Tag Archives: Richard Bailey


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The Dark Sisters can be rented or purchased on-demand.

DIRECTED BY: Richard Bailey

FEATURING: , Edna Gill, Kristin Colaneri

PLOT: Two sisters reunite by a remote lake some time after a mutually-perpetrated crime.

COMMENTS: Thieves gonna thieve, amiright?

And whether you want him to or not, Richard Bailey is going to make his movies in his own way. Plenty of cryptic—or even patently incomprehensible—films cross our desk here, and we approach each title with an open mind and an eye on purpose. It was only during the final act of The Dark Sisters (and then, only after a politely brazen hint from the filmmaker) that I cottoned on to just what this movie is all about. Bailey is an ideas man, one who has things to say about life and mind, and he is keen to converse with the viewer.

On the surface, The Dark Sisters concerns two sisters attempting to bridge a gulf that has grown between them during intervening years of separation after a grisly experience. Kicking back lakeside for this reunion, things quickly become not what they seem, and even, if I may conjecture briefly, not even what they are. This is a story of two sisters; this is a story of vengeance; this is a story of redeeming the wicked; this is a story of reflections, doubles, synthesis, and the fusion between perception, reality, and memory. And it’s not even really about the sisters, for that matter.

With his poetic-essayical dialogue, lingering shots and scans of a delightful primordial lake, fractured plot structuring, and philosophical musings, Bailey tracks a number of things here. My own takeaway from this methodically furled string of musings and images is that The Dark Sisters is a story about the story—about the act of storytelling, touching on the facets of that that age-old phenomenon and attempting to present this nigh indescribable (and wholly human) pass-time (a designation I use with no sense of flippancy; time is what we have, and pass it we must). Through archetype, rumination, sonic cues, and honey-glazed nature, The Dark Sisters seeks the heart of what occurs when we gather to talk and make sense of ourselves and everything around us.

Listen to our interview with Richard Bailey about The Dark Sisters.


“In some ways The Dark Sisters reminds me of films like Mickey Reece’s Climate of the Hunter. Things aren’t normal, but they’re not full-blown weird or bizarre either. It’s as though everything simply shifted a few degrees away from what we expect them to be, and we have to figure out why.”–Jim Morazzini, Voices from the Balcony (contemporaneous)


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Audio only link (Soundcloud download)

Quick links/Discussed in this episode:

The Dark Sisters (2023): Richard Bailey interview begins. Two sisters reconnect at a woodland retreat; a dark secret from the past resurfaces. Dreamlike drama/mystery (with brief animated scenes) from , now available on VOD. The Dark Sisters official FaceBook page.

Astrakan (2022): Discussion begins. Read Gregory J. Smalley’s review. This bleak and ultra-realistic French childhood drama with a surrealistic coda has been available on VOD, but arrives this week in a Blu-ray edition (with no special features advertised). Buy Astrakan.

Barbarella (1968): Discussion begins. Read the Canonically Weird entry! Arrow releases the grooviest, sexiest space opera of the 60s on 4K UHD. Be aware there are two options for purchase: a 2-disc Blu-ray set (movie + extras) or a a set with the film on 4K UHD and the same Blu-ray of extra features. Buy Barbarella (1968).

Bloodsucking Freaks (1976): Discussion begins. Read Gregory J. Smalley’s review. When you think of classic movies that need to be restored and memorialized in lavish 4K UHD special editions, Bloodsucking Freaks naturally tops the list. Buy Bloodsucking Freaks.

Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973): Discussion begins. Read the Canonically Weird entry! American Film Genre Archives restores and re-releases this bizarre Western monster movie on Blu-ray. The Legend of Bigfoot (1975) is included as a bonus feature, along with three shorts from the Something Weird archives. Buy Godmonster of Indian Flats.

Happer’s Comet (2022): Discussion begins. Read Giles Edwards’ festival capsule. The contemplative non-narrative experimental feature, ‘s followup to his strange narrative feature Ham on Rye, turns up on Blu-ray this week. Buy Happer’s Comet.

“WandaVision: the Complete Series”: Discussion begins. Read Shane Wilson’s review. Marvel’s sitcom take on superheros is likely to be the closest thing to “weird” that the studio ever attempts. Buy “WandaVision: the Complete Series”.


Director Andrew Rakich and producer Veronika Payton, of the upcoming period folk horror The Sudbury Devil, will be the guests on next week’s Pod 366. The following week we’ll have some guests on from video collective , before taking a Christmas break and coming back Dec. 28 with our 2023 wrap-up pod.

In written reviews, Shane Wilson endures another that Came from the Reader-Suggested Queue with the 2001 experimental Spanish art film A Dog Called Pain; Giles Edwards will write up his thoughts on this week’s Pod subject, The Dark Sisters (2023); and Gregory J. Smalley, back from his secret mission, plans to cover Deaf Crocodile’s latest crazed cartoon unearthed from behind the Iron Curtain, Visitors from the Arkana Galaxy (1981). Onward and weirdward!


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

Audio only link (Soundlcoud download)

Quick links:

Bat Pussy: https://youtu.be/iA0f4KJ7Mto?t=60

Damselvis, Daughter of Helvis: https://youtu.be/iA0f4KJ7Mto?t=165

Blood for Dracula: https://youtu.be/iA0f4KJ7Mto?t=406

Crimes of the Future: https://youtu.be/iA0f4KJ7Mto?t=678

The Lukas Moodysson Collection: https://youtu.be/iA0f4KJ7Mto?t=933h

Sylvio: https://youtu.be/iA0f4KJ7Mto?t=1110

Uncle Kent 2: https://youtu.be/iA0f4KJ7Mto?t=1338

Young Sherlock Holmes: https://youtu.be/iA0f4KJ7Mto?t=1586

Richard Bailey interview begins: https://youtu.be/iA0f4KJ7Mto?t=1666

Discussed in this episode:

Richard Bailey’s Tropic Pictures

Bat Pussy (197?): Female vigilante Bat Pussy (Dora Dildo) tries to thwart a middle-aged couple from making a pornographic film, but ends up joining in. It’s ugly people attempting flaccid sex and may be the worst, least arousing pornographic film ever made—but you don’t soon forget the sight of Bat Pussy bouncing across the countryside on her Bat Space Hopper. Runs less than an hour, but is presented in two cuts (a print with extra footage was discovered in 2019 and dutifully restored), with shorts and the bonus porno feature Robot Love Slaves. Not recommended on any level, but if you must… buy Bat Pussy.

Blood for Dracula [AKA Andy Warhol’s Dracula] (1974): Read Alfred Eaker’s review. ‘s ultracampy take on Dracula has been reissued before, bit Severin gives it the ultimate presentation: the set includes a 4K UHD disc, a standard Blu-ray, and a soundtrack CD. Buy Blood for Dracula.

Crimes of the Future (2022): Read Gregory J. Smalley’s review. What could easily be ‘s final film—the culmination of his career-long body horror obsession—arrives on Blu-ray. Buy Crimes of the Future.

Damselvis, Daughter of Helvis (1994): The ghost of country singer Helvis visits his daughter, Damselvis, in a dream and sends her on a quest to resurrect him. The rarely-seen debut of rockabilly-surrealist auteur John Micheal McCarthy gets a Blu-ray release. Buy Damselvis, Daughter of Helvis.

“The Lukas Moodysson Collection”: Moodysson has a distinguished output, but his work has alternated between social dramas and what we might call “elevated sexploitation” rather than weird cinema per se. A couple of exceptions may be the shocking amateur porn expose A Hole in the Heart and Container (a truly experimental avant-garde movie, and one with many detractors). Other titles in Arrow’s complete set are Fucking Amal, Together, Lilya 4-Ever, Mammoth, and the relatively family-friendly We Are the Best! Buy “The Lukas Moodysson Collection.

Sylvio (2017): Read Giles Edwards’ review. Recently re-released to VOD, this gentle but absurd tale of a gorilla who realizes his dream of bringing his puppet show to a local audience is now on Blu-ray. Buy Sylvio.

Uncle Kent 2: Uncle Kent goes to ComicCon and loses his mind as the apocalypse approaches. What a weird idea: a sequel to a mumblecore drama almost no one saw, re-imagined as a surreal comedy by strangeoid . Buy Uncle Kent 2.

Young Sherlock Holmes (1985): Read Gregory J. Smalley’s review. This would-be 80s fantasy blockbuster charmed some youngsters upon its initial release and became a minor cult film; Paramount debuts it on Blu-ray in a “limited edition.”  Buy Young Sherlock Holmes.


Voting is ongoing in the 2022 Weirdcademy Awards (including shorts). If you haven’t voted yet, you can do so until March 11.

Depending on scheduling issues, next week on Pod 366 our guest will be producer Ali Aksu (Fuzzy Head) (if not next week, then soon thereafter). In next week’s reviews, Shane Wilson takes on another one that Came from the Reader-Suggested Queue with La Teta et la Luna (“The Tit and the Moon,” 1994) while takes a look at the minimalist experimental horror Skinamarink (now playing exclusively on Shudder for the time being).

Also, we will be hosting more Weird Watch Parties this week! You can see the schedule in the sidebar, but we’ll reiterate here:

Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 9:00 PM ET: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1990) on Tubi via Discord (free)

Friday, Feb. 10 at 10:30 PM ET: Spider Baby (1967) on Tubi via Discord (free)

Onward and weirdward!


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

King Judith can be rented or purchased on-demand.

DIRECTED BY: Richard Bailey

FEATURING: , Joanna Schellenberg, Jenny Ledel, Emily Ernst, Rhonda Boutte

PLOT: A police detective investigates a car crash which ends the lives of three women and triggers the disappearance of a fourth.

Still from King Judith (2022)

COMMENTS: Viewer discretion is advised: this film is best viewed as a treatise on American feminist folklore. The plot’s threads remain unwoven until a quiet reveal at the finish, and even then the pervasive mystery is not put to rest. This method of storytelling is in keeping with the Southern Gothic style, relying heavily on ambience and spirituality—both religious and otherwise. The ethereal-but-anchored tone also echoes the subject matter: ghosts, memories, and revenants. And despite the sun-infused imagery and wispy, often (overly) poetical dialogue, there is a sense of unspecifiable loss wrapped around the ambiguous happenings.

The facts at hand are scant. Known: three women died in a car crash while en route to a “macabre literary festival.” Known: the sudden appearance on the road of a fourth woman, recently evicted from her tent-home of twenty years, triggered the crash; this woman’s whereabouts are unknown. Known: this tragedy is followed by a series of deaths-of-despair on the parts of several ostensible witnesses. Through the detective’s interviews with the victims’ friends and associates, and obliquely pertinent poems sent to her by an unknown observer, the meandering turns of events are uncovered. But what it all adds up to remains opaque, both for the film’s protagonist and for the audience.

While enduring the first third of the movie, I felt a growing apprehension—the bad kind. I feared I would have to spend an entire review dumping on an unlucky indie filmmaker. The opening mystery-tedium and the lead actress’ unconvincing performance (imagine a keen twelve-year-old girl attempting to come across as a thirty-something “seen-it-all” kind of cop) nearly sunk it. To my relief, King Judith manages to transcend both the sum of its parts and its myriad flaws. (As with anything “Southern” or “Gothic”, patience pays off, in this case handsomely.) The second act opens with a bar scene in which writer/director Bailey at last finds his storytelling voice. What follows is an encounter where an awkward fellow beautifully regales a childhood ghost experience, and the young woman he’s speaking with (one of the three car-crash victims) in turn share the amusing story of the “Mounted Aristotle” caper from Alexandrian times.

King Judith never fully shakes off its pretensions; there are too many random shots of poetical movement in front of poetical backdrops, plenty of “quirky” artist characters, and dialogue of the “…reckless urges to climb celestial trellises, and slide down them” variety by the bucketful. The grandiloquence is heading somewhere, however, and its meandering way covers interesting intersections of folklore and psyche, feminist and otherwise. And Richard Bailey’s detective-story frame is apt. In the world of memory, tales, history, the supernatural, and the hereafter, there are “no answers to our questions, only rewards—fascinating details, luminous things; on and on it goes: the work of gathering clues.”

Kind Judith is currently streaming for free on Tubi.


“…a weird little film that mixes folklore, and Southern Gothic, with a dose of women’s studies, and comes up with something that feels almost like a stage play that was adapted for the screen.”–Jim Morazzini, Voices from the Balcony (contemporaneous)


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

DIRECTED BY: Richard Bailey

FEATURING: Hilly Holsonback, Hannah Weir, Ike Duncan, Cameron McElyea

PLOT: Jeanie, an aimless young woman, is arrested after she murders a man with an axe; a cult of personality forms around her after a prison guard claims to see her levitating.

Still from A Ship of Human Skin (2019)

COMMENTS: I always appreciate it when an independent film is aware of the limitations of its budget, and opts to make use of those limitations to enhance its atmosphere and themes.

Such is, for the most part, the case with Richard Bailey’s A Ship of Human Skin. The film is very minimalist in its presentation; the cast is small, and the sets are limited (the film gets a great deal of mileage out of some gorgeous shots of the Texas landscape, and a fifteen-minute sequence that covers several months of Jeannie’s life is shot entirely in a single room). However, this minimalism lines up well with the narrative, which follows a pair of young women who feel isolated and frustrated by their monotonous lives in “the boonies.” By confining these characters to a sparse handful of backdrops and surrounding them with only a small group of people, the film directly evokes the protagonists’ sense of seclusion, and of having been “handed over from birth into emptiness.”

Of course, thanks to its constrained budget, there are also aspects of the film that feel underdeveloped. Ship suggests that Jeannie has amassed a cult-like following. However, its limited resources mean that it can only convey this mass fascination through a few scenes of a small number of secondary characters discussing her supposedly mystical nature. While we’re frequently told that Jeannie is as a messianic figure, it’s an element which doesn’t feel substantial. Instead, the central focus is on studying Jeannie as a character, as well as the environment in which the murder she commits takes place. We examine her dispassionate attitude to societal convention that ultimately leads her to an unhappy life of prostitution and dope-dealing; and we’re shown how, despite her lack of education, she is sharp-minded in her own way, with opinions on such matters as personal identity and the internalized significance of particular words. It’s an overall engaging look at a character who, neglected by society, is forced to channel her considerable intelligence into seeking meaning in abstract concepts and alternative belief systems, which leads her down a path of paranoia that ultimately drives her to violence.

Of course, a character-driven film depends upon a strong cast; but A Ship of Human Skin is middling in that regard. The cast consists mostly of unknowns, and a good number of them carry their roles well (Hannah Weir, in particular, does a largely excellent job of bringing out the meek and rather simple, yet fiercely loyal personality of Jeannie’s close friend Saribeth). However, Hilly Holsonback, who plays Jeannie—while not a bad actress by any means—does not quite exude the fierce charisma and conviction that Jeannie is treated as possessing. Nevertheless, she bears through the film’s emotional climaxes relatively well, and manages to convey the character in her more subdued moments.

The film plays fast and loose with its presentation, alternating between styles of a documentary and a theatrical narrative. All the way through, however, it maintains a deliberately slow pace and dreamlike atmosphere, further emphasizing the slow and monotonous existence that the main characters endure—which, in turn, inspires their drug-fueled search for significance in the abstract philosophies that they create for themselves. Much like the secondary characters who introduce us to Jeannie, we are made to feel very much like curious outsiders looking in on Jeannie’s life, knowing only vague details at first, and slowly piecing together the mindset and circumstances that drove her to violence. Truth be told, the ultimate explanation for Jeannie’s actions ends up anticlimactic and mundane in comparison with the strong air of mystery that the film builds around it; but nonetheless, it is set up well, lending the film an unusual combination of surrealism and logical progression.

A Ship of Human Skin is first and foremost a character study. It does an admirable job of balancing a haunting atmosphere of dreamlike minimalism with a refreshing look at the path that intelligent but disaffected young women like Jeannie can be forced down. There are aspects that could have been built up or ironed out; but overall, Richard Bailey’s feature-length directorial debut shows a resourcefulness and a talent for evoking a strong atmosphere that will surely serve him well in any future forays into weird cinema.


“Problem is, these girls cannot act and it comes off as unintended comedy… Before we get to them, the film starts off in cheesy poetry done by a weird G-Man impersonation…  if you are a fan of fun-bad movies like The Room, or more closely, Fateful Findings, you will have ‘Decent’ enjoyment with A Ship of Human Skin. For everyone who wants to watch a good thriller about drug abuse, there’s a million better options out there, trust me!”–Pond’s Press (festival screening)