Tag Archives: Zeb Haradon

ZEB HARADON’S REVISED TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

EDITOR’S NOTE: Zeb Haradon, writer/director/star of the Certified Weird Elevator Movie, has asked us to submit a revisedTop 10 Weird Movies” list.  Of course we complied without hesitation. (Here’s his [more conventional] original list).

A while ago I was asked to put together a list of 10 weird movies.  I did this pretty quickly without thinking much about it.  It was, I think, too hastily written, as if I was just writing an email.  Also the movies, while all excellent, were not all particularly “weird” enough.  I decided to put together this better list.

1. The Room – The plot of this movie sounds fairly straightforward and is hardly worth mentioning. It’s a domestic drama about a couple where the woman has an affair and the man becomes jealous and then finds out. The strangeness is in the tone and execution. This cult movie is widely known as an unintentional comedy “so bad it’s good”, but I think there’s something else going on. Notice how the dialog seems to come out of nowhere, how characters seem to say their lines with no particular motivation, or have motivations that change from moment to moment. I think what we’re seeing here is what a movie looks like to an autistic person who is not aware of the inner lives of other people. I think the filmmaker is making a movie of what society looks like to him, where everyone is made of cardboard and another human’s personality is unfathomable.

Still from Happy Days Reunion Special2. “Happy Days Reunion Special” – This “Happy Days” reunion special, made just a few years after the series ended, never saw the light of day, but a copy was leaked (bad quality with time codes), and you can find it if you know where to look. This was made in 1989, and also set in 1989, so it’s supposed to take place 30 or so years after the original. 90% of this hour long reunion is just dopey sitcom B.S., but there’s a jaw-droppingly incongruous subplot involving Fonzie discovering that he has become infected with the AIDS virus. This was probably due to a well intentioned effort to talk about the disease, but “Happy Days Reunion” was not the place to do it, which is probably why this ill conceived special never saw the light of day.

3. Silhouette – This movie consists of a series of explicit sex scenes, and the sounds and dialog are right out of hard core pornography, but the only images you ever see are shadows of the Continue reading ZEB HARADON’S REVISED TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

ZEB HARADON’S TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

Zeb Haradon, the writer/director of the Certified Weird Elevator Movie and the bizarre documentary Waiting for NESARA, graciously agreed to provide us with a list of his ten favorite weird movies.

The Hawks and The Sparrows (1966) – It’s just a really funny, strange, under-appreciated comedy with several gags that are in a class by themselves and have no precedent elsewhere.

Edvard Munch (1974) – This is the only Peter Watkins movie I like much but it makes up for all his other boring preachy movies. I don’t know exactly how he does this but the style is perfectly in sync with the content, and the 3+ hour length is never boring, really effective movie at setting a mood of a life with one or two good things in it, always out of reach.

Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) – Pasolini said he was making some kind of statement about capitalism or something with this movie, but to me it’s the best metaphor for public school I’ve ever seen on film, complete with sadistic teachers, fecal cafeteria food, other students turned collaborator, culminating in a graduation ceremony. A real horror movie where the monster is loss of freedom.

Careful (1992) – The first time I saw this I turned it off in the middle. Later I couldn’t get it out of my head. I picked it up again and now it’s one of my favorite movies and Maddin is one of my favorite directors. Watching this, and also his Cowards Bend The Knee, you get the sense he’s hiding some horrible scar underneath the surrealism. Aesthetically important in showing that a certain style isn’t worth giving up on just because something newer is available.

Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (1997) – A great documentary that touches on universal themes by focusing on a peculiar idiosyncratic subject, about a guy dying of cystic fibrosis who tries to take ownership of his inescapable pain by falling in love with it and becoming a masochist.  Kind of a classic tragedy about someone who cannot escape his fate.

Last Feast of the Crocodiles (1996)- I saw this wildlife documentary in college and shortly afterward realized it was more than just another National Geographic special to watch on a bored Sunday, but I could never remember the name of it and spent years trying to find Continue reading ZEB HARADON’S TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

60. ELEVATOR MOVIE (2004)

“I think it was from taking the elevator to my dorm room every day in college.  I developed this weird thing with elevators.  It wasn’t fetishistic or anything, I was just always thinking about the elevator, and you know how you feel your stomach move a bit when an elevator first starts or stops?  I would feel that at random times in the day when I wasn’t in an elevator, and I would feel like the ground was just a rising elevator platform.  I was also very shy at the time and I started to look forward to taking the elevator every day because it was the rare time I might be forced into a social situation with someone.”–Zeb Haradon on the origins of Elevator Movie

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: Zeb Haradon, Robin Ballard

PLOT:  A woman carrying groceries is trapped in an elevator with a socially inept graduate student.  Oddly, no one answers when they push the call button, and no one comes for days and weeks on end; even more oddly, her grocery bag is refilled each morning.  As the weeks stretch into months, the mismatched pair—an adult virgin obsessed with anal sex and a reformed slut turned Jesus freak—form a sick symbiotic bond, until the girl undergoes a weird metamorphosis.

Still from Elevator Movie (2004)

BACKGROUND:

  • Per director Haradon, the budget for the film was between twenty-five and thirty thousand dollars.
  • According to a statement on the official website the main influences on the story were Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” the films of Luis Buñuel (particularly That Obscure Object of Desire and The Exterminating Angel), and Eraserhead.
  • Although the mouse-stomping scene was faked, the end of the film shows a joke disclaimer that proclaims, “No animals were harmed in the making of this film except for lobsters and mice.”  Haradon received angry mails from animal rights advocates who believed that a mouse was actually killed onscreen.
  • Hardon’s followup film was the documentary Waiting for NESARA (2005), about a bizarre UFO cult composed of ex-Mormons.
  • The 2008 Romanian film Elevator features a similar dramatic scenario of a young man and woman trapped together in a cargo elevator, but without any surrealistic elements.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: Lana, after she inexplicably transforms into a metal/human hybrid.

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD:  By mixing Sartre’s “No Exit” with an ultra-minimalist riff on


Original trailer for Elevator Movie (WARNING: trailer contains profanity and sexual situations)

Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel, garnished with large dollops of fantastical sexual depravity and a pinch of body horror, writer/director/star Zeb Haradon created one of the weirder underground movies of recent years. The absurdist script is exemplary, and the simplicity of the one-set scenario means that the movie’s technical deficiencies don’t stick out, and could even add to the oddness.

COMMENTS: I have to start this review of with a confession/apology: when I first Continue reading 60. ELEVATOR MOVIE (2004)

CAPSULE: ELEVATOR MOVIE (2004)

NOTE: Elevator Movie has been promoted to the List of the 366 Best Weird Movies ever made. Commenting is closed on this review, which is left here for archival purposes. Please visit Elevator Movie‘s Certified Weird entry to comment on this film.

DIRECTED BY:  Zeb Haradon

FEATURING:  Zeb Haradon, Robin Ballard

PLOT:  A socially maladjusted college student and a reformed slut turned Jesus freak are elevator_movie

trapped in an elevator together–impossibly, for weeks on end.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST:  Quite possibly, Elevator Movie will make the overall list of 366 movies; I reserve the right to revisit it in the future.  By mixing Sartre’s “No Exit” with an ultra-minimalist riff on Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel, garnished with large dollops of sexual perversity, writer/director/star Zeb Haradon has created one of the weirder underground movies of recent years.  Unfortunately, in a demanding two character piece that requires top-notch, nuanced dramatic performances to succeed, Haradon’s acting talent isn’t up to the level of his imagination and screenwriting ability.  The resulting film looks like an “A-” film school final project: it tantalizingly promises more than it’s capable of delivering. 

COMMENTS:  Zeb Haradon is definitely a writer to keep an eye on.  The script of Elevator Movie, though not perfect (it misses a few precious opportunities to ratchet the tension and drama up to stratospheric levels), is far and away the movie’s greatest asset.  Haradon takes a very threadbare set of motifs (most notably, infantile Freudian sexuality) and pushes them as far as he can.  This two-character, one setting drama could have been intolerably boring for the first few reels as it builds to its crashingly surreal climax, but Haradon manages to keep us interested by slowly revealing new facets of the characters and keeping up a reasonable tension as Jim and Lana struggle to reconcile their need for intimacy with their complete incompatibility and diametrically opposed agendas.  This could have been a masterpiece, had the actors been able to carry off the monumental task the script sets up for them.  Robin Ballard is passable in the easier role of Lana, but Haradon is almost unforgivably subdued as Jim.  Jim is passive, so some of the wimpiness of the characterization is intentional, but when he needs to project a menacing, seething passion subdued under a calm exterior, he can’t pull it off.  Therefore, at times the inherent dramatic conflict tails off into a bland “OK, OK”, just as Jim’s voice does when Lana once again rejects his advances. 

The images in Elevator Movie, largely scatological and sexual but also involving some brief animal cruelty, are not for the meek.  That said, some of these shocking images, and the surprising but perfect ending, can resonate a horrid fascination for a long time afterwards.  That’s what makes Elevator Movie come so achingly near to being a great weird movie.  Even with qualifications, it’s definitely worth a look for the Eraserhead set.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“As a champion of ‘Eraserhead’, ‘The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie’, ‘Naked Lunch’, and ‘Back Against the Wall’, all fine films that downright bask in their toxicity to the homogenized masses, I found Haradon’s film to be unique and fascinating and a most worthy addition to the midnight movie circuit. Just don’t ask me to spend any longer in Haradon’s mind than I have to in any one sitting. It’s very likely I’d never make it out!”–Daniel Wible, Film Threat (contemporaneous)