WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 4/29/2011

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.

Lots of marginally weird stuff appearing in theaters this week, but be sure to scroll all the way down, because it’s a huge week for weird Blu-ray releases…

IN THEATERS (WIDE RELEASE):

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night: We mentioned this Hollywoodized bastardization of the surreal supernatural comic that was also the basis for Dellamorte Dellamore [Cemetery Man] as an upcoming cinema lowlight a few weeks ago.  Now it’s finally here—and the producers haven’t allowed critics to screen it before release.  That’s always a good sign, right?  Dylan Dog: Dead of Night Facebook page.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

13 Assassins: Epic samurai actioner about assassins planning to take down a cruel noble before he can ascend to the Japanese throne.  Not weird in itself; we mention it because it’s from List laureate Takashi Miike (Visitor Q, Gozu), who’s finally won over mainstream Western critics with this conventionally-styled period outing.  Opening today in Southern California, New York City, and Austin, TX, with scattered showings to follow across the country.  13 Assassins official site.

The Arbor (2010): Experimental documentary about English playwright Andrea Dunbar wherein professional actors lip-synch recordings of actual people.  It’s not clear what purpose this “verbatim theater” technique serves, but critics have been eating it up, probably more because Dunbar’s underlying story is compelling than because of the formal experimentation.  Playing at the Film Forum in Manhattan.  The Arbor at the Film Forum.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010): Sticking to this week’s theme of weird directors garnering praise for their mainstream efforts, Werner Herzog strikes critical gold with this documentary about an expedition to the Chauvet caves in France, home to the world’s oldest prehistoric paintings.  Originally filmed in 3-D but you may be able to catch it in vanilla dimensions as well.  Cave of Forgotten Dreams official Facebook site.

Pocong Mandi Goyang Pinggul: Via the miracle of intercutting, a hopping transvestite ghost bride (or something) stars alongside American pornstress Sasha Grey (late of Smash Cut) in this bizarre looking cut-n-paste Indonesian horror/comedy. According to the broken English news site 1001zones, Indonesian Islamic extremists are in an uproar about this release: “Indonesia is full of good people and why should make a porn movie, look for kosher food in a way,” threatened (?) a spokesman for the Islamic Defenders Front. Opening in Jakarta, domestic dates doubtful. I recommend everyone visit Sasha Grey’s Facebook page and support our petition for her to use her influence to ensure this gets a proper Region 1 DVD release.

Sympathy for Delicious: We’re not quite sure what to think of the synopsis for actor Mark Ruffalo‘s directorial debut: it’s about a paralyzed DJ who becomes a faith healer for a rock band.  Is it a satire, or inspirational allegory?  Critics who’ve actually seen it seem confused, too; Slant magazine calls it “an odd mishmash that leads to some headscratchingly bizarre moments…” That sounds kind of promising to us.  Sympathy for Delicious official site.

SCREENINGS (reRun Gastropub, New York City):

We Go Way Back (2006): Drama about a 23-year old actress who finds herself haunted by her own 13-year old self.  The premise the press release characterizes as “surrealistic” sounds like it belongs in the milder category of magical realism to us.  The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the underground Slamdance festival, but it took five years to get its theatrical premier.  We Go Way Back at reRun Gastropub.

IN DEVELOPMENT:

Dracula 3D (est. 2012): If you’re going to remake Dracula—a classic which has been adapted brilliantly in the past—you’d better have a unique angle on the old story lined up. To us, filming in 3D is not a promising spin on the legend.  This flick will be helmed by Dario (Suspiria) Argento, whose forgettable recent work hasn’t come anywhere close to the spooky pinnacle he hit in the 70s.  The best news we’ve heard on this possibly doomed project is that reliable Rutger Hauer has signed on to play Van Helsing.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

El Topo (1970): Read the Certified Weird entry!  Leave it to Alejandro Jodorowsky to create the craziest Western ever, full of his usual obscure religious symbolism and outrageously transgressive imagery.  Buy El Topo [Blu-ray].

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998):  Terry Gilliam‘s adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s satirical novel about a degenerate journalist and a libertine lawyer abusing mass quantities of drugs in Las Vegas is already on the List (though its entry is, er, missing at the current time).  The strange story of the movie’s distribution rights continues: the Criterion Collection acquired the rights, then lost them, and now has them back to release this Blu-ray.  This release is packed with the usual Criterion extras that are missing from Universal’s Blu-ray release that came out just last year—although we’re not certain whether any of them are new, or if they’re just restored extras from the previous Criterion release.  At any rate, among the many features are three separate commentary tracks: one from Gilliam, one from stars Johnny Depp and Benecio del Toro, and one from Hunter himself.  This is a Big Deal re-release. Buy Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray].

Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno (2009): This is part documentary, part reconstruction of “French Hitchcock” Henri-Georges Clouzot’s failed 1964 attempt to produce a movie titled L’Enfer, about a man whose jealousy causes him to hallucinate.  The remaining footage is often weird indeed, with scenes of a nude woman tied to railroad tracks and mod, psychedelic color schemes.  This is being released on Blu-ray only by Flicker Alley (who usually specialize in public domain silent films); no word on a Region 1 DVD. Buy Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno [Blu-ray].

The Holy Mountain (1973):  Read the Certified Weird entry!  Jodorowsky set himself the task of topping El Topo‘s weirdness, and arguably succeeded with this tale of a Jesus figure who apprentices to an ascended Master and journeys to the Holy Mountain. Buy The Holy Mountain [Blu-ray].

VIDEO ON DEMAND:

13 Assassins (2011): See description under “limited release” above. In the very likely event that Miike’s samurai epic isn’t playing on a big screen near you, you can watch it on a video-on-demand rental for $6.99. Warning: this cut of the film (though presumably the same one playing in U.S. theaters) appears to be 20 minutes shorter than the director’s cut. Watch 13 Assassins On Demand.

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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