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Quick links/Discussed in this episode:

Barbarella remake? (202?): Discussion begins. Reported as in development: a Barbarella remake starring hot commodity Sidney Sweeney, directed by . We won’t deny Sweeney would look great in the costumes, but overall we remain skeptical. Deadline broke the story.

Coma (2022): Discussion begins. A sequestered 18-year-old girl loses her grip on reality as she watches a YouTuber named “Patricia Coma.” A weird-looking one with animation and Barbie doll sequences, from the busy (who also has the promising Beast in U.S. theaters). Coma official site.

The Hyperboreans (2024): Discussion begins. A psychologist hires stop-motion animators and to film a script taken from the minds of one of her (schizophrenic?) patients.  We know little about this, but there is a Nazi twist… debuting this week at Cannes Director’s Fortnight, hopefully it will be picked up in the U.S.  The Hyperboreans distributor site.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988): Discussion begins. Read Gregory J. Smalley’s review. The kampy kult komedy (please don’t make that into an acronym) gets a 4K upgrade from Shout! Factory; extra features appear to all be recycled from the previous Special Edition Blu-ray (and some go back to the original DVD release). Buy Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Megalopolis (2024?): Discussion begins. Megalopolis continues its epic journey to screen with the release of a more substantial “teaser” trailer (hot on the heels of the short teaser scene we talked about last week). There’s also another spicy article about the production, this time from The Guardian. Anticipation builds.

Sentinel (202?): Discussion begins. wants to make one more stop-motion feature before he dies… and he promises this one won’t take 30 years like Mad God. It’s a deathdream story a la “An Occurrence at Owl Bridge Creek” set in WWI. Currently in the early stages of development, he’ll be fundraising at Cannes. Variety gets the scoop.


Released this week: Giles Edwards narrates Gregory J. Smalley‘s script of a Pete Trbovich production of “Looking for Duke,” a story set in the surreal Dead Oaks Mall extended universe!


No guest is currently scheduled for next week’s Pod 366 (although you never know), but Greg and Giles will definitely be back to discuss the week’s weird news and releases. In written reviews, Shane Wilson takes a second look at Shiver of the Vampires, Giles Edwards investigates Jobe’z World (2018), and Gregory J. Smalley will venture to the theater to see I Saw the TV Glow (which seems like a safer bet than catching it on TV).

Onward and weirdward!


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Dario Argento: Panico is available for VOD rental or purchase (or free with a Shudder subscription)

DIRECTED BY: Simone Scafidi

FEATURING: , , , , Gaspar Noé,

PLOT: Dario Argento visits a hotel to write a script, while those who know or admire him praise his movies in interviews.

Still fro, Dario Argento: Panico (2023)

COMMENTS: Dario Argento: Panico gives you exactly what you would expect from this kind of biodoc: choice clips, some behind-the-scenes stuff, and a bunch of talking heads saying nice things about its subject (while awkwardly trying to avoid talking much about his twenty-first century work). The structure is mildly novel in that there is a ‘wraparound’ story: Argento, in the present day, travels to a resort to hole up and write a new script (his usual procedure). The opening cleverly juxtaposes Argento’s ride to the hotel with Suzy’s tempestuous taxicab journey to the ballet school in Suspiria. After this creepy prologue, the film follows Argento’s career chronologically, with select clips and testimony from friends, admirers, and Argento himself (both in the current day and in archival interviews). There are even a few humorous moments where the octogenarian director congenially complains about the heat, the other hotel guests, or the length of the interview.

The filmmakers interviewed here all come from the weird end of the cinema pool (each, in fact, has an entry in our Canon of 366 Weird Movies). Together, they make a case for Argento as a genuine horror auteur—one of the few, in a genre that is more often ruled by commercial considerations than artistic ones. Gaspar Noé even compares Argento’s work to the / films (which is an amazing compliment, if a bit of a stretch stylistically). Guillermo del Toro boils the work’s appeal down to its essence, declaring that Argento’s horror reveals “a cosmic sense of an angry, evil universe. Everything in Argento’s movies is trying to kill you.”

Every fan, casual or dedicated, likely has a particular curiosity about some aspect Argento’s canon. Personally, I’ve always wondered if its merely a coincidence that the director’s greatest decade (1975-1985) coincides almost exactly with his collaboration and romance with actress/writer (who was also the mother of his next greatest collaborator, Asia Argento.) Although Dario credits her as an inspiration, he already was on an upward trajectory before meeting Daria while planning Deep Red. Yet, his work begins a slow decline after their divorce. One clue comes from Asia, who explains that her mother had an interest in magic a lot of books on witchcraft. Before Nicolodi, Argento’s movies were mainly ian thrillers and gialli that had little of the supernatural in them; afterwards, his palette opens up to let in the eldritch and the paranormal. This confirmation of Nicolodi’s underappreciated influence alone made the documentary worth the watch for me.

This sort of retrospective is probably most appealing to viewers with a partial knowledge of the subject. Rabid fans will know most of this stuff already, and total newcomers won’t have the baseline knowledge to see why the connections being made are meaningful. But they perform a useful gap-filling function in the cinematic ecosystem: in this case, reminding me that I still need to catch up on Inferno.


“Throughout, Scafidi (whose 2019 biopic of Lucio Fulci proves he’s no stranger to bedeviled auteurs) presents Argento primarily as a visual artist, emphasizing the surreality of his images and the shadowy menace of his anonymous cityscapes.”–Jeanette Catsoulis, The New York Times (contemporaneous)


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DIRECTED BY: , Nick Roth

FEATURING: Jacob DeMonte-Finn, Christina Laskay, Ashley Holliday Tavares, Clare Grant, Lindsey Haun, voices of

PLOT: Sam is mistakenly invited to a remote weekend reunion and people begin dying off.

COMMENTS: Hanging out in the dark basement, with fan full blast, empty soda cans piling up, and a low light pulsing from the 17″ cathode-ray television, Cannibal! the Musical hangs out with “The Mighty Boosh“. Hanky Panky enters, and Boosh gives Musical the old, Oooh boy, it’s the new guy-look. “Hey, HP, it’s… uh, great to see you!” (End scene on awkward silence.)

For dirt-cheap, you can fill your awkward silence right now for 86 minutes of “Umm…”, “Heh, uh.”, and “Bwah! What the—?”, among other remarks elicited by this, er, horror-science-fiction thingy. Sam (an awkward, civil, moustachioed Jacob DeMonte-Finn) has been mistakenly invited to a remote cabin for the weekend by Rebecca, who for reasons revealed earlier has assembled her sisters and their hangers-on. But unbeknownst to Rebecca, Sam comes with a secret—and powerful—friend in the form of a talking handkerchief named “Woody” who loves lapping up liquids.

Those of you who have read this far and gone, “Oh-ho, really?,” be well advised herewith: returning to the “basement” symbolism, the foley, practical effects, and much else in Hanky Panky are bargain-basement level. But what bargains! What mystery! What fascinating chunks of offal! And where did this melange of unpleasant and sympathetic characters come from? The directors do us the favor of killing them off in order from most annoying to least (which helps a good deal), with the final victim performing with such eccentric, jerky hamminess that I can’t help but respect the actress in question for the sheer force of her chutzpah.

The script must have seemed good enough to rope in Seth Green—as villainous alien, Harry the Hat—but while that actor fills me with the warmest of indifference, Hanky Panky is, happily, one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen. I could Recommend(ed)! it, but my boss would fire me for journalistic malpractice; I could tag it Weirdest, but my fellow reviewers would punch me in the mouth for raising their hopes. This is a paean to DIY daftness—or to phrase it as Woody might prefer, it is a moronic, masterful mess.


“…a stoner lo-fi sci-fi slasher comedy that starts off weird, gets a little off-putting, and then just blasts off into insanity from there.”–Douglas Davidson, Elements of Madness (contemporaneous)


Jancio Wodnik; AKA Johnnie the Aquarius, Johnny Waterman

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DIRECTED BY: Jan Jakub Kolski

FEATURING: Franciszek Pieczka, Grazyna Blecka-Kolska, Boguslaw Linda, Katarzyna Aleksandrowicz

Still from Johnny aquarius

PLOT: An old farmer leaves his young wife and sets forth on a journey through the countryside to fulfill a higher purpose; along the way, he discovers that he possesses healing abilities, and he abandons his family in favor of the cult springs that springs up around him.

COMMENTS: You have to be a little forgiving of fables. They’re not to be taken literally, of course. If a character in a fable behaves badly, well, that’s the whole point; they will get their comeuppance, and we’ll all learn an important lesson. And if the story dabbles in fantasy, with magic or hints of the supernatural, that only magnifies the examination of humanity at the heart of the tale.

So it was with all my might that I tried to keep from getting unreasonably mad at the hero of Jańcio Wodnik, who turns his back on his family in search of deeper meaning and is soon corrupted by arrogance and obsequious adulation. After all, when we first meet poor Jańcio, he’s experiencing a spiritual crisis. His young wife has not managed to get pregnant, despite the fact that she has hung upside down 11 separate times in order to get his seed to the right spot. He’s beginning to lose his trust in gravity in other ways, too, having watched water flowing up a ladder to fill a bird’s nest. The only thing left to do is go out on a pilgrimage, bearing on his back nothing but a washing tub to keep his feet clean, which is a bit of an obsession for him. His devoted wife Weronka kindly lets him go, singing a song of sadness but understanding as he departs. If she’s not angry with him, what right have I to be?

It is curious how quickly Jańcio breaks bad. When he first meets Stygma, a roving motorcyclist who picks up extra cash here and there by piercing his hands with nails and showing up in local towns as the crucified Christ, he seems unimpressed with the blasphemy. But he also suspects that there’s something special in his foot washing, and when he offers to help the sick and the lame, the shocking thing isn’t that his ablutions work, or that Stygma will look for ways to capitalize on these gifts, or even that a small community of worshipers will descend upon him with gifts of money, sex, and adulation. No, what takes your breath away is how easily Jańcio succumbs to pride and hubris. He returns to his old home like a Roman emperor, telling his now-pregnant wife how utterly unimportant she is, and bestowing upon her the dubious gift of a car (which is carried on a litter by a phalanx of strongmen). It’s a striking sight, witnessing the simple man rendered cruel and haughty by his power. Surely his fall will be a sight to behold. 

The turn comes quickly, as his son is born with a tail and impervious to his ministrations. Indeed, all of his cures are quickly undone, and he is so dumbstruck by his folly that he sits motionless outside his house, unperturbed by the snow or the leaves or even the birds that nest upon his head. Years pass before a vision awakens him out of his stupor and returns him to face his wife and child. And the moral of this tale? Well, that’s perhaps the most unexpected twist of all, because it turns out that the cause of all this folly lies in a vignette that appears at the start of the film and is referenced once again before roaring to life in the final scenes: a sickly horse has been sent away from its farm to die alone, and in a truly strange bit of backfilling, Jańcio angrily confronts the horse’s owner (whom we have never seen before) to tell him that this bit of cruelty is single-handedly responsible for all of the misfortune that has followed. Jańcio Wodnik sets itself up to be a fable about gullibility or the dangers of taking on false holiness, and then out of nowhere hits you with Chekhov’s Horse.

Jańcio Wodnik is a light parable, charming but ultimately with no weight to it. A fable doesn’t have to be heavy-handed, but it feels like it should leave you wiser than you were before it began. Weronka does teach us to be steadfast and true, and Jańcio warns us against getting too big for your britches. But the lesson of “don’t turn out your sick horse or an old man will abandon his family and believe himself to be anointed by God” doesn’t exactly give Aesop a run for his money.


“…a slight but unusual charmer sustained by fine perfs and an inventive script… Recurrent joy of the pic is how all the crazy goings-on are treated as absolutely normal by the peasants.” – Derek Elley, Variety

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

Johnny Aquarius
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