Join us this next Saturday, July 9 at 10:15 PM for Let the Corpses Tan (2017) on Tubi (hopefully). We will be using Kast again to stream and chat, as they appear to have restored this functionality (at least temporarily).
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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.
IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):
Clara Sola (2021): A Costa Rican peasant woman develops mystical healing powers, but they may not come from God. Reviewers are throwing around the words “magical realism” a lot. Clara Sola official site.
NEW ON HOME VIDEO:
The Coca-Cola Kid (1985): Dusan Makavejev directs a movie about a Coca-Cola salesman trying to market his product in the Outback. Aimed at a mainstream audience, but inevitably includes weirdo bits like a seduction by a sexy Mrs. Santa Claus. Buy The Coca-Cola Kid.
Hey, Stop Stabbing Me! (2003): A recent college graduate joins a cult where he’s forced to dig holes in the backyard and deal with a sock-stealing Sasquatch in the basement. Microbudgeted absurdist shot-on-video comedy that’s actually funny, from the guys who went on to helm the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise (which is actually not funny). Also on VOD. Buy or rent Hey, Stop Stabbing Me!
Inspector Ike (2020): Inspector Ike investigates the murder of the star member of an avant-garde acting troupe. An absurd spoof of 70s police procedurals like “Colombo.” Blu-ray only. Buy Inspector Ike.
Pink Flamingos (1972):Read the Canonically Weird entry. You’re a filthy liar if you said twenty years ago that you thought Pink Flamingos would be in the Criterion Collection, with two commentaries, essays, appreciations, deleted scenes, appreciative essays, the whole works. Buy Pink Flamingos.
Urusei Yatsura 4: Lum the Forever (1986): Those crazy teens and their hot alien friend Lum cut down a magical tree and find themselves trapped in various movies. More craziness for the Urusei Yatsura crew, now on North American Blu-ray. Buy Urusei Yatsura 4: Lum the Forever.
Videophobia (2019): When a woman finds one of her sexual encounters was surreptitiously filmed and put online, she develops a severe agoraphobia eventually manifesting itself in surreal imagery. Japanese, black and white, and dreamy. Blu-ray only. Buy Videophobia.
This section will no longer be updated regularly. Instead, we direct you to our new “Repertory Cinemas Near You” page. We will continue to mention exceptional events in this space from time to time, however.
WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE:
You can vote on our next Weird Watch Party, scheduled for the evening of July 9, here. Currently Let the Corpses Tan on Tubi is our leading candidate; since the Kast streaming platform has let us down in the past, The House on Netflix is our backup plan. But you can still make suggestions or just RSVP through the weekend.
366 Weird Movies takes a hike next week. Shane Wilson kicks us off with Gus Van Sant‘s arid Gerry (2002), about two men who take a long walk in the desert, while Gregory J. Smalley goes in a different direction with The Long Walk, about a single man who takes a walk (into the past) Laos. Giles Edwards, however, shirks this theme and instead covers Shirkers (2018), a documentary about the making of a documentary (with a twist). 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.
PLOT: The trials and tribulations of Dawn Wiener, the least popular girl in her middle school (and in her own family).
COMMENTS: With it’s unflinching depiction of junior high social dynamics—including a bully who angrily promises to “rape” his twelve-year-old schoolmate, treating it as the male-female equivalent of an afterschool fight—Welcome to the Dollhouse was a shocker in 1995. Most previous Hollywood coming-of-age movies were nostalgic comedies where the even nerdiest outcasts had their moments to shine (a la The Breakfast Club). Classics like Zéro de conduite (1933) and If…. (1968) focused on the dark side of schoolboy fascism, but operated more as surreal political allegories than slice-of-life character studies. Although one probably exists, I can’t think of a pre-Dollhouse movie that focused so masochistically on its protagonist’s fatal unpopularity. The 400 Blows comes close, but it still features a charismatic antihero who triumphs through rebellion. Solondz allows Dawn Wiener no triumphs, symbolic or otherwise.
The courage to take on such on a then-unusual subject as teenage bullying and abuse made Dollhouse seem like a work of startling realism to many. Many of the episodes seem taken from real life: the outcast kid’s anxiety over finding a place to sit in the lunchroom, for example, or a group of cheerleaders asking the nerdy kid if she’s a lesbian and not taking no for an answer. But most of the story is only emotionally true. Do you remember when you were a kid and your parents took some home videos and you did something mildly embarrassing like stumbling in the pool, and when they played it back you were sure everyone was pointing and laughing at you? In Welcome to the Dollhouse, the whole family is actually pointing and laughing at you when they play it back, calling you out by name, actively enjoying your humiliation. And can we actually believe that Dawn could run away from her middle-class home—in the midst of a separate family tragedy—and her disappearance go virtually unnoticed? We see these events through Dawn Weiner’s paranoid preteen eyes, and while she’s perfect at conveying her own feelings of alienation, she’s an unreliable narrator as to external events.
This ironic tone—the light-hearted world of childhood, with its secret clubs and garage bands and first kisses that we expect from these kinds of coming-of-age movies, coupled with the far more realistic scenes of kids being mean to each other and being psychologically and neglected abused by their elders—may strike some as “weird.” To be honest, I find that while Dollhouse was a revelation in its day, its not the landmark many feel it to be. It isn’t nearly the gut-punch that Solondz‘ much darker and more bizarre followup, Happiness, was. And, though far be it for me to recommend realist movies, I found Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade (2018), a straightforward drama hopskotching across approximately the same pavement, to be a better and more moving treatment of similar subject matter. This material calls for unflinching truthfulness, it needs no varnishing. Middle school is awkward and horrible for everyone, and for kids at the status-poor end of the social spectrum, it’s truly hellish. Though frequently called a “black comedy,” there’s precious little to actually raise a smile in Welcome to the Dollhouse, and its mixture of painful realism and morbid exaggeration doesn’t feel revolutionary anymore. The sadness of Dawn’s plight still comes through as jaggedly as ever, however. Thank goodness middle school only last three years (and that Dollhouse only lasts 90 minutes).
PLOT: Tinja’s focus on her upcoming gymnastic competition is compromised after a giant egg she has been hiding from her family cracks open to reveal a monstrous bird.
COMMENTS: Tinja is on the cusp of a nervous breakdown, her brother is an under-diagnosed brat of a boy, the father is the embodiment of self-destructive acquiescence, and mother has a blog about their “lovely everyday life.” Forget the giant egg for a moment and contemplate that the real horror going on in Hatching is the diminution of mental stability behind the scenes of a stereotypically “happy” Finnish family. Gauzy cinematography draws the viewer into a a fragile picture of perfection that, within the opening minutes, is shattered by the visit of an errant crow—literally, as it crashes into the precarious Living Room objets, and metaphorically, when the matriarch, determined to let nothing compromise her vision of domestic perfection, coldly snaps its neck.
With a metaphor this obvious, it’s a good thing that Hatching delivers on all the peripherals. Siiri Solalinna’s performance is right on the mark as twelve-year-old Tinja, a girl reckoning with burgeoning womanhood, a domineering mother, a speedily growing egg, and then a strange and horrific creature she adopts as her own child. This massive and grossly misproportioned bird beast has an appearance, as they say, that only a mother could love. Tinja looks past its skeletal form, its unsavory goo, irregularly-sized arms, and giant-eyed, scraggle-toothed face and sees something to love, providing it with an affection that her own mother is all too sparing with.
As with any horror film, things go from bad to worse, with Tinja powering through her trials at school, her suffocation at home, and the discovery of her mother’s infidelity with Tero, a classically handsome, manly counterpoint to her own “soft” father. In this oppressive world, it is these two father figures (Tero and actual father) who provide the only scintillas of genuine support and approval that Tinja seeks. Her mother’s burning impulse for control and projected flawlessness dominates. By the film’s third act, when Tinja is clearly on the brink of mental collapse, the most comfort her mother can muster is the reassurance, “You know the best way to get rid of stress? Winning the competition.” Tinja’s internalization of her own growing diffidence, distress, and depression manifests itself in her own “daughter,” the creature she hatched, which, despite its appearance and behavior, is the only other character who elicits sympathy. It is a primal, reactive beast: when a neighbor’s dog keeps Tinja up at night? It has a solution, proffering the headless canine to Tinja the next morning as a gift.
As her mother’s life collapses, the pressure on Tinja ratchets up further, and Tinja’s own “daughter” grows more and more into the girl’s image. The blood and goo are front and center, with these instances adroitly acting only as occasional punctuation to the mundane, spirit-crushing happenings of daily life. The film feels like an ancient dark fairy tale upon which director Hanna Bergholm shines a glaring modern spotlight, rendering it all the more unnerving.
We will tentatively schedule July’s first Weird Watch Party for Saturday, July 9 at 10:15 PM.
Currently, we can only confidently stream movies from subscription sites Netflix, Amazon Prime, or, (technically) Hulu for our watch parties.
Kast.tv, which allows streaming Tubi and YouTube free content, is a again a possibility, but it is now asking for a $10 yearly subscription, followed by (if I am reading this correctly) a 3-month waiting period after signing up. They also appear to have a temporary “free summer streaming promotion” up right now; sounds good, but I don’t know when it ends and I’m suspicious of the service given the bad experience last time. You can suggest Kast/Tubi selections but we also need to have a back-up from another service ready in case they flake again.
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. When making your nomination, simply comment with “I think we should watch Weird Movie on Netflix” or “How about Weird Movie 2: Electric Boogaloo on Prime?” You can also pitch in as to whether you prefer the afternoon or evening time slot.
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)