’s going to be weird (and self-indulgent), no doubt about it.  No official site (the work of the Man?)

The Headless Woman [La mujer sin cabeza] (2008): Argentinian film about a woman who experiences a mysterious form of amnesia after striking something—a dog, or a child?—with her car.  Described as head-scratching, slow and oblique.  The Headless Woman Official (?) site (French).


Absurdistan (2008): The title of this fantastic, magical-realist German about a mythical Muslim country where the women stage a “Lysistrata”-style sex strike until the men fix a broken water pipeline suggests that this movie is right up our alley. Buy from Amazon

Icons of Sci-Fi: The Toho Collection [Mothra (1961), The H-Man (1958), Battle in Outer Space (1959)]:  This three disc letterboxed (well, “Tohoscoped”) collection is big news for kaiju and Japanese sci-fi fans.  Mothra, featuring the giant moth-monster and his miniature princesses, is the chief draw;  The H-Man brings us radioactive slime creatures; and Battle in Outer Space is an “aliens attack the world” movie. All three features were directed by the talented Ishirô (Godzilla, Attack of the Mushroom People) Honda and have either been AWOL on DVD or available only in inferior full-frame versions until now. Buy from Amazon

Surveillance (2008): Jennifer (Boxing Helena, daughter of David) Lynch’s long delayed second feature is a psychological thriller about two FBI agents trying to solve a string of grisly killings with the help of three witnesses who tell conflicting stories. Brutal, perverse and likely (given her heritage) to be highly weird, Surveillance arrives on DVD after token theatrical release. But from Amazon


Play Time (1967): This nearly plotless comedy on the absurdity of then-modern life involves clown M. Hulot (director Jacques Tati) lost in a bizarre, futurist re-creation of Paris as he tries to make an appointment. Considered by many to be Tati’s masterpiece. The Criterion Collection issued this on DVD in 2006 and is getting around to upgrading their Blu-Ray versions. Buy from Amazon.

Surveillance (2008): See the DVD section above for description. 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.


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.


District 9 (2009):  South African science fiction story about refugee aliens on Earth that appears on the surface to be an  allegory of  apartheid.  “Presented” by formerly weird director Peter (Heavenly Creatures) Jackson, who’s seal of approval actually implies quality at this point in his career.  Word on the street is it’s original, but that’s unlikely to translate into weirdDistrict 9 official site.

Ponyo (2008):  Hayao (Spirited Away) Miyazaki’s Hans Christan Andersen inspired fairy tale about a goldfish trying to become human was a hit in Japan; now, Disney is releasing it on these shores, dubbed by big name Hollywood talent (Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon and others).  With Disney’s name on it, it ain’t gonna be weird, but Miyazaki has his fans and the visuals have been described as “trippy.”   Ponyo official site (Disney).

The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009):  Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams star in this romantic sci-fi/fantasy about a man born with a gene which causes him to become unstuck in time at random intervals.  Scripted by Bruce Joel Rubin of Jacob’s Ladder fame from a bestselling novel by Audrey Niffenegger.  Few critics think it’s too good, but at least one (Brandon Judell) thinks it’s “too weird,” which may come as an endorsement to readers looking for a date night movie that won’t bore them.   The Time Traveler’s Wife official site.


Grace (2009): This indie horror about a mother whose baby is born undead escaped from the festival circuit to a limited theatrical engagement. First time feature director Paul Solet expanded Grace to a full length movie from an award-winning short that Fangoria called “superbly bizarre.”  Love the poster with the infant’s bottle half full of blood! Grace official site.

Taxidermia (2006):  Three interwoven stories about three generations of Hungarian men: a WWII veteran grandfather, a would-be athlete father, and a taxidermist son—surrealy woven together by certified weird director György (Hukkle) Pálfi.  Clearly, the theatrical weird pick of the week, which is why it is only playing two theaters in the United States.  Rather than taking a road trip to L.A. or NYC, we’ll be waiting for a proper Region 1 DVD release (it’s already available to Europeans and others with machines that can play PAL DVDs), but we advise those who can to catch it on the big screen and report back to us. Taxidermia official site (US).


Rifftrax Live: Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959): One night only!  Three stars from the cult TV hit  Mystery Science Theater will make snarky comments about the movie that is widely (and incorrectly) believed to be the worst ever made! Though we have our doubts about the project—what’s the added value of “riffing live?”  Why pick a movie that doesn’t need any commentary to be a laff riot? And why cater to the masses by screening the colorized print?—it’s an intriguing idea.  You can find a list of participating theaters here.


Alien Trespass (2008):  This 1950s-style, colorized alien invasion movie realizes that the ridiculousness inherent in the genre needs no exaggeration and spoofs its subject matter with a straight face, which makes it an enjoyably affectionate rather than a smug parody.  Not terribly weird, but an offbeat and worthwhile pickup, especially for fans of The Blob and other nostalgic nonsense.  Buy from Amazon.

Gigantic (2008): Self-described “surreal love story” (we’re skeptical, but maybe the trailer strategically de-emphasized the “surreal” elements) hits the DVD ranks after a minuscule theatrical run (despite the presence of Zooey Deschanel and John Goodman). Buy from Amazon.


Alien Trespass (2008):  See description in the DVD section above.  Buy from Amazon.

Ichi the Killer (2001): This perverted and extreme sadomasochistic classic from weird director Takajshi Miike gets the Blu-ray treatment.  No longer will viewers have to suffer the agonies of low-definition arterial spray!  Buy form Amazon

The Ninth Gate (1999):  Roman Polanski returns to the supernatural genre in this overlooked 1999 film about a rare book collector (Johnny Depp) stumbling onto a diabolical tome which leads his soul into peril.  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.


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.


Cold Souls: Described as “a surreal comedy in which souls can be extracted and traded as commodities,” starring indie icon Paul Giamatti. Well-reviewed film from first time director Sophie Barthes. Cold Souls official site.


Director Joe Dante (Gremlins) won’t return my calls, and probably wouldn’t even if he had my number; to prove I’m not bitter, I’m going to plug a couple of weird titles from his adventurous “Dante’s Inferno” series now screening at the New Beverly Cinema in Hollywood (check here for the complete schedule).

The Movie Orgy (1968/2009): This is a pastiche of clips from a variety of pre-1968 movies, serials, newsreels, and TV shows, prominently featuring many B-movies such as Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, arranged into what Dante characterizes as “a crazy 16mm cinematic farrago.”  Originally over four hours in length, Dante has added footage to carry the film over the 5 hour mark.  This film is rarely screened, for obvious reasons.  Showing August 8 only, admission is free (!)

The President’s Analyst (1967):  A crazy, underseen paranoid satire—one that could only have come out of the 1960s—about the titular character, who finds himself at the center of a dastardly plot masterminded by an unlikely enemy.  On a double bill with the 1971 tobacco company satire Cold Turkey.  August 11 & 12 only.


Army of Darkness (1992):  The third movie in the Evil Dead trilogy.  In this campy horror/comedy entry, Ash (Bruce Campbell), chainsaw in hand,  finds that the vortex he was sucked into at the end of Evil Dead II leads to a medieval land teeming with yet more evil dead.  Available on Fearnet until August 31.

Dracula (1992): Francis Ford Coppola’s take on the Dracula legend was ruined for many by the terrible decision to cast Keanu Reeves and Wynona Ryder as Jonathan and Mina Harker, but there’s no doubt that it contains some great, hallucinatory visual sequences that make it worth catching.  Available on Fearnet until Spetember 2.

Evil Dead II (1987):  With money and experience under his belt, director Sam Raimi remade his own low-budget hit The Evil Dead (1981) as one of the greatest horror-comedies of all time, full of over-the-top weird touches.  Available on Fearnet until August 31.

Oldboy (2003): The middle entry in Chan-wook Park‘s Vengeance Trilogy, about a man who hunts a unknown enemy after he is imprisoned without explanation for years and just as mysteriously freed.  It’s Park’s most popular film, and probably his best, despite (or because of) it’s violent and stylistic excesses.  Available on the Sundance Channel until September 1st.


Big Trouble in Little China (1986): John Carpenter’s Americanized version of a zany Hong Kong action-kung fu-fantasy-comedy doesn’t seem quite as weird and wacky as it did when it flopped in theaters in the 1980s. Word of mouth turned it into a video hit.  Carpenter was ahead of the curve; Westerners would discover the delirious delights of Tsui Hark, Jackie Chan and John Woo on their own within a few years. Buy from Amazon.


Through the month of August, Amazon is discounting titles in its international, indie and arthouse catagories, with DVD deals as low as $5.99.  Browse the sale items here: we noticed the 2-disc Criterion collection version of Fellini’s 8 1/2 for $16.49, more than half off list price, among other deals.

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.


A Clockwor Orange Blu-RayWe’d love to get our readers more involved in the forum and to discover new contributors, so we’re offering an incentive: write a review of a weird movie, win an A Clockwork Orange Blu-Ray!  (This is the slightly used copy of the film used to compose the review on this site).

The rules of the contest are simple:

  1. Write a review of a movie that you think should be on the List of the 366 weirdest movies ever made, but that hasn’t been covered here yet (you can find the titles we have covered here). Including the following sections: DIRECTOR, FEATURING (listing the most important actors), PLOT (a one sentence synopsis), WHY IT DESERVES TO MAKE THE LIST (a one sentence to one paragraph description of why you think the movie is weird), COMMENTS (one to two paragraphs describing the movie in more detail).  If you have a suggestion for a still to represent the movie and/or a quote from a critic on the film, you can include those, but they are not required.
  2. Submit your work on our contact formBy submitting your entry on this form, you agree to allow to publish your work, either whole or in edited form, on this website. Your work may be selected for publication even if you are not chosen as the winner.
  3. The contest is open to anyone whose work has not previously been published on
  4. You may not write a review promoting a film which you were involved in the production of, or in which you have a financial interest.
  5. This site strives to remain “PG” rated; do not use profanity in your review.
  6. The contest will remain open for one month, until September 3, 2009, at which time the editor will select the best entry.  The winner will be chosen on the basis of writing style, insight, and appropriateness of the movie chosen.  The deadline may be extended, depending on the number of entries received.
  7. In order to be eligible to receive the prize, you must supply a valid email address and a valid mailing address.  International addresses are acceptable.  If the winning entrant does not supply a valid mailing address, the Blu-Ray will be given to a randomly selected entry with a mailing address in the United States.  If no entries are from the United States, then the deadline to complete the contest will be extended.

TIPS: Avoid merely summarizing the plot in your comments.  Avoid giving away “spoilers” in your descriptions that might ruin the enjoyment of the film.  Obscure titles are fine—in  fact, they may be worth bonus points—but try to pick a film that is available on DVD, or is at least likely to be released.  If you write on a film no one will be able to view or locate, the movie may be judged as inappropriate.

One final tip: don’t be scared away by thinking you have to write something profoundly insightful.  Simply consider it as a chance to describe and recommend a film to that narrow audience people who are interested in the same kind of weird movies as you are.

Have fun!  The winner, and even the runners-up, may be invited to become regular contributors to the site!