Tag Archives: Incest

CAPSULE: YOU AND THE NIGHT (2013)

Les Rencontres d’Après Minuit

DIRECTED BY: Yann Gonzalez

FEATURING: Kate Moran, Niels Schneider, Nicolas Maury, Alain-Fabien Delon, Julie Brémond, Eric Cantona, Fabienne Babe, Béatrice Dalle

PLOT: A couple and their transvestite maid invite the Slut, the Stud, the Teen and the Star to an orgy at their swinging Paris pad.

Still from You and the Night (2013)
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It’s very weird, but it’s also super talky, super French… sadly, too talky and French to be enjoyable.

COMMENTS: You and the Night is one of those European arthouse sex films where people prefer talking about doing it to actually doing it. There’s not even any nudity until the thirty-minute mark, when a bit of male prosthetic business is pulled out as a reward for those who’ve stuck with it for this long. Instead, there is a lot of dialogue along the lines of “always follow the clues you see in dreams… especially when they’re terrifying” and a cross-dressing maid. The setup involves various sexual archetypes arriving at the scheduled orgy, then regaling the other guests with absurdist backstory. For example, in the most memorable flashback “the Stud” explains why he is late; his story starts when he was a six-year old poet and ends with him in a cell in his underwear being whipped by Béatrice Dalle.

About half way through, the structure shifts as we get a much longer fairy tale exposition explaining how our hosts came to be a threesome. This segment, which is the movie’s most interesting digression and might have made a good standalone short, involves a war, eternal vows, and a satanic prayer that must have been a blast for the translator to work on (“oh keeper of the schlong and wretched sepulchers…”). After this high point, however, Night dissolves into a trippy trickle of self-serious surrealism, with disconnected scenes set on a beach, in a cinema, and superimposed over the cosmos.

Visually, the film is geometric, cleanly modern and generally appealing, although Gonzalez loves the blue day-for-night filter a little too much for my tastes. Much better are the storybook mise-en-scene of the middle section, with painted suns and moons glowing over the spare desert and cemetery sets. The music is by an electronic band called M83; the tuneage sounds competent to these ears, but digital aficionados rate it highly. Overall, the languid Night didn’t have a strong enough sense of purpose appeal to me, nor does it strike me as the kind of work that’s notable enough to demand a spot on the List despite my personal lack of enthusiasm. But it’s not terribly offensive in any way, just tedious by the end. I do suspect it will appeal to some of our readers. It’s like a music video director’s conception of how a modern-day collaboration between the Marquis de Sade and Samuel Beckett would play out. If that sounds like a must-see to you, have at it.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…[a] chamber piece of sex, surreality and the absurd, like something by Luis Buñuel or Luigi Pirandello, or a sexed-up version of TS Eliot’s The Cocktail Party.”–Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian (contemporaneous)

136. VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS (1970)

Valerie a Týden Divu

“…one of those haunting, dream-like films that once seen is difficult to forget.”–Tanya Krzywinska

Recommended

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: Jaroslava Schallerova, Petr Kopriva, Helena Anyzova, Jiri Prymek, 

PLOT: Young Valerie lives in a farmhouse on the edge of a small town with her Granny. She flirts with “Eagle,” a boy about her age who is either a neighbor or her brother, and they both fear a pale-faced bogeyman they call “the Weasel.” On the day she becomes a woman (symbolized by blood drops appearing on a daisy), Valerie’s life suddenly becomes a strange dream involving family betrayals, lusty priests, constantly shifting identities, and a vampire infestation.

Still from Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)

BACKGROUND:

  • Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Vítězslav Nezval, which was written in 1935 but not published until 1945. Nezval was a co-founder of the Czech Surrealist group (one of the first Surrealist groups organized outside of France).
  • This is considered one of the last works in what was known as the , although that term more commonly refers to Czech movies made or released just before or during the Prague spring of 1968. In contrast to most of the New Wave canon, Valerie was released after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and the installation of a hardline government who redoubled censorship efforts. Despite the fact that it’s a Surrealist work, equally offensive to the official aesthetic of Socialist Realism as a banned New Wave movie like 1967’s Daisies, Valerie appears to have evoked little objection from the censors. This may be because the film’s heavily anticlerical tone meshed with the Communist Party’s official stance on the Church.
  • A Philadelphia “freak folk” supergroup dubbed “The Valerie Project” wrote an alternate soundtrack to the film, and toured across the U.S. from 2006-2008 performing the score while the film screened as a silent movie.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: Drops of blood on white daisy petals.

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is often, and accurately, described as a Freudian version of Alice in Wonderland, with the confusion of new hormones surging through the young heroine’s body coloring her encounters with a dark and fearful tinge: Valerie faces vampires and rapist priests instead of Alice’s White Rabbits and Cheshire Cats. The plot makes no literal sense, because characters keep changing into different characters, the way they might in a dream; but overall Valerie’s welter of wonders hangs together as a mosaic of a girl’s anxieties about impending adutlhood and the enticing but scary world of sex.

Joe Dante commentary on rerelease trailer for Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

COMMENTS: Valerie and Her Week of Wonders opens with images of pretty young Valerie drinking from a waterspout, petting a dove, sniffing Continue reading

CAPSULE: IT’S IN THE BLOOD (2012)

DIRECTED BY: Scooter Downey

FEATURING: , Sean Elliot

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It’s not weird. Or at least it’s not as weird as horror movies like Don’t Look Now , The Cabin in the Woods, or High Tension, which are genuinely disconcerting and have truly bizarre plot twists. But, this movie does have a surprisingly not-creepy incest subplot, so maybe that counts as a little weird…

Still from It's in the BloodI (2012)

COMMENTS: …when I say a not-creepy incest subplot, it’s because the siblings involved are just adoptive siblings. The protagonist of It’s in the Blood is October (Elliot) is one of them, and he is deeply psychologically disturbed. For instance, you can tell how many days have passed in the movie because October cuts a line into his shoulder every morning; judging from all the scars on his chest, he’s been doing this for quite a while. His adopted sister, Iris, is dead. Traumatically so: raped and murdered by the town’s creepy deputy sheriff. Both October and Russell (the father by blood to October and by adoption to Iris, played by Lance Henriksen) witnessed the murder, which gives them unresolved psychological issues to fail to communicate about. If you’re worried that I’m giving away a twist ending, I’m not: all of this is pretty firmly established in the first quarter of the movie. Where this movie aspires to weirdness is in the circumstances under which October and Russell re-establish their relationship. They go off on a hike together, only to be harried by a legion of faceless forest spirits. These spirits are eerie, menacing, and occasionally genuinely frightening, and there’s an attempt to connect them with the memories that haunt both men. Will father and son emerge from their ordeal physically and psychologically triumphant… or just dead? The film as a whole fails, though, in three main categories: as a horror movie it fails to deliver anything but the occasional quick thrill; as a family drama, it fails to connecting with the characters in the film to the point where the viewer really cares about their reconciliation; and as a weird movie, it fails to do more than scratch the surface of the bizarre.

It’s in the Blood is in the process of preparing a Video-on-Demand version but there is no firm release date yet—we will update this space when a date is confirmed. (UPDATE: released on 11/7).

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…brings more to the table in terms of originality, frights, and true emotion than most horror films… one of the finest and most unique independent horror films in recent memory.”–Brad McHargue, Dread Central

DISCLOSURE: 366 Weird Movies was provided with a screener copy of It’s in the Blood by the production company.

LIST CANDIDATE: TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992)

DIRECTED BY: David Lynch

FEATURING, , Moira Kelly, Chris Isaak, Keifer Sutherland,

PLOT: This prequel to the events of the cult TV show explores the sordid story behind homecoming queen/secret bad girl Laura Palmer’s last days before her brutal murder.

Still from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)
WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: In terms of its chances of making the List, Fire Walk with Me‘s pluses and minuses are the same: the fact that it’s so intimately entwined with the TV series it sprang from. That makes it a good candidate to represent a franchise that has blessed us with some of the most memorably weird moving images of all time. The downsides are that this feature film makes no sense whatsoever to anyone who’s not thoroughly familiar with the minutiae of the “Twin Peaks” universe; further, much of what goes on in its 135 minute running time feels like housecleaning, tying up numerous loose ends from the canceled series.

COMMENTS: Early on in Fire Walk with Me a woman in a red fright wig walks in front of three FBI agents, makes funny faces and hand gestures, spins around, and leaves without saying a word. Typical Lynchian randomness, right? Not so fast; one of the agents later explains to the other that every article of clothing the woman wore, every gesture she made, held a secret meaning. After his superior decodes the entire piece of performance art for him, the junior G-man mentions that the lady was also wearing a blue rose. The more experienced agent compliments his powers of observation, but informs him “I can’t tell you about that.” In a meta-symbolic sense, this sequence explains what the viewer can expect from Lynch’s film: many seemingly abstruse images will have a coded meaning in the story, but something will still remain hidden that the director can’t tell you about. Whether he will refuse to explain it, or whether he doesn’t know himself, is left ambiguous. Fire Walk with Me proves muddled in more than it’s symbolism; it’s also more than a bit of a mess in structure and purpose. It’s set in Twin Peaks’ familiar universe, but the tone is far darker and weirder than the TV show. The project is also constantly pulled in two different directions due to its conflicting Continue reading

COMMON LAW WIFE (1963)

Common Law Wife (1963) is a hoot, as most period exploitation films are. This film, directed by the infamous schlockmeister Larry Buchanan and Eric Sayers, gets a lot of mileage out of the white trash melodrama genre.

Nasty old oil miser Uncle (love the name) Shugfoot Rainey (George Edgley) is bored with his worn out, tired-looking, live-in waitress girlfriend Linda (Anne MacAdams). Still, Linda is no pushover and proves it when she refuses to flinch while that mean old Uncle Shug throws darts at her head. But, after five years, Uncle Shug wants new tail, which he plans to get through his niece (!) Baby Doll (Lacey Kelly). Baby Doll is built like a French brick house and Linda, feeling like yesterday’s washrag, ain’t havin’ none o’ that!

Still from Common Law Wife (1963)Baby Doll, fresh from her job as a New Orleans stripper, is plenty willing to put out for some of her uncle’s assets, but she meets a road block in the rejected Linda. That heifer Linda has went and gotten herself a lawyer! Linda’s found out that she don’t haveta go nowhere, cause according to the law, she’s a… COMMON LAW WIFE! What is Shugfoot gonna do? “She’s lived with ya for five years, Shugfoot! That makes her your common law life according to the law!” “Well, gosh darn it, then change the law!” “You can’t change the law Shugfoot, no matter how much money ya got!”

Baby Doll has a past in her uncle’s town. Among her conquests she used and abused was the Sheriff. Now, Baby Doll, thwarted by Linda, plans to get her hooks into Uncle Shug and bust up the Sheriff’s marriage in the process.

Uncle Shug is jealous of the Sheriff. The sheriff’s wife and Linda are jealous of Baby Doll, the local boys can’t keep their eyes of the walking brick house, and when stinky old Uncle Shug finally croaks, you can bet hell hath no fury like women scorned! Cue flying fur!

Baby Doll goes a skinny dippin’, Baby Doll drives the Sheriff crazy, Baby Doll gets chased through the swamp by a potbellied moonshiner! Baby Doll doesn’t know it, but Linda’s now a pistol packin’ mama! The downbeat, brutal ending, enhanced by gritty camerawork, is icing on this sleaze-o-rama cake.

Both Sinister Cinema and Something Weird Video have competing dvd releases of Common Law Wife. Something Weird pairs the film with Jennie:Wife Child (1968) which is another buxom tart/old redneck man exploitation flick with a skinny dipping scene and a ultra hip trash score. Another “bonus” is Moonshine Love (1970) , which is essentially a soft core, tiresome nudie about a naked babe (?) and a carrot. Sinister Cinema’s version has equally good mastering, but comes with no bonuses. However, it was once available in that company’s priceless Drive-In Double Features, which are returning after a bit of a hiatus. A third DVD release is on the inexpensive and low-grade transfer label Alpha Video. Alpha pairs Wife with the equally indispensable Shanty Tramp (1967). Regardless which DVD version you choose, Common Law Wife is best enjoyed with a lot of company and plenty of cheap beer.

113. CAREFUL (1992)

“The pandemonium of everyone, everywhere suddenly declaring all at once ‘and I too was molested by my father, or my mother; I too have recovered memories which have basically obliterated my chances of any kind of comfortable adult sexuality’—it seemed at that moment almost unthinkable to slant a movie—even going back into the German romantic past when incest was almost a common theme—to slant it comically and yet still somehow catch the feverish horror of incest in the net… It was only when the idea of the Alpine world, where extreme caution was required for all behavior, where there was a kind of silencer on everyone’s libido and behavior, when that was factored in, then I could see the green light in Guy’s eyes. Once he had the world ‘careful’ it was there all at once.”–George Toles describing genesis of Careful in the documentary Guy Maddin: Waiting for Twilight

DIRECTED BY: Guy Maddin

FEATURING: , Gosia Dobrowolska, Sarah Neville, Brent Neale

PLOT: Villagers of the Alpine town of Tolzbad believe that avalanches will bury them if they are not meticulously careful to keep their voices low and their movements measured.  The film follows the adventures of a family of a widowed mother and her three sons: Johann, who is engaged to be married; Grigorss, who is training to be a butler; and Franz, a mute who never leaves his chair in the attic. Presaged by the appearance of the blind ghost of the father, the family’s repressed emotions eventually erupt into suicide, duels, and even the dreaded avalanche.

Still from Careful (1992)

BACKGROUND:

  • This was Guy Maddin’s third film, and his first fully in color (Archangel featured a few tinted scenes). The chromatic process used in the film mimics the so-called “two-strip” Technicolor which was used before 1932.
  • The setting of Careful was inspired by “mountain movies,” a 1920s subgenre popular in the German national cinema, although Maddin admits in the DVD commentary that he had not actually seen any mountain movies when he made the film.
  • Long-time Maddin screenwriting collaborator George Toles appears in Careful as a corpse in drag.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: I am tempted by the vision of the mountain mineworkers—women stripped down to their underwear, wielding pickaxes while wearing candle-bearing diapers on their heads—but the film’s most significant image is Johann gazing manically at his mother sleeping under her goat’s-head headboard while spreading the limbs of his massive garden shears.

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: If movies themselves could dream, their dreams would look like Guy


Original trailer for Careful

Maddin movies: sludgy jumbles of styles, moods, and melodramatic preoccupations, composed of fragmented images made up from bits of misplaced, distressed celluloid. Like Maddin’s other movies, Careful keeps us at two removes from reality: it displaces us once by its narrative dislogic, and then a second time by its archaic stylization. In Careful the technique is particularly appropriate, since the subject matter—repressed incestuous desire—demands to be buried under layers of mystery.

COMMENTS: Careful begins with what amounts to a pre-Code Public Service Announcement, Continue reading

108. BAD BOY BUBBY (1993)

“Christ, kid, yer a weirdo!”–Pop

DIRECTED BY: Rolf de Heer

FEATURING: Nicholas Hope, Carmel Johnson, Claire Benito, Ralph Cotterill

PLOT: With only a rudimentary vocabulary but a gift for mimicry, middle-aged Bubby has been raised by his mentally ill, abusive mother with no knowledge of the outside world inside what is essentially a fallout shelter. One day an interloper enters their underground hovel, shattering the only reality Bubby has ever known. Eventually he finds himself released into a modern Australian society he can hardly comprehend, but must learn to fit into somehow.

Still from Bad Boy Bubby (1993)

BACKGROUND:

  •  Partially as an experiment and partially for practical reasons, de Heer chose to shoot the film with thirty-two different cinematographers, essentially one for every location.
  • Bad Boy Bubby uses binaural sound: the film’s soundtrack was recorded and mixed from two microphones Nicholas Hope wore behind his ears, so that the audience would experience the sonic world exactly as it would be heard from Bubby’s perspective. On home video the effect is largely lost, with the end result being only that a few of the conversations in the film sound frustratingly muffled.  The director suggests that the theatrical experience can be reproduced by listening to the movie while channeling the sound through a pair of stereo headphones.
  • Originally, the underground scenes were to have the sides matted to create a narrow, claustrophobic aspect ratio, and the film was to expand into widescreen when Bubby surfaces into the outside world.  Director De Heer thought the effect was too intense and made the film “unwatchable” and dropped the idea.
  • Bad Boy Bubby won a FIPRESCI International Critics Prize, along with several less significant festival awards.
  • We initially passed Bad Boy Bubby over for inclusion on the List, declaring it to be only “borderline weird.” You can read the original review here.
  • A search for reviews of “Bad Boy Bubby” on the Los Angeles Times website yields no results, but offers the helpful suggestion, “Did you mean ‘bat boy’ bubbly?”

INDELIBLE IMAGE: Bubby the punk rock front man performance artist, on stage in a priest’s collar, holding a blowup doll with enormous breasts wearing a gas mask, backed by a band whose heads are swaddled in cling wrap.

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: In my original review of Bad Boy Bubby, I demurred adding the film to


Short clip from Bad Boy Bubby

the List of the 366 Best Weird Movies by noting that the movie “has a unique tone that’s hard to capture, but the first words I’d choose to characterize it are ‘relentlessly offbeat,’ rather than ‘weird’…  for the most part de Heer chooses to tell his story using a straightforward, realistic narrative style that makes us believe bizarre Bubby is a real person in a real world.” The first words I’d use to describe it are still “relentlessly offbeat,” but on further reflection I’ve concluded that Bubby‘s offbeat moments come relentlessly enough that “weird” is a fine choice for the second word I’d use to describe it. I do not want to be in the business of denying the weirdness of movies that feature middle-aged feral children, cling-wrap murders and bizarre swings in tone, especially when they have rabid cult followings and excellent critical reputations.

COMMENTS: Bad Boy Bubby is a film that moves slowly from deep darkness into light. It is Continue reading

THE UNCOMPROMISING ALBAN BERG: OLIVIER PY’S LULU (2011)

This is the first of a two-part series on adaptions of Alban Berg’s controversial operas.

Be forewarned: After watching these two productions of Alban Berg’s operas “Lulu” and “Wozzeck,” showering may be advisable.

Alban Berg (1885-1934) may be the most notorious member of the Second Viennese School, even more so than leader Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) and Anton Webern (1883-1945).  Schoenberg invented the twelve-tone language and is considered the boogeyman of the musical avant-garde.  Webern, who composed mainly in miniature, is, possibly, the most influential of the three.  Berg, on the hand, was the most romantic of the school, as influenced by Gustav Mahler as Schoenberg.  Berg died young and did not live long enough to compose a large a body of work.  However, he did compose what may very well be the two most repulsive operas ever written.  Even Schoenberg was aghast, and urged his younger colleague to discontinue writing such filth.  A premature death stopped Berg from finishing his final opera, “Lulu.”  He completed two of the three act,s and the final act was completed in the short particell format.  Some forty years later, Friedrich Cerha completed the orchestration for the third act, which premiered under the direction of Pierre Boulez.  Both “Wozzeck” and “Lulu” are extreme operas from an extreme composer.  One would think that this fact would make  opera fans receptive to interpretive stagings.

Olivier Py and Calixto Bieito are two of the most notorious enfant terrible stage directors working in European opera today.  In 2005, Py presented a pornographic actor on stage, in full erection, for a staging of Wagner’s “Tannhauser.”  Bieito’s staging of Mozart’s “Abduction from the Seraglio” incorporated S &M and drug addiction (the story is set in a bordello), and his “Don Giovanni” explored similar themes.  In 2007 Bieito turned to adapting Berg, first with his controversial “Wozzeck,” then with an equally provocative “Lulu” in 2009.


Excerpt from Py’s stage production of Lulu

In November of 2011, Py’s filmed version of Lulu was released on home video, and it too provoked outrage among the traditionalists.  American Opera fans are among the most fanatically puritanical in the world.  Py and Bieito, while creating mixed reactions in Europe, are Continue reading

84. TOTO THE HERO [TOTO LE HÉROS] (1991)

“I often have that strange and penetrating dream, of an unknown woman whom I love and who loves me.  And every time, she’s neither quite the same nor completely different…”–Toto the Hero

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Jaco Van Dormael

FEATURING: Michel Bouquet, Jo De Backer, Thomas Godet, Sandrine Blancke, Mireille Perrier, Peter Böhlke, Didier Ferney, Hugo Harold-Harrison

PLOT: Thomas firmly believes that he was switched at birth with his next door neighbor, Alfred: that Alfred’s parents are really his parents, that Alfred’s toys should be his, that his destiny was appropriated by Alfred.  He’s also romantically attracted to his sister, and jealous of the attention she shows the neighbor boy; this obsession pursues him to adulthood, when he finds a woman who reminds him of his sister so much that he fears it may actually be her.  Now an old man in a nursing home, Thomas plots to kill Alfred and take back the life that was stolen from him.

Still from Toto the Hero (1991)


BACKGROUND:

  • Writer/director Jaco Van Dormael was a circus clown before turning to filmmaking.
  • Despite critical praise for each of his movies, Van Dormael has only made three features in 20 years: Toto the Hero, The Eighth Day [Le huitième jour] (1996), and Mr. Nobody (2009).
  • It took Van Dormael five years to write the dense script (working with three credited collaborators).
  • Toto won the Camera D’or (a prize recognizing the best debut feature film) at Cannes in 1991.
  • Paramount Pictures apparently owns the distribution rights in the U.S., but has not shown any interest in releasing the film on Region 1 DVD (it was released on VHS).  Toto is available on DVD in Region 2.

INDELIBLE IMAGEToto the Hero relies on its elaborate narrative structure rather than visuals for its effect, but the movie’s iconic image is young Thomas clutching his toy airplane; appropriately, it’s only memorable due to the point in the story where it occurs.  (If you must have a weird scene instead of the most memorable one, pick the image of Thomas’ dead father and sister appearing to him on the back of a moving truck, playing a piano and trumpet duet).

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: The story structure, which dives in and out of narrative wormholes,

[wposflv src=http://366weirdmovies.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Toto_the_hero.flv width=480 height=360 previewimage=http://366weirdmovies.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Toto_the_hero_still.jpg bandwidth=med title=”Clip from Toto the Hero” /]Clip from Toto les Heros (in French)

emerging at different points in Thomas’ life.  There are flashbacks inside of flashbacks, with a liberal sprinkling of fantasy sequences mixed in—some obvious, some more ambiguous.  And all the incest stuff —with a beloved sister who seems not to stay dead—doesn’t hurt the movie’s weirdness one bit, either.

COMMENTS:  At some point in all of our lives, we will inevitably fail to land that job or Continue reading