Category Archives: Capsules

CAPSULE: LOVE EXPRESS: THE DISAPPEARANCE OF WALERIAN BOROWCZYK (2018)

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

DIRECTED BY: Kuba Mikurda

FEATURING: , Noël Véry, , , Peter Bradshaw, Slavoj Zizek,

PLOT: A talking heads documentary about the rise and fall of Polish director Walerian Borowczyk, who started out as an enfant terrible of Surrealism but ended up stereotyped and dismissed as a pornographer.

Still from Love Express: The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk (2018)

COMMENTS: A Polish expatriate working in his adopted France, Walerian Borowczyk began his career as an acclaimed Surrealist animator, working in both stop-motion and traditional forms. Over two decades, he produced almost two-dozen award-winning films featuring milk-drinking wigs (The House, 1958) and blue-bleeding angels (Angel’s Games, 1964). His live action debut, 1969’s dystopian parable Goto: The Island of Love, was highly anticipated and a critical success. His career took a sharp turn with Immoral Tales (1973), an arty erotic portmanteau film which was shocking for the time, but not especially surreal. Tales was a succès de scandale, but it lost Borowczyk some critical support; that erosion accelerated greatly with his followup film, the outrageous bestiality tale The Beast [La Bête] (1975). Banned all over the world, it is here that Borowczyk’s career begins to decline. He is pigeonholed, and producers only fund him if he agrees to film overtly erotic movies. Soon, he’s paired with softcore siren Sylvia Kristel for the flop The Streetwalker (1976), and his fortunes fall further. Borowczyk does manage to make a few more interesting and ambitious films in the late 70s and 80s (such as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Osborne, 1981) but, in the public and the industry’s eyes, he’s just a pornographer. By 1987 he has fallen so low that he’s called on to helm Emmanuelle 5. But he’s disinterested in the project, and walks off set after he’s disrespected by top-billed scream queen Monique Gabrielle (according to the assistant director who actually completed the movie, she may have slapped him). He releases one more film, the arty Love Rites, but that’s it; Borowczyk disappears as a feature filmmaker at age 64.

The paragraph above contains all the essential information you’ll learn from Love Express: The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk. There are a few juicy tidbits here and there, but the documentary is essentially an excuse for a parade of high profile cinephile fans—critic Peter Bradshaw, cinematographer Noël Véry, the always delightful Slavoj Zizek, and others—to say nice things about Borowczyk. Indeed, large parts of the movie are made in the YouTube-inspired “reaction video” genre, as directors Terry Gilliam and Neil Jordan watch clips from Borowoczyk films in real time (admittedly, Gilliam’s amused shock at The Beast‘s rape scene is priceless). It is interesting to see Lisbeth Hummel’s conflicted reminiscences about filming The Beast (unexpectedly, she seems more traumatized by the rose scene than the rape.) But overall, Love Express is merely an appreciation and celebration of Borowoczyk, as it pretty much was fated to be—because who’s going to dial up a Borowoczyk documentary other than someone who’s already a Borowoczyk fan? Pleasant enough, and, at a crisp 75 minutes, short enough to not outstay its welcome. Someday it will make a fine Blu-ray extra on a Borowoczyk  box set.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“A patchy primer to the magnificently weird career of the 20th century’s foremost animator/auteur/pornographer, Love Express: The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk (Love Express. Przypadek Waleriana Borowczyka) illuminates and frustrates in roughly equal measure.”–Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter (contemporaneous)

 

“SOLID METAL NIGHTMARES”: THE SHINYA TSUKAMOTO BOX SET

is more than the sum of his parts–his cold, greased parts. During my progression through Arrow’s 2020 release of Solid Metal Nightmares, I became familiar with the director/actor/screenwriter/producer/creative designer. From his roots as a glibly nihilistic visionary, he grew into a sanguinely nihilistic storyteller. Arrow’s boxed set puts virtually all his history on display for enjoyment and dissection.

The dissection comes in the form of the many extras, some of which are bulleted below:

  • Audio commentaries on all ten features (or near-features) from Tom Mes–an expert in Japanese cinema, I am informed, but those who know me know I haven’t listened to these
  • Half-a-dozen-or-so interviews with the director from over the years, including one exclusive to the set
  • Archival featurettes, documentaries, music clips, and trailers
  • A beautiful, hard-bound book with essays about each of the films included, typically in thematic pairings
  • Reversible title sleeves for the individual Blu-ray discs
  • The requisite double-sided poster (alas, no “postcards” for this; I’d have loved them to send notes to friends and loved ones)
  • And a box

I knew “Solid Metal Nightmares” would soon become a collector’s item, even beyond its designated collector status. I ordered this set back when it was new (I paid some sixty bucks for it new; it now fetches close to two hundred on the secondary market), and the box I received showed up  a bit damaged. I felt the damage was appropriate to the collection, however: every hero and heroine Tsukamoto puts to screen is irrevocably damaged in some way. I’m thinking of sending the package back to the director for him to spruce up with some bolts and metal filings.

Still from Tetsuo the Iron Man (1989)
Tetsue: The Iron Man

These past months a number of you will have noticed random Tsukamoto reviews cropping up on the site, giving a rough timeline of my journey. As I feel is always the case, the movie is the thing to judge—how it’s transferred visually, how the audio feels on the eardrums, and whether the framing integrity is maintained. Rest assured, dear reader, that all the films—Tetsuo: the Iron ManTetsuo II: Body HammerThe Adventure of Denchu-KozoTokyo FistBullet BalletHazeA Snake of JuneVitalKotoko, and Killing—look and feel as close to Tsukamoto’s celluloid (and later, digital) dreams as possible. Nothing is too crisp (I’m looking at you, Tetsuo), nothing is washed-out, and every clink, slam, kachunk, sigh, scream, whisper, and driving soundtrack blasts—or not—as appropriate.

Just about every film included is at least recommendable, but I cannot help raise an eyebrow at one exclusion and one inclusion. The exclusion first: for reasons beyond my understanding, Tsukamoto’s early (and color!) short film, Futsû saizu no kaijin, is nowhere to be seen—which is a pity, as it laid the ground work for the more expansive Tetsuo: the Iron Man that followed a few years later. Ah well.

The odd inclusion—which I was more than happy enough to watch, mind you—is his latest film, Killing. This movie does have some “metal” in it, albeit only in the opening scene where we witness a katana being forged. However, it is a contemplative period drama set in the late Edo period, and tonally is a very calm (albeit rather depressing) vision of Imperial decline. It is a good movie, to be certain, and watching Shinya Tsukamoto as an aging ronin is a treat. But as the finale in a collection dubbed “Solid Metal Nightmares,” it’s a bit incongruous.

Fans of Shinya Tsukamoto who don’t already own this are probably few and far between. To those who didn’t have the good luck of snapping this up on pre-order, I would still argue that the current $200 price tag is well worth the outlay. With a little luck, the folks at Arrow will re-release this, and then put together a set of the director’s other features. (May I suggest “Solid Metal Daydreams”?)

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“A wholly original moviemaking genius who most certainly paved the way for the outlaw likes of Takashi Miike or Sion Sono, his films often took a surreal, hyperkinetic audiovisual approach to his visceral character studies.  Frequently ultraviolent, psychosexual and dripping with physicality, Tsukamoto’s work resembles nothing which came before in the annals of Japanese cinema.”–Andrew Kotwicki, The Movie Sleuth (box set)

CAPSULE: KOTOKO (2011)

コトコ

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

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Shinya Tsukamoto

FEATURING: Cocco, Shinya Tsukamoto

PLOT: A young mother suffering from violent hallucinations loses custody of her son before a mild-mannered novelist enters her life.

COMMENTS: As my trip through Shinya Tsukamoto’s back-catalogue continues, my appreciation for his genius grows. Kotoko manages to be the most straightforward of his films while also being the most disturbing. There is no metal grafting, no superhuman violence, and, despite the narrator’s unreliability, the action is grounded in the mundane. The dark, harrowing side of the mundane. Perhaps not “weird” for our purposes (though it comes close), Kotoko stands out among the auteur’s typical work—and proves that Tuskamoto’s toolkit of perturbation extends far beyond his “typical” mechano-nihilistic visions.

We first meet Kotoko (J-Pop star “Cocco”) as she narrates how she sees “double”. At any moment Kotoko, may witness someone doing one thing—reading along with a toddler, say—only to see that person’s double as well, typically acting as a raging, violent id. She is aware of her condition, an affliction she can only ward off through song. Her sole motivation for enduring is her infant son. After a dramatic breakdown spurred by a child’s screams and spilled stir-fry, the boy is taken into her sister’s custody. Kotoko’s latent self-destructive tendencies worsen until she meets a quiet writer (Shinya Tuskamoto), who overhears her singing on a bus and decides to stalk her.

The first act is unsettling, the third act is nigh-on devastating. But the second—that’s where Kotoko is most bizarre. “What madness ensues?,” you ask. Amazingly, none. The film’s middle tranche is the “romantic comedy” filling of an otherwise dispiriting donut of a story. Cocco and Tsukamoto have a magical, socially inept chemistry. As a shy and somewhat bumbling literary celebrity, Tuskamoto adds “awkward romantic interest” to his acting arsenal (previously limited to “metal fetishist” and “emotionally benumbed salaryman”). During one of his stalking-visits, he fears the worst when Kotoko doesn’t answer her door, so he breaks in and finds her bleeding on her bathroom floor. Kotoko reaches almost mad-cap levels of silly dialogue and physical comedy as he charges back and forth between the bathroom and the place where she keeps the towels, always grabbing the wrong piece of fabric, while Kotoko patiently and bleedingly gestures and corrects him.

Had this continued, Kotoko would deserve a place amongst our esteemed, weird titles. That it does not isn’t a failure in filmmaking, of course, but a testament to the versatility of Tsukamoto. Instead, the rom-com provides the audience a much-needed breather between the setting up and knocking down of the titular heroine. Kotoko is something of a vanity project for the famous J-Pop star, but it is one of the oddest celebrity vehicles I’ve ever seen. Whether teary-eyed, widely smiling, writhing, singing, or dancing, Cocco exhibits a violent vulnerability not typically associated with mega-stars. With Tsukamoto, she finds the perfect technician to bring her vision to life; with Cocco, Tsukamoto gets to prove that whatever the story is, he can tell it–even if there aren’t any gears, cogs, or drill-bits.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…few films can claim to give such an uncompromising view of what it must be like to be crazy, as seen from the inside. Cronenberg’s ‘Videodrome’ comes to mind, or Polanski’s ‘Repulsion.’ Both of these films are not the easiest to watch, especially when seen for the first time, and ‘Kotoko’ is a lot like that.” -Ard Vijn, Screen Anarchy (festival screening)

LIST CANDIDATE: THE TWENTIETH CENTURY (2019)

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

Must See

(For Canadians)

Recommended

(For normal people)

DIRECTED BY: Matthew Rankin

FEATURING: Dan Beirne, Sarianne Cormier, Seán Cullen,

PLOT: William Lyon Mackenzie King modestly rises to the plateau of Canadian supremacy to become Prime Minister.

Still from "The Twentieth Century" (2019)

COMMENTS: During my first visit to Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival in 2017, I made the acquaintance of several Canadian college students. I had the opportunity to talk politics with one of them—a hot topic at the time. One young man, in particular, was full of passion and ideals, like many college students. But he was very Canadian about it. No fan of Trudeau (“too centrist”), he was also skeptical of the recently elected French president Emmanuel Macron. Despite the fervor I knew burned within him, the most damning criticism of the French prez he dared speak was: “too centrist.” He limited his body language to a slightly uncomfortable sidelong glance.

Canada’s subdued idealism is captured flawlessly in Rankin’s directorial feature debut, The Twentieth Century. Structured as a 1940s melodrama and styled as a 1920s Expressionist nightmare, its tone fits squarely (and appropriately) in the realm of a 1930s screwball comedy of manners. Our hero (though he would be loathe to designate himself so loftily) is the ever well-intentioned and deferential William Lyon Mackenzie King (Dan Beirne, reminiscent of also-Canadian comedian Martin Short). King’s mother long ago had a vision of her son becoming Prime Minister, and though his path to success is long and trying—nigh thwarted at times by a sinister doctor, an embarrassing shoe fetish, and a fascistic Governor General—King ultimately defeats the love-cult Quebecois separatist candidate to become the most foremost (foremostest?) among Canadian equals.

As a comedy, The Twentieth Century is pure gold. I ultimately gave up writing down amusing quotes as Rankin & Co. continued to hammer home just how incredibly quaint, civil, and bizarre they and their fellow citizens were and continue to be. (One recurring mantra stands out that sums up the Canadian experience: “…as certain as a winter’s day in Springtime.”) All the sets and special effects are Maddin-esque, to the point that I think the Guy’s gone mainstream (in Canada, anyway). The villains are all cartoonishly evil, the heroes are all cartoonishly mild-mannered, and Winnipeg is dismissed as the home of “heroin, bare naked ladies, and reasonably-priced furniture”.

Though we’ve dropped the “Why It Won’t Make the List” blurb, I feel it necessary to mention in case I’m called out about this omission. Quite a lot of weird goings-on do go on (ejaculating cactus metaphor, blind-folded-ice-floe marriage ceremony, and PM Bert Harper impaled by narwhal, among them), but ultimately it feels like the film is trying too hard with that angle, drawing too much attention to the oddities instead of letting them play on the fringes. (Even its poster crows, “…men play women and women play men!” So what?) The Twentieth Century succeeds brilliantly in being funny, however, and that’s something to actually crow aboot.

Gregory J. Smalley adds: I think we can now officially say that Guy Maddin isn’t an auteur; he’s a genre. The Twentieth Century proves that Guy Maddin movies need not be made by Guy Maddin.1 Rankin isn’t even trying to hide Guy’s influence; as a humble and patriotic Canadian, he’s embracing his national heritage. But it works, totally. If you’re a director making a film noir, you include shadowy lighting, a femme fatale, and a hard-drinking gumshoe. If you’re a director making a Guy Maddin movie, you include Expressionist landscapes, a timid hero plagued by sexual fetishes, and Louis Negin in drag.

Obviously, Giles’ last paragraph anticipates that I would object to his not nominating this film as an Apocrypha Candidate.  And I do. The Twentieth Century has an ejaculating cactus. That should automatically make it a candidate as one of the weirdest films of all time. Don’t overthink these things.

I know little about William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s three-time Prime Minister and FDR contemporary, but I think this biopic may not be completely accurate. Per Wikipedia, King secretly believed in spiritualism and used a medium to speak to his dead mother, historical trivia that may illuminate Negin’s role in the film. On the other hand, I highly doubt that King was a proud champion seal-clubber. In America, when we want to make a comedy about a revered leader, we cast Abe Lincoln as a vampire hunter—a take so ridiculous that it can’t be possibly seen as impolite or belittling. Canadians, on the other hand, are happy to depict a national hero as a man consumed by repressed ambition and an obsession with boot-sniffing. Superficially polite, actually subversive; that’s Canada for ya.

The Twentieth Century debuts tomorrow (Friday, Nov. 20) in virtual theaters (and possibly some live dates, too). Check The Twentieth Century home page for a list of vendors/venues.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“… a cheerfully bonkers satire… [Set in] a time when William Lyon Mackenzie King was busily striving to become Canada’s weirdest prime minister…”–Peter Howell, Toronto Star (festival screening)

“ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY”: THE ABCKO/ARROW 4K RESTORATION BOX SET

The documentary Psychomagic, A Healing Art may not be the film will be remembered for, but as an excuse to remaster and re-release his trilogy of hippie-era cult masterpieces from 1968-1973, it’s a huge hit. It’s also a great bonus disc to accompany this box of miracles.

If you’re just a young ‘un, or you’ve lived your life under a rock and have never been exposed to the esoteric movies of Alejandro Jodorowsky, here’s a brief primer, confining itself to their history (since, as The Holy Mountain‘s trailer warns, nothing in your experience or education can prepare you for the actual films). The Chilean expatriate director made a splash in 1970 with El Topo, a surreal spaghetti western about a mystical gunfighter, which was championed by John Lennon and made history as the first midnight movie. The success of El Topo allowed Jodorowsky to fund the even more extravagant The Holy Mountain in 1973, a film about a quest for immortality that contains such memorable and trippy scenes as a Christ figure eating a life-sized statue of Christ, and a slaughter of innocents where victims bleed paint and doves fly out of gaping bullet wounds. Before these two hits, Jodorowsky had made Fando y Lis (1968) in Mexico. It’s a seldom-seen road movie about a man and a paraplegic woman seeking the mythical city of Tar. Fando y Lis was even stranger and more irrational than the midnight movies that succeeded it, closer to the director’s roots in classic surrealism (Jodorowsky was one of the youngest and last members of Andre Breton’s Surrealist circle, although he broke with Breton to form his own offshoot, the Panic Movement).

El Topo and The Holy Mountain were huge counterculture hits, but Jodorowsky’s career stalled after he was sacked from a planned adaptation of Frank Hebert’s Dune , and he did not resume filmmaking until the late 80s. Even worse, Jodorowsky quarreled with distributor Allen Klein, who spitefully locked the director’s two big midnight hits into ABCKO’s vaults, keeping them out of sight (except for the bootleg copies that kept their legends alive). The pair made up in 2007, when El Topo and The Holy Mountain were released on DVD and recirculated in cinemas for the first time.

Jodorowsky 4K Restoration Blu-ray box setThe current box set, which brings Fando y Lis, El Topo, and The Holy Mountain together with Psychomagic, is not the first Jodorowsky collection from ABCKO. These three films had been released previously on DVD as “The Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky,” and many of the extra features here are duplicated on the earlier set. It’s understandable that some fans who bought the previous collection may wonder whether double-dipping is worth it. So to begin, here’s what’s recycled from Continue reading “ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY”: THE ABCKO/ARROW 4K RESTORATION BOX SET

CAPSULE: PSYCHOMAGIC, A HEALING ART (2019)

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

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: Alejandro Jodorowsky

PLOT: Surrealist director-cum-therapist Alejandro Jodorowsky describes his own variant of psychotherapy, which involves patients undergoing rituals such as smashing pumpkins with family member’s faces on them or recreating their own births.

Still from psychomagic, a healing art (2019)

COMMENTS: Psychomagic, A Healing Art raises three questions: 1. Is “psychomagic” a revolutionary (or even a valid) form of psychotherapy? 2. Does Psychomagic tell us something about Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s personal and artistic philosophy? And, 3. Is it worth watching?

Most people will answer the first question “probably not.” Jodorowsky takes us through just over a dozen hand-selected case studies, all apparent successes, but with no long term followups. One subject, a man who seems to be cured of his stuttering, looks like an impressive triumph—but for all we know the man is stumbling over his words again as I type this. It goes without saying that Jodorowsky’s theories haven’t been tested or peer reviewed. But Jodorowsky specifically and deliberately characterizes psychomagic is a healing art, not a healing science—and it may be closer to faith healing than to either. There’s no doubt that, among people who are already motivated to fix their emotional problems (and who don’t mind looking ridiculous), a shamanistic ritual—especially a needlessly elaborate one recommended by a trusted guru—is a promising way to invoke the placebo effect. As a discipline, though, psychomagic’s efficacy is especially limited by the fact that the school has a single practitioner, one who relies on his personal charisma more than any other tool. Only those who are already true Jodoworskians will buy that psychomagic is the therapeutic breakthrough the director wants us to believe in.

You’ll be more likely to answer the question of whether Psychomagic reveals something significant about Jodorowsky in the affirmative. In the final stage of his career, the renaissance that began with 2013’sThe Dance of Reality, Jodorowsky’s work has turned from the explicitly mystical to the explicitly autobiographical. In Psychomagic, he illustrates each case study with a similar clip or two from his own movies. When he asks a man to fasten a photograph of his father to a helium balloon and send it to the heavens, he shows a similar balloon scene from Endless Poetry; he recycles an idea from Tusk and re-purposes it as couple’s therapy.  Jodorowsky has been frank about his strained relationship with his distant, macho father, revelations which may start to color the way you look at the father-son relationship in El Topo. You may be led to ponder: have the elaborately staged, ritualistic scenes in Jodorowsky’s early movies been a form of self-therapy all along? Is his whole corpus psychomagic?

And for the final question: even though there doesn’t seem to be too much to psychomagic, is the film worth watching? For deep Jodorowsky fans, the answer is obvious (and moot). For more casual followers, it’s iffy: I’d prioritize the narrative films (skipping Tusk) first, then tackle this as a supplement if you’re fascinated by the man behind those extravagantly esoteric movies. The scenes we see in Pyschomagic often resemble sequences from a Jodorowsky movie enacted by amateurs on a low budget. For example, our stutterer dresses up like Donald Duck and rides the teacups at Euro Disney, then lets Alejandro grab his testicles to transfer manly energy, then is painted gold and sent out into the streets to recite poetry. Some of the patients’ confessions are so painfully raw (a woman whose fiance committed suicide, an octogenarian in deep depression) that they feel unpleasantly voyeuristic, and there’s also some menstrual self-portraiture to be wary of. But it wouldn’t be much of a Jodorowsky movie if there weren’t moments that made you want to look away, would it?

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Thankfully, Jodo’s latest is also way too weird to be hagiographic. It’s indulgent, absurd, frustrating, and more than a little gross. It’s also idiosyncratic and funny enough, and in ways that Jodo’s fans will probably love.”–Simon Abrams, RogerEbert.com (contemporaneous)

DEATH LAID AN EGG (1968) DIRECTOR’S CUT SPECIAL EDITION

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

For our complete discussion of Death Laid an Egg, read the Canonically Weird entry.

I was thrilled in 2017 when ‘s chicken-centric surrealist giallo Death Laid an Egg finally hatched on DVD (until that time, it had only been available on VHS or poor-quality overseas bootlegs). One thing I did find room to complain about, however, was the loss of the absurd English dubbing, which added an additional layer of dementia to the already insane proceedings.  Cult Epics new Special Edition rerelease of the film answers that reservation, and throws in a few more surprises not on the previous release—most importantly, an additional 20 minutes of footage, now restored to produce a Director’s Cut version seen here for the first time since Death debuted.

Death Laid an Egg key artA true surrealist shock for 1968 viewers, Death Laid an Egg was not a hit on release, and was barely seen outside Italy. By 1970, however, the success of ‘s Bird with the Crystal Plumage was creating an international market for the Italian giallo. At 104 minutes, the already challenging (some would say incoherent) Death Laid an Egg featured far too much arty oddness and socialist satire to please the punters, but it did boast an exploitable amount of blood, sex, and a pair of gorgeous female leads in Gina Lollabrigida and . About fifteen minutes were trimmed, and Death was dubbed into English and released as Plucked, the version that most of the world has seen since. (This is the “Cliffs Notes” version of the release history, since actually at least two separate cuts of the film were made and released: see the excellent Movie Censorship entry for a more complete discussion).

The newly restored scenes mostly involve a character named Luigi, an old colleague of the protagonist whose significance (like so much in the film) is never made wholly clear. In a typical Questi twist, Luigi is partly amnesiac due to having undergone electroshock therapy. Other restorations involve a near topless scene for Aulin, gritty scenes of real poultry processing, Anna making elliptically morbid comments while looking at chicken embryo slides, and another encounter with the dispossessed farm workers. In a film where so many details and subplots are merely playful wild goose chases, the newly restored footage is, in some sense, inconsequential (although some have argued that Luigi’s character is crucial). But in any case, fifteen or twenty additional minutes of Death Laid an Egg is a blessing to be relished.

This edition gives you the option to watch the 90-minute dubbed version (Plucked) or the 104-minute director’s cut.  (You can watch the director’s cut with the English dub on; it just changes to subtitles when new footage plays, which also lets you know what’s new). As I did in my original review, I still contend that whoever did the translation for the dubbed version improved on the dialogue versus the person who translated the subtitles. The dialogue simultaneously sounds more natural to English-speakers and more poetic. “I think that’s a peculiar way to put it, men and chickens mixed up like that,” is snappier than the subtitle’s rendition of the same line, “This is a bit dubious, I think. How can you humanize chickens like that?” The spoken line “Your bra and panties are almost as important as what’s under them” is much more to the point than the written version, “lingerie is the most important. It’s almost more important than the skin underneath.” It’s likely that the original cast (the four principals included two Frechmen and a Swede) were dubbed into Italian anyway, so there’s no question of linguistic authenticity: in this case, go with the superior English dub.

Giallo scholar Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson (of Mondo Digital) provide an informative commentary track. Wisely, neither try to interpret the film’s many mysteries and peculiarities, but limit themselves to supplying context and background on Questi, the cast and crew, and the Italian film industry of the time. Other special features include two trailers, a video review by Antonio Bruchini, Questi’s last recorded interview (he doesn’t discuss Death Laid an Egg), and one of the director’s final short films, 2002’s “Doctor Schizo and Mister Phrenic.” In the interview Questi seems quite proud of the short, but I found it sad to see a man who once shot big-budget films with movie stars on location reduced to starring in his own camcorder YouTube uploads, set entirely in his own apartment.

Death Laid an Egg postcard
Postcard art featuring “Luigi”

Early editions of this set come with a slipcase and a package of collectible postcards. The only advantage Cult Epics previous release has over this one is that it includes a DVD copy (older limited releases also contained the rare Bruno Maderna soundtrack CD). But this is the Egg we’ve been dying for.