Category Archives: Miscellanea

“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)

AMAZON PRIME WEIRD WATCH PARTY POLL FOR NOVEMBER SCREENING

Here’s the poll to vote; for November’s Amazon Prime Weird Watch Party, which will start on Nov. 28 at 10:15 PM ET. If you plan on virtually attending, please vote for the movie we’ll be watching below. We’ll screen the movie that get the most votes; your host, Gregory J. Smalley, will personally break any ties. Note that unlike our other polls, you can only vote once. Poll closes at midnight ET on Wednesday, Nov. 25. You may vote for multiple movies, but not for every movie (because that would be pointless).

Now vote!


WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 11/20/2020

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

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):

Jiu Jitsu: shows up as  a mystical jiu jitsu teacher who lectures five jiu jitsu chosen ones about how to defeat an alien jiu jitsu master. Without Cage, this would just be a joke; with him, it just might be a funny one. In theaters, somewhere, and on-demand. Jiu Jitsu official site.

The Twentieth Century: Read our review. Matthew Rankin‘s fake and fetishistic Expressionist biopic of Canadian Prime Minister W.L.  Mackenzie King is a late-appearing contender as one of the weirdest movies of 2020. In virtual cinemas today. The Twentieth Century official site.

IN DEVELOPMENT (just announced):

We Can Be Heroes (2021): Netflix announces the unexpected: a sequel to The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. The unlikely pair of superheroes from Planet Drool now have a kid of their own who, judging by the publicity still, rides a flying molten metal shark. Again directed by , but unless he found another 7-year old screenwriter, we doubt it will be as weird as the original. Netflix’s Twitter announcement for We Can Be Heroes.

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

Bad Men from a Melting Moon (2020): The plot description says simply “a man believes he has been hit by a train.” The trailer is no help, either, but it has a magnificent title, a few awards from obscure experimental film festivals, and a director with a pretty odd biography. On VOD, DVD or Blu-ray. Buy Bad Men from a Melting Moon.

Beyond the Door (1974): Read Pete Trbovich’s review. This is the one-disc “standard edition” Blu-ray of the Exorcist rip-off, which is significantly cheaper than the now-rare Special Edition that came out a few months ago. Buy Beyond the Door.

“Hammer Films: Ultimate Collection”: 20 films on 10 Blu-rays; significantly, no Draculas or even werewolfs are included, which makes this set of second-tier Hammers feel less than “Ultimate.” The Gorgon was the only one we reviewed on these pages. Buy “Hammer Films: Ultimate Collection”.

Light Years (2019): A 30-year old man goes on an annual “cosmic vision quest” to honor his dead friend. A psychedelic comedy that appeared out of nowhere, on DVD, Blu-ray, and VOD. May include Colin Thompson. Buy Light Years.

Waxworks (1924): Read Alfred Eaker’s review. A newly restored version of the classic about a poet who imagines backstories for wax figures, in a DVD/Blu-ray combo from silent specialists Flicker Alley. Buy Waxworks.

We Are Little Zombies (2019): Read the Apocrypha Candidate review. This tale of four emotionless Japanese orphans who form a pop band is out on DVD (it was released earlier on-demand). Buy We Are Little Zombies.

CANONICALLY WEIRD (AND OTHER) REPERTORY SCREENINGS:

Theaters across North America are shuttering-up again as a new wave of coronavirus hits. While a few venues remain open—and there’s always drive-ins, where that option exists—it’s up to you to decide if you think it’s safe to go to movie theaters at this time.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE: Next week, Giles Edwards finishes up his examination of ‘s corpus—which he was completing so quietly you didn’t even realize he was doing it—with a review of the director’s 2011 dark drama Kotoko, followed by an survey of the Tsukamoto box set, “Solid Metal Nightmares.” Meanwhile, indirectly gives you an overview of another director with a canonically weird film to his name when he considers the new documentary Love Express: The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk. And you may be pleased to know—though you equally well may not care, or even have any idea what we’re talking about—that work on the 2020 Yearbook is proceeding apace, and a Dec. 1 or thereabouts debut appears highly likely. Onward and weirdward!

What are you looking forward to? If you have any weird movie leads that we have overlooked, feel free to leave them in the COMMENTS section.

“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

NOVEMBER AMAZON PRIME WEIRD WATCH PARTY: NOMINATIONS

Our next scheduled Weird Watch Party on Amazon Prime is scheduled for Nov. 28 at 10:15 PM.

As always, we’ll be looking for nominations from people who plan to attend. After we get the minimum five nominations and likely attendees, we’ll put up a poll. Management will break any ties. We’re open to suggestions for different starting times, dates, or methods of propagating the watch link.

Amazon Prime’s catalog of movies is larger (and less exclusive) than Netflix’s. Ed Dykhuizen’s availability spreadsheet is a good resource to check for Canonically Weird movies (look for ones marked “free w/ Prime” in the “Amazon” column). Or, do your own research and come up with a title from Amazon. Eligible movies will have a “watch party” button on their Amazon page. You must be a Prime subscriber; you don’t have to download an extension or additional software.

We will not provide tech support; you’re on your own. Help each other.

When the party is set to begin we’ll announce it in three places:

  • On this site (if you’ve signed up for regular email alerts via the sidebar you’ll also get a notice that way)
  • On our Facebook page
  • On Twitter

We’ll take nominations through the week and put up a poll a week from today. Make your nominations in the comments below.

Netflix Watch Party #20—”CADAVER” (2020)—starts in fifteen minutes

Netflix Watch Party #20—Cadaver—starts in fifteen minutes.

Please install the Netflix Party extension (now officially called “teleparty”) if you haven’t already. You must have a U.S. Nextflix account and a Chrome-based browser to participate.

There will be no pausing or rewinding except for technical reasons.

We are offering no technical support, so help each other out if needed.

Here is the link to join: https://www.tele.pe/netflix/58894d65171e4e7c?s=s162

Be sure to click on the red Netflix Party icon to sync up and join the chat room.

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 11/13/2020

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

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.

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

Amazon Women on the Moon (1987): Read Shane Wilson’s review. This Special Edition release of the all-star sketch comedy B-movie spoof includes a new featurette and new outtakes and marks the first time the film has appeared on Region A Blu-ray. Buy Amazon Women on the Moon.

“American Horror Project, Vol. 1”: Three strange and cheap psychotronic horror films gathered in a Blu-ray set: Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood (1973), The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976), and The Premonition (1976). It seems horror writer Stephen Thrower (“NIGHTMARE USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents“) convinced Arrow to collaborate on releasing some of his favorite under-the-radar American drive-in and grindhouse horrors. We’ll be curious to see what appears in Vol. 2. Buy “American Horror Project, Vol. 1”.

Death Laid an Egg (1968): Read the Special Edition review and the Certified Weird review! This new release of Italy’s finest chicken-centric surrealist giallo includes a fifteen minutes of restored footage, the Plucked! English-language dub, and a lot of egg-cellent supplemental features. Buy Death Laid an Egg.

“The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast”: Read Terri McSorley’s review of the Limited Edition. This set is identical the one Terri reviewed in 2016, with the following exceptions: no separate DVD copies, no special packaging, no bonus Blu-rays with 1.33:1 aspect ratio versions, and it’s about one-eighth the price. Otherwise, it’s a fourteen-film collection containing all the Godfather of Gore’s “greatest hits,” from Blood Feast to The Gore Gore Girls. Buy “The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast”.

Love Express: The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk (2018): Documentary covering‘s career, from his early days as an art-house darling to the scandal caused by The Beast [La Bête] (1975), from which his critical reputation never recovered. On DVD, Blu-ray or VOD. Buy Love Express: The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk.

“Monty Python’s Flying Circus: The Complete Series” (1969-1974): The complete original run of the breakthrough surreal comedy series that launched the career of 366 fave Terry Gilliam and eventually led to Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983). Restored and on Region A Blu-ray for the first time, with tons of outtakes and featurettes. Buy “Monty Python’s Flying Circus: The Complete Series”.

Spontaneous (2020): Two high-schoolers fall in love while their classmates spontaneously combust. It’s rare we’d take a chance on a teen rom-com, even with horror elements, but the spontaneous combustion gambit is just strange enough to place it on the outer edge of our radar screen. On DVD or VOD (no Blu-ray at this time). Buy Spontaneous.

ONLINE CERTIFIED WEIRD LIVE SCREENINGS:

Branded to Kill (1967), tonight (11/13) at 9:15 PM with live commentary by Jim Jarmusch. Sponsored by 36 Cinema (we’re not familiar [or affiliated] with them); if you buy a ticket through this link, a portion of the proceeds will benefit Boston’s Brattle Theater. $10. Buy virtual ticket to Branded to Kill.

CANONICALLY WEIRD (AND OTHER) REPERTORY SCREENINGS:

American’s aren’t back to full capacity yet, but some repertory theaters are open. It’s up to you to decide if you think it’s safe to go to movie theaters at this time. 366 takes no responsibility for any infections contracted as a result of attending a live theatrical screening.

FREE MOVIES ON TUBI.TV:

John Dies at the End (2012): Read the canonically weird review! Two slackers under the influence of soy sauce battle interdimensional aliens (and John dies, at some point). Now listed as “leaving soon” on Tubi.  Watch John Dies at the End free on Tubi.tv.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE: Tomorrow’s Weird Netflix Party features the new Norwegian post-apocalyptic horror, Cadaver. The show starts at 10:15 PM ET; the link to join will appear here, on Facebook, or on Twitter around 10 PM ET.

Meanwhile, as we continue working on the print version of the 2020 Yearbook in the background, we’ll clue you in on a couple of 2020 releases that will grace those pages in December. Giles Edwards takes the lead on the Canadian comedy The Twentieth Century, a totally absurd fictional biopic of Prime W.L. Minster Mackenzie King (spoiler: it’s heavily influenced by ). then checks out ‘s latest, his documentary about his own form of ritual psychoanalysis: Psychomagic, A Healing Art. That disc can be found inside Abcko/Arrow’s new Alejandro Jodorowsky box set, which deserves an article of it’s own (and so shall receive one). Onward and weirdward!

What are you looking forward to? If you have any weird movie leads that we have overlooked, feel free to leave them in the COMMENTS section.