All posts by Alice Stoehr


AKA Uncle Boonmee

“Facing the jungle, the hills and vales, my past lives as an animal and other beings rise up before  me.”—Title card at the beginning of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives


DIRECTED BY: Apichatpong Weerasethakul

FEATURING: Thanapat Saisaymar, , Sakda Kaewbuadee, Kanokporn Tongaram

PLOT: On his plantation in rural Thailand, the dying Boonmee is visited by living relatives and the ghosts of his past. As they ease him into death, the story is interrupted through vignettes that may represent his memories of past lives.


  • Apichatpong Weerasethakul considerately refers to himself as “Joe” when speaking to Western audiences.
  • Uncle Boonmee is loosely based on a 1983 book by Phra Sripariyattiweti, a monk from Apichatpong’s hometown of Khon Kaen, Thailand.
  • The film is a feature-length component of Primitive, Apichatpong’s ongoing multimedia project, which also encompasses a number of video installations and the short films A Letter to Uncle Boonmee and Phantoms of Nabua.
  • Received the Palme d’Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Jury president Tim Burton described it as “a beautiful, strange dream.”
  • Sakda, who plays Boonmee’s nephew Tong, and Kanokporn, who plays his nurse Roong, played characters of the same names in Apichatpong’s earlier films Tropical Malady and Blissfully Yours, respectively. In both cases, it’s unclear if they’re meant to be the same characters.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: Though it’s chock-full of beguiling, whimsical imagery, the single most memorable sight in Uncle Boonmee is that of a princess in a lagoon, undulating with pleasure as she receives oral sex from a catfish. (Unsurprisingly, the words “catfish sex” became synonymous with Uncle Boonmee‘s brand of weirdness immediately following its Cannes premiere.)

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Critics sometimes identify Apichatpong’s style as a mix of

Apichatpong Weerasethakul on Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

surrealism and neorealism, and this is a handy skeleton key for getting at Uncle Boonmee‘s weird nature. The film contains plenty of enigmatic images and seeming non sequiturs, but they’re framed as natural, even welcome steps in the cycle of life and death. The characters accept them nonchalantly, going along with the film’s dream logic and implicitly entreating viewers to do the same. No clear border separates the mystical from the mundane. And two hours in, when it feels like you should be totally inured to Uncle Boonmee‘s disorienting twists, along comes a denouement that renders everything else normal by comparison.

COMMENTS: An ox, having escaped its tether, strolls through the forest at twilight.  Eventually, Continue reading 100. UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES [LOONG BOONMEE RALEUK CHAT] (2011)


DIRECTED BY: Carlos Atanes

FEATURING: Oriol Aubets, Anthony Blake, Manuel Solás, Abel Folk

PLOT: Just as his life seems to be falling apart, aimless sci-fi nerd Tony (Aubets) becomes accidentally entangled with a doomsday cult, a time-traveling conspiracy, and new method of interstellar transportation. Or does he?

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: Atanes is explicitly trafficking in weird material here, and PROXIMA certainly has its fair share of strange imagery and plot twists, but its elaborate scenario often feels culled from classics like Videodrome and The Matrix. Originality aside, though, its abundance of imagination and ambiguity might be enough to scrape onto the List.

COMMENTS: Attached to anything else, the tagline “The Last Science Fiction Movie” might sound hubristic.  But it’s absolutely appropriate to PROXIMA, an apocalyptic love letter to sci-fi and its fans.  Atanes puts his obsession with the genre front and center, and the film is dotted with casual references to Blade Runner, Star Wars, and Jean-Luc Picard.  Perhaps the most telling such reference is “Felix Cadecq,” the name of the Kilgore Trout-like author (Solàs) whose revelations set Tony’s adventure in motion—and a Spanish homonym for “Philip K. Dick,” whose pet themes form the backbone of PROXIMA‘s mind-bending world.

But Atanes, as liberally as he may borrow from the sci-fi canon, never settles for pure pastiche.  The opening scenes, for example, are refreshingly slice-of-life, patiently building up to the main plot with subtle hints of weirdness.  We see Tony preparing to close his failing video store, playing Halo as his girlfriend dumps him, and visiting a convention with his best friend Lucas (get it?), balancing sympathy with brual honesty in its depiction of his slacker lifestyle.  But everything changes after Tony and Lucas attend a panel featuring the eccentric old Cadecq, who vows never to write again.  Instead, he hawks his new CD “Journey to Proxima,” which he claims will guide its listeners into contact with extraterrestrial life.

From this point on, the film is a series of left turns, with detours into amnesia, astral projection, alien technology, and false imprisonment.  By the time Tony’s drifting through space in what looks like a magical refrigerator, it’s unclear exactly how each twist is related, beyond a loose sense that something epic is going on.  At times, the movie comes across like the breathless sci-fi equivalent of North by Northwest.  Alas, Tony’s sojourns into space also reveal PROXIMA‘s greatest weakness: its budget is tragically outstripped by its imagination, and its special effects are universally cheap and shoddy.

That said, it’s impressive how far Atanes goes with so little money, and PROXIMA ends with a string of stunning, otherworldly visions mixing its meager effects with real-world landscapes.  Furthermore, at no point is PROXIMA entirely beholden to its effects budget: unlike many Philip K. Dick adaptations, it stays away from action-oriented set-pieces, sticking to a more introspective, cerebral realm.  It’s less about the adventure itself, and more about the egotism of imagining oneself at the center of a vast, interplanetary saga.  As Cadecq says early in the film, “We are the protagonists now!”  But as Tony must learn, bridging the gulf between sci-fi and real life isn’t all it”s cracked up to be.


Proxima is a very Philip K. Dick-ian film with its abrupt conceptual twists and shifting revelations about what is real.”–Richard Scheib, Moria: The Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Review (DVD)


366 Weird Movies may earn commissions from purchases made through product links.


FEATURING: , Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman, Rachel Hurd-Wood

PLOT: An apprentice perfumer in pre-Revolutionary France sets out to make the perfect scent, a task that requires him to murder thirteen beautiful virgins.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Although its choice of protagonist—an orphaned serial killer with a superhuman sense of smell—certainly proves that Perfume is out of the ordinary, it’s mostly just a period drama punctuated by bursts of black humor, with most of its weirdness concentrated in the orgiastic finale.

COMMENTS: Adapted from Patrick Süskind’s novel of the same name, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer feels like a lavish epic as it traverses 18th century France, stopping to sniff out every scent (good or bad) along the way. German director Tykwer (of Run Lola Run fame) shows us the urban squalor of Paris, the expansive majesty of the countryside, and the perfume mecca of Grasse through the eyes and nose of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Whishaw), our amoral and barely verbal anti-hero.

With his unsurpassed olfactory prowess, Grenouille wonders at all the scents in the world, yet is perpetually enraged: he can’t capture them all, and he lacks a personal scent. As far as his nose is concerned, he’s a cipher, a nonentity. His response to these inner crises is to study the secret art of perfuming under the tutelage of the self-absorbed Baldini (Hoffman), then migrate to Grasse, where he hatches his elaborate, murderous master plan.

This plan forms the centerpiece of the film, as Grenouille kidnaps and kills Grasse’s young maidens one after another, distilling their scents through the technique of enfleurage. Perfume spares little sentiment for the victims, focusing instead on how their deaths contribute to Grenouille’s angelic-smelling magnum opus. The film even juxtaposes Grenouille’s reign of terror with the authorities’ botched investigation in a blackly comic montage, all the better to highlight its anti-hero’s messianic, above-the-law status.

Like any rogue with a rise-and-fall character arc, Grenouille eventually gets arrested and tortured.  But after his solemn march to the town square for crucifixion, Perfume loses all resemblance to other crime thrillers past or present and begins to look like an excerpt from Ken Russell‘s richest, most elegant fantasies. I won’t give away the climactic twist, except to say that it indulges all of the film’s wildest, most spectacular urges.  By the time a drop of perfume falls on a Paris street in the last shot, there’s little for the viewer to do but gape at Tykwer’s mad bravado.

The rest of Perfume isn’t quite so magnificently over-the-top, but Tykwer complements Grenouille’s obsessions by zeroing in on one sensuous piece of period detail after another, all in a futile but nonetheless impressive attempt to visually capture scent. And although Whishaw dominates much of the film, the supporting cast occasionally steals the show: Hoffman provides tragicomic relief as a desperate has-been; Rickman brings his laconic grace to the role of a Grasse nobleman and overprotective father; and John Hurt’s mordant narration frames the whole endeavor as a bleak fairy tale.

Perhaps the greatest irony about Perfume is that although it was a massive, expensive undertaking, it still feels cultish and off the beaten path. It’s so morbid, thorny, and perversely funny that it’s hard to believe it could ever have much mainstream appeal. But imagine sniffing the fumes that would rise if you blended a picaresque costume drama with a slasher movie, then heaped on a thick broth of style.  That, more or less, is Perfume.


“… a tale whose off-the-charts screwiness obscures virtually all shortcomings.”–Nick Schager, Lessons of Darkness

CAPSULE: M.O.N. (2006)



FEATURING: Leada Ghareaghadje, Lindsay Coffelt, Donovan Vincent Kit, Amanda Rivera, Joe Hammernik

PLOT: Four teenagers stranded in rural California are stalked by a serial killer called “M.O.N.”

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Simply put, it’s just not weird; instead, it’s a rehash of clichés from other, better horror movies that aims for competence and misses its mark completely. A couple scenes (like the ending, where one of the victims watches a video of the killer, dressed as a clown, copulating with a mannequin) are slightly weird, but none of it is even remotely memorable.

COMMENTS: To borrow the classic line from Thomas Hobbes, this amateur no-budget horror movie is, alas, “poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” I guess I should append “mercifully” to the last item on that list, although M.O.N. manages to pack a surprising amount of nothing into its 67-minute running time. Whole minutes go by with nothing but the sound of screams, or the sight of characters stumbling in and out of forests. If you’ve ever wondered whether snuff films could be boring, here is your answer.

After a long pre-credits sequence involving a woman being gratuitously tortured, M.O.N. shifts its attention to a car full of high schoolers going down a wilderness road. The car’s lone male is of the “macho jerk” variety familiar to slasher film afficionados, and he has to utter lines like, “Hey, don’t mess around, that s*** ain’t funny. I’m telling you right now, if any hairy-a** animal tries to shoot a load in my a**, I’ll snap a d*** off.” Let it be known: acting and dialogue are not this film’s strong suits. After some more driving and yelling, a woman runs out of nowhere and gets hit by the car; a few more minutes of yelling and accusations later, the teens discover that the car won’t start.

So naturally, they split up and wander aimlessly around the spoooky countryside, then start getting killed off in slow, dull ways. These scenes share the same penchant for mindless, unfettered brutality as something of the Friday the 13th ilk, but without any of the redeeming talent or resourcefulness. The jump scares and random loud noises are all present and accounted for, but since M.O.N. has the production values of a suburban haunted house and is largely shot through shaky handheld camera, it fails to evoke anything but the occasional chuckle.

By far the film’s most successful sequence arrives late in the film, when one of the girls wakes up in the woods with her leg chained to a refrigerator and a camera sitting next to her on a tripod. Yes, the set-up is clearly a rip-off of Saw and yes, it goes on forever, but—especially when the girl starts talking to an unheard person she seems to think is in the fridge—the scene is both odd and economical in a way that the rest of the film direly lacks. It’s still not good, per se, but at least it’s intermittently entertaining.

I’d love to say that writer/director/producer/cinematographer/editor Brian Lupo had his heart in the right place when he made M.O.N., and the film does contain a few set-pieces that could become mildly creepy with a little more thought and money. On the whole, though, it’s grating, icky, mean-spirited, and incoherent. At least it’s short.


Death Bed: The Bed That Eats has been placed on the List of the 366 Weirdest Movies ever made. Please visit the official Certified Weird entry. Comments have been closed on this post.

DIRECTED BY: George Barry

FEATURING: Demene Hall, Rusty Russ, Julie Ritter, Linda Bond, Patrick Spence-Thomas

PLOT: Across four meal-themed segments, visitors to an abandoned house are eaten by the titular bed. Meanwhile, a former victim imprisoned behind a painting provides running commentary on the bed’s checkered past and strange habits.

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: A horror movie about a killer bed? That’s kind of weird. But when it’s filled with nonstop voiceover relaying dense bed-related mythology, actors who are less energetic than a cast of mannequins, and incongruous Foley effects like the repeated sound of teeth crunching into an apple, then Death Bed has a definite shot at making the List.

COMMENTS: If it were anywhere near as risibly schlocky and straightforward as its title, Death Bed would probably be indistinguishable from the mass of movies about killer houses, animals, or furniture. But George Barry, the film’s writer, director, and producer (who, incidentally, never worked on another movie), had a unique vision, albeit an incomprehensible one. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether Death Bed is supposed to be low-budget horror, a pretentious art film, or some misbegotten hybrid of the two. It ranges in quality from bad to totally unwatchable, but it never goes the expected route.

The movie is about a killer bed, yes, but that bed has a very chatty British companion tucked away behind a nearby wall. Described only as “the artist,” he’s the ghost of a tuberculosis patient once consumed by the bed, and he narrates large chunks of the film, whether launching vicious tirades at the bed or jumping into jokey flashbacks about the bed’s exploits that stop the flimsy plot cold in its tracks. The artist also attempts to explain the bed’s convoluted origins—which involve a demon trapped in a tree and a young woman whose corpse has never decomposed—but these stories invariably raise more questions than they answer, especially when they’re invoked in order to bring about the film’s bloody, explosive resolution.

Death Bed‘s present-day narrative is split into four parts; the first, “Breakfast,” is unrelated to Continue reading LIST CANDIDATE: DEATH BED: THE BED THAT EATS (1977)