WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 2/15/2019

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):

Mega Time Squad (2018): Read Giles Edwards’ mini-review and listen to his interview with director Tim Van Dammen. A New Zealand set time-travel caper comedy. Unknown where it is playing, but Rotten Tomatoes assures us it’s going up on a screen somewhere this week. Mega Time Squad official site.

Ruben Brandt, Collector (2018): A psychotherapists commissions thefts of famous paintings, believing he will stop having nightmares about the artworks once he owns them. Intellectual, mildly surreal adult animation from Hungary. Ruben Brandt, Collector official site.

IN DEVELOPMENT:

Big Shark (2019): attempts to extend his 15 minutes of fame to the 18-minute mark with this effort exploiting 2013’s hot topic, sharks. It is pretty much guaranteed to be awful, but since Tommy’s mumbling his way through it, it will still probably be better than The Meg. The Big Shark official site currently redirects to a site selling Wiseau-branded boxer shorts with no mention of Big Shark.

Cristina (est. 2019): A woman is plagued by the demon raised by her Satanist father. Per the director, it’s a “fascinating and terrifying amalgam of classic theological horror films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, but armed with a hefty dose of surrealism.” Set to begin principal photography in the spring. No official site yet.

Kung Fu Hustle 2 (20??):  has announced that he has begun work on the sequel to 2004’s Canonically Weird Kung Fu Hustle. The sequel will take place in the present day, and Chow, now 56, will not star (but may appear in a cameo). “Martial Arts Action Cinema” appears to have broken the news in the English-speaking world, based on a Chow interview (in Chinese).

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

Audition [Ôdishon] (1999): Read the Certified Weird review! ‘s terrifying masterpiece of anti-erotic extremity comes to Region A Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Video, from a 2016 restoration, with most of the same features on the old Shout! Factory release plus  a new commentary track by Tom Mes, a new introduction from and interview with Miike, and more (first pressing includes an exclusive booklet, too). Buy Audition.

Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980): A prisoner is released in 1926 Weimar Germany and vows to go straight, but is sucked back into a life of crime. Rainer Weiner Fassbinder’s 15-hour miniseries is told straight for most of its running, but ends with a surreal epilogue. A Criterion Collection upgrade from DVD to Blu-ray. Buy Berlin Alexanderplatz.

Horror Express (1972): Read Otto Black’s review. A frozen “ape-man” turns out to be a body-possessing alien who causes trouble on the trans-Siberian express. Although this horror is (famously) in the public domain, true fans may want to purchase this Arrow Blu-ray for the restoration, commentary track, interviews, and first-pressing collectible booklet. Buy Horror Express.

Possum (2018): A puppeteer returns home to face his stepfather and secrets from his past. The script is from a short story the British director originally wrote for an anthology exploring Freud’s notion of the uncanny. On DVD or VOD. Buy Possum.

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.

FREE (LEGITIMATE RELEASE) MOVIES ON TUBI.TV:

Night Train to Terror (1985): Read the Certified Weird entry! If everybody’s got something to do—everybody but you—then maybe you can watch this to horror anthology, made from three unreleased features cut down to the point of incoherence and linked by a framing story about God and Satan arguing about the fate of the characters while a teenage lipsynching New Wave band practices in the next train compartment. Watch Night Train to Terror free on Tubi.tv.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE: Next week we’ll announce the winner of 366 Weird Movies’ biggest fan contest (still time to enter!) In terms of reviews, Pete Trbovich will go into the reader-suggested review queue for 1973’s Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural, while G. Smalley brings you a long-delayed review of ‘s psychedelic flop The Last Movie (at last!) plus The Greasy Strangler ‘s  ‘s sophomore feature (a romantic comedy, of all things), An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn. And, we’ll reveal the winners of the 9th Annual Weirdcademy Awards (there’s still time to vote in that, too, although the only contests that are actually competitive are Weirdest Short Film and Weirdest Scene).

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.

APOCRYPHA CANDIDATE: LET THE CORPSES TAN (2017)

Laissez bronzer les cadavres

DIRECTED BY: ,

FEATURING: Elina Löwensohn, Stéphane Ferrara, Michelangelo Marchese, Hervé Sogne, Dorylia Calmel, Marc Barbé

PLOT: After hitchhikers interrupt an otherwise precision gold heist, the thieves find themselves pinned down in a sex artist’s derelict haunt by an out-gunned but tenacious motorcycle cop.

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: During the first half I felt inclined to write this one off as an overstylized Frenchy heist-Western. Then I realized two things: a rather strange undercurrent kept bobbing to the surface throughout, and “overstylized Frenchy heist-Westerns” are very few and far between.

COMMENTS: There must be an archetype to explain the character of Luce (Elina Löwensohn), a sex-goddess artiste fighting to her last smoky breath against law, society, and age. Her coastal hideaway reflects her mind: grandiose but crumbling, free but tortured, joyous but destructive. This setting is the anchor for machinations involving a gang of hard men, a scumbag lawyer, a drunken novelist, and two determined law enforcers. Let the Corpses Tan sets off a precision-rigged narrative bomb within the confines of an evil ant-farm.

At Luce’s dilapidated estate, a mountaintop retreat for various decadents, a gaggle of toughs has assembled to commit a daring robbery. The execution of Rhino’s (Stéphane Ferrara) plan goes like clockwork, with gunshots punctuating the passing of time. His young driver keeps the gas pedal to the floor, swerving the intricate route away from the armored car, now relieved of its 250 kilos of gold, as he nervously watches the clock. Up the hill, a burnt-out writer (Marc Barbé) attempts to sleep off his eternal hangover; on the road down the hill, the driver nearly crashes into a young woman. She is the nanny of the writer’s son, who has been brought with his mother to find the reclusive novelist. The few seconds the crooks could spare are taken up collecting the trio before zig-zagging back. The authorities are soon on the lookout for the missing persons and the missing gold. Before you can say “existentialist ennui,” two no-nonsense motorcycle cops ascend upon the villa and things start going very badly for everyone. Except Luce. She can’t get enough of this deadly violence and frantic backstabbing.

This movie feels wrenched from the 1970s, complete with vintage Ennio Morricone score, but reprocessed in a Cuisinart. Intertitles appear throughout, simultaneously grounding viewers with demarcations of the exact minute of the action while disorienting them by shunting between all the characters as they travel madly like ants around the ancient monastery in which the cops and robbers find themselves holed up. This motif is made explicit with a series of ant-covered aerial shots of the clutch of ruins. The resulting effect is a neo-pagan feel, itself established further with a series of flashbacks to the days when these grounds were used for some very personal performance art on the part of the endlessly drinking, smoking, and often-topless Luce. Flashbacks show the many explicit rites (lustful, shadowy acolytes and lactation-inducing bondage, among other things) that cemented Luce’s psyche to the very grounds the characters find themselves trapped upon.

Let the Corpses Tan is a gloriously explosive ratatouille-Western that immediately captures the viewer’s attention with hectic editing and smirking heartlessness. Assembling all the best elements from arthouse and grindhouse, Cattet and Forzani blast a Frenchy shot across cinema’s bow as they stand by, taking a drag on a cigarette. Watching it is akin to watching your philosophy seminar turn into a bullet-riddled hostage crisis.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“It’s a profoundly weird film but hypnotic nonetheless. – Mark Medley, Toronto Globe and Mail (festival screening)

366’S CUDDLES AND KISSES: VALENTINE’S DAY PIC PICKS

Giles Edwards, Pete Trbovich, and El Rob Hubbard suggest fifteen films to share with your strangest sweetie on Valentines’ Day.

Giles:

Being a Curated Valentine’s Day Film List

Poet Blood’s Red, Velvet is Blue —
Your Valentine’s with 366 has come true!

‘s a hottie, none can resist her,
Bar when pining for sister.
For romantic movies, we’ll start our curricula
With the tear-jerking tale of the emperor Caligula.

The French, as they say, have a “je ne sais quoi”;
(Et je pense que je sais vous êtes assez comme moi:)
You know nothing tops love betwixt Man and a Mouse
Making Sitcom the film to watch with your spouse.

Then there’s the Manhattan girl who just wanted love,
And her pleas weren’t ignored by the powers above.
With each death of lovers in throes of their passion
Liquid Sky has romance on peaks of punk fashion.

With both dollops of love and betrayal in parts
Julia uses all of her feminine arts
To try to make David, now unhinged, to behave,
And to dig herself out of her own Shallow Grave.

But for simplicity in love’s questing and fun
This title’s the first, though writ as the last one.
Bringing smiles for show of most wholesome desire,
‘Tis Rubber, the rom-com of which you won’t tire.

Worry not for the titles you may think I’ve missed,
For next comes the Trbovich Valentine’s list.

Pete:

Now you see, man is an animal futilely trying to be a god.

We aspire to these great heights, to rule the planet as the benevolent apex predator, to split the atom and warp space-time, to create a utopia of crystal spires and togas. There’s just one problem holding us back: we’re still animals.

Deep in our brains, there is an electrochemical machine of neuropeptides, hormones, and neurotransmitters ticking away, and whether we like to admit it or not, these little nut-sized chunks of brainmeat with names like “hippocampus” and “amygdala” are our true gods. If you piss them off and go against your natural programming, no happy-joy squirt of dopamine for you!

Every one of us is here today because all of our ancestors got laid, all 3 million years of them. The sticky thing about natural selection is, it isn’t “survival of the fittest,” it’s just “survival of the most efficient way to get laid.” Once you’ve reproduced, that’s all she wrote, nature is done with you. You’ve passed on your genes now, so you can hang around long enough to raise the offspring and then go die alone on an iceberg for all your genes care.

The drive to mate is a powerful force of dominating neurotransmitters, often working against your better judgment, or you wouldn’t be Continue reading 366’S CUDDLES AND KISSES: VALENTINE’S DAY PIC PICKS

99 YEARS OF WEIRDNESS, IN NUMBERS

This article was submitted by Aki Vainio.

Introduction, Methodology, and Breakdown by Year

A warning: all the data used here comes from the IMDb, so it’s user-submitted, and not always that well thought-out. I mean, according to the IMDb, 212 of these movies are dramas. If you call everything drama, does that designation even have any meaning anymore? There’s also some problems with country or origin, because they always list all the countries that have participated in any way. Anyhow, that’s what I have easily and automatically available, so that’s what I’m using. All the data is from January 16th of 2019. Obviously, much of it will change over time.

Note on the methods used: I did the research by using a list of the movies I’ve maintained over on IMDb. IMDb gives you a CSV export of that data, which is good start, but did not contain everything I wanted. For the rest of the data, I used the API provided by the good folks at OMDb, which enabled me to get the countries and languages. On top of that, I used a little bit of coding and some Excel action.

The earliest movie on the list is from 1920 (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) and the newest movie is from 2018 (Sorry to Bother You ), which covers 99 years. However, 20 of those years failed to provide the List with any movies at all.

Perhaps 1921 has the excuse of not knowing any better, but come on 1930s, your latter half (1935-1939) has a grand total of zero (0) movies. Or maybe the writers on this site have a prejudice against the 1930s.

Weird movies by year

The last year not to have a single movie on the list was 1956. After that there have been some poor years (like 1978, with only one), but the combination of moviemaking becoming cheaper and distributors finding new sources of income has made making movies for niche audiences possible.

The biggest years were 1968 and 1971, each of which produced 13 Canonized movies. 2006 wasn’t far behind with 12, while 1973 made it all the way to 11, and both 2004 and 2009 were in there with 10.

Personally, I’ve always believed that creativity is in no way dead, despite the influx of recent franchising attempts with sequels, prequels, reboots, remakes, and so forth. The list seems to support this belief. There’s still plenty of weird things going on, even if the drug-fueled highs of late 60s and early 70s might be behind us.

Who Comes Up with this Stuff?

Apparently, and , with a total of eight movies each. It’s also worth noting that they both share credits with others. comes up a bit short with seven, although with a total of ten features under his belt, 70% rate is not bad. and each have six, although Gilliam only directed one segment of Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. Still within this higher echelon of directors, we have and Continue reading 99 YEARS OF WEIRDNESS, IN NUMBERS

APOCRYPHA CANDIDATE: MAREBITO (2004)

DIRECTED BY

FEATURING: , Tomomi Miyashita, Kazuhiro Nakahara

PLOT: A reclusive photographer obsessed with fear discovers a network of underground tunnels beneath Tokyo, where he finds a mute young woman who feeds on blood.

Still from Marebito (2004)

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: This slow-burn horror almost entirely eschews conventional horror narrative structure to serve as a character study of its eccentric, delusional protagonist.

COMMENTS: I still remember the J-Horror craze of the early 2000s—though, living in a mostly third-world country, I had to largely settle for experiencing them through their American remakes.

Thinking back, it really was a perfect way to bring Asian media to the Western world: films like Ringu or Ju-On or One Missed Call, with their foreign settings and basis in regional mythology, were “exotic” enough to feel different from the standard Hollywood fare, but not so overly different or extreme as to feel alienating. Even some of the genre’s more extreme offerings, like Audition, tended to join Cannibal Holocaust and A Serbian Film among the ranks of “extreme films that everyone’s heard about.”

(Of course, that probably renders all those remakes pretty much pointless, but that’s a whole other matter.)

One exception to this was Marebito. Despite coming from the creator of the Ju-On series, as well as its highly successful American remake, Marebito made little impact in the West—perhaps best reflected by the fact that it never got a remake.

And viewing Marebito, it’s not hard to see why: even among the standards of J-Horror (which, around the time, usually went for the slow burn), Marebito takes its time. Many shots simply follow the protagonist as he absently wanders the streets, or stares obsessively at his collection of recordings; and the vampiric young woman at the center of the plot doesn’t even show up until the half-hour mark.

Good for atmosphere, and consistent with Shimizu’s usual approach, certainly; but not very marketable.

Nonetheless, for those who appreciate a horror film with character, Marebito has a fair amount to offer. It’s made clear relatively quickly that the focus of the film is not its fantastical elements, but the eccentric mind of its protagonist. Masuoka (played by Shinya Tsukamoto, best known around here as the director of Tetsuo: The Iron Man) is a withdrawn and disenchanted individual with dark obsessions who is ever hidden behind his camera, relating to the world far better when seeing it through his viewfinder. And all of this is made sharply clear in the first few minutes of the movie, when we see him obsessively watching and re-watching footage that he shot of a public suicide on a subway, trying to discern what the dead man might have seen in his last few moments.

Masuoka is obsessed with the concept of fear, and seeks to uncover Continue reading APOCRYPHA CANDIDATE: MAREBITO (2004)

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 2/8/2019

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):

Lords of Chaos (2018): Read Giles Edwards’ review. Biopic/docudrama, appropriately narrated from beyond the grave, covering the scandalous rise of “True” Norwegian Black Metal, featuring church burning and, eventually, murder. Lords of Chaos official Facebook page.

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

All the Colors of Giallo (2018): For dedicated giallo fans: this three disc set contains the title documentary on the genre, a second doc (The Case of the Krimi, with film historian Marcus Stiglegger), a trailer collection, and a CD of soundtrack cuts. Via Severin films, it’s a multi-format set (Blu-ray, DVD, and CD). Buy All the Colors of Giallo.

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018): Scientists in a satellite orbiting the Earth accidentally open a portal to another dimension when experimenting with a particle accelerator. While we liked the other two Cloverfield movies (one a monster flick and one a thriller), we skipped this sci-fi themed one on Netflix because nothing about the initial installments led us to suspect there would ever be a weird movie in the bunch; the Internet (not the most reliable source, admittedly) suggests we may be wrong in that assumption. It’s now out on DVD or Blu-ray for those without a Netflix subscription. Also available in a “Cloverfield 3-Movie Collection” DVD or Blu-ray pack Buy The Cloverfield Paradox.

The Fifth Cord (1971): Franco Nero stars as an alcoholic reporter tracking a serial killer while simultaneously becoming a suspect. Maybe not 100% weird, but it has the psychedelic visual sensibility and alienated atmosphere of the period. Another neglected giallo exhumed by Arrow Video, now on Blu-ray. Buy The Fifth Cord.

Lu Over the Wall: Little Mermaid variation in which the fish-girl joins a teen rock band. This kids’ movie that carefully describes itself as “joyously hallucinogenic but family-friendly” comes from Masaaki Yuasa—the mind behind the Canonically Weird Mind Game (2004). Blu-ray, DVD, VOD. Buy Lu Over the Wall.

The Possessed (1965): A depressed novelist goes looking for his lost love, a waitress at a remote lakeside resort who has disappeared mysteriously. A “proto-giallo” co-scripted by the curious , who would go on to direct a pair of Canonically Weird films. Another Arrow Video Blu-ray release. Buy The Possessed.

Shame (1968): Read Alfred Eaker’s review. ‘s surreal tale of war coming to Fårö is largely overlooked. The Criterion Collection hopes to change that with this single-disc release including both new and archival interviews. Buy Shame.

St. Bernard Syndicate (2018): A Danish businessman partners with an investor who’s just been diagnosed with A.L.S. in a scheme to sell St. Bernards to the Chinese. Sounds subtly strange at best, but Brian Orndorf of Blu-ray.com did claim it is “very funny at times, but also chilling and always interested in weirdness…” Now on VOD (only, for the present time). Buy or rent The St. Bernard Syndicate.

Zachariah (1971): Read Pete Trbovich’s review. This hippie comedy-Western-musical billed itself as the “first electric Western”; Kino Lorber grabbed the rights and upgraded the featureless MGM DVD to a sparkling new Blu-ray with a commentary track and everything. Buy Zachariah.

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.

FREE MOVIES ON TUBI.TV:

Dogville (2003): Read the Canonically Weird review‘s dark, misanthropic fable is like de Sade’s “Justine” played out on the set of Wilder’s “Our Town.” Listed as “leaving soon” on the service. Watch Dogville free on Tubi.tv.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE:

Next week, look for a review from the reader-suggested queue: Simon Hyslop on 2004’s Lovecraftian J-horror, Marebito. We’ll also have Giles Edwards with late-ish coverage of and ‘s latest, last year’s Let The Corpses Tan, and a reader-supplied statistical analysis of the List. And maybe we’ll even have a mystery pop-up review (though if we promised one for certain and told you what it was, it wouldn’t be a mystery… forget we said anything, OK?)

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.

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