99 YEARS OF WEIRDNESS, IN NUMBERS

This article was submitted by Aki Vainio.

Introduction, Methodology, and Breakdown by Year

A warning: all the data used here comes from the IMDb, so it’s user-submitted, and not always that well thought-out. I mean, according to the IMDb, 212 of these movies are dramas. If you call everything drama, does that designation even have any meaning anymore? There’s also some problems with country or origin, because they always list all the countries that have participated in any way. Anyhow, that’s what I have easily and automatically available, so that’s what I’m using. All the data is from January 16th of 2019. Obviously, much of it will change over time.

Note on the methods used: I did the research by using a list of the movies I’ve maintained over on IMDb. IMDb gives you a CSV export of that data, which is good start, but did not contain everything I wanted. For the rest of the data, I used the API provided by the good folks at OMDb, which enabled me to get the countries and languages. On top of that, I used a little bit of coding and some Excel action.

The earliest movie on the list is from 1920 (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) and the newest movie is from 2018 (Sorry to Bother You ), which covers 99 years. However, 20 of those years failed to provide the List with any movies at all.

Perhaps 1921 has the excuse of not knowing any better, but come on 1930s, your latter half (1935-1939) has a grand total of zero (0) movies. Or maybe the writers on this site have a prejudice against the 1930s.

Weird movies by year

The last year not to have a single movie on the list was 1956. After that there have been some poor years (like 1978, with only one), but the combination of moviemaking becoming cheaper and distributors finding new sources of income has made making movies for niche audiences possible.

The biggest years were 1968 and 1971, each of which produced 13 Canonized movies. 2006 wasn’t far behind with 12, while 1973 made it all the way to 11, and both 2004 and 2009 were in there with 10.

Personally, I’ve always believed that creativity is in no way dead, despite the influx of recent franchising attempts with sequels, prequels, reboots, remakes, and so forth. The list seems to support this belief. There’s still plenty of weird things going on, even if the drug-fueled highs of late 60s and early 70s might be behind us.

Who Comes Up with this Stuff?

Apparently, and , with a total of eight movies each. It’s also worth noting that they both share credits with others. comes up a bit short with seven, although with a total of ten features under his belt, 70% rate is not bad. and each have six, although Gilliam only directed one segment of Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. Still within this higher echelon of directors, we have and Continue reading 99 YEARS OF WEIRDNESS, IN NUMBERS

APOCRYPHA CANDIDATE: MAREBITO (2004)

DIRECTED BY

FEATURING: , Tomomi Miyashita, Kazuhiro Nakahara

PLOT: A reclusive photographer obsessed with fear discovers a network of underground tunnels beneath Tokyo, where he finds a mute young woman who feeds on blood.

Still from Marebito (2004)

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: This slow-burn horror almost entirely eschews conventional horror narrative structure to serve as a character study of its eccentric, delusional protagonist.

COMMENTS: I still remember the J-Horror craze of the early 2000s—though, living in a mostly third-world country, I had to largely settle for experiencing them through their American remakes.

Thinking back, it really was a perfect way to bring Asian media to the Western world: films like Ringu or Ju-On or One Missed Call, with their foreign settings and basis in regional mythology, were “exotic” enough to feel different from the standard Hollywood fare, but not so overly different or extreme as to feel alienating. Even some of the genre’s more extreme offerings, like Audition, tended to join Cannibal Holocaust and A Serbian Film among the ranks of “extreme films that everyone’s heard about.”

(Of course, that probably renders all those remakes pretty much pointless, but that’s a whole other matter.)

One exception to this was Marebito. Despite coming from the creator of the Ju-On series, as well as its highly successful American remake, Marebito made little impact in the West—perhaps best reflected by the fact that it never got a remake.

And viewing Marebito, it’s not hard to see why: even among the standards of J-Horror (which, around the time, usually went for the slow burn), Marebito takes its time. Many shots simply follow the protagonist as he absently wanders the streets, or stares obsessively at his collection of recordings; and the vampiric young woman at the center of the plot doesn’t even show up until the half-hour mark.

Good for atmosphere, and consistent with Shimizu’s usual approach, certainly; but not very marketable.

Nonetheless, for those who appreciate a horror film with character, Marebito has a fair amount to offer. It’s made clear relatively quickly that the focus of the film is not its fantastical elements, but the eccentric mind of its protagonist. Masuoka (played by Shinya Tsukamoto, best known around here as the director of Tetsuo: The Iron Man) is a withdrawn and disenchanted individual with dark obsessions who is ever hidden behind his camera, relating to the world far better when seeing it through his viewfinder. And all of this is made sharply clear in the first few minutes of the movie, when we see him obsessively watching and re-watching footage that he shot of a public suicide on a subway, trying to discern what the dead man might have seen in his last few moments.

Masuoka is obsessed with the concept of fear, and seeks to uncover Continue reading APOCRYPHA CANDIDATE: MAREBITO (2004)

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 2/8/2019

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):

Lords of Chaos (2018): Read Giles Edwards’ review. Biopic/docudrama, appropriately narrated from beyond the grave, covering the scandalous rise of “True” Norwegian Black Metal, featuring church burning and, eventually, murder. Lords of Chaos official Facebook page.

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

All the Colors of Giallo (2018): For dedicated giallo fans: this three disc set contains the title documentary on the genre, a second doc (The Case of the Krimi, with film historian Marcus Stiglegger), a trailer collection, and a CD of soundtrack cuts. Via Severin films, it’s a multi-format set (Blu-ray, DVD, and CD). Buy All the Colors of Giallo.

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018): Scientists in a satellite orbiting the Earth accidentally open a portal to another dimension when experimenting with a particle accelerator. While we liked the other two Cloverfield movies (one a monster flick and one a thriller), we skipped this sci-fi themed one on Netflix because nothing about the initial installments led us to suspect there would ever be a weird movie in the bunch; the Internet (not the most reliable source, admittedly) suggests we may be wrong in that assumption. It’s now out on DVD or Blu-ray for those without a Netflix subscription. Also available in a “Cloverfield 3-Movie Collection” DVD or Blu-ray pack Buy The Cloverfield Paradox.

The Fifth Cord (1971): Franco Nero stars as an alcoholic reporter tracking a serial killer while simultaneously becoming a suspect. Maybe not 100% weird, but it has the psychedelic visual sensibility and alienated atmosphere of the period. Another neglected giallo exhumed by Arrow Video, now on Blu-ray. Buy The Fifth Cord.

Lu Over the Wall: Little Mermaid variation in which the fish-girl joins a teen rock band. This kids’ movie that carefully describes itself as “joyously hallucinogenic but family-friendly” comes from Masaaki Yuasa—the mind behind the Canonically Weird Mind Game (2004). Blu-ray, DVD, VOD. Buy Lu Over the Wall.

The Possessed (1965): A depressed novelist goes looking for his lost love, a waitress at a remote lakeside resort who has disappeared mysteriously. A “proto-giallo” co-scripted by the curious , who would go on to direct a pair of Canonically Weird films. Another Arrow Video Blu-ray release. Buy The Possessed.

Shame (1968): Read Alfred Eaker’s review. ‘s surreal tale of war coming to Fårö is largely overlooked. The Criterion Collection hopes to change that with this single-disc release including both new and archival interviews. Buy Shame.

St. Bernard Syndicate (2018): A Danish businessman partners with an investor who’s just been diagnosed with A.L.S. in a scheme to sell St. Bernards to the Chinese. Sounds subtly strange at best, but Brian Orndorf of Blu-ray.com did claim it is “very funny at times, but also chilling and always interested in weirdness…” Now on VOD (only, for the present time). Buy or rent The St. Bernard Syndicate.

Zachariah (1971): Read Pete Trbovich’s review. This hippie comedy-Western-musical billed itself as the “first electric Western”; Kino Lorber grabbed the rights and upgraded the featureless MGM DVD to a sparkling new Blu-ray with a commentary track and everything. Buy Zachariah.

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:

Dogville (2003): Read the Canonically Weird review‘s dark, misanthropic fable is like de Sade’s “Justine” played out on the set of Wilder’s “Our Town.” Listed as “leaving soon” on the service. Watch Dogville free on Tubi.tv.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE:

Next week, look for a review from the reader-suggested queue: Simon Hyslop on 2004’s Lovecraftian J-horror, Marebito. We’ll also have Giles Edwards with late-ish coverage of and ‘s latest, last year’s Let The Corpses Tan, and a reader-supplied statistical analysis of the List. And maybe we’ll even have a mystery pop-up review (though if we promised one for certain and told you what it was, it wouldn’t be a mystery… forget we said anything, OK?)

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: 366 WEIRD MOVIES’ BIGGEST FAN GETS A COPY OF “TRUE STORIES”

Time for another giveaway! This one is for true fans only, though all are welcome to try. All you have to do is convince us that you’re 366 Weird Movies’ Biggest Fan, and therefore deserving of this fine prize. We know a couple of you have gone the extra mile to promote this project; now is your chance to show us what you’ve done. Pimp your own creativity while pumping our egos; everyone benefits. (Or just compliment us really, really well). We’ll pick the most impressive submission provided in the comments below. Even if you’re ineligible to win the prize (for example, because you live outside the U.S.), please let us know about your fandom. And even if you think you’re a Pretty Big Fan, but not the Biggest, let us know. Our pride needs it.

Even though, in a way, you’re all winners, the choice of an actual prize winner is solely at the discretion of 366 Weird Movies’ staff.

Eligibility rules: You must comment on this post. To receive the DVD, you must supply us with a mailing address in the United States. (Don’t publish your address in your comment! We’ll contact the winner through email). 366 contributors are not eligible for the prize. You are eligible for this prize even if you have won a contest here in the last six months. We’ll stop accepting entries Wednesday, February 20, at midnight EST. If the winner does not respond to our request for a mailing address within 48 hours we’ll email a runner-up, and so forth, until the prize is given away.

True Stories Criterion DVDAs for the prize: it’s the Criterion 2-disc DVD edition of the Canonically Weird True Stories‘s celebration of eccentricity and “Specialness” set in the fictional town of Virgil, Texas. Note that this DVD edition does not include the film’s soundtrack, which is an exclusive bonus feature of the Blu-ray. But it does include the second disc of bonus features (four documentaries, plus deleted scenes) and the cool tabloid-style booklet with essays by Rebecca Bengal and Joe Nick Patoski.

So go to it! Show us what you got!

CAPSULE: LORDS OF CHAOS (2018)

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Jonas Åkerlund

FEATURING: Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen, Jack Kilmer, Sky Ferreira, Jon Øigarden, Valter Skarsgård

PLOT: The founder of True Norwegian Black Metal, Euronymous, narrates his rise and fall from beyond the grave in a tale of music, church burning, metal, and marketing.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Lords of Chaos is a well-crafted biopic/docudrama about some very weird people. Graphic suicide and murder notwithstanding, this is an eminently mainstream, straightforward piece of high-quality cinema. Fans of True Norwegian Black Metal will want to upgrade this from a “recommended” to a “” rating.

COMMENTS: Norway: the land of Ski Queen cheese, smiling people in bright sweaters, and True Norwegian Black Metal. For the last of those three things, you can thank “Euronymous” (née Øystein Aarseth), founder of the band Mayhem and, if Lords of Chaos is to be believed, something of a marketing genius. Jonas Åkerlund, no stranger to the metal scene of the late ’80s, brings the dramatic tale of Euronymous’ journey from upper-middle-class rocker bad-boy to tragic murder victim to an English-speaking audience in this docudrama. With a sure touch and an unlikely sense of humor, Åkerlund spins a formidable yarn about some troubled lads spiraling out of control.

From his omnipotent afterlife perch, Øystein (Rory Culkin) narrates his early roots—appropriately subterranean in his parents’ basement. Graduating quickly from the status of inept musicians riding around in their parents Volvos, the metal group Mayhem enjoys a series of lucky breaks accompanied by implied Faustian bargains. They find a frontman, Death (an eerie Jack Kilmer), who rockets them to sub-fame before blasting his brains out. Death’s replacement is even darker: an impressionable, awkward young man named Christian (Emory Cohen), who changes his name to Varg after he buys into the whole death-cult-Satanist-nihilist shtick that Øystein has fabricated. Varg starts burning down churches, and the other band members’ moral fabric disintegrates as a horrible contest of one-upmanship rips them apart. As his vision of commercial glory begins to unravel, Øystein is forced to come to terms with the beast he’s created.

While many films directed by Music Video People obviously show their signature markings, Jonas Åkerlund stays his hand stylistically. His story is about the people behind the image, not a love letter to the presumed madness and evil of True Norwegian Black Metal. On the occasions that he does indulge in his fast-dreamy editing, the effect is that much more striking: Øystein’s recurring daydreams/nightmares of traveling through the woods, looking for his first friend and leading man are unsettling and touching. The music, most of it performed by the (non-Norwegian, non-metal) band Sigur Rós, alternately haunts and pummels. And the acting transforms these aspiring metal caricatures into realistic portraits of young outcasts.

Which brings me to Rory Culkin. Yes, he is from the same brood as the famous (to some of us older types) Macaulay Culkin, but in Lords of Chaos he seems to be channeling a young (carried in no small part by his eyes and his near-constant, “What the Hell is wrong with you people?” tone of voice). Culkin carries this picture. His joyful cynicism is underscored as his post-death montage wraps up, “No. Fuck. Stop this sentimental shit.” Though he may call himself “Euronymous”, Øystein remains Øystein: a cheeky, ambitious nerd with a flair for publicity. Lords of Chaos rubs elbows with the countless musical biopics that have streamed forth from the movie industry since time immemorial. It’s one of the few, though, to capture melodrama, mundanity, and hilarity so capably and with such strong disregard for nostalgia.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Despite Åkerlund’s refusal to lionize these immature kids, ‘Lords of Chaos’ is tremendous fun. Caveat: one must be able to handle severed pig heads, cat torture, and casual Nazism.” –Amy Nicholson, Variety

CAPSULE: BRAID (2018)

DIRECTED BY: Mitzi Peirone

FEATURING: Imogen Waterhouse, Sarah Hay, Madeline Brewer, Scott Cohen

PLOT: Two girls scheme to steal from their rich, but psychotic, old friend, but doing so requires them to go along with her fantasies: “the Game.”

Still from Braid (2018)
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: A hallucinatory thriller with modest ambitions to blow your mind, Braid finds itself in the weird pile, but not at the top of the heap. It’s a perfectly reasonable “B” selection to watch while waiting for something weirder to come down the pike.

COMMENTS: In the official opening scene of Braid, two collegiate drug dealers are inventorying their stash in their Manhattan loft, oblivious to the distant sound of police sirens. When the banging comes on their door, the film suddenly switches to black and white, security cam-style, as they make an improbable escape out the window and down the fire escape. What was decadent and glamorous in color suddenly turns dingy and desperate. At a later point, one of the girls pops what she thinks is Vicodin, but turns out to be a hallucinogen that turns the lawn purple (pro-tip: popping random pills is not recommended when you’re in the middle of pulling a caper). These visual dislocations, which are a constant in Braid, serve as a reminder of how fickle perception can be. They’re a reflection of the main plot device: a young lady trapped in a delusion that’s she’s still a little girl playing doctor with her friends. Later, we view a scene filmed upside down, for no apparent reason; debuting filmmaker Mitzi Peirone is often just using the delusion excuse to throw a lot of stuff on the screen that she thinks will look cool, like water flowing backwards into the faucet. (Actually, that’s not a bad strategy for a movie with a theme of disorientation.)

Petula and Tilda, the two college dropout robbers, are sufficiently rude and narcissistic that we’re amped to see them get their  comeuppance at the whims of their fruitcake ex-friend. Of course, Daphne, living in a dilapidated mansion and still playing house even though she now actually owns a house, herself is too detached from reality to root for. There is a detective sniffing around, but he seems fated to fall victim to the last of the game’s three rules: “no outsiders allowed.” Still, even though things threaten to get a little torture porn-y at times when Daphne goes to any lengths to keep her friends playing the Game, the film does make a dash for meaningful empathy at the very end.

There is a twist about a third of the way through that I didn’t see coming. It’s no stunner, but it is clever enough for an evening’s entertainment. A number of seemingly odd moments—such as the cliche old doomsayer cackling at the pair as they prepare to re-engage with their long lost gal pal—start to make (some) sense in retrospect. On the other hand, it also makes you conscious of how some of the early scenes were contrived specifically to fool the audience, rather than for organic story reasons. And some stuff never really adds up at all, such as a foot fetish scene. Still, the reveal is done well, and allows Peirone to pull out a lot of stops for a schizo-surrealist montage the supplies a high point before things start to peter out in a dreamy, melancholy epilogue (the film had been tautly paced up to that point).

The film’s insights into the subjectivity of human perception never really threaten to get beyond the superficial, but they do make a decent substrate for a weird-ass thriller. Peirone shows skill in putting the whole together, and with the help of cinematographer Todd Banhazl has a great (if undisciplined) visual flair. Keep your expectations at the level of a smart B-thriller and you may be pleasantly surprised by how well Braid threads these three women together.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Bolstered by its kinetic cinematography and stellar production design, Mitzi Peirone’s surreal nightmare Braid is a crazy fever dream of deranged games and broken realities.”–Adam Patterson, Film Pulse (festival screening)

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