CAPSULE: DEEP BLOOD (1990)

DIRECTED BY: Raffaele Donato,

FEATURING:  Frank Baroni, Cort McCown, Keith Kelsch

PLOT:  A shark hunt progresses after a native blood pact drives a group of privileged boys to avenge the death of their friend.

Still from Deep Blood (1990)

COMMENTS:  Summer 2021 is fading away, and it’s wise to see as many shark movies as possible. Of those, the fuzzy and buzzing 80’s Italian shark film Deep Blood isn’t the worst selection—but it comes close.  Many claim it’s worse than Jaws 4, and judging from its warbled and faded approach to both narrative structure and aesthetics in general, that’s a reasonable assessment. The shark attack scenes lack excitement, women and minorities are marginalized, and the main characters appear bored. Thankfully, the bulk of the movie is made up of narcotizing scuba scenes where little happens besides the inadvertent conjuring of serene oceanic bliss, making it a minor hit for weirdos with an interest in the peculiar and ironic entertainment of dated oceanographic sequences.

Donato and D’Amato succeed in creating a shark drama complete with boats, copters, and underwater scenes, but it’s frazzled by incompetency in the form of loopy synth pads and awkward, boring camera angles. It also hits sour notes with the seeping indolence of the era’s culture—things get kind of racist and sexist.  The only native character (credited as “Indian”) is used as a MacGuffin, and the ladies’ only function is to cheerlead, so distaste and disinterest with Deep Blood grows fast while the boys mope around the cabana, attended to by servants. While the questionable culture of a bunch of yuppie shark hunters is detestable, the characters’ mission to avenge the death of a friend with whom they made a blood pact with gives the narrative some validity. This central concept is enough to propel Deep Blood forward, highlighted by the curious rewards of sleepy scuba scenes.

Stock deep sea footage cuts to polluted swarms of kelp faded in haze, with tranquil swimmers slowly flipping fins, and not much occurring other than a handful of chord changes. The calm Zen quality of these quiet underwater shots is the true charm of Deep Blood. With grey and blue aquatic smears, the undersea content has a distinct 80’s ocean feel that brings to mind better films like Dead Calm. But the nagging synths and wooden acting draw negative attention to Deep Blood‘s lack of charisma. Luckily, there’s a pair of shabby kill scenes to laugh at.

It’s tough to tell (or even care) who is getting killed by the shark during the attack scenes because all characters look and act the same. Protagonists Ben, Miki and Allan all appear to be overzealous wimps when using explosives to kill the shark instead of good old hooks and lines. After all, as Grody in Jaws, Roy Scheider only resorted to pyrotechnics after his bones were rattled by seeing his captain get eaten alive by a prehistoric killing machine. In Deep Blood, the crew has a full arsenal of support together with their mansions, servants, striped pastel shirts, and yachts armed with explosives. And even with the motivating power of some very flirty Italian ladies, they barely get the job done.

Deep Blood boasts cheeky and misguided shark content along with sucky characters. The kill scenes are as exciting as a mail room staff party. What redeems it is the peaceful feeling of floating underwater while a droning score highlights the glowing VHS ambience. Like the moody aesthetics of early PC educational software, Deep Blood offers nodding maritime pleasures with a total lack of self-awareness. You can always watch Jaws afterwards to cleanse your palate.

A flawed but festive watch, Deep Blood is currently available on Youtube for free, and also on DVD and Blu-Ray from Severin films.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“I feel pretty confident in assuming it’s the only movie where a Native American randomly binds together a group of friends for a blood oath that ends with them confronting a killer shark. Throw in the other stuff you expect from Italian horror—gonzo dialogue, baffling character interactions, low-rent effects work, ill-fitting music—and it all comes together to form a singularly strange experience.”–Brett Gallman, Oh, the Horror! (Blu-ray)

PLANNING SEPTEMBER’S AMAZON PRIME (?) WEIRD WATCH PARTY

We’re ready to take suggestions and votes in the comments for our September Amazon Prime Weird Watch party, scheduled for Saturday, September 25 at 10:15 PM ET–with a slight twist.

Because of the success of last night’s special Tubi.tv/Kast screening, we’re thinking of throwing our watch parties open to that platform as well. Tubi has a reasonable selection of movies and the big advantage of not requiring a subscription to access its content.

So we propose going forward that we open the bi-monthly watch parties to any of the three platforms—Netflix, Prime or Tubi—and hell, we’ll even throw Hulu in there, in theory. When making your nomination, simply say “I think we should watch Weird Movie on Netflix” or “I propose Strange Movie on Tubi” or “How about Weird Movie 2: Electric Boogaloo on Prime?” We’ll try to come to a consensus and see how this experiment shakes out.

If you’d like to attend our watch party, then the important thing is to RSVP in the comments, where you can make a screening suggestion, or just say you plan to be there. As always, we’re looking for five likely attendees before officially scheduling.

When the party is set to begin we’ll announce it in three places:

  • On this site (if you’ve signed up for regular email alerts via the sidebar you’ll also get a notice that way)
  • On our Facebook page
  • On Twitter

Make your nominations and/or RSVP in the comments below.

OUR SPECIAL SEPTEMBER’S WEIRD WATCH PARTY, “STRANGE FRAME” (1986) WITH DIRECTOR G.B. HAJIM, STARTS IN 25 MINUTES

We’re opening the lobby a little early this week in case anyone has difficulty with the new software. The show starts at 10:15 ET as usual.

The movie is on Tubi,tv this time, so it will be free—no paid subscription required. We’ll be using Kast.tv to stream and chat, so be sure you have signed up for a free account there.

Here’s the link to join: https://s.kast.live/g/7qmzvjta361

See you soon!

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 9/17/2021

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Our weekly look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs and Blu-rays (and hot off the server VODs), and on more distant horizons…

Trailers of new release movies are generally available at the official site links.

FILM FESTIVALS – Fantastic Fest (Austin, TX, Sep. 23-30):

The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX may be America’s coolest movie theater. Their brand has grown so big that now they have franchised Drafthouses across the country, and have partnered with American Genre Films Archives on a number of interesting exploitation film re-releases. One of the Alamo’s hippest projects is Fantastic Fest, now back in full force in its sixteenth year. As per usual, there is a fantastic slate of weird movies and some neato revivals here. Coming at the tail end of the film festival season, we’ve already either noted or reviewed a number of these: ‘s “erotic sci-fi acid western” After Blue (Dirty Paradise), Agnes, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, King Car, the Icelandic supernatural drama Lamb, Boschain animated nightmare Mad God, and 2021 Palme d’Or winner Titane. Revivals include the Soviet sci-fi propaganda piece Aelita, Queen of Mars (1924) (with a new score by saxophonist Chris Bullock), Master of the Flying Guillotine (1977), The Visitor (1979), and the new restoration of Possession (1981) that will soon be touring everywhere. We’ll also keep an eye out for these new-to-us offerings:

  • Devil Story (1986) – A French horror with a plot involving mummies, Nazi mutants, and ghost horses, rediscovered and released by Vinegar Syndrome.
  • Snakes (1974) – Forgotten exploitation killer about a madman snake trainer, filled with sexual perversity.
  • The Timekeepers of Eternity – Greek experiment in taking a made-for-TV Stephen King film, re-editing it, and turning it into a black-and-white animated collage.
  • Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror – A title-says-it-all documentary with a surprise bonus: animated collages by .

A selection of films may be watched at home with a virtual festival badge.

Fantastic Fest official home page.

FILM FESTIVALS – Beyond Fest (Los Angeles, CA, Sep. 29-Oct. 11):

Beyond Fest, co-sponsored by American Cinematheque, is Southern California’s largest genre festival. 2021 brings a terrific slate of festival favorites, revivals, and guests. Lamb (with director Valdimar Jóhannsson and star ), Mad God (2021) (with director ), Titane (with director ), and After Blue (Dirty Paradise) duplicate screenings at Fantastic Fest, above. Other festival faves on tap here include Code Name Nagasaki (2021) and The Empty Man (2020). Of the extensive revivals, most notable are Antichrist (2009), Kill List (2011), Dr. Caligari (1989) (with director and writer Jerry Stahl), Starship Troopers (1997) (again with Tippett, this time as the special effects supervisor), Berberian Sound Studio (2012), Possession (1981) , and a new restoration of A Clockwork Orange (1971) (not listed on the website, so either a late addition or October 8’s “secret screening”). Besides that amazing mix of new and old, here are three interesting debuts:

  • Earwig – ‘s first offering since 2015’s Evolution is about a mysterious girl with teeth made of ice, and the man tasked to take care of her. (This actually debuted at TIFF, but we missed it somehow.) 10/7.
  • New York Ninja – A hopefully microbudget ninja flick, originally unfinished but completed (with new dubbing) by Vinegar Syndrome. 10/2.
  • Traveling Light – an occult pandemic satire (described as ) from veteran horror director Bernard Rose. 10/10.

Proof of vaccination and masks required to attend screenings (this is California).

Beyond Fest official home page.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

The Nowhere Inn (2020): With the help of punk-singer-turned-comedienne Carrie Brownstein, singer-songwriter St. Vincent creates a fictional documentary Sundance programmers described as “distorted and bizarre.” Reviews have been generally positive, stressing that while it might be a bit uneven and self-indulgent, it’s also weird and funny. Simultaneously released on Apple TV, other streaming options coming soon. The Nowhere Inn official site.

Prisoners of the Ghostland (2021): Booby-trapped bank robber fights ghosts and samurai—in a film by . At long last, the film Cage calls “the wildest I’ve ever made” arrives in theaters and on video-on-demand. No official site located (!), but here is distributor RLJE’s FaceBook page.

Saint-Narcisse (2020): Bruce LaBruce blasphemy about a man’s erotic longing for his long-lost identical twin. Exclusively at NYC’s Quad Theater; presumably it will show up on VOD or physical media soon, although with a LaBruce film that’s no sure bet. Saint-Narcisse  at distributor Film Movement.

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

Perfect Blue (1997): Read the Canonically Weird entry! ‘s debut feature is an anime psychological thriller about a pop idol’s identity crisis. Perfect Blue had been surprisingly hard to find for a film of its reputation, but this Shout! Factory steelbook with a collectible booklet, Blu-ray and DVD is now the perfect choice. Buy Perfect Blue.

CANONICALLY WEIRD (AND OTHER) REPERTORY SCREENINGS:

This section will no longer be updated regularly. Instead, we direct you to our new “Repertory Cinemas Near You” page. This week we welcome back The Apollo in Kitchener, Ontario, who will host a screening of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) on Sunday the 19th (along with an associated artist’s market; they’ll also be screening Prisoners of the Ghostland throughout the week). We will continue to mention exceptional events in this space from time to time, like the one below:

  • Coxsakie, NY – Sorry for the late notice (and we won’t tease you with what you missed yesterday), but if you’re in the area (that being the area near Albany, NY) and find yourself with nothing to do this weekend, why not head out to the Hi-Way Drive-in for a quadruple feature? Tonight’s slate is Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994), Black Christmas (1974), Bubba Ho-Tep (2002), and The Last Horror Film (1982). There’s another horror quadruple feature on Saturday night highlighted (to our tastes) by Deep Red, and a concluding double feature on Sunday night.  Dead Til Dawn Drive-in official Facebook page.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE: Don’t forget about our special Weird Watch Party screening of Strange Frame: Love & Sax (2012) with director on hand to answer your questions tomorrow night at 10PM ET! It will be hosted on Tubi.tv so no paid subscriptions required. More details here.

Next week, Ryan Aarset goes deep into obscurity for the shark flick Deep Blood (1989); Shane Wilson goes deep into debt when he finds himself Overdrawn at the Memory Bank (1983); and gazes deeply into ‘s Mirror (1975) (previously reviewed by Alfred Eaker). Onward and weirdward!

What are you looking forward to? If you have any weird movie leads that we have overlooked, feel free to leave them in the COMMENTS section.

APOCRYPHA CANDIDATE: EVANGELION: 3.0 + 1.0 THRICE UPON A TIME (2021)

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Recommended

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: Voices of , Fumihiko Tachiki, , , Yuriko Yamaguchi; , John Swaney, , , Mary Faber (English dub)

PLOT: Angsty teenage Eva pilot Shinji must cope with his guilt over inadvertently causing the Third Impact, and regroup to face NERV and his own father in a final apocalyptic battle.

Stiill from Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0 Thrice Upon a Time (2021)

WHY IT MIGHT JOIN THE APOCRYPHA: The movie garners significant weird credentials by being only the second anime ever made about emo teenagers piloting giant robots to stave off a psychedelic apocalypse that ends by blasting its protagonist into a surreal purgatory where he wrestles with the nature of reality that’s actually a metaphor for mental illness. In this case, it’s more of a question of what might keep Thrice Upon a Time out of the Apocrypha. The answer there is more difficult, but this alternate take on a story already enshrined in the canon of weird movies does come equipped with one big negative: just to follow the basics—which is a far cry from “understanding” the film—requires you to watch (at a minimum) the three previous movies in the “rebuild series” on top of this 3.5 hour epic.

COMMENTS: Evangelion: 3.0 + 1.0 Thrice Upon a Time concludes a one-of-a-kind epic anime journey with one of the unwieldiest titles ever slapped upon a major release. The “thrice” probably refers to the series’ three different alternate endings—the TV finale, 1997’s End of Evangelion, and this one.

Is this the definitive conclusion to the story, or merely the final one? That will be a matter of taste, but 3.0 + 1.0 boasts some advantages over previous finales. For one thing, it gives more closure to the supporting characters. In previous versions, the story arcs of Eva pilot Asuka and, to some extent, antagonist Gendo were suddenly abandoned to focus on Shinji’s solipsistic hallucinations. Here, these characters play a larger role—Gendo’s motivations are explored in much greater detail—which is, in a conventional narrative sense, more satisfying. The mysterious clone Rei also follows a completely new plotline, resulting in a deeper catharsis than before, when she functioned mostly as a plot device.

Structurally, 3.0 + 1.0 is an odd duck, as Anno tries to keep his many balls juggling with one hand while tying up loose ends with the other. It starts with a four-minute rebuild recap, too brief to orient newcomers but effectively refreshing the memories of series’ followers who waited nine years between the release of 3.0 and 3.0 + 1.0. This is followed by an extended action scene where the renegades of the Wille organization, assisted by Eva pilot Mari, liberate Paris from NERV; it’s superfluous, but supplies an opportunity for an big action sequence up front, and helps to re-establish the good guys and the bad guys.

After this prologue, the movie unexpectedly turns into a post-apocalyptic drama as Shinji, Asuka and Rei shelter in a small village of survivors of the Third Impact. This hour-long, character-based story detour is unexpected, but not as disruptive as you might think. It’s a space for Anno to enact the major change to his story. Shinji still suffers from catatonic melancholia, as in previous iterations; but here, he works his way through his guilt and grief and recovers, resolving to fight against NERV by the conclusion of his stay. This revision allows him to be a vital and active participant heading into the final showdown, which in previous installments had been about the sullen teen working through the nadir of his depression. Since the protagonist’s self-loathing whininess had always been one of the major obstacles to enjoying Evangelion, this alteration will be viewed as an improvement for many. (The out-of-story explanation for this change is that Anno, who recovered from his own bout of depression decades ago, no longer identifies with the whiny, paralytic Shinji, and in fact now has more in common with Gendo, who is a far more sympathetic villain this time around.)

The last hour and a half of the movie gives fans what they came for: robot/spaceship battles, bizarre sciento-mystical musings, and eye-popping visual fireworks (and even a touch of fanservice). The Wille crew, with the three surviving Eva pilots, plunge into the bowels of NERV headquarters in a hellish descent into a bottomless red burrow, with Evas fighting off hordes of enemies as they fall. As always, Anno’s dialogue is thick with poetic-sounding nonsense. “Gendo Ikari–you used the Key of Nebuchadnezzar and willingly abandoned your humanity?,” Maya accuses. “I merely appended upon my body information that transcends the Logos of our realm,” answers the villain in a robotic deadpan. Half the dialogue here sounds like Philip K. Dick was hired to do a rewrite of the Revelation of St. John. The final action sequences are pure visual mayhem, decidedly NSFE (not safe for epileptics), with cascading pixels in a constant chaotic dance. Every space within the NERV netherworld is constantly exploding into some kind of cosmic kaleidoscope, mandala, or fractal geometry. The film does end up exploring the same surreal psychological spaces as End of Evangelion, but spends less time there, and more in a more conventional conflict between Shinjii and his father (who at one point face off in mirror-image Evas battling across imaginary landscapes).

Overall, I preferred the way End of Evangelion launched straight into the crazy from the get-go, and the peculiarity of its fascination with the unappealing Shinji. But I didn’t feel cheated by this version, and I can see how many fans might find this to be the more satisfying—and indeed ultimate—conclusion to the tale. Not for newcomers, since a four-movie commitment is almost a necessity, but for anyone who’s dipped their toes into Anno’s deranged opus before, this will rate as must see anime. It’s the true End of Evangelion, and the end of an era.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Anno opens the film with crowd-pleasing action, delves into the psychological stuff, shifts to a skirmish set beyond all planes of reality and finds yet another psychological plane beyond those planes, and it’s all bedecked by wondrously detailed and tirelessly creative psychedelic imagery. Theoretically, one could ignore the almost impenetrably dense plotting and objectively watch the film for its visuals alone, from the elegant, Ghibli-esque simplicity of its Tokyo-3 scenes to the second half’s parade of hallucinatory sequences, each one crazier than the previous.”–John Serba, Decider (contemporaneous)

KAPSULO: INCUBUS (1966)

366 Strangaj Filmoj povas enspezi komisionojn per aĉetoj faritaj per produktaj ligoj. 366 Weird Movies may earn commissions from purchases made through product links.

REĝISORIS: Leslie Stevens

RAKONTO: William Shatner, Allyson Ames

INTRIGO: Marc resaniĝas post militvundo kiam li estas tentita fare de Kia la succubus, kiu venkiĝas al siaj sanaj ĉarmoj post alvokado de la Incubus por korupti sian spiriton.

KOMENTOJ: Tri elementoj konspiras por ke Incubus ne finiĝu sur la peceto de B-filmo-arta teruro. La unua estas la strangaj evoluoj, kiuj afliktis membrojn de la produktado post ĝia eldono. La mortoj de aktoroj, eksgeedziĝoj, kaj la malapero de ĉiuj konataj presaĵoj kaŭzis certan mistikon ĉirkaŭ la filmo. La dua estas la ĉeesto de ankoraŭ ne tre granda William Shatner, kiu donas al la mondo unu el siaj malmultaj malmodestaj agadoj kiel Marc, soldato (?) Resaniĝanta de siaj vundoj en katedralo situanta ĉe mita puto. La tria estas la lingvo, en kiu ĝi estis prezentita. Esperanto? Pli kiel Yesperanto!

Mokante flanken, estas malfacile veki ian entuziasmon por ĉi tiu eta projekto. La rakonto havas neniun emocian (aŭ spiritan aŭ filozofian) efikon, cirkonstancon tute ne helpatan de la fakto, ke la ago, tia, kia estas, estas reduktita al iutaga valoro de iom kripta ago. Marc (William Shatner), sana viro, laŭ ni, vivas sur insulo kun sia fratino en dometo proksime al kaj kapelo kaj puto, kiu enhavas junajn akvojn. Li resaniĝas post iu vundo, kiel ilustris lia frua uzo de promenbastono. Ĉi tiu insulo enhavas gaglon da sukuboj, kiuj pasigas multan tempon kolektante la koruptitajn animojn de la vantaj kaj malbonaj specoj, kiuj estas allogataj de la legendaj akvoj de la puto. Unu sukubo, senmarka-1960a-blonda Kia (Allyson Ames) avidas la defion kapti puran animon por Satano, por pli bone pliigi siajn ŝancojn esti promociita al demono. Kio rezultas estas ventego delogo kaj iuj sakrosanktaj, paranormalaj nuduloj.

Manpleno da strangaj tuŝoj elstaras – la elemento “Esperanto” facile nesciebla kiel nur eŭrop-sonanta lambastono. Marc pasigas iom de la filmo portante iom ŝikan jakon, sed neniam vidiĝas meti siajn brakojn tra ĝiajn manikojn. Estas hazarda suneklipso, kiu konfuzas iujn brutojn kaj blindigas la fratinon de Marc. Kaj la mistera titulara ento ŝajnas esti kaj la mastro kaj servisto de la trupo de demonetoj, aperante kiel iu ulo kun nigraj pantalonoj kaj nigra butonumita ĉemizo. (Tio estas, ĝis kiam Kia faras malklare krucforman geston, kiu malkaŝas lian veran formon de amasa kapra aĵo.)

Incubus mallongas por plenlonga filmo, sed tio, kio mankas al ĝi dum reala tempo, kompensas ĝin en teda. Pafoj de marbordaj vagadoj, ridinde nesafektaj kampaj serĉadoj, kaj … pli da promenado ĉiuj remburas la filmon kun preskaŭ nenio interesa eltondado, kaj kia ajn tono aŭ etoso, kiuj povus esti establitaj alie kompromititaj per la stiltita liverado de stiltlingvo. Verŝajne estas impresa (kaj eble Continue reading KAPSULO: INCUBUS (1966)

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