Category Archives: Miscellanea

WHAT WAS THAT WEIRD MOVIE?

Here’s the latest request:

“Impossible request here. When I was 4 or 5, I got up from bed and walked into the living room where my parents were watching a late night movie. It was a horror sci-fi piece of some sort. All I remember is a dog walking towards the camera and when it got near I realized it had a human head. That scene must have made quite an impression because I still remember it today. So… pre-1984 sci-fi/horror, mutant dog with human head. It’s not much of a description, but do you have any clues?”

At first I thought it might be John Carpenter’s THE THING, but the helpful folks at badmovies.org came up with a better idea–the 1978 remake of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS:

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 7/4/09

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):

Tony Manero (2008):  A Chilean black comedy, set during the Pinochet dictatorship, about a lowlife thug and murderer who’s obsessed with the Manero character from John Tavolta’s Saturday Night FeverThe London Times calls it “wonderfully bizarre.”  Tony Manero official site (Spanish).

NEW ON DVD:

Dark Streets (2008): A noirish musical fantasy set in 1930s New Orleans. With a soundtrack featuring Natalie Cole, Etta James, Dr. John, Richie Sambora, and co-star Bijou Phillips, it’s almost certain to sound good, if nothing else. Buy from Amazon.

Hide (2008): Described by the producers as “Tarantino meets Bonnie and Clyde,” this indie action flick apparently has a twist ending that has baffled many viewers. Starring Rachel Miner and Christian Kane. Buy from Amazon.

Tokyo! (2008):  A suite of three fantastic, surreal short stories directed by three different international directors (Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Joon-Ho Bong), all set in Tokyo.  Not surprisingly, the stories appear to focus on the theme of urban alienation.  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.

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 6/26/09

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):

Surveillance (2008):  Psychological thriller from Jennifer (Boxing Helena, daughter of David) Lynch in which FBI agents try to solve a string of grisly killings with the help of three witnesses who tell conflicting stories.  Has divided critics over its brutality and perversity, as well as its twist ending.  With Bill Pullman and Julia Ormand.  Playing New York and L.A. only, with future dates throughout California and Denver, Co. Surveillance Official Site.

NEW ON DVD:

Diary of a Suicide [Le journal d’un suicidé] (1973): There’s little information available on this (perhaps justifiably) overlooked French anthology movie about a man on a cruise challenged to tell tall tales by a mysterious translator. It’s likely being released now to coincide with Last Year at Marienbad (see below), because Suicide also stars Delphine Seyrig.  Buy from Amazon.

Karl May (1974): Hans-Jürgen Syberberg picture with an intriguing Kafkaesque premise: in Nazi Germany, Karl May (a real-life writer of potboiler Westerns for German audiences) is put on trial on suspicion that he is a character from one of his novels.  Seldom seen.   Buy from Amazon.

Last Year at Marienbad [L’année dernière à Marienbad] (1961):  Alain Resnais dreamlike classic (written with Alain Robbe-Grillet) about a nameless Man who waits for a year to run away with a nameless Woman–only to find out that she does not remember meeting him when the time comes to reunite–has been shamefully out of print for what seems like forever.  The Criterion collection again rides to the rescue with a two disc edition.  A major, major event in weirdness.   Buy from Amazon.  Also available on Blu-Ray.

Phoebe in Wonderland (2008): This well-acted, tearjerking indie drama about an obsessive/compulsive little girl isn’t exactly weird, although it does contain a several fantasy sequences inspired by Alice in Wonderland.  Most importantly, it’s been reviewed in these pages.   Buy from Amazon.

Waltz with Bashir (2008):  Genre-crossing, partially fictionalized Israeli animated documentary on the 1982 Shabra and Shatila massacres and the amnesia of states contains some wonderfully surreal passages on the absurdity of war.  This was one of the best films of 2008, and damn weird to boot; it should be reviewed on these pages in the future. 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.

366 WEIRD MOVIES ON FACEBOOK

Sorry there’s no new review today… sometimes regular ordinary life interferes with our enjoyment of weird movies.

In other news, 366 Weird Movies now has its own Facebook page.  What does this mean to you?  We have no idea.  We’re not even sure what it means for us.  Nonetheless, there it is.

Also note our new, totally public domain, updated logo:

366logo-copy

We’re working on a review of Tarkovsky’s excellent and very beautiful Nostalghia; it will probably be added to the List on Monday of next week. There will be a capsule review tomorrow, and the second part of Alfred Eaker’s report on “Avant Opera” is scheduled for Thursday.  Stay tuned!

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 6/19/09

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):

$9.99: A Claymation feature about a young unemployed man’s search for the Meaning of Life through the wisdom to be found in a booklet on the subject, priced at an affordable $9.99.  From an Etgar Keret short story, with voices provided by Geoffrey Rush and Anthony LaPaglia.  We mentioned this one way back in January, and it’s finally getting a US release.    $9.99 Official Site.

Dead Snow [Død snø]: A gory Nazi-zombie horror comedy from Norway.  We’re unsure there’s much traction (or weirdness) left in the gore zom-com genre, but some horror fans may want to check it out as a bloody alternative to Drag Me to HellDød snø Official Site (in Norwegian).

NEW ON DVD:

Bergman Island (Criterion Collection) (2004):  Released in conjunction with the Criterion edition of The Seventh Seal (see below), this is a series of interviews with late, reclusive, and oft-weird director Ingmar Bergman. Buy from Amazon.

Rifftrax: Carnival of Souls (2009): Mystery Science Theater alums riff on the low-budget weird creepfest Carnival of Souls.  We’ve got a sense of humor, so we don’t object to them making fun of a classic film–as long as they make it funny. Buy from Amazon.

The Seventh Seal [Det sjunde inseglet] (Criterion Collection edition) (1957): Ingmar Bergman’s classic, which features the iconic chess match between a knight and Death, receives the Criterion Collection 2-disc treatment. A major, major release. Buy from Amazon.

What’s Up Tiger Lilly? (1966):  Woody Allen‘s debut feature was an effectively absurd comic experiment: he took a crappy Japanese secret agent movie and re-dubbed it so that the action revolves around finding an egg salad recipe. Buy from Amazon.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964):  The classic black comedy, with outstanding performances by Peter Sellers (in three roles) and George C. Scott (who steals every scene he’s in).  Not very weird, but an indisputable classic by a director (Stanley Kubrick) who knew how to amp up the weird when necessary (2001: A Space Odyssey). 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.

NEW CATEGORY: BORDERLINE WEIRD

Every now and then, we run into a film that is pretty damn weird, but may not be strange enough to be among the 366 weirdest movies of all time.  Then again, it may be.  Sometimes, after reflection, we find that images from certain movies return to haunt our memory weeks or months after we dismissed them.  Sometimes, weeks later we can’t figure out what we were thinking when we left a picture off the list.

It became clear with our most recent review (Stay, 2005) that there is a need to make an official new category for movies that could make the list eventually, but we weren’t sure about just yet.  The new borderline weird category is a holding pen for movies that impressed us, but weren’t strong enough to immediately seize their place on the list of 366.  These are movies that may well get their chance to make the list in the future, after they’ve fermented in our minds for a while.

The initial movies comprising this category are:

Adaptation (2002):  Great movie, but we initially thought it was too much of an academic exercise to count as weird.

Elevator Movie (2004):  This low-budget, minimalist story of two people trapped in an mysterious elevator for months on end is the prime example of the “What were we thinking when we left this off the list?” reaction.

Girl Slaves of Morgana le Fay [Morgane et Ses Nymphes] (1971):  Probably the weirdest softcore lesbian sex film ever made, but its too languid in creating its trancelike atmosphere, and the sex scenes overwhelm the weird scenes.

House of 1000 Corpses (2003):   Definitely weird, but annoyingly weird.  Possible choice to fill in slots 365 or 366 if every other candidate fails.

Kung Fu Arts [Hou Fu Ma] (1980):  This monkey kung-fu fantasy is indeed weird, but we left it off on the theory that if we allowed one Shaw Brothers chopsocky film on the list, we’d have to let them all on, and there wouldn’t be room for anything else.

Nowhere (1997):  Weird, but also very bad and juvenile.  Maybe we were in a very bad mood when we viewed it, or maybe viewing it put us in a very bad mood; nonetheless it has its fans and may deserve a reappraisal.

Stay (2005):  Despite a weird atmosphere, we’re not yet convinced it distinguishes itself enough from other classic entries in the mindbender genre.

W the Movie (2008): Weird indeed, but as it’s based firmly on current events (the G.W. Bush presidency) that are now past, only time will tell if this partisan screed stands up through the ages.

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 6/12/09

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):

Flicker (2008): A documentary on Byron Gysin’s “Dream Machine,” a device featuring flashing lights intended to invoke altered states of consciousness without the use of drugs, which fascinated counterculture figures like Kenneth Anger and William S. Burroughs.  Flicker official site.

Moon (2009):  A science fiction movie that appears to be about actual science and ideas, rather than an action film set in space, which in itself makes it an oddity.  An astronaut alone on a moonbase with only a computer for company meets a younger version of himself: a clone, or is he suffering hallucinations brought on by his isolation?  Directed by David Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones, and featuring Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey.  Moon official site.

NEW ON DVD:

Were the World Mine (2008): A gay fantasy-musical-romance centering around a production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  Certainly an unusual blend of genres, if nothing else; it was a big hit with its niche target audience and may have crossover appeal.  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.

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 6/5/09

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):

The Land of the Lost (2009): Firmly mainstream Will Ferrell is no harbinger of weirdness, but the idea of casting him in a straight comedy version of the trippy and campy 1970s kid’s TV show about a family sent back in time to an age of dinosaurs and Sleestak’s is pretty weird by Hollywood standards.  Critics have been firmly negative, but a snippet from one of the few positive reviews make me wonder if there might be something of unexpected interest about Land of the Lost:  “Oh, what a weird movie this is… wildly bizarre… whacked-out by design…” (Eric D. Snider, Film.com).  Land of the Lost official site.

NEW ON DVD:

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog (2008): Neil Patrick Harris stars as Dr. Horrible in this 42 minute supervillain romantic musical originally published as a free Internet series.  The project was conceived by television’s Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) to keep the creative juices flowing during the 2008 Writer’s Guild strike.  Copious extras are included to induce fans into buying this formerly-free web series: two commentary tracks (in what I think may be a first, an entire commentary is sung!), a 20 minute “making of” documentary, and ten auditions by fans seeking to join the series’ “Evil League of Evil.” Buy from Amazon.

ON DEMAND FREE MOVIES (SOME U.S. CABLE SYSTEMS)

The City of Lost Children (1995):  This beautiful Jean-Pierre Jeunet/Marc Caro fable about a man who steals children’s dreams, starring Ron Perlman and set in a bizarre, baroque, futuristic cityscape, will eventually receive a place on the list of 366.  You can view it courtesy of Fearnet until July 31.

Eraserhead (1977):  Want to catch this recently reviewed classic surreal nightmare for free?  It’ s a must-see for anyone who claims to be interested in weird cinema.  If your cable system offers it, you can catch it courtesy of the Sundance Channel until June 23rd.

Inland Empire (2006): David Lynch’s latest theatrical feature is the (reportedly) incoherent story of an actress (Laura Dern) losing her grip on reality while shooting a film.  3 hours long.  Sundance Channel, expires June 16.

Lady Vengeance [Chinjeolhan geumjassi] (2005):  The third installment of Chan-wook Park‘s informal Vengeance Trilogy, which also included Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) and the weird Oldboy (2003).  Sundance Channel, expires June 23.  This may receive an upcoming review on these pages.

The Toxic Avenger (1984):  The somewhat overrated cult classic gross-out black comedy/superhero parody that put Troma studios on the map.  Read our recent review .  Available courtesy of Fearnet until June 30.  Also available for the same period are the three sequels.

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.

OSCAR WON’T, AND IF CANNES CAN’T, MAYBE MEXICO?

We almost never pay attention to the Academy Awards around these parts. When the weirdest film to get a “Best Picture” nomination in 2008 is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, you know you’re dealing with one weird-hating Academy. The last film “Best Picture” winner with even smatterings of weird was Midnight Cowboy (1969). Just a pinch of weirdness, or even a mild, sub-weird flirtation with the experimental, is usually the kiss of death to Oscar.

The international and less commercial-minded Cannes Film Festival, on the other hand, has been much kinder to innovation in film. In 2000 Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark managed to win the highest prize, the Palme d’Or, despite containing musical dream sequences.  Acknowledged weird classics like Wild at Heart (1990) and Barton Fink (1991) have also managed to break realism’s stranglehold on the top awards.

On May 24, 2009, Cannes announced the recipients of its jury prizes.  Let’s see how Cannes did in recognizing cinematic weirdness this year:

PALME D’ORThe White Ribbon [Das weiße Band].  Black and white film set in Germany on the eve of World War I.  The synopsis says, “Strange accidents occur and gradually take on the character of a punishment ritual.  Who is behind it all?”  Although it appears to have a weird element in the form of an unsolvable mystery, at heart it looks like a standard allegorical art film.

GRAND PRIX (I.E., PALME D’OR RUNNER UP)The Prophet [Un Prophete]:  An illiterate young Arab man is thrown into a French prison and becomes a gang kingpin.  Sounds about a weird as a plastic couple on a wedding cake.

JURY PRIZE (I.E., THIRD PLACE):  This year was a tie.  The first film recognized was Fish Tank, an unweird drama about a British teenager, her promiscuous mom, and her mom’s lout of a boyfriend.  The second awardee shows a little more promise: Thirst [Bakjwi], Chan-wook Park‘s take on the vampire legend, although reviews suggest the oft-weird director takes a conventional approach to the subject this time out.

OTHER FILMS IN COMPETITION:  A few interesting, potentially weird films were screened Continue reading OSCAR WON’T, AND IF CANNES CAN’T, MAYBE MEXICO?

366WEIRDMOVIES IN RUSSIAN! [Избранные статьи 366weirdmovies, переведенные на русский]

Out of the kindness of her heart and her desire to spread the weird movies gospel around the world, Irina Goncharova has translated certain articles and reviews from this site into Russian!  For those who speak Russian, the articles can be found at the author’s website, along with her other other writings and translations.  Thank you very much Ms. Goncharova!