WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

Only 40 movies left to Certify Weird!

Next week, iconclast Alfred Eaker breaks ranks to rant about TV’s new incarnation of “Supergirl.” Next up, we handle a couple of new releases, as Giles Edwards mulls ‘s Paradox and G. Smalley considers his complicated feelings for ‘s Double Lover. Then it’s boldly into the reader-suggested queue with Shane Wilson as he faces the sheeplike horror of the Godmonster of Indian Flats.

If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you know that in this space every week we run down the Weirdest Search Terms that brought people to the site. In the beginning, it was a great feature: we discovered fantastically strange queries, people looking for things like “vulva flamy move,” “naked barbarela vs. king kong,” or “ood moviesttttttat ae weird.” Then came the cursed privacy filters, blocking out 90% of the searches from our prying eyes. Now, we suspect these filters are creeping up to 99% coverage. We usually like to feature three weird search terms in this column, but this week we could not find much of anything worth bringing to your notice (excluding one which was weirdly composed but too ambiguously close to a pedophilia request to consider). OK, we’ll throw one out there for you: “silenthill gore scene porn penis.” That’s it; that’s as weird as it gets. Is this the end of this long-running feature? We’ll try again next week but we fear that, in their quest to make it safe to look up lesbian pygmy porn without your wife finding out, Google may have thrown the baby out with the bathwater, leaving us nothing to laugh at. And what good is a world with perfect privacy but no laughter?

Here’s how the ridiculously-long reader-suggested review queue stands: The Godmonster of Indian Flats (next week!); Genius Party; The Idiots; “Premium” (depending on availability); Spermula; Killer Condom; I Am Here Now; Sir Henry at Rawlinson End; Moebius (1996); The Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

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)

CAPSULE: THE SHOUT (1978)

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Jerzy Skolimowski

FEATURING: Alan Bates, Susannah York, ,

PLOT: A stranger wanders into the lives of a British composer and his wife, demonstrating powerful magic he learned from Aborigines in Australia as he torments the man and takes his wife hostage.

The Shout (1978)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Like many British horror tales of the 1970s, The Shout flirts with weirdness at every other step, but in the end we have to reluctantly conclude that it only gets as weird as necessary to tell its unconventional tale. Tim Curry, the man who gave the world Dr. Frankenfurter and its most memorable Pennywise, sits here in a sweater, as passive and conservative as a judge—making that two weirder movies you’ve seen Tim Curry in right there.

COMMENTS: Robert Graves (Tim Curry) visits the grounds of a mental hospital to referee a cricket match, when the Chief Medical Officer introduces him to Charles Crossley (Alan Bates). Crossley tells Graves the story of (another?) man named Crossley, who possesses a strange, magical power. Crossley invades the lives of a local composer and sound engineer and his wife, Anthony and Rachael Fielding (John Hurt and Susannah York). Anthony Fielding is now a patient at said hospital, and Crossley tells his tragic tale.

It turns out Crossley is a world-weary traveler who spent eighteen years in the Australian Outback, where he communed with Aborigine natives and learned their most powerful magic. Crossley, helping himself to the Fielding household, regales them with tales of his adventures punctuated by such shocking claims as having sired, then murdered, his children. But he has many more surprises, as he demonstrates with an Aborigine spell called “the shout,” which has the power to knock all who hear it stone dead. Crossley, an intimidating alpha male pulling primate rank on the too-polite couple, soon employs his dark magic to shatter their marriage. The couple are clearly no match for Crossley, who toys with them like a cat pawing at mice, for about the same reasons.

The story from there on out gets a little muddled, since it’s largely told with symbolism, atmosphere, and cut-in scenes which may be flashbacks or flash-forwards. Anthony is more Foley sound engineer than musician, and we’re treated to several scenes where he manipulates objects to produce bizarre sounds for recording in his studio. These scenes and their sounds punctuate the story. Another scene shows the couple asleep in their bed, while their sorcerer visitor appears in the mirror over their bed. Anthony wakes up and looks around, but doesn’t see Crossley. Was he there and disappeared, does he have the power to blank Anthony’s mind, or was Crossley only suggested in the mirror or perhaps even Anthony’s dream? The cumulative effect of all this muddling about is a film which is not like a conventional narrative, but instead like the memories as a real human brain, faulty and prone to distraction, would remember them. The pacing may be low-gear at times, but thanks to the excellent direction and hypnotizing performances, we’re too entranced by every detail to notice the time.

Lovingly shot in the British countryside of Devon, the film feels like a dreamy faerie tale in the old-fashioned Grimm style, with lots of Freudian subtext and horrors coming out of the sexual closet rather than from under the bed. Mr. Fielding is just about the victim of cuckoldry, overpowered and exiled from his own home by a master of dark forces. Early on, Mrs. Fielding finds a large bone in the sand and quickly buries it before her husband can see it, and there’s your symbolic foreshadowing. At the same time, we have the classic “unreliable narrator” puzzle. The story is told to us from inside an insane asylum: we are left to wonder how much is true, how much is a delusion, and how much is simply a lie. Perhaps this is nothing but a fanciful exaggeration of a cheating-wife story? The shifting structure of the film, given to us in layers and flashbacks, doesn’t help us settle our minds about it, but does mirror the presumed mental state of the characters. A widely-praised film of its time, which won Jury’s Grand Prize at the 1978 Cannes Film Festival, The Shout deserves a second look by any British horror fan looking for a peer to The Wicker Man or Don’t Look Now.

The Shout was formerly available on video-on-demand but those contracts seem to have expired. It’s currently only available on British import DVD or Blu-ray so Americans will need an all-region player.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Robert Graves’s weird story becomes a weird movie…”–Adrian Turner, Radio Times

(This movie was nominated for review by reader jason slicker, who called it a “very creepy atmospheric cool piece of film.”  Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)

CAPSULE: IT TAKES FROM WITHIN (2017)

DIRECTED BY: Lee Eubanks

FEATURING: James Feagin, Kristin Duarte, David Brownell

PLOT: A man and woman make preparations to attend a burial: existential dialogues and strange events happen along the way.

It Takes from Within (2017)

WHY IT WONT MAKE THE LIST: Given the suffering on display, the film could just as easily be titled Life Takes from Within, tearing away at the character’s insides. It’s certainly weird, but also derivative of films that have done existential angst much more effectively.

COMMENTS: Drawing equally from , , , and , this independent feature gets off to an engaging start with a vignette involving a patch of grass illuminated by high key overhead lighting. A male and female pair drag themselves across the grass in some form of wailing agony. A different couple (who eventually emerge as the film’s leads—James Feagin and Kristin Duarte) enter the light and stand statically before us, their faces unknowable and shrouded in shadow. A third male and female, much older, lie on a bed on the lit grass, before being assailed by Feagin and Duarte, who in turn are clamored on by the crawling couple at the beginning. Feagin lowers his head and body, prostrate before existence perhaps, while Duarte raises her hands to the heavens in appeal. It is a largely wordless and beautifully lit sequence begging multiple interpretations and capturing the viewer’s attention with its evocative and allusive nature.

Sadly, its largely downhill from that point on, with two opening exchanges between Feagin and Duarte setting the existential tone of the film and hinting at a “Waiting for Godot”-esque pairing (Feagin and Duarte in Vladimir and Estragon’s roles, respectively) without ever capitalizing on that potential. Feagin still believes in a “finish,” a possible meaning to their existence, while Duarte has resigned herself to the pointlessness of creation and seeks distraction and amusement. They are bound to their location by a funeral later that day, but their relationship has reached “its end” and they’ll go their separate ways to the service.

Capitalizing on the Gogo and Didi relationship could have injected some much-needed humor into the proceedings, but sadly director Eubanks opts for the bleak, existential angst of a Bergman films, without the dramatic weight of Bergman actors to soften the suffering. With her fleshy, open features and “make the best of it” attitude, Duarte makes a fairly engaging lead, a sympathetic figure in stark contrast to Feagin’s squinty scowl and petulant, unending mewling. Unfortunately Eubanks has us follow this disagreeable combination of Nick Cave and Hodor for much of the run time. If the male lead, genuinely suffering under the weight of reality, had ached in a manner that was sympathetic for the audience, i.e. his anger and pain Continue reading CAPSULE: IT TAKES FROM WITHIN (2017)

GEORGES MELIES TRIP TO THE MOON (1902) FLICKER ALLEY BLU-RAY REVIEW

‘ “Trip To The Moon,” made in 1902, is, I believe, the oldest film covered on 366 Weird Movies. Yet, in many ways Melies was not only ahead of his time, he is still ahead of his time. Many have called this director “the first true artist of cinema,” and indeed his influence on the most significant art form of the 20th century cannot be overestimated. As a fantasist, he saw himself become unfashionable, and his descent into  poverty and bankruptcy is well-known. Although, Melies considered 1908’s “Humanity Through The Ages” (1908) to be his most ambitious and favorite film (unfortunately, it’s lost), it is “Trip To The Moon” that is his most iconic.

Given its age, this film has been consigned to subpar home video releases over the last two decades. That has changed with Flicker Alley’s new Blu-ray release.

For years, there was no known copy of Melies’ hand-colored “Trip,” until a nitrate print was discovered in Spain in 1993. Its condition was so deteriorated that it was believed to be unworkable. However, in 2010, 108 years after its release, Lobster Films undertook one of its most ambitious film restorations to date. Working with 13,000 frames, they premiered their digitized reconstruction a year later at the Cannes Film Festival with a new soundtrack by Nicolas Godin and Jean Dunckel.

The Flicker release also features “The Extraordinary Voyage,” an informative and dramatic 65 minute documentary about the film’s labor-heavy restoration. It’s so well-constructed as to be almost mandatory after seeing the film.

Also included is:

  • The black and white version (the only one I saw in my youth) is well-restored, but surprisingly not quite to the level of the preferred (and much more surreal) hand-colored edition. The biggest attraction in this version is the alternative piano score by Frederick Hodges and a voice-over narration by Melies himself; oddly, neither are available in the color print.
  • A twelve-minute interview with the band AIR who provided a new musical score. It’s surprisingly effective in not being overcooked (as is often the case with restoring silent films). While the music is certainly postmodern, the band is sensitive and erudite in paying homage to Melies’ film.
  • Two Melies’ shorts: “The Astronomer’s Dream” (1898) and the surreally erotic “Eclipse: The Courtship of the Sun and the Moon” (1907). Neither film attains “Trip”‘s level of wonder, but both are recommendable in their own right. However, the latter does gives credence to period criticism that by this time Melies was repeating himself and a certain sense of fatigue was setting in.

Still from restored A Trip to the Moon (1902)The Flicker release comes with a gorgeous scholarly 25 page book that includes an essay, drawings, and stills.

New viewers may be surprised at the level of wit in “A Trip To the Moon.” The plot (based on elements of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne) is simple: European scientists (all dressed in wizard robes), aided by the army (all women in tight short shorts) shoot a rocket to the moon, land in its eye (the most famous image), and due to a storm on the surface, are forced underground where they encounter a crazed crab king and his bug-like subjects. The scientists fight off their attackers, the king gets whacked (by an umbrella/mushroom, which causes him to vanish in a puff of smoke), make it back to the rocket, and become heroes to their naysayers.

At roughly 15 minutes, it’s remarkable not for its plot (although it is one of the earliest  narrative films), but for its aesthetics, made all the more stunning in color. The rapid editing is a marvel, as are the hand-painted sets and the optical illusions typically found in Melies’ oeuvre.

Flicker Alley’s Blu-ray is essential.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

Only 68 movies left to Certify Weird! (That number is right, we didn’t miscount: see the explanation below).

Alfred Eaker kicks us off next week with a review of Flicker Alley’s new Blu-ray release of the short that birthed the fantastique, “A Trip to the Moon.” Then,  Bryan Pike updates you on the new existential  indie release It Takes from Within, Pete Trbovich knocks one out of the review queue with a shout-out to Britain’s The Shout (1978), and G. Smalley goes classic and retro with an examination of ‘s surrealistic debut, Blood of a Poet (1930).

No fooling here: the quotes below are actual search terms weirdos used to find 366 Weird Movies this past week. First, the search for a “movie where man says etcettera” goes into our “can you narrow that down for me?” file. We would be remiss if we did not note the search for “lesbian girls and doll pul movies.com” (it was making sense until the “doll pul” arrived). Then we have a pair of perhaps related searches: a jazz cinema fan’s search for “sax films of 2012,” which might possibly be better found on the site “sax bandits.com”. Simple misspellings can sometimes lead to ambiguity: is the guy looking for “twin leaks 366 weird movies” actually looking for the television series, or the pee fetish porn parody? A similar searching error led to our official Weirdest Search Term of the Week, “link floyd thé wool”. The misspellings are bad enough, but going out of your way to add an accent aigu to the “thé” that makes the search acutely weird.

On to the bit of business hinted at above: many of you have expressed dismay that the List of the 366 Best Weird Movies ever made is nearing its end, and are afraid that your worthy favorites will not fit into the few remaining slots. If you fall into that category, we have good news: we’re removing some of the dead wood to make way for better choices. Obviously, when we started this List ten years ago, we were very different people than now. As you may have noticed with Alfred’s series on spirituality themed movies, we are (a little!) more mature than the crazy live-for-today 40somethings who started this List. We recognize that we made mistakes in the early days (and even in the later days), and canonized a few movies of questionable intent that didn’t deserve to be honored. What better day than Easter Day, 2018 to announce a culling of the List and the rebirth of a new one? We’re going to free up twenty-seven movie slots by canceling several of our rasher and more questionable choices. These entries have already disappeared from the sidebar list; we’ll detail them below, with an explanation for each film’s removal.

REMOVED FROM THE LIST:

3-Iron (2004) – With the sexual assault allegations against director , we can no longer in good conscience allow him to be honored on our List.

Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 3/30/2018

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:

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988): Read our review. Minor, but kulty, spoof of 50s alien invasion horrors, with klowns replacing little green men. Arrow Video puts out a typically lavish Blu-ray with numerous interviews, deleted scenes, and new transfers of the Chiodo brothers’ early 8mm shorts. Buy Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Scanners (1981): This horror about telepaths who can explode your head with a though is not one of ‘s weirder efforts; we actually mention this release more because of the inclusion of his experimental student film Stereo (which is set at the “Canadian Academy for Erotic Inquiry”) as a bonus feature. Criterion released the DVD in 2014; four years later, here’s the Blu-ray. Buy Scanners.

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:

Pi (1998): Read the Certified Weird review! A corporation and the world’s toughest gang of Hasidic Jews try to keep a mathematics genius from revealing the God number. Watch Pi 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.

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