CONTEST: 366 WEIRD MOVIES’ BIGGEST FAN GETS A COPY OF “TRUE STORIES”

Time for another giveaway! This one is for true fans only, though all are welcome to try. All you have to do is convince us that you’re 366 Weird Movies’ Biggest Fan, and therefore deserving of this fine prize. We know a couple of you have gone the extra mile to promote this project; now is your chance to show us what you’ve done. Pimp your own creativity while pumping our egos; everyone benefits. (Or just compliment us really, really well). We’ll pick the most impressive submission provided in the comments below. Even if you’re ineligible to win the prize (for example, because you live outside the U.S.), please let us know about your fandom. And even if you think you’re a Pretty Big Fan, but not the Biggest, let us know. Our pride needs it.

Even though, in a way, you’re all winners, the choice of an actual prize winner is solely at the discretion of 366 Weird Movies’ staff.

Eligibility rules: You must comment on this post. To receive the DVD, you must supply us with a mailing address in the United States. (Don’t publish your address in your comment! We’ll contact the winner through email). 366 contributors are not eligible for the prize. You are eligible for this prize even if you have won a contest here in the last six months. We’ll stop accepting entries Wednesday, February 20, at midnight EST. If the winner does not respond to our request for a mailing address within 48 hours we’ll email a runner-up, and so forth, until the prize is given away.

True Stories Criterion DVDAs for the prize: it’s the Criterion 2-disc DVD edition of the Canonically Weird True Stories‘s celebration of eccentricity and “Specialness” set in the fictional town of Virgil, Texas. Note that this DVD edition does not include the film’s soundtrack, which is an exclusive bonus feature of the Blu-ray. But it does include the second disc of bonus features (four documentaries, plus deleted scenes) and the cool tabloid-style booklet with essays by Rebecca Bengal and Joe Nick Patoski.

So go to it! Show us what you got!

CAPSULE: LORDS OF CHAOS (2018)

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Jonas Åkerlund

FEATURING: Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen, Jack Kilmer, Sky Ferreira, Jon Øigarden, Valter Skarsgård

PLOT: The founder of True Norwegian Black Metal, Euronymous, narrates his rise and fall from beyond the grave in a tale of music, church burning, metal, and marketing.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Lords of Chaos is a well-crafted biopic/docudrama about some very weird people. Graphic suicide and murder notwithstanding, this is an eminently mainstream, straightforward piece of high-quality cinema. Fans of True Norwegian Black Metal will want to upgrade this from a “recommended” to a “” rating.

COMMENTS: Norway: the land of Ski Queen cheese, smiling people in bright sweaters, and True Norwegian Black Metal. For the last of those three things, you can thank “Euronymous” (née Øystein Aarseth), founder of the band Mayhem and, if Lords of Chaos is to be believed, something of a marketing genius. Jonas Åkerlund, no stranger to the metal scene of the late ’80s, brings the dramatic tale of Euronymous’ journey from upper-middle-class rocker bad-boy to tragic murder victim to an English-speaking audience in this docudrama. With a sure touch and an unlikely sense of humor, Åkerlund spins a formidable yarn about some troubled lads spiraling out of control.

From his omnipotent afterlife perch, Øystein (Rory Culkin) narrates his early roots—appropriately subterranean in his parents’ basement. Graduating quickly from the status of inept musicians riding around in their parents Volvos, the metal group Mayhem enjoys a series of lucky breaks accompanied by implied Faustian bargains. They find a frontman, Death (an eerie Jack Kilmer), who rockets them to sub-fame before blasting his brains out. Death’s replacement is even darker: an impressionable, awkward young man named Christian (Emory Cohen), who changes his name to Varg after he buys into the whole death-cult-Satanist-nihilist shtick that Øystein has fabricated. Varg starts burning down churches, and the other band members’ moral fabric disintegrates as a horrible contest of one-upmanship rips them apart. As his vision of commercial glory begins to unravel, Øystein is forced to come to terms with the beast he’s created.

While many films directed by Music Video People obviously show their signature markings, Jonas Åkerlund stays his hand stylistically. His story is about the people behind the image, not a love letter to the presumed madness and evil of True Norwegian Black Metal. On the occasions that he does indulge in his fast-dreamy editing, the effect is that much more striking: Øystein’s recurring daydreams/nightmares of traveling through the woods, looking for his first friend and leading man are unsettling and touching. The music, most of it performed by the (non-Norwegian, non-metal) band Sigur Rós, alternately haunts and pummels. And the acting transforms these aspiring metal caricatures into realistic portraits of young outcasts.

Which brings me to Rory Culkin. Yes, he is from the same brood as the famous (to some of us older types) Macaulay Culkin, but in Lords of Chaos he seems to be channeling a young (carried in no small part by his eyes and his near-constant, “What the Hell is wrong with you people?” tone of voice). Culkin carries this picture. His joyful cynicism is underscored as his post-death montage wraps up, “No. Fuck. Stop this sentimental shit.” Though he may call himself “Euronymous”, Øystein remains Øystein: a cheeky, ambitious nerd with a flair for publicity. Lords of Chaos rubs elbows with the countless musical biopics that have streamed forth from the movie industry since time immemorial. It’s one of the few, though, to capture melodrama, mundanity, and hilarity so capably and with such strong disregard for nostalgia.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Despite Åkerlund’s refusal to lionize these immature kids, ‘Lords of Chaos’ is tremendous fun. Caveat: one must be able to handle severed pig heads, cat torture, and casual Nazism.” –Amy Nicholson, Variety

CAPSULE: BRAID (2018)

DIRECTED BY: Mitzi Peirone

FEATURING: Imogen Waterhouse, Sarah Hay, Madeline Brewer, Scott Cohen

PLOT: Two girls scheme to steal from their rich, but psychotic, old friend, but doing so requires them to go along with her fantasies: “the Game.”

Still from Braid (2018)
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: A hallucinatory thriller with modest ambitions to blow your mind, Braid finds itself in the weird pile, but not at the top of the heap. It’s a perfectly reasonable “B” selection to watch while waiting for something weirder to come down the pike.

COMMENTS: In the official opening scene of Braid, two collegiate drug dealers are inventorying their stash in their Manhattan loft, oblivious to the distant sound of police sirens. When the banging comes on their door, the film suddenly switches to black and white, security cam-style, as they make an improbable escape out the window and down the fire escape. What was decadent and glamorous in color suddenly turns dingy and desperate. At a later point, one of the girls pops what she thinks is Vicodin, but turns out to be a hallucinogen that turns the lawn purple (pro-tip: popping random pills is not recommended when you’re in the middle of pulling a caper). These visual dislocations, which are a constant in Braid, serve as a reminder of how fickle perception can be. They’re a reflection of the main plot device: a young lady trapped in a delusion that’s she’s still a little girl playing doctor with her friends. Later, we view a scene filmed upside down, for no apparent reason; debuting filmmaker Mitzi Peirone is often just using the delusion excuse to throw a lot of stuff on the screen that she thinks will look cool, like water flowing backwards into the faucet. (Actually, that’s not a bad strategy for a movie with a theme of disorientation.)

Petula and Tilda, the two college dropout robbers, are sufficiently rude and narcissistic that we’re amped to see them get their  comeuppance at the whims of their fruitcake ex-friend. Of course, Daphne, living in a dilapidated mansion and still playing house even though she now actually owns a house, herself is too detached from reality to root for. There is a detective sniffing around, but he seems fated to fall victim to the last of the game’s three rules: “no outsiders allowed.” Still, even though things threaten to get a little torture porn-y at times when Daphne goes to any lengths to keep her friends playing the Game, the film does make a dash for meaningful empathy at the very end.

There is a twist about a third of the way through that I didn’t see coming. It’s no stunner, but it is clever enough for an evening’s entertainment. A number of seemingly odd moments—such as the cliche old doomsayer cackling at the pair as they prepare to re-engage with their long lost gal pal—start to make (some) sense in retrospect. On the other hand, it also makes you conscious of how some of the early scenes were contrived specifically to fool the audience, rather than for organic story reasons. And some stuff never really adds up at all, such as a foot fetish scene. Still, the reveal is done well, and allows Peirone to pull out a lot of stops for a schizo-surrealist montage the supplies a high point before things start to peter out in a dreamy, melancholy epilogue (the film had been tautly paced up to that point).

The film’s insights into the subjectivity of human perception never really threaten to get beyond the superficial, but they do make a decent substrate for a weird-ass thriller. Peirone shows skill in putting the whole together, and with the help of cinematographer Todd Banhazl has a great (if undisciplined) visual flair. Keep your expectations at the level of a smart B-thriller and you may be pleasantly surprised by how well Braid threads these three women together.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Bolstered by its kinetic cinematography and stellar production design, Mitzi Peirone’s surreal nightmare Braid is a crazy fever dream of deranged games and broken realities.”–Adam Patterson, Film Pulse (festival screening)

WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 2/1/2019

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):

Braid: Two women, in desperate need of cash to pay back a drug dealer, decide to rob their insane but wealthy childhood friend: but figuring out the location of her safe will require them to humor her by playing by the delusional rules of the “game” she’s been stuck in since childhood. Review coming next week. Braid official site.

IN DEVELOPMENT (post-production):

Far From  the Apple Tree (2019): An artist discovers she has a doppelgänger: her boss’s missing daughter. The press release calls it an “eclectic mix of ghost story, fairy tale and horror” and compares it to both Valerie and Her Week of Wonders and The Wicker Man. This UK production will be released domestically in March, and the Redemption label (best known to us as deep catalog releasers of and curios) has already snapped it up for a planned home video release in 2019.  Thanks to El Rob Hubbard for bringing it to our attention. Far from the Apple Tree official site.

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

All the Colors of the Dark [Tutti i colori del buio] (1972): A woman plagued by recurring nightmares decides to try a Black Mass as a means of therapy (!) Severin Films exhumes this ghastly giallo for a new age. Out on DVD or Blu-ray with lots of bonus features. Buy All the Colors of the Night.

Night Is Short, Walk on Girl (2017): Read our review. Whimsical surrealism from the mind of anime weirdo that ranked #4 on our Weirdest of 2018 list, now on DVD/Blu-ray combo pack or VOD from Shout! Factory. Buy Night is Short, Walk on Girl.

Suspiria (2018): Read our review. Luca Guadagnino remakes the classic Suspiria as an arthouse pic; an interesting experiment. On Blu-ray or VOD. Buy Suspiria (2018).

Top Knot Detective (2017): Mockumentary (?) about a brief Japanese cult TV series starring a samurai detective. Now available streaming on Amazon (free with Prime); DVDs currently available overseas only. Thanks to for catching this. (Note: the video uploaded to Amazon lacks subtitles and may be in the wrong aspect ratio [see comments]. We’re disabling the Amazon purchase link until we hear that the issue has been fixed.) Stream Top Knot Detective on Vimeo from the distributor.

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 YOUTUBE:

Rubber (2010): Read the Canonically Weird review! Why should you watch this movie about a serial-killing tire? No reason. Watch Rubber free on Tubi.tv.

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE:

Next week, we’ll bring you previews of a couple of new limited releases, as G. Smalley tries to untangle Braids (see trailer above), and Giles Edwards bows to the experimental black metal documentary Lords of Chaos. We’ll also have a DVD giveaway contest. Prize: True Stories Criterion Collection DVD. Theme: convince us you’re 366 Weird Movies’ biggest fan. And don’t forget to vote in the Weirdcademy Awards (and the Shorts) before Feb. 24th. Weirdest Picture and Actor look sewn up, but the other categories are still competitive.

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.

CAPSULE: BLISS (1985)

DIRECTED BY: Ray Lawrence

FEATURING: Barry Otto, Lynette Curran, Helen Jones, Miles Buchanan, Gia Carides

PLOT: Harry Joy, an ad-executive and raconteur, has a near-death experience after a heart attack, and afterwards starts to see himself as living in Hell. He attempts to reform, but comes into conflict with his family. He finds a kindred spirit in Honey Barbara, a hippie girl in the City to sell marijuana to support her commune, but can Harry overcome the pull of his old life and find love?

Still from Bliss (1985)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Although there are touches, mainly in the imagery, it’s not full-on weird in concept or themes.

COMMENTS: Bliss is a story about stories: how stories affect one’s environment and how stories can save one’s life. Both Peter Carey (author of the original novel) and Ray Lawrence worked in advertising—storytelling used to sell something. Bliss is an expiation and penance for that life. At its core, it’s a story of a man’s mid-life crisis: he has a heart attack, dies, is revived and takes stock of his life, seeing himself as living in Hell, and works to atone.

At the time of its release, some compared it to Terry Gilliam‘s work, specifically Brazil. Some of the absurdist touches to illustrate the hellishness of Harry’s life (roaches skittering out of his chest incision, his wife’s infidelity symbolized by fish dropping from her crotch onto the floor) make that comparison sort of understandable, solely due to the use of imagery.

But with some 30 years of perspective, it’s a very superficial—and somewhat wrong—comparison. Now we see that Bliss anticipated “Mad Men,” and can be seen as a more focused and compact distillation of the thematic concerns of the show, only without the period setting and detail. Also, Bliss‘ Harry Joy is a far more sympathetic character we identify with, and his journey does come to a conclusion, rather than ending in ironic ambiguity.

HOME VIDEO INFO: Bliss was available on VHS from New World Video in the mid 1980’s, and to date is the only home video release in North America. In 2010, an all-region DVD was released with both the theatrical version and Director’s Cut, as well as a commentary with Lawrence and producer Anthony Buckley, but it appears to be out-of-print at this date.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Director Ray Lawrence milks the absurdity of the surreal situations for laughs and pathos in a take-no-prisoners style that challenges audiences’ tolerance for eccentricity.”–Michael Betzold, AllMovie

OTHER LINKS OF INTEREST:

Bliss Rewatched – a Guardian article about the film

Original trailer for Bliss

YOUR VOTE DETERMINES THE WINNER OF THE 9TH ANNUAL WEIRDCADEMY AWARDS

So gets a Most Conventional Actor Oscar for stumbling around drunk in Las Vegas and failing to get an erection in the final scene, but when sorts a mysterious hallucinogenic powder he finds lying around in a Satanic biker’s lair and forges his own axe to mow down the hippies who burnt his true love alive, he doesn’t even get a sniff from the Academy? And now is forced to give up making movies about dystopian futures where singles are sent to a hotel where they must find a mate or be turned into an animal of their choice, and instead make costume dramas about serving wenches, fat bi queens, and Tories wearing powdered Whigs to get the Academy to give him a Most Conventional Picture nod? So what retreads did the Academy of Arts and Sciences see fit to nominate for the Most Conventional Picture Oscar of 2018? A black and white documentary about Mexicans harvesting those little plum tomatoes they put in salads? The fourth remake of a weepie about untalented drunk sellout musicians that sucked the first three times? This year’s Italian-stereotype-conquers-racism-and-finds-a-black-friend road trip comedy? A couple of movies with “Black” right there in the title, to show they are taking diversity seriously?

Yes, the Oscars are a joke, and everyone knows it. (Just try finding someone willing to host the ceremony.) But you, my friend, you aren’t content with the same-old same-old, new wine in a familiar glass. You want weird in your movies. The Weirdcademy Awards are for you, the moviegoer whose friends roll their eyes and sigh loudly when you suggest buying tickets to the latest black and white Estonian witchcraft werewolf love story.

Although the editors of 366 Weird Movies select the nominees from the pool of available movies, the Awards themselves are a naked popularity contest and do not necessarily reflect either the artistic merit or intrinsic weirdness of the films involved. The Weirdcademy Awards are tongue-in-cheek and for fun only. Ballot-stuffing is a frequent occurrence. Please, no wagering.

The Weirdcademy Awards are given to the Weirdest Movie, Actor, Actress and Scene of the previous year, as voted by the members of the Weirdcademy of Motion Picture Arts and Weirdness.

Who makes up the Weirdcademy? Membership is open to all readers of 366 Weird Movies. The rules for joining the Weirdcademy of Motion Picture Arts and Weirdness are as follows. To officially join, locate an official online ballot (such as the one below) and hover your mouse pointer over the radial button representing the choice of movie you would like to see win any award in any category. Then, simply depress the left button of your mouse to make your selection. Selections made using the right mouse button will be disregarded, and you will be forced to reapply. If your application for membership is approved, a dot will appear next to your choice. You are not done yet, so continue reading. To be certified as a voting member of the Weirdcademy, at some point subsequent to making your selection, you must navigate your mouse button to the box marked “vote.” Now, again depress your left mouse button to confirm your membership as a voting member of the Weirdcademy.

(Vote as many times as you like, but only once per day, please. We’ll keep voting open until February 24 at 12:00 Noon EST, so we can announce our results before the Academy Awards and steal their thunder).

There is no requirement that you’ve have to actually see all the movies in any category before voting.

Be sure to also vote for Weirdest Short Film of the Year. To watch all five nominees and to cast your vote, please click here.

Without further delay, we unveil the nominees for the 2018 Weirdcademy Awards below:
Continue reading YOUR VOTE DETERMINES THE WINNER OF THE 9TH ANNUAL WEIRDCADEMY AWARDS

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