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.
IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):
Branded: A man discovers an advertising conspiracy in what the press release describes as “a dark and mind-bending journey into a surreal, dystopian society.” Apparently there have been no advance screenings for critics, which is a bad sign. Branded official site.
Toys in the Attic [Na Pude] (2009): Good toys battle evil toys in this Czech stop-motion animation recently dubbed for American audiences. This looks like what might result if Pixar hired Jan Svankmajer to remake Toy Story; one reviewer says it “easily earns a capital-W for weird” (he was trying to warn audiences away, but it’s what made us add the flick to our “must see” list). Toys in the Attic official site.
SCREENINGS (Thurs., Sep. 13, Santa Monica, CA):
After the Triumph of Your Birth: A surreal, noirish spiritual road trip movie about a world-weary forty year old man searching for meaning in existence. This official premiere will be accompanied by a concert by singer/songwriter Maria McKee, who wrote and performed the film’s music. See the After the Triumph of Your Birth official site for more information.
FILM FESTIVALS: BUT (B-MOVIE, UNDERGROUND & TRASH) FILM FESTIVAL (Sep. 5-9, Breda, The Netherlands):
We’ve already missed the beginning of this festival that describes itself as “for the weird, the wicked and the bizarre,” but we couldn’t pass on commenting on the remaining slate.
- Gallino: The Chicken System – It’s the world premiere of Carlos Atanes‘ latest effort, which he describes as a “pornophilsophical film.” No idea what it’s about, but chances are 100% that it will be weird. Screening Sep. 8.
- Remington and the Zombadings - It’s a Filipino comedy about a boy who gradually becomes gay due to a drag queen’s ancient curse. Even the name says “weird.” No info on whether it is subtitled in English, however. Screening Sep. 8.
FILM FESTIVALS: CINCINNATI FILM FESTIVAL (Sep. 6-14, Cincinnati, OH):
Although you can find interesting and offbeat alternative films at any regional film fests, these events rarely make our radar unless there’s something unusual and rare playing there. We’ve got a particular interest in one film on Cincinnati’s slate this year…
- FDR: American Badass – Franklin Delano Roosevelt fights Nazis and werewolves from his wheelchair. Next up in the Presidential B-movie sweepstakes: Herbert Hoover: The Shark-Hunting Years. Screening Saturday, Sep. 8, at midnight (naturally).
- Thunder-Sky – 366 contributor Alfred Eaker‘s documentary (co-directed with Ross Eaker) about autistic artist Raymond Thunder-Sky—who frequented construction sites dressed as a clown wearing a hard hat—will play at the Cincinnati Film Festival this September. Screening tonight (Sep. 7) at 11:00 PM; also screening Mon., Sep. 10, and closing the festival in a double feature with a documentary on country icon Charlie Louvin. If you go, say hi to Al for us.
FILM FESTIVALS: TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (Sep. 6-16, Toronto, Canada):
Possibly North America’s most prestigious film festival, major Hollywood films debut at the TIFF, and the red carpet often hosts mainstream stars like Kristen Stewart, Tom Hanks and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Still, TIFF makes space for smaller, more interesting, and weirder films, and if we were there we’d be skipping the lines for Anna Karenina and scooping up tickets for some of the movies listed below:
- The ABC’s of Death – 26 directors each tell a short story about death based on an assigned letter of the alphabet. Some of the mini-auteurs whose work is featured: Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani (Amer), Jason Eisener (Hobo With a Shotgun), Noboru Iguchi (RoboGeisha), Yoshihiro Nishimura (Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl), Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), Srdjan Spasojevic (A Serbian Film), and Yûdai Yamaguchi (Yakuza Weapon). The letter “T” was reserved for a contest winner.Screening in the “Midnight Madness” category Sep. 14, 15 & 16.
- The Act of Killing – A strange and disturbing documentary in which members of Indonesian death squads unapologetically re-enact their real-life murders for the cameras in the style of the American movies they loved; Werner Herzog and Errol Morris were so impressed with the concept they signed on as executive producers. Sep. 8, 10 & 16.
- Antiviral – Here’s a bizarre premise: adventures in an underground trade supplying fans with viruses taken from their favorite celebrities. The directorial debut of Brandon (son of David) Cronenberg. Sep. 10 & 12.
- Berberian Sound Studio - A neurotic British sound engineer used to working on quiet nature documentaries goes mad when he takes an assignment designing the audio for a 1970s Italian horror film. Sep. 10 & 11.
- The Fifth Season [La cinquième saison] – 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.Sep. 12, 13 & 16.
- John Dies in the End – Cult director Don Coscarelli adapts a popular webseries about two losers saving the world from a psychedelic drug being used by aliens to take over the planet. This on has been on the festival circuit for almost a year now. Sep. 15 (midnight showing) & 16.
- Krivina - A Bosnian emigrant returns to his homeland in search of a missing friend in what programmers describe as a “quietly chilling and finely surreal meditation on confronting traumas of the past.” Sep. 9 & 11.
- A Liar’s Autobiography – The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman - 12 animators adapt and illustrate late Monty Python alumnus Graham Chapman’s 1980 fictionalized autobiography. Sep. 8 & 10.
- Peaches Does Herself - Described as a “wild transsexual rock opera,” it’s the first feature film from Peaches, a singer known for her sexually explicit lyrics and gender-bending avant-garde stage shows. Sep. 13, 15 & 16.
- Post Tenebras Lux - From Mexico comes this kaleidoscopic, non-linear portrait of a family in crisis. Sep 12, 13 & 16.
- Room 237 – Documentary about people who believe that Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining contains hidden messages revealing vast international conspiracies. One loony theorizes that the entire movie is Kubrick’s coded confession that he helped fake the footage of Americans landing on the moon.Sep 13, 15 & 16.
- Spring Breakers – The bikini publicity photos make it look like a typical teen-sex comedy, but with Harmony Korine 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. Sep. 7, 9 & 14.
- Yellow – A substitute teacher escapes the drudgery of her life by indulging in bizarre psychedelic fantasies. Sep. 8, 9 & 16.
NEW ON DVD:
Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948): Two bumbling baggage clerks accidentally revive the remains of both Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula; fortunately the Wolf Man arrives to help the buffoons defeat ultimate evil. This DVD/digital copy release is significantly cheaper than the Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy Universal put out last week. Buy Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.
The Birds (1963): Although it’s known today mostly as the inspiration for James Ngyuen’s Birdemic, this Alfred Hitchcock movie about a series of relentless and unmotivated attacks by our fine feathered friends is sort of strange, when you stop and think about it. No word on whether this is an upgrade over the 2000 “Collector’s Edition” of the film, which was a very nice release. Buy The Birds.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004): Read the Certified Weird entry! This “Universal 100th Anniversary” edition appears to be essentially disc 1 of the now out of-print special 2-disc collectors edition Universal released in 2005; buy the 2011 Blu-ray if you want all the deleted scenes and other goodies previously found on disc 2 (curiously, the 2012 “100th Anniversary” Blu-ray appears to offer half the bonus content of the 2011 offering for the same price—something strange is going on…) Buy Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Lisztomania (1975): Can celebrity virtuoso Franz Liszt (portrayed by rock star Roger Daltrey) fend off the hordes of groupies slobbering over his version of “Chopsticks” while simultaneously frustrating rival composer Richard Wagner’s plans for world domination? This oft-requested cult item from the irrepressible Ken Russell is being released on an el cheapo DVD-R via Warner Archives, which is better than no release at all. It is advertised as remastered, at least. Buy Lisztomania.
Re-Animator (1985): Jeffrey Combs is chillingly geeky as a med student who raises the dead in this outrageously sleazy and spoofy adaptation of a serialized shocker by H.P. Lovecraft . One of the first and best of the B-movie black horror comedies gets a severed-face lift from Image Entertainment. Buy Re-Animator.
Secret Beyond the Door (1947): An heiress marries an architect who “collects” rooms in which famous murders have occurred. A forgotten Freudian shocker from Expressionist master Fritz Lang. Buy Secret Beyond the Door.
Vertigo (1958): A detective suffering from the titular phobia uncovers even deeper psychological issues when he falls in love with a woman who dies before his eyes, then comes across her exact double… Universal’s re-release of this creepy classic comes just as Vertigo has displaced Citizen Kane on Sight & Sound’s critic’s poll of the Greatest Films Ever Made. Buy Vertigo.
NEW ON BLU-RAY:
Holy Flying Circus (2011): The story of the flap surrounding Monty Python’s Life of Brian in 1979; actors playing John Cleese and Michael Palin defend their movie against charges of blasphemy from a representative of the “Popular People’s Church” (one of many, many in-jokes). Made for BBC television, it tells the true story in a Pythonesque style of overlapping absurdist sketches, fourth wall breaks and animation. Buy Holy Flying Circus [Blu-ray].
Re-Animator (1985): See description in DVD above. Buy Re-Animator [Blu-ray].
Secret Beyond the Door (1947): See description in DVD above. Buy Secret Beyond the Door [Blu-ray].
FREE (LEGITIMATE RELEASE) MOVIES ON YOUTUBE:
Maniac [AKA Sex Maniac] (1934): Read the Certified Weird entry! One of the weirdest of the so-bad-it’s-weird genre—and maybe the most entertaining. Extremely quotable. “Vonce a ham… alvays a ham. You… an actor?” Watch Maniac [AKA Sex Maniac] 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.