WEIRD HORIZON FOR THE WEEK OF 8/14/09

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 (WIDE RELEASE):

District 9 (2009):  South African science fiction story about refugee aliens on Earth that appears on the surface to be an  allegory of  apartheid.  “Presented” by formerly weird director Peter (Heavenly Creatures) Jackson, who’s seal of approval actually implies quality at this point in his career.  Word on the street is it’s original, but that’s unlikely to translate into weirdDistrict 9 official site.

Ponyo (2008):  Hayao (Spirited Away) Miyazaki’s Hans Christan Andersen inspired fairy tale about a goldfish trying to become human was a hit in Japan; now, Disney is releasing it on these shores, dubbed by big name Hollywood talent (Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon and others).  With Disney’s name on it, it ain’t gonna be weird, but Miyazaki has his fans and the visuals have been described as “trippy.”   Ponyo official site (Disney).

The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009):  Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams star in this romantic sci-fi/fantasy about a man born with a gene which causes him to become unstuck in time at random intervals.  Scripted by Bruce Joel Rubin of Jacob’s Ladder fame from a bestselling novel by Audrey Niffenegger.  Few critics think it’s too good, but at least one (Brandon Judell) thinks it’s “too weird,” which may come as an endorsement to readers looking for a date night movie that won’t bore them.   The Time Traveler’s Wife official site.

IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):

Grace (2009): This indie horror about a mother whose baby is born undead escaped from the festival circuit to a limited theatrical engagement. First time feature director Paul Solet expanded Grace to a full length movie from an award-winning short that Fangoria called “superbly bizarre.”  Love the poster with the infant’s bottle half full of blood! Grace official site.

Taxidermia (2006):  Three interwoven stories about three generations of Hungarian men: a WWII veteran grandfather, a would-be athlete father, and a taxidermist son—surrealy woven together by certified weird director György (Hukkle) Pálfi.  Clearly, the theatrical weird pick of the week, which is why it is only playing two theaters in the United States.  Rather than taking a road trip to L.A. or NYC, we’ll be waiting for a proper Region 1 DVD release (it’s already available to Europeans and others with machines that can play PAL DVDs), but we advise those who can to catch it on the big screen and report back to us. Taxidermia official site (US).

IN THEATERS (SPECIAL EVENTS): THURSDAY, AUGUST 20:

Rifftrax Live: Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959): One night only!  Three stars from the cult TV hit  Mystery Science Theater will make snarky comments about the movie that is widely (and incorrectly) believed to be the worst ever made! Though we have our doubts about the project—what’s the added value of “riffing live?”  Why pick a movie that doesn’t need any commentary to be a laff riot? And why cater to the masses by screening the colorized print?—it’s an intriguing idea.  You can find a list of participating theaters here.

NEW ON DVD:

Alien Trespass (2008):  This 1950s-style, colorized alien invasion movie realizes that the ridiculousness inherent in the genre needs no exaggeration and spoofs its subject matter with a straight face, which makes it an enjoyably affectionate rather than a smug parody.  Not terribly weird, but an offbeat and worthwhile pickup, especially for fans of The Blob and other nostalgic nonsense.  Buy from Amazon.

Gigantic (2008): Self-described “surreal love story” (we’re skeptical, but maybe the trailer strategically de-emphasized the “surreal” elements) hits the DVD ranks after a minuscule theatrical run (despite the presence of Zooey Deschanel and John Goodman). Buy from Amazon.

NEW ON BLU-RAY:

Alien Trespass (2008):  See description in the DVD section above.  Buy from Amazon.

Ichi the Killer (2001): This perverted and extreme sadomasochistic classic from weird director Takajshi Miike gets the Blu-ray treatment.  No longer will viewers have to suffer the agonies of low-definition arterial spray!  Buy form Amazon

The Ninth Gate (1999):  Roman Polanski returns to the supernatural genre in this overlooked 1999 film about a rare book collector (Johnny Depp) stumbling onto a diabolical tome which leads his soul into peril.  Buy from Amazon.

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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