WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

The Penultimate Readers’ Choice Poll is complete, and the winners you voted to put onto the List of the 366 Best Weird Movies Ever Made are… Last Night at Marienbad (1961) and Under the Skin (2013). These two choices led from wire to wire, with only ‘s It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012) threatening to crack the top two. We’ll get to writing these two up in October (early November at the latest), and we’ll give you one more chance for input, near the very end of the List…

And as long as we’re discussing interactive activities, you still have until Thursday to enter our Red Christmas Blu-ray giveaway contest. Details here

So, on to next week’s business. First up, Alfred Eaker wraps up his overview of “The Adventures of Superman” (start the adventure here), touching on the mysterious circumstances of ‘ untimely death. Giles Edwards holds down the new release front with a look at ‘s post-apocalyptic sophomore effort, The Bad Batch. And we’ll tackle a couple of suggestions from the reader-suggested review queue, as Pete Trbovich takes in Murder Party and G. Smalley explores WR: Mysteries of the Organism.

Now it’s time for our weekly survey of weird search terms that brought visitors to the site this week, a feature we unweirdly call “Weirdest Search Terms of the Week.” Our first entry actually makes sense, but the wording makes it read strangely: “korean movies chain the temptation of two women.” (They do?) This search also turns out to be a thing: “swedish pimple” (it sure would be weird if they were literally searching for Scandinavian acne, though). Poor word choice once again makes what should probably be a simple search into a fairly bizarre one with “friend named ugly man in jail movie” (it seems unlikely the searcher is really interested in a film about someone named “ugly man” who goes to jail). But our official Weirdest Search Term of the Week, “porn video cartoons wemans virginas infested with eel,” wins the award because it works on two (maybe more) weird levels. We’ll take it at face value, and suggest that all women who own Virginia should be wary of the eel infestation issue.

Here’s how the ridiculously-long-and-still-growing reader-suggested review queue now stands: Murder Party (next week!); W.R.-Mysteries of the Organism (next week!); One Eyed Monster; Save the Green Planet; Crimewave (d. Sam Raimi); The Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

SATURDAY SHORT: TARBOZ (2015)

Artist and musician Chad VanGaalen labored for two years to create a long-form improvised animation, and in the process learned, “why you should get into something with a clear idea in mind”. To the right person, this lack of clarity is actually among the short’s strengths. It’s less about a hero’s journey, and more about space-traveling aliens doing who knows what.

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 10/6/2017

Our weekly 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 at the official site links.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

As*holes (2017): This incestuous anal sex themed comedy with a butt monster aims to be the grossout anti-hit of the year. We’re a bit surprised it got distribution; this is the kind of movie that promotes its (almost universal) negative reviews as a badge of honor. As*holes official Facebook page.

IN DEVELOPMENT (Filming):

Abruptio (2018): A bomb is implanted in a man’s neck by an unknown puppeteer to coerce him into criminal acts. Sounds pretty average for a thriller, except the kicker is that the entire cast will consist of “life-sized, realistic latex puppets.” Jordan Peele, Robert Englund and will provide voice talent. This is the only title in Looper’s list of Bizarre Movies Coming Out in 2018 That Will Melt Your Mind that looks like it has moderate mind-melting potential to us.

FILM FESTIVALS – Sitges Film Festival (Sitges, Spain, Oct. 5 – 15):

Although Sitges always offers an excellent slate of fantastic films, they’re more into quantity than exclusivity. We’ve seen most of the choicest offerings listed at other film festivals. Skipping those, here are a few notable films and long shots we noticed:

  • Black Hollow Cage – A girl who lives alone with her father and talks to her dog through a device called “mom” discovers a black cube in the woods. Screening Oct 9-11.
  • Purgatoryo – Filipino film about an illicit outfit that rents out corpses to weirdos.  Catch it Oct 6 if you can.
  • Tokyo Vampire Hotel always pings our radar; his latest involves a feud between vampire clans. Another Oct. 6 date.
  • Ulrike’s Brain – An undead battle between the corpses of a radical left-wing activist and a neo-Nazi who died of AIDS, from avant-garde provocateur Bruce LaBruce. Oct 11 & 12.

Sitges Film Festival home page.

NEW ON DVD:

A Ghost Story (2017): Read our review. Definitely an unconventional Halloween viewing choice, but would make a great costume. Buy A Ghost Story.

The Ornithologist (2016): While searching for an elusive black stork in Portugal, an ornithologist gets lost in the forest and experiences events that mimic the story of St. Anthony of Padua, with a gay twist. This was a nominee in our just-concluded readers’ choice poll, so it has at least two fans here. Buy The Ornithologist.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

A Ghost Story (2017): See description in DVD above. Buy A Ghost Story [Blu-ray].

Vampyr (1932): Read the Certified Weird entry! The Criterion Collection upgrades ‘s weird Expressionist horror to Blu. Buy Vampyr [Blu-ray].

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.

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.

CONTEST: WIN A “RED CHRISTMAS” BLU-RAY

CONTEST CLOSED! Thanks to all who entered.

It’s been a while, but 366 Weird Movies brings you a new DVD giveaway contest! Since we’ve been asked this question a lot lately, and are probably going to be asked it a lot more in the future, what we’d like you to do is to give us suggestions in the comments about what you think we should do with this website after we reach our target of 366 Certified Weird Movies. We have some ideas, which we won’t be publicly divulging in full just yet, but maybe you guys will come up with some great ideas we hadn’t thought of.

To enter, simply post your thoughts in the comments to this post. We are going to select the winner randomly using random.org, so you don’t have to provide the best suggestion to enter. In fact, although we want to hear your thoughts, you don’t even have to have a suggestion to enter: you can simply mention in the comments that you love the site and you’d like to enter the contest.

The usual eligibility rules apply: to receive the DVDs, you must supply us with a mailing address in the United States. (Don’t publish your address in your comment! We’ll contact you through email). If you don’t meet those qualifications you can still comment for fun, but let us know you’re not in it for the prize. We’ll stop accepting entries Thursday, October 12, at midnight. (The winner will be mailed on October 17, the official release date).

Our prize is once again provided by  Artsploitation Films (distributors of the Certified Weird Der Samurai): a factory-sealed Blu-ray of Red Christmas, a 2017 holiday-themed horror/comedy, starring 80s genre icon Dee Wallace. From the box cover:

Blu-ray cover for RED CHRISTMAS“Horror legend Dee Wallace (The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling, E.T., Cujo) stars as the mother of a family, gathered together in a remote house on Christmas night. When a mysterious, deformed young man appears at their door, holiday cheer quickly turns to bloody, imaginatively orchestrated violence as the family members fight off the vengeful intruder. The film infuses comedy, dark family secrets with outlandish gore and adds the controversial subjects of religion and abortion into its blood-stained mix.”

Red Christmas – Trailer from artsploitation on Vimeo.

You have your instructions, now get to it!

CAPSULE: THE PIT (1981)

DIRECTED BY: Lew Lehman

FEATURING: Sammy Snyders, Jeannie Elias

PLOT: A psychotic, outcast 12-year old boy talks to his teddy bear and feeds his enemies to creatures who live in a pit in the woods.

Still from The Pit (1981)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: The Pit is a mish-mash of eerie/weird ideas and frustratingly bad directorial decisions; unfortunately, the latter dominate the former.

COMMENTS: It’s called The Pit, but most viewers would call it “the pits.” If you’re a regular at this website, however, you’re probably not one of them. After all, any movie that has both a creepy kid who talks to his teddy bear (that talks back) and a pit full of flesh-eating monsters (which the psycho-moppet calls “trollogs,” a bastardization of “troglodytes”) has something going for it. That said, The Pit is a big mess, sporadically interesting, but mostly a big tease of the weird movie it could have been in more competent hands. It’s torn between its high-concept psychodrama and its longing to be a drive-in creature feature. It rushes around trying to be all things to all people: it starts out confusingly with an out-of-context killing, inserts gratuitous nude scenes that are often ridiculous (besides peeping on his babysitter, Jamie uses a bizarre and improbable scheme to get a local mom to strip), shoehorns in barnyard comedy, sends out a bunch of guys in furry monster suits to run around in the woods chased by a posse of shotgun-wielding yokels, and epilogues with a nonsensical “twist.” It’s reasonably inept B-movie fun, but it’s not as deranged as it needs to be to earn classic bad movie status. Instead, it’s almost endearingly clumsy, like a lesser effort.

We get that Jamie is ostracized for being a weird kid, but the script goes way too far out of its way to hammer that point home. It’s one thing when his fellow snot-nosed tykes make fun of him, but having little old ladies in wheelchairs loudly insult him when he’s standing in earshot (“just not right, that boy!”) is laying it on too thick. Still, with his bowl haircut cut and a nose that’s growing just slightly faster than the rest of his face, Sammy Snyders is effectively creepy, without being an exceptionally good actor (taking into account his age and the extraordinary demands of the role). He’s in that awkward stage of early adolescence: you can still see fading traces of the cute kid he once was, but he hasn’t yet developed into a young man. He has good facial expressions; his eyes simmer and his lips tremble when he gets frustrated, which happens often. His line readings are a different matter, although it is a challenge for a 12-year old kid to convincingly deliver monologues like “she’s not like the others, Teddy, she’s pretty” to his teddy bear. The awkwardness arguably works in his favor; this is a bad B-movie version of a schizo kid, so a performance that’s a little unconvincing adds an unnerving edge: more evidence that this boy’s “just not right.” And if you’ve got a phobia about creepy, psychotic kids, this one could haunt your nightmares.

This is director Lew Lehman’s only feature. Screenwriter Ian A. Stuart complained that he made a hash out of the story, which was written as a serious thriller about a disturbed kid (everything was supposed to be all in Jamie’s head).

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“… there’s no argument that I can perceive that makes The Pit a legitimately effective motion picture. Its deranged tone, bizarre characters, and a loopy structure that makes the 97-minute running time seem every bit of 20 minutes longer than the filmmakers were ready for all contribute to make certain of that.”–Tim Brayton, Alternate Ending (DVD)

(This movie was nominated for review by “Patrick,” who called it “[a]n utterly bizarre 80s horror film .” Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)

CAPSULE: GHAJINI (2008)

DIRECTED BY: A.R. Murugadoss

FEATURING: Aamir Khan, Asin, Pradeep Rawat, Jiah Khan

PLOT: A dashing young CEO suffering short-term memory loss hunts the gangster who killed his fiancée.

Still from Ghajini (2008)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Ghajini is mostly just clumsy blockbuster entertainment, appearing weird only to Westerners unfamiliar with Bollywood’s much looser tolerance of narrative coherence. In its home country, it was actually a hit, both financially and with critics.

COMMENTS: At about the thirty-minute mark of Ghajini, an unprepared viewer might assume someone at the DVD factory in New Delhi messed up and burned reels from a different movie onto the disc. Up until this point, you’ve been watching a dark revenge thriller about a tattooed amnesiac maniac. Suddenly, a narrator introduces himself as Sanjay Singhania, suave cell phone magnate, a prelude which segues into an MTV-style video with dancing girls, and then we find ourselves immersed in a sappy mistaken-identity romantic comedy, with a model pretending she’s Sanjay’s boyfriend, while unbeknownst to her he’s pretending to be an actor helping her with her deception… try not to get whiplash from one of the most violent tone shifts you’ve ever seen in a commercial film. What turns out to be a flashback lasts for about 45 minutes (with more upbeat musical numbers), ending on a “will they get married” cliffhanger… and then we’re back in the first movie, where the tattooed man delivers a brutal beating to the police officer who had been reading his diary. We’ll return to the lighthearted romantic comedy again later, which ends as all good comedies do… with the brutal torture and killing of the female lead after she uncovers a kidney-stealing ring preying on orphan girls.

Ghajini is pretty exhausting, honestly. It steals borrows plenty from the (vastly superior) thriller Memento, only with an anti-hero who has gained bone-crunching kickboxing skills along with short-term memory loss from a blow to the head. Oh, and musical numbers, and, as mentioned, a romantic comedy with a tragic ending as a bonus film. All this in a mere three hours! If you’re looking for even more, there’s the hammy performance of beefy Aamir Khan, who, despite his impressive physique, turns out to be better suited to comedy than action/drama (where he relies on over-the-top, animalistic howls and face-churning grimaces to convey grief). You also may have fun picking out the plot holes, like the basic question: why, if the hero is a multi-millionaire, does he choose to live like a squatter in a run-down apartment rather than using the vast resources at his disposal to bring his enemy to justice? I mean, a competent personal assistant would have been far more helpful in keeping him on-task in his revenge quest than a bunch of mysterious scribbled notes, Polaroids, and tattoos are.

My guess is that the romantic comedy portion of the film (which has no third act) was adapted from an unpublished screenplay the studio had lying around, and incorporated to provide chick appeal and a more natural substrate for the mandatory Bollywood musical numbers. To make things even more confusing, Ghajini is a Hindi-language remake of a 2005 Tamil-language film of the same name, by the same director, with some of the same cast. complained about Ghajini‘s similarities to Memento but did not take legal action; however, Murugadoss was sued (and even briefly arrested) by the producers of Ghajini (2005) for not properly securing remake rights.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…an experience almost too stimulating for the non-Indian nervous system, a blockbuster layer cake of full-strength escapist entertainment.”–David Chute, LA Weekly (contemporaneous)

(This movie was nominated for review by “jenn” who called it “an indian remake of ‘momento’… its a bit weird… its like momento, u know…” Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)

LIST CANDIDATE: THE FLESH (1991)

La carne

DIRECTEDY BY:

FEATURING: Sergio Castellitto, Francesca Dellera, Petra Reinhardt

PLOT: A nightclub pianist drops everything—his job, kids, beloved dog—to shack up with a mysterious woman who randomly enters his life, pursuing an alternately playful and carnal relationship involving, at various points, a paralysis-induced-erection, breast-feeding at St. Faustino’s shrine, storks, and whimso-sadism.

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: The plot description gives a hint, I suspect. Marco “La Grande Bouffe” Ferreri revisits themes of food, sex, and love, albeit with a (comparatively) light-hearted touch this time around. The movie’s tone veers strangely between Dirty Dancing and 37º2 le matin (Betty Blue), as the mood shifts from maudlin to passionate to absurd—all while late ’80s hits (OMG Milli Vanilli!) randomly crop up on the soundtrack.

COMMENTS: Marco Ferreri, Italy’s foremost disgruntled auteur, has a knack for drama that hovers around the darker side of aimless. Dillinger is Dead brings meandering film into the realm of the surreal, with its protagonist just puttering around his apartment until a dramatic finale. La Grande Bouffe tells the tale of the un-tragic deaths of four well-heeled professionals. In The Flesh, his penultimate cinematic release, Ferreri takes on the art crowd with a shouting kind of mumble-core. Over the course of the movie, strange things befall our protagonist, a singing, piano-and kazoo-playing performer who has a lot going for him that he throws away.

Paolo (Sergio Castellitto) takes his children to a natural history museum where his personal foibles are on display. He rages (at the animatronic dinosaurs) after he’s told that his estranged wife, a civil servant, won’t allow his son to have a first communion. (Here we see the conflict between Italy’s communist elements and its Catholic ones). At work the next evening (afternoon? seems like a lot of people have just started drinking early), we meet Francesca (Francesca Dellera), Europe’s melancholy answer to the “manic pixie dream girl.” Abandoning his post at the club, his obligation to a sick friend, and his child-support payments, Paolo spends some heady days at his remote beach-front cottage. The story becomes strange when, upon him failing to achieve potency one day, Francesca uses a massage technique that leaves him powerless to move, albeit able to oblige sexually.

The Flesh unsettlingly combines the genres of romantic-dramedy and symbolist screed, all to an incongruous pop-rock soundtrack. Francesca, right on the heels of an abortion, falls for the charmingly arrogant piano man, if only because she finds him so different from the mellow young guru she shacked up with before. Having trapped Paolo in stiff paralysis, she only spends time with him to feed him and make love, sometimes simultaneously. Otherwise, she’s out observing the recurring stork metaphor, at one point meeting up with a woman breast-feeding a pair of twins. Violence vs. sex also crops up, as the shelling from ships offshore causes Paolo’s temporary impotence while simultaneously arousing Francesca. And, as I said, there’s Milli Vanilli, late era Queen, and a strange bit at the end involving both storks and cannibalism.

Ferreri presents his disappointments in life with a darkly magical realist flair. He could be considered a grim counter-part to Federico Fellini, with Sergio Castellitto acting as his post-modern Marcello Mastroianni. Marriage is a sham, friendships are all-too-readily abandoned, women induce insanity, and death is assured. Circumstance stamps the life out of the free-spirited protagonist who somehow never becomes sympathetic. For all its sunlit scenes, fertility imagery, and up-tempo music, The Flesh is a dark musing on the ultimate pointlessness of romance and devotion. And storks.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“[Ferreri’s] penultimate film… finds his outrageous and surgically precise touch still in evidence, and his recurring theme of dysfunctional men perplexed and transformed by women who enter their lives receives perhaps its most direct and unorthodox treatment here.”–Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital (Blu-ray)

THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN STARRING GEORGE REEVES: SEASON 3-4 EPISODE GUIDE AND REVIEWS

Previous installments of “The Adventures of Superman” episode guide : Season, 1, Part ISeason 1, Part II – Season 2.

This article originally appeared in a slightly different form at Alfred Eaker’s The Blue Mahler.

Under Kellogg’s sponsorship, the second season of “The Adventures of Superman” had already began steering away from an adult audience. By the third season, the show was aimed almost solely at the pubescent. It was also shot in color, which made it an expensive production, with less money allocated for actors or professional writers. Oddly, it was only aired in black and white, not having its color premier for another decade. In this, Kellogg’s was ahead of its time, realizing that color, being inevitable, would assure the series a long run in syndication.

The third season is an entirely different series than the first two and, with few exceptions, it’s a dreadful affair. The series’ decline continued until its final, sixth season. Although officially cancelled, “The Adventures of Superman” had been picked up for a seventh season with star coming in as director (he helmed three episodes late in season six) and, reportedly, more money was going to be spent on better scripts. However, Reeves’ premature death put an end to a series which began high and should have bowed out on a better note. Alas, like its star, it was not afforded a happy ending.

The cast still has charisma, but even they can’t save the worst episodes, many of which are excruciating and virtually unwatchable. Still, “The Adventures of Superman (along with I Love Lucy) was the longest running series of the fifties, and maintained its popularity for another three decades in syndication. This is remarkable given that its lead, who presented a Super Boy Scout image, had in fact been outed as quite the colorful character, engaged in a sordid affair when he was found dead, allegedly by his own hand.

Still from "Through the Time Barrier" from "Adventures of Superman"The third season opens with the godawful “Through the Time Barrier” (dir. Harry Gerstad). The “Daily Planet” staff (all four of them) are teleported to the Stone Age by Professor Twiddle (Sterling Holloway, in his last series appearance). The look on Reeves’ face speaks volumes.

“The Talking Clue” (dir. Gerstad) is marginally better. It’s about a bank robber named Muscles McGurk, and focuses primarily on Inspector Henderson. Robert Shayne enjoys the spotlight, and our enjoyment comes primarily from his.

“The Lucky Cat” (dir. Gerstad) is an engaging, silly story about an Anti-Superstition Society, with Jimmy (naturally) falling for all the Continue reading THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN STARRING GEORGE REEVES: SEASON 3-4 EPISODE GUIDE AND REVIEWS

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

First off, you still have about a week to vote in the Penultimate Readers’ Choice Poll to place two movies on the final list of 366. Right now, Last Year at Marienbad and Under the Skin look like fairly safe bets, with ‘s stick-figure animation It’s Such a Beautiful Day the only serious spoiler contender. But a lot can change in these last few days…

Next week’s lineup begins with Alfred Eaker‘s continuing episode guide for “The Adventures of Superman,” now up to seasons three and four. Then, Giles Edwards examines the new Blu-ray of ‘s overlooked 1991 erotic fantasy The Flesh, while G. Smalley handles a couple of items from the reader-suggestion review queue with Bollywood’s (second!) unauthorized Memento remake, Ghajini, and the weird-kid budget horror The Pit (1981). We may throw in a surprise as well… so stay tuned.

Due to the increased use of privacy settings, it’s becoming harder and harder to find items to highlight for our “Weirdest Search Terms of the Week” column. We’re left sifting through stuff like “older sister and younger brother naked in the bathroom. also movie name” (notable only for the searcher asking for the movie’s name as an afterthought), or relying on the occasional typo to transform a sick search into a mildly weird one, e.g. “list movie with theme raoe/kidnaping/homo invasion”. For our Weirdest Search Term of the Week, we’ll go with the relatively normal (by our standards) query for a list of “vampire nun 1970s sex videos”. Hey, Halloween’s coming soon, it’s not too early for vampire nuns!

Here’s how the ridiculously-long-and-still-growing reader-suggested review queue now stands: Ghajini (2008) (next week!); The Pit (1981) (next week!); One Eyed Monster; Save the Green Planet; Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

Celebrating the cinematically surreal, bizarre, cult, oddball, fantastique, strange, psychedelic, and the just plain WEIRD!