WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

Here’s what we’ve got lined up next week: we’ll report on the British hit-man psychothriller Kill List (2011); investigate 1985’s Dreamchild, which explores the ambiguous real-life relationship between “Alice in Wonderland” scribe Lewis Carroll and his prepubescent muse Alice Liddell; and, bowing to public pressure, we grant David Cronenberg‘s disturbing gynecological fable Dead Ringers its rightful place on the List of the 366 Best Weird Movies ever made. We’ll even throw in a top 10 weird movies list from underground filmmaking team Daniel Fawcett and Clara Pais; something for everyone!

We start off our survey of this week’s weirdest search terms used to locate this site with one that really isn’t all that strange, but is nonetheless newsworthy: “if you dont appreciate wierd movies, i dont like you.” Moving on to weirder stuff, we noticed “nipping out brides.” That’s a bit weird, sure, but the next search term weirded us out a little because it made us feel like we’d come in on the middle of someone’s dirty chat conversation: “a angel is in the bathroom. that babe watches herself in the mirror..” Still, among this week’s crazy queries nothing beats the winner of our Weirdest Search Term of the Week, “flaying love white doll sex.” The icing on the cake? Google helpfully suggests the searcher may have meant to look for “flying love white doll sex.” Sure, that makes a lot more… wait, what?

Here’s how the ridiculously-long-and-ever-growing reader-suggested review queue stands: The Hour-glass Sanatorium [Saanatorium pod klepsidra] (out of print in Region 1, but we’ll keep looking); Liquid Sky (re-review); “Twin Peaks” (TV series); SocietyLittle Otik; Final Programme; Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE

READER RECOMMENDATION: ABSENTIA (2011)

Reader review by Jezella Pigott.

DIRECTED BY: Mike Flanagan

FEATURING: Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Morgan Peter Brown

PLOT: Tricia’s husband Daniel has been missing for seven years. Her younger sister Callie

Still from Absentia (2011)

comes to live with her as the pressure mounts to finally declare him “dead in absentia.” As Tricia sifts through the wreckage and tries to move on with her life, Callie finds herself drawn to an ominous tunnel near the house. As she begins to link it to other mysterious disappearances, it becomes clear that Daniel’s presumed death might be anything but ‘natural.’ The ancient force at work in the tunnel might have set its sights on Callie and Tricia … and Daniel might be suffering a fate far worse than death in its grasp.

WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST: Although fairly low budget, the story is told through the eyes of several different characters. It uses subtle camera angles and unusual noises coming from the walls and in the dark tunnel where some of the story is set. The director, Mike Flanagan, has a good understanding of how to create suspense and horror mixed with fantasy and folklore. This combined makes Absentia a memorable and haunting film, a must see for all!

COMMENTS: For me this film resembles some of the darker plotlines of Haruki Murakami’s novels such as “Kafka on the Shore” and “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.” The theme plays on the idea of hidden worlds that exist within the context of everyday spaces and experiences—whether it’s down a well, in a forest, or in a tunnel—where one can become isolated and disoriented, causing ones mind to lose it’s basis in reality and discover all is not what it seems.

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 8/24/2012

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 on the official site links.

SCREENINGS (Boston, Mass., Aug 24-26):

Daisies [Sedmikrásky] (1966): Read the Certified Weird entry! This Czech New Wave film about two spoiled girls who wreck their way through sundry surreal set pieces was so damn weird the Communist authorities assumed it had to be subversive, so when they couldn’t find any objectionable political content, they banned it because a food fight scene sent a bad message about wasting national resources. Janus Films has unexpectedly sent it on a U.S. tour; besides Boston, Daisies will sprout up in Chicago, Vancouver, Philadelphia, and other major cities throughout the remainder of 2012 and into early 2013. Check Janus Films’s Daisies theatrical release page to see if it will be coming to a theater near you.

FILM FESTIVALS: VENICE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (Aug. 29-Sep. 8, Venice, Italy):

Venice is the oldest and second most prestigious (after Cannes) film festival in Europe. Since Venice accepts only films making their world premier in competition, there is no overlap with the Cannes slate of films. There’s not much that looks weird in Venice but here are a few movies that may be worth keeping an eye on:

  • La cinquième saison [The Fifth Season] – All we know about this Belgian film is that the magical realist premise is that one year spring does not come to a rural village, and the social order disintegrates. Screening in competition Sept. 6.
  • Forgotten [Du Hast Es Versprochen] – Horrible secrets revealed on a remote island in what director Alex Schmidt describes as “a mixture of psycho-thriller and mystery-horror,” adding “My aim was to depict the abysses of the human soul by intertwining them with fairy-tale-like elements.” Screening out of competition Sep. 7.
  • Spring Breakers – The bikini publicity photos make it look like a typical teen-sex comedy, but with at the helm we’re guessing this story of four college girls who get into criminal trouble on spring break will be anything but conventional. Squeaky clean Disney alums Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens will try to de-habilitate their images with this project. In competition, screening Sep. 5.
  • Superstar – An ordinary man becomes a celebrity without any explanation why. The scenario is identical to the Roberto Begnini strand of ‘s To Rome with Love, but director Xavier Giannoli promises the tone is “simultaneously Kafkaesque and Hitchcockian.” Aug. 30.

Venice International Film Festival home page

FILM FESTIVALS: EVERYTHING IS FESTIVAL (Aug. 18-23, Los Angeles, CA):

Looks like we missed the first half of this found-footage/general craptasticness festival sponsored by the weirdos from Everything Is Terrible! (why oh why didn’t we subscribe to the newsletter?), so we’ll spare you the regret of detailing what you missed and instead set our sights on the highlights to come. Saturday, August 25th brings us a mini-festival of outsider artists movies (backyard impresarios working beneath the underground) and a selection of weird short films (at least one of which has been featured on these pages as a Saturday Short) curated by Dave Hughes of the Adult Swim program “Off the Air.” Sunday brings a screening of the “take that, George Lucas!” viral sensation Star Wars: Uncut on the big screen. Other oddities include screenings of the kung fu flop Miami Connection (1987), a reunion for the cult kid’s show “The Adventures of Pete and Pete,” and found-footage montages themed around cats and religion. Los Angelinos can get the complete scoop and schedule at the Cinefamily website.

IN DEVELOPMENT:

Captain Ahab’s Motorcycle Club (201?): There’s really no solid information available yet on this mysterious project from American Astronaut auteur . It’s intended as a collaborative affair involving musicians, graphic artists, and documentary filmmaker Gregory Bayne, to be at least partially created by “independent club chapters” (“participation equals membership”). Head to the Captain Ahab’s Motorcycle Club website, and if you figure out what’s going on here, please tell us!

NEW ON DVD:

Black Magic Rites [AKA The Reincarnation of Isabella] (1973): Muscleheaded Mickey Hargitay believes the blood of virgins (naked ones, of course) will reincarnate his 500-years-dead lover, so he rents a Gothic dungeon, sets up a torture chamber, and gets to work perving about. Fans of nonsensical Eurosleaze will perk up the ears (at the very least) at this typically naughty Redemption release. Buy Black Magic Rites.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Black Magic Rites [AKA The Reincarnation of Isabella] (1973): See description in DVD above. Buy Black Magic Rites [Blu-ray].

FREE (LEGITIMATE RELEASE) MOVIES ON YOUTUBE:

Seraphim Falls (2006): Big time movie star Liam Neeson tracks big time movie star Pierce Brosnan from the mountains to the desert in this modern revenge Western that was overlooked at the box office because it turns bat-guano insane at the end. It’s not bad, rewarding the patient viewer with a dollop of high desert weirdness at the climax. Watch Seraphim Falls 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.

NUDE ON THE MOON (1962)

It’s 1962. You are a producer/director who, admittedly, makes films for the primary purpose of turning a profit. Now, you only have a budget of about fifty bucks. So, what’s the best way to turn a profit? Skin, of course. There is, however, a bit of an obstacle. The obscenity laws prohibit nudity. Of course, that is hardly an obstacle if your name is . Doris was well aware of THE BIG LOOPHOLE. Nudity on film was permissible IF it was confined to a nudist colony, because we all know there is, indeed, educational value in filming naturists. And if you really want to double your potential profit, you take that nudist colony and put it on the moon for the sic-fi kids. Amazing, but true!

Our space adventure begins with a 7th grader’s lame drawing of outer space accompanied by an endlessly lame theme song sung by an equally lame crooner. Jeff (Lester Brown) wants to go to the moon. But, poor Jeff does not have the funding. Even worse, Jeff can’t seem to get aroused by his horny , buxom secretary, Cathy. The Professor (William Mayer) is also in a predicament. In addition to having about five gallons of shellac in his hair, he is stuck listening to Jeff’s money problems and to Cathy’s confessions about her pent-up desires. Time to smoke a pipe.

Lo and behold, Jeff’s uncle dies and leaves Jeff three million bucks. To heck with the government, we are going to the moon ourselves! Come on professor. Let’s go! Space makes the boys a tad sleepy, and somehow they wake up after having landed somewhere. Maybe it’s the moon. Maybe it’s not.

Nude on the Moon posterOur dynamic duo jump into their red and green power ranger suits and discover, you guessed it, a nudist colony. But, this is not just any nudist colony. Actually, it’s just a topless colony. Oh, and the topless Martians all have antenna through which they communicate. This, of course, makes dubbing a heck of a lot easier. Jeff and the professor, being hu-mans, do have to chat, so there are plenty of shots from behind so we won’t see their lip movements are out of sync with the sound.

This must be the dark side of the moon, with plenty of lush vegetation and a volley ball court. The Queen (Marietta) looks an awful lot like Cathy (Marietta), except Queenie’s allergic to blouses. There are a few moon men too, pulled from the list of rejects from Tarzan casting calls.

A few light taps on the head from a moon chick’s abracadabra viagra stick and suddenly Jeff’s noticing boobs. Now Jeff’s happy! For the first time in his life, Jeff is as giddy as a school boy. But, gosh darn it, Jeff’s gonna run outta oxygen. Goodbye boobs. Back in the space ship, back home, and, hey Cathy looks just like the Queen! I’ll bet Cathy has boobs too, thinks Jeff. After an excessively long panning back and forth between Cathy clothed and Jeff’s eyes trying hard to bug out, Cathy loses her blouse and, yes, she has boobs just like the Queen! Jeff is happy again, despite having received a call from the government. They don’t believe Jeff and the professor went to the moon! Who cares? Jeff now knows that, to find boobs, he need not look any further than his own back yard.

There’s no place like home.

CAPSULE: DORORO (2007)

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Akihiko Shiota

FEATURING: Satoshi Tsumabuki, , Kiichi Nakai

PLOT: A pickpocket follows a mysterious man on his quest to kill 48 demons—each of who

Still from Dororo (2007)

owns one of his body parts.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It’s an oft-enthralling adventure with a fairy tale flavor, but it’s not strange enough for the List. Much of what, to the Western viewer, seems “weird” in Dororo is simply culture shock from seeing unfamiliar Japanese folkloric creatures (yōkai) on screen.

COMMENTS: Despite being picked up by Universal for home video distribution, Japan’s Dororo has been slow to find an audience in the West; this is a shame, as this picaresque demon-hunting epic should be counted among the upper ranks of 21st century fantasy adventures. Adapted from a series by manga god Osamu Tezuka, the mythic setup involves a ruthless daimyo who offers forty-eight demons the body parts of his unborn child in exchange for victory over his enemies. After the spirits have extracted their pounds of flesh, the child—a limbless, eyeless torso—is set adrift on a river in a basket and is eventually discovered by a sympathetic herbalist. À la Dr. Frankenstein, the shaman builds the boy a new body out of parts he scavenges from corpses; à la Mr. Miyagi, he then trains him in the arts of combat. Once this fairy tale-style prologue is finished, the film settles into a new groove, as wandering warrior Hyakkimaru sets out to reclaim his stolen body parts from the scattered demons. Tagging along is Dororo, the self-proclaimed best thief in the world (even her name is stolen); she’s waiting to grab Hyakkimaru’s demon-slaying sword the moment he’s slain his last enemy. Many battles with creatively designed but questionably CG-ed creatures follow (how does the one that’s half walking tree, half cherry-blossom-spitting doll’s head grab you?), until the pair of travelers stumble across the evil daimyo, against whom both have sworn revenge. With shape-shifting spirits, crossed loyalties, and samurai duels, Dororo contains just about everything you would want in an Asian fantasy adventure. The New Zealand locations provide beautiful, timeless landscapes for the actors to play against. Some clunky SyFy-level CGI aside, Dororo features thrilling action scenes and fight choreography that makes restrained use of wire-fu. But it’s the Platonic chemistry between the stoic hero and his comic relief, hand-drum beating sidekick—and their obsessive devotion to complex notions of honor, and to each other—that makes the movie touch the heart as much as it milks the adrenal glands. It doesn’t hurt that the fantastic premise accommodates exotic set pieces, including a talking mouse corpse, fetus-like flying goblins hovering around a tank containing a boy’s submerged body, and a giant spirit baby composed of the restless souls of slaughtered orphans. Dororo may not be Weird with a capital “W”, but it’s offbeat enough to catch your eye, and lovely enough to keep it trained on the screen. And hey, in what other movie can you watch a samurai kill a winged demon while flamenco music plays?

With many of the demons Hyakkimaru needed to kill to regain his original body still left undefeated at the end of Dororo, the end credits promised sequels; unfortunately, nothing has materialized to date. One feature of Dororo (at least in the movie’s Netflix streaming incarnation) that is wholly unsuccessful is its experimental subtitles. Instead than appearing in the expected location at the bottom of the screen, they show up in the left part of the frame—and, even worse, they’re extremely tiny. If you don’t believe me, then look at the still accompanying this review: it contains subtitles. Can you find them?

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“The ‘48 body parts taken by demons, 48 fights to win them back’ tagline may appear an introduction to little more than absurd sequential ultra-violence, but Dororo takes the time to effectively establish its premise, ensuring a surprisingly solid verisimilitude to the world it inhabits and the proceedings therein.”–Joe Green, Total Sci-Fi Online (DVD)

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

LIST CANDIDATE: KEYHOLE (2011)

Keyhole has been upgraded to the List of the 366 Best Weird Movies of all time. This initial review is kept here for archival purposes. Please leave comments on Keyhole‘s official Certified Weird entry page.

DIRECTED BY: Guy Maddin

FEATURING: Jason Patric, , Louis Negin, Brooke Palsson, David Wontner, Udo Kier

PLOT: Gangster Ulysses journeys through his immense mansion searching for his wife who is

Still from Keyhole (2011)

hiding on the top floor; along the way he uncovers tragic family memories.

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: It’s got Loius Negin as a naked grandpa ghost tied to his daughter’s bed by a long chain who likes to run around his haunted house whipping mortal intruders, for one thing. There’s more than enough soft-focus weirdness here to justify a position on the List of the 366 Best Weird Movies Ever Made. The only problem is, icons like Guy Maddin make things difficult on themselves by raising their own bar so high. Keyhole would stun us if it were the work of a first or second time director, but we’ve watched Maddin creep about similarly maddening psychoscapes before—and seen him do it better.

COMMENTS: I think there are four possible reactions to Keyhole. The average moviegoer who has never seen a Guy Maddin movie before will despise it as incomprehensible trash. A tiny minority of newcomers will be astounded and think it’s the most visionary movie they’ve ever laid eyes upon. If you’re already initiated into Maddin’s esoteric world, there are two further possible responses: either an enthusiastic “Guy’s done it again!” or the more muted “Guy’s done this before.” I’m afraid I’m leaning towards the last camp. For this outing, Maddin sets his genre renovation sights on 1930s gangster movies, but we don’t stay in mob mode for long—the film quickly morphs into a unique, psychological haunted house piece. Crime boss Ulysses Pick has assembled his gang at his Gothic manor while he attends to a personal matter. The thugs wait on the first floor while Ulysses takes a blind girl and a kidnap victim through the house, peering through various keyholes and re-enacting a ritual with his (dead?) wife (they exchange a verbal formula, then he extracts a bit of hair from the keyhole and remembers an incident involving one of his four children, all of whom came to tragic ends). Meanwhile, various ghosts roam the home annoying the gangsters, and Udo Kier shows up as a doctor to pronounce some of the characters dead. Continue reading LIST CANDIDATE: KEYHOLE (2011)

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