DIRECTED BY: Robert Mulligan

FEATURING: Chris and Martin Udvarnoky, Uta Haen, John Ritter

PLOT: Adapted from his novel by Tom Tryon, two enigmatic twins seem to be connected to a community’s run of misfortune.  Could it have anything to do with a cursed family crest and a dead man’s severed finger?

Still from The Other (1972) with Uta Hagen

WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST: An unusual story, The Other is unsettling and bizarre, yet it is conventionally produced and is shot by Mulligan (Summer of  ’42) like a mainstream family film. The frank, matter of fact presentation of disturbing imagery is as creepy as a hostess placing a decaying skull in the punchbowl at a débutante’s ball.

COMMENTS: Some horror cinema doesn’t have to rely on the supernatural to be horrifying. The Other is technically a psychological crime thriller, but it projects the distinct feel of a horror movie with occult elements. Set in the 1930’s, The Other is a grim shocker about two cute, apparently wholesome twin boys who would seem to lead an idyllic existence on a picturesque family farm. There’s just one problem—everyone around them begins to have gruesome accidents.

The boys are drawn into a convoluted good-versus-evil struggle that churns within themselves, and they struggle with each other to both exercise and exorcise it. As this conflict manifests itself, the bizarre circumstances surrounding the misfortunes of family and neighbors begin to weave an increasingly twisted and captivating mystery.

The story includes many odd and unsettling elements, such as the fact that the twins’ mother is inexplicably a terrified psychological invalid. Their Russian nanny seems to be able to teach the boys how to fly via astral projection. There is a very odd, cursed family crest ring complete with the severed finger of the corpse from which it was stolen. People and things connected to the twins seem to end up broken, on fire, paralyzed or dead.

The boys covet and revere the ring and finger. They carry it with them constantly in their treasure box, and this morbid memento is somehow the key to all of the strange tragedy that unfolds.  The uncertainty of who is who and what is what creates a surreal tone. The Other is a thoughtfully presented nightmare of indulgence, madness and grotesque murder. The production is enhanced by Robert Surtees’ striking and graceful cinematography which produces memorable visual impressions. Jerry Goldsmith’s low-key, creepy score compliments the film well.

Horror and occult fans should take particular delight in viewing The Other for the following reasons: it has an original story that has not been perpetually copied since it was filmed. This work was shot in 1972 when there were fewer creative constraints on writer-director collaboration. The Other is well constructed, but neither formulaic, nor forced to be “accessible” to the public. There are none of the standard cliches. It withstands the test of time and is not dated. Set during the Great Depression, it looks like it could have been produced yesterday. The subject matter, however, is refreshingly unconventional. Those looking for something fresh and unlike anything they have seen before should be especially pleased—that is, if they can locate a copy.


“…The Other is a dark, eerie minor masterpiece that is filled with lasting images: a finger wrapped up in a handkerchief, a boy leaping into a pile of hay with a pitchfork in it, the corpse of a baby drowned in a wine barrel… Some horror films leave such a chilling impression that they become impossible to forget.”  -Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide


Ed. note:  The movies of Rustam Khamdamov are impossible to find in the West, and for the most part in his native Russia as well. Read this article (to our knowledge the most extensive retrospective of Khamdamov to be found on the Internet in English) to discover how this legendary, and very weird, director has managed to fall through the cracks in world culture.

By Irina Goncharova, edited and additional material by Greg Smalley.  Original research and Russian translations by Irina Goncharova.

Rustam Khamdamov– What is your father’s occupation?

– My father writes poetry. That’s all he does. He is one of the greatest unknown poets of the world.

– And when does he get money?

– Never. It’s impossible to be great and be paid for it.

The quote above is an exchange from Rustam Khamdamov’s V gorakh moyo serdtse [My Heart’s in the Highlands] (1967).  When he was a third year student of the All-Union Institute for Cinematography (VGIK in Moscow, USSR) Khamdamov shot this movie that was called “the work of a master” and was included in lists of the best Soviet movies. The film swept the VGIK internal festivals. Although Khamdamov is mentioned in the credits only once, along with other students, everybody knew he was the one and only author of the movie—not just its director, but the one who wrote the original screenplay (after William Saroyan’s play), who penned the absurd dialogue, who made all streamers and costumes with his own hands, who selected the best actors when doing the casting. The response to the film was polarized and conflicting. The VGIK Communist Party Committee—just imagine, at that time the Communists decided the destiny of everything and everyone in the country—introduced ideological censorship on the works of the VGIK students straight away.

Really, it’s not easy to write for an American audience about a director such as Rustam Khamdamov.  I believe there are very few people in the USA who have ever heard his name, although it may be found by Googling or searching the Internet Movie Database.  Still, this search would hardly clarify the situation.  The list of his movies is incredibly short, and practically each one has a very sad production history, but those critics who mention his name do so with much respect and even a kind of devotion, often calling him “legendary.”

What makes this director so legendary?

Rustam Khamdamov is of Uzbek descent and took his film production course from the renown Russian film director Grigori Chukhrai.[1]  As mentioned above, his first movie was the student work (some critics say it was his graduate project) My Heart’s in the Highlands (1967), a short, approximately 30 minute black and white film. This was the first film where viewers saw the beautiful Elena Solovey, a future Soviet movie star.

Elena Solovey

Elena Solovey in Raba Lyubvi, 1975.

My Heart’s In The Highlands (1939), initially a play by William Saroyan, was a comedy Continue reading RUSTAM KHAMDAMOV: IMPOSSIBLE TO BE GREAT…

  1., best known in the West for such his movies as Sorok pervyy (1956) [The Forty-first] and Ballada o soldate (1959) [Ballad of a Soldier]. []


Next week, you can expect to see a Director Retrospective on the legendary Russian director Rustam Khamdamov, an uncompromising artist with extremely bad luck.  His films are unavailable here in the west, and pretty much unavailable in his homeland as well; find out why.  We will also publish reviews of Guy Maddin‘s Cowards Bend the Knee and Robert Mulligan’s eerie but underseen twin horror film, The Other (1972).

As far as weird search terms used to find the site go, it was a surprisingly light week for perverted fetishists (although one guy did come here looking for that “gay porn frogman movie,” which we admit is probably fairly weird).   We did get hits from people searching for the following: a “bizarre movie about our lives,” some “weird movies names for weird people,” and  “simple weird experiments for the eyes.”

The reader-suggested review queue is growing fast.  It now looks like this: Cowards Bend the Knee (next week), Greasers Palace (substituted for Institute Benjamenta), Pan’s LabyrinthWaking Life, Survive Style 5+, The Dark Backward, The Short Films of David Lynch, Santa Sangre, Dead Man, Inland Empire, Monday (assuming I can find an English language version), The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Barton Fink, What? (Diary of Forbidden Dreams), Meatball Machine, Xtro, Basket Case, Suicide Club, O Lucky Man! , Harmony Korine‘s Trash Humpers (if it’s released), Takashi Miike‘s GozuTales of Ordinary Madness, and The Wayward Cloud.


This week’s short was created by Gordon Inman eighteen months ago as his senior project film. As you will see, Gordon’s artistic interests don’t stop at film.  He is also a very talented musician.

There are some captivating images in this short, including a Popsicle melting in reverse and a rotting watermelon. Although this may not be the most remarkable short I’ve seen, it shows great promise for the future. Our best wishes to Gordon as he continues to explore and express himself through art.


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.


Antichrist:  Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg play a grieving couple who retreat to a cabin in the woods where the encounter the Ultimate Evil, in what’s described as either arty torture porn or one of the best horror films of modern times.  Lars von Trier’s latest has divided critics straight down the middle: half think its unreedemable, pandering shock trash, while others think it’s a masterpiece. Von Triers, severely depressed when he wrote the movie, dedicates the film to Andrei Tarkovsky; Cannes preview audiences reportedly booed at the comparison. Antichrist official site.

Night and Day [Bam gua nat] (2008): It’s difficult to divine much information about this well-reviewed “metaphysical” movie about an aging Korean womanizer among expats in Pairs, but reviews suggest that director Sang-soo Hong plays fast and loose with reality and may play tricks with the audiences mind in this drama/character study. Currently playing in NYC only? Bam gua nat Official Site (in French, and not safe for work due to nudity).

Rembrandt’s J’accuse (2008): Not a weird film, but rather a serious documentary about a single Rembrandt painting (“The Nightwatch”), mentioned here because it’s the product of oft-weird artist/director Peter (The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover) Greenaway.  Rembrandt’s J’accuse official site.


Easy Rider (1969): Not thoroughly weird, but when Fonda and Hopper drop acid in a New Orleans graveyard, the result is one of the better “trip” sequences in cinema. Buy Blu-ray from Amazon

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971):  Gene Wilder is iconic as Wonka in one of the weirdest and most psychedelic children’s films ever made.  Everyone loves Oompah-loompahs. Buy Blu-ray 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.


Here’s an alternative seasonal viewing list for the weird, that goes beyond the usual vampire/zombie/demon/slasher fare (although some favorite characters make appearances).

1. Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle 3 (2002) . Only the third of Barney’s epic Cremaster Cycle, made over an eight year period, has made it’s way to any type of video release, which is criminally unfortunate. The Guggenheim Museum, who financed it, exhibits the Cycle and describes it as a  “a self-enclosed aesthetic system consisting of five feature-length films that explore the processes of creation.”  Trailers are available on the Cremaster website; The third movie is available via Amazon and other outlets, albeit at expensive prices [Ed. Note: the version of Cremaster 3 that’s commercially available is not actually the full movie, but a 30 minute excerpt that’s still highly collectible as the only Cremaster footage released].  The Cremaster Cycle is complex, challenging, provocative and not for the attention span-challenged.

Still from Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary (2002)2. Guy Maddin‘s Dracula-Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (2002). Guy’s Dracula ballet, choreographed to Mahler.  Just when you though nothing more could be done with this old, old story.  Of course, we are talking Mr. Maddin here.

3. Ingmar Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf (1968). Bergman’s ode to German Expressionism has been labeled his sole horror film. Hour is a further continuation of frequent Bergman themes—the defeated artist, loss of God, nihilism—and stars Bergman regular Max Von Sydow.  Some find this dull and slow, others find it mesmerizing and nightmarish.

4. Roman Polanski‘s The Tenant (1976) returned this consummate craftsman back to the territory of Repulsion and remains one of his best films.  Polanski is now facing extradition charges for having sexual relations with a willing, underage girl thirty years Continue reading OCTOBER 31ST FRINGE VIEWING LIST


DIRECTED BY:  Scooter McCrae

FEATURING:  Stark Raven, Flora Fauna, Robert Wells and John Weiner

PLOT: In the near future, people can inexplicably no longer cease to exist. Death means rebirth into a dead body and the undead walk among us.  A young woman tries to survive as the increasing numbers of dead do their best to convince her to die willingly and join them.

actress Stark Raven
WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LISTShatter Dead contains some strange allegories.  It opens with a lesbian Angel of Death impregnating a mortal woman, which somehow begins the undead phenomenon.  In this zombie film, the dead are not flesh eating monsters.  They merely want to reestablish society—and they want the living to voluntarily take part.

COMMENTSShatter Dead is a low budget zombie movie. It also happens to be one of the most imaginative and interesting zombie movies ever made.  It is certainly the most unconventional, while remaining basically serious. There are some attempts at surreal symbolism, but they are not gimmicky efforts to deliberately make the film look arty. The entire piece flows like a compelling dream, which while twisted, is so interesting that we are reluctant to awaken from it.

In this offbeat yarn, the zombies are  “regular” people who happen to be dead, and yet still think and function. The dilemma in this morbid version of reality is that one lives on as a corpse forever, permanently trapped in the physical condition in which one found oneself at the time of death. Many have committed suicide in order not to spend eternity old and feeble. Postmortem injuries, regrettably, are permanent.  If a zombie breaks an arm for example, it is the same as if you or I sustained a broken arm that won’t heal for eternity. This phenomenon figures prominently in the plot.

The alluring and mesmerizing Stark Raven (yes, it’s a stage name, and no, she’s not a Continue reading RECOMMENDED AS WEIRD: SHATTER DEAD (1994)


Still from Zorg & Andy (2009)

If you were at Tromadance a couple weeks back, you probably heard about this little comedy pearl (and, while we’re on the subject, did you see me there? I was the guy in the yellow shirt with the melting, pulsating face). It was a modest success at the festival, and hopefully that appearance leads to a bright future for this film, because I stand before you today a man who, on his first assignment for the amazing 366 Weird Movies, has struck pay-dirt. Zorg and Andy is a low-budget feature with a lot of what makes independent movies so intriguing; the glorious smacking of ambition. I appreciate anything that tries harder than it needs to, and this little movie, made for less than $25,000, truly breaks from its ilk and strives for some really good stuff here. Is it weird? A little. But as long as it’s enjoyable and a tad bit more off-the-beaten-trail than, say, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, isn’t that what counts?

So the movie revolves around the wacky, ZANY antics of our soon-to-be best pal Andy. Andy is a loser who sucks at just about everything, and this is just the way things are for him, and probably will be for the rest of his life. Fortunately, before his loser status gets him kicked out of college, he lands a work-study job at the local museum cleaning artifacts. When he arrives, he meets his overworked handler Jen and she puts him to the task of cleaning a very important artifact rushed to them by the museum director herself. It’s a fertility statue of unknown origin with a strange, let’s call it “protrusion”, sticking out of its forehead. Andy does an almost perfect job of cleaning it and relaxes for a second to congratulate himself, when suddenly a strange and mysterious MILF appears and seduces poor Andy. She asks him for the statue, calling it “Zorg” and saying that she’s been waiting to pick it up. He buys this line, obviously in the throes of her charms, and, in a flash, she leaves with statue in hand. Afterward, he tells Jen all the good work he did with cleaning “Zorg” and giving it to the mysterious lady, and she naturally flips her lid. In a rage, she demands that Andy use what little intelligence he possesses to find the statue and bring it back before the museum director notices what has happened. So it becomes a scramble to find this “Zorg”, unearth why this woman wants it so badly, and do it under the nose of museum staff. Hopefully Andy can show the world that he’s not a total waste of space before it’s too late!

Director Guy Davis gets a thumbs-up from yours truly for making a film of surprising quality with so few resources. Everything about this film belies its cost. The music, mostly composed by a gent named Kevin MacLeod, is very good and exceptionally fitting. It’s flirty, fun, and peppy, marking the bubbly mood of this b-movie comedy. The special effects, almost entirely digital, are passable, using the ol’ standby, day-for-night, like it was about to be outlawed and making the use of some quirky CG for various menaces standing in Andy’s way. The shots are all textbook, and first-time director Davis must be commended for his utilitarian framing and shooting the first-time around, not botching a single scene.

At a light and breezy 62 minutes, Zorg and Andy is the comic equivalent of Binaca; the effects wear off pretty fast and the sensation isn’t as refreshing as you’d like it to be, but it packs a bit of a bite for what its worth. There are some pretty effective gags here for such a budgeted affair. I mean, the statue alone gets me a little bit; it’s so penis-y! Andy himself is played to quite a few laughs, his stupidity spreading thick over the movie like a peanut butter and idiot sandwich.

But one of my favorite gags is one of the things that makes this film on the verge of being weird, and that is the presence of Stuart and The Pig. They’re the two students featured in the picture above, and they’re the gurus of all the goings-on in University news. You might be wondering why The Pig has a papier-mâché pig’s head on. Well, it’s never explained, and he never takes it off; all we know is that he’s a benefactor of Andy and seems to be highly respected around the campus for his rarely-dispensed wisdom. And Stuart is Stuart. ‘Nuff said.

The acting by Andy, played by Scott Ganyo, is fair, verging on good, and I especially enjoyed his confused-but-happy attitude that carries that film on an “aww-garsh” Goofy-like sentiment. Even though he’s a feeb, and a vague jerk, you’ll somehow still like him enough to not want him to die. But not enough for him to get away scot-free, of course. That’s where Jen comes in, played by Kate Rudd. She’s the workaholic boss of Andy who has the distinction of yelling at him for about 3/4 of the film. She’s also passable, but I found her to be a little flat, and I felt like she wasn’t as into it as she could’ve been. I’d definitely give her another chance, but if you end up watching this, you’ll know what I mean when I say, “Eh.”

So run, don’t walk! to the internet to catch this light and fast b-movie surprise. It’s cute, it’s fast, and it’s somewhat odd as far as the plot goes. You won’t find much better for $25,000, and I mean that in the sincerest way possible. I would check this out for Stuart and The Pig alone, though, so I might be insane! You can go to their website at, where DVDs will be arriving soon, if you’re interested.  [ED: DVDs are now available from Film Baby.] Out of a possible four, all things considered, I give Zorg and Andy 3 stars and a wink/nod from across cyberspace.

Thanks, 366 Weird Movies, for allowing me to get my hands on this. You’re the best, and I hope this will be the first of many more collaborations between you and I!

For more on Eric Young, check out his A Movie A Day review site at!


DIRECTED BY: Koen Mortier

FEATURING: Dries Van Hegen, Norman Baert, Gunter Lamoot, Sam Louwyck

PLOT: A writer agrees to become the drummer for a band formed by trio of handicapped lowlifes to win a Belgian battle of the bands; he ends up manipulating them into destruction.Still from Ex Drummer (2007)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST:  With it’s inverted skinhead and brief tour of a ravaged vagina, Ex Drummer is definitely weird; the problem is, it’s so unpleasant, pretentious, tedious and nihilistic that the oppressive atmosphere makes the viewer desperate to escape the movie.

COMMENTS: There are many possible interpretations of Ex Drummer—for one, the script at times implies it is a vague meditation on “personal sadness”—but the most honest explanation of what the film is comes from writer Dries’ confession when he agrees to join “The Feminists” as their celebrity drummer: “I want to step outside my happy world. Descend into the depths of stupidity, ugliness, obtuseness, unfaithfulness… Latch onto the life of losers, but without belonging to that world and in the knowledge that I can always return to my own world.” In other words, it’s moral tourism among the disadvantaged: the underclasses do the craziest things, like constantly rape each other and neglect their children until the tykes chomp down on excrement from hunger. Who wouldn’t want to enter such a world for ninety minutes, aside from most film-goers? Besides the drummer, the blackguard band’s principals are an abusive deaf guitarist, a gay rhythm guitarist with a stiff arm from an accident incurred when he was caught masturbating as a teen, and a misogynist skinhead singer with a lisp. Upper-class, educated Dries’ turns out to be the worst scoundrel of all, callously manipulating and scripting these mooncalves into cruel ends for his own amusement. True, the film can be very weird (gravity works backwards in the skinhead’s flat, where toothpaste and blood flow towards the roof), but the weirdness sits uneasily: the director seems to view unreality as just another form of ugliness to be savored. As a black comedy, more comedy and less black would have been greatly appreciated. First time feature director Mortier has a few interesting ideas and shots, such as an extended early sequence where the film unspools in reverse as the band bicycles backwards from Dries’ flat into their own backstories. But the pity is that the main memories we take home from Ex Drummer aren’t these few moments of inspiration; rather, there’s an impression that most of the movie was full of endlessly padded scenes of the band squabbling among itself or fighting other bands or organizers, hurling epithets and fists whenever anyone perceives the slightest slight to their egos. Since there are no characters anywhere in the film to root for, we have no reason to care who wins the battle of the bands. After that contest’s decided, there’s really nothing left for the movie to accomplish, but it presses on for another distasteful fifteen minutes, because having nothing to say or do has never stopped it before. Ex Drummer‘s attempts to forge nihilistic poetry from the lives of pariahs has gained it critical comparisons to Trainspotting; these are off, because Danny Boyle’s movie was about real people, and never indulged in such undisguised contempt for its characters. A more apt comparison is that Ex Drummer is a Belgian Gummo, with Eurotrash substituting for poor white trash, and even more shameless and self-aware gawking at the freaky antics of the disadvantaged.

On the plus side, the aggressive punk/metal soundtrack (with a few mellower indie rock numbers strategically inserted for a much needed change of pace) is actually pretty good, and likely the real reason for the film’s cult following. If you’re a fan of this type of music you’ll probably be much more forgiving of this movie, which could at times be described as an extended, uncensored, and rather pretentious music video.


“…bizarre, horribly violent and frequently brilliant black comedy from Belgium: a melange of Irrevérsible, Clockwork Orange, Man Bites Dog and This Is Spinal Tap.”–Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian (contemporaneous)

(This movie was nominated for review by reader “Denny.” Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)


Next week you can expect to see our long delayed review of the reader-nominated Belgian film Ex Drummer.  Also, be sure to check in on Tuesday, when we debut a new writer!  He’ll be reviewing a little underground horror/comedy movie called Zorg & Andy, which was made for $25,000 and has cult aspirations (but don’t all movies made for $25,000 ?)  Did we scoop a future classic, or sniff out some amateur trash?

As for the weirdest search term used to locate the site this week, we’re going to eschew the usual slew of misguided fetishists looking for free porn and go with “eraserhead are you a vampire”?  We’ll remember to pass on that question the next time we see him.

In the reader-suggested review queue: Ex Drummer (next week), Cowards Bend the Knee (coming soon!), Greasers Palace (substituted for Institute Benjamenta), Pan’s LabyrinthWaking Life, Survive Style 5+, The Dark Backward, The Short Films of David Lynch, Santa Sangre, Dead Man, Inland Empire, Monday (assuming I can find an English language version), The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Barton Fink, What? (Diary of Forbidden Dreams), Meatball Machine, Xtro, Basket Case, and Suicide Club. Yeah, we know we need to start whittling this thing down!

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