Category Archives: Free Online Weird Movies

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 4/11/2018

Our weekly look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs and Blu-rays (and hot off the server VODs), and on more distant horizons…

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

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

Sign Gene (2017): Like the X-Men, but all the mutants are deaf and get their superpowers through using sign language. A Deafula for our times? No word if it comes with subtitles for the hearing. Sign Gene official site.

CERTIFIED WEIRD (AND OTHER) REPERTORY SCREENINGS:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). We won’t list all the screenings of this audience-participation classic separately. You can use this page to find a screening near you.

FREE MOVIES ON TUBI.TV:

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002): Read the Certified Weird review. Elvis and the black JFK fight a mummy who’s infiltrated their retirement home. You read that right. Watch Bubba Ho-Tep free on Tubi.TV.

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 4/6/2018

Our weekly look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs and Blu-rays (and hot off the server VODs), and on more distant horizons…

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

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

The Endless (2017): Read Giles Edwards’ review and ‘s festival hit about brothers returning to a UFO cult gets a limited release from Well Go. The Endless official Facebook page.

Lowlife (2017): Read Giles Edwards’ review. Giles described this interlocking story about Los Angeles lowlifes (including a luchador) as “Pulp Fiction with cajones” and hyped it early enough that IFC Midnight mentioned us in their Twitter promos. Lowlife at IFC Films.

FILM FESTIVALS – Pittsburgh Japanese Film Festival (Pittsburgh, PA, Apr. 6-19):

There aren’t a lot of new releases debuting here, but you can catch at least one film of recent interest: ‘s deconstructed pink movie, Antiporno. Other cool viewings include the rock and roll zombie apaocalypse cult movie Wild Zero, the intriguing sub-weird anime Your Name, and a pair of classic samurai flicks: Yojimbo (1961) (the basis for Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars) and its sequel Sanjuro (1961). Add a screening of the original Godzilla and cap it all off with  tentacle-porn pioneer Urotsukidoji: The Legend of the Overfiend and you can scrape together quite a week of Japanese oddness.

Pittsburgh Japanese Film Festival home page.

FILM FESTIVALS – San Francisco International Film Festival (Sam Francisco, ,CPA, Apr. 4-17):

The much-anticipated Sorry to Bother You is the “centerpiece” film in a festival that also features a  lecture (though he’s not bringing along his latest film, The Velvet Fog, unless it’s the “secret screening”), There are also a few familiar fest names, like the African-set magical realism of I Am Not a Witch, Denmark’s bleak Winter Brothers, and the Cannes alien comedy flop How to Talk to Girls at Parties (with director and writer dropping by to explain it). Here are some newbies we spotted:

  • Cacrcasse – Without context, people are seen puttering around ruins raising livestock; it’s possibly a post-apocalyptic scenario… From Iceland and screening Apr. 15,
  • “A Celebration of Oddball Films with Marc Capelle’s Red Rook Orchestra” – An avant-garde orchestra plays danceable tunes to accompany a series of industrial shorts and other odd ephemeral films. Happening Apr. 9.
  • “Deep Astronomy and the Romantic Sciences” – ‘s one-man show and performance art piece where he pretends to be a singing motivational speaker touting New Age philosophies. See it Friday, Apr. 13.
  • Godard, Mon Amour– Bopic of ‘s tempestuous affair with hi leading actress while filming La Chinoise. Not weird, but of interest to Godardists (who might be offended, or not, by the aurteur’s portrayal as an egotist.) Screens Arp 14-15.

IN DEVELOPMENT (post-production):

The Man Who Killed Don Qioxite (2018?): An advertising executive (Adam Driver) is cast back in time and meets a man claiming to be Don Quixoite (, taking over the role from the late). ‘s 20-year struggle to bring this story to the big screen has been the stiff of Quixotic legend, even inspiring the 2002 documentary Lost in La Mancha, and the journey may not even be over yet: an investor (who never provided any funds) is suing to stop the release, according the the Playlist. Sometimes it seems like Gilliam’s Quixote must be the longest running publicity stunt in the history of film. But we do finally have a trailer, so the majority of windmills have been tilted.

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

Like Me (2017): A teen girl sets out on a crime spree which she broadcasts on social media. Produced by indie horror champion (who also co-stars); Variety calls it “a uniquely weird take on loneliness and lunacy.” On Blu-ray, DVD or VOD. Buy Like Me.

CERTIFIED WEIRD (AND OTHER) REPERTORY SCREENINGS:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). We won’t list all the screenings of this audience-participation classic separately. You can use this page to find a screening near you.

MISCELLANEOUS (Summer Camp):

is hosting his second annual summer camp for adults at Camp Getaway in Kent, CT. Besides screenings of his puke classicks, attendees can expect to participate in sports, outdoor activities, yoga, massages, Improv, beer pong, and scotch and cigar sessions. Camp counselors? and Traci Lords, of course. Unfortunately, it soens’t look like registration is open yet for the Sep. 14-6 date on the Club Getaway site, but we expect it to sell out fast.

FREE (LEGITIMATE RELEASE) MOVIES ON YOUTUBE:

Romance Bizzaro (2018): This twenty-minute two-hander comes from the twisted mind of , so you know it’ll be weird. A wheelchair-bound man and a younger woman meet for a secret tryst, but a revelation puts their affair into a context that makes it seem less sleazy—or perhaps much, much sleazier. Contains adult situations and brief bad language. Watch Romance Bizarro 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.

326. THE BLOOD OF A POET (1930)

Le sang d’un poète

“The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink.”–T.S. Eliot

RecommendedWeirdest!

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: Enrique Rivero, Elizabeth Lee Miller

PLOT: A man sketches a face on a canvas; when he sees the mouth he has drawn beginning to move, he smudges it out, but finds that the orifice has affixed itself to his hand. He eventually gets rid of it by wiping it onto the face of a statue; the statue comes to life and sends him through a mirror into a strange hotel where he spies on surreal scenarios through keyholes. Returning through the mirror, he smashes the statue, is transformed into one himself, then finds himself playing a card game and shoots himself in the head when he realizes he cannot win.

Blood of a Poet (1930)

BACKGROUND:

  • Jean Cocteau was already an established playwright, artist and novelist before creating this, his first film.
  • Le sang d’un poète was financed by Vicomte Charles de Noailles, who also produced L’Age d’Or. They were both filmed in 1930, but first public screening of Blood of a Poet was delayed for over a year until the scandal caused by ‘s sacrilegious film had died down. (This history explains why the Blood of a Poet‘s date is sometimes given as 1930, its date of production, and sometimes 1932, based on when it was first screened.)
  • De Noailles and his wife and friends originally appeared in the film as members of the audience, but they did not know what they were supposed to be reacting to. When the Vicomte discovered they were applauding a suicide he demanded the scene be cut. Cocteau re-shot it with a different audience composed of his friends, among whom was the female impersonator and acrobat Barbette, an underground Parisian celebrity.
  • Elizabeth Lee Miller, who plays the statue, was the student and lover of Surrealist artist Man Ray. She later became a successful photographer in her own right and never again appeared onscreen.
  • Blood of a Poet is the first in Cocteau’s loose “Orphic” trilogy, followed by Orpheus (1950) and concluding with The Testament of Orpheus (1960).

INDELIBLE IMAGE: Cocteau recommended that we view his movie as if it were an enigmatic painting, which leaves us with a plethora of surrealistic frames to consider. We picked a particularly bizarre composition: the “desperate hermaphrodite” in Room 23. The scene begins with a chaise lounge with a spinning hypno-wheel, and with a periodic drum roll new elements are added: a pancake makeup face, line-drawn breasts, a white fright wig, stars and various pieces of clothing strewn about the scene. In a final gesture he/she pulls off a black cloth to reveal the words “danger de mort” (“danger of death”) labeling his/her crotch region.

THREE WEIRD THINGS: Collapsing tower; hand mouth; desperate hermaphrodite

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Blood of a Poet is Jean Cocteau’s initial attempt to translate poetry—or rather to place one inside the trancelike state enjoyed and suffered by the poet—on film. Simultaneously quaint and avant-garde, it’s raw, primitive opium-dream weirdness; pioneering in its day, but still capable of startling today’s viewers with its irrational exhuberances.


Trailer for The Blood of a Poet made for a 2010 screening with a new score by DJ Spooky

COMMENTS: Jean Cocteau denied making a Surrealist film as vehemently as René Magritte denied painting a pipe. (“It is often said that Continue reading 326. THE BLOOD OF A POET (1930)

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 3/23/2018

Our weekly look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs and Blu-rays (and hot off the server VODs), and on more distant horizons…

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

IN DEVELOPMENT (in production):

The Missing Films: Documentary about two-time Certified Weird director , with footage shot by his collaborators as he worked on his latest, the serial killer story The House That Jack Built. Preliminary footage was shown at a Danish industry forum, to positive buzz. Read more at Screen Daily.

Unicorn Wars: Birdboy is barely out, and is already at work on his next feature film, which will be an expansion of his short “Unicorn Blood,” about a bloody fantasy war between unicorns and teddy bears. We’re adorably excited. Watch “Unicorn Blood” again and get excited too.

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

Ichi the Killer (2001): A masochistic yakuza hitman discovers a mysterious sadist while searching for his latest target in this ultraviolent hit from . In our reader-suggested review queue, and now on Blu-ray in a remastered, uncut and “definitive” release from Arrow Academy. Buy Ichi the Killer.

Images (1972): A pregnant children’s author goes insane while wondering if her husband is having an affair in this pyschodrama from ‘s brief 1970s “weird” period. Arrow Academy’s restored Blu-ray is full of the usual extensive extras, including an expert commentary track. Buy Images.

Paradox (2018): The Man in the Black Hat hides out with Jail Time and the Particle Kid in this western/musical/fantasy starring and directed by—Daryl Hannah?? A quick turnaround from its March debut at SWSX film festival to an exclusive Netflix contract (it is also screening a few dates in New York and Chicago).

Welcome the Stranger (2018): Alice visits her estranged brother, his strange girlfriend shows up, hallucinations ensue. Direct to video-on-demand is the new direct-to-video. Buy or rent Welcome the Stranger on-demand.

CERTIFIED WEIRD (AND OTHER) REPERTORY SCREENINGS:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). We won’t list all the screenings of this audience-participation classic separately. You can use this page to find a screening near you.

YOU LINK US! YOU REALLY LINK US!:

366 WEIRD MOVIES: Alfred Eaker’s Fringe Cinema: Val Santos has added to his Letterboxd guide to 366 Weird Movies.

Miracles for Sale: David Kalat cited Alfred Eaker‘s Miracles for Sale article as a source for his latest essay for Turner Classic Movies (the classic will be featured on the channel in May). Unfortunately, he misspelled Alfred’s last name and forgot to make the link clickable. This is how you do it, guys.

FREE MOVIES ON TUBI.TV:

Wild at Heart (1990): Read the Certified Weird entry! It’s weird on top. Watch Wild at Heart free on Tubi.TV.

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 3/9/2018

Our weekly look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs and Blu-rays (and hot off the server VODs), and on more distant horizons…

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

FILM FESTIVALS – SWSX (Austin, TX, Mar. 9-17):

If you can’t get your indie film into Sundance, the massive SXSW festival in Austin, Texas is your next best bet. With the continued mainstreaming of Sundance, and the increasingly homogenized “indie” product spotlighted there, if your movie’s a bit on the weirder side, SWSX may even be a better fit. There are a few repeats from other festivals, such as s rock opera Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc and the alternate-reality telemarketing satire Sorry to Bother You, but here are some of this year’s weirder-looking “new to us” offerings:

  • Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story – The true story behind the giant-headed performance artist responsible for the character depicted in Frank. Screens Mar 13, 14 & 17.
  • The Field Guide to Evil – An anthology horror film, so who knows? But it features directors who’ve gone weird in the past like , and . Screening near midnight on Mar 11, 12 & 16.
  • Paradox– The Man in the Black Hat hides out with Jail Time and the Particle Kid in this western/musical/fantasy starring and directed by—Daryl Hannah?? Screens Mar. 15 only.
  • Perfect – Set in a “vaguely science fictional world,” a boy uses implants to seek perfection; executive produced by and Flying Lotus. Mar 11, 13 & 15.

SWSX home page.

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy (1968): Read the Certified Weird review! Jane Fonda tramps across a campy universe; this new Paramount release is not remastered or filled with extras, but does come in the popular steelbox format. In a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. Buy Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy.

Donnie Darko (2001): Read the Certified Weird review! With two editions in 2017 and one (so far) this year, it seems like we’re announcing a new Special/Limited/Definitive release of Donnie Darko every six months. Are we caught in some kind of time loop? On Blu-ray via Arrow Video. Buy Donnie Darko [Special Edition].

CERTIFIED WEIRD (AND OTHER) REPERTORY SCREENINGS:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). We won’t list all the screenings of this audience-participation classic separately. You can use this page to find a screening near you.

FREE (LEGITIMATE RELEASE) MOVIES ON TUBI.TV:

Dogville (2003): Read the Certified Weird entry! ‘s anti-American, perverted version of “Our Town,” on a minimalist set with no walls and sex slaves. Listed as “leaving soon.” Watch Dogville free on Tubi.TV.

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.

321. A PAGE OF MADNESS (1926)

Kurutta ippêji

“Things are not what they seem; nor are they otherwise.”–Shurangama Sutra

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Teinosuke Kinugasa

FEATURING: Masuo Inoue, Yoshie Nakagawa

PLOT: A man takes a job as a janitor in a mental asylum in 1920s Japan to be closer to his institutionalized wife. He is occasionally visited by his daughter, whose marriage he opposes. One night he attempts to escape the hospital with his wife, but she does not appear to recognize him and is reluctant to leave her cell.

Still from A Page of Madness (1926)

BACKGROUND:

  • A Page of Madness was co-written by future Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata, who later published it as a short story. Kawabata was a major figure in Shinkankakuha, a Japanese literary movement influenced by the European avant-garde. (It should be noted that at least one scholar questions Kawabata’s actual contribution to the script, suggesting he should only be credited for “original story”).
  • Some experts suggest the title met better be translated from the Japanese as “A Page Out of Order,” a pun on the fragmented narrative.
  • Director Teinosuke Kinugasa began his theatrical career as an onnagata, an actor who specialized in playing female roles at a time when women were not allowed to be public performers.
  • Kinugasa financed the film himself. Star Masuo Inoue donated his acting services for free.
  • Like most Japanese silent films, A Page of Madness would have originally been screened with a live benshi (narrator), who would explain plot points that weren’t obvious to the spectators, and might even offer his own interpretations of the director’s vision. No recordings or other records of a benshi’s thoughts on Page of Madness exist.
  •  Kinugasa was credited with 34 films before this, all of which are lost. His long and storied career was highlighted by 1953 samurai drama Gate of Hell (which won the Palme D’Or and an Oscar).
  • The only copy of A Page of Madness was thought to have been lost in a fire in 1950; a surviving negative was discovered in 1971. A 2007 restoration added an additional 19 minutes of rediscovered footage.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: The smiling Noh masks the janitor places over the faces of the inmates of the asylum, a sight both strange and touching.

THREE WEIRD THINGS: Crazy cell dancer; madwoman cam;  asylum masquerade

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Do you think today’s Japanese films are “weird”? Are you grateful for that fact? Then take a trip back in this time capsule to the great-granddaddy of Japanese weirdness with this survey of vintage insanity, the Rising Sun’s first attempt to translate the European avant-garde into its own idiom. Japan takes to Surrealism like a squid takes to playing a piano.


Blu-ray trailer for A Page of Madness (and Portrait of a Young Man)

COMMENTS: There’s little question that A Page of Madness is more Continue reading 321. A PAGE OF MADNESS (1926)

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 2/2/2018

Our weekly look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs and Blu-rays (and hot off the server VODs), and on more distant horizons…

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

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

Gothic (1986): Read the Certified Weird entry! Ken Russell‘s laudanum dream about the night Mary Shelley conceived “Frankenstein” has never had a respecable home video release—until now. On Blu-ray or VOD. Buy Gothic.

Jamón, Jamón (1992): A mother hires an aspiring underwear model to seduce her son’s fiance. Sexy, surreal, and one of the first films for future stars and Javier Bardem. DVD and/or Blu-ray. Buy Jamón, Jamón.

Napping Princess (2017): In the near future a student discovers that the secret to freeing her arrested father may lie in her dreams of a science fantasy kingdom. Light, whimsical dream anime on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD. Buy Napping Princess.

CERTIFIED WEIRD (AND OTHER) REPERTORY SCREENINGS:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). We won’t list all the screenings of this audience-participation classic separately. You can use this page to find a screening near you.

NEPOTISM CORNER:

INTERVIEWTF WITH G. SMALLEY (366 WEIRD MOVIES): A random website randomly interviewed 366 Weird Movies’ own G. Smalley on random topics. Read the madness here.

Ten Outstanding Weird Movies You’ve Probably Never Heard Of: You have almost certainly heard of all these, but for novices 366’s “Penguin” Pete Trbovich published a list of ten “lesser known” weird movies (all featured on this website) on Imgur. See his choices here.

YOU LINK US! YOU REALLY LINK US!:

The Apple (1980) < Catherine Mary Stewart: Catherine Mary Stewart’s official site considers us one of only three notable resources (along with the IMDB and the Projection Booth’s podcast) for info on The Apple. Proud to be of service!

Letterboxd Guide to 366 Weird Movies: Superfan Val Santos compiled this list of Certified Weird films on the popular social movie site, and went above and beyond by creating guides to our List Candidates, capsule reviews and even the suggestion queue. Wow!

FREE MOVIES ON TUBITV:

Millennium Actress (2001): Read the Certified Weird entry! As we mentioned in our review, ‘s sophomore picture—a mixed-up anime biopic of a fictional Japanese actress—turns up from time to time streaming on free services. Right now, it’s upstart TubiTV’s turn. With minimal commercial interruptions. Watch Millennium Actress free on TubiTV.

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.

313. KIN-DZA-DZA! (1986)

“Koo! Koo!”–Kin-Dza-Dza

DIRECTED BY: Georgiy Daneliya

FEATURING: Stanislav Lyubshin, Levan Gabriadze, Evegeni Leonov, Yuri Yakovlev

PLOT: A construction foreman and a student meet a man on the Moscow streets who claims to be from another planet; humoring him, they use his “traveler” and are transported to the desert planet of Pluk. There, they meet a pair of aliens who only speak the words “koo!” (until they figure out how to translate the human’s language via telepathy). The aliens are amazed by the earthling’s matchsticks, which contain chemicals that are very valuable on Pluk, and barter to return them to Earth in exchange for boxes of matches—but can they be trusted?

Still from Kin Dza Dza (1986)

BACKGROUND:

  • Kin-Dza-Dza was a minor flop when released in Soviet theaters in the winter of 1986, but later became a cult hit when it was split into two parts and shown on television.
  • The movie was virtually unknown outside of the former Soviet Union for many years, only available here in rare dubbed VHS copies until an (almost equally rare) 2005 Russico DVD release.
  • In 2013, original director and co-writer Georgiy Daneliya remade Kin Dza-Dza as an animated children’s movie.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: The first appearance of Uef and Be, who arrive on scene in what’s best described as a flying junk bucket. Be emerges in a makeshift cage, squats with his palms facing forward, and says, “koo!” Uef takes two metal globes and places them on the ground flanking his craft. He also says “koo!” Our two Muscovite travelers are nonplussed.

THREE WEIRD THINGS: Koo-based linguistics; Patsak nose bells; alien/Russian Sinatra karaoke

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: This absurdist science fiction satire was deliberately odd from its inception. Today, since the vanished Soviet Union is almost as strange a world as the desert planet Pluk, Kin-Dza-Dza has become a movie about one alien culture lost inside another.


Unofficial Hollywood-style trailer for Kin-Dza-Dza

COMMENTS: You can describe the plot of Kin-Dza-Dza in detail Continue reading 313. KIN-DZA-DZA! (1986)

311. SANTA CLAUS (1959)

AKA Santa Claus vs. the Devil

“Be off, my reindeer, and fly through the heavens as fast as you can go. May my palace of gold and crystal enjoy peace, and Jesus, the Son of God, join us on Earth so that we can all have joy and goodwill.” – Santa Claus

“This is weird theology.” Crow T. Robot,Mystery Science Theater 3000, Episode 521″

DIRECTED BY: René Cardona,  [as Ken Smith]

FEATURING: José Elias Moreno, José Luis Aguirre ‘Trotsky’, Lupita Quezadas

PLOT: From his outpost on a cloud high above the North Pole, Santa Claus attempts to fend off the demon Pitch’s schemes to poison the minds of the world’s children against him. Santa spends Christmas Eve sidestepping Pitch’s attempts to derail his rounds. With the help of the wizard Merlin, a collection of child laborers from around the world, and a team of nightmare-inducing wind-up papier-mâché reindeer, he fights to win back the soul of a poor little girl who badly wants a doll.

Still from Santa Claus (1959)

BACKGROUND:

  • Winner of the Golden Gate Award for Best International Family Film at the 1959 San Francisco International Film Festival.
  • Cardona’s remarkably prolific career (he helmed more than 100 films) ranged from literary adaptations to genre classics such as Night of the Bloody Apes and Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy.
  • Produced in Mexico, the film was purchased by American K. Gordon Murray, the so-called “King of the Kiddie Matinee,” who found financial success re-editing and dubbing foreign children’s films into English and releasing them to an American public starved for something to do with their kids.
  • Murray turned a profit through a careful schedule of limited releases, which artificially manipulated the supply and demand, turning screenings into scarce opportunities. The high density of holiday television broadcasts also added to the film’s coffers.
  • Featured in season 5 of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” Years later, Rifftrax–featuring Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy from the MST3K installment––took its own shot at the film.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: So many to choose from (as you will see in a moment), but the vision I find most difficult to shake is Father Christmas monitoring his acolytes on Earth through the phantasmagoria of eavesdropping devices that make up his Magic Observatory, including an ear attached to an oscillating fan, an eye on an accordion tube, and a pair of very disturbing giant lips.

THREE WEIRD THINGS  Parade of child nations; Santa’s lip machine; cackling clockwork caribou

FIVE MORE WEIRD THINGS (to make 8 for Hanukkah): Interpretive dance from Hell; boxed parents; dream doll ballet; Santa’s rearguard assault; the Cocktail of Remembrance

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Santa Claus seems the results of a cross-border game of telephone: the basics of Santa’s mythology are all there, but the end product is something wholly different and unusual. The attempt to infuse an essentially commercial construct with deeply held moral codes produces a strange sort of alchemy, generating earnest feelings within a deeply unsettling presentation.


English-language trailer for Santa Claus (1959)

COMMENTS: Look, Santa Claus is weird. The guy, I mean. A preternaturally jolly man with a fortress hidden away in the farthest Continue reading 311. SANTA CLAUS (1959)

301. FANTASY MISSION FORCE (1983)

Recommended

Mi ni te gong dui; AKA Dragon Attack

“If it sounds ridiculous, that’s only because it was.”– Jackie Chan on Fantasy Mission Force (quoted in Keith Bailey, “The Unknown Movies”)

DIRECTED BY: Yen-Ping Chu

FEATURING: Jackie Chan, Brigitte Lin, Yu Wang (Jimmy Wang Yu), Yueh Sun, David Tao, Jin Fang, Shiu Bu Lia, Ling Chang

PLOT: Four Allied generals have been captured by the Japanese. Mercenary Don Wen is hired to liberate them, and recruits a team which includes “Old Sun,” escape artist “Greased Lightning,” two kilt-wearing soldiers, con man Billy, and Lilly, Billy’s bazooka-toting on-and-off girlfriend who tags along when she hears about the cash reward. Tailed by rogues Sammy and Emily, the team encounters Amazons and a haunted house on their way to a surprisingly bloody showdown with the kidnappers.

Still from Fantasy Mission Force (1983)

BACKGROUND:

  • Director Yen-Ping Chu (sometimes credited as “Lawrence Full” or “Kevin Chu”) is the director of sixty-five (mostly kung fu and comedy) films; this is his only effort which is marginally well-known in the West.
  • According to persistent but unconfirmed rumors, a Triad-connected movie mogul ordered a hit on Jackie Chan when he decided to change studios. Jimmy Wang Yu intervened to settle the dispute, and as part of the deal Chan agreed to lend his growing star power to two of Wang’s movies (this being one).

INDELIBLE IMAGE: An ambush by ribbon-shooting ninjas? Bloody ghost hands waving wads of toilet paper? Assault of the Road Warrior-Japanese-punk Nazis? Your opinion on this one is as good as ours, and it’s likely to change many times during the movie as some new amazement pops up. We’ll just go with any shot of the assembled team: Old Sun in his top hat, Brigitte Lin in black leather with a bazooka, Billy in his white suit and Elvis sideburns, the kilt-wearing pair of misfits… as weird a group ever formed to fight an anachronistic battle against fascist kidnappers somewhere in Canada, Luxembourg, or Taiwan.

THREE WEIRD THINGS: Scottish/Chinese mercenaries; toilet paper ghosts; Japanese Nazis in Chevys

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Packed with kung fu, shootouts, flying ninjas, hopping vampires, and slapstick comedy reminiscent of Benny Hill, Fantasy Mission Force is one of the only commercial entertainments ever released where you can honestly say you have no idea what will happen next. It’s a pulp surrealism masterpiece, set in a previously undiscovered movie universe at the conjunction of the Shaw Brothers, , and the Three Stooges.


Original Cantonese trailer for Fantasy Mission Force

COMMENTS: Although some reviewers are reluctant to discuss the Continue reading 301. FANTASY MISSION FORCE (1983)