WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 12/9/2011

A look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs, and on more distant horizons…

Trailers of new release movies are generally available on the official site links.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

“Santa’s Cool Holiday Film Festival”: Headlined by Santa Claus Conquers the Martians with a handful of retro Christmas-themed shorts tossed in to pad the running time to a jolly two hours, the ad copy for this Holland releasing production sure makes it sound like the kind of thing our readers would dig:  ” a bunch of the very rarest (and sometimes weird) Christmas filmic moments… these mind-boggling artifacts will seem either surreal or cheesy – or both.”  It’s got fairly wide distribution with playdates from Dec. 2 to 23, so be sure to check the calendar to see if and when it’s screening near you.  Santa’s Cool Holiday Film Festival official site.

IN DEVELOPMENT:

‘Manos’, the Hands of Fate (1966) restoration:  Seriously.  Ben Solovey (presumably the same Ben Solovey who was an assistant cameraman on Bitch Slap) is spending his free time making a high-definition restoration of the jaw-droppingly awful Manos (read our review) from a work print he bought at an Ebay auction.  We’re in the camp that says cleaning up Manos‘ infamously murky look can’t help but hurt the film’s odd appeal (as Joel Hodgson famously observed, “Every frame of this movie looks like somebody’s last known photograph.”)  Still, the old muddy, cruddy PD print will still be available for those of us who want to view the movie the way it was meant to be see, so why not restore it for those who think all Manos needs is a new paint job?  ‘Manos’ in HD blog.

Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (2012):  The Cartoon Network cult comics get their own billion dollar extravaganza, but blow the entire budget on celebrity cameos by Jeff Goldblum, , and Will Ferrell, among others.  The plot has something to do with shrim [sic].  Debuting in theaters March 2, and on video-on-demand in January. Tim and Eric’s homepage.

NEW ON DVD:

A Cadaver Christmas (2011): $7,000, -inspired, faux-grindhouse zom-coms are a dime a dozen.   This one, about a janitor fending off the living dead at a university during Christmas break, should have a leg up: it actually got a good review in Variety.  That favorable notice apparently didn’t help the makers snag a distribution deal, however, as they’re currently stuck self-distributing the finished product from their website.  A Cadaver Christmas official site.

“Elvira’s Movie Macabre: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)/Beast from the Haunted Cave (1959)”:  Scarily cleavalicious horror hostess Elvira hosts the true-to-its-title seasonal absurdity, with a cheapie Roger Corman creature feature filling out the double bill.  Serious question: is that really sexagenarian Cassandra Peterson still tramping around as Elvira, or did they slip a new actress into the role without telling anyone? Buy “Elvira’s Movie Macabre: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians / Beast From Haunted Cave.

“Found Footage Festival, Vol. 1: Live from Brooklyn” (2006): The folks at Found Footage Festival have been collecting awkward, embarrassing bits of pop-culture effluvia from VHS instructional tapes, public access TV shows, and other moldy sources since 2004.  They have released these DVD collections of their finds before this (you can find even more volumes to buy at their website), but this compilation shows up as a new release this week, presumably because they now have a serious distributor in Lorber.  Buy “The Found Footage Festival: Volume 1”.

“The Found Footage Festival, Vol. 2” (2007): More zero-budgeted, misbegotten zaniness from the curators of crud. Special note to lonely male 366 readers: this compilation includes the title “How to Seduce Women Through Hypnosis.”  Buy “The Found Footage Festival: Volume 2”.

Histoire(s) du Cinéma (1998): Cinephile alert!  Jean-Luc Goddard’s decades in the making, 4-part, 266-minute poem/essay on the history of film—told with overlapping images and optical effects as well as the auteur’s own odd reflections—is released on Region 1 for the first time.  Thanks Olive Films! Histoire(s) Du Cinema.

Mammuth (2010): To correct a paperwork snafu, a recent retiree played by Gerard Depardieu hops on his motorcycle and treks across modern France to track down his last ten employers in this quirky, satirical comedy that some critics have labeled “absurd” and “surreal.”  It didn’t play big screens in the USA, but UK critics praised Depardieu.  Buy Mammuth.

Medea (1969): The story of Jason and the Golden Fleece, told Pier Paolo Passolini style, with bloody pagan rituals, Centaurs, and very little dialogue.  Opera diva Maria Callas stars (but does not sing) in this long-unavailable art film rescued from oblivion by Entertainment One.  Buy Medea.

“Mystery Science Theater, Vol. XXII”: As long as they keep releasing episodes of the hilarious 1990s cult movie-mocking series, we’ll keep buying them.  Four more strange and awful movies are “riffed” this time around, including the Japanese Planet of the Apes ripoff Time of the Apes, the Japanese Bond ripoff Mighty Jack, the -scripted girls-gone-wild-(50s-style) juvie flick The Violent Years, and Rondo Hatton as The Brute Man. Buy “Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXII”.

Santa Claus (1959):  Santa lives in a castle in the sky, spies on children with a nightmarish eye-on-a-stalk telescope, and fights the Devil in this colorfully bizarre K. Gordon Murray Mexican import.  This VCI release is actually a “special edition” complete with a commentary track, deleted scenes and Murray shorts! This one is definitely in our “reader suggested” list (we checked it twice).  Buy Santa Claus.

“Ultimate Horror Collection (50 Movies)”:  Absolutely not the ultimate horror collection, but these multi-packs of public domain and near public domain films make great stocking stuffers.  Notable titles include the Certified Weird Carnival of Souls, public domain poster-child Night of the Living Dead, and Larry Cohen‘s super-odd God Told Me To.  3/50 is not a bad batting average for weirdness.  Buy “Ultimate Horror Collection”.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Medea (1969):  See description in DVD above. Buy Medea [Blu-ray].

Santa Claus (1959):  See description in DVD above. Buy Santa Claus [Blu-ray].

FREE (LEGITIMATE RELEASE) MOVIES ON YOUTUBE:

Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971):  So-bad-it’s-weird-ness from schlockmeister Al Adamson, featuring John Bloom as a Frankenstein who looks like he has chewed-up wads of toilet paper stuck to his face, the one-and-only Zandor Vorkov (in his one-and-only role) as the screen’s least scary Dracula, and Lon Chaney Jr. and Forrest J. Ackerman hanging around looking embarrassed.  A horrible, entertaining movie.  Watch Dracula vs. Frankenstein free on YouTube.

What are you looking forward to? If you have any weird movie leads that I have overlooked, feel free to leave them in the COMMENTS section.

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