Our weekly 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):
The Yakuza and the Mermaid (2010): The story of a writer who meets a mysterious woman who brings the characters in his story—a yakuza and a mermaid, natch—to life. Opening at Cinema Village in NYC. The Yakuza and the Mermaid Facebook page.
FILM FESTIVALS (Sitges Film Festival, Oct. 4-14, Sitges, Spain):
Sitges is a huge (more than 100 films) European festival focusing on genre films (mainly science fiction, horror and fantasy). Because it’s held at the tail end of the festival season, many of the films featured here have previously played at Cannes or other venues or are even out on DVD here in the States. We’ve even reviewed some already: Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Cabin in the Woods, Caterpillar, Keyhole. Still, there are plenty of intriguing movies that are either new or that have somehow escaped our notice until now. Here’s what we’ll be looking out for:
- American Mary – A medical student makes extra money by performing dangerous, illegal body modification surgeries. Screening Oct. 4 & 6.
- Barcelonorra – A sick anthology film containing ten sexually perverse stories set in Barcelona. Dates unknown.
- Blue Bird – Two African children go searching for their lost pet bird and encounter ghosts and spirits along the way; the entire movie is tinted blue. Oct. 11.
- The Expanse of Heaven [La extensión del cielo] – Six random people become subjects of a survival experiment in the desert in a film the festival programmers compare to the works of Alejandro Jodorowsky. Oct 12.
- El fantástico mundo de Juan Orol – Biopic of director Juan Orol, who was known for his gangster films with negligible budgets and incomprehensible plots and was something like the Ed Wood of Mexico. Very few of Orol’s movies have been translated into English, so we’re doubtful this tribute will ever reach these shores, either. Oct. 10.
- Junkie – Fantastical allegory about two heroin addicts living in a mansion; one of them decides to quit junk, but his buddy isn’t about to let his pal go straight without a fight. Debuting at Sitges. Oct. 5.
- The Legend of Kaspar Hauser [La leggenda di Kaspar Hauser] – Not to be confused with Werner Herzog‘s The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, this surrealistic take on the Hauser story involves UFOs and industrial dance music. Oct 11.
- Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead – What modern film festival would be complete without a tasteless, gory B-movie spoof from the Japanese? This one is from the director of Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl. Dates unknown.
Anomalisa (est. 2013): A 40 minute stop-motion animated film penned by weird screenwriting icon Charlie Kaufman. No word on the plot except that it involves “a man crippled by the mundanity of his life.” This Kickstarter-based, crowdfunded project is not only fully funded, it actually doubled its pledge goal—Charlie does have his fans. Anomalisa Kickstarter page.
NEW ON DVD:
“American Horror Story: The Complete First Season” (2011): An FX network cable series about a family that moves into a haunted house and slowly uncovers the secrets of the spirits therein. We wouldn’t have even noticed this one if not for a couple of the review titles on the Amazon page: “weird, warped, wacky,” and “weird, creapy [sic], scary.” Maybe we should tune in? Buy “American Horror Story: The Complete First Season”.
Blood Tea and Red String (2006): Read the Certified Weird entry! It appears that Cinema Epoch’s rights to this dark animated fairy tale have reverted back to author/director/one-woman-show Christiane Cegavske, who is putting the recently out-of-print bizarro classic out on a region free DV-R. It’s also available for online purchase or rental. Buy Blood Tea and Red String.
Damsels in Distress (2011): Comedy/satire about a clique of women at a chic East Coast university who make it a point to “improve” the lives of their fellow students, sometimes through musical numbers. From Whit Stillman (Metropolitan), whose previous work was urbane and clever but defiantly unweird; the press release, however, describes this departure as “distinctly offbeat, even manic,” “often-surreal,” and “delightfully weird.” Buy Damsels in Distress.
Eating Raoul (1982): A bland and prudish suburban couple stumble upon a way to raise money for their dream of opening a restaurant: they advertise themselves as swingers and knock off the perverts who answer their ads. As an excellent bonus to this cult black comedy, the disc includes director Paul Bartel‘s seldom seen early shorts The Secret Cinema and Naughty Nurse. We’re glad to see the Criterion Collection is finally acknowledging Bartel’s genius, and look forward to their deluxe edition of Lust in the Dust. Buy Eating Raoul (Criterion Collection).
FDR: American Badass (2012): Franklin Delano Roosevelt fights Nazi werewolves from his wheelchair. Next up in the Presidential action fantasy sweepstakes: Herbert Hoover: The Shark-Hunting Years (2013). Buy FDR: American Badass.
The Game (1997): A disconnected loner banker (Michael Douglas) accepts an invitation from his profligate brother (Sean Penn) to participate in a mysterious live-action game in this mindbender made by David Fincher between his hits Se7en and Fight Club. Another unexpected pickup by the Criterion Collection. Buy The Game (Criterion Collection).
The Letter (2012): A playwright cracks under the stress and has a hallucinatory breakdown on opening night. Not only does it borrow Black Swan‘s plot, it also helps itself to one of that movie’s stars (Winona Ryder). Buy The Letter.
Pig (1999)/1334 (2012): Pig was a 1999 punk short about a man who hallucinates to escape the pain as he’s being tortured by a man in a pig mask. 1334 appears to be a followup involving the same man in Hell. Buy Pig/1334.
Post-Mortem (2010): A serial killer befriends a suicidal teen, who descends into madness. This is the third part of a trilogy of films (previous entries were Head Case and The Ritual) that describes itself as a “surrealistic nightmare,” but what really caught our eye was the brings-back-b-movie-memories casting of Robert Z’dar and Brinke Stevens. Buy Post-Mortem.
“Six Weird-Noir B-Movies”: We’re trusting the titling here, although we suspect these six incredibly obscure 50s and 60s noirs are more sleazy and incompetent than weird. The unearthed films are Girl on the Run (1953), The Naked Road (1959), The 7th Commandment (1961), Fear No More (1961), Fallguy (1962) and Stark Fear (1962, with Beverly Garland). Buy “Six Weird-Noir B-Movies” .
The Tall Man (2012): When her own son goes missing a skeptical nurse (Jessica Biel) investigates child disappearances blamed on a legendary figure called “the Tall Man.” This genre-busting entry from the director of Martyrs earned mediocre marks from both critics and audiences. Buy The Tall Man.
NEW ON BLU-RAY:
“American Horror Story: The Complete First Season” (2011): See description in DVD above. Buy American Horror Story [Blu-ray].
Damsels in Distress (2011): See description in DVD above. Buy Damsels in Distress [Blu-ray].
Eating Raoul (1982): See description in DVD above. Buy Eating Raoul (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray].
The Game (1997): See description in DVD above. Buy The Game (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray].
The Tall Man (2012): See description in DVD above. Buy The Tall Man [Blu-ray].
FREE (LEGITIMATE RELEASE) MOVIES ON YOUTUBE:
Luther the Geek (1990): A carnival geek (that is, a sideshow attraction who bites the heads of live chickens) develops a homicidal streak, outfits himself with steel dentures and goes around biting the heads off people while clucking like poultry. Cheap, nasty, weirdish sleaze from the post-grindhouse era. Watch Luther the Geek 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.