Tag Archives: Grossout

CAPSULE: SASQUATCH SUNSET (2024)

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

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: David Zellner, Nathan Zellner

FEATURING: , Christophe Zajac-Denek, , Nathan Zellner

PLOT: A fictional nature documentary following a family of four (at first) Sasquatch trying to survive in the Pacific Northwest.

Still from Sasquatch Sunset (2024)

COMMENTS: Sasquatch Sunset has to think up some creative solutions to overcome the central problem of the premise, which is: it’s absolutely nuts. It’s a vignette-based, documentary-style work of imaginary anthropology about a mythical subspecies, starring a couple of famous actors who are unrecognizable in their Bigfoot fursuits, liberally spattered with sex and scatology. The fact that such an noncommercial property was able to get greenlit is a testament to the pull of “name” producers like and Jesse Eisenberg. The fact that it is an unlikely success is a credit to the talents of the Zellner brothers, who continue to push the oddball envelope after the cult success of their supernatural TV satire “The Curse.”

Sasquatch Sunset‘s chief gambit to keep you watching is to pepper its Animal Planet-esque scenes of a quartet of Bigfeet foraging for food and shelter with comedy—particularly, grossout comedy. There’s a Sasquatch sex scene in the first fifteen minutes, a bit of slapstick with a turtle who gets treated like a cellphone, skunk sniffing, and so on. You learn more about the Sasquatch reproductive system than you would ever want to know, capped by an unforgettable use for Bigfoot placenta. Perhaps the grossest and most absurd scene occurs when the family discovers a logging road, which disorients them so much with its unnatural regularity that they break into spastic gibbering fits and spontaneously evacuate all over themselves (including shock lactation.) Between these moments, you drink in the natural beauty of Pacific Northwest logging country, with its majestic redwoods, and try to count the infinite stars (along with one Bigfoot who can’t count past “ugh.”)

While the movie is entertaining you in its unpredictable way, it is also sneaking in empathy for its subjects—and making you wonder just how human they are. The beasts have humanizing traits and a sense of natural curiosity; the youngest even has an imaginary friend. Be prepared for family members to pass away, in grotesque and painful ways, and new ones to join the clam, at less than replacement rate. And, although no humans are seen (we are apparently as mythical to Bigfeet as they are to us), evidence of our presence sneaks in frequently; the mere sight of a red “X” on a sawed-down redwood confuses the anthropods, but raises alarm in us viewers. Several times, the Sasquatch family enacts a strange branch-banging ritual that suggests that they are more intellectually developed than they seem, and which may have a wistful significance.

The obvious precursors for Sasquatch Sunset are two works by Jean-Jacques Annaud: the prehistoric Quest for Fire (1981) and the ursine bildungsroman The Bear (1988). Both are fictional features set in primeval landscapes; the first uses a fake language of mostly caveman grunts, and the second has no dialogue at all. It’s a specialized subgenre, but one that was overdue for a revival. Scatological comedy was an unexpected addition to the formula, but one which makes intuitive sense; these pseudo-humans don’t share our bathroom taboos. But, as the melancholy title and odd ending makes clear, this story is a tragedy, not a comedy. At the end, the survivors stand in a world that’s not their own. They are the end of the line, their numbers are unsustainable, and their morphology is soon to become nothing more than an iconic curio suitable only for a roadside attraction.

One note: a lot of cinemas reported walkouts during screenings: often the sign of a weird movie, but in this case maybe the sign of a gross movie. This was not the case when I watched it, as I was the only one in the theater.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Consistently weird and frequently wonderful, ‘Sasquatch Sunset’ uses its high-concept premise to consider a host of themes: collective living, coexistence with nature, longing stirred by seclusion.”–Natalia Winkelman, The Boston Globe (contemporaneous)

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

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

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: DICKS: THE MUSICAL (2023)

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

Dicks: The Musical can be rented or purchased on-demand.

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: Josh Sharp, Aaron Jackson, , Megan Mullally, Bowen Yang, Megan Thee Stallion

PLOT: Craig and Trevor, two alpha male salesmen, discover they are identical twins separated at birth, and scheme to get their eccentric parents back together to form a family.

Still from Dicks: the Musical (2023)

COMMENTS: If you’re offended by a portrayal of God as a foul-mouthed gay Asian who’s cool with incest, you’re Dicks: The Musical‘s target audience. That is to say, director Larry Charles is targeting you, the way Ron DeSantis targets a Disney princess drag queen elementary school read-along. With consent jokes, vagina jokes, on-screen gay sex jokes, and (lots of) jokes mocking straight white men, Dicks finds ways to shock in this unshockable age.

Dicks‘ desire to transgress is its strength and its weakness. There’s a place in the cinema universe for mid-budget midnight movies in the “I really shouldn’t be laughing at this “mode, and they don’t come around that often. (Rocky Horror made a lot of grandmas blush in its day; the 1999 South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut is probably the last major release with a similar traumatize-the-squares strategy.) On the other hand, it can be tiresome to watch a movie that’s this in-your-face all the time. At some point, my face got tired of having Dicks in it. I can’t say I laughed out loud too often, but I did gasp out loud at one grossout scene near the end (I suspect you’ll know which one I’m referring to when you see it). The funniest bit—perhaps tellingly—is a tongue-in-cheek post-credits sequence where Nathan Lane wonders how his showbiz career has come down to him spitting chewed-up lunch meat at puppets.

Despite not looking that much alike, stars Sharp and Johnson are indistinguishable, both to each other in-movie sense and in the function of their characters. They really are two men playing one character: well-endowed (or so they loudly sing) alpha male salesmen who score with the babes but are not-so-surprisingly repressed homosexuals. The real fun to be had here is in watching Mullaly and Lane as outrageously inappropriate parents who would (or at least, should) embarrass NYC’s most shameless narcissists.

Surprisingly, Mullaly is a great singer; equally surprisingly, given his long Broadway career, Lane is not (although he makes up for it with ace comedic timing). The songs are mostly amusing and perfectly serviceable, with Megan Thee Stallion’s “Out Alpha the Alpha” rap (which features her walking men on dog leashes) serving as the show-stopper. With its sneering Black-girl swagger, “Alpha” sounds just like a regular Megan Thee Stallion hit (I assume; can’t say I’ve ever heard a Megan Thee Stallion song).

The movie’s weird credentials come in the form of a pair of running-joke parental eccentricities: Lane’s pet “Sewer Boys,” two troll-like creatures he keeps in a cage and feeds masticated ham, and Mullaly’s detached vagina, which “fell off” one day (and walked away!) but which she now keeps in her handbag. We see it. It ain’t pretty. But Dicks ain’t about pretty, except for “that’s pretty gross.”

Dicks: the Musical is a strange project even for A24, which is now reportedly pivoting to more mainstream fare after the Oscar success of Everything Everywhere all at Once. This outrageous niche release buttresses their image as the studio willing to risk money on bizarre projects, but it’s ultimately a loss leader: the poorly attended theatrical release (a gross of a little over a million against its twelve-mil budget) will be followed by a much sooner than average appearance on VOD starting November 10.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…a decidedly big swing and a genuinely weird take on the musical that has its moments, but also feels a bit stretched too thin given its concept. There are absolutely highs to this weird wonderland of genitals and Sewer Boys—especially with that third act—but for a comedy that needs to build and build to this idea justice, Dicks: The Musical too often relies on the same jokes told over and over again with a narrative that can’t continuously build the absurdity.”–Ross Bonaime, Collider (festival screening)

IT CAME FROM THE READER-SUGGESTED QUEUE: HAGGARD (2003)

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

DIRECTED BY: Bam Margera

FEATURING: Ryan Dunn, Brandon DiCamillo, Bam Margera, Jenn Rivell

PLOT: Ryan, aka “Random Hero,” is depressed over having been dumped by his girlfriend Glauren (‽) in favor of a dim-yet-confident lunk named Hellboy; his sulkiness irritates best friend Valo, who determines to break him out of his funk.

Still from Haggard (2003)

COMMENTS: If all Bam Margera and Brandon DiCamillo ever did was the CKY (Camp Kill Yourself) series of videos, they still would have staked out a tiny corner for themselves in entertainment history. These collections of outrageous stunts, puerile pranks, and skateboarding tricks earned a following that eventually included the producers of MTV’s “Jackass.” Invited to contribute to the show, the CKY crew generally did their own thing out in West Chester, Pennsylvania, to be edited into the Hollywood hijinks later. The transformation of Jackass into a movie franchise only brought them more fame, but Margera & Co.’s wildness became too much even for Johnny Knoxville and his band of idiots. Margera got fired, and troupe member Ryan Dunn died after smashing up his car while intoxicated leagues above the legal limit. 

Some people might be surprised to discover that the CKY videos weren’t all Margera & Co. did. In fact, they made more than one attempt to graft their brand of messy, violent humor onto a narrative. In doing so, they followed the number one maxim of storytelling: write what you know. In this case, what they know is bumming around town looking for something to do, drinking too much while depressed over being dumped, and skateboarding.

The film makes no apologies for the fact that nearly all its characters are emotional adolescents. Our Random Hero is deeply unpleasant, launching into a harangue at a girl in a coffee shop so intense that she stabs him in the eye with a fork. Glauren is a tramp with the emotional needs of the men who wrote her. (“I can play all the games I want at the bar,” she teases Ryan.) Side characters include a nude video-game playing distributor of advice called Naked Dave, a toga-clad old man who hangs out in a hot tub while topless girls feed him grapes, and a bunch of women who appear near the film’s conclusion primarily to facilitate a set of makeout sessions.

As you might expect, there are a lot of crazy, gross-out moments thrown in to hold your attention. These range from the genuinely hilarious (a random man clocks Dunn over the head with a watermelon) to the disappointingly crude (Valo and Falcone tape turds to Glauren’s garage door) to the outright inexplicable (Ryan injures himself while perched naked atop a bathroom sink masturbating). The film also traffics in randomness as a source of humor, most notably in a side plot about DiCamillo trying to invent a “reverse microwave.” It’s the kind of small joke that would serve as a minor running gag in most movies, but here gets a lot of screen time to explore the hunt for supplies, the competitors in an invention contest, and the diamond-crusted bicycle that serves as prize.

And when there’s nothing else to say or do, everybody goes skateboarding. Too much stress in everyone’s lives? Skateboarding. Flashing back to happier times? Skateboarding.  (Who’s that making a cameo as a cop who arrests Ryan for hurling his empties at a cinderblock wall? Why, it’s skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, of course.) Considering that’s how he made his name, it’s not at all surprising that Margera would hold a special place for street surfing, but it’s pretty funny how little effort he makes to disguise Haggard’s hidden agenda as a skateboarding delivery system.

As a director, Margera is not untalented. The film moves along briskly, the cast of mostly amateurs is enthusiastic and game, and he enlists cohort Joseph Frantz behind the camera to capture some intriguing angles and settings. But as a storyteller, he’s way too sure that he and his friends’ hijinks and witty repartee are enough to do the job, and they just aren’t. Margera thinks he’s making Clerks with skateboards, but sadly, Haggard doesn’t have a tenth of the wit of Clerks. Making a narrative movie out of a series of stunt videos is a bodacious trick. Haggard just can’t land it.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Well, if you loved MTV’s obnoxious, over the top dumb-stunt show Jackass then you’ll love this weird, profane comedy as well…”–The Indie Film Cafe

(This movie was nominated for review by JoE, who raved “If i could compare it’s comedy to anything, it would be Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” but then confessed “It has my official seal of approval, which means absolutely nothing lol.” Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)

IT CAME FROM THE READER-SUGGESTED QUEUE: DEATHGASM (2015)

DIRECTED BY: Jason Lei Howden

FEATURING: Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman, Sam Berkley, Daniel Cresswell

PLOT: Brodie, a dopey New Zealand metalhead, finds magical sheet music that summons a dark demon and turns the populace of a small town into homicidal abominations.

Still from Deathgasm (2015)

COMMENTS: “No way!” protests Brodie when the girl he’s sweet on asks if heavy metal music isn’t just a bunch of guys screaming. And then he considers the question. “Well… apart from grindcore,” he admits, “and death metal is kind of like that.” Thinking further: “And deathcore, screamo, pornogrind, black metal, metalcore, thrash, and murdercore. But apart from those…”

Brodie has no apology to give, and neither does Deathgasm, which has two very simple and straightforward messages to deliver: gore is fun, and metal rocks. Those two credos are delivered very efficiently, with both glorious teenage doofiness and spectacularly gross carnage. 

The lines couldn’t be drawn more starkly: Brodie, the metalhead with a mentally-ill mom, finds himself dropped into a decidedly non-metal-appreciating small town, populated by his holy-roller aunt and uncle, his bullying cousin, and an indifferent community. Under these conditions, he finds solidarity in the few places he can, including a pair of role-playing nerds, a sympathetic record store owner, and the only other hard rocker in town, Zakk. Zakk’s many skills include thievery, wounding classmates, making napalm to carve the words “HAIL SATIN” (sic) into a field, and of course bass-playing, so the four outcasts form the eponymous band. (We get to see them film their video for “Intestinal Bungy Jump,” a release on Crowbar Abortion Records. Their bonafides must not be questioned.) It’s in pursuit of even harder stuff that they raid the ramshackle house of a forgotten metal legend, and that’s when the blood starts to flow.

Director Howden has a skillful visual sense of humor, deploying edits to great effect (such as when Zakk is revealed to be stealing fuel from an ambulance). He also has a adolescent’s love of fluids, as there seems to be no end to the blood, vomit, bile, feces, and other bodily effluvia that spews forth. To his credit, he is constantly coming up with more extreme ways to build upon the bloody mayhem, with a particular appreciation for the inappropriate. Sex toys, it turns out, make for excellent weapons, and genitals are just good a target to take out the undead as a bullet to the brain. The humor Deathgasm is going for seems to be a blend of the winking dryness of Shaun of the Dead, the outlandish grotesquerie of the Evil Dead series, and the go-for-broke gleefulness of fellow Kiwi Peter Jackson’s low-budget productions; on that level, it delivers the goods.

When it comes to that list of forebears, though, Deathgasm’s approach feels awfully mathematical, as though it was carefully measuring out portions of each of those inspirations. There’s plenty of shock, but not a whole lot of surprise. There are a couple interesting twists: the slick villain who appears to be our heroes’ greatest foe is amusingly usurped by a seemingly incidental character, and the fate of Brodie’s awful cousin is genuinely hilarious. But even the most successful elements are satisfying without necessarily being inspired. It’s great to see Medina, Brodie’s eventual love interest, start to give herself over to the open-hearted release of metal, culminating in the breakthrough moment where she first listens to the disc Brodie loans her and is immediately transported to a distant mountaintop with hot babes writhing at her feet. But while her additional transformation into a badass zombie fighter is delightful, it’s not really motivated by anything but our desire to see it. Deathgasm entertains, but it often feels like it’s checking boxes on a list of horror must-haves.

And it must be said that as much as Deathgasm carries the flag for metal music, metal does seem to be at the root of all the problems that ensue. The dedicated pursuit of “devil music” as a means to be transgressive leads our heroes to find literal devil music. And the more experienced and dedicated metalhead, Zakk, is quite the jerk. As much as this movie proudly thrusts devil horns into the air, you wouldn’t be wrong to think that it’s not entirely on the genre’s side.

Deathgasm has a blessedly simple and pure goal: it wants to rock. Let the record show that it does, playing all the hits, sometimes with a catchy sound. But it’s not too strange, not too far off a path traveled before. Think of it as comfort-horror, or maybe liquid metal.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Deathgasm combines the visual flair of Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World with the manic, gory energy of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2… Howden also fills Deathgasm with shockingly weird moments that catch you off guard… So many bizarre forms of murder and mutilation are up on the screen that it would be impossible to count them all.”–Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat

(This movie was nominated for review by Lovecraft In Brooklyn, who described it as “Kinda Evil Dead ish.” Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)