WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 3/9/2012

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):

Attenberg (2010): An awkward and alienated young woman who studies humanity through mammal documentaries learns about sex from her only friend. Part of the New Weird Greek cinema, it’s in our reader-suggested review queue; we will be all over this one when it comes out on DVD, if not before. Attenberg official site.

The Ballad Of Genesis And Lady Jaye (2011): Documentary on artist-musician Genesis P-Orridge (of Throbbing Gristle) and the series of cosmetic surgeries he and his lover Lady Jaye undertook to look like each other. A weird guy and a weird subject, for sure. Opening at Chelsea Cinemas in Long Island, new York, future screenings doubtful. The Ballad Of Genesis And Lady Jaye official site.

Dissolution (2010): Set in Israel, based on “Crime and Punishment,” and described in the press release as an “almost surreal fairy-tale.” Why “almost” surreal? That almost scares us off. Dissolution official Facebook page.

Sound of Noise (2010): A music hating cop tries to silence a band of avant-garde percussionists who are planning to stage a performance art symphony in the public spaces of Stockholm in this quirky Swedish satire. It’s won a few awards on the festival circuit and is often described as “absurd.” Sound of Noise official Facebook page.

FILM FESTIVALS: SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST (SXSW) (Austin, TX, Mar. 9-17)

If you can’t get your indie film into Sundance, the massive SXSW festival in Austin, Texas has become your next best bet. Like just about every other major festival, they’ve recently added a “Midnight Movie” category to the lineup. Here’s some of the weirder stuff playing there (some are debuts, some have been seen before):

  • Beast – A man’s obsessive love for his pretty but unfaithful wife causes him to physically transform and develop cannibalistic urges in this surreal-sounding Danish drama/horror. Screening Mar. 11-12, 14, 17.
  • Citadel – An agoraphobic widower is attacked by feral children seeking to take his baby daughter; to stop them he must enter a deserted tenement building nicknamed “The Citadel” with the help of a vigilante priest. In the “Midnighters” category, playing Mar. 11-13 and again on the 15th.
  • Girls Against Boys – Psychological thriller about two female bartenders who embark on a killing spree. A midnight feature screening Mar 9-10, 13-14.
  • Her Master’s Voice – This strikes us as an odd documentary subject: a British ventriloquist takes the dummy of her dead mentor to “Venthaven,” a “graveyard for puppets of dead ventriloquists” in Kentucky. Mar 11-12, 14.
  • Iron Sky – Nazis who fled to the moon are planning an invasion of Earth in 2018. This steampunk spoof has some actual buzz around it. Mar 10-11, 14.
  • John Dies in the End – Cult director adapts a popular webseries about two losers saving the world from a psychedelic drug being used by aliens to take over the planet. A “midnigter” for sure and one of our more anticipated 2012 releases. Mar 12 & 15.
  • Keyhole – The latest Guy Maddin film (it’s a talkie this time) stars Jason Patric as Ulysses, a gangster on the run, journeying through his labyrinthine house trying to find his wife (). The U.S. premier of this long-awaited (by us) feature. Debuting March 11 with more screenings Mar 14 & 17.
  • Nature Calls – A scoutmaster convinces his millionaire brother’s adopted kid to sneak off on a camping trip, prompting dad to go on a woodsy expedition to find him. There’s no reviews or even a trailer for this debuting film from , but the presence of Patton Oswalt and Johnny Knoxville as the headliners leads us to believe this is a move towards the mainstream from the director who has heretofore specialized in singularly odd comedies. Mar. 11 & 16.
  • Pavilion – A 15-year old boy moves to Arizona to live with his father; it’s self-described as “ethereal” and promises an obscure, impressionistic experience of troubled youth. Mar 10, 12, 14.
  • V/H/S – A horror anthology wherein burglars are hired to break in to a home to steal a rare VHS tape, but find that every cassette they watch is stranger and more disturbing than the last one. Mar. 11, 13 & 16.
  • Wildness – Another one which we can’t quite figure out from the description: it’s about a weekly party at a bar, avant-garde performance artists, transgendered immigrants, and promises a touch of magic realism. Mar. 9, 11, 14 & 15.

SWSX Film Festival official homepage.

NEW ON DVD:

“Classic Monsters Spotlight Collection”: This 4-disc collection of classic Universal horrors (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, and Creature from the Black Lagoon) was released with little fanfare and no reports on extra features. Bride is our fave (and the weirdest) of this essential set. Buy “Classic Monsters Spotlight Collection”.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960): Read our capsule review. The Roger Corman quickie classic about a man-eating plant gets an unlikely Blu-ray release. Includes both the original and the (yeech) colorized version. This downmarket Skid Row tale doesn’t seem like it would benefit from hi-def, so unless you just have to have it in Blu or in color, we’d recommend getting the Trailers From Hell! version instead. Buy The Little Shop Of Horrors [Blu-ray].

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975): This Arthurian spoof with the knights who say “Ni!” and an unexpectedly fragile Black Knight is the masterpiece of pop-absurdist comedy and the holy grail of Monty Python features. This package contains a plethora of extra features, some of which appeared on previous releases and some which are unique to this Blu. Buy Monty Python and the Holy Grail [Blu-ray].

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957): Dubbed “The Worst Movie Ever Made” by Michael Medved (although it’s nowhere close to the worst),  Ed Wood‘s deliriously and hilariously inept tale of aliens reanimating the dead is absolutely essential viewing for anyone who’s seriously interested in cinema, not just weird movie buffs. Like Little Shop above, however, we’re skeptical that it will benefit from Blu-ray treatment. This release contains the colorized version (why, oh why?), some Ed Wood home movies and commercial demos, and snarky Mike Nelson commentary (the same features are on Legend’s DVD version). Buy Plan 9 From Outer Space [Blu-ray].

The Skin I Live In (2011): Pedro Almodovar’s first venture into horror is the elegantly perverse tale of a deranged plastic surgeon (Antonio Banderas) who invents a synthetic skin, and finds an unexpectedly appropriate subject to test it on. The film is ironic and disturbing but stops just short of “weird”; it’s still a recommended offbeat outing for fans of moral horror. Buy The Skin I Live In (Blu-ray/DVD Combo).

FREE (LEGITIMATE RELEASE) MOVIES ON YOUTUBE:

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Crazy Mixed-Up Zombies (1964): A layabout greaser (played by director Ray Dennis Steckler under the pseudonym “Cash Flagg”) gets sucked into an incredibly strange plot involving a carnival fortune teller using hypnotism to create zombies. It’s also a musical, of sorts. Our all-time favorite movie title, it gets bonus points for its crazy, pre-psychedelia dream sequence. Future hall of fame cinematographers Laszlo Kovacs (Five Easy Pieces) and Vilmos Zsigmund (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) both worked as assistant cameramen on Creatures. It’s a terribly made movie, and a terribly mad one.

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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