DIRECTED BY: Jan Svankmajer
FEATURING: Pavel Liska, Jan Tríska, Anna Geislerová
PLOT: A mentally unbalanced man meets a modern day Marquis de Sade, who convinces him to check himself into a bizarre asylum where the patients roam free.
WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: Readers may think I’m a lunatic myself for not inducting this tale involving the Marquis de Sade, an asylum run by chicken-farming lunatics, and animated steaks onto the List of the 366 Best Weird Movies on the first ballot. To tell the truth, Lunacy comes about as close as a movie can to being a first-ballot inductee without making it. In defense of my decision to leave it off the List for the time being, I point out that Lunacy may actually be Jan Svankajer’s most conventional movie. If you mentally remove the startling but inessential stop-animation transitions between scenes, then squint hard, it looks like just a regular horror movie; the director insists as much in his prologue to the film. Given that this is Svankmajer’s most “normal” and accessible movie, if Lunacy makes the List, then all the Czech director’s work should automatically make it.
COMMENTS: The trailer explains that ” Edgar Allan Poe + the Marquis de Sade + Jan Svankmajer = Lunacy.” It’s self-evident that combining these three uniquely perverse talents should produce something singularly strange; the fun in watching the movie is in seeing how they actually mix. Poe adds the least to the recipe, providing mere plot. Adaptations of two different stories by the doom-laden 19th century Romantic make appearances here; one is a digression from the main plotline that’s fun but unnecessary, while the other supplies the basic conceit for the entire second half of the movie. Because the first half of the film is devoted to a long introduction to the characters, with that excursion into an interesting but unrelated Poe tale, Lunacy‘s story doesn’t flow as well as it might; the plot doesn’t really get started in earnest until the movie hits the halfway mark on its run time. Other than basic story ideas, there is not much of a “Poe” feel to the rest of the film, except whatever lingering flavor comes from the passive, psychologically tormented protagonist Jean (stringy-haired, Continue reading LIST CANDIDATE: LUNACY [SILENI] (2005)