DIRECTED BY: Danny Perez
FEATURING: The music of Animal Collective and a bunch of unknown actors.
PLOT: Zilch. ODDSAC is completely without narrative, or much coherence. The only line of
dialogue is, “Yeah, he hates chocolate. He hates everything but green beans,” spoken by a young girl with a southern drawl. Oh, and there is a vampire.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: While it is certainly one of the weirdest pieces of film-making I’ve encountered in awhile, it is not a movie. It is an extended performance art video piece for a new, unreleased Animal Collective album. Although it has some very cool visuals and the weirdness never lets up during the 52 minute running time, I say the art form of music videos should be separate from a list of the best 366 weird movies of all time.
COMMENTS: If you are familiar with the oddball musical stylings of Animal Collective, you would expect a visual album from these guys to be an “out-there” extravaganza. Well… it is. The film is a barrage of acid-fueled, kaleidoscopic visuals that may melt your retinas if you stare too long. Like the band’s music, ODDSAC does not follow conventional structure in its visual montages. At times, it is reminiscent of the experimental art films painstakingly crafted by Stan Brakhage in the early 1960’s. Whereas Brakhage was a pioneer in the experimental film field, Danny Perez is just really good at quick-cut editing and manipulating his visuals into a trippy panorama. At an open-discussion forum after the screening of the film in Los Angeles, Perez and the Collective gang mentioned the influence of John Carpenter’s Halloween. Say what?!? There are elements of horror interspersed with the craziness, but I don’t see any connection to a straight-forward slasher film.
The film is divided into 13 chapters. Each segment features a different song, so essentially it is 13 music videos. The first segment sets a tone of darkness and dread with the creepy song “Mr. Fingers,” which writhes its way around images of a towel-headed man with a red-painted face. Ropes of fire rhythmically swing around him, brightly lighting the pitch black sky. Elsewhere, a young woman claws into a wall, only to be immersed in a stream of oil that starts as a seeping leak, but turns into a flood. The scene feels foreboding and the song sounds warped. So far, we’re off to a good start.
Recurring images and characters are strewn in the mix. The man with the paint-caked face shows his mug several times. A bearded weirdo pops in occasionally, looking angry and twirling a rope. In the third segment, the bearded fellow is seen washing “satin orbs” in a creek. I know this because the chapter is called “Satin Orb Wash”. Without this information, I would have guessed he was washing slimy bald coconuts. The other frequent character is the vampire, who becomes a central figure towards the end of the film. He looks an awful lot like Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Nature plays a prominent role in these montages. Much of the action takes place outdoors amongst creeks, lakes, woods and craggy landscapes. Animal Collective are modern day hippies, with an emphasis on the hip. Their music can be pretty or even pastoral, but more often than not it will segue into a harsh or tribal beat pattern. This sounds cool at times, repetitive and annoying at others. A perfect example of the latter is the 6th chapter entitled “Urban Creme”; it’s the least effective segment visually, and the “song” is an awful, atonal drone that sounds similar to Pink Floyd’s “On The Run,” except much less listenable.
Now, about that vampire character. He is first seen rowing a canoe towards a wooded area. His prey is a family of four on a camping excursion. The family is having a grand old time around a campfire, roasting marshmallows. Things seem blissful enough until (inexplicably) the marshmallows expand in their mouths, choking them and spreading puffy stickiness all over their faces. If that isn’t bad enough, now they have a vampire chomping at their necks. This chapter, “Fried Camp,” ends abruptly and segues into the next, “Fried Vamp.” Apparently, the bloodsucker didn’t think too far ahead. Now he is in the middle of nowhere and the sun is rising. With nowhere to run, his demise is inevitable as the sun begins to burn his flesh. The disintegration starts with bright red smoke as his face begins to bubble and melt. Next thing you know, blue blood is streaming down his white face. It all looks like some bizarre vampiric clown death. I love it.
This so-called horror element takes a backseat to the trippy rainbow swirls of color that are the heart of the project. Actually, I should rephrase that to say acid-fried brain of the project. I’m not going to say I condone the usage of illicit drugs, but they can inspire some damn fine art. Take the Beatles, for example; even the most upright and prudish of people can’t deny the brilliant quality of their music once drugs came into play. Anyway, even if this film was made for drug users to enjoy, it is still a recommended trip to take sober. Beautiful weird psychedelia. Amen.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
Trailer for ODDSAC