MARCH MAD MOVIE MADNESS 2020: THE FREAKY FOUR

We continue the head-to-head elimination rounds of our irregularly scheduled annual March Mad Movie Madness tournament. The winner of this year’s contest will be elevated onto our Apocryphally Weird list. (High-placing losers may get extra editorial consideration, too.)

You can see the entire field here. We’ll update results as they come in.

Vote for the film you’d prefer to be honored as Apocrypha. If you haven’t seen both (which may well be the case), go ahead and vote for the movie you’ve heard of, if you think it would be a good representative. You could even vote your preference based on the film’s reputation, or because the description of it in our review amuses you. We’re not checking up on you, and wouldn’t judge your vote if we could.

You may vote once per day, until this round of polling closes at midnight EST on March 29. We’ll announce the results and set up the final matchup a week from today.

Links in the polls below go to 366 Weird Movies’ review, or to the film’s IMDB page if we haven’t reviewed it.

Get to voting!



WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 3/20/2020

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:

Nothing for the foreseeable future, as all the major movie chains are now shuttered due to the pandemic. Studios are now considering debuting some new releases on video-on-demand. We’ll keep an eye on the trend.

FILM FESTIVALS – Postponements:

Cannes has officially postponed the world’s most prestigious (if not largest or weirdest) film festival. No substitute date has been named, but they are hoping for June or July. Like the Kentucky Derby, Cannes may be too big to cancel altogether. We can only hope. More Cannes news at Deadline.

IN DEVELOPMENT (post-production):

Corona Zombies (as soon as they can rush it out, 2020): Full Moon pictures becomes the first studio to shamelessly exploit the pandemic. They’ve gotten a lot of bad press for the project, which will doubtlessly draw them plenty of eyeballs. As far as we know Horror Society was first to break the news.

Last Night in Soho (fall 2020): Comedy specialist dips his toes into psychological thriller territory. Lips are tight as to plot, but the film is set in London in the Swinging Sixties and appears to involve time travel. Star teases, “It’s a really well-directed acid trip.” Definitely one we’ll keep an eye out for. More of Taylor-Joy’s comments can be found at Indiewire.

IN DEVELOPMENT (completed):

Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream [Ne croyez surtout pas que je hurle ] (2019): An avant-garde documentary where a depressed shut-in filmmaker talks over an assemblage of movies (including a number of B-movies and rare Eurohorrors) as a confessional/self-therapy. Given the current status of the world, the trailer is both timely and eerie.  Originally scheduled for an April U.S. debut at Film Forum in NYC; no idea whether it will play as scheduled or not. Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream French site.

NEW ON HOME VIDEO:

Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby (1999): A teenage prostitute and a teenage serial killer flee to Mexico. The two Freeway movies, directed by Forbidden Zone actor and co-writer Matthew Bright, are an interesting species of exploitation films based on fairy tales (this one takes its cue from “Hansel and Gretel.”) Now on Blu-ray. Buy Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby.

The Nines (2007): Read our review. Mill Creek finally brings this thoughtful metaphysical mindbender to Blu-ray, at a shockingly low price that probably won’t last for long. Buy The Nines.

A Pure Formality (1994): This psychological thriller sees writer interrogated by detective over a mysterious murder. In our reader-suggested review queue, and now on DVD, Blu-ray from Kino Lorber, with a commentary track. Buy A Pure Formality.

Seven Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss (2018): Black comedy about a couple whose bargain apartment comes with a catch: cultists continually break in to commit suicide in their bathtub. This debuted in theaters a couple of weeks ago and is now available on VOD (as scheduled; it wasn’t moved forward due to the pandemic). Buy or rent Seven Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss.

Verotika (2019): A horror anthology sponsored by metalhead Glenn Danzig, inspired by his line of adult horror comics; the title is a portmanteau of “violent” and “erotica.” On VOD since February; now in a 3 disc package with DVD, Blu-ray and soundtrack CD. Buy Verotika.

CERTIFIED WEIRD (AND OTHER) REPERTORY SCREENINGS:

See “In Theaters,” above. We’re not aware of any movie theaters in the U.S. or Canada that are currently open for business.

We’re not going to tell you about all the wonderful movie screenings that were scratched, from fear of making you cry. Let’s say there were a couple of cancellations of upcoming repertory revivals and deep indie debuts that brought water to our eyes. We just pray all the cool stuff will be rescheduled soon and we can report good news in coming weeks.

FREE MOVIES AND BONUS CONTENT FOR ISOLATED WEIRDOS:

“The Cult Show: Jackie Kong”: The director of the canonically weird Blood Diner shows up on a relatively new web series to discuss her work. Kong is charming and enthusiastic, and these days seems to be spending all her waking moments promoting Blood Diner. Good for her! Enjoy.

The Green Fog (2017): Guy Maddin (working with collaborators and Galen Johnson) created The Green Fog on commission from  San Francisco Film Society as the closing film of their 2017 festival. In a manner similar to Doggiewogiez! Poochiewoochiez!, but with Maddin’s particular madness, The Green Fog loosely recreates Vertigo using footage from San Francisco-based movies and TV shows. The Green Fog is likely unreleasable commercially due to the huge number of copyright clearances which would have to be obtained. Maddin has put it up on his Vimeo channel for viewing; how long it will stay there is anyone’s guess, so this may be your only chance to check it out. Score by Jacob Garchik, performed by the Kronos Quartet. Watch The Green Fog free on Vimeo.

Plan 10 from Outer Space (1995): (Rubin & Ed) is digitally screening his full-length independent movie on YouTube (see his personal channel for more strange stuff) for free—temporarily—to help us weirder folk endure their social distancing. In fact, we hope to feature a new one from his catalog next week. While low budget, with acting and deliberately corny dialogue that echoes inspiration , Plan 10 is primarily a satire of Mormonism from the Utah-based filmmaker. Featuring the inimitable as Nehor. This link is unlisted and only up for a short time, so please don’t share without permission, and it goes without saying do not copy or download it—if you want a permanent copy, Harris sells them directly from his own website. With that out of the way, enjoy!

WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE: A wise man once said, “Things are really getting weird out there.” Let’s push out some of the bad-weird with the good-weird. Next week, Giles Edwards gets to the ahead-of-its-time tentacle horror/comedy Sh! The Octopus (1937), while G. Smalley endures the “violent eroti(k)a” of Glenn Danzig’s Verotika (OK, so we may be going back on our promise to focus on the good-weird with this one, but hopefully it will be amusing). You can also continue voting in the Eerie 8 round of our March Mad Madness Tournament until Sunday night (at least one of the four contests is still extremely competitive and may go right up to the deadline). And it’s always possible that we’ll have another announcement to brighten your spirits soon… 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.

CAPSULE: ROBOGEISHA (2009)

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DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: Aya Kiguchi, Hitomi Hasebe,

PLOT: A pair of geisha sisters are abducted by an executive of an evil arms corporation, who plays on their sisterly rivalry to turn them into cyborg killing machines.

Still from RoboGeisha (2009)

COMMENTS: In 2008, Noboru Iguchi made a movie called The Machine Girl about a Japanese schoolgirl who installs a Gatling gun in her arm and goes on a murderous rampage of revenge. A year later, he came out with RoboGeisha, which is totally different. This one is about two geishas who install Gatling guns in their breasts and go on a murderous rampage of revenge.

There are other major differences between the two flicks, of course. RoboGeisha takes a (slightly) more serious stab at a plot than Machine Girl‘s bog-standard revenge template. It features two sisters with an unexpectedly complex love/hate dynamic (“sisters are… complicated,” says one, after the other appears to have been blown up during an assassination). Their relationship even comes with a minor twist at the end. RoboGeisha also favors comedy over the nonstop action and gore that marked Machine Girl. RoboGeisha‘s budget seems to be lower than its sister’s; nearly all of the special effects are rendered in CGI rather than through practical effects. The ludicrous sparkly gunshot effects from Machine Girl are carried over, but the sudden reliance on digitized blood spatters is especially disconcerting. The computerization sort of wastes the talents of special effects director , who’s at his best when building prosthetic limbs for Iguchi to lop off and hooking up hoses full of red karo syrup for him to direct onto the faces of his long-suffering actors and actresses.

I personally think that the tweaks Iguchi made to the formula result in an improved product. Many disagree. Gorehounds, in particular, may be disappointed by the paucity of severed heads and the bare trickle of scarlet bursting from neck-holes. And many complain that the focus on plot at the expense of action slows down the nonsense. To me, however, the relative restraint in the violence allows the movie to focus on the absurdity that is what I treasure in this trash. Acid breast milk, a folk protest song, fried shrimp eye-gouging, brain-caressing, and bleeding buildings are among the bizarro attractions to be found in this sleazy funhouse. And this is a movie  that doesn’t simply posit the existence of cybernetic butt-swords; it explicitly demonstrates how awkward a duel would be when the contestants have to crane their necks over their shoulders and backpedal into each to parry and thrust (while muttering, “how embarrassing”). That’s the kind of attention to detail Western B-movies tend to gloss over.

As was often the case with Japanese B-movies of this ilk and period, the DVD release contains a bonus “spin-off” short utilizing leftover sets, costumes and concepts. This one is called “GeishaCop: Fearsome Geisha Cops – Go to Hell” and is partly centered around a plot device requiring girl-on-girl kissing.  It includes a scene where members of the geisha army, still incognito as Kageno Steel Manufacturing workers, drink the blood of male captives during their lunch break, leading the protagonist to declare, with what some might view as understatement: “Something about this is strange. This is one twisted office.”

Unfortunately, the DVD is out of print in North America, and the available VOD version does not include the short, and offers only the English-dubbed version, to boot. It’s still worth a look if you like this genre.

OTHER LINKS OF INTEREST:

Reader review by “Cletus”

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“It’s not that I loved either of the team’s previous efforts… but at least each had moments of truly unique creativity and even beauty amongst all the strange and grotesque gore. ‘Robogeisha’, however, contains only concepts, weird ideas and a few moments of self-reflexive humour. Otherwise it was mostly a pretty big bore.”–Bob Turnbull, “Eternal Sunshine of the Logical Mind” (festival screening)

WEIRD LOVE: THE WORLD’S TOP 10 ART-HOUSE INCEST MOVIES

Eugene Vasiliev provides 366 Weird Movies with his own translation/adaptation of his original article, which appeared in Russian here.

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

10. Murderous Maids [Les blessures assassines] (2000) (France)

DIRECTED BY: Jean-Pierre Denis

PLOT: Two lustful maids (and sisters) turn tricks in the attic, until caught red-handed by their housemistress. They ignore her remonstrances and calls to virtue. In fact, the two “guilty” servants thrash their mistress and her daughter to death after gouging out their eyes.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Domestic workers’ struggle for equal rights is sometimes an uphill battle.

Scores of movies about incest feature absent fathers, mothers, delinquent daughters, and criminal sons. Religious families, orphaned children, widowed mothers, and the underclass form fertile ground for weird love. (A rare exception is a case of upper-class incest in Louis Malle‘s Murmur of the Heart, discussed below.)

Still from Murderous Maids (2000)

Murderous Maids is based on a real case that shocked France in 1933, when the Papin sisters brutally murdered their employers. The film shows us how things went so bad in a very long and tedious way up until the denouement. The ruthless exploitation of the poor orphans, fated to live their lives at someone’s beck and call in a noble house, stirs up indignation in the viewer’s heart. Throughout the movie the unfortunate “feminists” are forced to iron clothes or scrub toilets.

Amazingly, the unholy acts that “the midnight maidens” do look innocent at first. They just relax for a moment in a bizarre position after vacuuming. Then something goes wrong. What we’ve got here is failure to communicate. They wish for the ground to swallow them up, but it doesn’t. The sisters then try to wipe out reality,  press the “DELETE” button, by gouging out the eyes of their mistress.

There was a trial, a society scandal, and a dungeon. In 1941 the younger sister–Lea Papin—was set free. She died at the age of 89, outliving her employers by almost 70 years.

9. A Woman’s Way [Strella] (2009) (Greece)

DIRECTED BY: Panos H. Koutras

PLOT: After serving 14 years behind bars for the murder of a promiscuous woman, a Greek man suddenly realizes that he was deeply wrong. He comes to believe true virtue isn’t found in fasting and praying, but in incest, sodomy, and other types of taboo love.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Cinema is an art of illusion.

The great French film theorist Jean Epstein noted in his book “Bonjour, Cinema” back in 1921: “The close-up alters drama through the impression of proximity. Pain is within reach. If I extend my arm, I touch your intimacy… I count the eyelashes of this suffering.”1.

Still from A Woman's Way (2009)

Extreme close-ups, zoom-ins and creepy music transform your perception of reality. Art can justify any sin, make black into white and Continue reading WEIRD LOVE: THE WORLD’S TOP 10 ART-HOUSE INCEST MOVIES

CAPSULE: QUEEN OF PARADIS (2020)

DIRECTED BY: Carl Lindstrom

FEATURING: Reine Paradis

PLOT: After a sold-out exhibit of her “Jungle” photography series, Reine Paradis goes around the United States to find the perfect locations for her follow-up, “Midnight.”

COMMENTS: When I experience art, I try to do so with a degree of ignorance–I typically neither know, nor care to know, anything about the artist. I eschew “director’s commentaries” for films because I want to see the work, and experience the story, on its own. I found Queen of Paradis, a documentary about an artist making art, somewhat awkward going—and knew half an hour in where it was going, and how it was going there.

We follow Reine Paradis, a Surrealist photographic artist, and her husband (who handily fills the roles of driver, prop repairman, photographer, and all around supportive swell guy) across the country as she puts lime plexi-plastic on display, making unreal, still-life vignettes from a real, photographed setup. The tone is typical talking heads-style documentary interspersed with intimate scenes (socially and emotionally intimate, that is)—including more “breaking-and-entering” segments than I was expecting, as Reine and hubby sneak into a salt mine for a white “mountain”top shoot, or onto a fenced-off billboard for a neon-lime-green spaghetti dinner “restaurant” shoot. It is a credit (I presume to director Lindstrom) that the tone never quite veers into satirical—any other movie with the line, ‘Okay! I have the fish!’ shouted by a French woman standing beside a train track would doubtless smack of parody.

But an interesting topic does not an interesting movie make. I also experienced this with the documentary about The Residents. While Queen of Paradis is competent, adequately assembled, and informative about its subject matter, that only hits a documentary’s minimum requirements. (And upon a little reflection, it seems unfair to be so dismissive of a documentary that does those three things; oh well.) Still, all and all, I found Reine’s imagery fascinating and playful and that, ultimately, is the point. Queen of Paradis could be dismissed as an advertisement for the artist, but I don’t begrudge her that. It worked on me.

LINKS OF INTEREST:

reine paradis – The titular artist’s homepage, with plenty of images and information about her, her work, and this movie

Surreal-Chic – In-depth article about Paradis’ first photo-set, “Jungle”

“Interview” by Plastik Magazine – This brief (1:18 minutes) segment conveniently condenses Reine’s process, and results, into a bite-sized chunk

“step into reine paradis’ surrealist adventure land” – Interview and article with the i-D people (a fashion culture, fanzine outfit) featuring many of the photographs from the “Midnight” shoot

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“I’m not exactly a massive fan of art documentaries. I prefer watching more of the pop-culture and modern-day artists…the ones with a quirky edge over the traditional. Paradis definitely fits the quirky side of art. Queen of Paradis is an excellent art film.”–Alan Ng, Film Threat (contemporaneous)

MARCH MAD MOVIE MADNESS 2020: THE EERIE EIGHT

We continue the head-to-head elimination rounds of our irregularly scheduled annual March Mad Movie Madness tournament. The winner of this year’s contest will be elevated onto our Apocryphally Weird list. (High-placing losers may get extra editorial consideration, too.)

You can see the entire field here. We’ll update results as they come in.

Vote for the film you’d prefer to be honored as Apocrypha. If you haven’t seen both (which may well be the case), go ahead and vote for the movie you’ve heard of, if you think it would be a good representative. You could even vote your preference based on the film’s reputation, or because the description of it in our review amuses you. We’re not checking up on you, and wouldn’t judge your vote if we could.

You may vote once per day, until this round of polling closes at midnight EST on March 22. We’ll announce the results and set up the next round a week from today.

Links in the polls below go to 366 Weird Movies’ review, or to the film’s IMDB page if we haven’t reviewed it.

Get to voting!





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