Tag Archives: 2006

IT CAME FROM THE READER-SUGGESTED QUEUE: POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD (2006)

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DIRECTED BY: Lloyd Kaufman

FEATURING: Jason Yachanin, Kate Graham, Allyson Sereboff, Joshua Olatunde, Robin L. Watkins

PLOT: When a ravenously capitalist fast-food chain builds a franchise on an old Indian burial ground in the fair burg of Tromaville, the spirits of dead Native Americans and dead chickens conspire to turn the poultry-eating populace into fluid-spewing zombies.

Still from Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)

COMMENTS: What are you doing out there on the front porch? Get in here, darn ya! Sit, sit, we’re just about ready to serve. The stuffing is on the table, the onions on the green bean casserole are crisp, I’ve got a spoon for the cranberry sauce… oh, and here’s the bird. Would you like to carve? Just be careful with the knife, because once you cut into that crispy seasoned flesh, you’re liable to be sprayed with an unholy onslaught of blood, bile, vomit, feces, and any number of disgusting fluids. Go on, dig in!

Yes, it’s a Thanksgiving here at 366 Weird Movies headquarters, and even though it’s chicken and not turkey on the menu in Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, the film is suffused with the spirits of the two oppressed populations who have made our modern American Thanksgiving possible: Native Americans and domesticated fowl. If Troma Entertainment has taught us anything, it’s that failure to pay the proper respects will result in terror of the most disgusting and ridiculous nature imaginable, so choose your words carefully when you say grace.

What can one say when reviewing the most review-proof organization in show business? A rave would be an endorsement, while a pan is a badge of honor. I will suggest, then, that Poultrygeist is, in Troma terms, an almost perfect object. It’s got everything you expect, by the bucketload: deep stupidity, rampant nudity, crude insults that punch up and down in equal measure, and so much fluid being sprayed like a fire hose. Consider that a character named after a certain submarine sandwich pitchman/convicted sex criminal isn’t merely fat in defiance of his processed food diet; he’s morbidly obese, and we’re treated to an in-toilet POV shot of his unfortunate encounter with a haunted meal, a sight so appalling that even the Troma braintrust has seen fit to slap “CENSORED” bars across the screen. If you have even a passing familiarity with the Troma House of Moviemaking and that’s your bag, you will not be disappointed.

Liquids aside, Poultrygeist is a satire, but of the everyone’s-a-target variety. Voracious capitalism comes under fire, but so do self-righteous protesters and mawkish bleeding hearts. The cynical people who make fast food are hardly worse than the mindless hordes who eat it. Ridicule is ladled out in copious amounts at women, gay Continue reading IT CAME FROM THE READER-SUGGESTED QUEUE: POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD (2006)

CAPSULE: CONTAINER (2006)

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DIRECTED BY: Lukas Moodysson

FEATURING: The body of Peter Lorentzon and the voice of Jena Malone

PLOT: A male figure wanders around an apartment and derelict areas; a female figure inhabits an hotel room, occasionally interacting with him.

Still from Container (2006)

COMMENTS: This reviewer deleted his original opening to these comments, as it was profane and filled with curses. Perhaps this suggests the power of Lukas Moodysson’s contemplation on modern life, despair, and transgender perception; but, as the director’s namesake painfully suggests, this is a moody, moody piece. It is a litany of nouns and complaints. Some are grand, but most comprise a barrage of irksome sadness, a steady flow of quiet misery delivered in a squeaking near-monotone that forever flirts with outright un-stand-ability.

Occasionally interesting things float to the surface of this collage of tragic mundanity. Moodysson’s metaphor is apt. The film’s subject is not a gay man, she tells us, but a straight woman trapped in a disgusting body (her words, mind you) with a willy. They are alternately tired of lugging this horrible form around—illustrated when the woman figure acts as caretaker to the bloated frame, brushes its teeth, puts it to bed—and tired of carrying this insistent, petulant creature inside—shown through recurring images of the large man carrying the elfin form of the woman on his back. There is no satisfaction here, no relief—not through gossip magazines, drunken soirées, random hook-ups, gallons of lotion, or untold amounts of medication.

Container overstays its welcome for nearly as long as its run time. I felt the pain and confusion, but I felt it within minutes of beginning the ordeal. Moodysson’s dabbling with meta-narration is intriguing: at various points the thoughts of the voice actress, wondering why she was cast, comes through the noise, as do the occasional remarks presumably from the actor Peter Lorentzon. (I’m not actually this depressed, he comments through Jena Malone’s reading, I’m just performing a role here.) And there are even moments of absurd humor—making the line “How the Hell did all of Romania fit inside Britney Spears?” perfectly reasonable in context is quite the coup. However, the director has a lot of the exact same thing to say, and takes the liberty of doing so. I am certain that this is the point: gender dysphoria is a serious beast, sometimes deadly so. I am also certain that the ever-accumulating tedium blunts the impact, making something tragically inspirational into something merely wearying and dispiriting.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Moodysson says he expects his film to find an appreciative audience of seven. He’s probably right. But those seven will doubtlessly think it’s one of the weirdest, most disturbing things they’ve seen in ages.”–Jamie Russell, BBC (contemporaneous)

32*. LA ANTENA [THE AERIAL] (2006)

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Estaban Sapir

FEATURING: Valeria Bertuccelli, Alejandro Urdapilleta, Rafael Ferro, Sol Moreno, Florencia Raggi, Jonathan Sandor

PLOT: In a town where the only person with a voice, The Voice, doesn’t have a face, Mr. TV has nefarious plans. When he kidnaps The Voice, her eyeless son and their neighbors must find her and stop Mr. TV before he can take what little they have left. Things come to a head during a boxing broadcast where Mr. TV attempts to suck all language out of the citizens.

Still from La Antena (2007)

BACKGROUND:

  • La Antena premiered at Rotterdam Festival (2007) and was the first ever film chosen to both open and compete in the festival.
  • The movie was a runner-up for the Fantasia Film Festival Ground-Breaker Award, losing the first spot to Repo! The Genetic Opera.
  • Made for a reported 1.5 million, the script was only 60 pages but the storyboard consisted of over 3,000 shots. Shooting took 11 weeks and post-production took more than a year.
  • This was Estaban Sapir’s second feature film, and is his last completed work to date.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: An angry pixie girl inside an ever-snowing snow globe, with typewriter keys jutting from her helmet, a pacifier in her mouth, and arrows at her feet on which she plays a twisted version of Dance Dance Revolution as she turns the people’s voices into commodities.

TWO WEIRD THINGS: Eyeless boy strapped to Star of David; family climbs crumpled paper mountain

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: La Antena melds with by way of and , paying homage without feeling derivative. It’s a black and white, (mostly) silent film with subtitles that interact with the scenes. With inventive writing, bizarre characters, and whimsical sets, La Antena surprises throughout.

English-language festival trailer for La Antena

COMMENTS: Helmed by Argentinian writer/director Estaban Sapir, Continue reading 32*. LA ANTENA [THE AERIAL] (2006)

CAPSULE: PERIOD PIECE (2006)

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BewareWeirdest!

DIRECTED BY: Giuseppe Andrews

FEATURING: Bill Tyree, Giuseppe Andrews

PLOT: Intertwined stories of a number of absurd characters including a French dwarf who has rough sex with a teddy bear and a perpetually naked old man who has sex with an imaginary woman.

Still from period piece (2006)

COMMENTS: “WARNING: This film contains senior citizen nudity and dead pigs.”

Now, geriatric nudity is no big thing (although when the octogenarian attempts to holds pork rinds between his buttcheeks, you may disagree). That dead pig, though… we’ll get to it.

Period Piece is a series of absurdist sketches that rarely rise to the level of jokes, and never to the level of insights. They aren’t planned out, they are just passing spurts from the brain of director Giuseppe Andrews, whose mind is not filled with classical allusions like a or scathing anti-bourgeois fantasies like a , but mostly with dirty words, bodily function imagery, and trailer park culture. The result is arrested development surrealism, like something made by if he were a complete psychopath.

You get segments about two guys who siphon gas to get money to shoot heroin in a car wash. Two other guys mime eating each others’ farts (which they slice with a plastic knife and eat with a fork, in about the closest the film comes to eliciting a chuckle.) Stop-motion tater tots have sex in front of a shrine to Charles Manson. A guy eats raw hamburger. That kind of stuff. It’s shot in camcorder glare, and the editing is deliberately bad, as if a few “good” fifteen second takes were assembled to make a scene. Sometimes the same line repeats with slightly different inflection. It’s unpleasantly disorienting and visually unflattering, so Andrews does achieve the Americana nightmare feel he’s going for. And just so you won’t be fooled into thinking you’re watching something with socially redeeming value, it opens with a bit where a guy wearing a fake mustache and speaking in a Pepe le Pew accent sodomizes a teddy bear with an industrial sized can of calm chowder. (The repeated, graphic molestation of the stuffed sex slave is an ongoing motif.) Also, a lot of people shoot themselves in ineffective mock suicides. It’s as disgusting as it sounds, and much of the time, it’s repetitive and tedious, but it’s capable of holding your interest—against your better judgement.

Although the climactic dead pig is explicitly named “Society,” the main target of the film’s ongoing and pervasive anger has been women and scarcity of sex. The teddy bear who “likes it rough” seems to stand in for woman as sexual objects. In one vignette a man threatens to kill a “whore” for cheating on him. A father and son leaf through the gynecological displays in well-worn stroke mags, and the son dreams of scoring someday. The naked old man delivers obscene, scatological monologues about vaginas. Although Andrews had  a girlfriend at the time, and there is a woman in the cast, the whole project gives off the vibe of something conceived by poor white guys who’ve lost all hope of ever getting laid. Therefore, when Andrews’ attempt to top Pink Flamingos in the grossout department has the naked old man hack at the pig’s head with a hatchet while screaming insults at it, I was put more in mind of incels releasing sexual frustration than outsiders taking revenge against a system that has marginalized them.

The ending of the film disclaims that “no animals were hurt in the making of this film… they were already dead!” This is not strictly true. What about the human animals in the audience who had to watch it?

proudly (?) picked up Period Piece (and some other Andrews movies) for distribution, despite the fact that it’s much darker (and even cheaper) than their usual fare. The DVD features an incongruously cheerful introduction by , a Kaufman interview with Andrews, trailers for other Andrews movies, an obscene misogynist poem written by Andrews and read bumblingly by Tyree, and the entire 70-minute bonus feature Jacuzzi Rooms— which is literally just an unscripted chronicle of four rednecks drinking heavily in a motel room. Fun stuff, for people for whom nothing matters.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Take John Waters at his shock heights, a sizable helping of Harmony Korine’s Gummo, and a completely amateur visual aesthetic you have a vague idea as to what kind of film your in store for… From frame one you are forced into its full tilt bizarro world. You either get on for the ride or reject it completely.”–Infini-Tropolis (DVD)

(This movie was nominated for review by Tally Isham, who said “Not sure if I recommend seeing it, but it’s zero-budget weirdness.” Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)