Category Archives: Miscellanea

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!

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 5/29/09

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):

Drag Me to Hell (2009):  Sam Raimi returns to the horror genre, but judging by the trailer I wouldn’t expect anything Evil Dead-esque or too out of the ordinary; the in-demand Spiderman director now has too much to lose by being innovative.  Prove me wrong, Sam!  Drag Me to Hell official site.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

Daytime Drinking [Not Sool] (2008):  Per the press release, this low-budget South Korean pic about a drinker on “an increasingly strange odyssey nursing a never-ending hangover.”  The publicists compare it to quirky indie films like Stranger than Paradise and SidewaysDaytime Drinking official site.

Pontypool (2009): An intellectual zombie movie from Canada wherein zombism is spread in a surprising (and allegorical) way. Pontypool official site.

NEW ON DVD:

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009):  What could we say about this product that the title doesn’t already tell you?  Well, it’s got a dream cast of Lorenzo Lamas and Debbie Gibson and it’s from Asylum, a  studio that specializes in rushing out direct-to-DVD movies that sound a lot like recent hits (e.g., Transmorphers).  How bad could it possibly be?   Buy from Amazon.

The Sky Crawlers [Sukai kurora] (2008):  Latest visually impressive sci-fi anime from Mamoru Oshii, director of Ghost in the Shell, about children who are trained from birth as pilots to fight in an endless dogfight.  Buy from Amazon.

NEW ON YOUTUBE (LEGITIMATE STUDIO-SANCTIONED RELEASES):

Christmas Evil (1980):  Offbeat, low budget character study about a killer Santa that’s not as exploitative as future films exploring the same “killer Santa” territory.  Read our capsule reviewWatch 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.

WEIRD HORIZON FOR 5/21/09

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.

NEW ON DVD:

Eden Log (2007): Judging by IMDB comments,  this French sci-fi/horror/thriller about an amnesiac who wakes up in a cave confuses the hell out of mainstream American genre fans, which by itself makes it sound pretty darn intriguing. Buy from Amazon.

Glen and Randa (1970):  This low-budget, post-apocalyptic, love-it-or-hate-it cult movie is one of those films that few have actually seen (including me), but many have heard of.  Actually released a couple of weeks ago, but with zero fanfare, so I missed it.  If you’ve always wanted to see this semi-legendary film, or just wondered about it, here it is.  Buy from Amazon

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Fast Company (1979):  This early and almost-forgotten David Cronenberg exploitation entry about the drag-racing circuit (featuring drive-in legends John Saxon and the delectible Claudia Jennings in her last role before her tragic death) has been exhumed from the grave by William Lustig’s Blue Underground label.  Even more intriguing is the presence on the disc of two weird-sounding early Cronenberg experimental shorts, Stereo (1969) and Crimes of the Future (1970), which makes this disc a must-buy for Cronenberg completists. Buy from Amazon

CABLE TELEVISION: TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES

The Wicker Man (1973):  TCM will be airing the classic confrontation with weird pagan beliefs (likely shorn of the abundant nudity) on Saturday, May 23rd at 10:30 PM E.S.T; Sunday the 24th at 1:30 AM; and Wednesday the 27th at 1:30 A.M.

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.

QUIRKY, NOT WEIRD

“Quirky” can be defined as “full of quirks.”  A “quirk”  is “a strange attitude or habit” (synonyms: oddity, queerness, crotchet).

In the late 1980s to early 1990s, about the time of the rise of the Sundance Festival, “serious” (as opposed to exploitation-style) independent films exploded in the United States.  “Quirky” comedies quickly became a staple of independent movies and low budget movie festivals.  These films had light tones but serious, life-affirming themes, were witty and gently wry (but never ruined the mood by going so far as to be biting), and were filled to the brim with eccentric characters.  The fast-developing sub-genre became a darling of film critics.

One of the first quirky comedies was the early Coen brothers effort, Raising Arizona (1987).  Holly Hunter played an infertile cop with a male name (“Ed”) who falls in love with peaceful burglar Nicolas Cage, who also has an odd name (“Hi”) and occasionally speaks in Shakespearean dialogue.  These characters were highly eccentric but essentially harmless, and although the movie was actually a little bit weird (with Tex Cobb as a mystical biker/bounty hunter with supernatural abilities that surpassed the merely quirky), once the Coen’s more bizarre proclivities were snipped away, Raising Arizona served as a template for quirky movies to follow.  (That quirky and weird can still coexist in the same movie was proven by Chan-wook Park’s I’m a Cyborg, but That’s OK [2006], though notably it took an outsider to the American independent film tradition to pull it off.)

The first movie I think of when I think of the modern quirky formula is Baghdad Cafe (1987).  It’s an exemplary cast of quirks: a stranded German housfrau who does magic tricks, a sassy and irritable black woman, an Indian short-order cook, a tattoist, Jack Palance as a retired Hollywood set painter.  It’s set in the desert, the quintessentially quirky locale.  It’s light (real danger never raises its head) and life-affirming (in the end the characters learn and grow from each others’ diametrically opposed quirks).

Other movies that clearly fall into the quirky genre are Roadside Prophets (1992), Benny & Joon (1993), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), Clerks (1994) (a bit more profane and piquant than typical quirk), Napoleon Dynamite (2004), the recently reviewed Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006), and of course, anything by the reigning King Continue reading QUIRKY, NOT WEIRD