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post #11 of 23 Old 07-25-07, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Weird movies DVD reviews

Pink Flamingos falls in that Eraserhead category of ultra cheap, no budget indie movies as opposed to mainstream films. They were among the first "Midnight Movies" back in the seventies when I saw them.

The rest are good choices and thanks for you input. I saw "Eating Raoul" at Lincoln Center in their festival before it was released to theaters. Bartel was there to introduce it. Certainly one of the stranger movies to play that type of arty venue.
I don't know if that crowd was prepared for it.
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post #12 of 23 Old 07-25-07, 07:56 PM
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Re: Weird movies DVD reviews

How about Being There or The World According to Garp? Two great movies that are a bit offbeat, with great performances by some unique actors and actresses.

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post #13 of 23 Old 07-25-07, 08:10 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Weird movies DVD reviews

"Being There" is an excellent choice. I had forgotten about that one. The scene with Shirley MacLaine
while Peter Sellers stares at the TV is one of the most outrageous sex scenes I've ever seen. "Garp" was okay but not as good as the book. It was well acted but lacked style which
was necessary to advance the bizarre story and characters. I had the same problem with "Catch 22".
It wasn't bad, it just wasn't that good either. No style compared to a similar movie like "MASH" which had a unique format that really enhanced the film.

In fact, I would say 'style' was one of the most important ingrediants for many of the movies listed above like "The Magic Christian", "The Ruling Class" and "Brazil".

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post #14 of 23 Old 07-26-07, 05:12 AM
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Re: Weird movies DVD reviews

I think you are on to something with the concept of "style", but how would you break that down a bit? For instance, with the two movies I suggested, what gives BT style that TWATG lacks? I think that the latter perhaps tried to cover too much ground and reproduce too many of the scenes from the book without getting the depth of character that Being There developed, but I am not very good at this kind of review. Give me a schematic to follow or a problem to solve and you guys can do the right brain stuff.

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post #15 of 23 Old 07-26-07, 05:38 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Weird movies DVD reviews

Style is one of those categories like obscenity. You know it when you see it. It isn't anything
specific or universal. It has to be appropriate for the movie in question. For example, "Brazil" had those cluttered
compositions and angles that Gilliam was famous for which helped make the viewer feel disoriented which was part of the theme. "The Magic Christian" used fantasy sequences with psychedelic colors
to jolt the viewer, then returned to a normal setting. The train scene when the pompous comuter
is brought into the disco with Sellers dressed in a nun's habit with flashing strobe lights is an example.
The concept was to make the audience unsure of what was real.

"Being There" was shot in a deadpan manner with very bland compositions that made the story effective. In order for the Sellers character to be misinterperted as a sage, the setting had to
look very normal and ordinary. A similar style was used for "Garp" but it didn't work in that case. The story wasn't about interperting 'normalcy' but rather people who have an off kilter look at life. They needed some off kilter compositions and photography to illustrate this in my opinion. I agree that they
tried to cram too much narrative from the book into the film and lost their focus at times. Sometimes
it's better to center on just a few incidents to illustrate your point when you have an episodic structure.

"The Illustrated Man" was also unique. The framing story was filmed in a defussed lighting style with muted color making it seem like a dream. The stories were shot with high key lighting and garish primary colors to contrast it with the prologue and epilogue.

I mentioned "MASH" as a very stylish film. What Altman did was have everyone talk on top of one another to suggest the chaos of their situation. You had to pay close attention to the dialogue to make
out the one liners and wisecracks that were coming out of the cast. It gave the appearance of being
an improvised film even though it was staged to be that way.
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post #16 of 23 Old 07-26-07, 11:17 PM
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Re: Weird movies DVD reviews

The Fisher king is passing odd also, even if it is Terry Gilliam's most mainstream movie to date.

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post #17 of 23 Old 08-07-07, 05:45 PM
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Re: Weird movies DVD reviews

I remembered some more:

Repo Man -- Early Emilio Estevez flick. I liked the message
Pink Floyd's The Wall -- I HATED this movie after watching it -- but once I "got it" I LOVED it
Being John Malkovich -- Didn't know what to expect, but it wouldn't have been this. Liked the movie though.
City of Lost Childern -- VERY stylish. I liked it even though it was in French.
A Clockwork Orange -- did anyone mention this one yet? If not, how did we forget?
Dark City -- I wish they'd do more "noir" movies
Orgazmo -- I think it'd be fair to call this one weird
Ichi the Killer -- I'm pretty sure it's Japanese -- makes me wonder about the country now
Kung Fu Hustle -- a kung fu movie with a dance sequence at the beginning of the movie? Loved it.
A Boy and His Dog -- Wow, who knew Don Johnson was ever young?
Mememto -- one of my favorite all time movies
Killer Klowns from Outer Space -- How can you not love a movie with that kind of title?
Trainspotting -- Should be shown to addicts like Red Asphalt is shown at driver's ed
eXistenZ -- actually, you could probably put the entire Cronenberg library on the list
Jacobs Ladder -- other than Eric the Viking ans JL, I can't think of another Tim Robbins movie I liked much
Videodrome -- I have to rewatch this one someday, I was far too young to understand anything at the time.

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post #18 of 23 Old 08-07-07, 05:50 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Weird movies DVD reviews

This is a great post. Keep em' coming. We should make a data base of 'weird movies'.
However, I think most will admit you have to be in a certain mood to appreciate them.
These are not movies you just pop into the DVD player and certainly not mainstream.
I believe you have to be in the right frame of mind. For example, you wouldn't show
"Eating Raoul" at a family Thanksgiving dinner.

Here are more additions that are only available as bootlegs...

"Medusa against Sons of Hercules" and "The Mole Men against Sons of Hercules"
There were part of Jospeh Levine's TV series entitled "The Sons of Hercules".
He packed either 20 or 14 (depending on the sources) unrelated Maciste and
Ulysses movies as sequels to his hit film "Hercules". He had a catchy theme
song recorded which sounds like an Ennio Morricone track and a narrator to
introduce the characters and somehow tie it into the Hercules story.
They were sloppy pan/scanned versions of the Italian CinemaScope originals with terrible dubbing, shrill music and empty soundtracks missing all kinds of effects. However, if you can get past these liabilities, some of the movies in the package were wildly imaginative and surreal. The two mentioned above are the best in the series. They have off the wall plots, bizarre sets and weird monsters. The special effects are pretty good for this genre as are the battle scenes. There's even some gore and sadism thrown into the mix. Check them out but make allowances for the public domain source material which had bad color and cropping to begin with.
When the Medusa monster stared at soldiers, it's glowing eye made them turn
to stone. Later, Maciste stabs it's eye (which was very gross) to destroy
it. The Mole Men live underground and cannot come out into the sun or they'll
evaporate into skeletins. They survive in caves and have hollow reeds
that stick out above ground so they can listen to what's going on in the surface.
Very bizarre and memorable imagery. Too bad the other technical specs are
so poor for the domestic DVDs. I wish someone would import the original
Italian language versions in widescreen so I could see what they were supposed
to look like. Or better yet offer both Italian and dubbed versions from the Italian
anamorphic sourse.

While I'm on the subject of strange imports, I'll also nominate two of K. Gordon
Murray's grotesque Mexican fairy tales, "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Puss N' Boots".
I've seen the spanish language versions and while they remain extremelly bizarre,
they're not as unsettling as the American dubbed copies released by Murray.
The voices and completely wrong for the characters which is part of what makes
them so disturbing. When the little girl who plays "Riding Hood" sings, she has
a grown woman's voice. The ratty looking costumes for the cat and skunk are
also creepy since you can see the human actor's eyes and surrounding flesh inside of them. In "Puss N' Boots" there's an obese Ogre that drools, whips people and has a retarded son. In "Little Red Riding Hood" there's a scene when the wolf fantasizes
about eating the girl who's presented on a dinner platter. And these were supposed to be kiddie movies at Children's Matinees in the sixties! They played more like horror films. Unfortunately, the US versions are in the public domain and very faded. However, there are Mexican/Spanish language versions on VHS that look fine and can be purchased on ebay with the original titles, "El Gato con Botas" and "Caperucita Rojo". If you survive screening these two then try "Little
Red Riding Hood meets the Monsters" which is really deranged.

Last edited by Richard W. Haines; 08-20-07 at 11:54 AM.
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post #19 of 23 Old 08-23-07, 03:21 AM
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Re: Weird movies DVD reviews

Labelling something as 'weird' or even 'mainstream' could get a little tricky as the former relies on personal taste and the latter can vary in different regions. I have watched some of Pedro Almodóvar's films. 'All about my mother', 'Bad Education' etc. In Europe his films would definitely be classed as mainstream, they are released on and shown in a lot of theatres, admittedly not on the scale of a Star Wars movie, am not sure but maybe his movies are not mainstream in the US as they are foreign language. His movies would IMO be classed as weird, very unusual storylines and offbeat characters, even for us so callled 'liberal' Europeans.

Trainspotting was mentioned in a previous post, IMO it is not weird or strange, it just gives the viewer a look at lower middle class life in contemporary Scotland.

Movies that I would class as both weird and mainstream would be David Lynch's movies, especially things like 'Mulholland Drive', 'Lost Highway' and 'Wild at Heart'. Other movies fulfilling the above requirements would be 'Pulp Fiction', 'Reservoir Dogs', 'Leaving Las Vegas', 'Angel Heart'. Am sure that there are lots more but the above is all that is readily coming to mind.


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post #20 of 23 Old 08-23-07, 06:27 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Weird movies DVD reviews

I agree that everything Lynch does qualifies as weird.

Here's an unconventional weird movie that is one of the most successful
films of the fifties and had a tremendous impact but still hasn't been
released in any video format..."This is Cinerama".

You may wonder why I classify this film as 'weird'. You have to see
it to believe it. It's basically a two hour infomercial selling you the
Cinerama system. It was created for that purpose but they ended
up releasing it as a 'documentary' although it barely qualifies in that

Cinerama was the first successful widescreen system which was
developed to inspire viewers to get away from the boob tube and
return to theaters again. Television had cut attendence in half
from 90 million weekly in 1948 to 41 million weekly by 1952. Theaters
were closing everywhere and the industry was in turmoil.

Broadway producer, Mike Todd, saw a demonstration of the process
in Long Island and partnered with reporter Lowell Thomas to give
it a shot. It was an overnight sensation and everyone began
scrambling around for alternate and less cumbersome widescreen
systems. Even Todd broke away from the Cinerama company to
form "Todd AO" which created a new 70mm format in which
'everything came out of one hole' or rather the picture and stereo
sound were on the same print. CinemaScope followed which
was the most popular method since it only required a lens to
squeeze and unsqueeze a standard 35mm film. All of these
systems had been around in the late twenties and early thirties
which proves there's nothing new under the sun.

I traveled to Dayton, Ohio in 1997 to see a revival of the two best
Cinerama films, "This is Cinerama" and "How the West Was Won".
They were fascinating shows and very strange to watch. Since
then the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood has set up for the process
and occasional shows these titles too as does the Bradford museum
in England.

After I describe the system you'll probably wonder why on earth
they went through so much trouble to get a wide image on screen.

Cinerama involved shooting with three 35mm camera in a U shape
arc to cover the actual field of vision of the human eye. Each lens
was 27mm and covered one third of the ratio which was 2.76 x 1
(nearly 3 to 1). Three synchronized projectors were required to
show the film on a deeply curved screen. Inside the machines
were small vibrating combs to blur the join lines that made the
wide image. There was also a fourth machine synchronized to
the other three that played the seven channels of directional
sound. If you sit in the center row of the theater and the camera
is moving on a dolly or in a helicopter, you can get dizzy since
you really feel as if you're inside the picture. Similar to the motion
sickness you can get when you watch some IMAX films. Very
effective, if not unsettling, but that's it. That's the whole purpose
of the three strip Cinerama film. To give you motion sickness.
The film started in black and white in standard 1.33 as Thomas
gave a boring lecture about the history of cinema and then
expanded to three panel widescreen Technicolor for a rollercoaster
ride which made everyone gasp. One of the great moments in cinema.
What followed were trips to Venice, Niagra Falls and a plane tour
of the US with Cold War jingoistic narration. None of the sequences
had any connection to the other since this was really a demonstration

As long as the camera was moving, the effect worked great.
When the camera wasn't moving and was static, you ended up
looking at the blurred join lines that made up the image.
When a person or object moved from left to right, they would
have a weird effect of splitting apart then coming back together
as they passed the panel split.

If that wasn't weird enough for you, the first movie "This
is Cinerama" played like a DJ announcing the next song on the
radio. Lowell Thomas introduced each segment by shouting,
"Now let's go to Cyprus Gardens in CINERAMA!". I lost track
of how many times he used the word which became very
campy. Since the film was assembled onto six
large reels (each reel had an hour of film and represented one
third of the screen image), they had an intermisssion. After
the intermission, they played a demostration of stereophonic
sound without any image. It was
lots of fun to watch even though after it was over you realized
the process was doomed because of those join lines and
the danger of one of the four machines going out of synch.
In fact during a scene of "How the West Was Won" they did
have an equipment breakdown as one panel went dark and
they had to wait about twenty minutes to correct the problem.
After the introduction of 70mm and CinemaScope, I'm amazed
that three panel Cinerama lasted for ten years.

The negatives of both movies still exist since they made new
prints for the Dome a few years ago. I wish they would release
the first travelogue on DVD in widescreen. HP Labs
developed a digital process to blend the join lines so you can't
see them. They did a test on "How the West Was Won" and
pictures of it are available on line. (www.hpl.
Let's hope some day they're available in "CINERAMA" as
Lowell Thomas would exlaim with boyish enthusiasm.

By the way, in the set for Thomas's office there's a picture
of Lawrence of Arabia on the wall. The Bently character in
the movie was based on him.

Mike Todd's alternate system, Todd AO, is featured in the
special edition disc of his epic, "Around the World in 80 Days".
The widescreen transfer is pretty good although the film could
still use a digital clean up. If you watch it, try to see it projected
on a DLP. He starts the movie like "This is Cinerama" with a prologue
in 1.33 (with another famous reporter, Edward Murrows) and then
expands to the widescreen ratio to 'wow' audiences. At least
Murrows doesn't plug the process the way Thomas did. Throughout
the narrative there are long travelogue shots with an extreme
wide angle lens (known as the bug eye lens) that make you feel
like you're inside the picture. The lens almost makes it seem like
you're being sucking into the screen in shots like the train going
into the tunnel in India or on the Western railways. The same
applies to the balloon ride which makes you feel as if your drifting
in the air. It only works on a big screen, not on a tV monitor no matter
how large it is.

Last edited by Richard W. Haines; 08-23-07 at 06:45 AM.
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