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The List Thus Far (Certified Weird Movies)

3 Women (1977)

8 1/2 (1963)

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953)

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension (1984)

Akira (1988)

Alice [Neco Z Alenky] (1988)

Alice in Wonderland (1966)

Allegro non Troppo (1976)

Altered States (1980)

The American Astronaut (2001)

Antichrist (2009)

Archangel (1990)

Bad Boy Bubby (1993)

Barbarella (1968)

Barton Fink (1991)

The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Begotten (1991)

Being John Malkovich (1999)

Belle de Jour (1967)

Black Swan (2010)

Blood Diner (1987)

Blood Tea and Red String (2006)

A Boy and His Dog (1975)

Branded to Kill (1967)

Brazil (1985)

Bronson (2008)

Careful (1992)

Carnival of Souls (1962)

Cemetery Man [Dellamorte Dellamore] (1994)

Un Chien Andalou (1929)

The City of Lost Children [La cité des enfants perdus] (1995)

Clean, Shaven (1993)

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Cowards Bend the Knee, or, the Blue Hands (2003)

Daisies [Sedmikrásky] (1966)

The Dark Backward (1991)

Dead Man (1995)

Dead Ringers (1988)

Delicatessen (1991)

Dillinger is Dead (1969)

Doggiewogiez! Poochiewoochiez! (2012)

Dogtooth [Kynodontas] (2009)

Dogville (2003)

Donnie Darko (2001)

Don't Look Now (1973)

Elevator Movie (2004)

Enemy (2013)

Enter the Void (2009)

Eraserhead (1977)

Escape from Tomorrow (2013)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)

Evil Dead II (1987)

Eyes Without a Face [Les Yeux sans Visage] (1965)

Fantastic Planet [La Planète Sauvage] (1973)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Fellini Satyricon (1969)

Final Flesh (2009)

Forbidden Zone (1982)

Funky Forest: The First Contact (2005)

Glen or Glenda (1953)

Gothic (1986)

Gozu (2003)

La Grande Bouffe (1973)

Greaser's Palace (1972)

Gummo (1997)

Häxan [Witchcraft Through the Ages] (1922)

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

Help! Help! The Globolinks [Hilfe! Hilfe! Die Globolinks] (1969)

Holy Motors (2012)

The Holy Mountain (1973)

The Horrors of Spider Island [Ein Toter hing im Netz] (1960)

House [Hausu] (1977)

Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

I Can See You (2008)

Idiots and Angels (2008)

I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK [Saibogujiman Kwenchana] (2006)

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle (2009)

L'Immortelle (1963)

Ink (2009)

INLAND EMPIRE (2006)

Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life (1995)

Jacob's Ladder (1990)

John Dies at the End (2012)

Johnny Got His Gun (1971)

Keyhole (2011)

Kontroll (2003)

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Kwaidan (1964)

The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

The Legend of Suram Fortress [Ambavi Suramis Tsikhitsa] (1984)

Lisztomania (1975)

Little Otik [Otesánek] (2000)

Lost Highway (1997)

Love Exposure (2008)

Lucifer Rising (1981)

Maelstrom (2000)

Malpertuis (1972)

Maniac (1934)

Marquis (1989)

Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

The Milky Way [La Voie Lactee] (1969)

Mr. Nobody (2009)

Mulholland Drive (2001)

Naked Lunch (1991)

Night of the Hunter (1955)

Night Train to Terror (1985)

Nosferatu (1922)

Nostalghia (1983)

O Lucky Man! (1973)

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Paprika (2006)

Performance (1968/1970)

Persona (1966)

Phantasm (1979)

Pi (1998)

The Pillow Book (1996)

Pink Flamingos (1972)

Pink Floyd the Wall (1982)

Prospero's Books (1991)

The Red Squirrel [La Ardilla Roja] (1993)

The Reflecting Skin (1990)

Repo Man (1984)

A Report on the Party and Guests (1966)

Repulsion (1965)

Robot Monster (1953)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Rubber (2010)

Run Lola Run (1998)

The Saddest Music in the World (2003)

Sans Soleil (1983)

Santa Sangre (1989)

The Science of Sleep (2006)

A Serious Man (2009)

Shanks (1974)

Shock Corridor (1963)

Silent Hill (2006)

Sin City (2005)

The Singing Ringing Tree (1957)

Skidoo (1968)

Solaris [Solyaris] (1972) -

Songs from the Second Floor (2000)

Stalker (1979)

Steppenwolf (1974)

Strange Frame: Love & Sax (2012)

Suspiria (1977)

Sweet Movie (1974)

Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Tales from the Quadead Zone (1987)

Taxidermia (2006)

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

Tideland (2005)

Time Bandits (1981)

The Tin Drum (1979)

Tokyo Gore Police (2008)

El Topo (1970)

Toto the Hero [Toto le Heros] (1991)

Trash Humpers (2009)

The Tree of Life (2011)

The Trial (1962)

The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

Tromeo & Juliet (1996)

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

Upstream Color (2013)

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)

Vertigo (1958)

Videodrome (1983)

Visitor Q (2001)

Waking Life (2001)

Weekend (1967)

The Wicker Man (1973)

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Yellow Submarine (1968)

You, the Living [Du Levande] (2007)

Zardoz (1974)

BETTY BOOP, THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION: VOL 1 (2013)

Hands down, the most indispensable DVD/Blu -ray collections released in 2013 are the two volumes of the Fleischer original Betty Boop cartoons from Olive films. Betty Boop, The Essential Collections, Vols 1 & 2 (2013) are long overdue. Although Volume 1 is not perfect (more on that later), it is the best Boop collection we have seen since the eight volume Definitive Collection distributed by Republic on VHS in 1996. (Earlier this year, Legend Films released The Uncensored Betty Boop, which is exactly what it says it is: pre-Hays Code Betty, but of fairly low-grade quality).

The Definitive Collection conceptually broke the Fleischer shorts into “the Birth of Betty”  (she debuted in 1930), “pre-Code,” “Surrealism,” and “Musical Madness.” However, the collection also featured the later, watered down, post-Code Betty, complete with her Promise Keeper-styled housedress and a boyfriend (to keep her monogamously domesticated). Since Republic strove to release a complete collection, this inclusion was necessary, but it’s certainly not Betty at her best. Indeed, it is the post-Code Betty which is indirectly responsible for the bland fridge magnets and license plates we have been saturated with by companies and persons who have probably never seen Betty in in her original incarnation.

The basic rule with Betty Boop is that the shorts are best up through 1934. In Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) Betty (making her first on-screen appearance in 49 years) tells that she was ruined by color. Actually, Betty Boop was spayed and destroyed by the Legion of Decency and by Will Hays. The proof of pudding is in shorts like The Foxy Hunter (1937) from Volume One, in which Betty is anything but foxy. Stuck in a servile, matronly role, she plays second banana to man’s best friend. Her trademark garter is long gone; remnants of a past sex life. In its place is Betty, stuck in a Dan Cathy-approved dress and relegated to June Cleaver’s kitchen. (Most, if not all, the Betty shorts featuring Pudgy the dog are painful to watch, especially after seeing Betty in her prime. Fortunately, her prime makes up most of Volumes 1 & 2).

Helen Kane, Model for Betty BoopFlappers Clara Bow and Helen Kane were the primary models for Max Fleischer and animator Grim Natwick when creating Betty. Kane attempted to sue Paramount and Fleischer studios for wrongful appropriation. Her suit was unsuccessful, despite the fact that Betty was clearly modeled after Kane’s distinct baby Bronx accent, look, persona, and songs such as “I Wanna Be Loved By You” and “Boop Boop a Doop.” Four different actresses had the dual job of voicing Betty and Olive Oyl from Fleischer’s “Popeye the Sailor” cartoons: Margie Hines (who was the first, hired because she sounded like Kane), Bonnie Poe (the only one of the four who  played a live action Betty, in a 1933 “Hollywood on Parade” short opposite  as Dracula) Kate Wright (briefly and sporadically, a fill-in), and, most famously, Mae Questel (who voiced Betty the longest, from 1931 all the way to her 1988 Roger Rabbit cameo). Fleischer spotted Questel performing in a club act that mixed elements of both Bow and Kane.

It is surprising that Olive Films has not included any of Betty’s jazz-scored shorts, but this concern may be premature, since the distributor has announced these are the first of  four volumes (the next two are slated for a 2014 release). Reportedly, Olive does not plan to release any of the public domain Betty cartoons—which is odd since the company has previously released several volumes of public domain works, to well-deserved accolades.

Although the shorts have been beautifully remastered, they have not been restored, which means, yes, they still look like film stock. Considering how some of the Disney classics (most notably Pinocchio) have been digitally restored to the point of losing their visual film edge, this is probably a good thing. There are no supplemental extras, just the cartoons.

Betty Boop in "Chess Nuts"Volume One opens with Betty, already fully evolved, in Chess Nuts (1932). Betty, along with other Fleischer “Inkwell Imp” favorites, Bimbo and Koko the Clown, all literally become chess pieces to liven up a boring game played by two old geezers. Mixing a bit of live action with animation, Betty almost becomes victim to a fetishistic old King Cole. During the ensuing chaos, Betty shows a tad too much tush, but a table obligingly closes the blinds on her draft. Koko was taken out of temporary retirement to join Betty and he, like many of the early Fleischer characters, deserves a retrospective release all his own. (1928′s mind boggling Earth Control, starring Koko, is an example of Fleischer’s bizarre, unorthodox style).

Betty Boop M.D. (1932) finds Betty and Koko hawking medicine oil. Koko enlists Betty’s sex appeal to loosen the change of a financially conservative crowd. The results of Betty’s Jippo wreck havoc, of course, with no less than a cameo of Frederic March as Edward Hyde.

Betty Boop’s Bamboo Isle (1932) features Betty and Bimbo setting sail for an exotic island. Bimbo was one of the stars of Fleischer’s “Talkartoons” and would occasionally appear, as he does here, as Betty’s canine boyfriend. Due to the hints of bestiality, Bimbo would go the way of the dinosaur with the advent of the Production code. Racial stereotypes abound here, as does a semi-topless Betty engaged in a hula dance.

Betty Boop for President (1932) has Betty morphing (albeit briefly) into Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Durante as she runs for prez against Mr. Nobody. Clever lyrics (which I stole for the Hillary Clinton caricature in W The Movie) secure her win (yes, it’s a cartoon). It’s an idealized portrayal of America, in which neither left nor right are extremist loons and misogyny is a thing of the past. Under Betty’s watch, the thugs of the world get transformed by receiving a large dose of femininity (obviously, Phil Robertson’s vision of hell), everybody gets ice cream, and Prohibition is forever repealed delightfully dating the short).

Predating Jimmy Stewart’s voyeuristic Hitchcock protagonist, Bimbo and Koko get an eyeful of Betty bathing (shades of the biblical King David) in Betty Boop’s Penthouse (1933). Our inkwell imps rush to save her from a would-be rapist modeled on ‘s Frankenstein’s monster. Al Jolson’s “Mammy” characterization makes a cringe-inducing cameo.

We are invited to a triptych of 1933 Boop-styled parties with Betty’s Birthday Party, Betty’s May Party, and Betty’s Halloween Party. Predictably, the best is saved for the All Hallow’s Eve get together, with King Kong himself crashing the proceedings in his attempt to ravage our heroine.

Max and Dave Fleischer appear in Betty’s Rise to Fame (1934). She pays homage to Fanny Brice, pulls a Victor/Victoria for Maurice Chevalier, and arouses Dave’s pen. Cab Callow voices the Old Man On The Mountain and joins Betty in a little “Hi De Ho.”

Betty Boop’s Trial (1934) features a male cast of raging libidos as Betty is tried for resisting an officer.

The androgynous Freddy is Betty Boop’s Life Guard (1934). He can’t save Betty from her poor swimming skills, which transform her into a mermaid.

Volume One ends depressingly, with Betty’s boop-oop-a-doop stolen in the aforementioned Foxy Hunter.

Next week, Volume 2.

 

 

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