Tag Archives: Extreme

CAPSULE: A SERBIAN FILM (2010)

DIRECTED BY: Srdjan Spasojevic

FEATURING: Srdjan Todorovic, Sergej Trifunovic, Jelena Gavrilovic, Katarina Zutic, Slobodan Bestic

PLOT: An ethical and well-intentioned ex porn star collaborates with an Eastern syndicate to Still from A Serbian Film (2010)
produce a series of art-house pornographic films. In the process he is unwittingly ensnared in the dark, serpentine morass of his film executives’ depraved madness.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST:  Despite the colorful controversy surrounding A Serbian Film, including claims that it is torture porn and even child porn, the movie is a straightforward—if transgressive—cross-genre thriller, a skillfully blended mix of mystery, horror and suspense elements.  Adventurous viewers who choose to watch A Serbian Film should seek the uncut version.  The controversial scenes are a crucial part of the plot.

NOTE: Director Srdjan Spasojevic was confronted by the international press and informed that his movie A Serbian Film is nothing more than thinly veiled torture porn, perhaps even child pornography.  He responded by asserting that the movie is in fact “a political allegory,” intentionally resplendent with metaphors for the historical, systematic repression of the Serbian people. For example, Spasojevic tells explains that the shocking baby scene “represents us and everyone else whose innocence and youth have been stolen by those governing our lives for purposes unknown.”

Is he being serious?  Or does he believe the most effective way to point out the absurdity of detractors’ allegations and deliberate misinterpretations is to posit an equally absurd response?  A thorough consideration of this controversy is beyond the scope of this review.  The viewer should watch the movie and judge for himself.  I present my own ideas regarding what I think the film discursively accomplishes in the addendum which follows the review.  Whether Spasojevic intends the film to deliver any of these meanings is a matter of speculation.  Despite what I think are some very good points made in the film, it’s my personal belief that he primarily set out to make an offbeat, tense thriller that was shocking enough to be sure to attract attention.  He succeeded.

COMMENTS: Lurid and grim, suspenseful and exciting, A Serbian Film is a well crafted, taut thriller that doesn’t insult one’s intelligence.  Sporting a chic visual signature and structured with a non-linear, temporally shifting plot, this sensational shocker fires off images that range from Continue reading CAPSULE: A SERBIAN FILM (2010)

CAPSULE: SOMEONE’S KNOCKING AT THE DOOR (2009)

DIRECTED BY: Chad Ferrin

FEATURING: , Andrea Renda, Jon Budinoff, Ricardo Gray, Silvia Spross, Ezzra [sic] Buzzington, Elina Madison

PLOT: The spirits of two possessed serial killers who rape their victims to death stalk drug

Still from Someone's Knocking at the Door (2008)

abusing medical students.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST:  If you want unlikeable, unbelievable characters and prosthetic mutant penises, this is your movie; if you want something scary or meaningfully weird, however, look elsewhere.

COMMENTS: The strangest thing about Someone’s Knocking at the Door isn’t the variety of killer genitalia on display, but the bed-hopping, skin-popping residents of what has to rank as the Princeton Review’s number one medical party school.  Besides engaging in frequently fatal kinky sex, these medicos in training spend most of their time taking speed, booze, ecstasy, nicotine, Xanax, Oxycontin, nitrous oxide, and attending Halloween parties where the students egg each other on with cries of “chug! chug! chug!”  Fortunately for the kids, when one of their compatriots is killed via graphic demonic anal rape, the school’s hippie chancellor gives them the week off to grieve at the kegger of their choice.  The students also get high off of vials of experimental psychiatric drugs, while listening to snuff audiotapes so they can catch up on the back story.  (Only after shooting up do they think to look up the drug’s side effects, which include increased sexual appetite, hallucinations, and possible coma.  Oops!)  In a stroke of good luck for the audience, the kids are all perfectly detestable human beings, which means we don’t mind much when possessed serial killers from the 1970s somehow show up to rape them to death.  Jon Budinoff, in particular, never says a kind or sincere word and punches his dates when they don’t put out; he’s so loathsome it’s impossible to believe he could have any friends at all.  On the other hand we recognize as the film’s moral conscience when he objects after finding his socially inept buddy groping a half-nude, comatose female partier who may have stopped breathing (although he’s not so judgmental as to try to stop him).  Knocking is a movie that would love to be offensive, but it keeps tripping over its own silliness.  Ridiculous plot and lack of characterization aside, the movie is technically competent, and director Chad Ferris does put some interesting and occasionally very weird ideas up on the screen.  All of the backgrounds are earth tones or sickly avocados; the film has the color scheme of a 1977 kitchenette.  The genital prosthetics are genuinely nightmarish (the film focuses on the phallus, but the other sex gets its moment to, er, shine as well).  Psychotic episodes are effectively conveyed through stuttering editing that mixes alternate views of the present with brief hallucinations, scored to eerie electronic noises.  At one point, the sound effects even mimic a malfunctioning dial-up modem, a scarier effect than you might think.  And, look closely at the funeral procession for an unexpectedly bizarre surprise.  Other odd moments include a fleeing female who falls a modern record seven times (!) while covering a mere ten feet as she’s chased by a shambling but sure-footed killer.  (In her defense, she may have been thrown off by the fact that the soundtrack was blaring an upbeat indie rock tune instead of the expected shrieking violins).  Add a twist ending you’ve seen before and a strong moral against injecting experimental psychiatric medications for kicks, and you have a strange, if uneven, modern exploitation horror.  If grindhouses existed today, this is what would be playing there.  A mixture of time-tested horror clichés, careless scriptwriting, and mucho grotesquerie, Knocking features enough sex, violence and general outrageousness to save it from being boring, and enough stylistic innovation to (mostly) camouflage its derivative slasher story.  Fans of modern disgusto horror will open up gleefully for Someone’s Knocking at the Door, but others will want to turn off all the lights and pretend no one’s home.

A title credit sequence featuring a vintage shower of pharmaceuticals cut with grainy 1960s home movies announces that this is a movie aimed squarely at the horror/stoner crowd, the genre’s largest unacknowledged demographic.  In a clever exploitation-style marketing move, the poster and DVD cover features black censor bars not only over exposed naughty bits, but also over the actors’ and actresses’ eyes, giving the movie an extra aura of pornographic depravity.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…eschews the standards of the youth-horror genre, opting instead for something more hallucinatory.”–Michael Gingold, Fangoria (DVD)

CAPSULE: SLAUGHTERED VOMIT DOLLS (2006)

Beware

DIRECTED BY:  Lucifer Valentine

FEATURING:  Ameara Lavey, Pig Lizzy, Maja Lee

PLOT: A bulimic teen makes a pact with the devil in this nonsensical odyssey of ICK!

Still from Slaughtered Vomit Dolls (2006)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST:  Despite it’s feature length and small cult following, Slaughtered Vomit Dolls is not really a movie at all, just a collage of clips. It was not structured to make any sort of sense, nor does it seem intended to be taken seriously. Regrettably, there does not appear to have been enough thought behind it to consider that it might be a joke on the audience, as was the case with Andy Warhol‘s notorious Sleep (1963).  Of course, I wanted to write about it as a joke. I was going to begin with an intro stating something to the effect that I always try to recommend good cinema. But my conscience won’t let me play that joke on you. The movie is really that bad.

COMMENTS: Abused teen Angela flees home, is sheltered by a lecherous priest, and sexually exploited by all she meets. Think Candy (1968), by Christian Marquand and Buck Henry, based on Terry (Dr. Strangelove) Southern’s novelized parody of Voltaire’s Candide. Only with mangled vignettes, jump cuts, smash cuts, blood, simulated violence, gore, heaving breasts, full frontal nudity, incoherent babbling, dancing bears, Nazism, and of course vomit. Lots of it. Minus the clever plot of Candy. OK, just kidding about the dancing bears and Nazism, but suffice it to say, Slaughtered Vomit Dolls makes Doors lead singer Jim Morrison’s UCLA film studies student project look like Citizen Kane.

Anyway, back to the “plot” (or lack of it). Drug addicted, alcoholic, and repeatedly used as a sexual bucket, a fed-up Angela refutes all worldly good and makes a pact with Satan in return for His protection. It doesn’t work out well. After setting fire to the priest’s church, Angela descends into stripping and prostitution, spiraling ever more furiously hell-bound, with lots of blood, gore, heaving breasts, full frontal nudity, vomit of course, and—oh wait, we already covered that.

Yup. That’s about it. Eye gouge scenes, raving girls rolling on the floor in religious mania, and naked strippers whom Valentine recruited from the local roadhouse. Hot, deranged, tormented, supple, quivering naked strippers covered with red corn syrup, sticking their fingers down their throats and retching on a glass table positioned over an upturned camera.

Apparently Lucifer Valentine is a film student with access to cameras, lights, makeup, and little in the way of clever ideas. He set out to make the ultimate work of shock value pop “art.” As pop “art,” it does indeed reflect abstract expressionism via a survey of superficial contemporary counter-cultural values: sex, drugs, rock and roll, violence, and nihilism. But so does a drive though Southeast LA. Valentine certainly succeeded in making the most deliberately offensive, ridiculous, non-nonsensical picture he could.

Only my most proudly deviant weirdo friends will want to see Slaughtered Vomit Dolls, the first entry in Valentine’s Vomit Gore Trilogy. (Yes, that’s right, there are three of these movies. The next two entries are the 2009 ReGOREgitated Sacrifice, and Slow Torture Puke Chamber [2010]). Yow!

All others avoid at all costs.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…everything on display here (including its at times ‘film-school-esque’ execution) seems all to deliberate. How can we shock? How can we be disgusting? How can we seem weird? How can we gain attention? When your viewer feels as if you were asking these questions during the ‘creative’ process, much of its potential integrity and/or effectiveness is lost.”–Lawrence P. Raffel, Monsters at Play (DVD)


Scenes from Slaughtered Vomit Dolls

74. VISITOR Q [Bijitâ Q] (2001)

“Some things are truly strange.”–Father from Visitor Q, preparing to commit an unnatural act

DIRECTED BY: Takashi Miike

FEATURING: Shungiku Uchida, Ken’ichi Endô, Kazushi Watanabe, Jun Mutô, Fujiko

PLOT: Father is a television reporter who was publicly humiliated when he was sodomized on camera by a gang of punks, Mother turns tricks to pay for her heroin habit, teenage Daughter is a runaway prostitute, and Son beats his mom with a riding crop when he’s not being bullied by his schoolmates.  One day, a strange man conks Father on the head with a rock and moves in to stay with the family.  Thanks to his influence Mother and Father gain confidence in themselves, and the family is drawn together, as corpses pile up in their home.

Still from Visitor Q (2001)
BACKGROUND:

  • Visitor Q was made as part of the “Love Cinema” project, where six independent Japanese filmmakers made direct-to-video movies to explore the possibilities of the ne digital video format.
  • According to Miike the film was shot for a mere seven million yen (about $70,000) and completed in one week.
  • There are several times in the film where boom mics are visible.
  • Miike’s  plot owes much to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Teorema (1968), in which a mysterious, nameless visitor serially seduces members of a wealthy Italian family.
  • Besides acting, the multi-talented Shungicu Uchida (“Mother”) is also a manga artist, singer, and writer.
  • Visitor Q was one of two winners of the 2010 “reader’s choice” poll asking 366 Weird Movies’ readership to select one film that had been reviewed but passed over for inclusion on the List of the 366 Best Weird Movies ever made.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: In a movie full of shock after shock, it’s the very last image, a scene of perverse family unity, that turns out to be the most affecting and haunting.

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Visitor Q is a baffling parable of perversity.  What starts out as a depraved but unhappy family ends up as a homicidal and unified clan, thanks to the intervention of a mysterious, omnipotent stranger who cracks the father on the skull with a rock and teaches the mother to lactate. Along the way, Miike films the family graphically indulging in every act of sexual deviance he can think of, and even makes up some new ones.

[wposflv src=http://366weirdmovies.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Visitor_Q.flv width=480 height=360 previewimage=http://366weirdmovies.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/visitor_q_still.jpg title=”Clip from Visitor Q”]
Short clip from Visitor Q

COMMENTSVisitor Q is a confounding, bewildering movie, and not just because of the Continue reading 74. VISITOR Q [Bijitâ Q] (2001)

72. ANTICHRIST (2009)

“If Ingmar Bergman had committed suicide, gone to hell, and come back to earth to direct an exploitation/art film for drive-ins, [Antichrist] is the movie he would have made.”–John Waters, “Artforum Magazine”

Must See

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: William Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg

PLOT: He and She (the characters are nameless) are making love when their child tumbles to his death out of a window. She falls into inconsolable grief, and He, a therapist, unwisely decides to take her under his personal care. When He discovers the root of She’s anxiety and irrational fears centers around a woodland retreat they call Eden, He forces her to go there to face her fears; but when they arrive, nature itself seems determined to drive them both mad.

Still from Antichrist (2009)

BACKGROUND:

  • Von Trier says that he was suffering from extreme depression when he made Antichrist and that working on the script and the film was a form of self-therapy. Von Trier was still depressed at the time of screening and sometimes had to excuse himself from the set.
  • In the title card and much of the promotional art, the “t” in “antichrist” is suggested by a figure combining the Christian cross and the symbol for “woman.”
  • The therapy He employs in the film is called “exposure therapy” (where an anxiety-ridden patient is gradually exposed to the source of their irrational fear); von Trier had undergone this treatment for his own anxiety problems, and thought little of the practice.
  • The idea for the fox came from a shamanic journey taken by von Trier.
  • Besides this film, British cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle also shot Slumdog Millionaire, for which he received the 2009 Academy Award, in the same year. Of the two, Antichrist, with its extreme slow-motion photography, was the more difficult and magnificently shot film.
  • Von Trier dedicated Antichrist to Andrei Tarkovsky, which caused jeers at Cannes and gave critical wags the opportunity to take deserved, if obvious, potshots (Jason Anderson’s “we now know what it would’ve been like if Tarkovsky had lived to make a torture-porn movie” was a typical dig).
  • The film’s Cannes reception was tumultuous, with audience members reportedly fainting, and hostility between the press and von Trier (who proclaimed himself “the world’s greatest director.”) Charlotte Gainsbourg won “Best Actress” for her brave and revealing performance. The film received a special “anti-humanitarian” prize from the ecumenical jury (a Cannes sub-jury with a Christian focus), who called Antichrist “the most misogynist movie from the self-proclaimed biggest director in the world.”

INDELIBLE IMAGE: Without doubt, the searing image is of the encounter between Charlotte Gainsbourg’s intimate prosthetic and a pair of rusty scissors. However indelibly gruesome this scene may be, however, it comes out of von Trier’s shock toolbox rather than from his weird shed. For an image with a power to make us do more than squirm, we turn to the scene where He and She are copulating in the woods, with her head resting on a bed of roots from a massive oak tree. The camera slowly pulls back to reveal a number of disembodied human hands sticking out at various places from between the oak limbs.

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Though the graphic torture-porn (and plain old-fashioned porn) elements have stolen the headlines and alienated viewers, at bottom this is von Trier’s spookiest and most mysterious film, a trip deep into the heart of darkness, and one the viewer may have as difficult a time returning home from intact as the characters do. The irrational horror of von Trier’s vision is only magnified by the sense that you aren’t so much watching a story of madness as watching a director going insane in real time, before your very eyes: he seems to lose control of his story as it progresses, turning the climax over to his internal demons for script-doctoring, before reasserting some measure of control of his material in a surreal epilogue.


Trailer for Antichrist (WARNING: contains non-explicit sexual content)

COMMENTS: Lars von Trier deserves to be roundly criticized for burdening Antichrist with four Continue reading 72. ANTICHRIST (2009)

BORDERLINE WEIRD: 964 PINOCCHIO (1991)

DIRECTED BY: Shozin Fukui

FEATURING: Haji Suzuki, Onn-Chan

PLOT: Pinocchio 964, a malfunctioning sex slave, is thrown out onto the street by his

Still from 964 Pinocchio (1991)

dissatisfied owner.  Without speech or memory he stumbles, literally, into the lap of an amnesiac woman, Himiko, who takes him home to care for him.  As her memory returns she undergoes a cruel personality change, returning Pinocchio to the mysterious corporation that made him.

WHY IT’S ON THE BORDERLINE: 964 Pinocchio is certainly weird, but doesn’t hang together as a totally coherent film.  However, days later, I was still thinking about it.  I don’t think that the film is a satisfying blend of the weird and the entertaining; in fact some sequences are seriously hard work.  Pinocchio deserves a second look in the future though, because odd and confusing as it was, distasteful as some scenes were, that sad sex slave worms his way into your mind.

COMMENTS: 964 Pinocchio is quite clearly a low budget film, but it is inventive, imaginative and uncompromising.  Many scenes are filmed guerrilla style, and I found myself looking sympathetically at the bemused bystanders during some of the full-on craziness.  A film which includes a three minute vomiting scene will not be to everyone’s taste; and it’s not as if that’s an uncharacteristic sequence.  964 Pinocchio is a wet, messy film throughout.  Pinocchio emits a flood of custardy mess from some unspecified point on his head; Himiko regurgitates mounds of porridgy vomit before rolling in it and re-ingesting it; the head of the company which made Pinocchio continually eats cherries from a bowl of spittle.  The film really screams in your face and refuses to apologize for any of its bizarre imagery.

The film introduces us to one of the two central characters, Pinocchio, as he flounders unwillingly in the middle of a M-F-F threesome.  It’s an unerotic sex scene intercut with shots of a man in vague surgical garb, a huge drill bit entering someone’s head, and a voice informing someone that their memory will not return.  The opening scene really lays the film’s cards on the table; it’s just going to get more confusing from here.  Thrown onto the streets for failing to perform sexually, Pinocchio stumbles into Himiko.  She’s sitting, looking through Continue reading BORDERLINE WEIRD: 964 PINOCCHIO (1991)

56. TAXIDERMIA (2006)

“Just as the body is overcome by desire, so naturalism is overcome by surrealism…”–György Pálfi, director’s statement to Taxidermia

Weirdest!

DIRECTED BY: György Pálfi

FEATURING: Csaba Czene, Gergö Trócsányi, Marc Bischoff

PLOT:  Three short stories exploring three perverted generations, beginning with an extremely horny soldier in the private service of a lieutenant.  His illegitimate child grows up to become a sport eater on the Hungarian national squad.  The grandchild is a socially inept taxidermist who cares for his grumpy, obese father and his caged cats.

Still from Taxidermia (2006)

BACKGROUND:

  • This was Pálfi’s second movie, after the just-as-weird but much gentler Hukkle.
  • The first two segments of the film are based on short stories by writer Lajos Parti Nagy.  Pálfi wrote the third episode himself.
  • While working on Taxidermia, Pálfi won the 2004 Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award, a $10,000 grant intended to be used to help the filmmaker create his next project.  The grant includes a promise for Japanese distribution for the completed film (estimated value: $90,000).

INDELIBLE IMAGE:  A man ejaculating a torrent of flame.  (Don’t worry, you won’t have to watch long to catch this sight).

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD:  By itself, the middle section of the triptych of stories—


English language trailer for Taxidermia

concerning the competitive eater with Olympic dreams—would have made a decidedly odd movie.  Flank that tale with stories of a WWII soldier with a hallucinatory libido and a taxidermist with demented aesthetics, stir with surrealism and garnish with grotesquerie, and you have one of the 366 Weirdest Movies of all time.

COMMENTS: Taxidermia will almost break the needle on your “I never thought I’d see Continue reading 56. TAXIDERMIA (2006)