WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 8/23/2019

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.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

Jacob’s Ladder (2019): An Afghanistan war veteran returns home to find the brother he thought he’d lost in combat is still alive, and has been the subject of army-sponsored psychotropic drug experiments. A remake (of sorts) of the Canonically Weird 1990 psychological thriller. US Distributor Vertical Entertainment’s home page.

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

“Akio Jissoji: The Buddhist Trilogy”: Three rare films of the late Japanese New Wave: This Transient Life (1970) involves brother/sister incest, Mandara (1971) concerns a pro-rape cult, and Poem (1972) stars a young boy caught up in a plot to sell his ancestral home. Arrow Academy promises that these little-seen films are all stylized, experimental, erotic and spiritual. Blu-ray set only. Buy “Akio Jissoji: The Buddhist Trilogy”.

Iron Sky: The Coming Race (2019): This sequel to the Nazis-on-the-moon original finds survivors of the nuclear apocalypse burrowing into the hollow earth in search of a better life. Like the Nazis, this series still has some life left in it. DVD or VOD only (for now, at least) from Lions Gate (there is an Irish Region B Blu-ray on the market). Buy Iron Sky: The Coming Race.

Last Year at Marienbad (1961): Read the Certified Weird review! After restoration, and art house classic about a couple who may—or may not—have met last year at Marienbad is once again out on DVD and Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. Or is it? (Spoiler: it is). Buy Last Year at Marienbad.

CERTIFIED WEIRD (AND OTHER) REPERTORY SCREENINGS:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). We won’t list all the screenings of this audience-participation classic separately. You can use this page to find a screening near you.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE: Next week G. Smalley will bring you a look at the new erotic thriller Blood Paradise, and also dip into the reader-suggested review queue for a review of 1982’s The Plague Dogs, ‘s ultra-depressing animated canine followup to his ultra-violent bunny cartoon Watership Down (1978). Also, we’ve been putting off populating our Apocrypha, and next week we’ll remedy that as Giles Edwards officially inducts ‘s whimsically surreal 1974 opus Celine and Julie Go Boating onto the supplemental list. Onward and weirdward!

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.

CAPSULE: BLUE MY MIND (2017)

DIRECTED BY: Lisa Brühlmann

FEATURING: Luna Wedler, Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen

PLOT: A teenage girl finds her body is going through a strange transformation.

Still Blue My Mind (2017)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Although it’s explored fully, the puberty/body image metaphor here is too obvious to create a mood of mystery.

COMMENTS: Mia is basically a normal 15-year old girl, dealing with normal 15-year old girl problems: trying to make friends with the cool crowd at a new school, worrying that her parents understand her so little that she must be adopted, and stressing about the strange changes her body is going through.

And fighting her compulsion to snack on goldfish straight out of the tank, a habit which is constantly getting her grounded.

Aside from the movie’s fantasy element (an intended surprise that’s likely been spoiled for you already if you’ve seen any of the marketing surrounding the movie), there’s another mild issue which inhibits your suspension of disbelief. Mia is supposed to be 15 years old, which is a little late to be getting her first period—especially when she looks like a fully developed young woman (Wedler was 17 or 18 years old during filming). It seems like the script compresses and crams in the entire range of problems faced by girls from 12 to 18 into 90 minutes: Mia simultaneously deals with the hormonal stress of oncoming adolescence, and with the rebellious delinquency typical of older teens.

Nevertheless, if you can accept that Mia’s experiencing an uneven, delayed puberty—possibly related to her biological “specialness”—her travails are believable. Perhaps too believable, in fact: large stretches of segments dealing with unsatisfactory crushes and awkward sexual encounters, getting buzzed on Saturday night, experimenting with asphyxiation or shoplifting on a dare, girlfriends who are carelessly and causally mean to each other at one moment and fiercely loyal the next, and so forth all start to feel routine, like incidents we’ve seen in dozens of teen-development dramas.

When Mia’s slow-gestating transformation finally blossoms, however, it breaks through all of the sudden. In a hazy, dreamlike trance, she freshens up her makeup with a brighter shade of red, takes a swig of vodka, and wanders out to the party she just excused herself from to dance seductively for a group of college-age boys, who invite her into the back bedroom for an “erotic” encounter sure to make you squirm in your seat. This peak of teenage peril is followed by a disappointing reveal and an inevitable denouement.

Although Blue My Mind isn’t exceptional, as a low-budget debut feature from a director fresh out of film school, it is remarkably assured. Freckle-faced Luna Wedler’s on-key performance helps a lot, and the rest of the cast assists ably. Other than an attempt at a beyond-her-means special effect, the technical aspects are all professional, and writer/director Brühlmann handles her actors well. She has talent, and with a different script and a few more Euros she could make something that will really blow your mind.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Up to a point, the central analogy works rather brilliantly. The menacing yet dreamlike tone grounds the film’s dark-fairytale transformation… But at some point the allegory slithers out of Brühlmann’s grasp, and grows too large for its tank.”–Jessica Kiang, Variety (festival screening)

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

CAPSULE: THE MIGHTY BOOSH (2003-2007)

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Paul King, Steve Bendelack

FEATURING: Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding, Rich Fulcher, Michael Fielding, Dave Brown

PLOT: Throughout its three seasons, we watch the adventures of Howard Moon and Vince Noir who start as zookeepers with musical ambitions, become musicians with musical ambitions, and finish off as shopkeepers with musical ambitions.

WHY WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Exceptions for a movie list, once made, have a danger of proliferating; so it is with heavy heart that I can’t recommend adding this series to the Apocrypha list. That said, its got weirdo merits aplenty: no narrative diversion is too outlandish, and at any moment a song or “crimp” can break out. Skating forever between idiotic and genius, it is unfailingly creative, absurd, and oddly charming.

COMMENTS: On the heels of my northern outing, I decided it was time to hunker down and crash through every episode of the famed cult comedy, “The Mighty Boosh.” I couldn’t resist its invitation at the start of each episode to join the troupe “on a journey through time and space,” and found myself neck-deep in a sitcom that veered recklessly all over the comedy spectrum. I’ll admit that the first few episodes left me both speechless and with a fixed raised eyebrow. Once I got onto the Boosh‘s twitchy wavelength, however, I just couldn’t stop watching, and discovered how quickly ten solid hours of weirdo comedy can whiz by.

Whatever the surrounding nonsense, the focus is always squarely on Howard Moon (Julian Barratt) and Vince Noir (Noel Fielding). The former is a middle aged, mustachioed neurotic whose character exudes constant worry about himself and his surroundings coupled with a paradoxical belief in his own merit and strength (imagine, perhaps, a more charismatic version of Arnold Rimmer from “Red Dwarf”). Vince Noir, whose bubbly mask of idiocy covers a friendly vapidity, is his only friend. Vince is obsessed with fashion to the same degree that Howard is obsessed with his self-image. The second tier characters of Bob Fossil (Rich Fulcher, utterly uninhibited as a bombastic zoo manager), Naboo (Michael Fielding, mysterious—and often stoned—as Howard and Vince’s shaman buddy/landlord), and Bollo (Dave Brown, Naboo’s not-altogether magical “familiar”) are joined from episode to episode by countless oddball guests ( among them).

While the first season is incredibly strange, “The Mighty Boosh” hits peak weirdness in the second season thanks to two episodes: “The Priest & the Beast” and “The Legend of Old Gregg.” In the former, Howard and Vince are in the background, as Naboo relates the story of Rudi and Spider (also played by Barratt and Fielding, respectively), two famed musicians in the Boosh universe. They are a “bongo brother” duo traveling the desert “in search of the new sound.” Rudi is contemplative and mystical, as symbolized by a door in his afro that, upon deep thought, can open up to dispense a relevant item of some sort. Spider is a sex-crazed drummer (like all drummers, apparently), so named because he has “eight of something.” They search for the new sound, sing about their quest for the new sound, and ultimately save a nearby village from the “Betamax Bandit,” a heartless desperado made up entirely of Betamax tape.

In “The Legend of Old Gregg,” the best known episode in the series, Howard and Vince escape an angry mob infuriated by the horrendousness of their latest gig to find themselves in a seaside tavern peopled exclusively by exaggerated fishermen (the house band are all clad in a three-person corded sweater). Howard stays out fishing and captures a merman, who after brief conversation exposes himself and his “mangina” to an unreceptive Howard before dragging him down to his lair for further seduction. Bailey’s Irish Cream, watercolor paintings (including one of Bailey’s “as close as you can get to it without getting your eyes wet”), and a snappy Motown/Funk dance duet ensue as Howard awaits rescue.

This is not typical sitcom fare—and those are only brief descriptions of one-tenth of the series. Each episode necessarily has a musical number in it, and many of them have a bizarre chanting referred to late in the series as “crimping” (described by Julian Barratt as something like “folk rap”). And beginning in the second season, there is the ever present danger of “The Moon” appearing out of the blue for a brief non-sequitur speech that will simultaneously infuriate and delight. Yessir, it’s all here, and all crazy. Whatever it is that Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding have created, it is singular and stupid, distinct and delightful, and mighty, “Mighty Boosh.”

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…after a few minutes of half-hearted setup, Barratt and Fielding are off, having surreal adventures that involve ancient legends, talking animals, elaborate costumes, and a few snappy musical numbers. Even when a Mighty Boosh episode isn’t fall-down funny, there’s always something happening.” –Noel Murray, The Onion A.V. Club

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 8/16/2019

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.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

Birds Without Feathers (2018): Experimental feature mixing stories of six odd people—an Instagram celebrity, a performance artist, a Russian fan, and so on—in a technologically alienated world. Playing only in NYC at the Roxy Cinema, presumably with some kind of home video release to follow. Birds Without Feathers official site.

Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles [Buñuel en el Laberinto de las Tortugas] (2018): Animated biopic about the young making the “surrealistic documentary” Land Without Bread (Las Huerdes). This is one we’ve had our eye on for a while; it doesn’t look weird per se, although there are the expected dream sequences, but Buñuel fans should find this a curiosity worth seeking out. Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles official site.

FILM FESTIVALS – North Bend Film Fest (North Bend, WA, 8/15-8/18):

Set in the Washington town where many of ““‘s exteriors were filmed, the North Bend Film Fest is a ian destination. Compressed into an intense three days, it features not only weird movies but also a tour of “Twin Peaks” locations, a live podcast recorded at the local brewpub, and a virtual reality lounge with a suite of trippy experiences. It’s highlighted by a handful of movies we just screened at this year’s : the dark fairy tale (and Apocrypha Candidate) Koko-Di, Koko-Da; Extra Ordinary, an Irish ghost comedy; the teen melodrama Knives and Skin; and the druggy vampire flick Bliss. We also noticed a couple of potentially interesting curios we hadn’t seen before, but will keep an eye out for:

  • The El Duce Tapes‘s VHS-sourced documentary about 1990s shock metal frontman Eldon “El Duce” Hoke. Screening August 17.
  • Monument – Polish fantasy about a group of college interns who find themselves stripped of their identities and held in a strange hotel. Also on Aug 17.

North Bend is an out-of-the-way destination and probably not something you’re going to attend at the last minute, but you can start making your plans for next year’s fest now.

North Bend Film Fest home page.

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

Galaxy of Terror (1981): Interstellar travelers land on a distant planet where an alien pyramid attacks them with horrors from their own imaginations. An early 80s Forbidden Planet/Alien ripoff from ‘s New World Pictures, with an infamous alien rape scene, which for some reason found its way into our reader-suggested review queue. This is a steelbook Blu-ray from a new restoration with new artwork; in other respects it seems identical to Shout! Factory’s 2010 release. Buy Galaxy of Terror.

Open Your Eyes [Abre los Ojos] (1997): Read our review. This Spanish psychological thriller about a playboy who loses his mind when he loses his looks in a car accident debuts on Blu-ray this week. Buy Open Your Eyes.

CERTIFIED WEIRD (AND OTHER) REPERTORY SCREENINGS:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). We won’t list all the screenings of this audience-participation classic separately. You can use this page to find a screening near you.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE: Next week we’ll have at least two new reviews for you: Giles Edwards opines on the absurdist cult TV show “The Mighty Boosh,” while you can see if “Old” Greg Smalley got his mind blown by Switzerland’s puberty horror fantasy Blue My Mind. In the meantime, if you haven’t entered our latest contest yet, why not take your shot at winning a copy of “All the Colors of Giallo?” We’ll pick a winner next Thursday. Onward and weirdward!

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.

CONTEST: WIN A COPY OF “ALL THE COLORS OF GIALLO” (BLU-RAY/CD)

Time for another giveaway contest! No particular reason: just because we like you.

Since the prize is a copy of All the Colors of Giallo, the entry procedure will be simple: just tell us your favorite in the comments. (We’ll be loose with the definition of the genre, but all entries mentioning Top Gun will be disregarded).

We’ll leave the contest open for a week. Of course, you may join the discussion even if you don’t meet the eligibility requirements below or don’t wish to receive the prize; please mention you’re not in it for the swag when you announce your pick.

Contest eligibility rules: You must make a nomination by commenting on this post with your favorite giallo film and informing us of your desire to be in the contest. To receive the prize, you must supply us with a mailing address in the United States. (Don’t publish your address in your comment! We’ll contact the winner through email). 366 contributors are not eligible for the prize. You are not eligible for this prize if you have won a contest here in the last six months. We’ll stop accepting entries Wednesday, August 21, at midnight EST. The winner will be chosen randomly from all eligible comments. If the winner does not respond to our request for a mailing address within 48 hours we’ll email a runner-up, and so forth, until the prize is given away.

All the Colors of Giallo Blu-rayAs for the prize:  It’s a fresh, unopened, shrink-wrapped copy of Severin Films’ All the Colors of Giallo. This 3-disc (one blu-ray, one DVD, and one CD) set contains the title documentary, over four hours of giallo trailers with commentary, a disc devoted to the German “krimi” films, and a CD of select cuts of soundtrack faves from the likes of Ennio Morricone. It’s the must-have set for giallo fans.  You can read the description of the features in our review.

That’s it, now get to it!

Celebrating the cinematically surreal, bizarre, cult, oddball, fantastique, strange, psychedelic, and the just plain WEIRD!