At the Fantasia Film Festival in 2016, before a screening of the punk video art black comedy She’s Allergic to Cats, I recall programmer Mitch Davis declaring that “weird is hot” in the then-current climate. Having run 366 Weird Movies for 8 years at the time, I was skeptical. Sure, scrappy filmmakers managed to squeeze out a handful of weird movies every year, but I consistently had trouble identifying ten truly weird ones for our year-end lists. Were things about to change for the strange?
Later that night, I asked for his opinion on whether weird movies were “hot.” He said that when he described his work, most people happily responded “‘I’m OK with weird movies,’ but then you show them the weird movie and they’re like ‘ahhh… I didn’t get anything,’ and they’re completely confused and they hate the thing, and I’m like, ‘Ah, I knew it.’”
The next day I asked Allergic to Cats and if they thought weird movies were “hot.” They said the concepts they pitched for music videos for local L.A. bands were always rejected for being “too weird.” Reich said things started to change around the time Tim and Eric became popular, but they still had issues. Pitching a webseries, potential producers told them to make it more mainstream; then, they complained it wasn’t weird enough. “We were so outraged, we’d never been accused of not being weird before,” Pinkney laughed.
The point being, I—and the people working on the ground producing weird videos—are always skeptical when outsiders and marketers proclaim that out-of-the-ordinary is currently in demand. Have things changed in the movie industry in the six years since I last asked these questions in 2016? Variety‘s chief film critic Peter Debruge thinks the answer is “yes,” and he wrote a column titled “Why Are Indie Films So Strange Now?” to that effect. But, while Debruge’s observations are optimistic, I think his conclusions don’t match specialists’ expectations for what a true revival of the weird would look like.
To give credit where credit is due, Debruge applauds this “trend,” praising “unapologetically odd and original creations, led by a gifted group of rebel auteurs who don’t kowtow to popular expectations” and suggesting that there is a viewing “appetite [that] in turn supports an indie-film environment where directors are motivated to be more original, more surprising and all around more creative.” So far, so good. But is this really much different than the situation in previous decades? We here at 366 are not noticing a greater concentration of strange films than in prior years. Our own survey of Canonically Weird films by year found that weird movie production peaked between about 1968-1971. 2006, which was just outside the decade-long weird movie renaissance Debruge postulates, was also a good year for strange films, and there were some notable Continue reading WHY AREN’T HOLLYWOOD FILMS STRANGE ANYMORE?