Extreme Movies


ABCs of Death 2, The  
Another collection of 26 horror shorts. 'A is for Amateur' starts off with a strong ironic note about a bad assassin. 'Badger' is a funny one about nature documentaries with some splatter. There's very gruesome violence in 'Capital Punishment'. 'Deloused' has got to be the most disturbing stop-motion short ever made with very surreal and dark images of death, rot, disease & violence, but it is also very striking. 'Equilibrium' is another funny one about jealousy on a desert island. 'Falling' packs a tense mini Israel-Palestine conflict into 5 minutes and leaves on a tense cliffhanger. 'Grandad' is a demented piece about a very messed-up relationship between grandson and granddad. Plympton delivers his usual surreal animation involving violent romantic encounters between man and woman in 'Head Games'. The average 'Invincible' features brutal violence against a supernatural grandma. 'Jesus' is a weak one featuring a demon and religious fanatics fighting over a homosexual's soul. 'Knell' is a strong, creepy and very mysterious entry about a very puzzling evil encounter by a normal girl in a normal city. 'Legacy' is a very bad mess involving some kind of African ritual, tribe politics, a demon, and 2-cent special-effects which makes absolutely no sense. 'Masticate' is a hilarious and inspiredly insane quickie involving some bad effects of bath salts. 'Nexus' is a tense-filled 5 minutes of waiting for an accident to happen in Halloween. 'Ochlocracy' is another hilarious and inspired short, this time about zombies taking revenge through a court of law. 'P-P-P-P Scary!' is a really dumb one with overacting silly convicts encountering a very strange man and a baby. 'Questionnaire' involves a job interview and takes some thinking to figure out what just happened but when you get it, it's hilarious. 'Roulette' features Russian Roulette amongst friends with a clever twist. 'Split' is average and involves a brutal home invasion happening in real-time over the phone, with a poor twist. 'Torture Porn' is a dumb feminist horror short featuring a casting couch gone bad, but at least it doesn't fulfill the expectations of its title. 'Utopia' by the always reliable Natali features a dystopia of beautiful people and what happens when they don't like someone. 'Vacation' is skippable, trashy, found-footage about a violent outburst with a hooker and some jerks. 'Wish' features a moderately good idea about a kids' fantasy heroic world turning into a splattery sci-fi hell. 'Xylophone' is a very dark one, featuring splattery violence by a disturbed babysitter. 'Youth' features insane stream-of-consciousness gross special-effects that may as well have been made by Nishimura (credited only under 'thanks'), as imagined by an angsty teenager against her parents. 'Zygote' about an extended pregnancy is extremely gruesome and highly imaginative which will really get under your skin. Summary: A much stronger, less wild, but also a more solid collection than the first with only a couple of clunkers.

Black Night  
The nightmarish world of Oscar the entomologist, involving his various fears of, and relationships with, women, intertwined with his love for insects, especially the metamorphosing and predatory kind. In this dark dream-world which is constantly drowned in darkness of a solar eclipse punctuated by brief flashes of blinding sunlight, everything is spliced together and nothing makes sense. There's his sister from childhood memories who may or may not have been killed in a hunting accident, by a wolf, or in some other unknown fashion. There's his mother who may have been black... was his sister black as well? A sick, black, pregnant woman appears in his bed to whom he may have made love, hunted by the spectre of his sister, and turning into a cocoon, then into a beautiful woman with a deadly insect-like weapon. A predatory schoolgirl seduces then bites him. Other elements include his work at a museum collecting insects, creepy twins, and a shrink that inspects his mind and dreams through a funnel and electric apparatus. Visually stunning and thoroughly atmospheric, a near-masterpiece of Lynchian cinema, but for some reason there is a slight element of dissatisfaction. Perhaps it's because the movie refuses to divulge even a nugget of fact, obfuscating every detail until the every end. Nevertheless, it's a must-see, visually rich, dream-like, psychological mystery.

Blood Tea and Red String  
Strange and magical stop-motion fairy-tale for adults, with obsessive-compulsive attention to repetitive details similar to Svankmajer. This is much gentler than Svankmajer though, and holds back its meaning and symbolism just out of reach. Allegedly took Christiane Cegavske 12 years to put together, and the pedantic work on every little repetitive detail feels unusual for a female director. The movie starts and ends with a living doll, tea, cake and a symbolic egg that finds its way into this fantasy world of strange creatures that all become enchanted by the egg and what it brings. Aristocratic mice pay the Oak Dwellers (some kind of mammal with beaks) to make them a female doll but they refuse to hand it over when done, impregnating it with the egg by stitching it into its belly and hanging the doll on a tree. The mice steal it, develop their own obsession with it, and the oak dwellers go on a quest to retrieve it, encountering labyrinths, dangerous hallucinogenic fruit in a garden, a wizard healing frog, a bartering spider-woman, flowers with either faces or skulls, and much more. Recurring visual themes include red string, tea (sometimes bloody), birds, acorns and eggs. Very enigmatic and full of elusive symbolism, with hints of new-age circular mysticism, but its best to just experience and dream this one. Takes a while to get going, but it weaves a magic spell if watched in the right state of mind.

Brain Dead  
An obscure surreal gem in which we are led into a paranoid, mad, nightmare world that keeps blurring the line between dream-like brain processes and reality. The story is loosely about a discovery of advanced personality-sculpturing brain surgery, a company that wants to market it to the public, and a surgeon who is being manipulated. But the movie is like one of those never-ending nightmares where you jump from one level to another only to keep finding that you are still dreaming.

Cell, The  
Mental problems are treated with a sci-fi machine that allows one to enter the patient's mind and interact with him there. Things turn very dark and twisted when the therapist is asked to enter the mind of a demented killer in order to save his victim. Disturbing surreal imagery, repulsive sadism and bizarre necrophilia fill this visually rich but nightmarish experience.

City of Lost Children  
A breathtaking cinematic masterpiece. Using timeless, steampunk, Brazil-esque art and production-values, this tells a dark fairy-tale about an inventor that clones himself and creates other beings in order to have friends. One of them bewails the fact that he has no soul and doesn't dream, and therefore tries to steal children's dreams. When he kidnaps a muscle-man's adopted kid-brother however, they start a sequence of events that may lead to their downfall. Characters include thieving children that behave like adults, witch-like siamese twins attached to each other in more ways than one, and a cult of men that blind and attach themselves to machines in order to see better. Included are many more unforgettable visuals and a magically bizarre atmosphere from a fascinating imagination. This is one to watch many dozens of times.

Dave Made a Maze  
The cutesy-surreal style screams Michel Gondry, but I could not find his name anywhere in the credits. This is a fun movie, the biggest star of which is probably the set design. It's about a loser that builds a cardboard maze in his living room, one that is much bigger on the inside and which gets a life of its own. His girlfriend and friends go in to try to save him, but find it is a much more complex and dangerous place than they imagined. Obviously a surreal metaphor for the inside of his mind, but the visual creativity is a joy, each room and adventure exploring the character and psychology of our protagonist, all using cardboard and paper craft. The ending is misguided, and I would have preferred it to dig into its idea a little deeper and played with it some more, but the fun idea and sets make it very worthwhile and rewatchable.

A collaborative short cartoon conceived and drawn by Dali and Walt Disney in the 50s and completed 50 years later. A Disney-esque woman dances in a surreal dream on themes of love, time and loss with pure Dali imagery: Ants crawl out of a hand only this time they transform into a swarm of cyclists on dunes, a woman wears the shadow of a bell, turns into dandelion seeds, which turn into fairies, with a melting wristwatch and the sands of time ticking on, etc. Beautiful but short.

Donnie Darko  
The masterpiece I always hoped Lynch would create. Mixing bizarre elements into a gripping and complex tale of time-travel, this one doesn't get lost in twisted creativity but magically ties it all together with a carefully layered and clever plot. Donnie is a troubled youth who seems at first to be just another teenager out of touch with reality. An evil rabbit tells him to commit violence and that the world will end, he discusses theoretical physics with a teacher and smurf sex with his friends, has anger issues with hypocrisy and idiocy, and his hallucinations at first get worse until some scary, otherworldly logic starts to tie it all together...

For some reason, it almost never occurred to me to add this classic movie as a surrealism. Perhaps because it captures simple dreams on film in such a visual, dreamy and slow-moving way that it appeals to a completely different part of the brain. Kurosawa directs this anthology of eight short movies attempting to capture his dreams and visions with vibrant color, all with varying themes and moods. Kurosawa often directs his movies in a meditative pace, but this one is quite extreme in this sense and will not appeal to the impatient or to people that don't experience this movie with the right side of the brain. Some images dig deep into the subconscious and stay there, like the ghost in the snow that meshes tactile textures while a man is passing out in a blizzard, or the dead men that emerge from a dark tunnel. The dreams range from childish innocence and imagination, to dark nightmares of war and hell involving commentary on society, to a magical art tour inside the paint of Van Gogh paintings, to a final optimistic and simple, happy utopia that is pure Kurosawa. Meditative magic.

Lucile Hadzihalilovic's films have become increasingly enigmatic and challenging with every outing. At this point, as with Lynch, it's possible not everything in this movie has a meaning and is simply there to broaden the right-brain with an emotive bizarre mystery. This film is based on an equally enigmatic book that seemed to have left all reviewers puzzled, but I wouldn't be surprised if Hadzihalilovic made changes in line with her own interests since the movie reflects many of her previous themes. The 'plot' involves a man taking meticulous but detached care of a young, secluded girl, and especially her dentures which are made of temporary ice made from her frozen saliva(!), and which need to be changed every few hours, preparing her for the world out there and for the day when she will have permanent but fragile glass dentures. The girl may or may not be his daughter, there are also memories of a wife now gone, a mysterious malignant instigator stranger at a bar, and a very confusing and violent relationship with a waitress which could be interpreted in a variety of surreal ways. Although this movie lends itself to endless partial interpretations, I see this as covering several themes involving relationships, especially parenting and marriage. Glass is an often-used motif as a fragile instrument for connections with others, either triggering intimate, familial or romantic memories, or used to cause permanent trauma and scarring, but also symbolically as the young girl's fragile 'dentures' that enable her to join and interact with society. This is a girl who is being prepared for adult life and relationships by a man that is both very fussy and attentive as well as cold and over-protective, scared of the day when 'transfer of guardianship' will occur, when her aforementioned 'glass dentures' become permanent, and he has to release her to society. An ominous painting portraying a mysterious house changes according to the current mood and day, reveals secrets of the child's birth, and prophesies her future release, thus reflecting the man's fears. The waitress may be his inner feminine side, or guilt over his relationship with his ex-wife, or another example of a damaging relationship, as exemplified by her overbearing and unromantic doctor-friend. But when you combine these symbols together with the ending, and some key phrases by the instigator about wanting to be the waitress, his bizarre psychic link with her, the many times that the characters interchanged, a solution of the film's puzzle emerges after multiple viewings: He is damaged by the war, unable to connect with others like his wife, and the waitress represents his ideal self as exemplified by his ex-wife, which is why he sees his wife in her. But the evil instigator is his personal fears, hence why he caused him to attack his ideal self, scarring her horribly. But when he loses his daughter to the world, taken by the same persona of fear, his fears come to the fore in a panic, and his ideal self who looks briefly like his wife attacks him back and literally eats his flesh, taking over his persona. Looking at it this way, the ending is positive rather than dark. By the way, the character's name is Aalbert Scellinc (an anagram for Still Clean Braces?), and his nickname is Earwig due to his sensitive ears and ability to hear through walls like a bug. An intriguing film that sticks in your mind and heart like a dark dream even when you don't get it, and it is therefore successful. Hadzihalilovic's best film, re-using and improving on several themes from her earlier outings.

Holy Motors  
This is a movie to love for its sheer bonkers humor, and yet it also finds and projects deep pathos in its main character. I see it as an homage to character acting, interesting faces, and heartfelt cinema, to actors that put their soul into their work and remain invisible. Except that, until it gets there, you get to be entertained by nine odd acting jobs that mess with your mind, blending acting setups into the real streets of Paris in surprising ways until the actors themselves become emotionally involved. The opening features Carax himself opening a secret door to a cinema full of sleeping people using his finger mutated into a key. Then we see Denis Lavant transform and throw himself into nine roles, including a reprise of his delightfully insane 'Merde' character from Tokyo!, this time satirizing models and their trained passive attitude in an unforgettable scene that must be seen to be believed. He also interacts with his chauffeur who cares for him, temporarily becomes a normal person for his daughter whom he punishes by telling her to live with herself, leads a parade of accordions during his break, and performs a dramatic musical stint with Kylie Minogue in a sad but magically dilapidated ex-department store. The rest are left as surprises, and just when the movie seems to be reaching a heartfelt ending, Carax pulls two more absurd jokes out of his sleeve. Silly, entertaining, gripping and touching all at the same time.

Hour-Glass Sanatorium, The  
A masterpiece of surrealism presenting a character study and artsy meditations through dream-logic. A man's past, existentialist ruminations and relationships with his parents and women are explored in exquisite surrealism and incredibly detailed and odd sets. He visits his sick father in a dilapidated mansion with tombstones blocking the door, where they treat him using time-travel. He wanders between his bitter mother and eccentric father, his orthodox Jewish past and village, his obsessions, his fascination with the local voluptuous redhead, a young, innocent but clear-headed boy (youth), and his search for the mysterious Bianca (wife?) who comes from a conflicting culture, her father raising historical wax figures that are real people moving like puppets. All this and much more interweaves with many thoughts, psychological symbols, meditations on tradition and Jewish existentialism, the sets, locations and people appearing out of nowhere and flowing together like a dream. Drifts at times and is quite long, but altogether a beautiful, multi-layered, challenging and fascinating experience. This one goes very well together with Terayama's films.

I Can See You  
A valiant and interesting attempt at psychological horror by way of Lynch, and I don't compare movies to Lynch lightly. It starts very slowly and roughly, draws in a patient and participating viewer during the middle section using deliberate slow atmosphere and sound, then comes together beautifully for the psychologically horrifying and highly surreal ending. Three young men working together in a marketing startup company decide to hike to the woods for a photo shoot. But how well do they know each other and what will emerge in their personalities when they are disconnected from the commercial world of plastic veneers, social masks and marketing facades? Several other elements all tie into this theme: One man is an amateur painter and is strangely challenged by portraits and faces, they are working on an ad for a liquid that cleans surfaces, there is blurriness in some pictures and in his eyesight that seems to have a hidden meaning, etc. Stick with it, and think about the theme, and it will all come together. How well do you know people and don't you prefer to see their facades clearly instead of their real, muddled and hidden personalities? This is Lynchian not only in its use of bizarre horror imagery, but also with an absurd personification of the subconscious, and the theme of underlying darkness. An underrated movie that worked for me even on second viewing, which obviously turned most viewers off due to its slow pace and very confusing final 20 minutes that don't explain a thing. But this is a hidden gem for the discerning, thinking fan of surreal psychological horror despite its low rating.

This is one of those magical-realist blends of sci-fi, surrealism and fantasy like Donnie Darko and MirrorMask. For the first half you will be held by its grip, a new world opens up and its rules and elements very slowly unfold. People appear in a flash in the middle of the night and link to human dreams and nightmares, strange black figures with faces hidden behind glasses and warped transparent screens, a strange disfigured character kidnaps a girl, warriors fight, and so on, all wonderfully filmed to give the impression of other dimensions at work. The story of a man and his daughter emerges, their relationship and a troubled past. The second half has one flaw in that it explains everything to death, but despite this pandering to brainless audiences, it works nicely and the human, surreal, metaphysical and emotional threads reach an obvious but wonderful climax.

John Dies at the End  
An underrated, superbly entertaining and endlessly inventive genre-bender from Coscarelli that will keep you on your toes. I can't say that the movie is structured well, and the approach seems to be to just keep throwing insane absurdities and endlessly bizarre comical horror at the audience, but the writing is so deliciously inventive and witty that it becomes an instant cult hit. There are endless ways to describe this movie (for example, Supernatural meets slacker comedy twisted around the spine of Naked Lunch), but none will do it justice, and the plot is too convoluted to describe either. There is soy sauce that gives you supernatural powers, creatures made up of frozen meat, parallel dimensions with computerized Lovecraftian monsters and a welcoming committee of breasts and masks, Vonnegut-style time-travelling, and much much more. Vastly entertaining and highly recommended.

A delightful cult movie if I ever saw one. A very low-budget sci-fi fantasy from Russia, this tells the tale of two hapless pedestrians who accidentally get sent to another world and try to make their way back while trying to survive the severe and absurd class system of another planet. Amongst other things in this absurdly hilarious world, people are defined by a colorful gadget, yellow pants and flashing light head-gear and the lowly must perform terrible musical numbers in cages. Matches are worth their weight in gold, and the vocabulary consists of about 10 words, with 'Kuh' covering everything else. Endlessly inventive and guaranteed to satisfy silly cult movie fans.

Highly surreal and unique Japanese animation that is quite an experience. It is surreal not only in content, but in style, which uses lovingly hand-drawn, semi-static, but shimmering charcoal images that, like dreams, are instantly identifiable but hazy, full of not-quite-defined detail. A little girl wishes for a world of vegetables and vegetarians, and promptly finds herself in a bizarre grotesque world with a food shortage, in a house where they are growing manure in the basement, where she is trying to grow strange vegetables with the help of her creature-computer. Her friends and acquaintances are strange hybrids, half human half fruit, or half fish, and five bizarre sense-creatures (nose, ear, mouth, eye and hand creatures) are creating their own alien seed. One vegetable escapes and finds a home with the girl, and promptly grows a face to avoid being eaten, except that everyone becomes strangely obsessed with this vegetable-human and wants to eat it. Thus, food, hunger and people mix in this surreal nightmare. The frenzy grows, an old pervert man keeps appearing in the shower, and a menacing robot in the toilet, and the sense-creatures frequently mutate into an orgiastic mass of flesh and song while chasing down their creation, leading to an insane climax that will make your mind explode. A must-see for fans of bizarre and dark animations. You won't know what to make of it, but it's mesmerizingly strange.

Mood Indigo  
This is actually the third film adaptation of this cult surreal novel after a weaker 60s movie and a non-surreal Japanese version, and this third try by Michel Gondry is definitely the best, although it is not without its difficulties. The story uses surrealism, absurdities and whimsy to tell two magical love stories that go sour (to say the least), one due to illness, and the other thanks to an unhealthy obsession with a 'spoonerized' philosopher. Thus the tone veers from quirky, imaginative and magical, to tragedy and depressive darkness, and it is important to know this in order to approach the movie prepared. Gondry's inventive and quirky visual style is perfect for this material, and nothing even in Gondry's own repertoire can prepare you for this never ending feast for the eyes and the imagination. It throws all logic and science out the window, depicting people in an alternate world with a pet human-mouse as part of the family that has his/her own elaborate transport system inside the house, a reality typed by a room full of typists with typewriters on conveyor belts, television cooking shoes that interact with the audience in impossible ways, steampunk computers that visually zoom in on anywhere in the city, clothes that are alive, weapons built by incubating them with human warmth, doorbells that run around the house and regenerate themselves, split-screen weather, underwater marriage ceremonies, the famous 'pianocktail', and much more more. Except the people are real, the absurd props and behaviour are recognizable in surreal ways, paralleling our lives, and the tragedy hits hard. As a visual feast, this is a masterpiece. As a story it is quite simple, and not so interesting. In addition, the first half may feel like an endless whimsical music video, while the second half veers into jarring darker territory. But, taken as a whole, the movie manages to capture something more: For, amidst the magical absurdities of love enhanced by physical impossibilities, what can be more absurd and more fitting than unexpected tragedy and death?

Mr. Nobody  
Dormael creates another metaphysical challenging movie eighteen years after Toto the Hero. Similar to that movie, this is also slightly messy with too many ideas and no sharp focus and vision, but also features superb visual playfulness and plenty to meditate on. The themes are choices, randomness, an unfair life based on minuscule details, meaningful consequences no matter what they may be, and the state of infinite potentialities versus the necessity to make a single choice. These heady themes are explored through the eyes of a man who seems to live multiple alternate realities, each with a different wife and love of his life, resulting also in very different lifestyles and endings. His memory is a jumble, his timeline is anything but linear, and his realities often bleed into each other in daydream-logic. He is also living as an old man in the future where he is the last mortal man having to face his own death, as well as in a detailed sci-fi fantasy involving a trip to Mars. There are plenty of questions to muse over backed by a constant stream of visual inventiveness to jar you out of each reality. This is not coldly technical like a Nolan movie and is more European in its meditative style, neither is it as sharply focused and rewarding as an Aronofsky, but perhaps we can say it is somewhere between Resnais, Julio Medem and Donnie Darko, and comes recommended.

Nightmare, The  
A nicely-done little movie that can be enjoyed on several levels: As a weird little horror movie with a strange E.T. creature; as a reality-bending is-this-real-or-are-they-dead kind of film; and as a teenage drama and cinematic celebration of rave parties complete with strobe lights and a pounding soundtrack. But, most of all, this is a surreal teenage-girl coming-of-age film. It doesn't keep the subtext in the background like Ginger Snaps, but brings it right up to the foreground with creepy symbolic dreams, shrink sessions, parent and teacher confrontations (with her father constantly trying to 'kill' the creature instead of understanding it), and surreal use of a symbiotic creature that gradually becomes more real and less alienated to her, and then to the rest of the world. It's all spelled out neatly if one puts in just a little effort, with blatantly mentioned themes of symbolic death and rebirth, the question of who is the 'driver', and an undefined disquieting feeling inside her that is alien, but not really. I enjoyed this one. Another movie that uses this theme but which is more straightforward and in line with Ginger Snaps, is the Finnish 'Hatching'.

Nine Lives of Tomas Katz, The  
A great absurdist surrealist comedy from the UK. A being emerges from the sewer on the day of a solar eclipse and starts the apocalypse. Only this isn't raging fire and brimstone or a comet, but pure chaos at every level of existence. He exchanges personalities with various people and antagonizes the system and reality, shutting down the London Underground by turning it into a cult and passage to the afterlife, policemen report window conspiracies, fishery ministers declare war, the government's assets are transferred to an old man's bank account, a talk show spouts random nonsense about the situation, an ultimately empty-headed man with god-like powers makes things disappear, etc. A blind policeman with strong ties to the spiritual world tries to stop this through the astral plane. The cinematography shifts randomly from music-video to silent film, the soundtrack changes from middle-eastern chants to trance music, and people get stuck in a film-loop. The atmosphere is as if David Lynch were filming absurdities instead of nightmares, portraying a dream-logic picture of reality itself falling apart, all systems buckling under a spiritual force of chaos, one with a strong sense of black humor. It's truly a one-of-a-kind movie with a special atmosphere that involves many senses and levels of thought. Fascinating and very amusing in highly unusual ways.

A prequel to the incredible Ichi the Killer (Miike) directed by his cinematographer. This low-budget, twisted work may indulge itself in too many pointless camera tricks and suffer under its minuscule budget, but its acting, story-telling and black heart are all in the right place. This is Ichi-lite, the high-school version. Ichi is constantly bullied even by small kids but is perversely attracted to extreme cruelty and butcher shops. Mr Dai is a superb and brutal boxer with an existential need to be the number one fighter in all high-schools. When the riveting Onizami joins in and changes the rules of the game by breaking bones with uncompromising brutality, Ichi explodes into a perverse, sado-maso killing machine.

By far the most enigmatic and abstract creation by the existential Ingmar Bergman. This one baffles and evokes numerous interpretations but always creates a spell. My own impression is that this is an ultimate study of existentialism and being. As usual, Bergman asks more questions than he answers: What makes us who we are? How do we separate ourselves from the influences, traumas, masks, and habits that make up our character? What if we are only masks and actors? An actress breaks down after a dark epiphany because she does not know who she is anymore and a nurse takes care of her, effectively becoming her soul (Alma). Personalities transfer, they merge until even the husband cannot see who is who. The actress studies and tries to transfer Alma's character to her own, even sucking her blood in the process. Alma goes along at first but then resists and learns her own self. Words in an erotic story are so vivid they become reality, the film breaks down at a character development climax and forces us to remember we are only seeing masks. The film provokes the audience with random provocative images and the actresses are themselves affected by photographs of real traumatic events. Many more intriguing details appear after multiple viewings. A treat for people that like to be challenged.

Ruben Brandt, Collector  
A one-of-a-kind Hungarian animated work of art that combines Fast & Furious-esque over-the-top heist action with surrealism and paintings. An eccentric psychotherapist treats criminals that have elevated their crime to art, but which have psychological hangups getting in their way. Trouble is, the therapist himself is having surreal nightmares involving paintings and he needs their help. An energetic hunter and his sexy sidekick (with three eyes), are on their tails. Every face in the animation is a modernist distortion that makes use of scores of painting styles that I couldn't even name if I tried, and seeing one bizarre but striking face after another (including one creepy mosquito), is one of the bizarre joys of this film. The nightmares are surreal fun and there are many of them, and the set design and visual interactions between the characters and their surroundings are endlessly inventive and visually striking, sometimes to the point where you can't tell them apart from the nightmares. The heist and action I could have done without, but it adds to the entertainment, and there is one funny scene where they use paintings as weapons. But it's the visuals and surrealism that are the stars of this film, even for someone like me that isn't strongly into paintings. Unique and fun.

Sea That Thinks, The  
The equivalent of staring at Escher drawings while contemplating existential philosophy for 100 minutes, this endlessly inventive movie is fiercely self-referential. Incredible, live, 3d optical illusions and uniquely inventive special effects punctuate a meditation on what we are and what is the mind's I, serving as mental provocations in the best tradition of Dada art. The movie shows a character who is writing the movie, and the movie dictates the character and his actions. Real life seeps into the movie but becomes part of the movie, etc. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, as every other minute there is another self-referential game, wonderfully imaginative twists, and jaw-dropping illusions, all coming together as a mental gymnasium while the character reaches an existential crisis and nearly goes insane. The movie has superb momentum and timing, knowing when to pile on the mind-warping tricks, and when to stop for Tarkovsky-esque meditation. This is the movie Being John Malkovich wished it were. Ultimately re-watchable.

Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb, The  
Svankmajer would have been proud of this one. A re-imagining of the Tom Thumb fairy-tale that is both grotesque and cruel/dark, perhaps a bit too cruel. But the imagination, visuals and painstaking stop-motion animation work are all superb. Tom is born to a sick mother after an artificial insemination accident involving an insect. He is a tiny doughy-fetus-like creature, and the evil laboratory powers-that-be soon kidnap him for some cruel experimentation in an astounding lab full of grotesque living body-parts and mutated creatures. An escape with the help of a lizard-like creature leads him to a little city of tiny people like him, one of which found a way to wage war on the giants. Everything is slimy and crawling with bugs, and the humans are real actors that have been filmed in stop-motion style with a seamless integration with their clay counterparts. I can only imagine how painful that must have been to film. The ending is disappointingly unrewarding, and the cruelty sometimes seems gratuitous, but the trip is still worth it

Small Gauge Trauma          
Great short movies are getting lost amidst thousands of unseen little pieces out there that never get distributed. Synapse and Fantasia film festival attempt to correct this by releasing a compilation of the best and most striking sick little shorts from the past few years. Hopefully, there will be more of these releases. Features 13 various shorts, of which at least a handful are guaranteed to be exceptional. Standouts: "Abuelitos" - an atmospheric, disturbing short that gets under your skin about old men in a decrepit building and their mysterious meals and hygiene habits, "Love From Mother Only" - a horrifying gore movie about evil, sex and possession, Tea Break - both hilarious and sickening featuring a conveyor belt human abattoir, and "The Separation" - a stop-motion poetic, twisted and depressing piece about separated siamese twins that long to get back together.

Somewhere in Palilula  
Old-school surrealism is alive and well in this one-of-a-kind Romanian work of artistic whimsy. It fits nicely in the sparsely-populated category of sprawling surreal movies that portray a certain lifestyle, character or memories in a loose patchwork of dream-logic and whimsical scenes. This category includes films like Hour-Glass Sanatorium and Terayama's films, except this one has a distinct Balkan or Gypsy energy, flavor and humor, bringing to mind also 'Tears for Sale'. It's a style that I enjoy, but which requires a certain mindset. The movie involves a pediatrician who finds himself in an extremely strange village full of highly eccentric characters, and no children. Most of the movies involves vignettes and interactions between the many characters, as the doctor settles in to a new lifestyle of doing nothing in particular, except drinking a lot, and fitting in. Characters include a goat-woman, a hermaphrodite that changes gender with the moon, a couple that beats each other up, a die-hard party Communist loosing all his teeth but who attracts the ladies, a synchronized pair of strange women, lots of drunkards, a man in black-face from Africa, a woman with a glowing eye, and many more. Hallucinations due to drunkenness mix with dreams and visual metaphors, all tie in to the surreal portrayal of a life gone by in a period that no longer exists. The movie lacks a plot, but can be enjoyed on two levels: The primary one is just to enjoy the world on its own level, with all its whims and strange humor, and to experience a surreal humoristic impression of a different life. If this isn't enough, you can add more heady content to the events by figuring out what each character represents, keeping in mind some basic history of Communism, and what life was like in the Eastern Bloc, especially in Romania under Ceausescu. For example, characters that represent the Party, industry, working class, peasants, the future, the past, domestic violence, etc. Either way, this is a visually rich, well done, and enjoyably quirky movie.

A mainstream, subtly surreal movie with some Lynchian aspirations. A psychiatrist tries to help a strange and suicidal college student who for some reason knows he is going to kill himself in three days time. His girlfriend, who was also suicidal in the past, tries to help, but things become more and more confusing. The movie uses many great transitions and beautifully tricky cinematography and editing that reminded me of Robert Lepage, and many subtle odd touches such as multiple twins and triplets, time-bending and time-loops, some fantasy, or pants that are too short, to drop hints of what is to come. The ending kinda ties it all together, but not necessarily in a logical sense, and you have to think about it as a right-brain, dream-logic, emotional experience driven by human needs to extract the factual details from the rest. Because of all this, viewers of this movie either tend to wrongfully hype this movie's genius, or discard it as empty and confusing, but it's a good movie nevertheless and beautifully put together, subtly evading the twists that experienced movie-goers will easily predict by not allowing it to fit too neatly into these theories. A good, albeit relatively inferior companion piece to Donnie Darko, but a slightly better variation of The I Inside.

Survive Style 5+  
5 intertwined crazy plot-lines with insanely colorful cinematography. A man repeatedly kills his wife only to have her come back more annoyed than ever, a family man is hypnotised into thinking he's a bird with unfortunate consequences, teenage thieves deal with a homosexual complex, a maker of crazy commercials tries to deal with annoying coworkers and husbands, and a British hit-man asks his victims their function in life via a Japanese interpreter. Visually stunning, very entertaining (but with a flawed, overlong second half), and works at several levels, one being the connecting theme of karma and accepting things in life in order to survive.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The  
A unique classic that set the standard for backwoods horror dementia and atmosphere, and which has never been duplicated since. A group of youngsters, one disabled and prone to morbid interests and childish tantrums, stay unexpectedly at an old heirloom house, and encounter an extremely demented neighbour family with deranged obsessions for the meat industry and slaughter houses. Avoids the Hollywood teenage-horror cliches, masterfully builds a horrific and brutal atmosphere mostly thanks to a great sound design and a unique gritty style of cinematography, as well as the horrific and brutal dementia of the family, and is still very disturbing and unrelenting today. Features an unforgettable insane dinner scene with a killer great-grandfather, and it introduced Leatherface, his human-skin-mask, and his chainsaw.

Of all the movies about a nuclear holocaust, this one emerges not only as one of the best, but also as the most brutally, relentlessly and mercilessly realistic. It is actually more of a 'documentary' than a movie, and that is one of its flaws. But the terror and horrors are indescribably intense and disturbing. It's a systematic British depiction of what will happen when a nuclear war breaks out, focusing on the residents of Sheffield England from days before the attack until over a decade later when humanity has been reduced to animalistic survivors with almost no hope. The attack itself is riveting in its intense terror, and then it deteriorates from there. Forget The Day After or Testament; this one is backed by science and an educational narrative, and holds nothing back, except that its flaw is that it focuses masochistically only on the worst case scenarios, hopping from one nightmare scene to another relentlessly without giving us much time to get to know the characters and without developing much of a story. Its power is undeniable, however, and has shaken many to their cores.

I'm not usually a fan of anthologies or the popular triptych omnibus approach to releasing short movies, but this is the most successful and delightfully strange one yet. The theme is the effect of life in a big city taken to absurd extremes, and these movies could have been based in any city except they use some Tokyo-specific details. Michel Gondry's "Interior Design" whimsically explores the attempts of some youngsters to find their place in the city, with amusing battles involving apartment-hunting and car-pound bureaucracy. When a girl finds herself superfluous and lost, her body mutates into something more useful... Leos Carax's "Merde" features an inspired unforgettable creation in the misanthropic sewer-dwelling foreigner with a crooked red-beard and a language that involves high-pitched grunts and slapping. When he terrorizes the city with general abuse and old Nanking grenades, they take him to trial. Bong Joon-Ho's "Shaking Tokyo" is my favorite, dealing with a hikikomori (Japanese city-hermit) with OCD who falls for a pizza-delivery-girl and forces himself to go out of his house for the first time in 11 years with surreal results. Everyone seems to have their own favorite, but I like how all three different but inventive shorts join forces to create a delightful portrait of extreme city life.

Upstream Color  
Carruth finally follows up on Primer nine years later with an even more challenging, existential and abstract experiment. It's one of those rare movies that are so dense with mysterious details, you'll keep snapping pieces of the puzzle into place with every viewing, and you'll keep watching it because you sense that it's not just weirdness for its own sake. Thoreau's 'Walden' and his views on transcendentalism are a big key in deciphering this one. It explores themes of stolen or borrowed identities, people that live without their own identity, a breakdown of self-understanding, society and civilization as potential maladies, people that try to rebuild again after their self has been broken or stolen, and their emotions or connections with other people as well as the physical/natural world. There's a 'Thief' that uses grubs to control other people, playing with their perception and control of reality and stealing their money and lives. There's a very abstract character of 'The Sampler' who records sounds onto machinery as well as people's identities onto pigs, who seems to go beyond psychically observing lives to being some kind of a warden of souls. There are emptied victims that find each other, a cycle of life portrayed via worms, pigs and orchids, shared and stolen memories, and a symbolic, transcendental breakthrough through orchids, isolation, and water. All this should provide more than enough keys to unravelling the mystery, and the movie's density and uniquely challenging viewing experience ensure that it can't be spoiled. I would have liked more insight, humanity and depth once the puzzle is solved, but I loved the method it used to communicate, merging cold abstraction, challenging terseness, intelligence, surrealism, and existential need.

Wolf House, The  
Wow. Stop-motion animation is already associated with some of the most mind-boggling, obsessive, painstaking labors of love in cinema. But this film from Chile has decided that regular stop-motion is too simple, and has added levels of complexity in the form of constantly morphing rooms, props, body parts and paint in practically all of its scenes all of the time. In addition, it is unique in the jaw-dropping ways it combines 2D painted characters, 3D paper-mache or cardboard versions of the same characters, and real props. A character may gradually emerge from the wall, move across the walls of a room and then gradually into 3D, interact with both 2D and 3D objects, morph and merge with furniture, grow and shrink its limbs, etc. You've never seen anything like it and it is constantly inventive. It is also a very dark and surreal movie that will only be enjoyed by those looking for a purely right-brain experience rather than a narrative film. The critical background needed to enjoy this film is that it uses as its starting point the infamous|Nazi-German cult colony in Chile by the name of Colonia Dignidad, members of which molested many children (and supposedly tortured and murdered people). But this is just the backdrop that constantly hovers and interjects itself into this gripping visual-audio experience, and it is referred to in the introduction in the form of cult propaganda (as supported by the Pinochet government). The bulk of the film, however, is as if we have been transported into the imagination of a child that has escaped from reality and keeps building her 'house' and transforming her pet pigs gradually into increasingly interactive humans, while being haunted by a 'big bad wolf'. Events and emotions are always depicted in surreal ways, and this approach, together with the disquieting audio and mesmerizing visuals create a gripping surreal experience. And this is why the house is constantly alive and morphing, characters constantly being recreated and transformed according to the current emotion, limbs only appear as needed, etc. Thus, her escape story is both physical and mental, while her imagination gradually threatens to take over and put her in a precarious situation, until the big bad wolf doesn't seem so bad anymore...
Of Some Interest

ABCs of Death, The  
A very colorful and extreme production of 26 horror shorts, each named after a letter in the alphabet and given to a director to do with it what they will. And boy, do they let go of all restraints and limitations. The wide variety covers everything from disturbing horror to artsy nastiness, disgusting comedy, gruesome violence, general insanity and tongue-in-cheek extreme comedy. Of the 26, the following are the most bizarre and extreme (but not necessarily the best): 'F is for Fart' by Iguchi features death by poison farts, lesbian teacher love, death clouds and other silly surprises. There is a very strange killer in 'G is for Gravity' and that's all you can say about this puzzling one. Going completely bonkers is 'H is for Hydro-Electric-Diffusion' involving a fox-stripper, a dog-audience, Nazism and campy death-machines. Yudai Yamaguchi lends another cartoonishly mad Japanese short involving a man making impossible gruesome faces during a hara-kiri ('J is for Jidai-geki'). The hilariously disgusting animation 'K is for Klutz' features death by... well, I can't say it. 'L is for Libido' is a really sick one involving masturbation contests mixed with torture porn, killings for entertainment, and increasingly sick 'erotic' shows. Forzani-Cattet deliver another psychedelic visual short of textures, sound, leather, bubbles and violence in 'O is for Orgasm'. Some gruesome hospital & skin-disease splatter is offered in the impenetrably artsy and puzzling 'R is for Removed'. 'W for WTF' is an insane chaotic montage of psychedelic horror imagery including over-the-top splatter. 'X is for XXL' is a truly nasty & gory but barbed satire on how society abuses fat women and how women torture themselves. 'Y is for Young Buck' is a surreal take on child sexual abuse involving hunter symbolism and graphic violence. 'Z is for Zetsumetsu' by Yoshihiro Nishimura is by far the most insane of the bunch, and that's saying a lot. I have no idea what it is about, but it involves Dr. Strangelove, a Nazi woman with a monster penis, projectile vaginal-vegetables and penises being chopped up into a meal, a gory fight scene with nudity, maggots, and a food commercial. Altogether a very mixed bag as expected, with several good ones, but even the bad shorts are too short to do anything but surprise you.

Acid House  
A twisted triptych of tales on the topic of losers who have really lousy lives only to get hit by something worse to make things more miserable. The first one is dumped by his team-mates, girlfriend, and parents, arrested, and then God punishes him by turning him into a fly. The second marries a pregnant slut and is forced to take care of the baby while she has loud sex with the violent neighbour who steals his electricity. The third vulgar idiot takes drugs to avoid marriage and is hit by lightening only to find he has switched bodies with a new born baby (to the horror of the parents). A lurid, fast-paced, surreal exercise in nasty dark humor.

Adam 2  
Delightfully surreal and odd, groundbreaking, but plotless Polish animation from 1968 (with German intertitles). A man escapes his humdrum life with endless imaginative fantasies and memories. The inside of his head communicates with a girl at a train station, and he fantasizes about resting his detached head on her lap, people and objects mutate freely into other objects or creatures Bill-Plympton style, a business meeting turns into a Kafka-esque nightmare where they try to literally reshape his head, and so on. Daydreams turn into full blown fantasies involving witches, him as Superman, chasing angels in heaven, travelling on a time-machine, or being chased by God after stealing a numbered fruit from Eden. Many other fantasies are just bizarre and often lose themselves in freewheeling imagery. Some sequences are reminiscent of Plympton except the animation style is very different, some are silly free-associative absurdities with cut-outs reminiscent of Gilliam, and most others are just plain off-the-wall. Unfortunately the movie is just a sequence of incohesive fantasy scenes, but it's fun anyways.

A collection of 13 French shorts and vignettes, ranging from nightmarish to absurd to surreal. One recurring theme in several shorts is technology getting a life of its own as cars and trains drive their drivers to scary destinations, surveillance cameras turn into aggressive robot-insects, ceilings lower themselves threatening to crush everyone and everything in the room, and a TV abuses its viewers at home in every channel until they order a TV exorcist to do battle with the evil contraption. The most surreal short features a man obsessed with cutting the legs off flies and gluing them in a meticulous pattern on his wall, another short features a man who has to overcome several fatal booby traps before he buys a house (this was way before Saw), another shows a man donating his face to art for a new violent sculpturing technique, and so on.

Adventures of God, The  
Another intellectual metaphysical movie by Subiela, this one employing surrealism to explore life itself. A man emerges from the sea and walks to a strange beach-hotel where abandoned luggage is piled up in the lounge and men line up to look through keyholes. He knows he is in a dream and even grows to think he is living someone else's dream. He discusses various aspects of this dream-life with a mysterious woman who serves as his emotional guide, considering whether it would be good to leave this life, how it is possible to enjoy it, and whether it would be better to confront or kill the person or God who is dreaming them. The movie is existential and mesmerizing, but not particularly insightful or coherent, and it simply tries to hard to be weird and Lynchian, yet at the same time is very anchored in its intellectualism. The guests in the hotel talk in random absurdities or pseudo-profound aphorisms, a priest advises to masturbate, a man congratulates another on being an imbecile as expected, people line up to peer through a keyhole to see strange or kinky erotica, miracles transform a picture of a suffering Jesus into a toy for a young boy, a lottery metes out deaths, and mothers are consumed. Intriguing but unrewarding.

Aerial, The (AKA Antena)  
A TV mogul has taken over the world, stealing all the people's voices except for one hooded singer whom he uses as entertainment. He plots to take away more from the people while feeding them TV cookies but a group may have found a way to topple his tyrannical rule with the help of a boy with no eyes. Weird elements include a rat-like henchman, a man with a screen covering his face, balloon suits and more. This is visual candy, but empty, like an MTV homage to 20s expressionism and fantasy with a nod to Guy Maddin. The style is a shiny silent film, but the dialogue is splayed all over the screen with endlessly inventive and distracting text effects. I'm also not sure as to how they communicate and why they move their lips even though they have no voice, and why bells make noise but machine guns make text effects.

A beautifully shot sick movie. This short features high production values, great camera work and colors, crystal clear sound, no dialogue, very realistic special effects and extreme graphic detail of an autopsy and necrophilia while performing an autopsy. The ending is as subtle as it is thought-provoking and raises this whole sickening work into the single most gut-wrenching and extreme expression of irony ever made.

After the Day Before  
Hungarian Lynchian murder-mystery in a pastoral setting. A man is looking for a house in the country he supposedly inherited. He wanders between sparse homes and their strange occupants in search of his home, but everything feels off and disjointed, and the local folk seem to be occupied with dark secrets involving violence. Dreams merge into reality, blackouts transport him and us to different places and times in the non-linear story, with key objects that include snail shells with a hole in them, and a broken watch and toy. As far as tension, odd mystery and atmosphere go, this film is masterfully constructed. But, disappointingly, the movie goes nowhere and ends up being a murder-mystery exercise that makes absolutely no sense, perhaps a bit like a Robbe-Grillet story, which would be interesting except the motivations are completely missing and everybody as well as nobody seems to have committed a crime.

Alice in Wonderland (1970)  
Any adaptation of Alice is going to be labelled as surreal, but this French TV movie for kids from the 70s even adds its own layers of wackiness, crazy visuals, wordplay and psychedelia. It's very cheaply made though, with live action against a bewildering backdrop of crudely drawn and very bright colors. The director adds superimpositions, nutty musical scenes, a wide range of silly costumes, psychedelic backgrounds, many little surreal visual details that he thought would add more dimensions to the already surreal story, many games with words, and other constant surprises. Basically LSD for kids.

Alice or the Last Escapade  
Chabrol, the 'French Hitchcock', even when inspired by Alice in Wonderland, manages to turn it into a mystery of sorts. It's not Caroll's Alice story although there are one or two brief references to it. It is still a surreal adult fantasy, however, with the tone of a mystery, and is actually a precursor to several more modern movies with a reality twist. Alice (Sylvia Kristel) leaves her husband suddenly after the sudden revelation that she doesn't like him anymore. After some mishaps, she finds herself in a strange mansion where nothing makes sense, where all paths lead back to the start, no questions are allowed, gravity and clocks occasionally misbehave, and people like games and riddles, and act insanely at a banquet.

Allegro Non Troppo  
Disney has nothing on this animated movie that tries to put both silly and adult-oriented surreal imagery to classical pieces. The wrapper is live-action featuring a stream of odd gags and surreal slapstick as a producer tries to present the animations drawn by an artist who was locked up in a dungeon, accompanied by an orchestra of old ladies, while drawings, cartoon characters, and gorillas disrupt the proceedings and turn reality into a cartoon. Debussy's Prelude shows an old Faun trying to seduce young girls and finds that he cannot, as the women turn into surreal unreachable objects and merge into his world and scenery. There's Ravel's Bolero accompanied by a surreal montage of evolving life and society, all emerging from a coke bottle. A Slavonic Dance by Dvorak is accompanied by a comedy of trends as a herd of people emulate a pioneer in a dance of absurdisms. Valse Triste by Sibelius shows nostalgic visions of family life as imagined by a mangy, abandoned and sad cat. And Stravinsky's Firebird turns the story of Adam and Eve into a surreal montage of overwhelming materialism and devilry as triggered by a snake eating the apple. Fun at times, silly at others, and, overall, an entertaining and surreal spoof of Fantasia.

Alone (Sami)  
This Croatian oddity starts as an intriguing meditation on loneliness, then changes into a disappointingly near-conventional psychological thriller with a twist. A man lives in what looks like a dark dilapidated warehouse with his woman, their relationship a shambles as well. Dialogue is minimal or uncomfortable and fragmented, sex is mechanical, while each obsesses over their own weird fetishes. He takes an erotic picture of her then leaves her alone to brood over it, she has a strange affinity for fish in her bath, and so on. One day he accidentally kills a boy and covers it up. He collects sounds, and has an affair with a strange woman who provides him with sounds in a garbage-dump marketplace, but his past starts to catch up with him. Unfocused.

Alone in the T-Shirt Zone  
Amateurish dream-logic explores the mind of a persecuted almost-braindead young man in an insane asylum. For some unknown reason, he is constantly being chased by women who want him, use him, and get him in trouble, to the point where his own doctor rapes him while he's in a vegetative state. Memories of his life as a T-Shirt designer help unravel his past, with several objects and words repeating themselves as in a dream, especially a mysterious t-shirt that says "Foxy Lady". Bugs and mice crawl under everything, t-shirts magically change to express their wearers' personality and intentions, and a drug causes him to experience a dream where t-shirts are pulled out of his intestines. Unfortunately, the acting is very stiff, hokey and awkward, and the writing doesn't lead to anything.

American Astronaut, The  
Cory McAbee seems to live in his own world populated by very eccentric, catchy and silly music, and I wouldn't be surprised if he were influenced by Zappa. This is his debut feature after a few unusual musical shorts, and its a bizarre sci-fi creation with its own funny rules that sometimes made me think of Maddin. Samuel Curtis is on a trading mission to exchange a cat for a real live girl, which he trades on Mars for the "Boy Who Actually Saw a Woman's Breast" so he can bring the Venusian women a new King. See, women and sex have become extinct ever since the women discovered they can reproduce on their own and moved to Venus. So he takes part in a weird dance competition, is chased by a killer who only kills for no reason and who performs an insane dance over many little piles of ashes that were once men, picks up Bodysuit a stinky Earth boy, and witnesses the miners get their morale boosted by a two word description of breasts. All obviously peppered with McAbee's unique brand of rock music and musical scenes.

Amanece Que no Es Poco  
One-of-a-kind Spanish surreal comedy that is so dense with gags, eccentricities, sketches, characters, fantastical absurdities and punchlines, that it is almost impossible to describe. It takes place in a village where the locals take magical happenings and surreal personality quirks in stride, even brushing it off with cynicism. A drunk man splits into two people and the priest warns him about his double's behaviour, a woman finds a man growing in her field and decides to try him out as her boyfriend, elections vote not only for a mayor, but also for the military police versus the secret police, and they also vote for women in the roles of Bitch and Adulteress, a cynical sage is growing out of the ground in the entrance to the town, a Russian choir and dance group entertain in the local church, a man levitates to heaven but complains about the bad timing, police instruct teenagers how to grope each other better, and so on and on. At first, there are so many characters, it feels like a series of sketches, but then it develops. I sense that many jokes and cultural references flew over my head, but there is plenty of amusement and surprises left even for outsiders.

Angel Mine  
A series of surreal and absurd vignettes structured chaotically like a Monty Python episode. The theme is marriage and society, as depicted by a couple with their marriage on the rocks. The opening scene shows him emerging from the ocean as a sailor, trying to dress her as she sits naked on a toilet seat on the beach while guests draw near. We then learn they are fighting over dressing and toiletries in order to visit friends they don't want to visit. Commercials promise marital bliss via various products, Death mows the lawn and drinks beer, absurd TV shows and radio programmes hover in the background, there are gender and religious politics over a gory abortion, and all the while, their evil, lusty, animalistic, cruel doppelgängers, dressed in leather, stalk them with plans to torture them.

Animation Show, The 1-4        
A series of short animation collections that is generally more interesting than extreme & juvenile fare like the 'Spike and Mike' collections. This contains some unusual, dark, visually artistic, sometimes surreal shorts, as well as the occasional juvenile trash mixed in between, all delivered in a wide variety of animation styles. This makes the tone of the collection veer all over the place. Standouts in the first release include: A very strikingly animated Japanese short 'Mt. Head' where things grow on top of a bizarre man's head which soon becomes a microcosm of humanity. 'La course à l'abîme' is a hand-painted artistic short with horse-riders morphing in surreal ways into various paintings. 'Billy Balloon' is an amusingly cruel stick-animation involving sadistic balloons versus babies. 'Parking' is the usual Plympton entertaining violence that bends the laws of reality. The sad 'Aria' features a doll taking herself apart off the 'film-set'. Included are also animations by Mike Judge of Beavis and Butthead fame, as well as a prototype for Office Space, some silly surreal cotton-balls animated by Hertzfeldt, the idiotic Ricardo series, and some blackly amusing shorts on odd family members by Adam Elliot. The second collection is less interesting with almost nothing surreal or extreme, but also contains a wide variety of entertaining shorts, some only included due to their animation styles, and one bizarre standout with a head-scratching concept: 'Fallen Art'. The third gets more bizarre again with shorts like: 'Rabbit' that has its own internal logic combining a fable on violent greedy kids with computer-game logic. 'City Paradise' is very unique, indescribable, surreal fun both in content and visuals. 'Tyger' is hallucinogenic, featuring a giant tiger puppet transforming a city. 'Abigail' employs dream-logic for a man in a crashing airplane, and there are two Plympton shorts, one with a bizarre murderer. The fourth collection is simpler, with a focus on comedy and zany entertainment, but with the usual hodgepodge of animation styles.

Anna Karamazoff  
Khamdamov's surreal and challenging magnum opus is technically his second feature-film, except that his first film twenty years earlier 'Accidental Joys' was left unfinished and was partially destroyed, and only 20-minutes of footage was recovered. This movie is staggeringly visually rich with bizarre oneiric scenes as well as a hidden impenetrable narrative. It is a movie of three sections as far as I am concerned: The first hour is a masterpiece of classic surrealism in the vein of films like 'Hour-Glass Sanatorium'. It depicts the troubled lifestyle in Russia during the era of Lenin, via a woman who returns home to her city in search of her mother and possibly for some kind of revenge, and finds a broken society. Uzbek shamans and teenagers from the old country who are afraid of a stove have taken over her house, a girl is abandoned and locked in her home waiting for her dead mother, her mother's room has burned down due to electricity-thievery, mountains of papers and memories are stuffed in the closet, the ancestor, a grandmother, is insane, and the new generation, a very precocious little girl, may be a cold murderer. All of these strange events and people deliver their obvious symbolic meaning, depicting Russian society very effectively, but the scenes are also layered with rich visual details, a moody atmospheric soundtrack, many bizarre elements like a surreal archer, diamond-tears and a bunny-boy, and all are heavy in oneirism. This becomes even more dreamlike in a scene at the cemetery with fruits, flirty priests, strange dog-creatures, and undead people, followed by a dream-logic chase of a bunny-boy in the city. After that, comes the second part of the movie where Khamdamov spliced the 20-plus minutes of fragmented footage from his first feature-film as a semi-silent fantasy movie about an existential magic rug, watched by our mysterious lady in a cinema. But this footage, which feels like a fragmented Maddin movie, completely breaks the flow, mood and flavor of the movie. This was one of the reasons the film was forced into obscurity by the French producer and actress (who protested aggressively, and correctly so). A director's cut is not always the best. Even without this intrusion, however, the third part veers off into two strangely fragmented narratives and plots about a love affair with a young pianist-artist, and an attempted murder of a corrupt powerful man by poison. Not only do these narratives feel sometimes like a deconstructed Robbe-Grillet plot, but any potential symbolism is personal and impenetrable, and although still surreal (e.g. a kitten-sized doll-house) it doesn't fit with the much more oneiric first half. Still, this is a rich work that must be seen at least once by connoisseurs of the surreal.

Another Trip to the Moon  
Indonesian strangeness that starts as a meditative and visually beautiful fable that takes place in a magical forest, then it starts injecting absurd elements from the modern world into the fairy tale, drawing parallels between myth and modern culture. At least that's what you think it's about, until the UFO appears, and then you just give up and try to enjoy the movie nevertheless because it is so pretty. Drawing from Indonesian legends and myths which I know nothing about, it tells the tale of Asa, a Shaman's daughter who ran away into the woods with her female friend to live in nature, until her mother with the help of a TV screen as medium, sends a man-dog creature after her and she falls in love. There's no dialogue, only simple melodies and repetitive chants and lots of nature. The forest is full of magical half-human creatures, wind-up plastic bunnies, dangerous lightning, undead rituals and other forms of magic, until she takes the bus home to her mother, that is.

Antenna, The  
Ah yes, evil black goo and governments. This Turkish horror film is all about Kafka-esque atmosphere mixed with a strong dose of Cronenberg in a gradually worsening repressive and horror atmosphere until it becomes purely surreal. It's a dystopian Turkey, and the government is about to release an ominous broadcasting system that everyone is supposed to watch. But even the installation of the antenna happens with a strange and foreboding accident. The government is everywhere, embodied in malicious, murdering black goo released through state-controlled media and faceless humanoids, turning some people into frightening psychopaths, and altering the reality around a long-suffering superintendent. An apartment building soon becomes a surreal place of horrors until someone performs an act of rebellion. However, while the atmosphere and visuals are good, the plot and ideas in this movie are bare-bones and there isn't much by way of development in the writing.

This horror movie lives in its own reality. It's protagonists are the dregs of humanity: First and foremost is Lou, a party-animal that eats rotten pizza, takes any drug indiscriminately, has no idea when she had sex last, and ignores freaky skin diseases and mutated feet as minor annoyances. There's also a crazy conspiracy lady that seems completely insane (or is she?), an immoral friend who only cares about money, a mutilated woman who is exploited for her clean urine by a criminal who deals with various stuff that comes his way, including stolen experimental chemicals. When Lou very slowly realizes she may be pregnant, things become really freaky, leading to a completely insane ending. There is some nasty gore, but it isn't a gore movie as much as it is a freak show movie that may as well have been made by aliens. Although people are calling this 'body-horror', the characters are so removed from reality, that nothing seems to faze them, even physically impossible freaky stuff, which makes this movie more like an insane alien art piece made under the influence, rather than a horror movie that gets under your skin. The party girls have a ball being as insanely irresponsible as they can though.

Apocalypse Zero  
Another one of those animes that straddle the border with hentai, pushing the envelope with sexual and violent content without being pornographic. This one is thoroughly juvenile nonsense, but it is entertainingly demented juvenile nonsense. One can instantly imagine a horny teenager in his basement coming up with one bizarre and gruesome monster after another for the hero to fight, all of them tainted by an imagination overwhelmed with deviant sexual fantasy, using mutated genitalia and weapons such as sperm-bullets to attack our hero and cute high-school girls. There is some gruesome gore here, but the primary billing belongs to the parade of bizarre sexual monsters. Our hero has been trained to sacrifice himself and fight post-apocalyptic monsters, and is given a living-armor suit with seemingly endless powers. He has to fight things like a transgender giant with spiked genitalia murderous lust and severe emotional problems who swallows people whole, a bizarre flower-monster in a scene of Kaiju gone mad, a seductive girl hiding a monster inside her, an old man with weapons made of sperm, and superpowers that make your guts explode out of your body.

Aragne: Sign of Vermillion  
Unusually bizarre and incoherent horror anime, even by anime standards. There's a girl, a creepy apartment complex, and grotesque body-horror involving big bugs. While mysterious murders are taking place, a girl starts seeing very strange and scary visions which may be related to the grisly murders. Huge maggots and beetles erupt out of dead bodies, and strange people appear in her life with an inhuman air about them. All of which may or may not be hallucinations. Pretty soon we are drowning in ancient mysterious experiments, incoherent tales of spirit beetles and bug possessions, supernatural assassins and cults, and constant bizarre bug hallucinations. There's a typical anime overly-complex supernatural-horror plot at the center of this and much of it does make sense in the end, but the hallucinative visuals and dreams combined with the incoherent way it is put together (people are constantly appearing out of nowhere or shifting to different locations), make this a surreal experience of the grotesque.

Very weird supernatural horror movie by the maker of Death Laid an Egg. A woman is exploiting a large group of people by faking psychic powers, promising them resolution of their various psychological problems and haunted pasts. Her strange son, whom she has a borderline incestuous relationship with, is disgusted by the whole affair, only he has real powers. He unleashes magic that grows increasingly more bizarre and confusing, abusing and molesting the customers, releasing an evil poltergeist twin that grows more powerful and abusive, collecting many strange objects and hanging them all over the city, gaining control over some kids, using them for general malicious deeds, and before you know it, frogs come out of people's mouths, a strange dwarf appears with ominous messages, and indescribable things happen to crowds in a train and the streets that are for some reason mixed with scenes from a Macedonian rite.

Surreal nightmare posing as an atmospheric horror movie, by Shokof. It kinda feels like a nightmare in the head of the fearful girl from Repulsion that closed herself off from civilization in her apartment. In this nightmare, she lives in a strange abandoned train-station house in the woods and is visited by a series of strange or scary people, all of which scare her in one way or another triggering her fight response. There are sounds of war in the distance, her dog turns feral and attacks her, a man invades her house who may or may not want to kill her but who turns out to be someone she knows, a group of civilized but very strange people politely but aggressively offer her their services if she joins their 'army', there's a vampire that gives her life, a poor girl that just wants to clean her house yet it feels that she is invading as well, an overwhelming soldier-lover, and Satan himself, along with a priest, one of which is scarier than the other but whom? A plot never really coheres, and the symbolic interpretation is superficial (the title is Medusa backwards, hinting at snakes horrified by human evil rather than the other way around). It's an effective paranoid-shroom-nightmare experience though.

Asylum Seekers  
The first half of this movie is an unbearable mix of reality-game-show mentality with Forbidden Zone camp, featuring 'insane' contestants with stupid names like 'evangelical nihilist' and 'nymphomaniac virgin' competing to get the last bed in an insane asylum by having each obnoxious actor try to chew on more scenery than his peer. The mysterious 'The Beard' watches them from loudspeakers, while a nurse takes them through various odd colorful tests, including one where they get to perform on stage in an 'Insane Idol'. Yes, it's that dumb and obnoxious. But then it goes surreal and teases with satirical points that are not quite explored. Their insane fantasies are tested by fulfilling them in a virtual world, reality keeps twisting after they take some pills, including one reality where they all have animal heads, and another where they perform an autopsy with a gang of fake-moustache-wearing professors. Who will get to have a life in the wonderful insane asylum, and who will be equipped to leave and run the world? Mildly interesting in the second surreal half, but undeveloped and undisciplined.

Atrocity Exhibition, The  
Based on the experimental book by J.G. Ballard that explores the mind of an insane man using segmented but abstractly linked chapters. The mind is deeply affected by recent atrocities and media events like Marylin Monroe, Kennedy, Challenger, various wars, as well as other difficult and disturbing concepts such as gory plastic surgery, the dangers of cars and extreme car crashes, pornography, etc. All of these are linked together in the mind and visually in the movie through geometry, shapes, common features, often shockingly juxtaposing entities such as sex with a model and Ronald Reagan, and car crash dummies with sexual positions (he also wrote Crash). Important events are recreated and warped through imagination, and then analyzed metaphysically by the scientists who are fascinated by his insanity. The effect is occasionally interesting and mind-opening in a twisted way but the overall movie is tedious to sit through and unrewarding.

Attic Expeditions, The  
An attempt at Lynchian dream-logic mystery and dark subject matter with confusing plot jumps. A man finds himself plagued by memories of a dark ritual involving a murder, he may or may not be locked in an insane asylum with a doctor who is after his occult knowledge, he finds himself in a House of Love where his fellow patients seem to have secret agendas, a ghostly girlfriend with confusing purposes is at his back, and an attic with a nightmarish trunk haunts him. The movie fails because it has none of the talented nightmarish atmosphere of Lynch, and the acting is too mediocre and flat to convince anyone. This is one of those where you constantly see the cogs turning instead of enjoying the escapism.

Attimo di Vita, Un (Moment of Life)  
Italian cult movie that was censored, full of anti-establishmentarian symbolism and surrealism and a lack of plot. Naked youth puts on pure white clothes and become entangled with an angry man on an existential adventure. Society literally overruns them in a crowded town of regular people, they are exploited for sex, emerge from an occult gateway, party and dance, they rebel, and rebel some more, wear black and grow violent or suicidal, and eventually, come up with some plot to fake a kidnapping and extract money from their bourgeoisie parents that keep their dining room out in the open fields. A chaotic weird one that could only have emerged from the 70s.

AUN: The Beginning and the End of All Things  
A magical and mystical movie, except that that's all it has to offer as you will be none the wiser regarding any narrative, plot or meaning even after the ending. But the experience is a rich and perplexing one in a good way. The themes are nature and man, science and new sources of energy (no alarmist or human-hating messages here), all wrapped in a continuous stream of inexplicable and bizarre fantasy. A scientist is trying to work on water as fuel when he discovers some kind of natural source of enlightenment in a shell that his son found that mixes 'seed with movement'. His son Aun has mystical visions of his dead mother, a group of some kind of forest-fairies care for strange growing plants in the woods, a Brazilian mute mathematician is on a quest of his own and psychically finds magical forces in the forest, and his assistant, the stunningly beautiful Rosanne Mulholland, is trying to track down Aun. Spells are cast, a priest flutters like a butterfly, time, death and aging lose their meaning, a magical door in the forest opens to strange structures and a mystical testing laboratory, a woman gambles with the Yakuza and receives a message from a child-elf, and so on, while people make cryptic statements about the future of mankind and how anything man-made is also nature. It won't make any sense, but it's beautifully filmed.

Aurora (AKA Vanishing Waves)  
One could describe this movie as Lithuanian sci-fi that explores a technological connection between humans through their minds, with little bits and pieces from Altered States, Inception, The Cell, I Love You, Paprika, etc. But it has its own unique approach and demonstrates the richness of this little sub-genre. Most reviews describe this as erotic sci-fi, but it is actually extremely Freudian to a fault. A young man volunteers to be hooked up to an experimental machine that 'transfers neurons' from one mind to another, and they choose a comatose patient due to the lower and therefore manageable brain activity. Typically, the results surpass everyone's expectations, and he keeps going in for more and more involved sessions, even tampering with the patient in order to try to affect the experience. And the connection is very visceral and primal, for some reason going through all Freudian stages of anal, oral, childish play, social/sexual, as well as death and a destructive instinct/presence. All this is shown with an amazingly well-done blend of surreal imagery, dream-logic, primal erotica, and beautiful cinematography and this is by far the best aspect of the movie. There are warped wooden homes, dream-logic transitions between mental-states and locations, food splurges, sudden emotional outbursts, drowning, fleshy-merging-body-orgies, endless-loop chases through pitch-dark subconscious/death-wish, and a flash-summary of a lived life through physical experiences, etc. The couple is reduced to their primal drives similar to Zulawski characters except with much less existentialism. He keeps most of his visceral connection a secret as he becomes more and more obsessed, and his real-life broken relationship with his poor loving girlfriend suffers even more. So, on the one hand, the surrealism and imagery is amazing and very memorable. On the other hand, characters are reduced to simple drives, fatalistic melodrama and primal emotions, and there is no character insight whatsoever. The protagonist is highly unlikeable and unreadable, treating his girl horribly with a cruel streak. And his new 'mental' relationship is all primal fantasy rather than romantic or even erotic. It is Freudian where it should be erotic, and it is systematic where it should be existential and driven by character. So the story and characters all suffer and come out unsatisfying and empty. I really wanted to like the movie and I did love the surrealism and the very impressive way it was filmed, but the more I watch it the less I like the overall picture.

A surreal, poetic, meditative, visual portrait of Armenia and its rough history by way of the works and life of the poet Avetik Isahakyan, with some possible personal elements added by the film-maker on the influence of film in Armenia. A very fitting companion piece to the works of Parajanov and obviously strongly influenced by him. Although knowledge of Armenia and Avetik (which I don't have) would definitely help in deciphering this movie, a good portion of the imagery and symbols are global by nature and can be absorbed by anyone with an open mind, making this a better and more accessible movie than Don Askarian's later work 'On the Old Roman Road'. Avetik's childhood and time in Germany is briefly portrayed in short snippets, often with poetic symbolism. But the majority of the movie consists of surreal and meditative imagery: A shepherd leader seeks his lost flock in a frozen wasteland where rocks and modern objects roll by or are attracted to derelict magnets. People in hazmat suits cleanse the countryside of its culture with flame-throwers and tanks, while the flock of goats cower or are breast-fed by a woman. Many elements of Armenian culture are displayed in very striking, surreal and beautiful tableaux vivants filmed in nature, often with artistic erotic elements adding desire and poetic warmth to the images. First love and desire mixed with burning honeycombs, and iconic film stock and images merge with nature, or are burned. A dead king of Armenia visits the pensive Avetik while in Germany, riding his horse straight into his house. And so on, portraying a country, its people (flock) and its culture ravaged by war, Turks and Russians, while the poet muses and channels his sorrow. Similar in many ways to the director's earlier biography by way of a visual poem 'Komitas', except this one is more surreal and not just folk-art-tableaux.

Written by Dali in 1932 as a follow-up to Chien Andalou and Âge d'or, but, like Destino, only filmed in 2000. The film combines documentary footage on Dali and public opinion, the screenplay itself, and various images from Dali's paintings come to life, resulting in a deeply surreal and bizarre, but unsatisfying and incohesive work. The plot is very simple, presenting a man called Babaouo who is sent for by his love to save her from a castle imprisonment. He travels through war-torn but surreal landscapes and scenes, has an accident, and takes up painting. Like Chien Andalou, the focus is on provocatively bizarre imagery and a series of surreal vignettes, including scenes of a large woman smashing a harp with bread, melting omelettes and clocks laying about in strange places, cyclists with bread on their heads swarming around a piano like ants, strange performers in a tree, an unwanted corpse, nude disappearing women, esoteric, nonsensical dialogue and poetry, and more.

Baby Bump  
Extremely bizarre humor and surrealism envelop this coming-of-age Polish comedy like a chicken's foreskin. It takes the confusion of an 11 year old boy whose body and mind are starting to change, and ups it to eleven with deliriously surreal and fearlessly graphic visual humor. The movie is structured like a Möbius strip of themes and images, a variety of fears, dreams, confusions and fantasies in the boy's mind as well as various experiences at school, some of which will be very confusing at first but which slowly and gradually make more sense as the movie progresses, but the rest seem to be spliced into the movie only for their strange whimsical humor. There's his new confused thoughts revolving around his hot mother who still treats him like a kid, except the boys at school all have the hots for her. There are many bodily fluids, inappropriate erections, and worst of all, his ears seem to be sticking out more and more. A precocious girl at school has a filthy mouth and is somehow way too adult for her age, he is running a business involving the selling of urine, his mom's flings seem really perverse and disturbing, and he has dreams and daydreams involving him as an innocent cartoon mouse with huge ears being eaten by his mother. In addition, for some strange reason, there is much surreal ado about pregnancy, gender, castration, eggs and a chicken. This movie doesn't choke the chicken, it decapitates it. Thoughts on solving his problems often involve surgery, horrifying or bloody home experiments, and scary mutations. Definitely a one-of-a-kind confusing, colorful and quirky movie.

Surreal porn movies seem to be quite rare (the most prominent one was Through The Looking Glass), but this one is special in that it focuses on the erotic surrealism and dream-logic first, and added some hardcore inserts later. The whole movie is a dream that mixes death, guilt, eroticism and incest. A woman that seems to be recovering from family deaths and incestuous longings for her brother when he was alive, wanders through scenes that morph into each other: A party featuring a fashion announcer that describes women as they descend the stairs, is suddenly transported onto a fire-escape, and, in classic dream-logic, she finds herself descending the stairs completely naked. There is a locked room with grabbing hands, lust for a man in a coffin, a couple having sex with palm-prints on their faces, sex in a cemetery, and so on. It's all nicely done surrealism until the final scene that seems to get bored and suddenly veers off into a completely irrelevant scene in a cave involving gay sex and S&M.

Bad Boy Bubby  
An incredibly unswerving movie that tells the tale of a 35 year old man who, for his whole life, has been locked up in a squalid room by his abusive and incestuous mother who convinced him that the air outside is poison. When he discovers what cling-wrap does around people's faces, he goes out into the world for the first time with pure, childish but warped innocence. His adventures include first-time encounters with music, pizza, various women that react in different ways to his perverse but innocent urges, breasts (some like mother's), jail, sodomy, church, religion, atheism, etc. A repulsively twisted beginning leads to a fascinating black comedy that pulls no punches, and the experience while watching this movie can wander from sadness, to repulsion, laughter and wonder. It's all very entertaining, as long as you can get past the sick first third, the endless Freudian worship of big tits, and the dumb straw-man approach to bashing and cursing religion. Nicholas Hope delivers an incredible and unforgettable performance, losing himself in a complex role that few could have pulled off. Unforgettable and unique.

Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths  
This is Alejandro Iñárritu's '8 1/2'. Like Fellini's movie, it is semi-personal, meandering, surreal, very extravagant, and self-indulgent. As the title implies, there are truths here, both personal and political, wrapped inside a surreal and fictional story. It is about a Mexican journalist/documentarian who achieved success in the USA, but feels ambivalent about it, and about his two homes. This is mixed with historical and political commentary about Mexico, its commercialization by both Mexicans and Americans, as well as family drama, many personal musings, and a whole lot of self-criticism, introspection and self-satire. As this is introspective and introverted, the border between external reality and inner thoughts, dreams, fantasy and mental fugues are constantly blurred, resulting in a very oneiric film. Most scenes have an element of surrealism, whether it is a character not bothering to move his lips when talking because the conversation takes place internally, or whether it is an encounter with his dead father in an award ceremony bathroom, whether it is a scene from his documentary literally climbing over piles of bodies to talk to Hernán Cortés, or whether it is all out dream-logic of locations morphing into each other, and a nightmare of spilling fish and turning a train into a pool. A personal tragedy of the death of a newborn gets converted into a surreal alternate story of a baby literally wanting to return to its mother's womb. There are staggeringly long complex takes with thousands of extras, rich cinematography and visuals, and the surrealism is exquisitely dream-like, but the content is superficial, meandering and self-indulgent, the film barely succeeding as a weak character study.

Skolimowski previously made two increasingly complex but playful movies following the adventures of a man finding his place in society. Long, meandering and complex takes focus on this alienated man as the scenery magically changes around him, employing snippets of whimsical dialogue, satirical humor and random social interactions to portray personal feelings of cynical but confused existentialism. With Barrier, Skolimowski extends this approach into Felliniesque deliriousness and surrealism. In this exploration, the man is a medical student tested by fellow students in an initiation ritual, receives a symbolic piggy bank from society, and a sabre from his father, escaping into society where he encounters many barriers built by generation gaps, money, religion and social classes. He courts an elusive female tram-driver, he symbolically tries to climb walls decorated with chickens, crowds run around like sheep, stopped cold by a traffic light and a single car, he goes to a restaurant empty of customers but full of waiters, and pays for his meal with his piggy bank, and suddenly the restaurant is full of dancing customers wearing paper hats, he fights a car with his sabre, etc. A difficult but interesting, rich and creative movie with many strange scenes and complex takes that feel both whimsical and carefully constructed, just like Jazz.

Turkish horror movie from the Rob Zombie school of horror. Its focus is on gruesome and imaginative imagery rather than on cohesiveness, with an added layer of surrealism and nightmarish alternate reality. A group of rough and depraved police-men are called as backup into a place with a bad reputation. They encounter hell in the form of shifting realities, a horde of feral freaks, gore-soaked orgies, a cult with bizarre and violent rituals, brutal tests, and confusing nightmares. The gruesome horror and atmosphere is quite effective, but strictly designed for visual and primitive effect rather than for engaging the mind.

Battle Heater: Kotatsu  
Wacky Japanese black comedy about a Kotatsu (heater in the shape of a table) that comes alive and eats people. It is brought into a house where a gentle old couple commit suicide via clock, a rock band practice at all hours of the morning and abuse their neighbour, all of whom are in love with the same schoolgirl, and a woman is trying to get rid of her husbands body and keeps the upper half in a bucket. To fight the evil Kotatsu, come a master electrician and an unfortunate Buddhist with sunglasses. Entertaining silliness.

Beast Pageant, The  
Taking it's cue from Eraserhead, this very low-budget hand-made goofy surreal movie is a marvel of home-made inventive props and imagination. It's a movie of two halves: The first superb half sets up a character living a terrible life in a tiny bed with a soul-sucking job. Abraham's home is overwhelmed by a room-sized 'gadget' that is part multi-media TV, internet, commercial-factory, vacuum-cleaner, AI robot, and also a machine that can create and deliver any commodity needed by Abraham like fish and shoes, as long as he watches a really silly commercial for it first and asks for it. It is a room-sized heap of wires, boxes, circuit-boards and appendages, with two people living in the machine, a bearded man for the commercials, and a sexy AI girl to sing platitudes to him out of tune. Fluffy stop-motion creatures crawl out of the walls, his nights are occupied by surreal nightmares haunted by the scary Watermelon Man who's face is covered in seeds and who keeps trying to sell him hammers, his food seems to be only fish, and his bizarre job involving fish mouths is something straight out of a Gilliam movie, except much more hand-made. The second half of the movie, unfortunately, sinks into cliches, albeit fun and goofy surreal ones, as his belly tumor grows into a singing cowboy, and he escapes into nature, encountering various bizarre dancing beasts of nature, trees, rocks, a naked river nymph, a happy tiny naked couple, a huge breast that gives birth, etc, leading to a mystical death-rebirth favoring nature over consumerism. In short, a much goofier and more cliched Eraserhead with a tree-hugging moral message, but it's a labor of love, features inventive surrealism, and it is fun.

Beau Is Afraid  
When Ari Aster makes a three-hour movie about a miserable man with severe mommy issues, you are going to expect certain things to happen, as well as many unexpected strange details. This third outing is that and much more, actually undermining expectations by making this a black comedy. Not the kind of comedy that makes you laugh, but more the kind that pins a variety of delighted or disgusted WTF expressions on your face for three hours. This is a very surreal character-study of a man who is anxious, afraid, tense and miserable over everything and anything, except that the reality around him is so messed up as to be capable of causing all of that in anyone. We follow Beau through a hellhole of a society where streets are full of insane psychos, filthy intrusive homeless people, and deadly spiders, all of which can and will invade your home at any and every second. There are a series of misadventures through many physical accidents and attacks by a variety of insane people, a strange couple that run a clinic for the terrifyingly insane in their house, an even stranger group of theatrical wanderers in the forest, fears of sex and suffering testicles, a very surreal trial and guilt-trip in a literal hell, a phallic horrifying secret in the attic, etc etc. And hovering behind it all is the guilt-trip master-mother of all mothers, a mother so surreally controlling and manipulative it would make Fellini's head spin. This is Ari Aster inspired by Charlie Kaufman, and it is a chore to sit through three hours of misery, regardless of the imagination, visual auteurism and 'comedy' on display, perhaps because Aster always follows his whims and tangents regardless of what they do to the movie as a whole. This movie even has a completely tangential mystical stop-motion animation experience in the middle that is like another movie, as Beau meditates on what his life could have been. As a character study, the over-the-top absurd treatment and world full of insane people don't really allow us to connect with the character that never feels real. All that said, it is relatively his best movie so far, since most of these flights of fancy add to the absurd, strangely mesmerizing portrayal of this miserable man, even if they add to our misery as well. And the fears are recognizable despite the caricature. Which is why the movie kinda works as a surreal experience. Whether you want to watch it again is another question. Once again, Aster excels with details and atmosphere but not with coherence and structure.

Bed-Sitting Room, The  
Take the post-nuclear wastelands of junk, wrecks and scraps of Mad Max, mix with very dry Pythonesque absurdist humor, add some surreal touches and a slew of bizarre characters, and you may get this. A group of very strange characters wander the wastelands, some turning into cupboards, rooms or parrots, dogged on by policemen in balloons or cranes who tell them to keep moving. A girl is pregnant for 18 months with a creature and the doctor decides it makes more sense to move the furniture in instead of the baby out, a man is made prime-minister due to his 22-inch inner leg measurement, a man delivers BBC announcements through a TV frame with only the top third of his suit intact, and a man asks a women to take his wife's place in throwing dishes at him then calls her a slut, etc etc. The absurd humor doesn't work as often as you'd like and the consistent strangeness is both its strength and weakness.

This one makes most surreal movies look like children's stories. The movie is in grainy black and white with such a dreamlike, muddy quality that many images look like Rorschach tests where you stare and your mind tries to work it out using its own internal imagination. The story is a metaphysical fable about a god that kills himself, Mother Nature abused and raped, and the Son of Earth - a gift that is worshipped and then misused by the people. In other words, it is about mankind's killing of God resulting in worship of nature and of self, leading to self-destruction. The dreamlike but dark quality of this movie is truly admirable and there are some brilliant as well as failed sequences, but overall it goes on way too long with its pretentious metaphysical horror symbolism and shock imagery that doesn't really make any sense once you think beyond the visual.

Belladonna of Sadness  
It doesn't get more trippy and psychedelic than this erotic & musical animation from Japan from 1973. Actually the third in a trilogy after some x-rated entries, but this one went a very experimental route and allegedly ruined the studio. The bleak plot is about a newly married woman in medieval and cruel times who starts her marriage with getting raped by the local baron on her wedding night, and then her husband is made into a tax collector and abused while she tries to dedicate herself to helping him. A small phallic devil appears to give her power over her tormentors and take her down the dark path, and the devil grows and grows as he gains more control over her. She alternates between turning evil and being hounded by everyone, as her power and their anger escalate. All this is shown in a combination of animation styles, often just scanning static artistic or grotesque paintings, and the rest of the time either employing crude animations or flowing psychedelic imagery, everything portrayed with endlessly inventive visuals, psychedelic effects, grotesqueries, or symbolic images exaggerated to the point of surrealism. Visually wild and very unique, but the characters and story don't exactly leap out of the screen.

Beyond the Black Rainbow  
Try to imagine some of the ideas behind Firestarter and Altered States, filmed in the style of THX 1138 by Tarkovsky. It sounds and looks promising, but has a fatal flaw. It is set mostly in the 80s in a sci-fi-dome where the mysterious Arboria is conducting advanced hybrid experiments in order to reach ultimate human happiness. Pharmaceuticals, herbs and machines combine, but they also perform experiments that take them to another state where they are forever altered by seeing some kind of evil god. Barry Nyle is the creepy sadistic man in charge who keeps his eye on his protege, a young girl and child of an experiment with scary powers of her own. The stars here are the immersive atmosphere, cinematography and sound, as well as the imagination that employs creepy supernatural forces blended with odd sci-fi. Except that it is not surreal enough to be a Lynchian nightmare, and since it never explains any of its mysteries, you are left with no meat except the experience itself. The characters don't raise thoughts and questions as Tarkovsky would do despite its meditative pace, and the plot only introduces new elements without explaining any of the previous ones, even after the ending. We never learn even basic things like what the experiment was for, and what any of their motivations are. The last ten minutes further harm the movie with its out-of-place cliched horror and a non-ending that only makes you feel like you watched half a movie. Full of potential, but merely an immersive one-time watch that leaves you empty.

Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (AKA Psychonauts)  
Dark, imaginative, magical Spanish animation for adults. This is a post-apocalyptic world populated by anthropomorphic animals, most of them broken in one way or another, the darkness within them turning into surreal, nightmarish monsters. At the same time, there are more childish sub-plots in here as well, such as the adventures of an animated alarm clock who has been given legs and who is constantly abused by various characters. It's elements such as the nightmare world of inner monsters coming to life, a magical pristine forest, and a tree full of souls, that stand out, reminiscent of a Ghibli feature, only darker. The Birdboy is a young bird in a suit who lost his father to murdering racist police. He seems to know much more about the world than anyone else, doesn't speak, is dependent on various drugs, helps neglected animal-characters and their flying souls, and is frequently haunted, overtaken and even eaten by a bizarre pterodactyl-esque monster that seems to live within him. There's also a bed-ridden pig-mother that has a drug-addicted cruel spider living within her. There are many sub-plots and characters here, too many, in fact, especially considering its running time. And that's the flaw. The scattered narration doesn't satisfy, even as the world draws you into its dark mysterious magic. It feels like a middle movie within a trilogy, lacking both a setup and a satisfying ending. But dark animation fans should definitely watch it anyways.

Black Moon  
A movie so alluringly bizarre I really wanted to like it and tried to find ways to approach it, unsuccessfully. Lily is trying to escape a world gone mad where men and women are literally at war with each other, brutally killing each other. She runs over a badger, finds herself in a strange house occupied by a strange, bedridden, whimsical mother who talks to a rat and a radio, there's an oddly quiet son and daughter, a talking unicorn, many naked children, and lots of sheep, chickens and insects. There's not much of a narrative, the rare dialogue is cryptic, poetic or nonsensical, and instead we get many bizarre and symbolic scenes of an invisible attacker, Lily drinking milk from a huge glass, panties that keep falling down, breast-feeding the old mother, crying flowers, decapitation of an eagle, etc. This movie can be interpreted as an indecipherable dream, an Alice in Wonderland type of story, or perhaps yet another surreal female coming-of-age story with Freudian imagery. For example, the gender war obviously represents scary behaviour of adults, the unicorn is her romantic fantasy which she chases at first and then nurses, the man is lust and sex, and the old mother is a complex and confusing adult version of herself. But many details don't fit in with this theory, especially all of the nonsensical conversations with the mother. In addition, it's too bizarre to be a fairy-tale or story, and just a bit too intent and consistent to be a dream. I think it's simply elements from Malle's dreams forced into an attempted fantasy narrative in an experiment which even he doesn't understand. This is one of those movies that intensely intrigues with its surreal mysteries for its full running time, but then leaves you feeling empty.

Blazing World, The  
A young lady is burdened by a very early trauma to do with her sister, and this darkness comes to a boil when she makes a trip to visit her parents (a troubled marriage). Except this psychological crisis takes place in an alternate dimension, with horror, fantasy and surrealism. There is a bit of Pan's Labyrinth, MirrorMask and Alice in Wonderland here, except whereas Pan was mostly a coherent fantasy/horror film with the psychological aspects existing only in the background, and MirrorMask was a mix of both surrealist dream-logic and fantasy, this is purely surrealism and dream-logic. This can be a good thing, and the direction goes all out with rich and fascinating visuals, strangeness and atmosphere in the second half. Unfortunately, the implementation is a mixed bag: There is a long annoying segment of her hanging out with her obnoxiously dumb and pretentious friends with terrible music, her interaction with a grippingly demented Udo Kier as a guardian of the alternate world is well done, her dream-logic confrontation with her mother-demon is an extremely well-done purely surreal segment, but her father is a violent cliche who turns into a giallo-esque nightmare and it's clear this movie does not understand masculinity and failed to treat him with the same psychological nuance as with her mother. Her final crisis confronting herself is also lacking nuance. Reviews for this film were overly harsh as there is much to like in this film, especially the art direction and the above superb segments. But it is flawed and could definitely have used much more depth.

Blind Owl, The (1975)  
One of the first attempts to film this surreal classic Iranian novel. As opposed to later movies inspired by the novel (e.g. see Ruiz), this one is much more loyal, only it is a highly abridged version containing only highlighted events from the novel's many details and layers. It does manage to deliver a minimal core faithful to the book, albeit the conciseness makes it even more difficult. This is symbolic surrealism on the theme of synthesizing death, desire, life and tradition. A painter's peace of mind is interrupted by an uncle and shocked by a glimpse of desire in the shape of a woman accompanied by death. His obsession over her soon finds that she is a dead thing, leading to a journey where he grapples with death, dragging her body parts across the land with the help of a mysterious old grave-digger. He finds that history and tradition (an old woman, etc) soon wants him hanged, although death may teach him a thing or two yet about life. But madness lies just around the corner in a timeless loop that nobody seems to be able to escape. This is all filmed in a surreal dream-logic narrative with many symbolic elements, and, of course, interpretations of the meaning of this book/film will vary widely.

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman  
French animated film based on two short stories by Murakami, focusing on the more visual, surreal and symbolic aspects of his delicate character studies and dramas. In one more ordinary story, a man's wife is lost in her worries and thoughts after an earthquake, and an existential crisis leads them to separate and embark on a search for themselves, with a lost cat serving as symbolism. In the second surreal story, an older working man who is feeling useless and dealing with a loan crisis at work, gets lost in his internal feelings of despair and loneliness and encounters a human-sized frog who convinces him he is a critical factor in saving Tokyo from an evil worm that will release all the pent-up anger as an earthquake. In both stories, their naps and daydreams lead to short surreal sequences where their inner fears and feelings take on dream-logic visuals that successfully communicate their internal struggles. The animation also employs slightly different styles for background characters and settings, and uses the animation to enhance the character study. It's not as deep or satisfying as I would have liked but it's a delicate, interesting drama that observes its characters in a unique way.

Blood Orgy of the Leather Girls  
A truly one-of-a-kind cult movie. It's a really bad one on many levels, but strangely watchable with camp value. Think young Russ Meyer drops acid and makes a movie on a pocket-change budget with some friends and neighbours. It's about a 'crew' of insane and violent girls (the narrator explains what a crew means), that go on a violence and revenge spree to teach misbehaving men a lesson. The narrator, a law-enforcement dude, explains to us their behaviour and actions like something out of a 60s educational 'scare' movie. The girls are introduced by their kinks, one of them deeply into Christian philosophy and bloody self-flagellation, they wander here and there, attacking random people in the street and homes. There are smatterings of gore and nudity, but at the level of an Andy Milligan flick. Someone's dining room serves as a 'bar' where guys have an endless improvised conversation, a band plays music while the camera goes psychedelic, a guy orders a bodyguard over the phone and says that he doesn't mind if the bodyguard wears shorts, there's a ninja academy and 'ninja roulette', the last 20 minutes goes all out into confusing psychedelia as if the director was taking more and more drugs, and it ends with some nasty drill torture and a feminist moral. Don't look at me; I just describe 'em the way I see 'em.

Warmerdam's movies are often just this side of surreal, featuring black comedy, strange coincidences and behaviour, or even a bit of fantasy and magic. With Borgman, he dives into Teorema territory with full surrealism and symbolism, without losing his dark and bizarre humor. If one watches this movie as a 'home invasion' by a disruptive evil human being, nothing will make sense, neither their motivations nor behaviour. But if the invaders are taken as a symbol of the inner discontent and potential evil in human beings within our modern world, then it works as a disquieting movie, made even more off-kilter by the humor within the darkness. Religion in the form of a priest and his followers know exactly where the evil fallen angels are hiding underground, and they drive them away temporarily, only to let them wander into the home of a modern affluent family where underlying discontent and boredom poise ready to disrupt their lives. The devilish fallen angels use everything they have against them, even using cell-phones to co-ordinate their plots. Inspired by the classic painting, Borgman sits on the wife's chest, causing her fears and nightmares. The wife develops an emotional dependency on the fallen angels (her own dark side). There is disruptive seduction that preys on wandering hearts, which amusingly disconnects once the seduction has been successful, leaving confusion and anger in its wake. Borgman assumes the role of their gardener and takes it very seriously as they do their own roles, disrupting from within. There is lots of death via poison, the bodies hidden with surreal methods. There are hounds of hell, marks of the devil, and a surreal play that demonstrates how all is smoke and mirrors. And so on... until, of course, the lost children are ready to weave more destruction onto the world.

Born of Fire  
Mystical-Islamic, symbolic horror movie with surreal and rich visuals. The location, costumes, acting, and makeup are all stunning, making this a must see once, it's just a pity the movie is impenetrably enigmatic and unapproachable in its symbolism. A flautist and an astronomer are both struck by something otherworldly, leaving their lives behind to meditate and stay in a remote exotic location in Turkey full of caves and strange pools, and ultimately to face their pasts and a Master Musician. There are many strange visions that include a skull eclipsing the moon, stoning of a woman with flowers, a Djinn haunting a man in his sleep in the form of a mosquito, and more. There's a strong primal performance by a deformed actor who lives in the caves, a demonic naked and burnt being that can shoot fire out of his eyes, a flute duel, the giving birth of a big moth larva, and other unforgettable images. But there's not much beyond the images and atmosphere.

Bottomless Bag, The  
The title refers to one of the tall tales in the Arabian Nights told by Scheherazade, where two men are brought to trial over the theft of a bag, and each take turns telling about impossible things that they lost in the bag like vast riches, people, herds and buildings, until the Kazi becomes exasperated and they open the bag to find only a little bit of food. Actually, this is a tale within a tale, told to entertain a Caliph, and it serves as a theme for this whole movie: tall tales that alter reality, and subjective stories told by interested parties, including the stories we tell ourselves. The primary narrative of this meta-movie is actually the same story from Kurosawa's Rashomon where different people tell completely different versions of the same crime in medieval times. Except here, that story has been transformed into a fairy tale with bizarre, magical and surreal elements, such as mushroom-people, floating balloons/balls, a Baba Yaga wood spirit that talks to the dead, a walking bear, and many other visually rich, sometimes symbolic, sometimes just bizarre and magical elements. And this multi-layered story is told by a woman to the Emperor of Russia in the 19th century, a mystery that maddens and intrigues the Emperor, which leads to a discussion of Scheherazade's tale of the bottomless bag. She also performs divinations for the Emperor's many diversions regarding his dreams and experiences, some of which he deems supernatural, seeing as he has an endless curiosity for such things. She 'receives' new information also about the worlds she is describing via bizarre actions with magical cones that can see to other worlds through the walls and chandeliers of the palace, and somehow this absurd act makes the story more real in line with the theme of the movie. In short, this is very reminiscent of a Raoul Ruiz movie and one of his favorite themes: The role and the magic of storytelling and how stories come to life through people via their imagination and personal lives. Strictly art-house and for fans of Ruiz's style of anything-goes bizarre imagination, but a visually rich and beautifully filmed movie. Of course, this being a Khamdamov movie, it was immediately cursed to obscurity.

Bottom of the World  
A reality-bending psychological mystery modelled after Lost Highway. There's a girl and a boy on a road trip, a menacing hooded man that knows too many things, a horror story about possible bad things that were done in the past, a strange preacher, and a slipping grasp on reality as a person's life and identity keeps changing. Is it a dream, and who is dreaming? There are many small connected clues and, as opposed to Lost Highway, it's possible to piece this one together. Except that any story one can extract from the movie is very minimal, most of the movie consists of psychological mechanisms and meandering dream-logic rather than offering a plot/narrative, and there is room to interpret this one in at least a couple of ways. For example, there may have been an actual horrifying act performed in the past that is coming back to haunt through the subconscious, or, everyone in the movie may just be split parts of a person's identity created through self-loathing. Either way, you will spend a lot of time with people and events that are figments of a lost mind, and, as mentioned, the actual story is minimal. All this may or may not appeal to you, depending on what you are looking for in a movie. Similar to Lost Highway, I felt that it lacked meat and didn't leave much behind after the dream-exercise, but if it sounds like your thing, do check it out.

Box Head Revolution  
Fans of Guy Maddin's brand of film-making should feel right at home here. It is highly bizarre and idiosyncratic sci-fi made on the cheap (out of trash), filmed in grainy black & white with post-editing sound. The actual story is cliched and uninteresting, about a dystopian planet where everyone is repressed by strange rules and is born with a permanent mask, and punishments consist of attaching a permanent box to your head. When a message from Earth arrives in the Voyager, containing alien sounds and rock & roll music, two lovers fight back and the system is shaken into a revolution. Yawn. The visuals and aesthetic sense, however, are somewhere between Maddin and Forbidden Zone, complete with several psychedelic dance-numbers, some of them to the tune of generic prog-rock sounds. Frequent digressions and confusing scenes will have you scratching your head as you try to figure out what is happening, and some sequences are downright surreal, especially the birthing scenes involving strange machines that create mask-wearing babies to an audience of mask-wearing worshippers. While the visuals make this one vaguely worth watching if you can take the overall boredom, the voice-overs, however, are terrible (so bad its good?), often sounding like they MST3K'd themselves using stoned and bored nerds, spouting cliched lines altered by a thesaurus into statements like: "lend me your acoustical orifice", or the ultimate romantic declaration of "may our vectors coincide".

Box of Life, The (AKA Sacrifices)  
Exquisitely bizarre Syrian surrealism with a national and social message and subtle subversiveness. The movie takes place mostly in a dwelling made of clay that houses an extended family. Although it sometimes brings to mind Parajanov with its earthy, surreal mannerisms and otherworldly portrayal of traditions, the movie has its own unique language. The acting is very idiosyncratic, with constant fear and simple-mindedness over-acted with twitching lips, heavy gasps, and emotions unhinged. The patriarch of the family is dying, a pigeon appears to take his soul, and he must pass on his name to one of three newborns but doesn't. The children grow up nameless, each attempting to find meaning in their respective approaches of submissiveness, love or abusive power. Religion, ritual and obscure family tradition fill their lives, and every time somebody questions with a 'what?' the only answer they receive is 'what what?'. In the meantime, the fathers go to war with Israel and come back covered in mud, with ideas on progress, unity, broad-mindedness and feminism. A challenging, intriguing watch that forces active understanding through abstruse mannerisms.

Box, The  
Nakajima's accompanying piece to his earlier 'Iron' is another meditative but much more cryptic and surreal poetic visual essay on technology, poetry and nature. As with Iron, children playing innocently encounter their ancestors in the form of a patient old man who fixes machines, and who is in touch with both technology and nature. He 'listens' to rocks and creates machines according to the rocks' wishes. Except there is an enigmatic mobile box that seems to have a life of its own, and the man patiently waits to figure out what it wants. But his generation is passing, and the box seems linked to the old man and his ways. A surprise development after he passes leads to new hope in progress and the next generation that instinctively knows what to do with the 'box', albeit which still seems to have a life of its own.

Bread and Circus  
Part surreal existentialist satire, part Bad Taste-like splatstick, and part sick Tromaesque toilet humor. This unique Norwegian film shows man born from the Earth in a huge vagina, programmed by monks, and sent in business suits with blank papers to kiss statues and finally end up crawling through the earth's anus. Outlaws become flesh-eating zombie-like creatures and are hunted with brutality by the military. This leads to many entertaining over-the-top splatter scenes with bodies being sliced or blown up in various ways. If this isn't enough we get to see a Nazi-like woman who stabs her victims while raping them, and a man getting his anus kicked in so hard he has to plug it with a bottle of beer. An entertaining movie with great cult potential but one that can't seem to make up it's mind what it wants to be.

Bullets of Justice  
Post-apocalyptic horror-action on an acid trip. Pig-humans called 'muzzles' have taken over the world, using humans as their cows for food. A pocket of humans inspired by the hero Rob Justice are fighting back. Except that Rob is strangely obsessed by visions of a near-naked beautiful man, and his super-hot fit female assistants keep dying one by one. If this makes it sound like 80s-style cheese, think again. It's distinctly modern random retro-grindhouse nonsense that never sits still, growing more incoherent as it goes. There are pig-humans named Assholes that look and talk like one, midget-rear-defense-weapons, Trejo preaching atheism, a hot girl with a moustache, teleport machine gun action, fat human body parts in a gory meat-processing plant, random gay hallucinative action scenes, robots that talk with their moustache, and much more. Half-way through, it gets incoherent, until you realize it is now dealing with time-travel and alternate realities, then it gets even more confusing, then ends on a very unsatisfying but crazy twist. Somewhat entertaining nonsense.

Bunker of the Last Gunshots, The  
Early experimental short from the team of Jeunet-Caro about a bunker during some kind of war with a countdown to some unknown catastrophe and the people inside it. Some electrocute cockroaches, some collect boogers, others go crazy and torture or kill scapegoats, keeping dead people wrapped in strange rooms. Features the typical eclectic and complex set design and it predates Brazil. Visually and atmospherically interesting, but nothing more than that.

Bunny the Killer Thing  
You will probably not know what you just watched when this demented one is over. Its level of idiocy is only just surpassed by its level of insanity. It's a Finnish horror-comedy about a killer... bunny... thing. There are some evil criminals with some kind of mad scientist and a bunny serum, and even at the end I did not quite figure out what they were up to, but it involves some kind of combination of human bunny mutations, sex and celebrities. In the meantime, one of their crazed creatures escapes and goes on a killing spree. It's a man in an obvious bunny costume equipped with super-strength, super-hunger, and a super-penis, who runs around the snowy country murdering, raping, eating and yelling various adjectives to describe female genitalia. Except that he isn't exactly a straight bunny, and neither are some odd criminals and a permanently drunk Finn. The movie is obsessed with penises and penis violence, there are two or three blood-water-geyser splatter scenes, the comedy is too silly and warped to be really funny, but it's definitely one-of-a-kind.

Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles  
A small animated biography depicting one stage in the life of Luis Buñuel: That of filming his third short film/documentary "Las Hurdes" AKA "Land Without Bread". This was after his first two shocking films with Salvador Dalí, a time during which he got in trouble and nobody wanted to fund his films. The movie depicts him in a transitional period between his pure stunt provocations in the name of surrealism, and an interest in doing something more meaningful. He finds an faraway land containing the most absurdly poor people one could never imagine, which is surreal in itself, except he couldn't resist adding his own shocking touches and staged scenes of animal suffering to shock his audience into absorbing the scenes of extreme misery under their skin. This animation also adds its own surreal scenes to explore the mind of Buñuel, mostly via dream sequences, many of them with heavy-handed pop-psychology, as well as Dalí-esque hallucinative visions to try to depict a state of mind driven by need as well as fear and haunting memories. A small film, but not without some magic.

Burning Buddha Man, The  
This Japanese animation is bizarre and bonkers on several levels. For starters, there's the visual style which is not so much animation as a complicated puppet-show using thousands of cardboard cut-outs, with some extra liquids squirted at the cardboard for special effect. The beings in the story are all grotesquely drawn, even the humans, and each emotion is displayed over-the-top, most of them looking like either grimaces or terror. The story is typical anime, that is to say, incoherent and crazy, piling on more and more gobbledegook and nonsense improvised made-up rules as the fight scenes keep escalating. It involves a gang stealing large Buddha statues using a strange form of teleportation, a cult that trains to become "virtual Buddhas" and practicing merging their bodies with Buddha statues, becoming various grotesque mutations and super-humans. A girl finds herself neck-deep in bizarre training and cults when she finds her grandparents have been sliced in half by the thieves. Naked grandmas, Kaiju-style Buddha fights, silly training, and lots of bizarre mutations ensue. Definitely unique and somewhat entertaining, but basically just empty-headed incoherent strangeness.

Butt Boy  
Whatever you think the movie is about based on the title, your imagination is going to fail you. This movie is very reminiscent of 'Swiss Army Man' in that it takes a completely absurd, very juvenile, totally ridiculous and idiotic idea, and runs with it in a completely serious manner, tongue planted firmly in ... well, in cheek. And yet, unlike Swiss Army Man, this one embraces its ridiculousness and builds a well structured and acted movie around its juvenile concept. A man discovers his butt is a very special place with very special abilities... dark ones, and I don't mean that only in terms of photons. Impossible things happen. And there's a detective who is the only person that believes in the impossible. That's all I'm going to say. Sane people will probably think this is the stupidest movie ever made. Some of you may be entertained, except you won't know what to do with the fact that this was entertaining, since all your reason and taste will object to the absurdity and idiocy of the movie. You have been warned.

Bye Bye Monkey  
Ferreri's most bizarre outing, exploring and taking apart gender roles as usual, this time with various different approaches, some of them quite abstract or odd: Lafayette (Depardieu) is raped by a group of feminist theatre actresses, he often communicates by blowing a whistle, he adopts an abandoned baby-monkey found next to a huge statue of a dead King Kong, and he works in a wax museum where a Cleopatra heats his loins and a strange aggressively male boss attaches himself to the Roman wax figures. He also hangs out with a troupe of old people, all of which are either depressed, alone, or nostalgic and all of which seem quaint, irrelevant and obsolete next to the modern youngsters. The finale features a couple of shocks and some bizarre violence. It seems that women are now scared, confused, aggressors, modern men are caregivers, and strong men and old people are obsolete.

Café Flesh  
The definitive cult surreal porn flick. This bizarre classic by Stephen Sayadian features a dystopian future where most humans have become Sex Negatives and can only dream of sex and their lost libidos, since any awkward attempt at doing it makes them sick, while the last few remaining Positives are made to perform sex on stage for the rest of humanity. Except that since this is Sayadian, the sexual performances are highly surreal and striking, and the dialog is as eccentric, bizarre and colorful as it gets. On the one hand, it seems hardly surprising that the Negatives stare at the performances with a mixture of jaw-dropped confusion and lust, seeing as the performances include a rat milkman complete with snout and tail having sex with a housewife while three bearded 'babies' clamor in the background. But if anyone can make sex seem alien, artsy, bizarre, and primally exciting all at once, it's Sayadian. The choreographed and bizarre sexual performances continue with pencil-headed office workers, disembodied dancing body parts, and whatnot, while the plot develops and uncovers Positive posing as a Negative who is outed onto the stage much to the consternation and excitement of the audience while the Negatives are humiliated and teased. Sayadian also made Nightdreams in the same period, featuring a couple of similarly surreal sexual fantasies.

Caligari's Cure  
One already expects any movie title with the word Caligari in it to be weird, and this doesn't disappoint. A playful 'fantasy auto-biography'; this is part self-indulgent freewheeling tiresome nonsense, part fun, home-made low-tech art-house goofiness. Biographical highlights that are probably key memories are improvised in cartoon-like home-made sets that look like an overgrown child had worked for weeks on them. Adults behave like kids for the growing-up segments. There is an accidental death, a surreal dream involving a sexy dancer in his living room, a surreal segment involving surgery and the use of his body for science for ten dollars, some absurdly silly interactions with priesthood and his development as an artist together with reactions from his friends and family, and a ghostly visit of his dead friend.

Call for Dreams  
Ran Slavin's follow-up to Insomniac City Cycles is a much more polished creation with similar themes, feeling like a mature reworking of some of its ideas. There's a woman in Tokyo who runs a strange service where she has customers leave messages on her answering machine describing their dreams (non-sexual), after which she may set up a role-playing scene with them where she performs strange acts related to the details in the dream. A key scene discusses people's desires to remember things the way they want rather than make a recording of what they actually were, which would induce change (a Lynch quote). And this provides a key to her acting out of dreams/fantasies, no matter how bizarre they may be. She performs a strange dance, role-plays a shooting in a bizarre setting, delivers airplane-safety instructions to twins in a bed, and so on, while female body-builders perform in a strange little bar, and a man with a changing face or mask stands in various balconies in a strange physics-defying world. The visual imagery is much more Matthew Barney than David Lynch however, opting for strange visuals for their own sake rather than for their mystery or surrealism. As with Insomniac City Cycles, there is also disconnected murder-mystery plot points that cross-over between Israel and Tokyo with dreams and dreamers blending together, perhaps a recurring dream for the director. Visually strange, striking and ethereal, but lacking something substantial with which to grip the mind.

Candy Von Dewd  
Psychedelic sci-fi retro sexploitation. This looks like someone fused a modern music video with 70s psychedelia and a ridiculous Barbarella-esque sci-fi sexploitation movie, only the production values are cheap, and the latex costumes look like an 80s German porno. Mankind is losing its ability to procreate. A group of humans search space for breedable aliens, while equipped with a super-drug that turns them into super-breeding-rapists with one sting before they die. They encounter a planet of superior female creatures that attempt mind control on them. Things get increasingly stranger as the elite astral soldier Candy Von Dewd is called in to help, and they discover a huge horny plant. Towards the end it gets so odd, psychedelic and bizarre it starts feeling like a prototype of a Bertrand Mandico flick.

Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?  
Anthony Newley, an all-around entertainer, made this movie about himself in which he shows a movie he made about himself while talking about his life and a movie that is currently showing about his life. At first, this seems to be as insufferably self-indulgent as it sounds, but the approach is an attempt at surrealism a la Fellini's 8 1/2 with brutal honesty and self-deprecating humor and criticism, making this tolerable. Newley acts as Heironymus Merkin, an all-around performer constantly tempted by a wise-cracking, lame-joke-telling Satan who supplies him with endless sexy women, in between which he sings and dances. He sometimes appears symbolically as a clown, a faceless puppet, or a ridiculous cartoon character, his women all have sex-oriented names straight out of a bad James Bond spoof, his story is acted out for his mother and children on a beach filled with memorabilia, stage props and film canisters, there's an amusingly dirty fairy tale about a princess and her donkey, and there are actors acting as directors, producers, writers and critics who provide an ongoing criticism of his movie. The film improves as it progresses, but underneath all the surrealism and songs, this is just a boring story about a sex-addict entertainer who mindlessly jumps from one bed into another.

Cartoon Noir  
Anthology of 6 adult-oriented cartoons with a surreal and dark edge. As with most releases of this type, it's a mixed bag but the short lengths don't let you wander, and overall, it's an above-average experience with some interesting ideas. "Story of the Cat and the Moon" is a five-minute minimalistic story of a cat wandering the streets narrating about his love and seduction games leading to a little sublime ending. "Club of the Discarded" is a very Svankmajer-esque stop-motion animation about discarded mannequins and their repetitive hidden lives, quirks and difficulties in a squalid house. "Ape" is a twisted and absurdist short about a very unusual dinner and squabbling couple who accuse each other of depraved things revolving around a symbolically absurd monkey. "Gentle Spirit" is a dark one, visually and surrealistically depicting a broken relationship with unnamed bad things and regrets, using symbolic morphing visuals with beds and spiders. "Abductees" doesn't belong here, splicing together interviews of 'alien abductees' and an accompanying montage of animations. "Joy Street" features a very depressed woman and a happy/cutesy Disney character emerging from her ashtray to try to save the day. The blending of dark and nightmarish imagery with Disney-esque character turns surreal very quickly.

Case for a Rookie Hangman  
Czech surreal political and social satire that uses the backdrop of Jonathan Swift's travels of Gulliver in the countries of Balnibari and Laputa, but with an atmosphere that is part Kafka, part Lewis Carroll. The movie contains references to all these works, but also takes many bites out of Czech society, history and politics. The first twenty minutes or so contain a masterpiece of surrealism as a man travels into a strange land by way of dream-logic, his car running away from him, meeting a dead rabbit dressed in trousers and pocket-watch, wandering through a bizarre house where he meets himself as a child and falls down sideways through doors, etc. Most of the movie then wanders into something from Kafka's The Castle, only with absurd humor, as he finds himself battling with strange bureaucracy, breaking odd rules like a day of silence to conserve air, and trying to track down important people that may help him, with continuous distractions and complications. Citizens get executed for absurd, unexplainable reasons, they look forward to visits from the mysterious floating land of Laputa, build thinking machines, and he finds that people at the higher rungs of the hierarchy are never what they seem to be. One flaw with this one is its fragmented approach, and the fact that it lost some of its universal appeal present in Kafka/Swift. I would probably appreciate this more if I were Czech.

Cassandra Cat, The (AKA When the Cat Comes)  
This Czech family movie has something for both adults and children, and yet it may also be too simplistic for adults, and too full of adult themes and symbolism for children. In a small town, a man overlooks the various characters that are introduced to us, and he tells a strange tale to the children of his adventures with a shipwreck and magical cat with glasses. Before you know it, a performing troupe arrive in town with the magical cat, and after the delightfully bizarre magic act with the help of camouflaged people making various objects float and fly, the cat's glasses are removed. Suddenly, every person is categorized by their misdeeds and is seen in a psychedelic color as befits their personality. Chaos ensues, the audience go into a dancing frenzy, the adults fear and hate the cat, while the children adore it. What will happen to the town now? Full of strange slapstick, symbolism, childish charm, and surreal antics.

Cat and Mouse  
Based on the second book in a trilogy by Günter Grass, who served as an SS soldier in WWII and later got a Nobel prize (go figure). The first book (and movie) was The Tin Drum. This one also features a very odd, awkward, heartless and not-so-innocent young protagonist who grows up during WWII. In this case, it's a teenager influenced by military heroism and speeches made at his school by decorated SS officers. He hangs out with his friends at the wreckage of a minesweeper, showing a freaky talent for diving and salvaging trinkets while his friends play cruel teenage games with him. He steals a Nazi's Iron Cross at school, joins the army, and dreams of coming back to his school and making a similar speech even though he is now disgraced. Themes include his vulnerable and impressionable psyche as symbolized by his protruding adam's apple (the mouse), attacked and scratched by a cat, which he then tries to hide, and only succeeds in doing so with the Iron Cross. Other surreal touches include the constant switching of his friends with mannequins, and the cat with a stuffed cat, as visualized by the narrator who feels guilty for possibly sending him to his death.

Catechism Cataclysm, The  
Truly one-of-a-kind movie that manages to be incomprehensible, meaningless and pointless, but at the same time very entertaining. The fun title (try saying it out loud) refers to a catastrophe that befalls a very childish priest when his bible falls into the toilet, possibly unleashing some very strange and disturbing sequence of events. It's a road (canoe) trip between two antipodal characters, a priest so childish and innocent he probably has mental-damage, and a bored horny loser who manages to wreck everything in his life and who has nothing better to do. It starts as a quirky comedy, but when two Japanese girls called Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and their large black friend Jim appear, things take a turn for the extremely surreal. Some would try to shoehorn an explanation into this movie that involves his state of mind and possibly symbolic, unreal characters. But it wouldn't help. I was tempted to call this a nihilistic Satanic statement taking into account its black metal soundtrack and its many jabs at Christianity, but it really never feels like it has an agenda or a subversive bone in its body, and the silly priest never resembles reality. It just wants to have fun with telling strange stories that get under your skin and funny bone, without a moral, neat ending or meaning. Thus, it starts with a priest telling a moral story, shifts to unsettling stories without endings, and ends with a question mark and a post-cataclysmic silly punchline. Recommended one-time cult watch for fans of weirdness only, even though it may not have you coming back for more.

Cat Sick Blues  
This may just be the sick antidote you were looking for to excise all those sickeningly cutesy cat-videos and cat-lovers on the internet from your brain. This is a sick movie about a sick serial-killer that misses his cat, that latches on to a girl who recently lost her internet-celebrity cat as well. The way I see it, this is two horror movies: One disturbingly good, the other just randomly extreme with unrealistic sick scenes that says more about about the film-maker than anything else. The effectively horrific aspect of the movie is the story of what happens when you become an internet celebrity and attract all sorts of disturbed wackos, and then are stupid enough to engage them, including the even more horrifying and realistic reaction from the internet community when something very bad happens to you. Unfortunately, the majority of the movie however, is about the killer (who is acted disturbingly well) and his obsessions with behaving like a bloodthirsty killer-rapist cat with a huge grotesque killer cat-dildo. This guy is truly demented in a variety of ways, but the film-makers merely use this as an excuse to film a series of sick, disturbing, twisted, splattery, depraved scenes, each more twisted and extreme than the next, doing completely different demented, sickening and grotesque things to each of his victims, and so the killer never starts to make sense as a character with any kind of defined pathology or mental problem. More actual writing, less coming up with sick kill-scenes please.

Cat Soup  
A very unusually bizarre and surreal 30-minute anime. The background plot is a cat who tries to restore his fatally ill sister's soul after he wrestles for it with a Buddha-like cat, after which he goes on a metaphysical, surreal and grotesque quest full of visually bizarre adventures to bring her back to life. The imagery is never-ending and includes a huge transparent balloon-cloud creature in a whale-circus that causes a flood, carving up a live pig for food and giving some of his cooked meat back to him, a water-elephant that comes out of the sand which they ride and swim in, a pervert fetish-robot that tries to make soup out of them, time standing still as God grapples with metaphysical levers and tries to eat planet Earth, and much more, and this is only the describable stuff. This is somewhere in between random acidic imagery, a surreal-mystical exploration of life and death, and Dali mixed with Bill Plympton. A must-see at least once for fans of the bizarre.

Cat Swallows Parakeet and Speaks!  
This is very much like a feminist version of 'Tales of the Gimli Hospital', complete with B&W fuzzy atmosphere, strange hospital patients and stories, and necrophilia. Various women stay at a bizarre hospital-cum-asylum, where the doctor seems to thrive on making the women weaker unless they entertain him with juicy stories. So 'Scheherazade', a celebrity staying there for an ulcer, makes use of tabloid stories (hence the film title) to try to survive. She develops an intimate relationship with a highly neurotic anorexic ballerina obsessed with her body image. In the meantime, a sick old man harasses the nurse with stories of his conquests of various exotic female-archetypes and declares his worship for her as a 'goddess'. Thus the film explores the way society views women and tries to force them into roles, or breaks them via their body image until they die (symbolically or, in the case of this movie, literally). Other ideas touched on in surreal ways include: women as angels both fake and authentic, PMS used as an excuse for any behaviour, menstrual blood that disgusts society (the characters in this movie literally swim in it and embrace it), and so on. The message is the same old tiresome feminist rant, and the film features neurotic-estrogen overload, but the way it was filmed is quirky, gently surreal and somewhat interesting.

Extreme-movie censorship has been used in movies before, notably in Evil Ed, but this one is more in the vein of Repulsion, exploring the psyche of a female censor during the time of the 'video nasties', only in a much more surreal fashion than Repulsion. Enid is a woman who has lost her sister at an early age under mysterious circumstances. Her work as a video-nasty censor exposes her daily to extreme imagery, from which she normally disconnects and treats in a professional demeanor. Except her stoic front is now coming under increasing pressure in the form of vilification by the press and public after a killer claims he was inspired by a movie that passed the censors, and her parents want to move on from the mystery of her missing sister. Reality soon slips away and becomes a video nasty, or is it just a horror film she becomes involved in while attempting to find her sister? The film very nicely weaves between realities until we lose our own sense of what's real, and the film is content with leaving us with her confusion as the walls cave in. Themes of walls, censorship, and psychological repression are used well. The job, the period, the drama and the mystery are just backdrops to this exploration of her breaking mind. The acting is superb. An interesting little psychological horror movie, albeit a narrowly focused one.

Charm's Incidents  
A Dadaistic movie based on the surreal writings of Daniil Kharms (AKA Yuvachyov), a Russian writer from the early 1900s. Snippets of nonsense, absurdities, humoristic random games with words and just plain silliness do not provide a solid base for the most coherent of movies. But within this fun chaos there is a bit of a romantic comedy of a story involving Daniil's many attempts at romancing a girl, most of which end in impossible failures. His life in general is peppered with absurd catastrophes, failures of the laws of nature to behave the way they should, and general piles of nonsense. Amongst the many episodes, snippets, word-games and sketches there's the most absurdly random but vigorously taught lesson in a school class-room, hats spontaneously combust, hands turn to forks and knives, girlfriends swell up in seconds and back again, there's a butter-thief who uses his mouth, cleric authorities that invade his house like something out of a Python sketch, a really silly theatrical production of a fight that never happens, a fatal 'experimental pill', and a narrator that does the opposite of narrate. Amusingly playful at times, randomly silly at others.

Cheonggyecheon Dog, A  
One hour of pure surrealism and dream-logic from Korea. The topic and story is uninteresting piffle; but its superb technique and ability to conjure up dream-logic in every scene and in its progression, is a wonder. A transsexual obsessed with his desires and dreams to be a woman, loses himself in his dreams until he can't tell reality from his fantasies. A song and image of a mermaid, combined with a fantasy he dives into while working as a female phone-sex operator, triggers this fugue, as he wanders out into the city. He is literally transformed into a girl in a clothes store, strange people and voices throw out aphorisms at him, or advice on the dangers of dreaming too much, and he symbolically turns into a blind man who seeks a seeing-eye dog that will show him a new world, a dog that transforms into various people, while the clothes-store's security-man, who may or may not exist, chases him through the city. His fugue grows increasingly more chaotic and climaxes with a surreal rape by a beast in a mask, as all the elements of the dream weave together.

An anthology of Troma-esque comedy-horror, all filled to the brim with over-the-top juvenile comedy, camp, bad taste and gore. Like a good Troma movie however, most of it is fun as long as you know what you are getting into and are in the right mood. The wrapper story isn't a throwaway like with most anthologies, and features a zombie outbreak that spreads via necrophiliac sex, featuring dozens of sick sexual acts involving the dead and the living, taken over-the-top to camp levels of bad taste. Wadzilla is probably the most outrageously funny and features a huge mutant sperm creature and a date gone horribly wrong. Werebear is the rotten one of the bunch, being a musical teen movie about a group of Lost-Boys-style, hungry 'werebears' that stand in as endlessly silly symbols for coming out of the closet. Then there's the really silly but entertaining one about Hitler stealing Anne Frankenstein's journal and bringing to life a Jewish, Hasidic undead monster. And finally, we thankfully only get to see two minutes of 'Deathication' featuring a stream of surreal images starring excrement.

Christmas Eve  
A man tries to find his elusive girlfriend Eve on a lonely snowy Christmas, making phone calls and following up on information only to constantly find the unexpected that is somehow also expected. This remarkable little film uses surrealism with Hitchcock-esque precision, setting up one strange encounter after another only to explain it away using sound reasoning in the next scene. Until the protagonist comes to his senses and the subconscious plan that was always in play comes to the fore. To say more would be to spoil it. A playful, well-constructed film that riffs on longing, fantasy and loneliness.

Christmas on Mars  
A psychedelic rock band makes a psychedelic sci-fi flick? I'm in. This imaginative, fun, small film was made by The Flaming Lips, and it reminds one of the intimate, low-tech, absurd atmosphere of Dark Star in the way it portrays humans in space having to deal with humdrum daily life in space and its little insanities. Except it boosts the surrealism, sometimes to the extent that it brings to mind Eraserhead. Space is full of mystical vaginal orifices and babies. Syrtis is trying to keep it together while a woman nurtures a baby in a strange machine, while some of the men are going insane. He is also haunted by surreal dreams with disturbing images of human vaginas and damaged babies. Their base on Mars looks like a huge factory full of indescribable and strange machines, except things are falling apart. When a crisis starts and a man turns to suicide exactly on the day when 'tis the season to be jolly, a silent green alien appears in a space-ship that he carries in his mouth, and makes his own contribution to the deteriorating Mars station.

A 60 minute abstract, meditational, atmospheric and surreal animation (translation: heavy drugs needed) by Piotr Kamler who usually makes shorts. The background description is of an eternal, mystical, unreachable city of immortals who have mastered time and seek to break their monotony by reaching out to a human (depicted scaling a wall). Unfortunately, the animation is all about an endless cryptic process of preparation and communication, depicted using silent ancients playing with sticks and flying spherical objects that keep morphing into other objects or pass through a factory-like process of magical manufacture also involving an endless series of opening doors. The human falls and is saved with flying magic, encounters the bouncing sphere, cuddling then dancing with it, until the cryptic ending involving an unexpected disintegration. The atmosphere and bizarre electronic soundtrack may keep your mind hypnotized for a while, but the film is unrewarding.

Cinéma Abattoir
A screening and releasing company of avant-garde, shocking, experimental or transgressive shorts by various directors. I'm tempted to call this a more modern incarnation of Zedd's Cinema of Transgression, but that movement had more humor and a conscious lack of artistic pretension, whereas this markets itself more as art-house transgression. The shorts vary from bizarre, impenetrable, nightmarish pieces, to filth and pornography with pretensions of art simply by experimenting with cinematography, editing and sound. You never know what will appear next, from nonsensical Kenneth Anger-esque eclectic occultism or Satanism, to sophomoric shock involving violence, mutilation, scat, or perverse porn, to purely visual experiments involving light, sound and cinematography and random footage. The DVD collections released so far are mostly similar in their eclecticism and their titles (L'Èrotisme, Incarnation, À Rebours) won't help you, since they don't reflect any detectable themes. For those that enjoy experimenting with snippets of avant-garde, transgressive cinema, this will be welcome, and some of the more strange shorts are mildly intriguing, but I found the content too often disappointingly empty, pointlessly perverse, or sophomorically confrontational and shocking. Standout intriguing short: Burn by Patrick Jolley.

CoinCoin and the Extra-Humans  
This extremely odd mini-series by Bruno Dumont is actually a sequel to "Lil Quinquin", but its spiritual precursor is his odd comedy "Slack Bay". Lil Quinquin took Dumont's often used slow-moving realistic rural settings and local non-actors, and put them in a genre-blender of an Inspector Clouseau-esque police investigation into a gruesome string of murders involving human body parts in cows. It involved characters that are somehow both strange and down-to-earth, and its humor was so silly, off-color and dumb that it was somehow entertaining. This sequel just lets loose in a bizarre parody of Body Snatcher movies, and all the characters have now become caricatures. As if that wasn't enough, he throws in a random zombie that makes no sense, repetitive car-stunts that are funny just because they are repetitive, and alien black slime from X-Files that keeps taking a dump on our characters in the most awkward moments. Once again, he uses locals with various disabilities for his actors, but, for example, Bernard Pruvost with his extreme real-life tics and facial expressions is practically overshadowed by the over-the-top Clouseau character that he plays. He is unforgettably hypnotic. The black humor on racism in the first series is now expanded to cover also reactions to butch lesbians. This series manages to plumb new extremes of dumb humor, somehow making it funny (sometimes despite itself. The open ending is so deliriously strange it becomes surreal.

Unrewarding French dream-logic horror that is basically one long dream-sequence. A woman on the run with her criminal friends has to hide at a derelict warehouse full of mannequin body parts. Fragments of childhood nightmares blend with reality, teasing with clues as to her psyche, but never coming together. A scary father-figure with a stain on his hand, a scary man in the warehouse, doors that lock by themselves, but who has the key? Nightmarish chase sequences that never seem to end, random violence and some gore, a self-mutilated hand, mannequins, a child with a magic warding spell, and so on. Sometimes effective in a surreal way, but it never goes anywhere, it has no setup, plot or end, and eventually just becomes quite tedious.

Collective: Unconscious  
An interesting project: Five directors direct five shorts attempting to capture the dreams of the other five on film. Although dreams are often personal with no interest to most other people, and mixed with random gibberish, the ability of one person to visually interpret another's dream could be interesting. The first dream is surrealism at its finest, involving a young man in a world where towers broadcast a voice counting sheep, a voice that could kill people if they aren't wearing protective earphones. When he records his grandmother singing a traditional song, he discovers her voice has the power to counteract against the outside voice, as well as to attract beetles... The second dream is like some obnoxious performance-art and not oneiric at all: Ex-convicts talk about their experience when released from jail in the background, while groups of people (white chicks and black guys) appear in several locations acting out a series of outdoor activities in avant-garde-dance moves. The third is one of those classic teenager personal dreams with an obvious meaning and is uninteresting: A gender-ambiguous teenager in school is bothered by a macho coach and class-mates until a nearby volcano explodes. The fourth is another politically-themed 'dream' on the topic of black kids involved in jail and crime, and involves a TV kid's show called 'Everybody Dies' hosted by 'Ripa the Reaper'. The fifth is a classic nightmare type of dream involving various fears of a new young mother, including her body going through weird changes, some dance-performance-art with milk, and various undefined social pressures. The short makes good use of editing and soundtrack to bring the nightmare to life. In between the shorts, a young man talks about hypnotism and states of trance. Summary: They should have picked more interesting dreams like the first one and skipped the politics or personal nightmares with obvious meanings.

Controversial blaxploitation from Bakshi that dives head-first into grotesque stereotypes and a parade of trashy characters. The movie is a pioneering mix of live-action and animation, mixing a story of a black prison-break with the longer animated tale of the Brother Rabbit, Bear and Preacher Fox. They get in trouble with a racist sheriff and the sheriff's daughter at a whorehouse, encounter a violent black resistance movement and are sent to kill a redneck cop and a grotesquely fat Godfather who is followed by an odd entourage of transvestites, a gay son, a headless black man, midget clowns, and bugs. A live stripper strips for an animated sheriff, there's a surreal speech by the fat, naked head of the resistance, a woman gets killed as she turns into a butterfly, there's an ongoing satirical clash between a small black man and a huge, white Ms America and it only gets more bizarre toward the end. Fragmented, satirical, trashy and raunchy.

Copenhagen Cowboy  
See TV.

Countess of Baton Rouge, The  
Forcier takes his usual quirkiness and touches of magical realism several steps further with this surreal and sometimes Felliniesque meta-movie. This is a movie within a movie, with themes of imagination and film-making, versus elusive dreams and banal life-obstacles. It uses a film within a film, telling the fantastical story of a film-maker chasing his muse: a bearded lady who joined a Cajun circus called the Circus of Happiness. He jumps through hoops ,or, in this case, shoots himself out of a cannon for her, but gets sidetracked by easy American women, financial woes and other annoyances, and even his audience doesn't appreciate the difficulties involved in shooting himself through the cannon. In the freak show, there is a also a cyclops whom he envies, who has the ability to project his imagination straight onto the canvas via his single eye. In the movie, the film-maker shows a movie about his adventures that make them seem even more absurd and fantastical, except a ghost haunts his film projection. Themes on the relationship between a film-maker and his creations are explored surrealistically, the film both celebrating and ranting about the elusive muse, via a carnival of imagery and magic.

Some movies rely solely on a single acting performance, and some, like this one, don't bother with offering much of anything else except the performance. Bill Oberst Jr. delivers another one of his intense, unhinged performances, portraying an insomniac who goes off the rails. Usually, with movies of this type, the protagonist starts off semi-normal so that the audience can connect with the character, and deteriorates subtly over time. With this one, he starts as a wacko and deteriorates into a complete mass-murdering mental case, going insane in a variety of extreme ways. This is a big minus for the movie since there is nothing to sympathize or connect with here. The character he portrays can't sleep, then refuses to sleep as his paranoia grows and starts having increasingly disturbing hallucinations involving random things like alien/creature gory mutations on his own body, and a variety of people and creatures that don't exist, many of which attach themselves to him in surreal ways. His co-worker and friend is an angry racist, he adopts a sad older woman as his girlfriend for his own demented internal reasons, and as his mental state becomes worse, his anger and aggressive or violent whims grow uncontrollable, except we cannot tell what is in his mind and what is real anymore. As he detaches from society more and more, he escapes into a literal hole in the ground or into a wild forest, and there things really become dark, filthy and gruesome. Unfortunately, as mentioned, this unhinged performance is all the movie has to offer.

Crazy Lips  
Mix black comedy, horror, a murder mystery, some nasty rape and necrophilia, a touch of incest, a musical, very bizarre agents that sing the American Anthem while prancing in leotards on TV, and some kung-fu action and what do you get? I don't know, but this movie seems to be directed by a man with many whims. The story goes something like this: A mother and two daughters are hounded by police and journalists, accusing her son of beheading some schoolgirls. One daughter brings in some nasty psychics with an evil agenda of their own, convincing their customers to submit to rape, supernatural forces and other nasties. But who really is the murderer? Will breaking out into song or a flurry of kung-fu save them from the angry mob? And what's with the ending? A bad movie somewhat redeemed by its insanity.

Crisis Jung  
The French are outdoing Japanese anime in levels of insanity now? Impossible! This is part parody, part homage, part psychoanalytic deconstruction, part over-the-top exploitation of anime. It consists of 10 7-minute episodes and features a mythical 'Broken-Heart hero' battling ultimate suffering in the form of a massive 'Little Jesus' who first decapitates his girl, then literally craps out new foes for him to battle. Foes are named things like 'Tolerance', 'Kindness', etc. The fights include body parts used as weapons, especially genitalia, gory killings and geysers of blood, chainsaws instead of penises, and a whole lot of nonsensical anime logic and bizarre apocalyptic creatures and suffering humans. Violence becomes Jungian archetypes battling psychological threats, genders are fluid, and nonsense reigns. I'm not sure what do with this one, but it exists.

Ethiopian surrealism in the form of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi metaphor. The world is a decrepit landscape full of objects and symbols of the past that have acquired expansive mythological stories and meaning. A distant mysterious space-ship hovers over the land. Children are obsolete. A deformed man and his young love interest talk of a possible fantasy future, and their possible alien origins, seeking help from a witch and from Santa Claus. A cheap plastic toy-sword once allegedly used by warriors will help him on his quest. The metaphor seems to be the distant mythological effect of the West and its pop-culture on a decrepit, poor land of Africa that may as well be an alien post-apocalyptic wasteland in comparison. Local tribal tensions, wishful thinking and dreams, and greedy people squabbling over the cheap toy scraps and worshipped pop-symbols from the West all make life harder. Disillusionment in 'space-ships', Superman fantasies, and a Santa Claus that turns out to be violent cause an existential re-evaluation. Visually rich with wonderful locations.

Cutting Moments  
A short, extremely disturbing masterpiece about a marriage that has deteriorated to depression, perversions, long uncomfortable silences, and an unhealthy relationship between the husband and son. When the wife unsuccessfully tries to get her husband's attention by dressing up, she loses it and goes to more extreme, gory and nasty self-inflicting measures. Very disturbing and depressing mostly due to the sympathetic character and familiar horrors of a bad marriage. Featured as the first of three shorts on Family Portraits. Also featured on an anthology of short tales under the same name, of which the first four are mildly entertaining silliness: A violent dog that smokes crack, a wife that keeps nagging her husband even after he kills her, a man with an unhealthy obsession for meat and a talking bowl of oatmeal, and a silly punk teenage angst movie.

Dante Isn't Just Severe  
Experimental and statement film with touches of surrealism from Barcelona's Film School. My interpretation is that it is about the impossibility of communication, especially between man and woman, but also in society where facades, presentation and publicity reign. A woman puts on symbolic make-up in the beginning of the movie, then it is removed by a surgeon in the end of the movie, leading to a very apprehensive, teasing and playful nod to the eye-slicing scene in 'Chien Andalou', especially considering that the movie contains lots of graphic eye-surgery footage. Which, presumably, is symbolic of what needs to be done to our viewpoints. The man and woman in the film constantly misunderstand and confuse each other with strange stories and jokes, coming from completely different and incompatible viewpoints, but both the stories and critiques are nonsense and surreal placeholders. The camera and cinematography also constantly play with us to ensure we take a step back and observe anew. Even time can be altered, literally turning the clock backwards. In one scene, the man finds a mannequin to talk to instead. In the end, they only manage to communicate through strict logic in the form of nonsensical syllogisms.

Dark Backward, The  
Cult movie about an absolutely terrible stand-up comic who grows a strange appendage out of his back, and his hyperactive friend with a taste for hugely fat women and accordions. They try to make it big in show-business while working in garbage-collection. This one is truly one of a kind with a uniquely bizarre cast of characters, the actors are almost all covered in slime, grime, filth and garbage, and the scenes keep surprising you. There's an orgy with huge women and dog food, a touch of necrophilia, and their stage routine keeps getting weirder. Runs out of cult charm toward the end and it's a bad movie overall, but it keeps you watching.

Dark Corners  
A young woman is frequently having nightmares and visions, slipping away into an alternate nightmare world frequently. In this world, a killer stalks her and her friends, appearing even in unrealistic but disturbing ways via dream-logic, and sometimes she and her friends even get killed in grisly brutal ways. Matters get worse when the killer and killings seep over into her more real and grounded world, where she is also having trouble getting pregnant and keeping her pregnancies. So, basically the whole movie is a killer victim's nightmare experienced in repeating, inescapable layers. It's intriguing at first, then wears out its welcome by repeating without development. The solution is spelled out at the end of the movie, but it won't add much to the experience.

Dark Side of the Womb, The  
A really warped, indie, anything-goes, pitch-black comedy that is somehow trashy exploitation, darkly amusing and twisted all at once. This movie lives in a world with a warped logic of its own. There are not one, not two, but three births from the point of view of inside the vagina, the babies here being born along with some kind of emotional trauma such as severe mother's hate and rejection, or via an encounter with an insane doctor who at first confuses a birth with an abortion. There's a head-transplant, a psycho clown who has a sick clownish way of dismembering people, a bizarre love between huge girl and a mentally-challenged male dwarf, a skateboarding dwarf scene, and a surreal squishy encounter between a human and the various anthropomorphized organs inside a woman's body. Entertaining, but only for like-minded warped people.

Day Dream (Hakujitsumu)      
Early Pinku that allegedly started the whole genre and was later remade by the same director with hardcore porn inserts. I suppose it was inevitable that given the fascination the Japanese have with erotic abusive relationships, that they would somehow find a way to exploit the relationship between a dentist and a woman. As the dentist manhandles her mouth, she gives in to erotic fantasies then goes under the nitrous oxide. A young man in lust with the woman and who is being treated nearby also joins in as the three get lost in a surreal fugue. There's S&M, XXX scenes, a naked chase through a hotel, the dentist becomes a vampire, she beheads him, there's a ghost train, hardcore porn with a puppet, she finds herself naked inside a car wash, and so on. Also followed by a sequel in 1987 alternatively named 'Captured for Sex', but which is basically the same movie with tons of sex, then a freewheeling surreal chase through trains, beaches and dungeons with vampire dentists, lesbian witch nurses, and hallucinative doorways. Also remade in Korea a year after this one as 'Empty Dream'.

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats  
A demon falls in lust with a girl, but when she dies from his attentions, he grieves and his blood falls on a bed, turning it into a hungry creature that digests anything placed on it. The bed can make flowers grow out of a skull, lock doors, drag bodies around, make munching sounds and pour pepto-bismol out of a bottle. The bed has a pool of digestive juices with blood that can swallow anything without soiling the sheets and it can bring an artist back as a ghost, paint his fingernails black and imprison him behind a painting. The bed is simply incredible. The only thing more amazing than the fact that this LSD-inspired surreal idea was conceived, was that it was actually filmed. Very entertaining in a bizarre way and must be seen to be believed.

Death Powder  
If you're looking for the cinematic equivalent of a wild LSD trip, look no further. A humanoid female is kept tied up in a decrepit basement and several unknown groups of people seem to be interested in this creature. When the creature blows dust on some intruders, it sends them off to another world and gives them deep understanding of... something or another to do with rising above the limitations of flesh. These various parties fight it out amongst themselves, some turning out to be more than human. That's as much of the plot as one can gather from this bizarre experience however. The real movie is industrial hallucinogenic horror and gore spliced with random images of people and various creatures doing... random things. Oh nevermind, I give up summarizing this one.

Cult underground film that is a kind of gritty, paranoid, industrial-music-fan's fantasy with the involvement of William S. Burroughs. Big-brother government and corporations are monitoring the people, controlling information and generating muzak to play in hamburger joints that control people's emotions. When a youth decodes these signals in his home studio, he literally goes underground where he encounters a cult led by Genesis P. Orridge that treat information as their religion, make a lot of rhythmic noise on industrial and metal artifacts, and plot a revolution with sound tapes as weapons to disrupt society. In the meantime, his girlfriend has a bizarre obsession with frogs and a government agent with a strange attitude towards people tries to develop a relationship with a prostitute. A throbbing, rhythmic, blinking, beeping, whirring, gritty experience with some random disturbing imagery on screens.

Deep Dark  
Undeveloped absurdist & silly surrealism about an artist's relationship with his muse. The muse, in this case, is a very female hole in the wall. Yes, you read that right. A tortured unsuccessful artist desperately rents a moldy apartment from his manipulative uncle, and suddenly finds success when he develops a relationship with the hole. It pretty much goes where you expect it to go, and then the characters do a little twist for a very weak ending, leaving you unsatisfied. In short, a very undeveloped single-idea movie that may have worked only as a short.

Deep in My Mind  
Very low-budget German hallucinative movie. A salesman checks into a seedy hotel, and then the whole movie is basically him having increasingly confusing and intense hallucination and visions involving a wide range of strange people in masks, many visions of violence and grisly deaths, angels, insane asylums, strange mythical creatures in the woods, orgies, sexual encounters gone bad, homosexuals and other strange people accosting him as if they know him, etc. There is no mystery, and if you've watched these kinds of movies before you'll know what to expect. Given that there isn't anything to chew on, it's all about the hallucinations. They start quite tediously amateurish, then improve over time as they get more intense and wild, then it wears out its welcome. Mostly tedious without meat to chew on, but it has some visual points of interest.

Devil, I'm Bored  
Neglected and unknown Russian phantasmagorical art-house work of extravagant surrealism. It is an alternate version of the story of Faust in the wry and dryly humorous spirit of Bulgakov with elements from Pushkin and Thomas Mann. It is also obviously a product of the post-Perestroika chaos, black markets and disillusionment. It is also partially a Russian musical. It takes place in a surreal world that combines elements from many different periods, and is rich with tiny details and symbols for various aspects of civilization, satirizing humanity's history in its decline. Many film-sets are a visually rich hodge-podge of striking props, bizarre characters, fantastical elements and outlandish costumes from different historical eras, on a par with Jodorowsky. A depressed and rejected Mephistopheles emerges from a surreal traffic jam of humanity, and wanders a market where anything is sold, and hears of the soul of a male, effeminate, ballet-dancer Faust. He literally climbs a building to heaven to negotiate with God for the soul and gets permission to acquire it, but he must convince Faust first together with his bizarre minions. He takes Faust on a tour of art, decadence, power and pleasures, hell and paradise, taking him on various adventures and indulgences, including visits to the underworld, a ballet dance with bizarre underground witches, an opera in hell where mice emerge from singers mouths, a hermaphroditic yet-to-emerge second-coming whom Faust dances to oblivion, some bizarre sexual bats with genitalia that fly away elusively, and fights with religious icons. Full of social and theological commentary and irony, but a lot of it also feels randomly theatrical. Until God interferes and turns the tables on an increasingly frustrated devil, showing Faust that his deal is meaningless, leaving a deceived and deflated Mephistopheles and citizens of a decrepit planet to literally leave the Earth by climbing a tower.

Didn't You Hear  
In what feels like an enthusiastic, student-made, surreal movie project, a college student dreams of being a pirate in an adult world in between bouts of college confusion, stress and humiliations. His pirate adventures include strange home-made props as scenery, he travels and clashes with an adult-populated island, has strange discussions and philosophical arguments about individualism with his mates, and longs for a sorority girl who constantly hovers in his dreams. Mildly entertaining, sporting nonsensical dialogue, dream-logic, bad acting and bargain-basement surrealism.

Die You Zombie Bastards!  
In the spirit of Troma and Toxic Avenger, this goofy wannabe-cult film tells the tale of a married, loving, cannibalistic serial killer couple and the evil Nefarious who wants to turn the whole world into zombie slaves, starting with 3 naked female scientists. After his wife gets kidnapped, Red goes on a road trip in search of Nefarious, meeting Swedish boobs, trailer trash, angelic pizza guys, and Jamaican gurus, while gorily tearing apart zombies. In the meantime, Nefarious inflates the unimpressed wife's boobs and gets zombie chicks to hammer his overly enlarged penis while he plays a tune on his prickly butt.

Dirty Habit  
Underrated psychological reality-bending thriller-drama. A nun and a crack-addict prostitute get stuck in an elevator together. Their conversation is instantly confrontational and spirited, and gradually their back-stories and some disturbing recent events come to the fore, revealing that all is not as it seems. A talking hand-bag may or may not be the addict's hallucinations. And as their deeper characters are revealed, more and more details of their stories fall apart and change. In essence, as their psychologies are uncovered layer by layer, the same happens to their reality. The dialogue and acting are very good as well. It doesn't have the most satisfying of closures in terms of the actual final reality, but it is underrated and well done nevertheless.

Definitely a very unique, otherworldly and visually memorable horror movie. Emphasis is on atmosphere and warped visuals however, and not a plot or characters. This takes place in a strange, alternate self-contained world of dark witchcraft, where humans living in forests as well as strip-bars, and become obsessed with plants, using them as drugs, Here humans turn into plants, and plants come to life as creatures that abduct and harvest humans for their body fluids. Specifically, this revolves around various legends of the mandrake plant that has human-like appendages and allegedly screams when pulled out of the earth. An ex-soldier with some kind of dark past wanders forests and abandoned buildings (amazing location shooting), and encounters a very bizarre mandrake 'farm'. Injections, feeding, filthy and muddy chain-tied servitude, and forceful extraction of body fluids via creepy sexual acts ensue. However, the movie holds back way too much when it comes to back-stories and character, providing only very unsatisfying snippets, and leaving its audience with no points of interest to think about. But the atmosphere, acting (Bill Oberst Jr. once again in an intense performance) and locations are very effective, demented and disturbing.

Distance, The  
Sergio Caballero's follow-up to Finisterrae is another equally nonsensical combination of meditative scenery and events, and sheer silly gibberish, proving that he really lives in an alternate universe. It's mostly random nonsense, bringing to mind another Calvin Reeder, but the movie has an atmosphere and a completely alien sense of humor that saves it from being a waste of time. Try to follow this plot description: A strange semi-human 'performer' (or possible escape artist) is locked up a in a warehouse next to an abandoned Siberian power station that contains a mysterious object called The Distance. He hires three dwarves to steal the object by sending them a cryptic letter. These dwarves have several psychic powers (and three caravans), including talking to each other telepathically, rubbing their penis for long-range communication, and rubbing their bellies against walls to find what's on the other side. Problem is, the power station is guarded by a man who shifts between dimensions involuntarily, and who talks to a rusty bucket that annoys him with Haikus in Japanese. Therefore they and the artist have to make careful preparations, while listening to recordings of Lenin or of women screaming, several of these involving the use of the carcasses of rabbits. Got that?

Strange sci-fi dystopian film that is somewhere between a free-form visual-imagination movie by Mandico, and a strangely fleshy dystopian-horror a la Tetsuo, complete with a stop-motion segment. It's well done in terms of visuals and wildly mysterious world-building, but like a Mandico film, it creates more questions than answers and is not interested in plots and coherence as much as in unlimited mystery, imagination and erotica. Ar the core of this film, however, is a dystopian world one can chew on, where a rogue scientist's son has created a substance that offers immortality, beauty and pleasure for all takers, at the expense of something more human. He is visited by two strange beings with an endless array of undefined supernatural powers, and a seemingly very undefined violent plan that keeps changing as the movie progresses. A visiting, spiritual-minded, life-giving hooker introduces them to a life of positive pleasure (how these three beings are different from the rest of the dystopian population is never clear), and a troupe of heavenly females pop in once in a while to save their feminine brethren from something or another, and revel in birthings of alien beings. Bizarre in a very muddled way that never takes off, but a mesmerizing watch nevertheless.

Dog's Dream, A  
Greek movie that creates a strange, dream-like world where a man dreams of a confusing shootout in an opera and a woman who loves him, a singer's voice is stolen, a psychic detective solves a furniture theft using his powers, an oracle tells the future through a tea-cup, and a red-headed whore finds a magic wand that grants her wishes. The movie's fatal flaw is that it doesn't develop or build up anything, not even a mystery, and wallows in meandering atmospheric strangeness instead, wandering between its many empty characters. Interesting, but lacking substance and only occasionally effective as a dream.

Dorothea's Revenge  
A surreal, amusing exploration of sex, love, innocence, knowledge, happiness and capitalism through the sexual awakenings and experiments of Dorothea. She comes downstairs one day as the parents are narrating their own words and actions, and informs them and us that an alien visited her and left her a strange red meteorite. The parents immediately are concerned about her sexual habits and thus starts her misadventures with unhappy, perverted or lost people. She tries a sex documentary with friends, working as a model and prostitute (where she gets abused), befriends a depressed Dominatrix, follows advice from Jesus (who comes to visit her out of the blue) to sleep with children and fools (a flasher) until she reaches some kind of conclusion in the rural, naked life of the country. In the meantime, her father works producing bags of canned laughter to make people happy. Didactic and meditative in some parts, an amusing sex romp in others, and unfocused in the rest.

Down and Dirty Duck (AKA Dirty Duck AKA Cheap)  
Unfairly compared to Fritz the Cat, this bonkers cult adult animation is a completely different beast. Instead of satire and raunchy sex using animal characters, this dives head-first into very surreal sexual fantasy and wild, bizarre offensive humor. It often feels like an inspiration to Bill Plympton's style of animation, though it's even more deranged with a completely uninhibited free-wheeling imagination. Willard works for an insurance company but his meek manner and horny fantasies creates constant problems with society and his workplace, not to mention getting in the way of his ultimate fantasy to actually get laid. When he gets sent to investigate a claim made by an old woman who claims to be dead, her bizarre, not-really-her-son, Duck character takes him on a quest to relax and find himself. This surreal journey becomes increasingly more outlandish, bizarre and surreal, and his sexual fantasy most definitely does not resolve in any way you could possible imagine. As with later Plympton, interactions between characters fly off into surreal and grotesque, free-wheeling exaggerations and flights of fancy, anything becoming a sexual object including a flower-pot and his car's ignition and his fantasies of turning into King-Kong or turning his manager into a basketball merge into reality. But that's nothing compared to his road trip, which includes a very surreal whorehouse with landscapes and sets made up of grotesque body parts, and a bizarre encounter in a desert with two naked lesbians, one giant John Wayne policeman, and a Mexican with a huge cannon. One-of-a-kind raunchy and surreal entertainment.

Dracula of Exarcheia  
Bonkers Greek trashy satire that is basically a series of vignettes in a freewheeling, gonzo, guerrilla style that sometimes feels improvised. There's a vampire and his team of ghouls that ravage the cemetery for body parts so that they can build the next big music band. But this angers the zombies who promptly go on a protest march against exploitation of zombie singers. Dracula's daughter(?), who enjoys having sex with dolls, runs off with the fat Frankenstein-esque singer who runs on batteries, and seems to have no inhibitions. They encounter a group of amazonian feminists that watch male bodybuilders and plot against men's rights, they meet a necrophiliac, are chased by zombies, run into aggressive supermarket salesmen and try-it-before-you-buy-it sex toys, and lots more, until the final concert of Nazi-zombies where they sing full-length, trashy, what-the-hell-was-that songs in front of an audience.

Dragon Arrives!, A  
This extremely playful and purposely confusing movie is unlike any Iranian movie I've ever seen. There's a lot of Ruiz in here, if Ruiz were making a Jean-Pierre Jeunet movie that is. I say this because it knows no borders, and lets the imagination have free reign to focus on the overall idea of the story and its fun little plot details and props, rather than any kind of overall cohesive story. The key, I believe, is a box of memorabilia, which appears also in the meta-mockumentary parts of the film, as well as in the magical realist detective-political story, which may or many not be a recreation of true events, as imagined by someone with garbled memories. It's like someone took some folklore stories and tall tales told by his grandfather, mixed it with real impressions of 1960s Iran, and added details inspired by a hodge-podge of pictures and letters from a mysterious inherited family chest. There's a detective gone to a bizarre desert location to investigate a political suicide. Only the investigation takes place in a ship in a desert located near a cemetery, and there's a mythical beast lying in wait under the ground, as well as strange ghosts and earthquakes. So he brings two quirky friends, one that records sounds, and a geologist, except they have to deal with a local quack ophthalmologist that hunts sharks in his spare time and heals people by licking their eyeballs with shark oil. Add to this some very colorful locals and rituals and a Lynchian camel that provides mystical guidance. Extra layers to this movie are provided by the repressive debriefing interrogations, and the mockumentary talking-heads, all of which seem to have no regard for proper timelines and separating fact from fiction. In fact, they enjoy blending them all together.

Dr. Caligari  
The sets are low-budget German expressionism with garish colors, making the movie look like a cheap cartoon, the actors are mostly deadpan (with notable exceptions) and perform with their body movements, the insane dialog includes phrases like "My feelings are like filthy prayers. I want to scream in your face", the camp is over-the-top, there is black-comedy with nudity and nastiness, and the whole effect is surreal. It can't get more cult than this and yet it hasn't gained a following. The story is secondary but involves a Dr. Caligari who is in charge of an insane asylum and whose questionable methods include human experimentation, playing with a masochistic cannibal and a nymphomaniac, and the swapping of minds through hypothalamus injections. By Stephen Sayadian, a director who otherwise makes classic bizarre porn like Cafe Flesh and Night Dreams with highly idiosyncratic dialog and surreal, bizarre costumes and performances.

Drown Among the Dead  
Playful existential surrealism in a Mexican film, except that it feels more like a student film that employs symbolism without depth. An old man is buried in the ground telling fantastical tales of life and love, while he is hounded by Death in the form of an angry woman with a spiked bat who wants to smash his head in. There is a pair of fantasy lovers that want to burn the world, a strip-tease dance in the desert standing for life's distracting eroticism, existential musings on the way life drags you down including an episode of a Sisyphus-man repeatedly carrying a stone up the hill, etc. It doesn't really add up to anything, making it more superficial than enigmatic, with an ambiguous materialistic ending.

Eaten Alive (AKA Death Trap)  
Tobe Hooper's follow-up to Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the closest in plot and mood but somehow loses the grit and realism amidst too much style and bizarreness that is almost surreal. A local seedy hotel is owned by a madman who tends to mumble on and on about nonsense, and who owns an insatiable crocodile to whom he feeds all his guests. This movie visits this location on a very busy night where sometimes the clients are crazier than the hotel owner. Lots of madness, gore and twistedness ensues.

Embodied Mind, The  
Absurd Spanish meta-film written by Gonzalo Suárez, with some similar themes covered by the later 'Fata/Morgana'. A young man finds himself in one nonsensical adventure after another, always in his pajamas without succeeding in keeping a suit on for long, and always with a woman throwing herself at him. Each episodic adventure makes fun of a different movie genre and cliche. It starts with a fake-death-and-burial thriller, and then moves on to an illogical mob conspiracy crime thriller, plenty of husbands get angry at him for stealing their wives, one of them challenging him to a duel which becomes a surreal dance, there's chasing action and stunts, a Western, a bizarre nuclear quiz-show, and more. Advertisers hound him with requests, until you realize this is a surreal TV land with a character wandering in a virtual land of film snippets and advertisers. I didn't much enjoy this one, however, despite its comedic absurdities, as it didn't develop, and much preferred the more interesting Fata/Morgana.

Enchiridion (AKA Bloodsuckers Handbook)  
Surprisingly well done for its low-budget. Starts with a strange back-room encounter with a possible vampire, kicking off as a low-key horror movie, then things get stranger, then they just dive off the deep-end, as the movie freewheels into its own nonsensical noir-vampire-Lynchian dream. There's a priest with a thing for a horny avant-garde performance-artist who may or may not be his fantasy, a baboon side-kick, other animal-persons that are just accepted as they are in this dream world, a nonsensical dream-logic follow-the-clues search for his girl and the vampire, toad-lickers, a tease plot-twist that is there one minute and gone the next, some humor, and then the end. I liked the way it was filmed and its gradual descent into a dream, the acting isn't bad, but the screenplay feels like a piffle, a light fun experiment with the weird for its own sake, and it needed one or two psychological layers to give us something to chew on. I would be interested to see this director handle a meatier screenplay.

Bizarre and silly Japanese horror about a girl who starts seeings weird eggs in her eyes. Annoying repetitive imagery of the egg keeps appearing, upsetting her life, interrupting her work (that consists of clicking on screenfuls of 1s and 0s), and causing all kinds of reactions from her highly eccentric boss, friends and coworkers. When the egg hatches, a weird monster emerges and she is chased by silly group of police and looney bin doctors, things get even more crazy, silly, surreal and bloody. Perhaps symbolic of menstrual cycles, but the movie prefers to play it as silly, mildly entertaining horror.

Elevator Movie  
A low-budget B&W that starts as an absurd comedy involving two people stuck in an elevator for days. The guy is a 26 year old virgin, obsessed with anal sex and venus fly traps that give fellatio, and the girl is an ex-slut born again Christian. They chat, date, share their personal lives, try to shave and shower, and deal with the sexual tension, all in the elevator. As the days become weeks and then months, she starts mutating, starting from the genitals which look like something out of Tetsuo. All this leads to an ending which is outrageous on many levels. Must see at least once.

Eliza's Horoscope  
A strange one from the 70s. Eliza is looking for her love and baby with the help of a mysterious old astrologer who lives in a house full of strange characters. While she is waiting for the predicted One to appear, she lodges in this house and has a series of misadventures while dressing up in increasingly more bizarre clothes and makeup: She develops a complex relationship with an angry half-native who wants to blow up a bridge infringing on his reservation and home, she meets a sea captain who has a fetish for dressing her up as a china doll, and have her whip a statue of a centaur he is riding on with her wig while being filmed, and she joins a strange new-age cult that keeps live specimens of the zodiac signs and participates in bizarre orgiastic rituals while taking mushrooms. Memories and symbols keep popping up including old baby shoes, her brother, some violence, a guide in an eye-patch, a bearded clown, and all of this comes together at the end in an all-out surrealistic nightmare. Interesting and unique, but it didn't come together for me and remains an enigma.

Empty Dream (Chunmong)  
Korean remake of the Japanese pioneering surreal Pinku 'Day Dream', except this one eschews the explicit sex. Once again, both a woman and a man visit the dentist, both enduring difficult physical discomfort and pain by an all-too-efficient dentist, and both are put under the gas. Her erotic look combined with her submission to the oral abuse by the dentist evokes a fugue of nightmarish erotic-abusive scenes that function under dream-logic. The trio find themselves in one artificial set after another, from a cabaret to an expressionistic city, to a scorching desert or cave, and the dentist always interrupts the lovers attempts to make love, with sadistic games and abuse, and she always submits to him. There is some exquisitely surreal juxtaposition of imagery to evoke both sadism and eroticism as inspired by the dentistry.

French-Canadian reality-twister that twists and twists for its own sake. This film uses every trope in the book, another every minute, to alter reality and time. It revolves around three women, a teenage girl who seems to have experienced a trauma while witnessing a murder of someone close, another woman who is obsessed with her neighbor and who may have been in the parking lot while the aforementioned murder took place, and a professor of quantum physics giving a lecture on how we perceive and alter reality. Is she exploring her memories in a loop and remembering new details, or is she experiencing her life as malleable slides in time, or is this a multiverse, or are they all the same person, is this a premonition or a flashback, or are their lives joined through parallel entangled details, or are they dreaming, or this some kind of Nolan-esque multiple levels of consciousness? Etc etc. There are surreal scenes, especially involving hands, which may be sci-fi or mental reality-control, and Lynchian psycho-sexual undercurrents, whether it is from sexual curiosities or fantasies, or violent molestation from the ever-present surreal criminal. Unfortunately, the movie leaves nothing behind; No cohesive story, no solution, no thought-provoking ideas, nothing reliable, and not even fun like its superior companion film 'Réalité' by Dupieux. It's just an empty, albeit intriguing, exercise in messing with people's minds.

There is a known phenomenon where the same concept is often explored in two movies within the same year. This movie is a surreal thriller involving a doppelgänger, coming out in the same year as The Double (the slightly better movie of the two), and this duality is quite fitting here. In this one, a man finds he has an identical double leading a completely different life, except that the women in his life are having trouble accepting this and seem to know something that he doesn't. When his double becomes aggressive and decides to take over his life and use the situation to seduce his girlfriend, things increasingly become stranger, more tense and intriguing. He also has surreal visions of women and spiders. The spoiler-interpretation is obviously that the two men reflect the two sides of his subconscious, and aspects of his life are split up between the two, and that is why the women behave that way, commenting on his fantasies and affairs and disturbed by his split behaviour. His temporary acting job is glamorized over his teaching job, he seeks flings to free him rather than staying with his pregnant wife and being caught in the web of the spider, etc. Which is all very well, except the movie doesn't really have insight into this cliched character, and the surrealism is clumsy. An intriguing one-time watch only.

Escape from Tomorrow  
A ballsy, indie surreal movie that became notorious fast thanks to its guerrilla-style filming at Disneyworld, while depicting the world as a very screwed-up place indeed under all the smiles, costumes and princesses. This is the day in the mind of a family-man who has just lost his job and whose marriage to an overbearing wife is full of tension. He desperately and pathetically follows cheery underage teenage girls around the park, neglects his kids, and has unpleasant encounters with pushy kids and a strange flirty woman who may or may not be a witch. Perhaps its a 'cat flu' that is messing with his mind, or just his own fears and anxieties, but his day rapidly turns surreal and disturbing, encountering neurotic women with an unhealthy attraction to kids, costumed princesses catering to horny Asian businessmen, turkey-meat that may not be turkey, and an unexplained conspiracy involving Disney his job and some robots. This one wants to take you on a dark and fascinating ride, and doesn't flinch from the vomit that ensues.

Italian surreal comedy consisting of a series of satirical vignettes all acted with broad, silly acting and over-the-top gestures and facial expressions. A group of manic people attend a wake including an enthusiastic relative that kisses everyone, and where the corpse, due to scientifically explained phenomenon, talks his wife and his brother into a sex frenzy. After which, the new couple decide they cannot live together without the corpse. Marriage gets attacked again as a rooster-punk-undertaker falls prey to some commercial temptations, and then falls for a woman under absurd circumstances, and he rapidly ages while her previous lover turns young and energetic. But a social symbol quickly runs over the rejuvenated single male. Then there's a young woman who is committed to an asylum to make her conform and act with proper social compulsions, but she is incorrigible, so the insane doctor finds another way for her body to socially comply. In another story, a poet goes insane trying to find forgiveness for the sin of stepping on a man's foot in the bus, until his obsession reaches violent proportions. And finally, a silly young man finds that his body parts refuse to conform to his political beliefs, so he starts chopping them off one by one. Fun at times, but the acting is way too silly.

Eternal Present  
An unholy child of Godard's cinematic techniques and Aronofsky's Pi. The story involves a man who gets a job handling obituaries, finds out he was a gear in the mechanism of an old woman's accidental death, then causality itself goes to hell as past and future get mixed up and he finds himself manipulated by some mysterious people who are writing him into a script of death. Some surrealism follows, like when he follows a girl down the rabbit hole into a kitchen cupboard. A quote in the film declares art as exploring death at work but I wonder if he wasn't also going for the quote about only needing a girl and a gun to make a movie. What makes this movie special is the editing and metaphysics: Scenes are extremely disjointed, cut up into pieces, spliced together, interweaving past and future, often ending abruptly into long blackouts, all messing with the viewer's mind and his grasp of the sequence of events and continuity, but also giving the impression that the protagonist is caught in a movie with his actions scripted and his life at the hands of a writer who has the power to play with his past, his fate, his flow of time, and his actions. The metaphysics are fascinating and raise questions of causality, choice, fate and accident, but the disjointed editing is very overused and sometimes gets annoying. Unique and interesting but feels more like an experiment rather than anything complete.

Eve of Ivan Kupalo, The  
A bizarre fantasy movie by Yuri Ilyenko, the cinematographer for Parajanov. Ilyenko was part of the Ukranian poetic movement and his movies usually involved fragmented scenes taken out of a linear story and presented with visual poetry and symbolism. This one is by far his most bizarre, employing free-form magic, surrealism and slapstick. Elements from various folklore stories are used in this extremely fragmented movie, but the main story involves a man in love with a woman whose father gave her away in marriage to a rich friend. The love-stricken man finds himself tempted by a demonic figure who promises him gold if he will sacrifice a young boy. Greed and madness overtake him. The many scenes include hallucinations of gold and violence in a cave, people that float in slanted or parallel positions to the floor, bizarre games with animals like putting candles on crayfish and throwing pigs down chimneys, an odd scene of cloned villagers with identical trees and huts dancing for a European kid monarch, religious symbolism, some random slapstick, and many other strange elements.

Evil Dead Trap II  
This sequel in name only is vastly different and features a very bizarre blend of gory slashings by disturbed female characters, a creepy child-ghost that may or may not be behind all the strange behaviour, nightmarish surreal sequences, and sleazy perversions. The plot is incomprehensible but seems to involve lots of psychotic guilt over an abortion or two, an obese projectionist with no friends and dark secrets, and a celebrity who seems to be insanely jealous of the projectionist. Very artistically striking and beautifully shot violent scenes, atmospheric music, some disturbing and dense nightmares, but incoherent.

Evil Within, The  
This cult item contains some of the most visually striking and brilliantly surreal flowing nightmares I've seen in a while. It's a pity they are in the service of a standard, empty, even clichéd horror story of a man going mad and hearing voices telling him to kill. The man in this case is a mentally deficient 30 year old who is in the care of his psychologically conflicted brother. The brother's pushy girlfriend doesn't make things easier either. The movie progresses as you would expect, and although the acting is superb, the character work is sloppy and uninsightful. The star is the ubiquitous nightmare world that is a combination of Elm-Street style is-it-real-or-a-dream horror, demonic possession via mirrors and a hellish underworld, the inside of a man's head as he goes psychotic, and best of all, lots of surreal, highly visual dream-logic. What really makes this a cult movie, however, are the alleged production back-stories of an eccentric meth-head millionaire heir to the Getty fortune who supposedly threw millions into this troubled movie for many years, and died before it was released. Add to this a cult-actor cameo, and the kid from Mr. Mom as a psychotic, and you have one must-watch movie that is just short of great.

Hadzihalilovic's previous movie Innocence used a slightly odd, dreamy, boarding dance-school as a metaphor for the social training that little girls go through when growing up, but the surrealism was hidden in its attic. This follow-up dives into bizarre symbolism and is an enigmatic artsy body-horror movie, which I interpret as dealing with the theme of motherhood, the strange bond between mother and boy, and the domestication of young boys as they grow up only to have to release them to the larger world of industry. This is depicted with another combination of visually intriguing but austere, organic, primal sets and locations. It takes place on an island populated only by women and their young boys, both with close and even physical links to the sea and its starfish. Some act as nurses, and as the boys grow up, they are put through a series of very bizarre physical transformations and ordeals involving pregnancies. It's as if the film depicts motherhood and pregnancy through the eyes of young boys, as bizarrely biological and with its roots in a primordial kingdom of sea-life and strange creatures, and mothers being half sea-creature due to pregnancies, except the film gets a bit lost in its body-horror visuals. One young boy is befriended by a nurse who seems to have other plans for his future, wanting him to develop beyond the basic evolutionary functions and close ties to mothers, and to develop human civilization...

Excess Flesh  
Obviously inspired by Requiem for a Dream, and using similar cinematic elements, this seems to want to do to body-image and eating disorders what that movie did to drugs. It's not quite the same masterpiece or as inspired and original, but it has some good points. Two girls live together and have a strained relationship. One is a model, popular and confident, who can seemingly eat anything or get any guy, and the other is kinda chunky, is going off the rails and has an eating disorder. There's a rough separation from an abusive guy in the past hovering in the background, problems with a guy who seems to be interested in the fat one even though he fools around with the thin one, and a nosy neighbor. Matters deteriorate quickly, madness ensues, lots of disgusting binge eating, and some throwing up, violence and body abuse. Acting is mediocre at first, as the girls seem to be acting 'types' rather than three-dimensional people, but the movie and actresses improve gradually and also increase the intensity. The twist becomes obvious quite soon, but the movie isn't interested in the twist as much as in the theme and the madness, with graphic scenes that skirt the border of exploitation, ending up like a more trashy and much less artsy blend of Repulsion and Requiem of a Dream on the theme of eating disorders.

A fitting companion piece to May, with another fascinatingly black and campy look at a disturbed teenager and the twisted troubles she gets herself into. She has a fascination with all things gory and bloody, fancies herself a medical expert, and even approaches her first sexual experience as a medical experiment involving blood (don't ask). AnnaLynne McCord spends the whole movie in acne, mouth sores and bushy eyebrows, freaking out everyone around her. But the trouble with this one is that, the way she is acted, her character obviously knows exactly what she is doing and gleefully and sadistically does it anyway, then pretends nobody understands her and blames her behaviour on biology. In other words, despite its uniqueness, this is just another movie about a disturbed, sadistic psychotic, and could have been much better with the same script but a different, perhaps more confused characterization. The movie is peppered with numerous dream sequences involving disturbed fantasies, necrophilia, a grotesque abortion, and other various gory, depraved and bizarre shenanigans. It also features John Waters as a priest with the job of healing her soul. Enough said.

Experiments in Terror  
Compilation of 6 shorts from various periods, all featuring experiments with sight and sound rather than plot. The first four are mostly forgettable, featuring strobe effects, kaleidoscopic images, warped film stock, double images, etc. as well as some typical 60s psychedelic and colorful imagery, all more of an assault on the eyes and the head rather than anything terrorizing. Virgin Suicide features a Satanic montage of images that would go well with a Kenneth Anger short. The last two stand-out however: Tuning the Sleeping Machine is one of the best examples I've seen of nightmare-cinema, capturing the chaotic jumble of colors, lights and images inside an unfiltered brain, creating an intensely hypnotic and dark experience. Dawn of an Evil Millennium is an '18 minute trailer for an 18-hour epic' involving demons, sorcerers, aliens, action, car-chases and whatnot, with a unique approach of combining silly slapstick and sound effects with chaotic demonic splatter, action, fantasy and psychedelic sound and atmosphere.

Eyes of Fire  
Cult horror-Western with increasingly disorienting fantasy horror-magic that makes you feel like the director took peyote before filming. The characters and narrative are chaotic and live in a logic of their own, making this nonsensical movie somewhat tedious to watch, but the special effects and atmospheric horror are unique, mind-warping and very memorable in a fuzzy, hallucinative way. A priest who committed adultery is saved from hanging by his entourage of followers and an insane witch, and after they are banished, they wander into a haunted Native American forest with the help of one of the woman's ex-lovers who happens to be some kind of know-it-all wanderer guru. The manifestations and attacks from the ghosts and an ancient evil witch gradually increase, as does the good witch's powers, and it escalates into delirious hallucinations, spiritual battles, bizarre apparitions, as well as confusing bursts of violence and despair.

Extreme Cinema Vol. 1    
French compilation of 11 shorts, all of which dive head-first into the extremely bizarre. The strongest standouts are: 'Inside', a baffling oddity from the point of view of a supernatural or biological force that lives in water or inside young humans. 'New Order' is an effectively chilling, wordless series of tactile images about a force that overturns life, sex & death. And 'Ossuary', the Svankmajer classic documentary about a flabbergasting historical construct of 50,000 human skeletons. And then there are the mildly interesting ones: 'Oedipe', a wacky bizarre free-association stop-motion animation involving bees, chimps that turn into donkey kong, mother-dolls with projectile flower-sprouting boobs waging war against a wheelchair-bound spaceman, focusing more on referencing pop-culture movie imagery than in making sense. 'Silken' features a fully grown man in a womb experiencing life outside through a kaleidoscope of liquid images. 'Darling Darling' features Cera in a surreal comedy full of odd scenes about him picking up his date in a very unusual home occupied by one bizarre but charming father with a horse's head. 'Duck Children' is a very odd stage dance by kids in home-made duck outfits that suddenly turns violent and surreal when a hunter gets on stage. And the bottom of the barrel: 'Earthquake', a very silly one about puppets shaking during an earthquake. The experimental 'Jinniku no umarekawari' is metaphysical horror of a 'primeval mass' that is shown with a pulsating electronic soundtrack and imagery of morphing meat and organs. 'U' is a colorfully disgusting French 'documentary' about kids, excrement, nutrition and various bodily functions portrayed using cartoonish and juvenile bad taste. And 'Down, Down, Down', a music video with visuals of things, a little person, and people deflating downwards. Altogether very entertaining, without enough impacting shorts to make it a keeper, but definitely a must-see once.

The ultimate poser movie about posing, overacting, public relations, fake happiness and control. This quirky Japanese movie tells the tale of a water tycoon that convinced the world his water makes you young and perky, and his two sons, a spoiled immature man and the younger troublesome impetuous son that doesn't seem to fit in. They talk and interact with ridiculous flourishes, synthetic dialogue and poses, keep a weird wild creature in the basement who hates the older son, they play for hours with train sets and toy animals, making sure they pose in just the right way, the public relations girl keeps a pet budgie on her shoulder, and sometimes they go to a psychedelic disco to dance with large women and fathers. The movie is quirky light stylish fun awash with 60s colors, clothes and hairdos, but the message about being yourself is childish and empty.

Jazzy, avant-garde, surreal film-riff on murder and beautiful murder-victims. This takes place in a surreal Barcelona that is largely empty and the world seems to revolve around one beautiful model over whom everyone is obsessed. A crazy professor spouts his theories about murder victims projecting and wanting their own murder, their face leading inevitably to their fate. It's like a meta-world of a murder-film, where the character is oblivious to her fictional nature (in one scene they even tell her she only exists in someone's imagination), while some fans that all seem to know her fate, visit her world. The professor doesn't only prognosticate, he also plays very strange games with costumes and word-play, throwing random questions and insults at the victim like she is a virtual experiment. In the meantime, a detective runs to save her, not even knowing who the victim is, also destined to play his role as the savior. There's also a sub-plot with a jealous woman who finds an unusual murder weapon, and a gang of young people obsessed with posters of the model that add to the nihilism. It's a bit like an Alain Robbe-Grillet meta-murder story, only it replaces the careful structure and details with jazzy improvisation and playful nihilism. A head-scratcher, unless you tune in to its playful wavelength. An accompanying film by the same writer is 'The Embodied Mind'.

I'm really starting to wonder why only women get surreal coming-of-age movies. That aside, this is a movie by Piotr Szulkin who previously made an interesting and unusual trilogy of dystopian sci-fi movies. Think of this as a kind of erotic Wojciech Has movie, where the surreal effortlessly blends with the real to explore the workings of the sexually frustrated female mind. The female in question is a married woman whose husband just ran off for a month. Her mother dies, forcing her to revisit her home, and she finds herself revisiting her childhood as expressed through frustrations with her marriage. Fantasies go wild, exploring flings with strangers and women, then experimenting as a prostitute for a day for an absurdly insane client, all linked to events in her childhood involving moral and disciplinary lessons, first kisses and fondles, haunted by surreal visions of an ominous masculine figure in uniform hovering over her bed while society, family and friends break into absurd parades, dialogue and dances. This underdeveloped and confused lens of the past combines with her current desperate outbreaks and rebellions to explore her psyche as tries to release her long pent up psychological blocks via sex, even if it may be a romp with an undertaker that merges with surreal visions of death and childhood that enables her to release herself from her mother. Interestingly done, with a welcome light touch.

What the...? OK, let's try this description: Imagine a forgotten fantasy screenplay by Tarkovsky, with ponderous, slow-moving, meaningful magic, which was then picked up the Monty Python troupe on a very silly day who then decided to film it for fun but would add something silly to every scene. See, there are these two ghosts roaming the countryside on a quest to re-enter the world of the living, except they are two guys in sheets with holes for their eyes. They ride a horse, but then the horse turns into a pantomime horse with a spinning head, and they then meet an oracle who helps them find the right path, except the oracle seems too much of an annoying hippie and we all know what must be done to hippies right? And so on, with slow-moving beautiful scenery, and two guys in sheets meeting one weird person animal, or object after another in their search for new life, even if it includes peering into a tree and watching a Catalan video art-piece involving vomit and experiments with mice.

Finnegan's Wake  
The only attempt at an adaptation of this most difficult of novels by James Joyce. Although there were attempts at extracting a narrative and fleshy characters from the book, the writing is based on playful language and dream-logic, inventing its own words that are remotely English and perhaps Irish, allowing them to be recognized in a mad Lewis Carroll way, but twisting them around to play dense puns, games, and free associations with obscure or playful allusions, all carefully constructed to create a rhythm and patterns that will appeal to a stream of consciousness. The movie creates literal visuals to go with the flowing imagery of the book that rapidly moves and shifts between scenes as in a dream. Finnegan is challenged by having to attend his own wake, and characters interchange, representing various aspects of his life and ideals, as well as his own self. The movie is not about the visuals or story however, and the scenery merely provides more fuel for the language blender and sculptor that is James Joyce. The language is so difficult and dense, it is presented in subtitles. At times playfully interesting, especially to the most literary and academic, but rapidly grows tiresome and is probably best taken in smaller doses.

A real murder in a small town in Kansas is given a melodramatic, surreal and over-the-top gothic treatment probably modeled after David Lynch's Blue Velvet. A very abusive big brother terrorizes his mother and younger brother who wants to do 'sissy' things like play piano. Emotions boil, and the local police-woman starts investigating. In a parallel story reminiscent of Browning's Freaks, a carnival is in town featuring real freaks, a disfigured woman and her very sick and sadistic boss, both acted by the same actors in the roles of the mother and son, giving the grotesque sideshow a surreal, psychological, symbolic and Oedipal edge. The abusive son got her pregnant and enraged the boss, and the young son wants to run away with her and play music, and all the while, a strange mystical woman lives in the plains and appears with cryptic messages. A mixed bag, with some striking and intense moments, but others don't work as well due to the slightly overdone melodramatic treatment and mediocre acting.

Flesh of Your Flesh (AKA Bloody Flesh)  
Colombian art-house oddity that starts off as a political drama revolving around a rich family and their ancestral ties to the country. During the dictatorship, bombs destroy several ancestral buildings, a grandmother dies, and the various children and grandchildren inherit the family's assets and memories, including one young half-sister who is visiting them. While they are all staying in the country next to the black sheep of the family, a Communist great-uncle, the movie suddenly veers into Raoul Ruiz territory with surreal ghosts, a crazed incestuous lust, baby and animal abuse, random murder and insane behaviour, and vampiric horror, as the family falls apart in this symbolic chaos. Even the music is reminiscent of Ruiz.

Flew, The  
I could swear this was a Guy Maddin movie, except this somehow surpasses even Maddin in its inscrutable oddness. I'll do my best to describe this one: Imagine a complicated shooting gallery with miscellaneous bric-a-brac hydraulically moving and floating as shooting targets. Its visual themes include a mish-mash of pharmacy, living quarters, and bee-keeping. Now imagine that inside this shooting gallery, while outsiders keep shooting at the moving objects, a man actually lives his life and somehow all the hallucinative moving objects become part of his daily routine. He stares wistfully across the way at his love, The Wooden Embalmer, a broken down carnival ride that tends to cause gruesome accidents to its riders. Now imagine a whole movie based on this concept, made as a silent movie with intertitles, carnival sounds, organs and hydraulics, the mechanical man constantly harassed or haunted by increasingly strange moving objects, including a floating beehive, his genital props stored in a closet, and an aggressive wig. Individual lengthy scenes may consist simply of animated objects, such as a 'stomach-ache' mechanical man belching out objects at a moving box on rollers covered in leaves. It's that odd and indescribable. The lack of narrative and its endless fascination with odd moving objects can get tedious, but it's definitely one-of-a-kind and very atmospheric.

Forbidden Zone  
Forget Rocky Horror Picture Show. This incredibly offbeat cult musical is much more bizarre and creative, and even quite amusing at times. Try to imagine very quirky comic-book characters mixed with John Waters trashy acting, costumes that look like someone collected every item in cheap leftover wardrobes and put them together randomly, sets made of cardboard and sketches, some stop motion animation, very unpredictable behaviour and plot development, and campy dialog. The story isn't the star of the movie but it involves a door to a sixth dimension via a large intestine, where a midget king rules while a tuxedo wearing frog waits and a human chandelier swings. Other characters include a machine-gun toting schoolteacher, Satan, chicken boy, and a trio of prostitutes who get humped by passers-by. This one makes you wonder whether someone slipped you a drug in your drink.

A dark, independent movie done quite well that pulls no punches. The unique story line is that of a growing boy who finds out his brother is a serial killer. The movie balances the boy's interest in dark comics and horror movies with the fact that he is, after all, a good young boy and isn't quite prepared to take his interests too far. Constant bullying at school keeps pushing him towards entertaining more dark thoughts, and a unique relationship develops with his brother. Decapitated heads in his brother's closet provide for endless fascination and disgust, and an extreme movie within the movie used for horror entertainment on a dare, provides some eyeball splatter and nasty sexual activity involving severed heads. Tensions with the parents and his brother's increasing obsessions and shocking, surprising, twisted hatred keep raising the stakes for a truly nasty ending. The two brothers are quite good in the acting department, but everyone else tend to come off as amateurishly awkward and the spiraling nastiness at the end is over-the-top. Nevertheless, this one is memorably edgy.

Frankie in Blunderland  
Fun but pointless and vision-less surreal comedy. This film embraces its low budget, finds a good tone of campy, anything-goes fun, and just runs with it, with an enjoyably random script and competent acting. Frankie has a bad relationship with his wife with mutual enmity, except he is too pathetic to give her up. They both hate their free-loading guest even more, except now it's become a warped hate-triangle. When things take a violent turn, the film dives into silly dream-logic and never looks back. But it does so randomly, like one of those extremely random nonsensical dreams, except this movie also switches points-of-view often, and often veers from dream-logic symbolic nonsense to silly or random juvenile humor, so it doesn't manage to maintain the surrealism consistently. There's an alien-Mormon with strange ideas about impregnation, a fickle robot-girl, a mystical-violent hobo, completely random events and interactions that may or may not tie in to his marital problems, a spider with a human head, etc. Eventually wears out its welcome and it lacks a cohesive experience or point, but it's pretty entertaining and amusing.

Fried Barry  
Near-plotless, and trashy in a fun way, this South-African mad film merely follows a strange man from one adventure to another. It's all about seeing his very unusual and striking face and accompanying him on his outlandish, freaky, trippy adventures while under the influence of many drugs, as well as alien super-powers. His crappy day starts with a very trippy alien abduction and some drugs, both of which turn him into a 'fried', no-longer-there human being, and yet somehow this turns into him a very desirable person. A wide variety of people try to use him, a slut, prostitutes, both male and female, various trashy horny people in the street, violent hoods, his own wife, some drug-friends, and even a serial killer and a lunatic asylum. He randomly heals someone, instantly impregnates another person, and does battle with the trashy denizens of the street. For the last half hour it becomes completely mind-bendingly surreal. Wears out its welcome at times, but pretty unique and fun.

Friend of the World  
Somewhat reminiscent of Pontypool in the sense that it uses a zombie apocalypse only as a backdrop for more abstract and cerebral meditations and fears. But whereas Pontypool is experienced as a cerebral horror movie, this one can only be taken as a surreal existential horror film with a sense of the absurd. The protagonist is a typical new-generation liberal, idealistic, gay, and at odds with the remnants of the old world of chaos and violence. She finds herself in her worst nightmare, having to survive a zombie apocalypse with the only other survivor who is an insane military man that gleefully embraces the chaos. The zombie virus is also unusual in the sense that it merges people together and consumes them. Conformism made flesh; and people being swallowed by the angry chaos. An antidote causes hallucinations, the film uses symbolism which may or may not have meaning such as the concept of 'swallowing an elephant', and in its most surreal scene, a bizarre 'Thin Man' seems to have swallowed a self-destructive other inner person, perhaps the ultimate mutation of the destructive virus. The actor portraying General Gore is a delight, perhaps influenced by Dr Strangelove, and the dread and confusion is palpable. Though there is a sense that the film is more about the confusing chaos, existential absurdity and clash of personalities rather than a well developed idea and plot.

Experimental, absurd and unique film that invents a foreign country and language called Bulbovia, and then features a group of Bulbovians doing strange Bulbovian things in the forest while speaking Bulbovian. What looks like a team of soldier-scientists are to occupy new territory while conducting bizarre scientific experiments and readings, and reaching absurd objectives. One is in a wheelchair, and his partner is shocked at the social irresponsibility when he decides to leave his wheelchair, his abandoned wife sells the children to join them in the forest but soon falls for a strange meek local who lives in a barn and logs his daily hygiene habits. Other locals include some annoyed cows, and two people in bizarre costumes playing games with an inflatable ball. What's strange is that we can recognize how this alien culture is eroded by local customs and the tensions rise, leading to fights with chickens as boxing gloves, and force-feeding of milk. Did I also mention that the whole movie features four people?

Fuzzy Head  
A definite improvement over McColm's previous experiment 'Birds Without Feathers'. This is part dream-logic, part inner emotional-psychological journey, as a woman navigates the minefield that is her relationship with her harsh and abusive mother. Her mother seems to be dead, and she is to blame, or is the death symbolic and her murder just guilt? She explores past events in her life and her memories from different perspectives, with key events often altered or repeated with variations as her psyche projects her fears and emotions onto her memories. Internalized versions of the people in her life serve as inner-conversation partners, confronting or helping her, characters that are half-self-half-other, and she interacts with different versions of herself, especially her younger self who has been abused often by her mother. Some of it takes a completely surreal turn, such as the phone-box on the road calling her, or a whimsical fantasy of herself as a prostitute where her client confronts her with demands for emotions rather than sex. It's a fugue of a movie. Some of it works pretty well, but the same two emotions are explored repeatedly and there is also a feeling of a lack of progress. Moderately interesting.

Although directed by a Japanese director of Pinku who frequently worked with Koji Wakamatsu, this is very far from a Pinku. It's a plotless, surreal, movie-length existential crisis. A man has an identity crisis on the freeway while his car breaks down. He grapples with various symbolic people, including his father in a Buddhist robe with magical powers, his girlfriend who turns into a giant as he finds himself hiding from her, and various people in his life, including his own doppelgänger. His confrontations often end in violence as his mind is pushed further into agitation, his father torments him with magical tricks making objects and people appear and disappear, people appear in various times and places through multiple layers of dream-logic, as he attempts to find his place and his identity after the events of WWII.

Gauloises Bleues, Les  
At times a wonderfully surreal and intriguing artistic creation by Michel Cournot. This is a hodgepodge of subtly impressionistic scenes that come together to weave a character study and portrait of life. It explores the love, or lack thereof, of a spouse and a parent, absurdities and tragedies of life, growing-up and death, and humanity under various social and political influences. Ivan's life, and his unhappy relationship with his wife and father, are told through interweaving flashbacks as his wife is attempting to give birth. The title refers to the cigarettes he was buying from her when he met her while down on his luck. They fall in love but constantly fight, while he resorts to crime. The movie's many artsy vignettes vary widely between provocative interviews and dialogue, symbolic scenes of Ivan as a child stomping a gift of bread into the ground, surreal images of death, absurdities of silly bureaucracies and indifference in hospitals, scenes of political upheaval mixed with innocent images of a children's book, and so on.

Gardener, The  
Obscure but intriguing French surrealism. In a barren landscape, there is a 'water factory' where everything is run with absurdly incomprehensible rules and games. The workers are chosen by how far they can rotate a toy airplane, the work involves strange Sisyphean contraptions for carrying water, and the currency is miserly portions of water handed out in pots and pans, and cut-up newspaper coupons, prepared by the owners themselves. But no sooner do they get paid and carefully put together the pieces, the workers have to spend it on various odds and ends, including a lottery machine that chews up the paper and spits it out, while the bosses play in a luxurious swimming pool playing silly games. So far, an absurd and surreal attack on capitalism and the rat race. But then it gets weird. There's a gardener that plants flowers and plants in secret places, and in coal-trolleys, wasting massive amounts of water. There's a strange woman, and a very strange love blossoms, typified by a scene where he declares his love in a sea of foam and with trolleys full of flowers, during which she has to guess a season. He then goes berserk for no discernable reason, there's a mini-revolution by the workers, and, well... the film loses all coherence. But it's still an intriguing, entertaining and interesting watch.

Garden of Stones  
A cult-movie from Iran that combines mysticism with surrealism. A simple deaf-mute bearded shepherd has a strange vision in the desert of a mirror-clad mystical figure. Inspired, he starts to build a garden of tree branches and stones, anointing it with blood, and dancing within the garden. But society and modernism start encroaching and ruining the magic: The military wants to draft a family-member, artists try to steal from the garden, and neighbours visit more out of greed than wonder. Features a captivating central performance, strange visions, surreal scenes of social interaction between archetypes in a merry-go-round in the garden, and a bizarre symbolic social breakdown for a climax.

Garden of Torture, The  
French anti-colonial movie that is partially reminiscent of the darker side of Emanuelle erotic movies, part De Sade disturbingly creative sadism, and, towards the end, it brought to mind a scene or two from Cannibal Holocaust. Despite some scenes of gore and torture though, this movie is not really a a grisly gore movie and it is more about artistic sadism and death mixed with the art of pleasure to provocatively and symbolically depict a portrait of pleasure-seeking murdering colonials. A nihilistic hedonist doctor is banished to China where he encounters more than even his dark side of his hedonism can handle. It starts with a strange woman who gets horny over pictures of death, continues to a strange club where the staged entertainment includes masturbation-to-the-death, and ends at the mansion of a cruel colonialist who plans to marry a 12-year-old Chinese, and whose bizarre garden is fed by a grisly acts of torture and death. The climax features a parade of acts of sadism, each one more disturbingly creative and Sadean than the next, made worse by its merging with erotica. This one gets under your skin.

General Chaos: Uncensored Animation  
A collection of 20+ short animated shorts under the general 'theme' of sex and violence. Most are a waste of time, focusing on an adolescent pre-occupation to simply push the censorship envelope, too absorbed with getting away with showing gross sexual acts and gore to actually make it interesting. Standouts include the first surreal short 'Malice in Wonderland' with constantly morphing and disturbingly mutating people and genitalia, and 'The Saint Inspector', a bizarre surreal claymation with a robotic bureaucrat inspecting a naked fat saint on a Bunuelian pillar-platform. There's some unusual cardboard animation brought to life on a naked live girl emerging from her body. But these are drowned amidst things like eating of babies, a wisecracking necrophiliac priest, a parrot that would do disgusting things for a cracker, wormy genitals, gory claymation, a sexually violent Tom & Jerry, a masturbation-oriented Beatles parody 'Beat the Meatles', many horny men getting a violent death, a claymation short that tries to make regular sex look as grubby and repellent as possible, a farting contest, a gruesome gory house of torture-horrors, and completely random juvenile stories where creativity means farting moose, pants-weasels and a live Richard Nixon baseball bat. Unfortunately some releases exclude the 'Sex and Violence' collection of shorts by Bill Plympton originally interspersed amongst the other shorts.

Genius Party  
Anime anthology of seven shorts without no common theme or style. There are two conventional passably entertaining shorts: 'Baby Blue' is a teenage love story, and 'Shanghai Dragon' is some typical anime sci-fi action involving aliens and a retarded kid with special powers. 'Doorbell' is an intriguing semi-surreal fantasy about a young man who keeps finding ghostly doppelgängers of himself taking over his life. 'Genius Party' is a short introduction containing trippy visuals and no story. The terrible 'Limit Cycle' is the most tedious, containing endless aphorisms and snippets of theology and philosophy accompanied by a random montage of trippy imagery involving a virtual world and historical or occult-themed images. 'Deathtic 4' is a horror-comedy themed short with bizarre-cute monsters which takes place in a world of dead creatures that encounter a live frog. And the best of the lot is 'Happy Machine', a very surreal movie about a baby that tries to survive in a very bizarre and cruel world where his bizarre but cute companions constantly find a sticky end, from a mother that morphs into a construct, to a fire-baby, to a urine-drinking bouncy plant-pet, and much more.

Genius Party Beyond  
A sequel with five animated shorts this time, only two of which are really surreal, except that they go all the way. 'Moondrive' is a wacky and silly cartoon about a group of young and goofy criminals that find a treasure map. It has the logic and violence of a road-runner cartoon, except that it has a female member who is a sex slave. 'Toujin Kit' is a somewhat strange dystopian moody sci-fi about a bored girl who hides from the law and who seems to be have a collection of alien stuffed toys. 'Gala' is a magical green-themed fantasy with strange creatures and distant lands, where a huge rock has landed from the sky causing violent reactions from the locals, as well as provoking a cult of people that play music for it on massive musical instruments. 'Wanwa the Doggy' is another nightmarish surreal adventure involving a baby, but it is crudely drawn and isn't mesmerizing like 'Happy Machine' from the previous installment, opting instead for a hyperkinetic frantic montage of constantly morphing scenery, people, creatures and objects in a continuous dream-logic chase scene. 'Dimension Bomb' lives up to its name, with mind-bogglingly bizarre and surreal imagery and an incredibly gifted animation style and visual sense that you can't take your eyes off even though it never makes a lick of sense.

Ghost Dance  
Deconstructionist Philosophy: The Movie. This is a didactic and playful movie in the vein of Godard, only much more focused on a single theme, and it also plays with it in free-flowing fantasies as in a Ruiz movie. The theme is ghosts, as in the hidden elements of our past, our culture, folklore, and other people in our thinking, our words. Jacques Derrida himself appears in this movie, that is to say, he is an actor representing himself in a picture-movie, which makes him a ghost as well. The movie is a series of sketches, abstract symbolic scenes with semi-surrealism, or just plain amusing fantasy riffing on the theme, but always with a focused intention. Two women are always at the center, as observers and participants infected by myriads of ghosts. An amusing sketch with a rude store clerk presents the idea that consumer goods only have absurd changing values based on our social constructs. In sex there is always a hidden 'witness', literally in this movie as well as figuratively. Folklore tells of rats infected by the dead that take over the bodies of the living. The girls wander from scenes of post-apocalyptic destruction caused by these ghosts, to print-shop clerks that react harshly to the words they are only supposed to copy. There is much much more in this dense movie. And finally, a performance-art scene of a man suffering in illusion and reflections, until all ghostly images are finally and cathartically washed away.

Pascal Laugier proves once again that he is a force of horror to be reckoned with, making horror movies that get under your skin in uniquely disturbing and original ways. After the intensely cruel, unforgettable but flawed 'Martyrs', there was 'The Tall Man', a much less extreme but superb horror movie with a unique twist. With this movie, he is back to disturbing intensity however. It combines some elements of home invasion, very freaky serial deviants/killers, and backwoods freaky horror, but it does this without going so over-the-top that it turns into exploitation, and it always keeps its eye on the victims' nightmarish psychological horror much more than on the brutality. There is no graphic torture thankfully, but it is brutal both physically and psychologically and intense as hell. A mother and two daughters are attacked by two disturbingly depraved freaks. The survivors are faced with nightmares and very strange occurrences that threaten to bring the terrors of that night back into their lives. There's not enough story and character here to save the movie from being just an exercise in disturbing cruelty, but it is still very well done intense horror.

Ghoul, The  
A British mind-bending thriller strongly influenced by Lynch's Lost Highway, produced by Ben Wheatley. There are two story-lines in this movie that overlap each other using the same events and people in different ways, one of which seems to be a fantasy (or is it?), but both seamlessly segue into each other in a narrative Möbius strip. There's a mysterious murder, a detective who may be depressed, a conspiracy freak that claims to see the actual reality of what's happening, and psychiatrists that are into the occult, all of which lend various ways to interpret this by way of magick, madness or subjective realities. But, in the end, it's about the narrative experiment. The characters and events aren't as flashy or interesting as in Lost Highway, and it's all quite subdued with a depressed protagonist at the center, but the writing is quite clever in how it carefully bends the narrative in on itself. I found it lacked depth beyond the writing structure acrobatics, but it's definitely worth a watch for fans of this type of film.

Girl Asleep  
Yet another female coming-of-age movie that makes use of surrealism, except this one has its own aesthetic and charm. It's a blaring over-the-top retro-70s look with everyone having a ball with the costumes and music, there's a MirrorMask type of dream sequence except that all the fantasy characters and symbolism are very simplistic and obvious, and there's an awkward, gangly but charming geeky attitude and look that brings to mind Napoleon Dynamite. The story is about a socially awkward girl in a new school, her geeky friend, some bullies and social pressure from the more aggressive 'cool kids', and her nightmare come true: Her 15-year-old birthday party managed by her parents. The fantasy elements involve strange creatures in the woods, most of which involve the people she knows converted into their appropriate counterparts. The result is a fun teenage movie with light fantasy-surrealism that isn't going to challenge anyone, and with colorful 70s eye-candy and a sense of fun.

Giving Birth to a Butterfly  
A drama on the theme of dreams and aspirations that turns to surrealism in the last third. Several dreams in this film are escapist and harmful, and imposed on others. A father dreams of being a chef and makes the family pinch pennies; an aging mother imagines she is still in the limelight and ignores anything flawed and honest. Her daughter sees this and dreams of something real and flawed, accepting her unwanted pregnancy and finding emotional support. Diana is at the center, having lost her dreams a long time ago and supporting others. There is a road trip after identity theft has been made. The destination is a surreal house with two women that are one, having come to terms with her dual quirky identity. Diana embarks on a symbolic journey to find her self and ability to dream. This is a challenging and intriguing film that took some work on my part to make it cohere. Despite my description, most scenes wander, opting for random pseudo-meaningful moments rather than cohering on its theme. But the surrealism and theme is sticky, and the random poetry hovers.

Glory to the Filmmaker!  
After the surreal satire of his public persona in Takeshis', Takeshi Kitano follows up with an even wackier comedy, this time on his job and hobby as a film-maker. It starts as an amusing mockumentary on Kitano's supposed writer's block and 'documents' several of his failed ideas and film projects in every genre imaginable, from an Ozu-like drama where Kitano simply doesn't fit in, to romantic dramas, comedies, horror, sci-fi, and nostalgic pieces, all failing due to various incompatible things in his personality. And then it just lets loose the reins of sanity, and starts a series of completely bonkers comic sketches with only the loosest dream-logic connecting strand between them. It's as if Kitano were tired of trying to make a genre movie, and went instead for fun with indescribable chaos instead, letting loose his unique sense of humor. To describe the chaos is impossible since it changes every 10 seconds into something else, but there are many jokes with Kitano constantly changing himself into a doll whenever danger appears, an asteroid apocalypse, a mother-daughter team of con-women that wear animated ducks and giraffes, a serious professor lecturing on women's panties, physically impossible action scenes, various fantasy superpowers, movie spoofs, a huge robot, a karate dojo with very silly teachers and drummers, a random animated Dominatrix in a hallucinogenic bizarre sequence, as well as a strange stage performance with a huge phallus set to heavy metal music, and much more. Reminiscent of the freewheeling slapstick madness in Kitano's 'Getting Any', only this is much more bonkers.

Gold of Love, The  
This follow-up to 'Der Fan' is like a hallucinative riff on that movie. It follows a pretty fan of the electro-punk band D.A.F. through one very strange night, as the girl is awakened by the band's call, causing her to bleed from her eyes, get out of bed and come to their concert, except she has no money. Her dreamy resolve leads her to a wandering nightmarish night through the dream-logic city, a city seemingly populated by very bizarre underworld figures all linked back to the band. When she witnesses a murder, she is marked by the underworld for death, except her purity and simple drives ('I just want to go to the concert' & 'I have no money') save her again and again. Restaurants and bars are populated by vampiric people, suicidal men, other-worldly hair-dryers, stark-naked girls, glowing cars, and drugs. At least half of the running time is taken up by noise, band footage and music. Perhaps an exploration of the purity underlying punk music, or perhaps just a hallucinative and atmospheric riff on electro-punk. This movie doesn't have much meat on its bones, but it's all about the atmosphere.

Turkish one-off, low-budget horror-surrealism. Five friends are travelling to a notorious valley with caves where tortures of all kinds allegedly took place. Their mission is unclear, research into the valley is murky, and there are strange tensions between some of them, unrequited love, teasing, unbalanced relationships. The caves, too, are haunted by stories of tortured women, crushed motherhood, strange torture methods... The nightmares start right away and increase in frequency and strangeness, overcoming their reality, even posing mortal danger to everyone they meet, until the final twist. This film is all about creating surreal nightmares with strange imagery. There are babies fed with nails, malignant chickens, movement between locations using dream-logic, a coffin-portal, the burial of eggs, knife as genitalia, and much more. Unfortunately, the ambition and visual imagination is there, but not the craft. It more frequently feels artificially theatrical and cheap than oneiric. Given the final twist, in hindsight, the nightmares will make symbolic sense, and some of them do work, but the rest just feel like random props and amateur visuals.

Grateful Undead, The  
A one-of-a-kind drug-zombie movie, as long as you aren't expecting a zombie movie that is. The main protagonists, as well as the movie itself, are non-aging hippies, after 30 years of drugs and philosophizing, that are so braindead, they became zombies, suddenly erupting in random gory violence and feasting on the squares. But this is not about flesh-eating, or even about camp. This movie is about the various freaks of society and various generations. Hippies, alien conspiracy freaks, the sarcastic-know-it-all-slacker generation, a comic-book freak that thinks the hippies are vampires, goth-kids and metal-heads, e-popping party animals, each spouting their nonsensical philosophies and thoughts, sometimes hearing voices, the movie's coherency deteriorating along with your mind, until all of the freaks start to merge despite living in their own hazy islands, some converting and becoming zombies too. Probably the most bizarre zombie movie ever made with a merciless drug-hazy atmosphere. If this wasn't made while on heavy drugs, then nothing was.

Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol, The  
Endlessly surprising, bonkers and extreme movie made by a pornographer that is a mix of anything-goes entertainment, comedy, splatter and gross-outs. Think of a really insane Troma project. Tommy Pistol is the director's own pornography alias, so this may or may not have elements of auto-biography. Tommy is a loser that makes other losers look like Nobel prize winners. When he falls asleep during a masturbation session, his dreams go awry and are shown in three segments. The weaker first is campy torture-porn featuring Tommy with superstar ambitions involved in highly bizarre and gory torture methods while staying at a 'Paki-hotel' with a bi-curious manager. The second is the most insane with must-be-seen-to-be-believed scenarios involving 'Arnold Schwarzenegger', his skin, a talking dog, and chick-kung-fu. The third reminded me of Guinea Pig: Mermaid in a Manhole, featuring absolutely repulsive pus-ridden gore at a porno-shoot that escalates. The humor and acting are quite good, you will never know what is going to happen next, and there is something here for every fan of extreme but trashy cinema.

Gwen, the Book of Sand  
Surreal, art-house, atmospheric animation for adults that leaves you with mystical mysteries in your head. This is a desert world, possibly post-apocalyptic, and materialistic objects haunt the land. The people of the desert walk amongst sand, ruins, and massive objects of worlds past such as clocks and glasses, in awe of various legends, hunting ostriches for their feathers, hiding from unseen passing beings, walking on stilts on the treacherous sands, and telling of the legends behind hovering lights. A girl joins them with strange behaviour that seems to know no fear, and there is a boy who has strange dreams and some kind of link with the gods of the past. She accompanies an old woman on a quest through mountains of objects to a city populated by strange cult worshippers of product catalogs... Poetic and intriguingly strange, but also slow and dry and the characters never come to life. This one is purely about ideas, atmosphere and existential allegory.

A disturbing study of lust and loneliness by exploring such characters as a depressed woman who coldly repulses her lovers, a writer in search of raw emotion who tries to find it in rape, a wimpy obscene phone caller, and a pedophiliac father. Their lives are explored graphically and sympathetically, with painful scenes such as when the pedophiliac attempts to explain his affliction to his son through tears. Well done, but too unrelentingly repulsive and disturbing. The director seems to be more interested in uncovering filth in a realistic and sympathetic way rather than in offering insights. Who needs a movie just to show what filth and depression look like?

Harms Case, The  
An absurd and lightly surreal biopic about the absurdist Russian poet Daniil Kharms. It deals mostly with some of his short works rather than his life, creating a flowing sequence of absurd vignettes mining the rich absurdities of Soviet Communist society, employing little stories and encounters in the streets as satirical jabs. Humans are put-down like horses, officials appear out of nowhere to criticise machines with no purpose, old women are trained to wear badly manufactured gas masks, and so on. It also deals with the last few days of his life, when suddenly an angel with detachable wings breaks through his window asking him to help look for a 'beam' which takes on a bittersweet irony, only he becomes worried that his dream and writings about being shot may also come true.

Hash Tree, The  
Bizarre and surreal social satire from Denmark that pushes chaotic absurdity so far at times, it becomes reminiscent of Dada. An uptight, confused man lives with his wife and maid next to a big tree. He suspects people live up in the tree when he keeps finding various items and trash under the tree. The government appointed street cleaner doesn't do much, except occasionally take trashy people off the street and into the garbage. He suspects the maid of stealing food and sexual perversions, and the police precinct is literally a farm with insane cops imprisoning lamps and horses. A guru preaches about taking drugs and literally flying, parades of naked hippies perform bizarre ceremonies at night then fall out of the trees while trying to fly, etc. Other odd bizarre scenes include a man in a flying machine about to dive into a pool crammed full of people instead of water, a tree full of butts, a dangerous moving iron, hairy cleavage, and more. Very entertaining strangeness.

Have You Another Apple?  
Fun and biting Iranian absurdist satire on historical roles of victims and aggressors and how everyone passively accepts their roles or switches roles based on absurd unwritten rules. It takes place in a timeless land that features both ancient and modern props. A passive people have been subjugated by an army of scythe-wielders that control, abuse or mass murder for no apparent reason. Amidst the chaos is an anti-hero who can run faster than a horse but who only seems to be interested in eating and can't be distracted long enough from his basic needs to save anyone. But the 'rules' keep changing. Some people figure out that the violent tyrants don't punish beggars, or sleeping people, or mourners. So a whole city becomes these things. One key phrase seems to awaken a village to revolt, but this is only on the surface and the roles didn't actually change. As the villagers only respect violent people, a random act of violence suddenly makes him their king. There's a surreal graveyard used for punishment, and our non-hero is challenged to save the girl before sunset, but what about his hunger? There's a bit of Baron Munchausen here, perhaps some Python, but the tone is unique and fun.

Head - Hands - Heart  
Director David Jarab previously made a less bizarre but more absurd film Fatherland, that pokes fun at upper-class traditions in Bunuelian fashion using a strange hunt of human-like creatures. In this impenetrably bizarre movie, he pulls out all the stops of surrealism. The story itself, unfortunately, makes no sense on its own, and can only serve as metaphor. But since we have no clue what the key to the metaphor is, the movie fails to reward us. The setting is WWI in Eastern Europe, and the themes, presumably, involve body parts as a metaphor for different aspects of a whole serving different purposes, and what happens when each part is separated, sought after on its own, and given independent life. Within this theme, we get a nonsensical tale involving a Colonel and his occult obsessions, whose head, hands and heart are removed after his ritualistic death, each body part serving different people and living a life of its own. There are also mysterious gems, an apathetic wife that welcomes her ex-husband's friends into her bed as well as his severed finger to keep her company, an obsession over chickens and beheading them, and so on. The movie gets points for an intriguing atmosphere and cinematography, and someday, someone may figure out what it all means, but in the meantime, it gets stored on a dusty shelf.

Heart of Glass  
Another bizarre cinematic allegory by Herzog. A small village in Bavaria that lives on their export of ruby glass has lost the only man who knows how to make this glass. A local mystic continuously prophesies about events both big (the world wars to come) and small (free beer), and poetically describes cataclysms and existential crises. Two men are fated to fight and one to die under another, and they catatonically fulfill this prophecy. Other locals also seem insane or catatonic, a man is tested for signs of life using a barking dog poked by a gardening fork, a strange woman with short hair strips and dances, and there is a twisted relationship between a laughing old man and a young girl. Most of the symbolism is too obscure and impenetrable but the movie as a whole is intriguingly pensive, poetic and pastoral with beautiful scenery.

Japanese cyberpunk violent sci-fi horror with an elusive sense of reality. There's a girl with a traumatic past who seems to be telepathic, an underground dystopian, possibly post-apocalyptic world with endless levels, and an 'elevator' that is more like a train travelling through many facets of the world. Into this elevator, two ultra-violent psycho prisoners are brought on for transfer, triggering a series of violent events. The is lots of blood splatter, and the psychos are over-the-top as only the Japanese can perform them, but it's not a gore-movie. The story is told while the police try to piece together the events, and some events may or may not be as they seem. The final twist is neat and opens up the movie to several interpretations, some of them surreal. But the movie can also be taken simply as cyberpunk violent sci-fi.

Horror movies often get nightmarish when the monsters arrive, but this one is basically one long nightmare that may or may not be a dream, frequently using dream-logic with creatures or places that turn into other things, disembodied voices, surreal imagery, fears that turn instantly real, and a slew of confusing goings-on. It is also another female coming-of-age movie that has been given a surreal treatment, in this case very specifically dealing with a teenager's discovery that she has become pregnant, her scary thoughts of social pressure, abortion, blood, monster babies, creatures taking over her body and her life, sacrifice, etc. all turning into an all-too-real nightmare. The dream-logic approach is a bit too surreal and unreal, unlike McDonald's much better Pontypool, and it doesn't develop its theme or story much, but it's not too bad for a nightmare movie.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer  
Not a slasher film. This cult classic goes into the mind of a remorseless serial killer who calmly and carefully kills dozens of people at random for entertainment, to vent his twisted drives or merely to pass the time. Along the way he 'befriends' an abused stripper, attracted and intrigued by his murder of his mother, and her incestuous brother who is drawn in to the murdering sprees while filming them with a video camera. No camp, no excess gore, no dishonest heroic portrayals, and no message, just twisted and cold film-making. Followed by an almost-as-dark, cruel but lesser sequel with a different actor who finds a new friend to kill with and a new broken girl.

Hic Digitur Dei  
Obscure Catalan film made during Franco's regime by Antoni Martí i Gich. Unfortunately, lack of subtitles make it impossible to review properly, so this will only be based on impressions and guesswork: The film is divided into 10 segments, the first of which tells a dramatic tale of doomed love between an ordinary couple that soon find themselves corrupted in a mad society. The rest of the episodes seem to make fun of the various people in power, from the oligarchy, to the church, to the fascist regime, filmed as vignettes low-budget guerrilla-style, dressing up various people in cheap over-the-top costumes as they partake in surreal debauchery, decadence, worship of power, pomp and ceremonies, with strange scenes of angels shot down by a half-naked transsexual, hordes of men in suits clamoring for an autograph, a musical set in a hospital with a flippant crew operating on a man with a hand in his chest, and lots more, many of them set to music.

Hitler: A Film from Germany (AKA Our Hitler)  
Partially deserved hype accompanies this experimental 7-hour movie about Hitler. The approach is artsy, philosophical, operatic in its passionate, grand portrayal of the period and the coming of Hitler, and surreal in its stagy, bizarre sets and oddly costumed narrators and guides that serve as a strange abstract visual backdrop to the poetic narration and historical footage, quotations and audio. The result is a deep and sweeping understanding of Hitler and what he represented to Germany and the world. A vision that doesn't glamorize him, or attempt another dry documentary with facts, or another historical dramatic recreation, but something new. It is careful with its condemnation, always keeping it personal and close to us the audience, and it emphasizes the fact that Hitler would have been nobody without the masses who needed him, so that understanding will come through personal introspection and indirectly through a poetic and thoughtful narration. His personal life, quotes, attitudes, viewpoints, helpers and friends are also explored through many writings of his associates read by performers on stage. The big flaw is the length, much of it spent on needless flights of art-house fancy, mildly interesting theatrical performances and puppets, and pointless tangents on minutiae, or rants about the artists of the time. A much more powerful 3 hour movie could be extracted from this.

HK: Hentai Kamen  
Only the Japanese could have come up with something this demented, and only the Japanese could have implemented it in a way that feels even more demented than the concept, and made it somehow entertaining. This is by far the most bizarre superhero movie you will ever see: A high-schooler who is the son of a super-Dominatrix finds himself too meek to handle life and the new cute girl, until he discovers super-powers when he wears panties as a mask. He struts his stuff around town almost-naked defeating baddies in a hilarious spoof of spider-man, coming up with super-moves involving his bulging crotch that would make Stephen Chow proud. But an evil weirdo with pigtails is trying to take over the local gym, and sends one weird assassin after another (one super-power is being 'pleasant') to try to get him. There is no way to describe how demented these fight scenes are until you see the movie. But is he or isn't he a pervert? A question also torturing his high-school crush... until a master-pervert comes into town.

Hole in my Heart, A  
An artsy study filmed in a style similar to reality-TV/Dogme about self humiliation, objectification, mutilation and abuse for glamor, commercialism and fame. It also deals with communication and relationship issues between people who are disconnected from themselves, desperate and empty. A man with a traumatic past makes porn movies in his house, aided by his male porn-star friend, a desperate female who will do anything for fame, and his lonely, intensely depressed son who stays in his room while his father engages in depravity. Personalities clash, connect and interact while the porn-making descends into violence, food fights, out-of-control orgies and vomit. A non-linear, experimental film that makes some interesting, scattered findings but wraps it in a disgusting and depressing bundle.

Hole in the Moon  
Surprisingly experimental and free-wheeling movie from Israel in 1964 that is part Godard, part Fellini stream of consciousness, part silly comedy, part provocative satire. A man lands in the port of Jaffa amidst much confusion and strange people, embarks onto the land to build a life, and soon finds himself selling lemonade in the desert, competing with another confused Israeli, and finding treasures in their own imaginations instead. They dream up a woman, start making movies and building settlements, drawing parallels between fantasy and building a real life throughout the movie. This is all filmed with hyper, jazzy, free-wheeling energy and an improvisational approach as various movie genres and icons appear, mix chaotically, then are reduced to creative slapstick. Fantasies come to life, real people are made into actors and interviewed about their views on acting and Israel, constructions turn into musical numbers, violence turns into slapstick, and slapstick turns into serious acting lessons, all poking light fun at the Zionist collective dream. It's quite hard to describe this one really.

A drama told through dreams and gothic nightmares. A woman comes back home to her parents for her grandmother's funeral, but something is mysterious about the way she died, and her unsympathetic mother seems to be hiding something about both her and her grandmother. She uses tricks learned from her psychophysiology studies and her mentor to try to control her dreams and use lucid dreaming to discover the secrets. When she becomes mysteriously ill, she uses this feverish state as well. Most of the movie consists of dreams, heavily symbolic, featuring grotesque and gothic imagery of a dark horsehead death gate-keeper, wolves, keys, violent cults that seem to derive from Christianity, strange bloody rituals, bizarre pregnancies, and some dream-logic involving transforming locations and consolidation. Although the imagery is colorful, artistic and somewhat hallucinative, I found it to be too sharp, studio-lit, slickly edited and staged to feel surreal, and as a result, it felt more like a modern Argento or Hammer horror flick about cults and fevered-followers a la Rosemary's Baby rather than a nightmare. The ending is ambiguous and weak.

Hotel Poseidon  
Anyone that has socially isolated themselves for any period of time knows how easy it is to let oneself go in terms of upkeep and hygiene. Another thing that happens is that other humans start becoming increasingly strange, scary, imposing, and off-putting, their personal and social quirks turning bizarre. This surreal Belgian-Dutch movie takes both of these ideas and runs with them to surreal places. Dave lives in a hotel that is run-down, decrepit, greasy, rotting and a complete mess, with electric fires a regular occurrence, and his personal hygiene is just as bad. People keep appearing and invading his swampy, depressed isolated life, one person more annoying and strange than the next. Their faces are all covered in white to separate them from reality, and as with dream-logic, they don't seem to mind the surreal filth with which he has surrounded himself. Only one pretty girl makes a connection with him. But with a smothering aggressive mother, a freshly dead Aunt Lucy, an aggressive friend that wants to convert the hotel, and other random visitors, it is hard to adjust his life to match this vision of beauty, who is oblivious to his moldy inner life which is apparent only to him and us. The movie starts as a quirky highly visual art film with odd people, but when a party breaks out, the film quickly dives into complete surrealism, a nightmare mixed with a fantasy where his life in the hotel turns into a literal jungle as he turns both savage and family man, constantly observed by outsiders. An interesting, visual and intriguingly surreal film, albeit a bit depressing and static in terms of character development.

Hour of the Wolf  
Bergman's second very abstract and somewhat surreal movie is challenging but feels incomplete and flawed no matter how hard you think about it. A neurotic artist and his wife move to a seemingly deserted island, but the local Baron and his strange friends pop up and upset their lives, using jokes, strange entertainment and knowledge of the artist's past to play games with the increasingly insane man. Events written in a journal, ideas sketched on canvas, people that appear, and stories told in the middle of the night may or may not be real, and his wife, so desperate to connect with her deteriorating husband may get more than she wished for. Bergman seems to touch on themes of subjective reality, schizophrenia, art, deep connections between man and wife, horror elements like a bird man and a woman who pulls off her face, and social drama, but that's all he seems to do with them: touch lightly.

House of Flesh Mannequins  
Inspired by Peeping Tom, this movie ambitiously combines transgressive horror, philosophy and psychology, pornography, exploitation and surreal art-house. It brings to mind several Hisayasu Sato movies that dived into the sleaze and violence but with a thoughtful, surreal and psychologically provocative attitude. A man has a deep obsession with his camera after his father filmed him growing up. Themes of voyeurism, exposure, and personalities shaped through parents inter-mix, with a fear of the unknown and of intimacy warping and merging with a fascination for grotesque S&M, pedophilia and scenes of violence captured on film. A very pretty neighbor girl and her bizarre dad show an interest in him that isn't what it seems. In between, the man visits a 'House of Flesh Mannequins' that is probably in his mind, where he enjoys a colorful variety of voyeuristic thrills combined with nasty surprises of sudden cruelty and torture, while the 'mannequins' spout philosophical platitudes. The climax disappoints with a conventional horror and gory shock ending.

House Under the Starry Skies  
Sergey Solovyov's third entry in his Perestroika trilogy is a completely bonkers and disturbing adventure, each entry increasingly making use of surrealism and absurdism. In this one, the Soviet Union is on its last leg, but refuses to die, as held onto by frightening, immortal and deranged individuals with literally supernatural powers, and the chaos that ensues is nothing short of surreal, as this period must have felt to denizens of Mother Russia. An important Russian academic comes back from the US, and he and his extended family is stalked and hounded by ominous, extremely bizarre individuals, one of them an evil lover of old-school SU, a common thief, and an anti-Semite with supernatural powers. A magic trick gone terribly wrong results in an impossible surreal horror, and even the eccentric security company he hires doesn't seem to function very well. Events become increasingly confusing for both the protagonists and us the audience as the film develops into a symbolic, hallucinative climactic violent revolution with a sorcerer and a hot-air balloon.

Can Evrenol's follow-up to Baskin is a similarly baffling but somewhat effective gruesome and mind-warping slice of horror that prioritizes disorienting disturbing horror over cohesive story. It's part Fulci incohesive but stylized atmospheric nastiness, part 'In the Mouth of Madness' Lovecraftian reality-shifting horror. A girl witnesses a very traumatic family multiple-murder, and grows up with severe traumas. As a young lady with a husband that specializes in cults and dark research material, she makes a connection through another friend to a cult that worships a dream-master who claims to get into people's heads, fears and dreams. There are memories that shift, nightmares within nightmares that cannot be escaped, gruesome and strange acts of cruelty that may or may not be Cronenbergian mental issues made flesh, as well as a mysterious and undefined ultimate horror. You're not likely to be able to piece this one together since it serves only a bare skeleton of a story with vaguely thought-out psychological layers, all of which seem to be backdrops for the nightmarish horror imagery and nothing else.

Human Centipede III (Final Sequence), The  
When a director makes three horror movies revolving around coprophilia as a form of torture, obvious questions arise. But Tom Six surprised me once again by taking the right route with this one, and turning it into a parody of itself, as well as everything else. He makes a smug appearance in his own movie, only to throw up at his own ideas, and has his own characters call him a 'toddler infatuated with poop'. Took the words right out of my mouth... Then again, this movie tries too hard to disgust, what with kidney rape (don't ask), dried clitorises from Africa as candy, and of course, a huge human centipede, this time done to control a prison population by an insane warden, and in a way that allows them to be released eventually. Then again, this movie, unlike the previous entries, is just a trashy comedy more in the vein of a Troma movie, and gleefully has its characters chew the scenery and tries to offend every single race and gender or idea it can in its running time. Which is why it doesn't matter that it is unrealistic, that Dieter Laser becomes a cartoon character, or that the characters from his previous movies appear in his one in other guises, nor does it have to explain how a warden can get away with this. In fact, this parody approach is the whole point, and only an audience that expects another horror movie to top the other ones will be disappointed (and evidently they were). I thought it was high time Tom Six made fun of himself and the world that gleefully watches movies like these, while still sticking to his 100% politically incorrect (puerile) guns, so I laughed almost as often as I was disgusted. I could have done without the new forms of infantile fetishes though.

Human Highway  
Neil Young and friends on a goofy acid trip that's so messy it feels improvised. There's some kind of a story involving the new grumbling owner of a diner who tries to make all kinds of changes to make money out of the business while assorted weird characters interact, long after each other and dance. Hopper is Cracker who feeds his pet raccoon, Young is a dorky mechanic who plays music on his tools, there's a bizarre creature with a doll's head that talks incoherently, a rich Sheikh who goes after the milkman, glowing nuclear plant employees, and suddenly the whole goofy thing dissolves into concert and weird jam footage of Neil Young, and a travelogue mixed with psychedelia. Definitely a "What the hell did I just see?" movie.

Hungarian Fairy Tale, A  
Eccentric Hungarian movie that starts as a romance, veers into a combination of road trip and social/political satire, then ends with a completely confusing sequence of surreal fantasy images. Elements from Mozart's Magic Flute are used for the story as well as other mythological references, and it may or may not make more sense if one knows what it is referring to. The story is about a kid born to a beautiful lady who had a romantic one-night stand after an evening at the opera. She registers a fictitious name for his father at the government office due to some obscure law, but when the kid loses his mother, both the kid and the government bureaucrat rebel against the system and embark on a road trip, one to seek his fictitious father, the other to presumably correct his bureaucratic sins as he burns a mountain of papers. They encounter a strange boot camp for child-soldiers, a grandmother with seemingly magical powers, and a helpful lady who joins their impromptu family, until the climax with an endless surreal chase involving kid-soldiers, angels and flying statues.

Illusionist, The  
Intriguing Dutch visual piece with no dialogue, with most of the movie consisting of strange magical tricks, slapstick, visual comedy, gags, pantomime and surrealism as part of the story. Two strange brothers with a penchant for pantomime performance, constantly fiddling with magic props, collecting dead flies, and falling into pools of water are separated by their family. One is afflicted with sudden strange outbursts that disturb the locals and is therefore sent to be treated in an insane asylum. The family continues falling apart as the other brother follows his obsessive desire for a magician's assistant, his fears and a touching loneliness becoming increasingly confusing and surreal. Full of alien visual gags that are played with for their own sake, like when a moving branch gets in his way in the forest while cannonballs drop. Brings to mind a much more bizarre Tati movie.

A surreal fantasy in the vein of movies like MirrorMask and Ink where everything is immanently psychological and the events and characters are explored through fantasy. This one, however, is pretty much a rock-opera and based on symphonic-metal band Nightwish's album of the same name. Surprisingly, the music from that album doesn't feature as prominently as expected, and it's the story, visuals and characters that get top billing, although the rest of the soundtrack is Nightwish-esque, and the band do make a ghoulish fun appearance. The movie is about an aging composer that is losing his mind and health, and his estranged daughter that has come to see him off. His life, secrets and issues are explored through flashbacks, like Citizen Kane only with colorful fantasy, surrealism and light horror. There's a flying snow-man with a dark side, sawing into a brain for memories, symbolic toy-soldiers and snow-globes that come to life, and the surreal landscapes and spaces frequently shift and change via dream-logic. Like most rock-operas, it doesn't care for subtlety, and I can't say that it's a great movie, but it's surprisingly well done, entertaining and visually rich.

Image Threads, The  
It's like Jodorowsky surfed the internet, got horny, took some acid, and made this visual meditation on the flickering musings in his head. The hyper-bizarre visual imagery in this one is way out there together with The Holy Mountain, also in terms of its mystical themes, often involving Eastern religious symbolism, the occult, and several holy men performing bizarre rites or re-enactments. There is no story, just a stream-of-consciousness narration consisting of random musings, cryptic philosophical or mystical statements, koans, quotes, and cryptic dialog that he has with an internet persona who may be a virus, a hermaphrodite, an evil being, a cybersex partner, or himself, or all of the above. He also muses on his black-magic grandfather, identity, and dark undercurrents in his psyche. Sample narrative statements include: "Birds sing with their fingers", "The virtual reality of family lineage", "I am the desktop image of my chirping black magpie". I am not a fan of this approach of throwing together a bunch of pseudo-mystical gibberish hoping something sticks, since nothing really sticks in the end, even the random thoughts triggered by the visuals and koans. But there is no denying the hypnotic effect of this uniquely bizarre movie.

Impressions of Upper Mongolia  
Dalí's only movie directed by himself, and a very Dalí'esque homage to the poet Raymond Roussel in the form of a hallucinogenic mockumentary. Dalí describes the background of a special hallucinogenic huge mushroom that grows in Mongolia and the attempts at retrieving it by an expedition set-up by himself. This is done via various colorful and LSD-inspired images that is converted into a fantastical journey by a narrative, which then turn out to be something quite unexpected. Along the way, we get many surprising superimposed and juxtaposed images in the best tradition of Dalí, some meditations on hidden messages in classical paintings, a work of abstract art that turns out to be Hitler's face, and other various back-doors into Dalí's mind and memories.

In A Glass Cage  
Notorious for its twisted subject matter, this dark and cynical movie explores human monstrosities but fails to rise above them. An ex-Nazi with a continuing fetish for torturing young boys finally throws himself off the roof only to find himself dependent on others and kept alive by an iron lung. A mysterious teenager claiming to be a nurse shows up to take care of him, at first seeming to want revenge but soon reveals his true intentions: His traumatized, disturbed mind wants to become a powerful monster like the Nazi. So he plays sick and violent games with his family and brings young boys to the house to slaughter until the final depraved ending. Very well filmed and acted but the writing wallows in sickness instead of giving us something to think about. Villaronga also directed the similarly twisted but less extreme and bizarre 'El Mar'.

Inferno (1985)  
Probably András Rajnai's most psychedelic movie by far, covering Dante's Inferno. In addition to his usual ubiquitous usage of blue-screen effects, miniatures, psychedelic sets and colors, an avant-garde soundtrack, and creatures and humans turned into giants with obvious blue-screen effects, in this film he lets his imagination go wild as Dante goes an a tour of all levels of Hell. Most scenes are also populated by an avant-garde dance troupe in skin-tight neon outfits acting out the hellish suffering they are experiencing, while disembodied giant hands and legs emerge from various places. Sets include endless ribcages and giant spines, psychedelic lakes of fire and crystals, and the just plain weird.

Imagine a Polish 'O Lucky Man' as directed by Ken Russell. A young, naive, headstrong but naive man tries to escape from under his father's conservatism and plans for his future, and find his own way in Western culture. He is soon lost amidst decadent, pretentious, self-obsessed, nonsense-spouting, deviant artists, fascist military rulers, under the spell of a cruel and fickle actress, played with by deviant aristocracy, and so on. Everything and everyone is over-the-top and excessive, from the female sexual predators, to the cartoonish fascist megalomaniac who thinks, for some mystical reason, that he is a Chinese ruler. Absurd wars are fought for no good reason and power is handed over to the other side at a whim, people are tortured or killed in graphic ways or take part in a wide variety of fetishes and perversions like something out of Salo, except here it's all absurd and whimsical. Most people are afraid of the impending Chinese invasion wave and each social group spouts their philosophies and politics but their viewpoints are made absurd by sheer excess. The movie makes its satirical points pretty well, but you have to decide whether to endure coprophagia, BDSM, a pedophile hunchback, and decapitation during sex to get there.

Insects Unlisted in the Encyclopedia, The  
Satoshi Miki generally makes quirky comedies where anything goes, but this one is off-the-wall and nutty even by his standards. This one involves more of his bizarre and highly eccentric characters, this time in search of Deathfix, an insect-drug that makes you die temporarily. This plot-device is just an excuse to collect a bunch of weird people and to very loosely string together a gag a minute, whether it's wacky, silly, idiotic or bad taste. There's a half-man magician, a job that involves tickling old men, vomit that lights on fire then turns into an omelette, Yakuza that enjoy sadistic knee-wrestling, people invading other people's flashbacks, a nutty drug-addict straight out of Fear and Loathing, an S&M junk sorting yard, a magical severed monkey arm, a censoring dot that flies in the air when a naked man gets hit by a car, tough suicide cuts that serve as a grater, and much much more. Mildly entertaining in a very silly way, but not exactly witty to say the least, and he really should learn from Blier on how to make absurdities with more depth.

Insomniac City Cycles, The  
An experimental movie of two halves with a surreal mystery pseudo-plot: The first half feels like an interminable student film involving lots of footage of Tel-Aviv that has been manipulated for experimental visuals, spliced with footage of a man who may have been shot in a parking lot, and who is trying to figure out how he got there. The city is alive, with mutating, moving, duplicating buildings sometimes looking like an impossibly breathing sci-fi city, while the dead man remembers being underwater with a gun, being on fire in a surreal concrete pit, etc. All suggesting some kind of endless urban blurry half-awake nightmare, except it rapidly becomes dull and repetitive. The second half shifts gear into more surreal territory, blurring the lines between who is dreaming whom, a woman in Shanghai dreaming of being killed and of men being shot, who may or may not be talking to a hit-man-cum-lover who sits in a pet shop, with whom she plays strange games hinting at random thriller plot points, and of the possibility of sending a dancing hit-man after her. An insomniacs incoherent thoughts of death and sex fantasies while being absorbed by an urban nightmare? Or just a pretentious student film? Of some interest only.

Invisible Adversaries  
An experimental film so provocatively surreal, that at times it's a throwback to Dada. In a Godardesque freewheeling, disjointed structure, society is portrayed as dissociative, superficially civilized and artistic, all covering up violence, animalistic behaviour, power games, etc. and the acceptance of certain rude behaviours but not others. A woman thinks the world is being taken over by aliens, classical art pieces have their props replaced with commercial products, a man licks the pavements, skating on ice is juxtaposed with slicing a thigh with skates, hair-washing is juxtaposed with urination, activities such as sex and intimacy are reduced to a frantic montage of images, strange fetishes, or backed by mentally-invasive sounds, a marriage row leads a sequence of violence ending with wars, people become cardboard cutouts, live food is sliced, and much more... all interspersed with Godardesque musings and monologues on people, feminism, psychology, relationships, etc. A dense, somewhat interesting, provocative experiment for fans of Godard.

In My Skin  
A disturbing French artsy study on the topic of the self-body dichotomy portrayed by a woman who, in a desperate attempt to discover the meaning and connection to her body, self-mutilates herself. An accidental gash on her leg which she doesn't feel provokes a neurotic and obsessive breakdown and search for twistedly sensuous discovery. Some of the questions asked are: Who is in control? Why does my body misbehave? What's the meaning of etiquette and body language? How am I connected to my body? What if the body is just meat? Maybe individual body parts have meaning? etc. So this lost woman cuts, bites, stabs, pokes, slashes, eats and tears herself, then tries to keep ripped flesh around as mementos. A blend of Cronenberg's Crash and La Pianiste, this one is guaranteed to make you squirm or even walk out.

In the Light of the King's Love  
Based on 'The Sufferings of Prince Sternenhoch' a novella by the Czech philosopher Ladislav Klíma who tried to live a life of subjective idealism, where each individual creates his own world with his Will which he has to subject himself to. A good philosophy, except for the fact that this Will is ambiguous, elusive and slippery for those that don't know where to look for it. This comical-philosophical-grotesque story is about a diminutive and eccentric prince who marries a grotesque cleaning woman with a warped upbringing and hidden tendencies of deranged behaviour, domination and submission, much to the horrors of the King's court. After some De Sade-esque adventures, an infidelity leads to violence, hauntings and madness as the prince deteriorates into hallucinations and debaucheries, leading to some kind of revelation and bliss. This adaptation, by Jan Nemec, takes it to absurd and over-the-top levels, in a modern setting, with a punk in the princely role chewing the scenery and delivering a deranged performance, aided by a not-so-grotesque Helga losing herself in random bouts of kink and madness, all set in either bizarre modern structures or decaying locations with colorful drug-induced props. Includes scenes of a violent birth in a basement, random debauchery and madness, surreal settings and courtly attendants, a scene of S&M lust in a decaying house that must be seen to be believed, necrophilia, and an absurd murder in several stages that starts with throwing a man from a tall building into a lions' den.

In the Realm of the Senses  
Japanese pornographic exploration of sexual obsession that somehow blurs the line between pornography and art. A master of a household falls for a possessive, prostitute house girl and things slowly change from youthful carefree sex to dangerous possessive and obsessive games (strangulation, rape) to the final fatal and shocking ending.

Iran Is My Land  
Parviz Kimiavi, like an Iranian Sergei Parajanov, explores his country's culture with a heavy emphasis on its classic poets, by way of a surreal, visually and culturally rich art film. A modern poet is trying to publish his work, but keeps hitting bureaucratic walls in the form of absurd censorship and rules. He is constantly and literally accompanied by dozens of poets of old that provide him with inspiring and guiding quotes from their works, and almost all conversations and discussions in the movie involve snippets from poems to make a point. He takes a road trip to Teheran by way of the desert, dreams surreal and poetic dreams, comes across various friendly traditional folk with amusing tales and parables, has to spiritually and literally find his path through the desert's many paths and tunnels until he magically emerges back in modern society.

I Shall Never Return  
In a sense, this is a Brechtian, surreal version of Moby Dick. If Alphaville told a sci-fi story without any sci-fi, this strips away all the sea, the ships and the whale, and just explores the existentialist drama and inner journey of Moby Dick by depicting a modern man in search of a parking space, and his two bonded passengers, each with their own personal problems and slightly misguided goals. Symbolism is heavy here, and The Good Life, a Guiding Muse, and Cruel Fate all appear as surreal female personas to interact with our characters as they are face themselves and their obsessions. You would have to know Moby Dick quite well to appreciate what this film is trying to do. On the other hand, there is also a lot of pretentiousness and a heavy-handed, student-film approach. But it does maintain interest anyways to those with a moderate-to-obsessive interest in the book.

Island, The (2021)  
Stream-of-consciousness, anything-goes, surreal animation and quirky musical. There are many symbolic references to Robinson Crusoe, but you'd be hard-pressed to make all of the symbolism in this movie cohere. Allusions are made to themes of searching for paradise, the character Friday perhaps symbolizing labor or perhaps immigrants, Robinson possibly representing anything from civilization, the Creator, exploitation, consumerism and everything in between. There's a mermaid of questionable gender, wearing plastic buckets and symbolizing temptation. It's really all about the freewheeling fantasy imagery. A rambunctious festival has a scene featuring a body-builder exhibitionist turning his/her muscles into fireworks or balloons; a mechanical 'grandma' eats people but then turns into a fluffy cloud that feeds on knitted socks; An iPad creates an alternate reality for Robinson who is addicted to consumerism; And much much more. I ended up even more confused then when it started, but the trip was trippy. 100% whimsy.

It's Such a Beautiful Day  
Low-tech but lovingly hand-crafted animated existential and surreal trilogy of short films that together explore the absurd life of an everyman called Bill whose brain is deteriorating. Bill is animated using stick figures, but the small observations, the surrealism, the narration, the superimpositions of photographs and other visual effects, and the music, all come together to create a little, fascinating and sometimes magical experience. The first short observes many little absurd human moments in Bill's life while his brain develops some kind of problem. His dreams and hallucinations gradually grow to surreal proportions, and little details from his inner world of fantasy and fears merge into his real life. This one is done quite well. The second short expands on this development and tells many little absurd stories of his growing up and of his grandparents and family. The third ruminates on death and the immortal soul, and while some moments are nicely done, overall it is somewhat trite. Overall, this deserves a lot of the praise it has gotten, but not all.

Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway  
This insane movie feels as if someone overdosed on 70s and 80s sci-fi and exploitation movies, and instead of making a homage, took some LSD and made a low-fi mash-up of the jumble in his head. There are agents fighting a virus by going into an 80s computer program, complete with modem sounds and 16 colors, except the virtual reality is like real-life, with avatars made of paper masks. There's blaxploitation, dwarf-sploitation (this one loves a very large kick-boxing woman), a violent Batfro superhero-cum-president, an evil Stalin virus, random bizarre and cheesy kung-fu and spy tropes, reality-bending with a Jesus character who turns into a fly-alien when confused, some Nintendo music and graphics, and a man that lives as an 80s portable TV. There are conspiracy plots within plots, except of course they never make sense. It's a one-of-a-kind oddity, but an entertaining one.

An energetic oddity that seems to be targeted at juvenile audiences judging by its wacky and clownish tone, and yet it's too surreal and artistic for that. A man travelling on the road is pressured by a strange man into a balloon which promptly floats him off to a strange adventure. He descends into a fantasy land populated by a theatrical crowd that seems to be in the middle of a colorful carnival with crazy costumes and masks. They promptly crown him king of the carnival and he is swept away into various games, acts and performances, including one involving his death, all watched over by a mysterious woman in shifting masks. The world is reborn via a theatrical performance depicting the birth of the universe by angels and demons, leading to a bizarre frolic on the beach by naked people and chickens, until a man in a truck brings them 20th century civilization starting with clothes and toilets and ending in TV. More acts and shows bleed and turn into reality, and the audience switches roles, with puppets as audiences and people turning into cardboard, and the protagonist finds himself transported between these realities. A mad, energetic celebration and representation of life via comical theatre, clowning and over-acting.

Killer Tongue  
Insane entertainment involving a thief and his girlfriend, and their two accomplices (one with a urinating disorder) whom they double-cross. The thief goes to prison where the warden is queer, likes to play golf on prisoners backs and play with pigeons, and the girl goes to a gas station convent (huh?) as a nun. A meteor strikes and a piece falls in her soup, making her turn into a creature with a 10-foot talking tongue that likes to messily tear through people's heads and crack jokes, and her poodles are turned into flaming drag queens who redecorate her place and serve her every whim. She soon finds a new use or two for the tongue. What does it all add up to? Who knows, but it's certainly distracting!

Kill It and Leave This Town  
Closed but fascinating surreal Polish animation. It is closed in the sense that it consists largely of personal memories and impressions, many of them warped in surreal fashion into grotesque or dreamy free-form visuals, with memories and images merging into each other to create contemplative associations. The meaning is closed and the scenes seem to be unconnected memories and human interactions, connected only by the ever-present director who appears in the animation, often looming as a literal giant over the images. But the meaning is secondary to the sentiment and the visual imagination, sentiments awashed in melancholy and nostalgia, a depressive view of the past with a hint of hope for romance to save the day. The animation is at times reminiscent of Bill Plympton without the humor, i.e. low-tech rough drawings that are never restricted to physical laws, morphing using free-form associations and sentiment. But the animation style is mostly unique and fascinating. One strong theme that emerges is humans morphing into animals, sometimes to make an impression of cat-like menace or predatory beaks, other times to gruesomely depict humans being dismembered and carved up like live fish at a butcher's shop. There's a woman who works at a morgue as the director's old dead mother is coldly sewn up and plugged for burial. There's a melancholy date between strangers where the depressive woman constantly shrinks in size and age as she loses herself in the arms of the gentle giant. A woman turns hysterical as she tries to get a train-station attendant to help her find her husband who didn't call in, and a strange menacing cat-man in the street offers to help financially while spouting incoherent big-brother politics. Music plays a large part in this movie. And there is a cycle of life, romance and death: A young version of the grandmother with the red bow and pigtails starts a new romance in a modern age of cellphones, and grows old, while the giant director observes them as they literally sail past him in memory-ships in a sea of human-fish caught for the butcher.

Chilean avant-garde, highly experimental but effective film achieving the unusual task it set out to do. The topic is a murky historical figure, a French lawyer that travelled in 1860 to the untamed land of Patagonia in Chile/Argentina, a man who claims he became the king of that land, accepted and crowned by the natives, creating an empire. These claims were never, and could never be verified. Was he a Quixotic character, a Munchausen, or were his tall tales true? The official Chilean documents and authorities that would obviously not support any such kingdom in their land, cannot be trusted. And so this movie does not tell his story, or offer insight, it is merely interested in the mythical murkiness of this tale, and it uses every cinematographic trick possible to explore this. The tall tales are shown in surreal, mythical, magical scenes of a man meeting strange half-human creatures and partaking in stranger coronation rituals. The interrogation by the authorities takes places with humans turned into masked puppets since their truths are hidden. The travel into the land was accompanied by a duplicitous guide, so the stories are told Rashomon-style, with conflicting truths. Some of the footage was buried and left to rot to create a decomposed vision of the truth, and other celluloid footage was manipulated Brakhage-style by coloring and scratching the negative. The result may not offer much to chew on intellectually, but it is an intriguing and beautiful cinematic experience.

Kingdom of Shadows, The  
Very avant-garde performance-art with some dialogue-free surrealism. It's about family dysfunctions, hidden crimes, and frustrated desires. It's portrayed artistically using a family that express their desires (or lack thereof) using body language while in bizarre costumes and make-up. Some surreal nightmarish figures skulk in the shadows, including a dead grandma, there's a murder, and an inspector visits the home, literally sniffing out the suspect while the mother lusts over him. All this is performed, not told, and displayed in vivid, aesthetic, colorful scenes, backed by a blaring eclectic avant-garde soundtrack. Behind this family surrealism, are some scenes of an alchemist, the portrayal of Adam and Eve by two tattooed and naked interpretive dancers expressing an anxious marriage and frustrated sexual relationship, as well as a wandering murderous gothic Cain tortured by his dirty deed. All of this suggesting that family problems are rooted in the roots of humankind itself. I found the Biblical scenes very tiresome and empty, the visuals were strong, the soundtrack was distracting, too eclectic, noisy and pretentious, and the family scenes could have made for a much better surreal movie on their own. I didn't find it to be an oneiric film or immersive experience thanks to the harsh in-your-face avant-garde approach, and there wasn't much to chew on mentally speaking. So, altogether, it was a bit too much obnoxious avant-gardism in the vein of Matthew Barney, but the family surrealism was moderately interesting.

King Ubu  
A Polish satirical play on politics made into an absurd and wacky movie by Piotr Szulkin. The very silly King Ubu takes over the crown, at first with aspirations and speeches of equality and a free people, but his interests in the constantly empty 'treasury' soon lead him to change the way things are run, using fake and absurd democracy to manipulate the people, raising taxes so that he can have beer, and declaring war for personal reasons. Prancing ballerinas constantly accompany the ruler as symbols, he personally leaves his 'castle' (a dilapidated factory) amidst much fanfare in order to invade his neighbour's house and torture them until they pay their triple taxes, they frequently break into silly song and dance, he throws the nobility into a pit so that he can take their money, and he orders everyone to contribute personally to a gas-making national project made up of something that doesn't sound too hygienic. Everything is theatrical, absurd, grotesque, unsubtle and caricature. I find caricature to wear out it's welcome very quickly though.

Koko-di Koko-da  
This is a Swedish movie about trauma that uses horror tropes, dreams and dream-logic Lynchian mental projections, all serving as props to portray the broken psyches of a married couple and their obsessive fears. It take place three years after a trip that went very bad, where a family member meets their unexpected death, haunting the couple with complete helplessness and impotence against cruel fate, and driving a wedge between them. They go on a camping trip. Except that their reality has become a 'Run Lola Run'-esque loop where their fears manifest as a bunch of very bizarre freaks and psychos that come out of the woods to torment and kill them. Every loop brings another closer attempt at overcoming the horrors. A mysterious cat and a shadow-puppet theatre provides the dream, a possible way out, and an allegory of a phoenix.

Kraftverk 3714  
Strange happenings in a Swedish village causes people and weird animals to appear and disappear, people go insane, see things, or have mysterious knowledge of the events that all seem to revolve around a dam and some fleshy goo. This starts off as a boring drama with empty characters and weak acting, it slowly builds the horror filmed with bad lighting and choppy editing for that gritty Riget atmosphere, for a short time it becomes weird other-worldly half-Lynch half-Kairo horror, then it steers into cheesy sci-fi denouement, and suddenly falls apart in a chaotic free-for-all involving sci-fi priests in robes, mutating body-snatchers, and super-powers installed via instant gory surgery. There is a potential creepy movie in here but a mess was created instead.

Kyusaku Yumeno's Teenage Girl Hell  
This one starts as a typical Pinku involving a girl's school that trains girls for upper-class marriage, a strict teacher, two neurotic lesbian girls, and a very perverted principal who is both a Christian and a ravenous sex deviant. There are the usual seductions-cum-rapes, humiliations, and even a cruel abortion. But then the movie turns into a surreal revenge film that gradually increases in delirious hallucinative scenes involving possible ghosts, skull-charcoal, and nightmare-logic jumps between locations and events for an endless stream of impossible acts of revenge that pile one on top of another, until the completely bonkers surreal ending.

Johnen: Love of Sada  
The notorious true tale of Sada Abe, an ex-prostitute who had a sizzling affair with a married man, then choked him to death and kept his penis as a keepsake allegedly at his request because he was so obsessed with her, was already told several times in movies, the most famous being 'In the Realm of the Senses'. This latest one chooses a meta-approach of exploring the story through its near-mythical status, the morbid obsession of society over the story, as well as the archetypal man who falls for this woman and loses control every time. It does this by repeating the events as experienced by a modern-day provocative photographer who meets a seductive, exhibitionist woman and feels that he has been with her before. This triggers hallucinations and ghostly apparitions of the past, both parallel stories intertwined through an art-house filter. Overlooking the events, is a strange old man who accompanies him through the various scenes of kinks, lusts, and erotically-tinged grotesqueries (ero-guro), that get more and more bizarre as the movie progresses. The couple are tried in a people's court of absurd white-faced juries and silly judges, carried into the room while they are having sex on a pedestal. Kinky games are played, S&M is toyed with, an impish fetish-doll-girl giggles and runs in the background in contrast to the more sophisticated and warped sex that is going on. And things progress somehow to bizarre sex with a severed penis, a surreal birth, and a grotesque transsexual performance of strange genitalia and blood. This one is somewhere in between a kinky pinku, and a surreal art-house piece.

Last Circus, The (Balada Triste de Trompeta)  
Álex de la Iglesia has never managed to duplicate the inspired brilliance of Day of the Beast, but he has managed to keep his unique hard edges and muscular approach to horror cinema, even in his lesser black comedies. This movie sees him returning to his more over-the-top, campy, insane, grindhouse roots of Acción Mutante combined with his trademarked no-holds-barred violence, and he does this in a political movie that serves as a surreal metaphor for the Spanish Civil War. The result is an insane, ultra-violent movie, but the over-the-top approach butchers its more serious political side, the numerous personality changes serving as metaphors kill the key characters, and the gut-punch tragic ending clashes with its crude grindhouse tone. Ironically, the Mexican Del Toro did much much better with Spanish history. This movie is about a love triangle between a stunning but dumb masochistic aerialist, a psychotic tyrannical 'happy clown' who beats her, and a disturbed 'sad clown' who lost his father in the war. Matters escalate quickly, then they go insane in a crammed second half that seems to rush through enough plot for five movies, leading to imagery like a clown self-mutilating with acid and an iron, a clown massacring soldiers with a machete, violence against children, a naked insane man feeding off the forest in the winter, and much much more. This one will bash you around its endless plot twists and brutal violence, making your head feel like a pinball. Pity about the clashing tones though.

Last Revenge, The  
B&W bizarre homage to German expressionism. The 'story' involves a scheming ruler, and his son and daughter who plot against him while a 'connoisseur' is sent to find a replacement for his son, but this setup falls away quickly in seemingly random plot developments, as if the writer is on drugs and making things up as he goes. The visuals are strikingly expressionistic with weird angles and bizarre props such as fish growing out of the ground that serve as a singing Greek chorus. The plot moves from human archetypes, to murder and detectives, to mad scientist, to prison break, to theological symbolism, etc. People occasionally break out in song or philosophize nonsensically. Altogether a nonsensical but visually and oddly entertaining flick.

Last Summer, The  
Bulgarian, playful, phantasmagorical, metaphorical drama about modernity and a dying way of life in the country. A tri-generational family lives on a last derelict home on the edge of a new lake that has swallowed up their village thanks to the new dam. The father tries to train and protect his teenage son from encroaching modernity, and from a local 'Serb' who seems to be teaching him the wrong things. Memories merge into their life in hallucinogenic visions and fantasies, his dead wife haunts him, memories of war and violence, the tattered remnants of the village floating over the lake, modern pieces of cement, religious symbols, and God and Satan themselves all appear as in a surreal visual dream as he struggles to maintain a dying way of life. Sometimes reminiscent of Terayama, but with an aggressive poetic tone of its own.

Lecture 21  
I can imagine Peter Greenaway admiring this movie. It searches for a new way to teach art and entertain, in this case regarding Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Several parallel mechanisms are used: There is the modern-day group of students that recall a much-loved lecture by an eccentric professor (John Hurt) who added the Ninth to his list of overrated classics. A Greek chorus of talking heads add factual details and opinions, except they are all bizarre characters, half of them naked and in outlandish period makeup and costumes. There is the extremely oddball story of a music student in the Italian Alps who joins a troupe of seeming lunatics in celebrating and criticizing the Ode to Joy. The troupe includes fireworks twins with asymmetrical missing arms, a man obsessed with ice, a girl who literally plays with fire, and many more, all preparing for an unknown event with puzzling activities like measuring 54 steps, building a ship on snow, and collecting birds, while checking their mice timepieces. And finally, there is the story of Beethoven himself during the period before and after the Ninth, told and analyzed by all of these characters, somehow bringing it to life with surrealism, beauty, drama, cold historical facts, personal opinions, excitement, abstract visuals, and storytelling skills. The Alps scenes are unrewardingly bizarre and often seem weird for its own sake, but everything else is fascinating, as if the director wanted to pry open our brains with strangeness and random entertainment just so he can teach us about Beethoven and make us dig deep into this popular symphony. This is almost like Amadeus with the narrative replaced by an art-house lecture. It's just a pity that most of its running time is spent on the pointlessly strange bits where it seems to have lost its way, making it feel unbalanced.

Art-house mood-poem and gothic tragedy that emphasizes atmosphere and visuals over story, re-imagining the Greek myth of Leda and her seduction by Zeus as a swan. Although this is one of those versions where the seduction is a traumatic rape, or perhaps a symbol of trauma and darkness which seems to infect this young woman and makes her brood, or do dark things, perhaps even unintended murder. You see, it's not clear what is really happening here, and it's more about the atmosphere and feeling of deep haunting wounds and nightmares. We do get flashbacks to both her parents' deaths when she was younger, as well as a marriage, but most of the movie is visual fantasy, nightmare and dreams involving the young woman in scenes of painterly beauty with atmospheric sound. There are repetitive visual themes of the intruding and ominous swan obviously, as well as her pregnancy, water, and the birthing of actual eggs, another element from the myth, all haunting her days and nights in surreal visions. I found the visuals and atmosphere very well done, but the watch as a whole to be tediously slow and lacking in content.

Legend of Kaspar Hauser, The  
Manuli follows up on Beket with a similar mix of random faux-surrealism, air-headed existentialism and techno music, except this time the pointless weirdness is made watchable by Silvia Calderoni, a performance artist and rave DJ who looks and behaves and moves like she has techno in her veins instead of blood. Like he did with Godot, Manuli borrows and techno-warps the mythology of Kaspar Hauser, a real-life mystery boy who claims to have been raised in total isolation, and people projected into his strange, simple behaviour all kinds of theories of greatness. Kaspar, here, is a sexually ambiguous techno-head, half-naked with headphones on her head, who always moves to music and talks in simple statements. She literally is washed up on the beach in an island town populated only with archetype/cartoon characters: The Sheriff, The Pusher, The Whore, The Duchess, The Priest, and so on. Manuli has them interact always in strange scenes with strange dialog, acting-out their roles as only archetypes can do, each seeing in Kaspar something that they want to see. Random flying saucers are also thrown in, only because that's the kind of movie this is. Most of the movie is techno music and Silvia, who is often mesmerizing even if you don't like techno. The rest is empty-headed nonsense that looks pretty, and the rave music doesn't exactly help build atmosphere or meaning.

See TV.

Leo the Last  
Odd art-house symbolic movie about class struggle by way of Rear Window starring Mastroianni. Leo is a jaded, tired, unfeeling prince, last in his line, who retires to his big house in England with an odd assortment of noble supporters. He spies on birds from his window out of boredom, then starts to spy on his poor neighbours and neighbourhood that has deteriorated into a ghetto with pimps, rapists, and violence. He slowly becomes more involved in their lives and starts to side with their cause, causing his aristocrat friends to think him mad. The characters are so symbolic that they have become cartoonish, the writing is simplistic, bleeding-heart political-correctness, and the style and approach of the movie is bizarre, with surreal scenes of aristocrats gorging themselves on food or taking part in nude water therapy, their chaotic thoughts mumbling aloud in the soundtrack as the prince realizes his entourage is very alien and mad.

Liar's Autobiography, A: The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman  
An unusual, surreal and irreverent animated biopic for a surreal and extremely irreverent man, based on his very silly auto-biography. Even the voices were recorded by Chapman (before he became an ex-parrot obviously) for a reading of his book. The approach is to use a dozen different animation styles that freely add their own surrealisms, naughty bits, and absurdisms to portray his flippant and gleefully subversive attitude, even, or especially, when dealing with horrible subjects. There's his childhood and upbringing, with an obsession over 'navigation' as interpreted by Freud voiced by Cameron Diaz (yes you read that right). Highlights of his life are portrayed in surreal fashion, such as body parts falling off trees during the war, or professors being literally dissected in class. There are various sexual experiments, games with sperm, and an interesting way in which he mathematically calculated that he was gay (ignoring any silly analyses on the effects of psychological discomforts of course). The Monty Python troupe is portrayed as a group of monkeys that fling feces, among other things. Included is his addendum to the New Testament featuring a doctrine on healthy sex as told by a giant naked Paul. A hallucinative spiral into alcoholism, fame and meaningless bisexual sex follows, with scenes that would fit right in with Fear and Loathing, only sillier. Among other things, there is a fight with himself portrayed literally as he tears himself apart into tiny bits. Songs include "Sit on my face and tell me that you love me", and another that lists various nasty medical conditions. In between are snippets of interviews with Chapman.

Life and Death of a Porno Gang, The  
A man trying to make a living making provocative movies, collects a team of acting rejects, desperados, whores, transvestites, an AIDS victim, and other weirdos to join him as a travelling theatre of entertaining pornography. A mysterious man sees in him potential for much more and seduces him into adding snuff to his repertoire. So he deteriorates from making satirical zombie sex movies and a surreal movie about a dead pig's head, to performing in front of country folk acts that include a transvestite who tells a comic-tragedy story about his love for a goat before performing with a horse, and a literal rape of the earth that refuses to produce wheat. The willing snuff victims are suicidal, mad or desperate to make money for their family, and the locals first laugh, then drive them away, then sick their abusive law enforcement on them, then gather to mass-rape the troupe which suddenly becomes a giggle-fest when they realize they are passing on AIDS. In short, this trashy movie explores a deteriorating society of angry traditionalists on one end and amoral criminal capitalists on the other, with the desperate people in between that give up their morals and dignity to make a buck. But this message is just slapped onto what is basically a slightly more thoughtful and dramatic John Waters gratuitous shock-fest.

Lighthouse, The  
With this movie and 'The VVitch', Robert Eggers has become the new darling of viscerally creepy and intense horror. But, as opposed to the fawning masses, I find his characters to be his major weak point, being artificial and unrealistic 'types' upon which to inflict his horror, and making them behave in ways that only a gothic painting could conjure in a feverish nightmare. But they are not real people. There is no denying his mastery of the craft of building an intensely skin-crawling scene, however, using vision, lighting, composition, build-up, sound, location and make-up just right to get under the audience's skin. His plots, similarly, are typically bare-bones and secondary, his focus being primarily on the visual and the experience. In this movie he explores madness due to extreme isolation and duress. A new light-house keeper (an unhinged Patterson) and a grizzled sea-man (an even more intense Willem Dafoe), are light-keepers on an island made of rocks, vicious seagulls, and overpowering waves and storms. The upkeep is intense as they try to keep the place from falling apart. A daily routine and discipline eventually falls apart into growing tension and drunken madness. Hallucinations, anger, and violence erupt. Reality soon gives way to tentacle hallucinations, mermaid large vaginas, possible dead men, and a literal lighthouse-man, until all of reality is questionable. And then it ends. Like VVitch, this was an intense experience that leaves one empty and unsatisfied, and the characters seemed more like scenery than people. I much preferred the vastly underrated 'Cold Skin' which possibly inspired this movie.

Liquid Sky  
Low-budget, cult, artsy flick about invisible aliens invading an androgynous, bisexual fashion model's apartment looking for heroin but quickly going for human pheromones during orgasm instead. Her lovers disappear during orgasm and a German scientist follows these activities obsessively. Effects that are so bad they're good, and a minimalist electronic score make this into a cult, weird and darkly funny movie.

One-of-a-kind bizarre French sci-fi. It's like some scenes from a variety of thriller, crime and sci-fi movies were stripped of their back-stories and plots, jumbled together, and then transported to this weird town of Litan that looks like something out of The Prisoner. There are several ceremonies and games being performed by many people with strange masks, people suddenly break out into violence, drama, expressions of love, crime, and accidents, or they turn into motionless statues, or get dissolved in the various waterways by wormy laser-like squiggles in the water. Other people are running around covered in blood, a police chief never believes anything that is being reported, masked gangs pop out of nowhere, all of these people chasing the two protagonists throughout the movie into caves, rivers, coffins, various houses and streets, while a scientist performs strange experiments with a comatose boy. Similar to Robbe-Grillet, the feeling and technicalities of various thrillers and dramas are delivered, but nothing ever makes sense. Intriguing at first, but soon becomes tediously repetitive without a payoff or development.

Lost Highway psycho-sexual mind-warp, French style, albeit not as weird. A 'model couple''s relationship is shaken a bit when the boss comes for a visit and his wife creates a scene, then hits on the husband in the office. The husband rejects the offer, but the sexual temptation, and the tension created between new loving couple and an older, cynical and damaged one, causes a fugue in the movie where you never know what is real. Somebody may or may not be having an affair, may or may not be interested in the other's spouse, or even may or may not be planning betrayal, abandonment, violence or murder. A lemming appears in the sink plumbing which poses a mystery of its own, but some mysteries and questions are more easily solvable than others...

Long Day's Journey Into Night  
Chinese movie that feels like a blend of Wong Kar Wai's youthful wandering modern-urban film-noir style with Tsai Ming-Liang banal and slow meandering style with magical realism. Except that what this movie is actually doing is a two-parter cinematic exploration of vague memories of an old flame, as experienced by a hardened middle-aged man. The first part is a very confusing, dull, random, whimsical mix of flashbacks, memories and amateur detective work as he goes back to his hometown and looks for her. Numerous people tell him snippets of stories and information which are so random, the dialogue often feels like it consists of non-sequiturs. And this, combined with the confusing blend of flashbacks and memories, never comes together nor accumulates any kind of story. The second half has him go to a cinema and dream, combining several details from the first half of the movie in dream-logic in a magically oneiric run-down ruin of a town which he wanders through in a long, staggeringly complex, single-take of the camera, shifting from location to location in dream-logic style, even flying over it at one time. This last part still doesn't come together, seeing as the details of the previous half of the movie that it references don't really add up to anything an audience can chew on. But it is a wonderfully oneiric experience and impressively filmed.

Lost River  
Gosling's surprising directorial experiment definitely has elements of Refn and Lynch, but doesn't quite have the assured vision of either and ends up not quite satisfying. The gothic atmosphere also reminded me a bit of the much better Jack Be Nimble, except where that one made use of supernatural strangeness, this one goes for surrealism. This takes place in a decaying town, with the previous town rotting underwater, and everything is so stagnant, that houses are burned regularly, one boy has to take apart old factories looking for copper to sell while being hounded by a vicious bully, and his mother has to get a job at a very Lynchian club that caters live shows to gore fans, grand-guignol style. Things start relatively normal, gradually get weirder, until everything becomes so warped and outlandish that your brain sinks into dream-logic. For example, the bully grows in viciousness and appears everywhere until nothing but a superstitious and symbolic act based on an old wives tale may stop him. Unfortunately, it all ends rather abruptly and unsatisfactorily with a pat and meaningless ending.

Love God  
The insane are pouring out of the asylums by order of the government while a huge parasitic worm is roaming the sewers of New York mutating people into monsters. The protagonist is a man with a reading disorder who compulsively reads then destroys words, he falls for his neurotically affectionate neighbour with a fetish for chewing gum and who works with her hygiene-obsessed mother cleaning up crime-scenes. Add to this a sex surrogate in training, a horny doctor with a God-complex, a woman who thinks she's Kali, wife of Shiva, mixing sex and death while hearing voices, and you have one insane movie. The star of the movie is the kinetic cinematography, wacky effects and energetic direction, all resulting in a mind-warp of an experience similar in effect to Tetsuo. Entertaining and unique cult movie.

Lovers of Teruel, The  
A classic dance-performance movie with a play-within-the-play structure, and, like several other dance movies, the dancers' lives reflect the play they are performing. It also features a superb 15 minute highly-surreal dream sequence with flowing, bizarre, dream-logic visuals that blend with the dance performance. The story, both within and without, concerns a woman in love with a man who has left her for several years, a woman who is also promised to another man if her lover does not return. In her real life, she works with a travelling troupe of street-theatre performers, with whom she performs this story every night. Her current dance-partner is jealous and concocts a plan to get her to finally marry him...

Somewhere in between William S. Burroughs and David Lynch, this movie takes the search for the ultimate high as its starting point, except it portrays the banal life of an addict using its own internal logic and with the help of some hallucinative imagery and a heavy dose of surrealism. This movie simply follows the life of a loser and his reluctant addict girlfriend lost in the underground world of a drug derived from sucking on live starfish. Strange mud-people appear at random, interactions with people and star-fish keepers revolve around this single-minded goal, and being high soon turns into becoming high, in an altered mutated state by way of Zulawski. As with many movies of this type, the movie doesn't have anything to say and this makes it a very empty experience, but it's all about the addiction and the experience.

This concise absurdist metaphor of a movie is misleadingly clear in its seemingly heavy-handed message, except that it has as many interpretations as reviews. People that watch this expecting a logical thriller or slasher are going to hate it. And almost all of the interpretations in reviews simply don't hold water if you think about the details. So either the writer didn't think things through and ended up with very mixed-messages, or there is only one right interpretation. The movie tells the absurd tale of a woman being attacked day after day by a slasher-like killer who cannot die, and nobody around her makes any sense anymore or knows how to talk to her and deal with the problem. This is not a slasher movie, it merely uses slasher tropes in clever ways as symbolism. The focus is on her confused and very frustrated state of mind. Beware, an interpretation with spoilers follows: Although at first glance this seems to be an obnoxious feminist movie about violent 'Man' versus poor women, and a society that is condescends to women who are suffering, this is a wrong interpretation. Note that the killer attacks her boyfriend as well and even women don't know how to talk to her. Also note that the woman here admits to being the one who messed up the relationship by cheating. And if I'm not mistaken, there were also female faces on The Man in the final scene. The Man is not a gender thing, but an unstoppable force of evil and fear. This is about bad personal experiences such as traumas, portraying society's warped ways of avoiding it, or how friends repress it, and how even a loving boyfriend suddenly turns into an alien who doesn't speak your language anymore because nobody can or wants to connect with your experience. So reality literally shows its cracks in this movie. And The Man is as unstoppable as a deeply personal wound in your psyche that no one else can handle but you, day after day.

Art-house German horror about a possession from an internal surreal point of view, sometimes even from the point of view of the evil untethered spirit. There's Luz and Nora with stories to tell about their past in a Catholic school in Chile, and a dark episode involving Margarita, except their stories are colored by subjective memories and lies, made further unreliable by the evil spirit that has come back to harass them in the current day as it passes from body to body. This is all triggered by a pivotal encounter in a taxi driven by Luz, followed by a strange hypnosis by a police-hired psychologist to attempt to make sense of the event, further blurring the lines between their memories and identities. Much demented and confusing behaviour follows. This movie is about capturing the horror atmosphere and identity-confusion rather than about a story, and it does so rather effectively.

Strangely cartoonish satire on Brazilian culture and society. Macunaima is a black man birthed as a grown man from his man-in-drag mother. His jungle/country friends and family barely tolerate him and his childish ways, so he treks to the big city with some friends. On the way he bathes in a magical fountain that makes him white, gets romantically entangled with a violent guerrilla woman, clashes with city-folk and people out to trick, pressure or control him, and wages war with a rich Caligula-like tycoon who keeps naked women in a glass cage and entertains himself with a fatal swimming pool full of body-parts. Other adventures include a man selling a duck that defecates money, a cannibal-witch of the lake, and an old man who feeds him flesh from his thigh. Deals with racism, a black inferiority complex, lazy, repressive, corrupt or violent society, and many other things that probably only Brazilians are likely to get. Cartoonishly silly and absurd surrealism.

Mad god  
A showcase of stop-motion animation and special effects by a master of the craft. Unfortunately, there is no plot or theme, so this is only to be watched for its visuals. But if you have any interest in stop-motion or enjoy dark, incredibly rich visuals, this is a must-see. It makes the Quay Brothers look like hobbyists. Stop-motion animation tends to attract the more obsessive types of people, and this one took 30 years to make (I have no idea waht percentage of those years was used). Some scenes are obviously live-action with effects, some are obviously stop-motion, but many others were so seamless, smooth and detailed, I could not figure out if they were live with extra effects, or stop-motion. For most of the movie, this has a mysterious being on a mysterious mission, sent into the depths of a multi-layered hell full of a variety of grotesque creatures. Violence is rampant here and endless creatures meet their death for the most flimsiest of reasons, many of them gruesome. There are back-breaking activities that seem to have no purpose, dark chambers with grotesque and gory experiments, etc etc. It's a tour of a post-apocalyptic world of hellish dimensions, and every scene is different. There is so much detail here, it would be mind-boggling if it was merely drawn, but the amount of work it took to actually build these miniature sets and animate them is simply beyond understanding. The last third of the film seems to wander to a completely different fantasy film and place, as if several shorts were stitched together. It's just a pity there isn't something to chew on beyond the visuals.

Of all the notoriously banned films, this one by far offers the most justification due to its underage graphic nudity and sex. But we'll get to the moral issues later. The movie is a moderately interesting but clumsy, symbolic coming-of-age movie. 12 year olds playing in the forest become sexually aware and confused and act out adult sexual politics, games and gender stereotypes with ubiquitous Freudian symbols. The boy becomes cruel due to his confused emotions and treats his girl friend with increasing sadism and humiliation. When they become sexually involved in his castle, she tries to play house, but he only becomes more abusive and promptly becomes infatuated with a blonde, bitchy bimbo (also a 12 year old) and they both play cruel games with her. The two females develop and eventually leave the confused boy behind, as he tries to regain something he lost, leading to a shock conclusion. Sexual dangers and psychological symbols appear everywhere in the form of snakes, mountains, castles, caves, tunnels, and birds that are impaled with arrows. In fact the symbolism does such an obvious job, they didn't even need the nudity and sex. And even the nudity on its own had no reason to be that graphic. Whether the girls were really exploited or not to act in a movie this way may be a moot point, but the effect this had on their sexual development is much more worrisome. Not to mention the obvious legal issues with this movie. In my opinion, it is moderately interesting and is filmed artistically, but it is also clumsy, unworthy, gratuitous, the moral issues are a definite obstacle, and the sexual stereotypes and misandry are tiresome.

Malatesta's Carnival of Blood  
With movies like these and the ones of Fredric Hobbs, one simply can't tell the difference between a director's earnest attempts at atmosphere and surrealism, and mind-warpingly bad film-making and editing. Is the weirdness intended, or just the result of an editor on acid who got his hands on some bad horror? Various members of a family, whose intentions are never clarified, go to work in a very bizarre carnival populated with an assortment of ghouls, vampires, cannibals, transvestites and dwarfs. Visitors to the run-down carnival disappear in the middle of rides to serve as food and playthings, or are decapitated on the roller-coaster. There is a lot of wandering and chasing through the carnival detritus, decrepit grounds and warehouse props, the girl constantly meeting two boyfriends, the vampire-in-training Dr. Blood, a tarot-card transvestite, and a prophet dwarf, while the ghouls moan and groan in an underground theatre watching old horror films, leading to surreal nights of horror.

Cosmatos's belated follow-up movie to 'Beyond the Black Rainbow' is a similarly surreal pastiche-cum-homage to 80s movies, where 80s movie tropes are used and then amplified to delirious heights. Whereas that movie borrowed heavily from 80s sci-fi however, this time it's the grindhouse violent exploitation genre. The extremely simple plot can be summarized (and spoiled) with three simple words: Cult-murder, and revenge. But the movie is more about the experience, where grindhouse themes are blended together in a kind of amplified impressionistic pastiche. Nicolas Cage delivers another one of his intensely off-kilter and ultimately demented performances as man turned savage in revenge. He is a lumberjack who lives in an idyllic, secluded area in a loving, comfortable relationship with his strikingly eccentric and gentle girl-friend. The cult that appears is a combination of Charles Manson gang, weird Jesus-cult, hippies, Satanists, and Hellraiser-esque type supernatural evil. Both the murder and the revenge halves of the movie are deeply atmospheric, haunting and demented, and the second half gradually increases in its freak-show aspects and increasingly bizarre and nonsensical set-pieces until it turns into a surreal nightmare that just happens to talk the language of grindhouse exploitation. Of course, nothing makes any sense. But whether you like this one depends on whether you are just after the pure experience described above.

Man Under Table  
A film about the desperate, meandering search for artificial and vapid celebrity and success. The problem is, the film itself is a meandering vapid exploration of artificial and elusive meaning. Even the meta-references are meta-empty. A self-obsessed and self-hating writer wanders a strange cardboard world projecting himself as a successful writer and unable to understand why everyone else around him is making it despite talking about nothing but themselves or about random meaningless buzzwords. Film producers merely want their next film to involve 'Fracking', internet influencers only talk about themselves and their success, one film-maker makes a film about a rising star whose only success is that she is a rising star, and a strange loser at a bar wants him to write the ultimate movie but can't make it cohere. In the meantime, the outside world deteriorates in surreal ways involving green gas, masks, monsters, and an alternate hellhole reality. Backgrounds and extras in this movie are literally made of cardboard. A sullen vapid surreal comedy about a surreal vapid world. But at least it is supported by ads.

Masturbating Gunman, The (AKA Masked Avenger Versus Ultra-Villain in the Lair of the Naked Bikini)  
Completely off-the-wall cult sleaze item from Australia about a hired detective-cum-assassin who solves his cases by sniffing panties. He seems super-human, killing all who gets in his way by pulling out various intestines or organs with gory flair, but his Achilles Heel is that can't stop masturbating every time a seductive, stripping woman appears. When a special nun gets kidnapped by a German elitist looking for a virgin bride and his army of balaclava-wearing slaves, the nun and the gunman must work together using perversions to get out of their predicament. Features over-the-top nunsploitation, a goat-loving assistant, a lot of sermonizing and abuse from the bizarre German actor, campy & gory fight scenes, a moody atmosphere, and acid semen.

A fatally flawed masterpiece that starts as a delicately constructed and acted character study of a highly neurotic and lonely girl with a lazy eye, a nonchalance for all things gory and twisted, a fetish for perfect body parts and a glass-enclosed doll for a best friend. Her transition to a psychotic, confident slasher collecting body parts and then back again is unconvincing, but other than that, this is gripping, gory and disturbing.

French-Canadian bizarre movie that blends together the dark and odd stop-motion animation of Brothers Quay, the industrialist, violent surrealism of Tsukamoto, and the mystical existentialist atmosphere of Begotten. The setting is a world where skeletal, clay and mechanical beings are in control of humans that run around following orders covered in strange apparatus. One man seems to be outside the system and he finds an embryo inside a strange bird which is fated to be the start and end of everything, creating panic amongst the mechanics. Like Begotten, this movie is about the visuals, dark mood, and underlying metaphysics and symbolism and doesn't develop beyond that. Real actors are mixed with clay stop-motion and animated drawings, there are various strange semi-mechanical creatures and forests, minimal existential dialogue, and scenes of Quay-like nightmarish imagination, constant scenes of cogs and wheels, and juxtaposed graphic autopsies of a man and a bird. Almost great.

Meet Me There  
Interesting and under-appreciated little indie psychological horror movie with American Gothic and Lynchian elements that sneak up on you in surreal fashion and end up in your subconscious. It's a little movie, so don't expect much, and the direction and camera-work are poorly done, but the acting is good, and the script makes good use of real-life problems and dreams to construct an unpredictable, nifty little psychological experience. A young couple with sexual problems that seem to be linked to a mysterious psychological block motivates them to go on a road trip back home, wherever that may be. Except that home is Sheol, figuratively, or literally in this case. Creepy religious nuts soon escalate to a bizarre church that doubles as a funeral home, an almost ghostly singing preacher's daughter, suicidal pressures, and a bizarre cult. Home is not always where the heart is.

Meet the Hollowheads  
A movie made by a make-up and set design artist and it shows. The star of this movie is the bizarre sets, gadgets, props and costumes. In an alternative universe, everything revolves around pipes, tunnels, tubes, and tentacles. The kitchen is full of bizarre appliances, tentacle food that is chopped and cooked by a portable pipe oven contraption, bruises are removed by a sucking tube, a creature with an eyeball on a stalk serves as a pet, and so on. The simple plot involves a family who is visited by the father's aggressive boss who promptly tries to seduce the wife while drooling over the teenage daughter. The atmosphere and dialogue is silly, cheesy, 50s-sitcom, cheery simplicity but the entertainment is in watching all the inventive eye-candy and quirks. Cult material.

Belgian slice of unrelenting psychotic, violent and demented darkness, but it's not just another grimy, gory exploitation movie about serial killers. This is an art-house and surreal fantasy about what the children of a notorious serial killer may be like when they grow up, if they had been raised by a demented and violent butcher of women. I can't say it rings true, and it belongs more in the realm of The Cell, but without that movie's creative visuals or balance of good protagonists. Here everyone is so twisted, that it wants you to side with the killers when they plot to take revenge on some nasty co-workers. The story is about a man who is taking after his father, the Mons Butcher (a real life uncaught killer who left bags of body parts lying around highways), and his sister, a demented woman with multiple mental problems who is being extremely abused at work. When the brother brings back a live woman for her to play with, their lives get even more complicated. Throughout the movie, ubiquitous hallucinations and nightmares creep into reality, sometimes interacting with her alter-ego, and always haunted by a blackened specter of their madman father who literally floats or creeps into every scene, while ghostly murdered women haunt their lives.

Men Behind the Sun  
Docudrama about the Japanese atrocities in China during WWII in Camp 731 where they developed biological weapons and experimented on people. The varied and shocking experiments are graphically displayed on screen including stripping flesh off a woman after a severe case of frostbite, decompression chambers where intestines burst out of a body and organ harvesting off a young boy who was lured into the camp with smiles. Young soldiers undergoing training get to draw the line and moralize at times, but the dubbing, lack of fleshed-out characters and failure to portray the victims as real people make this gruesome movie strangely uninvolving.

Messages, Messages  
Student surreal short by Steven Arnold who became a protege of Dali with this film. It is a trip into the subconscious of a man with gender ambiguity issues. Inside, he meets himself recursively, grapples with himself, meets transvestites that attempt to seduce him in a surreal and flighty world of darkness and bizarre costumes, sits with his mirror feminine psyche, as well as with an older aspect of his mind, until he is surrounded and welcomed by a court full of kitschy and outlandishly costumed people.

Metamorphosis (2002)  
A full-length Russian surreal adaption of the surreal short story by Kafka. The movie sticks to the core of the story for the most part, but also adds some dreams, physical details and lots of atmosphere, and makes some strange adjustments like turning the guest into a trio of Hasidim. Like the 1987 theatrical and comical adaptation with Tim Roth, this one correctly has the actor physically simulate a bug without any special effects, enhancing the idea of an ordinary, meek, meticulous salesman who suddenly realizes he is insignificant, to the horror of his family. Probably the best adaptation of this story.

Intriguing and well-made British independent horror. A taxi driver obsessively tracks sightings of a strange woman from another dimension. These soon develop into scarier things, even affecting his friends who start to unravel with disturbing obsessions. There is psycho-sexual horror and repressed traumas, fantasy-horror about inter-dimensional dangerous guardians like something out of a Clive Barker novel, reality-bending horror reminiscent of Jacob's Ladder, psychosomatic mutations like something out of Cronenberg's Rabid, and a very strange alter-ego erotic human with a unique fleshy body that made me think of themes from Possession. But despite all these comparisons, this movie is one of those rare breeds: a unique creation. I didn't find the logic of the dimensional beings well thought out, and the psychological aspects are simplistic, and I felt these flaws were enough to disappoint in an otherwise intriguing psycho-horror movie.

Miracle of Life, The  
Belgian low-budget trashy drama oddity (with English dialogue). Although marketed as a campy horror movie and often compared to Troma movies or Basket Case (it has a blob as a living sympathetic creature), and although it features a transsexual ex-soldier body-builder, a blob-baby, a horny umbilical cord, and cannibalism, the screenplay and actors play it straight as a drama. The body-builder is building only one arm into a steroid-monster when he-she gives birth to a red blob. Although some people's first urge is to eat the blob (!), he-she decides to raise it lovingly as a tough Christian. Unfortunately, the 'thingy' is constantly bullied at school, and even girls that he-it dates abuse him. The blob is treated by everyone basically like a normal geek, and it has a sympathetic personality. Matters get worse when his 'mom' deteriorates into steroid abuse and hires a hooker to try to make him happy, leading to a demented ending. I wanted to tag it as pointless trash, but it was strangely somewhat involving.

Miracle of P. Tinto, The  
Spanish offbeat comedy that constantly crosses the border between Jeunet-Caro oddball magic and a stupidly crude wild cartoon. P. Tinto comes from a long line of P. Tintos, is confused by how many Gods there are in Christianity, is set to inherit the wafer-factory from his father, and wants a large family of his own. His blind girlfriend who likes frogs and P. Tinto set out to learn about making babies and discover all kinds of tricks except some basics. They set-up house, and decades later are rewarded with hungry, selfish, time-traveling, crash-landed midget aliens as children whom they adopt. Their 'real' child soon joins them as a brooding, angry giant from an insane asylum. Non-stop inventive visuals, gags and jokes, but as mentioned, they range from hilarious, surprising and gentle to downright stupid, mean or bawdy. The comedy can be inventively entertaining one minute, and too idiotic, crude or obvious the next. Definitely entertaining, but a very mixed bag. This needed more sophistication to be included with Jeunet-Caro classics.

Miraculous Virgin  
Surreal Slovakian movie from the new-wave Cold War era that is quite inscrutable, artsy and challenging, but seems to be about art as a clash of imaginative, passionate inspiration vs. more practical and cold concerns. Anabella is a woman who becomes an instant source of obsession amongst the local men and artists. They each expect her to fulfill their fantasies, to approve and inspire their art, and so on, while she just wants her official documents to be put in order. She is maddeningly seductive, flirty, yet also indifferent to their passionate or lustful moves on her. The surrealism flows with the movie with smooth technique and surprisingly fleeting strangeness, making the whole experience a constantly hallucinative experience. A lion appears in her room but she just plays with him, there is a tree-phone, a war hovers in the background as if it belongs to another world, there a chandelier in an underground bunker, a feathered hand, a crow, a magical mirror... A man commercializes his art to make 'death masks' for a price, threatens to put nose hair into a statue, and wants to use his talent to help Anabella. A woman falls in the sewer in absurd symbolism, and an old woman wants to drown her cat out of kindness, leading to a morally provocative meditation. Altogether, a challengingly surreal and poetic movie but but not-quite-satisfying and cohesive in its themes.

Mirror, The  
Tarkovsky explores his own psyche and memories in another meditative and slow movie. Memories of his childhood and his mother mix with personal discussions with his wife (both acted by the same person), interspersed with poetry readings and historical images of Russia. There is no narrative, only random scenes connected only in Tarkovsky's mind, including images of his mother at work in a printing shop, his mother sitting on a fence flirting with a passerby, military training of children, pastoral scenes, beautiful elemental scenes of wind, fire and water, etc. The memories frequently slide into slightly surreal and aimless daydreams, with bizarre touches altered by memory and mind such as the hypnotic imagery of his mother washing her hair as the house comes crumbling down in a downpour, or a levitating sleeping woman. Sometimes as self-indulgent as a Fellini movie, a bit of Bergman-esque introspection, and the symbolism and poetry border on the pretentious, but there's always a magical Tarkovsky meditative atmosphere.

Mondo Candido  
By the makers of Mondo Cane comes a very fitting fictional project that takes the theme of Voltaire's Candide about a young, happy, optimistic man who roams the world and tries to reconcile the world's various madnesses with his outlook. Like the mondo movies, this is a series of outrageous vignettes, only this time not limited to reality and is full of bizarre imagery, absurdities, exaggerated social customs and provocative satire. Some of the scenes include soldiers who bite through barbed wire and have their armor nailed into their bodies, some Tinto Brass-esque sexual romps, a woman with three breasts, people who strap angel wings onto their young men as they jump off a cliff, 17th century cardboard soldiers wiped out by modern military, a dwarf rapist, a dance sequence set to synchronized inquisition tortures that convert women into cardboard cutouts, and much more. Mid-way, Candido is transported to modern New York, and to some naked, fighting, female, Israeli soldiers, and it starts feeling more like a Mondo. Often brings to mind a funny Holy Mountain or Fellini and perhaps Ken Russell. Rich, wacky, raunchy and entertaining.

Mongols, The  
Obscure, Iranian, strange, experimental and avant-garde movie. A husband is studying the history of cinema and preparing for a new movie project while his wife studies the historical Mongol invasion of Iran. As the project looms closer, the images from these three projects merge in a kind of mental fugue of combined images and fantastical daydreams, at first feeling more like an experimental juxtaposition of imagery and didactic history/culture, but growing increasingly more surreal for a much more playful final 15 minutes. The invasion of television into remote villages led by folk story-tellers and revered dervish men is combined with the appearance of a gang of Mongols who may or many not be actors. Lessons are interrupted by television static, Mongols raid the desert carrying antennas, several interactions between the desert and settlement inhabitants are shown as if they were vintage movie-camera experiments and 'moving pictures', and the invading Mongols attempt to complain to the film producer by ringing his doorbell in the desert.

Motion Sickness  
This one most definitely brings to mind a lost early Aronofsky flick after he watched too many David Lynch movies. This is actually a good thing, and it is quite an interesting combination of bizarre psycho-horror mystery and Jewish mystical-existential metaphor. A summary and probable interpretation is as follows: The basic theme is the duality inside man (especially of Jews), of a studious (Mochin) but ascetic life constantly bombarded with temptations, versus a more down-to-earth life of good mixed with sin (Noga) bombarded with guilt and knowledge. The Mochin character is also hampered by a mysterious leg-thigh ailment (another Biblical reference). This theme can also be expanded as a global mystical view of the world and history, especially as it concerns the Jew in exile, as alluded to by the many Biblical references in the movie. The supporting characters are not all clear in their meaning, some seem to be parts of the the protagonist's psyche or, alternatively, metaphysical/spiritual stand-ins. The protagonist is acted by two actors in this dual role although everyone only sees one person with problems, there's a temptress neighbour, a beautiful girl next door who he really wants and who eventually helps him find peace in a surreal ending, there's a scholar superintendent, a bestial id-character, a murder, a strange club of sin where people talk an alien language, a bit of body horror that is used to depict the ailments of each side of his character, and so on. I found it very interesting, and enjoyed the Jewish references (even though some were used superficially), but beyond the unique experience and the puzzle, I didn't find much depth in its message or much inspiration in its thoughts. Definitely recommended to watch at least once though, if it sounds like your thing.

Motivational Growth  
I would describe this as Repulsion as made by Henenlotter, where the recluse going nuts in the apartment is a guy. There is black humor, but also hygiene-horror. The two protagonists of this film are a very dirty and depressed guy who has let everything go, and a very disgusting animated growth of mold with an ego problem. There is also a very old TV called Kent. It may either be the chemicals he bought for suicidal purposes, or the mold, fungus and spores everywhere, or both, but reality is soon left behind in this movie. Some visitors such as the over-the-top aggressive landlord, some bizarre TV-repairmen, and the hot girl-next-door, may or may not be real, but they sure are entertaining, and this movie never goes where you expect it to go. It's a blackly comical visit inside the mind of a man who is detached from reality. Plot-wise, the movie won't leave you feeling satisfied, and there isn't any character development, but it is a gripping, disgusting and blackly fun watch while its on. If that's not enough to make you watch it, Jeffrey Combs acts as the mold.

Mountain of the Cannibal God, The  
Amidst the slew of exploitative cannibal movies in the 70s came this attempt at quality. Cannibal movies as a rule offer gory, real animal deaths, nudity, nasty human gore, and a plot involving amoral white people who turn into violent animals in the jungle only to rapidly find out that cannibals can easily outdo them in the nasty department. This one is no exception but it's relatively tamer, the direction and acting is adequate (no dubbing!) and the scenery is gorgeous. That doesn't elevate it above the exploitation genre however and it zooms in on animals getting torn and eaten, bloody deaths and castration, sex with a pig, and Ursula Andress's naked body.

Murder à la Mod  
Brian De Palma's first movie is a very odd, confusing but mostly unrewarding experiment. There's a story about a film-maker who is making an exploitative movie and photo-biographies of girls, a girl who falls in love with him, and both of their friends and acquaintances, many of whom at different times seem to be murdering somebody else on a whim, only to have the movie change the story or pull the rug out from under your feet in different ways. Scenes become scenes in an inner movie, screen tests become real as the girls react to being exploited by both the film-maker in the movie and by De Palma, there are confusing switcheroos between a real and a fake ice pick used as a murder weapon, and a bizarre slapstick silent clown-character who keeps pouncing on people to mock-murder them, or is it really fake? Structurally experimental and purposely confusing with nods to Godard, often feeling like a joke movie, but that's all this has to offer.

Museum Sleeps, A  
Experimental, playful and surreal French movie that uses a museum as a metaphor for personal history and memories that either sleep inside us or vex us. But this movie is also a free-form exercise and is not beyond including talking trees that comment on the state of a young man in love, while a piano sets the pace and mood of our protagonist. A past love haunts him, one that he abandoned and now seeks, but he must dig in his museum of a head to find the clues. Perhaps sleeping in a museum will help? Perhaps sleepwalking oblivion in a bar full of young couples will jog his memories? And since reality and time are mere constructs of our viewing mind, why not play around with those as well? An intriguing movie that frustrates at first, but which provides experimental fun once you learn its unique language.

My Bloody Banjo  
A British homage to Troma movies with bits of Henenlotter, which means it has a harder edge than Troma, but it manages to maintain that balance between camp, nastiness, trash, comedy and exploitation just right. It's about an extremely abused young man who has been bullied all his life and who now has to deal with a violent boss from hell, mean co-workers, a bully who is going out with his ex-girlfriend, and worst of all, his current girlfriend is the meanest bitch alive who rapes him while emasculating him. It reaches a peak of demented and sadistic proportions involving ejaculate and blood (don't ask). In desperation, he calls on his childhood imaginary friend who has a sadistic streak to avenge his whimpering ego. Soon, neither he nor we know what is real or not, as matters escalate to splattery levels of violence. Oh and the banjo? It isn't really a banjo you know...

Mystical Rose, The  
I normally don't bother with experimental montages and video-art, but this Australian film from 1976 is unusually surreal with some strong visual themes. The first part feels more random with some recurring visual motifs of fish, butterflies and clocks, a sense of social time passing full of life, color and sexual allure. Many of the animations here are reminiscent of Terry Gilliam's surprisingly surreal, bizarre and amusing cardboard cutouts. The sex, Christian imagery and guilt weigh heavy for the middle section, with visual themes of sacrificial lambs, Christ imagery, crucifixes, genitalia, circumcision, blood, female body parts, masturbation, knives and babies all merging with a variety of provocative juxtapositions and suggestive and graphic visuals. The last third is the weakest and seems to have run out of ideas, resorting to random montage.

My Twentieth Century  
A near stream-of-consciousness, hodgepodge of impressionist scenes on some emerging elements from the turn of the 20th century such as electricity, the telegraph, and feminism. The main thread is shown in snippets and shows separated identical twins, one leading a life of a flirty prostitute thief, the other a demure, mostly submissive woman who gets caught up in a revolution with fliers and bombs. They both meet the same man who is confused by their change of character, this symbolic duality touched on, as well as some archaic chauvinistic lectures and feminist rants, and showy scenes of impractical uses for emerging technologies, a talking cosmos, the inner thoughts of a woman and a chimpanzee, and the adventures of a wired dog. Some moments are artistically interesting, but overall, this is whimsical and mostly empty. Ildikó Enyedi would later switch genres for much better films that make use of subtle magic, fantasy and the supernatural, weaving them into the modern world (a similar theme to this movie), my favorite being the charming 'Simon Magus'.

Nécrophile, Le  
40-minute gothic & perverse retro-horror, as if a pervert decided to re-film Nosferatu except, this time, show us what our Nosfy is really up to, censors be damned. This pale and veiny creature of the night gets all emotional over death, and lives off fat juicy insects which he grabs with his elongated slithery tongue. His footwear is like something out of Edward Scissorhands, he visits the cemetery when feeling lonely and takes home a date in order to satisfy genitalia that happen to match his tongue. When the state forces him to adopt a barely-pubescent female relative with a very unrealistic decision, things take a turn to the unexpected and the extremely perverse as they form a unique relationship. The 'happy' ending features surreal zombies. Minimally graphic, art-house perversity.

Nemo (AKA Dream One)  
Strange fantasy movie that starts as a surreal movie strictly for kids, and grows slightly more oriented to adults in the last half with a little more violence and other grown-up things, making its target audience unclear. Nemo is a kid that loves his bedtime fantasy stories, except this time he falls asleep while imagining the ultimate combination story, and then dreams it. There's a beached submarine that belongs to Captain Nemo that he gets to live in, a white-gorilla who is an aggressive friend (an energetic Dominique Pinon), the family butler who tells him stories is a magician in this world who can seemingly change anything, including people's age, there's a Zorro-like Legend (Keitel) who can't stop fighting everyone, a doll-like princess from a faraway land (Mathilda May in her first role), a rocket ship, strange aliens, gold, a insane gold-digger, an elevator that travels to other lands, a wild teenager, an odd explorer and his various companions. The land spits out fire, there's a huge model of the city that one can climb into, friendly gold-obsessed aliens and not-so-friendly humans, and the whole thing just jumps from one little adventure or exciting new thing to another like, well... like a child's imagination ruled by dream-logic. There's no plot, it's just about surreal childish fun, until it gets a little less childish.

Neon Demon, The  
Refn pushes the envelope again on his own brand of art-house, coldly violent and hallucinative movies in the vein of Valhalla Rising and Only God Forgives. In 'Only God Forgives' he portrayed and attacked the sex industry in Thailand, pitting a ruthless god-like man out to punish the wrongdoers. Here he attacks the equally exploitative and over-developed modeling industry, except there is no justice in sight. A young pretty thing travels to L.A. with confidence, as she has been the object of adoration and admiration all her life. She meets sleazy motel pedophiles, warped and hungry makeup artists that admire her a bit too much, exploitative and cruel photographers, and most of all, jealous unexceptional models that want what she has. The runway and photo shoots become magical, mythological and surreal visual fantasies, L.A. itself seems awash with lights and wild panthers, and the jealousy and hunger soon deteriorates to necrophilia and cannibalism.

Never Here  
So many movies are labelled Lynchian just because they are weird, surreal or contain strange mysteries. This one manages to nail the Lynchian balance between a mystery, a constant atmosphere that something isn't quite right, a subtly unravelling grasp of reality, and some other-worldly characters and visions that transport the seeming reality into the realm of a dream. Where it fails, is subtle, in my opinion. The movie is about an artist who bases most of her art projects on mundane aspects of other people's lives, turning them into art in an obsessive way. For example, making catalogues of the contents of people's bags or their cell-phone in order to understand what it exposes about their inner lives and character. Her problem is in the title of the movie: She doesn't seem to exist without her pseudo-stalking art-hobbies and is always pursuing other people indirectly and making their details her own. Even her lover uses her as a temporary replacement for his wife. Case in point, when her lover witnesses an act of violence but refuses to report it to the police due to the fact that he wasn't supposed to be there, she decides to report it as if she saw it, even practicing his intonation and imagining that she was there. So of course, with movies like these, her reality does break down. Especially when an angry person whose privacy she violated disturbs her sense of peace and she starts experiencing puzzling shifts and alterations in her life, as well as evidence that she herself is being stalked. Is she stalking a suspect, or is he stalking her? Strange characters appear that are not quite there, further adding to the puzzle, and gradually one develops theories about alter-egos, multiple assumed personalities and imagined realities where she is the people she thinks she is stalking or where the events are all in her head, except even these theories fall apart in the end and don't quite stick, the mystery shifting constantly until one realizes that everything in the movie is unreliable. And that's the subtle fatal flaw in this movie and the reason why it leaves one highly unsatisfied: With Lynch, there is a sense that there is a reality and a real mystery behind the fuzzy subjective filters of the protagonist. Or perhaps the story elements are tied together at least in a structural sense. Whereas here, the movie flirts with several independent plot-threads for a while, all of which evaporate into smoke, and then even the smoke is gone.

Nice to Meet You, Please Don't Rape Me!  
Provocation from Kaganof about the state of South Africa in 1996, raising questions and confronting with brutally honesty. A black man, an Afrikaner and an English man are chained naked together in the rapist mess that they created. They are all rapists, and the movie is a musical, featuring one hilarious scene where they dance in the street, filmed guerrilla style, singing to pedestrians how they are all going to be raped. Rapist statistics are quoted, and used by politicians to further their cause, except that they need the statistics to go up, while at the same time, to build an equal society for political correctness, thus allowing everyone to be raped. Feminists are raped in order to get them out of politics, or they identify men at a line-up by their penis and test men at school on rape etiquette, and there's also a black man who forces a white man at gunpoint to turn the black man into his rape victim even though they are all rapists in any case, and so on. Note that this film currently exists at half its length after editing by Kaganof himself.

Nightingale, The  
An obscure French surreal visual rendition of the Stravinsky opera based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale of the Nightingale and the Chinese Emperor who lost himself temporarily with a mechanical nightingale replacement. Only here, this story/opera is dreamt by a Chinese boy in a pottery store, and the mechanical replacement is a horde of computers and commercial stagings. It's like a surreal Fantasia-esque version of a Russian opera, with floating instruments, vases and pottery mixed with dreamlike figures of the Emperor and his cohorts contained in vessels singing and enacting the story while an army of disembodied hands and computers stage the proceedings. The gaudy colors and plastic computer-graphics feel out of place with the music, but the singing is nicely done and the imagination is interesting.

Night Is Short, Walk On Girl  
One way to look at this delirious animation is that it's about a boy and a girl, their lives, aspirations and romantic destiny made into a surreal stream-of-consciousness parade of wacky ideas. The girl is a fun-loving, positive-minded, dedicated alcohol drinker, open to marvelous personal encounters of the bizarre night-life, even if it includes eccentric perverts (as long as you don't touch her, then you'll get punched into next week). These encounters include the connoisseur pervert members of the 'Bedroom Investigation Committee', a mystical quest for an elusive alcoholic cocktail, a book-fair that forces bibliophiles to compete for books by eating hallucinative spicy foods, an omniscient god of used books, a sophist club that get high on obsessive philosophical questions, and much more. The ideas and images fly by at a bewildering pace, with any whimsical thoughts portrayed using a wide variety of fast-moving animation sketches. Amidst all of this are the yearnings of perverts and lonely people turned into a musical meta-play (upon which a cross-dressing school director declares war), and romantic quests plagued by self-doubts or obsessive thoughts all turned surreal, climaxing in a dream-sequence that takes the overwhelming fears and doubts of the subconscious to surreal-apocalyptic proportions. (Often described as an offshoot of the series 'The Tatami Galaxy', but although that one has a similar style of absurd and supernatural adventures and flight-of-fancy freewheeling animation, this film has a new story and is relatively more classically surreal rather than just absurd whimsical cartoonish fantasy).

Nightmare (2005)  
A student director and his latest fling wake up to find a camera pointed at them with footage inside it that seems to show them committing murders. Is it a prank? Is he insane? Is it some kind of alternate Lynchian reality communicating through film? Is it a dream? Confused and overwhelmed, he decides to make a film about what is happening to him. Except the film he is making has to show him making a film about the films he is seeing as well. And this where this horror film strays into 'Primer' territory, kinda, as reality splinters into every variation of murder insanity, with dreams within films within dreams within films. Some murders seem possibly real, some may or may not be temporary insanity. Until he realizes something about his role... An interesting horror film and pretty well done and acted, but I got the feeling that the meta-references in the film may also refer to the real director of this film who got lost in improvised multiple levels and wrote himself into a corner, then just threw more levels and multiple endings hoping the audience will come up with a dozen theories for the films that have no solution. All of them.

Night of the Scarecrow, The  
Reminiscent of Glauber Rocha, this is a unique, allegorical, Brazilian musical that combines a timeless folk-tale of class struggle by way of The Passion, with a healthy sprinkling of Jodorowsky-esque, visual, psychedelic energy. It takes place in mixed periods, combining feudal struggles with modern bulldozers and motorcycles. A group of peasants are constantly milked dry and abused by an evil land-baron and his group of henchmen. There is a scarecrow/Christ narrator, an outsider cowboy who stands up to the evil, henchmen that ride motorcycles with butterfly wings, and a woman caught in between the two camps. The landlord is followed a retinue of various symbolic evil beings, some of them demons, clowns, or dragons with bare breasts. The songs are a mixture of Brazilian rhythmic folk and avant-garde arrangements. The struggle eventually builds to a violent climax with dead donkeys and a symbolic Thunderdome-esque knife fight between the ever-warring classes. Highly stylized art-house psychedelia that is a bit hard to follow.

Night of the Virgin, The  
We all know those dozens of teenage sex comedies where the geeky virgin guy decides tonight's the night he gets laid, which kicks off a series of misadventures and several not-quite-successful attempts at awkward sex that end in tears or in offensive gags. This movie is like the extreme horror version of that genre (by way of a black comedy), if the director set out to offend and gross-out as many people per minute as he can in the most over-the-top vile ways imaginable as inspired by Peter Jackson (a nasty version). At a New Years party commented on by two very awkward hosts, a very unappealing and clumsy teenage boy tries to find the one drunk girl that will provide him with relief. What he actually finds exceeds all imagination and nightmares. It starts with the most filthy apartment you never saw with hundreds of 'holy' cockroaches and one insane older woman into cult magic, proceeds through over-the-top grimy and unappealing attempts at pseudo-sex, splashes every minute of screen time with more body fluids and other oozing materials than you'd care to see, and builds to extreme fluid-gore, warped body mutations and explosive slime. Then the movie keeps on going just in case any of its audience is still around. It's not without creativity and warped entertainment value, albeit at least of the extreme car-crash variety.

Night on the Galactic Railroad  
Japanese surreal animation that looks at first like a fantasy version of Polar Express, where a kid takes a train ride to the stars, but soon turns heavy with Christian symbolism, surreal images, dream-logic, and themes of death. Trouble is, the surrealism and trip on the train is fragmented, simplistic, preachy and dull, where every image seems heavily laden with Meaning, but doesn't really add up to much except nostalgic imagery, random art references, Christian quotes and imagery, and fragments of human drama meant to evoke emotions about the hard life. The story is about a kitten with some hardships in his life who becomes mesmerized by the stars, and on the eve of a festival, finds himself on a galactic train with a mysterious destination where various passengers appear and disappear and tell their little stories. Elements from his life weave via dream-logic into the parade of strange worlds and imagery that they pass on the train, but something seems to be bothering his kitten friend who somehow got on the train as well.

A unique art-house movie that is part slow, atmospheric fantasy, part surreal fable, part pretentious art straining to find meaning, part delicate and bizarre comedy. Northfork is a dying town scheduled for evacuation before the impending man-made flood caused by a dam. It is now only populated by some hardcore citizens too attached to their land, including a religious man who built himself a Noah's Ark and collected two wives, as well as a priest who is taking care of a very sick young boy. You are never quite sure how much is in the boy's mind, the cinematography and writing drawing parallels and puns between its various themes and plot-lines, which include death, angels, the slow, delicate death of a dream, faith, the evacuation of a town by a troupe of black-clad hired men compared to the evacuation of a young boy's soul by a group of lost and quirky angels. Other details include angel wings that the men give away to people they 'save', Hannah as an androgynous parent-angel, a dog-creature on stilts, missing walls, and a bizarre serious game of guessing today's leftover food at a diner straight out of a Lynch movie. Unfortunately, it all strains for meaning but never finds any, and all we are left with is an enigmatic, atmospheric, painfully slow but magical piece of work with its heart and mind just out of reach.

No Smoking  
The short story by Stephen King about the horrifying lengths to which smokers deny consequences and a very aggressive company that helps them stop, is given the Bollywood treatment. Except, instead of the firm base in reality that the story had, this misguided movie goes to the other extreme, using absurd humor, supernatural omnipotent guru-powers, dream sequences, music and dance, and reality-bending twists. Despite undermining the original horror by doing it this way, it is a highly entertaining movie. K is a heavy smoker whose narcissism and the lengths that he goes to to get his cigarette know no bounds. When his wife leaves him he goes to a funny, scary and all-powerful bizarre guru, that lives in absurd levels of slum under the slum, in order to help him stop. Most of the movie consists of this supernatural comedy angle with a morality tale and funny one-liners. The last third dives head first into dreams-within-dreams, and a hellish alternate reality as seen by his soul.

Nowhere Inn, The  
Playful (not-so-fictional?) mockumentary on the real music artist St. Vincent AKA Annie Clark acting as herself. It explores the theme of a celebrity's identity and how the border between her personality and public persona may blend or erase each other. She and her friend want to make a documentary about the woman behind St. Vincent as she really is. The problem is that the real person is simply not interesting, especially when compared to her public persona. Pressure from the public as well the way in which fans project their own emotions and expectations on their celebrities, soon turn Annie Clark into a marketing and prima-donna version of St. Vincent, and fake gradually becomes real. Soon, even her friend can't tell who or what is real. The final 15 minutes dive head-first into surrealism as she chases her own identity and the documentary goes meta on a few levels.

Nude for Satan  
A male doctor and a woman find themselves in a strange castle after a car accident where reality and time have no meaning and a strange man presides. This is as far as the story goes and we are then treated to random scenes of sex, colors, camera-shaking, living paintings, multiple characters with the same face, alternate personas, a horribly fake toy spider that tries to eat a woman, pseudo-philosophy nonsense, day and night lose their meaning, and yes, we have nudity and Satan. Trippy horror-sleaze that's so bad it's entertaining.

I'm not sure what sub-genre this movie belongs to within the horror genre, and I'm pretty sure the makers of this movie didn't know either. It may be Lynchian mystery mixed with bizarre dream-logic, it may be a surreal exploration of a troubled man's mind, it may be a supernatural horror movie with random creepy scares, or it may be a thriller with personal nightmares. It may be all of the above, or none. The plot involves a young man hired to spy on a young woman from a seriously dilapidated house across from hers. It starts as a thriller as he slowly collects information, including slightly strange behaviours and back-stories revolving around the lady. Except that strange things keep happening in the house he is occupying that gradually increase in their bizarreness, there are some gross-outs, random creepy elements, and these all mix with memories from his own personal past that haunt him in surreal nightmares and visions. And then, just when we assume this is a surreal puzzle that challenges us to explore his psyche, it reverts back to horror movie and/or thriller, neither of which make any sense. The ending will leave you hanging. Personally, I am convinced this is either like Lost: A collection of random mysterious or creepy elements designed to manipulate an audience. Or, it is simply a poor attempt to portray a man going mad. Except that the mystery and creepiness are filmed quite well and are effective. In short, there is one reason to watch this (a creepy and mysterious experience), and one reason to avoid it (pointless and random).

Of Gods and the Undead  
Not really understandable without subtitles and it isn't fair to review it without them, but here goes anyways: This is a Brazilian surreal movie about the land-wars in the 1930s. There's a terribly disfigured and scarred hero with a plan who gets involved in the battles, there is sudden violence, confrontations and bloody knife fights, a strange group of people in the forest that either act dead or perform strange rituals with a psychedelic soundtrack, there's what seems to be a forest nymph, both rich people with opulent masses of food, and poor people in squalid houses who get caught in the fight, and random white-faced people or soldiers. The camera work is very dynamic and carefully framed. For more on the meaning and plot, you will need subtitles or knowledge of Portuguese.

Of Time and the Sea  
This is the kind of extremely abstract art-house cinema where you will only get out of it what you put into it, and it can be interpreted in a hundred ways. Some would consider this praise; I do not. But there is a certain broken existential ennui that this movie conveys, about humanity at a broken end of its long journey. There is an old King on an island living in a broken-down hovel and assisted by two women. His only contributions to his subjects seem to be completely useless orders to build walls and dig holes, his sacred feces in the drinking well, and various bodily noises which his soldiers admire. He has visitors which he rebuffs gruffly, even when an Asian comes looking to assimilate, he is afraid of the wind (symbolism), and the sea looms over their whole existence (more poetic symbolism). Their class hierarchy is absurdism straight out of Kafka: There is the first, the second, and the third. Except sometimes they shift, and the third becomes the first. And so on. This is social structure that has not only lost its meaning in life, but which has forgotten what it is to have meaning. And they say this explicitly. In the meantime, the girl tries to live through love interests and a fun tuba, in between building the useless wall on a cliff and meditating on the sea.

Oh Babylon  
Greek surrealism and art-house re-interpretation of a Greek play on the worship of Dionysus, transported to a modern setting. A man who seems to be an adult but who is constantly treated as a child, is very focused on writing his book, completing his research and keeping his virginity intact, while the world around him revels in parties, orgies and celebrates destruction. His mother and grandfather visit him and try to get him to join in on the festivities and to loosen his morals. His thoughts inspired by their disturbing words, and his memories, frequently appear as surreal injections into his reality, until we don't know if anything is real. There are incestuous undertones, a vampiric stake-through-the-heart that may or may not be a fantasy, several seduction attempts that end in violence, a goddess dancing in a graveyard, groups of women and girls of various ages constantly appear out of nowhere and dance seductively around him even as a child. There are deviant and lavish costume parties, many segments taking part in a magnificently surreal and bizarre wasteland populated with all sorts of people and surreal objects like something out of a Corkidi film, reggae songs serving as a Greek chorus, a ritual, violence and nudity everywhere as befitting an end of the world inspired by Dionysus.

Cult, one-of-a-kind, Indian movie that is either a confusing mess of non-sequiturs, or an avant-garde portrait of Indian culture with a nonlinear plot, depending on how you look at it. The story involves Om, a youngster interested in science and mysticism who is being exploited by commercial mystics for his talent to hold his breath while underwater. His father is an astrologer who named him Om due to a fatal prediction in the charts regarding his 18th birthday. His sister is a feminist that sits alongside men in the cinema, with a weakness for a certain young man. There's a businessman who is paranoid about his diamonds, a mishap with his diamonds involving frogs, a curse, mystic advice on retrieving the diamonds, a frog-hunt, melodrama, bizarre singing sequences, confusing suicides, and so on. The actual movie is a hodge-podge of non-sequitur dialog and scenes, trippy montages, political symbolism, genre-splicing, nonlinear storytelling, magical realism, social satire, society seen through pop-commercialism, art-house mysticism, and general confusion.

Opera Jawa  
Indonesian interpretation of an ancient Hindu tale 'The Abduction of Sinta' from the 'Ramayana', transported into a more modern setting but employing traditional opera & dance. A loving couple, an evil powerful businessman, a charming seduction, a love triangle, a revolutionary war, a test of love, broken hearts. Keep in mind that I do not know anything about this culture or story so I may be getting everything wrong. I am also generally not into opera, musicals, or dance films. Despite all of this, I found this highly symbolic semi-surreal opera film tasteful and magical in delicate ways, crystal clear in its carefully thought-out scenes that combine visual symbolism, various forms of traditional interpretive dance, classical archetypes, and a modernized tale covering timeless themes of love, seduction, a love triangle, jealousy, war and violence. Despite not knowing anything about this culture, the themes are so classic and the direction is so precise, that each prop or dance move is instantly recognizable and understandable in tune with the segment of the story that it is telling, evoking the appropriate emotions. Some colorful and visually rich surreal scenes bring to mind Jodorowsky, except that this film uses taste and indigenous art rather than shock and occultism. I am not going to say that this converted me to the art-form, but it was definitely a delicately enjoyable watch even for me.

French homage to Cocteau, filmed as a quirky art-house musical biopic, depicting a stage in Cocteau's life where he became obsessed with a 20-year-old. capricious, ill-fated young man. The drama and biographical aspects are dreary and pretentiously dull without insight or points of interest, focusing mostly on the young man's antics and Cocteau's infatuation. But this story is liberally interspersed with both quirky musical numbers and campy surreal flights of fancy, as if a French Ken Russell where at the helm of this biopic. Dadaistic stage performances swerve into fantastically impossible feats of animation or acrobatics with surreal props, and Cocteau's addiction to Opium and his notes during a detoxification process inspire dream-like sets and quirky fantasies. In other words, the only reason to see this is for its visual creativity.

Orchid, The  
A notable 30-minute highly surreal short from 1971, simply because it was made by Samuel R. Delany, the science-fiction author. There's an older man, a hidden child that causes mischief, weird alien masks and cutouts, lots of hippies (often very naked), and a lot of bizarre physical antics and turmoil. It's up for anyone's interpretation, but I think it's simply a portrayal of the generation gap. A tense older man is confounded when an invisible boy plays havoc with his geometry and accounting tools. In the street, he first confronts hippies and there is much hiding behind alien masks, then he lets go and joins them in happiness and nudity, then some guy with a microphone talks a lot of nonsense and drives him away again. Simple.

Oregonian, The  
A take-no-prisoners bizarre horror experiment often compared to Lynch. Except that whereas Lynch starts with a mystery and a vision and explores it using dream-logic and mastery of his medium, this feels more like a director grabbed a few friends for a week and told them to do or wear anything bizarre that comes to mind as long as it is unexpected. In other words, this one does not engage the brain, and only pummels the senses. Now I often enjoy pure inexplicable dream-logic as long as the experience is consistent, so I tried to find a way to enjoy this one, except that the sound design often uses mind-blasting, ear-piercing noise that jars you out of any immersive state and makes you run to turn the volume down, killing that approach. Also, there are some scenes that seem shoehorned in just for their shock value, like the necrophilia-rape scene with an omelette. As for symbolism, I tried a few theories, but nothing fit with this kind of pure randomness. The movie follows a girl who had a car accident which may have involved alcohol, who wakes up in some kind of purgatory on earth full of bizarre characters. These include an 'omelette man' who drinks gasoline, fries eggs in motel rooms, and urinates multicolored liquids. There's also a group of women that can only grin ominously, shriek at ear-piercing levels and leak jam out of their mouths, there's a man in a furry frog-suit who masturbates inside his costume, some jumbled memories about an abusive paranoid husband, and a man who talks in impenetrable riddles. Some scenes worked, but the movie as a whole was too loosely put together to have any lasting effect.

Other Cristóbal, The  
Am inexplicably obscure, surreal French-Cuban production on the Cuban revolution that predates Jodorowsky with its delirious and bizarre visuals. Filmed by Armand Gatti, a playwright with ties to Monaco and France who worked with Chris Marker and was imprisoned in a camp during WWII for anti-fascist activities. This is a satire with free-form surrealism, symbolism and absurdities. The dictator Anastasio rules with an iron fist backed by business-men making deals and speeches about building canals, completely disconnected from the chaos amongst the population. Anastasio is rumored to have died after an incident with a mirror and a violent confrontation after literally crowing as a cock amongst his chicken followers. The afterlife is shown as a casino where Anastasio strong-arms his way into heaven. Divination is used to find the next dictator, and a sailor and his black, peasant sidekick find themselves attempting to start a revolution with an organ, dragging it through the countryside, as the movie explores the country, culture and music. They attempt to trade with a flattened poster of a traditional family woman as well as a younger shrew, and encounter innocence in the form of a virgin. The war escalates into mythical proportions between heaven and hell in astonishing surreal sets involving dinosaur bones, stagy cages, huge pinball games and a bullfighting show, as well as rich countryside shots of a peasant uprising. Bombs fall from heaven and storms are brought about by a dictator in a bull costume using a fire-hose. Forget Soy Cuba, this is deliriously entertaining and provocative.

Oxen Split Torturing (AKA Shogun's Sadism)  
A sequel to the Teruo Ishii Tokugawa torture series. An endless barrage of disturbing tales of imaginative torture, sadism and cruelty in Japan in the 17th century. The first half tells the tale of a samurai who falls in love with a local Christian girl until his cruel shogun finds out. Intercut with gentle love and sex scenes are a wide variety of brutal torture and rape scenes including foot smashing, burning the eyes of a little girl, cooking of live humans, and splitting a woman into three pieces by oxen. The second half inappropriately mixes comedy with its tale of forced prostitution and slave labor with plenty more cruel scenes of forced abortion, amputation with blunt knives, etc, etc. The high production values, good story-telling and great acting mixed with this endless brutality will make your jaw drop.

Palace, The  
Polish classic surrealism but with very limited subject matter. A shepherd wanders into an abandoned palace after some strange violent upheavals empty the area of people. His dream-logic fantasies fill the majority of the movie, as he flexes his power as an aristocrat in many ways, only for his shepherd roots to betray him time and again. His passion for a blonde lady in a painting leads to romance, humiliation and death repeatedly, his interactions with other aristocrats always full of confrontations or wild abandon, a peasant upheaval wrecks the palace for a short while, and he finds himself falling for a servant girl after all. And so on, fantasy after fantasy, turning into fuzzy chaos and bewildering dream-logic tragedies, as is befitting a peasant in a palace. Of course, parallels may be drawn to Communism subversively, as peasants in palaces. Conceptually and character-wise this is limited and somewhat dull, but surrealistically and visually it is of some interest.

An anime about dreams by Satoshi Kon. A company has invented a dream machine as a psychological tool that allows people to view, record and enter other people's dreams. A thief steals the machine and uses it for evil. Not an original concept, and the writing is typically undisciplined as with most anime, neither explaining nor delineating the machine's capabilities and its rules, thus allowing the animator to just play with dreams in whatever way he sees fit. People enter and exit dreams on a whim, dreams merge, morph, are dominated by one character and then another without logic or reason, the effects of a dream on a person are never clear, there is a woman who becomes a kind of dream superhero, and there is even collective dreaming. The bizarre visuals and dream-logic are the stars of this one, with constantly inventive warping of reality in a world where anything can happen, but don't expect a satisfying or coherent movie.

Paris Window  
A brother and sister that never really grew up, live together, in a cocoon of eccentric games and communication methods that can only develop when living alone for too long. It's a very unhealthy, but 'safe' life, and only the sister leaves the home for a job while the guy putters around the house doodling drawings. When she starts showing an interest in a guy from work, and prepares for her 'debutante' party, panic and tension are introduced. All the while, they watch a completely nonsensical and empty TV channel involving 24-hour new-age hypnosis and self-help nonsense. All this is filmed and acted in a highly 'off' and surreal style, with an additional hypnotic score, adding layers of thick atmosphere to the already strange behaviour. There is also a bizarre song and dance act that must be seen to be believed. There are themes here of millennial isolationism, young people creating their own reality and narcissistic worldview, while society outside looks like an alarmingly alien culture and language, so they basically hypnotize themselves into a Peter Pan safe space, to the point where even other people look like themselves and are shoe-horned into their fantasies. But there is also an obnoxious feeling of a student-film trying too hard to be weird without developing the themes and structure enough. The ending leaves much to be desired, pun intended. But the journey is somewhat interesting and it manages to capture....something.

A dark but fun surreal horror film by Juraj Herz, and his most challenging movie in this genre. A man stuck in traffic during horrible weather where everything seems to be getting worse, runs out of his car into the nearest shopping mall and follows a mysterious little girl into a labyrinth of social hell. He meets a variety of eccentric, pretentious, materialistic people, and their behaviour becomes increasingly strange, deceitful and disturbing. One of them is an old man who keeps a young woman, who likes to walk around naked, as a pet, and he meets an old dead friend. He also bumps into death in the form of a sexy prostitute who kills her clients with the wildest bathroom sex you are likely to see. She has an alternate identity as a flower seller, and tries to seduce our wary protagonist. He soon gets caught up in the web of lies, strange games and apathetic murder, he trades his ID for a master-key to all the doors in this purgatory, and reality starts getting more and more confusing as his previous life and actions are seen as a movie and he is strangely unable to leave the mall, leading to a twist ending.

In a sense, this is an inverse, Moroccan, art-house variation on Equus. A female psychiatrist is assigned to treat a mentally broken pregnant woman who keeps muttering about a 'Lord of the Horses' that is coming to see her. The patient's back-story is shown gradually, a girl coerced into the role of a boy by her severe, traditional father, with a hard upbringing that becomes tied symbolically with frightening, muscular horses and traditional folklore about a mythical horse. There is a young boy who is her only friend, and they grow up together. Gradually, the mystery unfolds, with elusive details that may or may not be real, told by an untrustworthy, broken narrator who prefers to dream her own story. And, as her story becomes more fleshed out, the psychiatrist is drawn into the story at a personal level, becoming involved in her dreams and details that don't quite make sense, until the final twist. If, in Equus, the power of the horse symbolized unhinged freedom, here it represents repression. An interesting movie for connoisseurs.

Penetration Angst  
A deliciously wicked, hilarious sleaze-fest of a horror movie about a teenager with a very extreme female version of vagina dentata. A psychological fear causes her insatiable vagina to devour men who have sex with her so that only their clothes and condom remain. Matters aren't made easier by the fact that she is very attractive and almost every single man she meets wants to molest or deviously trick her into sexual intercourse. She soon learns how to live a jaded life with her evil genitals however. Add to the mix a virginal moron with a crush on her, and female siamese twins, one slutty and the other a virgin, and you have one entertainingly twisted release.

This very trippy, pseudo-philosophical 'sci-fi' movie seems at the surface to be a dense, challenging, metaphorical and surreal movie in the vein of Carruth's 'Upstream Color', but its muddled ideas, dialogue and pretentious narration mostly confuse. At first watch, you may conclude that this film is trying to be about everything and nothing, and nothing really fits. But, after much painful head-scratching, I think I managed to extract the core idea from this film by trimming off the nonsense. This tells the story of a young man who seems to be a psychopathic killer, who is sent for treatment and 'improvement' by his mother at a sci-fi mystical retreat, where, among other things, people literally replace cubes of their flesh with silicon using a gadget toy knife. The problem is, and this the core of the film, that humans can't evade their savage roots, and the more they try to perfect themselves at the surface with physical transformations, gender transformations, ultimate beauty, and spiritual paths, the more the savagery and ugliness emerges, as humanity strives to distance itself from its reality with increasingly desperate measures, as well as social or parental pressures. A trite idea made extremely difficult by way of imagery of a man eating a live baby, a surreal, gruesomely deformed baby that is trying to escape its reality, and a bizarre sci-fi retreat populated with TikTok models that like to yoga, pose and party in between strange, mysterious treatments. If only the ideas here were as developed as its visual sense, this could have been much more interesting.

Perfect Blue  
Satoshi Kon's anime on pop-idol celebrity, by way of the woman-loses-her-grip-on-reality genre, gradually and increasingly plays with your mind and psychological-mystery cliches. A pop-idol decides to quit and switch to acting, but her pop-idol persona seems to take on a life of its own. A web site has intimate knowledge about her and features posts that seem to come from her, she hallucinates her public persona, and when murders are committed, the mystery becomes more urgent. The anime just keeps switching from one reality to another for maximum confusion: Is it her acting role? Or a role within a role? Her repressed memories? Supernatural causes? A stalker? A crazed fan? Her close friends? Just when it seems to resolve the mystery, it sweeps the rug out from under your feet again, but it doesn't even try to explain how all of these solutions could emerge from anything except her madness, so it loses its grip on the audience.

Performance For..., The
Obscure Russian surreal piece by Yuri Kiyashko and art direction by Sokurov. A man finds himself walking in a desert landscape with bugles in the sand, carrying a pig and following other well-dressed people on a desperate trek to... somewhere. Other nightmarish and symbolic images pop-up in surreal fashion as he tries to make sense of where he is and how things work, including a little girl with a deadly tricycle, a ball of cord in a bird cage, bizarre hallucinative images in the skies, strange men with machinery and an eccentric seductive woman. People dress him up and prepare him for a melodramatic theatrical production, but who is it for? Metaphorical, atmospheric and somewhat intriguing.

Phoenix (AKA Ashes and Flames)  
A unique combination of art-house, theatrical, abstruse horror and over-the-top sexually deviant campy surrealism. There's an introverted morgue attendant who feels much more of a connection with the dead than with the living, and there's a waitress who once made a pact with her dead sister. Both are haunted by their parents who may or may not be dead: One set of parents messed him up with over-protective behaviour and some kind of warped sexual education, the others were sado-masochists. There is a fetish for a phallic doll that stands in for the man's penis and whose chief advantage is that it is dead (insert any Freudian analysis of your choosing). And there's sexual abuse by an aggressive macho pervert hanging over the woman. They make a connection, heavily weighed by the baggage of their dead, so much so that the dead take over. All this might sound like a straightforward exploitation plot, but the film makes things very difficult and surreal, and all these events are portrayed in confusing flashbacks heavily weighed by surreal fears, symbols and exaggerations, as well as extended atmospheric, and non-linear scenes of ghostly encounters with their own fears and guilt, peppered with transgressive or ridiculously trashy scenes of sexual abuse. Somewhat interesting for the first half, but wears out its welcome for most of the second half.

Plague at the Karatas Village, The  
Surreal Kafkaism from Kazakhstan. A young new mayor and his wife arrive at the village they are supposed to run. The village is literally in ruins, the bizarre childish people all act like lunatic-asylum escapees with bizarre pastimes and customs, it is always dark night when shadows loom the largest, and there is always something falling or breaking in the background. The worst is that there is a plague running among the villagers, but the powers that be insist on classifying it as the flu, and suppress any evidence or activities that would try to say otherwise. The mayor tries to improve things, but encounters corruption, nepotism, walls of bureaucracy, and stupidity galore, he finds even his job was arranged and is merely for show, and even violence doesn't help. Features many visually striking but long static shots, and the concept seems somewhat under-developed, with most scenes featuring people behaving like childish lunatics. But it has a nice, dark sense of humor and a strong visual style.

Plastic Utopia  
Some movies live in their own world with their own logic, and this is definitely one of them. James is a failing mime in a world where being a mime is a religion and a way of life run by a grand master. He looks for other careers, such as being a bad guy, seeking the help of his popular bad-guy room-mate Frank who recites howlingly bad poetry to an adoring crowd. He also seeks the guidance of a nun who joined the convent for its fringe benefits. Ruth is Frank's insane convict sister with scary eyebrows who has the hots for James. There's also a masked Corduroy Boy who is considered to be the Messiah, and a retarded Golden White Boy on skates who leads a surprising secret life. Will James find his place in this world? Definitely an entertaining oddity with colorful characters and dialogue, and a must-see once.

A half-length experimental, lightly-surreal, psychological portrait of the mind of a young woman. Half the movie involves her talking to an unknown audience about what's going on in her mind, using dreams and symbols to explain her feelings, the other half visualizes these events whether they are real or not. She talks of a constant father-figure in her life that watches over her and directs her actions, as well as of a fantasy lover whom she sees everywhere and who has the face of a young man she once saw briefly. And behind everything is the fantasy castle of Pointilly, which may or may not be real and where wishes may come true. She seeks, she is watched over, she tries to detach from her father, her dreams elude her, etc. Not as deep or stylish as a Resnais movie, but perhaps within the same category.

One of Pasolini's most abstract and difficult movies that mixes his earthy, violent style with artsy, intellectual obscurity. A son of a German industrialist represents the confusion and non-conformism of individualism, and neither agrees nor disagrees with his parents and a girl with ideologies. He has flings with pigs (a symbol for something or another) while trying to avoid being devoured by conformism and relationships. A violent, intercut story of a cannibal in medieval times seems to intertwine symbolically with the intellectual exploration of individualism and is contrasted with modern, dehumanized ideas of a Nazi, etc. Mediocre intellectualism.

Ah yes, a man and his puppet; usually an extra creepy factor in a horror movie. This British movie adds to this also the creepiest puppet you've ever seen, and then goes with it to surreal places, not letting you know where it's going until the final reel. It's about a strange puppeteer who goes to his childhood home and confronts deep buried secrets; not head-on, mind you. The inner workings of a troubled mind emerge in this creepy film using dream-logic and nightmares come to life, and although you never know for sure what is real, you sense it anyways. The whole movie is a building nightmare with snippets from the past, surreal clues, and headlines from the present combining to paint a disturbed and disturbing mind. I thought it was done very well and effectively, it's just a pity that it didn't develop enough of a story and features an abrupt, awkward ending.

Czech surrealism about man's complex relationship with modern woman, employing classic surrealism and humor, thus placing this nicely alongside movies like 'City of Women' and 'Calmos'. A man grows up surrounded by women: Mother, grandmother, kids, girlfriend, teacher, and a group of feminists in a workshop trying to find themselves. Other men are almost nowhere to be seen except on occasional eccentric visits, as ghosts, or acquaintances of the women in his life, or a stranger that advises him how to hit his woman. The movie is a free-form sequence of surreal scenes that explore his changing attitudes, confusions and experiments at different ages. These include his fascination with a nurse's magical pubic hair, surreal prism-like containers that contain something or another to do with people's essences and which he can never quite figure out how to use, a strange store containing food leftovers and ghosts, his attempts at understanding women leading to a hilarious stage where his wife gets angry at him for understanding women too much and giving them obscure feminine advice, his transformation into a male pet on a leash, occasional bursts of exasperation, or flings, one leading to an accident involving sex that gets him in serious trouble with the worldwide feminist order of justice. And much more. It's a fun movie, but it doesn't quite employ a consistent tone, and the lack of structure and development doesn't leave one satisfied, especially thanks to the ambiguous ending and the protagonist's lack of a backbone. Still definitely worth watching though.

Povero Cristo  
Rare, surreal, often criticised Christ-allegory by Pier Carpi. A poor man from the provinces aspires to become a detective in the big city, He is challenged by a rich man to track down proof for the existence of God. His life starts mirroring the life of Christ, preaching to or rebuking church-goers or other groups of people, embracing the downtrodden (orphans or prostitutes), walking around in torn rags, hounded by the law and people in power, searching for the truth, collecting followers until his final suffering, all transformed to fit into this alternative pseudo-modern world with very heavy-handed symbolism and recreations of Christian imagery like the Last Supper, his Virgin Mary-like mother, etc. The production design is an imaginative and curious mix of medieval, artsy, surreal and futuristic, sometimes reminiscent of Fellini when it gets a tad delirious.

Prata Palomares  
Delirious Brazilian Surrealism and an allegory for everything and the kitchen sink. Two revolutionary socialists on their way to some utopian destination try to find their way with a radio and a map, but lose their way in a church. They encounter a woman who first appears in a surreal dream as a Mary-like apparition amidst a chaotic civilization taking an airplane ride while lying in nature. She changes frequently to different archetypes, from a sex symbol, to the mother of their children, to a guide, to a feminist voodoo priestess, etc. They try to escape the world of fascists that managed to install torture and death devices even inside the church, a corrupt, a violent church drinking the blood of Mary, the depraved powers-that-be, and caricatures of brainless, spoiled bourgeoisie racists. One of them tries to take over the church and lead the people by becoming a Christ-like leader, clashing with everyone, including his symbolically diseased friend that wants to continue in the ways of revolution. But they all turn increasingly insane, building to an insane final half hour of Salo-esque dismemberment, dystopia, and chaos.

Pure Place, A  
This belongs firmly in the Greek Weird Wave of metaphorical social commentary movies even though it is German-Greek. This seems almost as baffling as the director's The Bunker at first, and most of the interpretations for this movie online are lazy and don't fit the movie, but there is meaning to be had from the madness. It's about a strange cult obsessed with cleanliness and Hygieia, with dirty, mostly-kids making soap in filthy factories and working their way up in the cult to a society of venerated wisdom, strange powers and harsh rules. I see it as a metaphor for society, and coming-of-age to the mysterious, venerated, but insane and self-destructive adult society, like a Greek Weird Wave version of the movie Society, with a mystical cult instead of weird gore comedy. Responsible 'cleanliness' and strict rules of behaviour represent acceptable behaviour, while the 'kids' and social rejects stay in the dirt. The leader of the cult sounds wise to most people, but eventually reveals his true destructive and clueless colors. And this is why an adult stripper is interchangeable with a cult leader, and why new virgin innocence is seem as an Elysium. I can't say I agree with any of this, and the cult metaphor is taken too far for the whole movie, but visually this is well done and the movie is challenging.

Railway, The  
A crazy Russian art-house road-trip movie with heavy use of magical realism and symbolism. If that summary is hard to digest, wait until you hear the description: A father, his little boy, a friend and an old train engineer hijack a train and a mountain of coal by manipulation and child labor, and go on a trip to the southern Russian steppes to try and make something of the coal. They encounter a variety of strange, absurd and downright bizarre adventures, many of them symbolic, while the father tells horrific tales to the son about his mother and the various deaths she encountered. The boy imagines himself saving her in delightful sequences of surreal childish imagination, and their various discussions and encounters are paralleled with bizarre, symbolic performances by circus folk, like the sexual teasing of a lion, fish-juggling and a dog-sex act. Like all road-movies, they are haunted by their pasts, failures, relationship issues and so on, and all of their encounters are there to develop the characters and random ruminations, even if they include cannibalistic school children, strange bartering rules for coal, a man who finds happiness in limb-chopping, a sexpot redhead, a giant thief and some circus performers that perform bizarre acts before victimizing their audience. Richly absurd.

Rambler, The  
Calvin Reeder follows up on his jarring Oregonian with a slightly more entertaining slice of weirdness in the form of a bizarre road trip. A man leaves prison and decides to drift on the highway of life after he finds that he doesn't fit in with his trashy girlfriend and friends, nor with his cowboy brother and his family. He meets a variety of people, including an eccentric professor and a machine that can capture dreams on VHS with decidedly unwanted side-effects, a taxi driver ex-paramedic with a fetish for treating wounded women, a freaky and very insane hillbilly, and a very untrustworthy bar-room businessman. A pretty girl pops up everywhere he goes who always seems to disappear or encounter a bloody end, he has nightmares and random visions that become more and more bizarre, including ones of a slithering creature and mutated, vomiting old women. The sky flashes with beeps and lights as if he were in a manufactured reality and he may be dead or dreaming, but it doesn't really matter. Although it has more strangely entertaining scenes than Oregonian, this film also has similar flaws: Namely that it never adds up to anything or come together even as a dream. So it is another frustrating watch with snippets of fascinating surrealism and a hodgepodge of ideas, but all seemingly random and incohesive in tone and theme. Hopefully next time he will add some character development, themes or mystery delivered via this potentially interesting style of dream-logic instead of just peppering the screen with random bizarre visuals.

Rampo Noir  
Four artsy and grotesque movies based on Edogawa Rampo's macabre and bizarre mystery stories. First is a nightmarish but pointless short about a man on an alien landscape envisioning a violent fight between himself and a female as their genders merge. Second is the most conventional, telling a murder mystery involving lots of mirrors, dead women with melted faces, and a strange, obsessive mirror-maker with a love for S&M sex. The third by Hisayasu Sato is the most depraved, involving a war veteran with no arms or legs, who can't talk, is deformed, and who is tended to by his insane, dominatrix, sadistic wife who may or may not have done all this to him. He becomes her Caterpillar, a sex slave for her sadistic impulses, a work of art according to a strange insane art collector living with her who soon performs his own twisted fantasies on them both. The fourth is a surreal, confusing trip into the insane mind of an obsessive man with an extreme fear of germs and a nasty rash on his neck from scratching himself all the time. He is infatuated with a celebrity whom he works for as a chauffeur, but is driven insane by wanting to touch her and his repulsions. He soon finds a solution but things get complicated when she starts to rot...

Real Young Girl, A  
A female exploration of the sexual coming of age of a 15 year old girl. Explored are the girl's disgust and fascination with her sexuality and her strange fantasies, dreams and experimental sexual games. Interactions with parents and local men serve as vignettes for the roller-coaster of confusing lusts. A hunk ignores her so she dreams of him putting worms on her crotch, she flirts with men but quickly gets disappointed or shocked by perverts, and she plays with her body and underwear in very twisted yet innocent ways.

Red Kingdom Rising  
Alice in Wonderland by way of a psychological horror-mystery via Hellraiser and Del Toro. A young woman with psychological issues is trying to move on, but when she goes to visit her disturbed mother, memories and horrors are awakened. There's a sadistic Red King that tears people apart, nightmarish imagery, dreams within dreams that may be dreams by other people, dream-logic surrealism, psychological horrors turned into fleshy nightmares, with characters and elements from the Alice story that keep popping up, until the ending that ties it all together. It's good to see that new directors can still make solid horror that doesn't try to twist itself into a corner, become obsessed with nastiness, or try to put one over on the audience. Interesting horror, but one step away from greatness. A director to watch out for.

Red Moon Tide  
Film-poem about the sea, fishermen, the tide, the moon, timeless mythology, and a legend of a man named Rubio who extracted drowned victims of shipwrecks to save their souls and return them to their families. This event seemingly brought the fishing town to a halt with stories of sea monsters. The film explores these themes and symbols with static tableaux vivant, typically displaying still people meditating like ghosts in a striking landscape, their thoughts delivered by voice-overs. Thoughts of doom, Rubio, fears of monsters, cursing the arrival of a huge dam, etc. At some point, witches enter the story to call on the soul of Rubio in strange rituals, and the villagers get covered in sheets as timeless ghosts, making the scenes even more strange and surreal. As an experience, this is extremely dreamy and evokes the feel of timeless fisherman mythology as it intended. But it also tried my patience severely with its extremely static story, people and structure. Could have worked better as a short film.

Reincarnation of Isabel, The  
Exploitation horror on LSD and possibly the most confusing movie ever made. The plot involves a woman burned as a witch with a hole in her chest, a cult trying to bring her back to life with hearts of virgins, a vampire, a staring, giggling hunchback, a castle party with eccentric guests, and many other incoherent pieces put together with choppy editing, lots of nudity, histrionic acting, trippy colors, costumes and low-budget set designs, and a plot that jumps from one strangely out-of-place scene to another without a care for continuity issues such as night and day and consistent clothing. Terrible, but has to be seen to be believed.

Revolutionary Girl Utena: Adolescence of Utena  
Anime frequently makes use of grandiose mythical fantasy to the point of disconnected strangeness and incoherence, but this movie follow-up to a manga series dives head-first into surrealism and symbolic worlds to explore and tell the psychology of its characters, so even if you watch the series, it's going to be a challenge to decipher this one. There's a mysterious "Rose Bride" who attaches herself to the winner of ongoing sword-duels, Utena who pretends to be a boy, complicated/convoluted dramas and memories from the past, and the symbolic quest to become a "prince". Add to this: Castles with whimsical floating parts, cars used as symbols for actions to the point of a machine converting girls into cars, surreal-fantasy car-chases with monster cars, floating rose gardens, secret swords in chests, and a jaw-dropping completely pointless bizarre video segment involving singing elephants and tiny creatures getting stuck in a weird cow's nostrils.

Rhinoceros Eyes  
A studiedly quirky and strange world of an idiot-savant who lives and works at a Prop House, a big warehouse full of props. His only contact with the world outside is in the cinema where he watches cheesy romance movies, and occasionally he catches glimpses of a 'movie' through the neighbour's windows. When a pretty production designer with bizarre requests for props comes to the warehouse, he becomes infatuated with her and is willing to do anything to fulfill her requests, and slowly his reality starts collapsing. Features striking visuals involving props and masks, Svankmajer-like animations as pieces of props come to life, some black humor, and a strange old couple that likes to dance, and beat each other up with a prosthetic or baseball bat. Slightly undeveloped writing and it seems to be holding back most of the time, but the good acting, idea and atmosphere makes this a must-see at least once.

Penned (and acted) by Pierre Klossowski, who also penned two of the most intellectually abstract Ruiz movies. This is similarly difficult but contains a plot behind its philosophical musings, a plot that is a challenge to glean: Roberte is a woman with secrets, having been actively involved as an agent of sorts in WWII decades earlier, and who had to use her seductive charms and body to achieve important goals. Now, although she is trying to move on, her past connections keep haunting and visiting her, and her aging husband is obsessed with her past sins and her potential underlying attraction to it, while still pushing potential lovers on her as visitors. He also studies every nuance in suggestive paintings of her, while a priest accuses them of being fakes, the husband vocally musing on both their mental states versus the current state of society. She, however, is trying to shield her young teenage nephew from all of this, to raise him differently, though even he fetishizes her hands. Despite the above plot, the film explores its subjects primarily through dense philosophical musings and many scenes of surreal, indirect eroticism and secretive games. Agents with murky purposes meet, bizarre secretive behaviour and objects pass between them, and she is pressured or forced into situations where her hands or thighs are fetishized. Even the nephew's friends concoct elaborate tricky plans to manipulate her body and steal her gloves. Musings from all parties on these proceedings suggest an older, critical, stuck, suspicious generation that doesn't allow Roberte to become what they want her to be, letting bygones be bygones, and turning Paris into a social elite of artists and old men. All this suggesting that Roberte is France herself, unable to move on from past sins, especially during WWII. But how does one guide the new generation under these circumstances? And at what stage does a past sin become a fetish?

Rocks in My Pockets  
Latvian animation with a rich surreal visual sense strongly reminiscent of Plympton. It uses a blend of various animation styles, including stop-motion, superimposed textures, and roughly hand-drawn characters. Scenes often involve a surreal or whimsical representation of what is being said in the narration, with Plympton-esque morphing, mutating body parts, and surreal symbolic props. The topic is the director's own extended family starting with her grandmother and many aunts and uncles, and the many mental problems that run in the family, all told with brutal honesty. There are two huge flaws however. One is the fact that this is not a screenplay and a flowing story, but a sequence of little stories, events and personal musings. It reads more like a condensed collection of articles from a personal diary rather than a movie. The other bigger problem is the constant narration by a grating narrator that becomes too obnoxious after 15 minutes, and I would have watched this without the sound, except that all the content is in the narration. Basically, this is an illustrated personal diary by someone who would be better off sticking to animation.

Rosebery 7470  
Experimental and grim Australian movie about a semi-functional autistic girl with a hellish life made worse by nightmares. Except that everyone in this movie is over-the-top damaged, annoying, insane, or practically psychotic, especially the men, who all seem to be cartoonishly crude and aggressive perverts. There is incest, a randomly abusive and insane father, a man-hating, manipulative, and emotionally abusive mother, an animal of a boyfriend/husband, and a slew of malignant strangers. And that is the main flaw of this movie: Constant nastiness for its own sake. But the cinematography and atmosphere may still make this worth a watch, with gritty, patchy nightmares involving zombies, a gory, surreal abortion, and other random violence meshing with her damaged memories and confused thoughts, with her life shown using confused parallelism and emotional highlights warped by her damaged mind.

Rose, c'est Paris  
More a live rendition of a photographer's monograph than a movie. The 'live photographs' and tableaux include striking nude model shots as well kinky erotica, all tasteful with bizarre props and striking settings. It also blends this with an artistic exploration of Paris, as well as a mystery of a disappearing twin sister, except that the mystery promptly forks into a dozen theories and artsy, surreal fantasies on her disappearance, some involving a sleazy Paris underbelly with kinks or violence, others exploring exotica or supernatural fantasies just for fun, displaying a stream of striking photo shoots to accompany the free-form whimsy. At some level, this is erotica for pervert connoisseurs in beautiful B&W with sensuous women, offering both old and new fetishes. But it is also a delirious photographer's eye of glamorous Paris blended with sleazy and dilapidated Paris made glamorous by models and an artistic eye. A half-naked model screams and poses on a rooftop with a statue of Lenin, a naked girl plays chess with her feet with one of the many older men in this movie, another dances with a skeleton, there's backstage footage of Naomi Campbell, Michelle Yeoh poses with a skull and sword, Charlotte Rampling offers a mysterious service on a train, boxers practice in a train station, an old man out for novelty conducts a seance with a floating table, slums accentuate the models, some learn how to pose with strippers for naughty fun, there's a naked mermaid in a delicatessen, a Mona Lisa on the metro, and so on.

Russian Symphony  
Another metaphysical Tarkovsky-esque apocalyptic parable by Lopushansky, this one mostly dreary, heavy and murky. The world is ending or has ended, but everyone has time for one last burst of humanity, or act of madness as it may seem. The protagonist suddenly gets the idea that he has to save some children from the flood as his last act of humanity, but everyone ignores him, or thinks he is just performing, praising him for his passionate oratory. The military and leadership has been reduced to absurd improvised rules, the people are massing around the church or in the streets, some inexplicably turning into a medieval mob or army, until it turns out to be another performance, and Gorbachev appears as a janitor. I didn't get much out of this movie and the symbolism seems heavy-handed, but the atmosphere and existential angst is palpable.

Saint Bernard  
Gabriel Bartalos is a special-effects man that worked on a variety of colorful, warped and fun horror movies, but for this movie, perhaps Cremaster is the most relevant. This is only his second movie after Skinned Deep, but that crazy movie only hinted at the wild imagination in this one. It's a purely surreal movie exploring the character of a music conductor with a large amount of psychological issues and baggage, through dream symbolism and the just plain weird. It is driven by pure dream-logic, and a warped, somewhat campy horror mentality, creating a movie-length nightmare. Some symbolic meanings can be guessed, such as the elaborate wood constructions (baggage) within which he keeps finding himself, sometimes literally boxed-in by them and requiring a man with a chainsaw to free him. There's a string attached to his ankle, a decapitated head of a Saint Bernard that he carries along with him which is his belief or muse, many many keys, a barrage of drugs and syringes, a disturbed uncle, etc. But then there are the dead chickens that sky-dive onto a group of very strange people that fight them with catapults, a 'Static Boy' that creates portals with explosive diarrhea, an aggressive horny girl into roadkill that wants to steal his muse, a very cruel driver with no legs that reduces a girl's legs to splattery wrecks, Warwick Davis as some kind of wood-pile time master, monster police and strange judgmental authorities in a Kafka-esque room, and more. Scenes shift from one to another in dream-logic, via tunnels, climbing up into strange doors, suddenly finding new doorways to a completely different location, and so on. The one problem with all this is that most of it is impossible to decipher (assuming it has any meaning) and feels like someone committed his weirdest personal dreams to celluloid without converting it into something universal that an audience can sink their teeth into. And the atmosphere isn't the strongest either. In other words this feels much closer to Calvin Reeder than Lynch. But the visuals are always fascinating and entertaining.

Saint Martyrs of the Damned  
A sloppy script that can't decide what it wants to be. A reporter for a tabloid/newspaper of the bizarre takes time off photographing three-legged drag queens to investigate strange occurrences and disappearances in a village. The mysteries keep getting more convoluted as he starts to uncover secrets amidst the strange and unwelcoming habitants. The movie starts as a ghost horror movie with twilight-zone pretensions, shifts to Lynchian odd characters, dark sleazy mysteries and bizarre dream-sequences with a Down's syndrome man and his all-knowing stuffed toy, then it decides to be a mad scientist movie with sprinklings of Yuzna-esque gore, then a love story and an existential art movie, with almost none of these elements being developed satisfactorily.

If watched in the right state of mind and with patience, this highly surreal and atmospheric vampire movie can make you feel like you dreamt it. The plot is simple, is told mostly with visual imagery and performances rather than dialogue, and is about a girl that finds out she is a vampire, her wayward lusts awakening to the horror of her boyfriend, while her master wants her to himself. After the setup, the dialogue is replaced with intertitles and an ambient soundtrack (the movie originally toured with musical accompaniment), and the imagery grows more and more slow and hallucinatory. The master vampire is a Butoh performer, and his grotesque skills are used to their utmost in hypnotic sequences of vampire angst. Some scenes work better than others, but the movie as a whole will only work if you allow yourself to be drawn in to its pace and dream-state. I enjoyed it for what it is, but there wasn't enough story and meat to leave one satisfied and desiring a re-watch.

Satin Spider, The  
Art-house erotica that wants to titillate as well as puzzle and provoke with strands of murder-mysteries and the supernatural. It presents a fragmented series of interactions in a girl's boarding school, where everyone always partakes in various physical activities and indulgences rather than studying, where sensual pleasures, fetishes, neuroticism, intellectual eccentricities, personal obsessions, murders, death and religion are all woven together to create a portrait of mysterious feminine sensuality. There's a pale blonde woman recently released from the asylum who has a fetish for satin, there's morphine addiction, strange seductive dances and games, a rape involving silk gloves, lesbian indulgences, obedience, an inspector investigating an ambiguous death, a priest who is always hovering around the girls extracting confessions, communions, rites, and naked exorcisms. It never adds up or creates a story, but weaves a web of dream-logic erotic snippets with some dark and perverse undercurrents.

Science of Sleep, The  
A challenging and much more surreal creation by Michel Gondry than his previous efforts. Whereas Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind used touches of surrealism and a non-linear screenplay to slowly uncover a story and insights about memory, this movie dives into the surreal as a study of a schizophrenic's mind. It's about a young man who frequently escapes into his dream and fantasy worlds and who likes being creative with various arts and crafts, as well as a new female neighbour, who also enjoys little games of the imagination. The trouble is, he is not only schizophrenic and can't tell the difference between his dreams and reality, he is also quite immature and behaves like a petulant horny child who frequently says inappropriate things, whereas she is much more grounded and sometimes seems to enjoy his company only as a sympathetic gesture or a temporary escape. This rocky relationship has several ups and downs, except his behaviour grows increasingly distasteful and their connection always feels like an immature fantasy rather than anything romantic. His job is also a disappointment in real life, lacking creativity and populated by more immature people and a bully. Except it's not always clear how much of what we see and understand about them is only in his childish mind, and he frequently escapes into juvenile fantasies about them as well. As mentioned, this movie is visually very surreal and rich, flights of fantasy populated by a stunning mix of childish handcrafted arts and crafts and real life, and the inside of his mind is a room populated by memories, visitors, a camera made of carton boxes, eye-windows and egg-carton walls, which he uses to re-evaluate everything he sees through defense mechanisms and fantasy. Overall, once this movie is approached as the study of an imaginative schizophrenic, it can be quite magical. Except that the movie also seems to want to be a whimsical romantic comedy, and his behaviour, as well as their stunted relationship, are far from healthy or romantic, unbalancing the movie. These are not people you'd like to see together, and his fantasies become a sad thing.

This is one of those weird movies that lives in a logic of its own, and is sometimes reminiscent of a Wenzel Storch movie, but the tone is more like David Lynch filming a musical-slapstick-farce. In other words, even when it gets silly there is a dark-ish and otherworldly atmosphere behind it all. Except that this film focuses more on the emotions of its characters rather than on a Lynchian mystery. At the core of this musical is a farce about a costume party thrown by Tru, except her estranged and mean love-of-her-life appears and complicates things. There's also a dead body, which they have to hide. The highly eccentric dialogue can frequently wander off into non-sequiturs except that it's the general mood and emotion that they are expressing, either through stories, clownish performances, musical numbers or the just plain bizarre gothic fantasies and nightmares generated by Tru's anxiety. It's a very colorful and musical fever-dream of a farce about a broken romance. And it may often veer off into a variety of performances, including one where a guy and a girl dressed as siamese twin clowns, pantomime a musical performance for kids about violence and pedophilia. It kinda wears out its welcome halfway through once you've tuned into the internal logic and the movie focuses on the drama and emotions of its characters a bit too much. But it's one-of-a-kind.

Season of Monsters  
Unusually delirious and extremely kinetic film from Miklós Jancsó. 'Plot' elements include a reunion in the country between a professor and his older students where philosophy and song are explored, as well as a murder mystery. But this would not describe the film even minimally. The film is in constant motion; people are not only constantly moving while spouting random lines, but also actively doing unexpected things, some of them involving violence. The camera is moving even more than the characters, and people are constantly going in and out of cars and helicopters, the latter constantly hovering over their heads with alarming acrobatics and close proximity. There are also incredibly complex long takes of all the chaos and its details. They reminisce, talk of society philosophy and history, and frequently break out in folk song, often kissing the many naked ladies prancing with them in this delirious country. All of this is punctuated by frequent violence: Random attacks between people, a mad-scientist murderer, people acting out wars with guns and skirmishes, fires frequently breaking out in the fields and even in the water. Even the devil and Jesus make appearances, although both are abused by this violent society. All of this seemingly ties in with the theme of catastrophes pushing humanity forward in Hegelian fashion, the film being a metaphor for violent events in humanity that propel things constantly forward while humanity celebrates and philosophizes. Kinetics mixed with violence and sex as metaphor.

Secret Formula, The  
Provocative and surreal Mexican 45 minute movie. Animals are slaughtered graphically or lassoed, only for the animals to turn into humans, while apathetic lovers make out in the background. An endless string of fast-food sausages slides through the city over all industrial and city life, budding child priests fake the crucifixion then bash older priests off their climbing frame, a dead man is carried on bags of flour, some poetic existential whining serves as narration, etc. I'm not sure what it all means but it delivers somewhat interesting provocations nevertheless.

Secret Friends  
Dennis Potter wrote and directed this slightly underrated flop. Whereas his Singing Detective series used some mental fugues and fantasies as part of interweaving narratives, this movie is pure stream of consciousness madness that doesn't provide any answers until the end. A man on a train is lost in a mental fugue and doesn't seem to know who he is, he thinks of his troubled relationship with his wife, whom he may have killed, or who may be a prostitute, or who may be having an affair, or who may be going mad herself. These variations flow from one to another with elements and characters from one layer appearing in different forms in another. There is more of Potter's dark deep psychological drama and misanthropy, exploring a dark character with sexual problems on the verge of madness. An interesting experiment.

Sect, The  
Soavi, a talented horror director slowly finding his way, rips off Rosemary's Baby and creates a creepy world where a world-wide Satanic sect is building momentum, sacrificing children and waiting for the birth of ... something or another. Along the way, evil bugs are inserted in people's nostrils where they lay their young to feed on the brain, one woman's face is literally ripped off in a ritual and used for resurrection, a stork mounts a lady and eats worms out of her neck, rabbits turn out to be quite adept at switching TV channels with a remote and other inexplicable events occur. Cult material, if not for the stupid ending.

Sentimental Engine Slayer, The  
With so many surreal female coming-of-age films, I suppose it was about time a male version appeared. But why did it have to be so sleazy and violent? Barlam is a nervous virgin with various sexual or violent fears and fantasies. He plays with model cars, yearns to get laid, has a drug-addict sister and strange relationship with her boyfriend and his long-haired boss, hangs out with a goth-pimp and his whores to get his sister's drugs, and stalks a doppelgänger who hangs out in his neighbourhood. The movie shows all this in non-linear sliced up scenes, a structure that has no point other than to further confuse and disorient us in addition to the fact that half of the scenes only take place in his head in the first place. A story of a first-time sexual encounter that turned out to be with a transsexual becomes a personal encounter with a clown-faced cross-dresser that may or may not be real, bursts of violence and murder constantly fade into the background of his reality, and narrated tone poems add to the color. Mostly tiresome, confusing and grimy, but with an overall, minimally interesting, dream-logic effect.

A symbolic and meditative film-essay exploring personal roots and history, but elevating it to the exploration of humanity's history and future. A young man wanders through landscapes in Africa, searching for his "mother" and thinking about her many messages to him and her legacy. He dresses up and acts out as a colonialist or Western gunslinger as he ponders where humanity was and where it is going, dreaming a surreal sci-fi dream of space exploration and optimistic developments of the human race. But his ultimate goal is to find the parrot that lives to be 150 and outlived his mother, wandering silently in an abandoned desert town to talk to a parrot that literally talks in his mother's voice. Partially pretentious, part meditative essay with some striking visual and atmospheric moments.

Seven Servants  
Definitely a one-of-a-kind odd movie that is intriguing throughout, except that it constantly threatens to spill over into sheer artsy and new-age ridiculous nonsense, and the ending, unfortunately, pushes it over the edge. The great Anthony Quinn, in his last role, acts as a highly eccentric man close to his death who is conducting an experiment with human energy, senses and unity. He hires one servant after another to insert their fingers into his body openings and keep them there for ten days. For most of the movie, four men from various ethnicities spend their time shirtless and connected to his nose and ears, doing everything together (yes, everything), dancing, sleeping, going to the bathroom, etc. while fruits and vegetables constantly appear or levitate in some esoteric symbolism, and death appears in the form of a female operatic singer that overwhelms his senses. The men become connected in various magical ways, until the ending which involves the rest of the servants in a stunt that illogically negates everything that came before then.

Demented French backwoods-horror black comedy. A group of annoyingly idiotic, over-sexed, partying teenagers accept an invitation from a sexy girl to come visit her country home and get more than they bargained for with the local inbred lunatics, one of which has some kind of pact with Satan and is after more than just their company. Very well-done, chaotic but trashy Euro-entertainment, with superb performances (especially a demented one by Cassel). Must-see at least once but fatally flawed by the fact that two thirds of the movie deals with the antics of the horny teenagers.

Shin Sung-Il is Lost  
A Korean oddity, perhaps made by a person who has driven herself a bit insane with guilt over eating and dieting. It's about kids in an orphanage run by a strange pseudo-Christian female director who pressures the kids into eating less while teaching that appetites are evil. The kids regularly sneak in 'choco-pies' and eat them in various hidden locations, some eating more than before as a result, even though they are officially fasting, but eating in public is strictly out of bounds. Christianity is used as a plot device to shame and systematically repress and educate the protagonists. Kids start having visions of angels and music, and eating acquires such a sense of shame that it becomes equivalent to eating an angel in one of the movie's many surreal scenes. But when a new girl comes along who refuses to be ashamed, and when the director herself is caught eating and doing 'it', things start to unravel. The kids plot against the director, fight amongst themselves, while more kids have increasingly bizarre and surreal visions. In a surreal parallel plot, the characters are shuffled and the protagonist is starving himself in the street. Although the movie seems to be taking potshots at Christianity or education, the attack and satire isn't coherent and I still think this is just a blackly surreal and humorous take on the insanity of dieting.

Shit Year  
Despite the title, this is a gentle, art-house character-study with surreal touches. Ellen Barkin is a newly retired actress having a personal existential crisis which feels suspiciously like a male mid-life crisis. In her last stint as an actress, she had a desperate fling with a young 22-year-old actor, pinning various hopes and dreams on him while being only partially aware of it and ruminating over it. After her retirement, she struggles to face the quiet neighborhood as well as her banal but charming, happy neighbor. These different stages in her life are intertwined in a non-linear way to serve the character study as her personality slowly emerges. Her subconscious is explored with a surreal sci-fi subplot where she attempts to recreate the magic she thought she saw in her last fling using a complex and mysterious simulation, and finds that her fears betray her, as her projection of him confronts her with her own emptiness. Other short scenes and snippets are more oneiric, or rather, nightmarish with ominous figures stalking her subconscious. The film doesn't develop much in terms of character, but its cinematic approach is interesting and Barkin is very good as always.

Short Films of Robert Morgan  
A collection of five shorts from an unusual and eclectic UK film-maker. 'Paranoid' is an early, rough stop-motion piece that builds on dread, involving a grotesque humanoid figure in a room who is afraid of clocks and worms. 'The Man in the Lower-Left Hand Corner of the Photograph' is the best and most striking piece in the set: A grotesque and diseased-looking stop-motion piece on loneliness with an old man, his photograph and a pet worm, who spies on his suicidal neighbour with unexpectedly grotesque results. 'The Cat with Hands' is a four minute unusual and creepy horror piece about a cat that steals body parts. 'The Separation' (also on Small Gauge Trauma) uses that mainstay of creepy horror: Conjoined twins, separated, and now lonely and yearning for each other, their experiments warped into something disturbing. The final short film 'Monsters', is a live-action piece on sibling violence taken too far, paralleled with gory nightmares about a madman on the loose from the local insane asylum triggered by a decapitated goose head. All in all, a must-see for fans of dark, grotesque horror, although not all are compelling and it could use a couple more additions.

A surreal, meditative and pseudo-mystical surprise from Abel Ferrara, usually known for very down-to-earth gritty urban & exploitative grindhouse. There is no narrative or plot here, and it is a purely surreal and symbolic exploration of a man's psyche, heavily inspired by Jung's approach to archetypes and the supernatural. Everything in this movie is visualized with texture and beautiful locations, but only provide meaning through dream-language and Jung's symbols. Siberia is the remote place where the aging 'Clint' has hidden himself. He runs a cabin-bar for the locals, which consist of the occasional Inuit, traveller, or Russian babushka. He connects with an ultimately beautiful pregnant woman anima in an erotic scene. A provocative personal jab by a visitor evokes lurking sudden hidden fears ('bear' and 'cliff'). This sends him off on an (internal) journey where he passes by social horrors of a massacre, encounters bizarre demons in a 'cave', encounters primitive man and nature, a speech about sleep from Nietzsche, etc. Then he encounters his past, many memories, many young girls, his estranged family, and ultimately himself. There is childhood and innocence, innocence lost, abused by a wild teenage life, nostalgia with his father, tension with his ex-wife, and pseudo-mystical-occult discussions with strangers. Some of this is effectively surreal, mostly the first half of the movie, but then it becomes more and more like an tiresome exploration of archetypes and stereotypes and cliches rather than a character study. It doesn't cohere or satisfy.

Since I Don't Have You  
One of those reality-bending psychological thriller movies where you don't quite know what is real or not as a man's back-story is revealed in nightmarish snippets. In this case, he seems to be a young man released from an insane asylum with a mysterious family massacre in the past, who encounters a backwoods strange family, triggering his memories. The experience is very rough around the edges as everything about it is low-budget with rough cinematography and a noisy soundtrack. The plot is also fairly predictable, and the end-reveal isn't interesting, but the film-makers do achieve a minimum of competent confusing atmosphere, strange characters, and surreal nightmares (one with splatter), so it's not a total waste of time.

Singing on the Treadmill  
Hungarian musical that uses classic surrealism and satire to poke fun at Communism and society. The musical set-pieces themselves are not just satirical tools, but essential jabs at the targets, as they are taken from Communist operettas and ideologies and re-planted in this tongue-in-cheek satire in order to flip the songs on their heads. Two librettists collect a bunch of characters from the fields where everyone seems to be living, ship them over in a conveyor belt to their work-house, and proceed to instruct them in their new roles in a grand operetta/musical that they are creating. They behave a lot like Communist ideologues however, assigning too many people to un-condemned houses that are falling apart, pitting them against each other, and assigning them spouses for a forced happy ending. They even go so far as to alter the reality they are in and turn back time in order to correct scenes more to their liking. Except human nature always seems to throw a wrench into their pink fantasies, and the people often 'break character' from their assigned one-dimensional operetta roles, and bureaucrats are constantly being bribed with sex and money. A singing queen is brought in to try to fix everyone for a literally rosy ending.

50-minute Peruvian surrealism with no dialog, on the topic of alienation and human existence. A lot of the movie is just a man walking aimlessly through the mostly empty streets, or doing banal things at home. But everything else is alien, bizarre or nightmarish. Activities at home include throwing random things in a blender or covering a globe in sauce/chocolate, a social visit sees a crowd of guests as people with weird masks, and his family have smiles plastered on the faces. There's a head of a pig that serves as food, or for abuse by a clown in the street, and the night brings on even worse nightmares, bizarre Lynchian imagery of strange creatures and puzzling symbols, and even a love interest is a mixture of sexually-suggestive but strange behaviour. Unlike Lynch, this isn't interested in telling a story or mystery, despite it's imagery. Slow-moving, with some sequences that work, and others that don't.

Sir Henry at Rawlinson End  
A raunchy Wodehouse-esque British comedy mixed with Monty Python and some drugs. This unique oddity was based on a radio show which revolved around colorful use of language, wordplay, wit and very British absurdities. There isn't much of a narrative that one can follow, the chaotic comedy revolving around many eccentric characters who say things like: 'If filthy fingers were trumps, what a splendid hand you'd have', rant to their maid that 'I don't know what I want but I want it now!', have monologues that include 'The trouble with Italian airplanes is that their wings are too hairy' and makes jokes like: 'How dare you belch before my wife!' 'I'm sorry, I didn't know it was her turn'. The wit often includes subtle bad taste ('Generally speaking when I eat something I don't want to see it again'), and the characters occupy themselves with random activities like riding a unicycle wearing a tutu and black-face, cutting up Reader's Digests with a stuffed animal's antlers, playing billiards on a horse, and practice shooting at fake parachutists. The movie also involves a ghost that speaks to a dead mother and takes a stuffed dog out for a walk to urinate, a man who entertains by pretending to be a chicken and eating maggots, and a climax with seance, swords and body parts. Incoherent, but entertaining.

Skinned Deep  
This would be the mutant result if you crossed Texas Chainsaw Massacre with Troma. A family is stranded in the backwoods and are soon chopped up or kidnapped by a genetically mutated family from hell. There's a slashing monster with metal jaws, a midget that throws plates, a silly man with a huge brain, a headless muscle-man, a deceptively nice grandmother (of course), and a group of Hell's Angels type senior citizens. It's all played for silly and weird laughs, the over-the-top gore is too brief to get top billing, and included are some very strange scenes like when a man's brain is torn open and letter-blocks crawl out of his head to form the word "Love". And where else can you see an 80 year old man have a gory fight with a plate-throwing midget?

Anthony Hopkins wrote, directed and starred in this experimental movie. It is a deceptively quiet, light-humored, and chaotic experiment. If you participate in the movie, there is much to extract from the experience. The movie is basically a slipstream of memories of an actor and writer that uses only pure dream-logic to tie the pieces together. Thus, characters from a movie he may or may not be writing interchange with people from his real life, memories and scenes drift, jump-cut, images pop-up in free association, people from different times and movie-realities drift between scenes that take part in a movie, a movie within a movie, or in his memories and mind. Subtle hints are dropped but never explored, the mind theorizing on how to tie all of this jumble together but never logically thinking it through, just like in a dream: Perhaps someone is channeling past lives and memories, perhaps its insanity, a dream, death, etc. Life and death seem absurd, violence pops up for no good reason, is it all a movie? Killers rant about losing the script, continuity people are killed off by the script and life loses coherency, an actor literally overacts himself to death, Hopkins seems to be the writer, but he is too passive to be the controlling factor and events in the movie he is writing spiral out of even his control in a Kaufman-esque mind-pretzel. Is life scripted? Or is it as absurd as the aggressive producer who lives in his world and wrecks his own movies? Like I said, there is much to actively experience here, but unfortunately it all feels rather whimsical, and more like an old man on a light, experimental mood that felt like exploring memories while poking fun at all of this endlessly serious movie-making stuff. This movie is the equivalent of a mental fugue attached to the funny bone, but not to a heart and soul. It's an interesting watch, but for a warmer, deeper instance of this sort of thing, I recommend Providence.

Sodium Party  
Subtle, slow-paced, atmospheric reality-bending surrealism, depicting the inner life of a young woman who witnessed a trauma in her childhood, made up an imaginary friend, and now finds herself in college. She befriends some corrupting influences, starts taking drugs, and her reality starts to crumble again. Events happen that may or may not have happened before, old home-made films provide a strange time-loop mystery, and drugs, at first taken for trippy fun, soon start to cause nightmare surreal hallucinations. When her childhood imaginary friend comes back to haunt her, she really starts losing it. Although this sounds like a Lynchian mystery, it is much more gently dramatic than Lynch, albeit the atmospheric soundtrack frequently does bring Lynch to mind. The twist payoff, assuming I understood it, is one of those things that undermine the movie. But it still works on some levels. For the patient only.

Some Southern Waters  
Just because you film Lynchian scenes, that doesn't make it a Lynchian movie. This is a movie that I liked while it was on, and kept hoping it would develop into something, and then it ended, leaving me completely empty with nothing to chew on. There's a violent traumatic event with strange, not-quite-real details that happens to a shlimazel musician's girlfriend. And then the rest of the movie consists of completely random humorous character interactions, and not-quite-real events and dreams within dreams as the musician is haunted by that event. He somehow gets involved with a strange actress-mermaid in a carnival that looks just like his girl, except she may or may not be in danger with bizarre men that appeared to his girlfriend in a dream (hence a surreal way of handling his inner trauma). There is no mystery to ponder over (the heart of a Lynch movie), no plot (even the one event that happens doesn't seem real), no character-study (the absurdism doesn't let the characters emerge as real people), and no meaty symbolism to chew over. I liked the light black humor, and the texture-rich way it was filmed, as well as some scattered surreal scenes. But then it ended in a poof of smoke and it was completely gone.

Songs from the Second Floor  
A dark, slow, surreal, and depressing look at humanity and where it's heading. This Swedish movie offers an ultimately bleak collection of characters and events that depict an extremely alienated, lonely and soulless state of modern society; people that are dead before they are dead. It is filmed with a blend of visually rich, Gilliamesque art direction and Bunuel surreal mockery and black humor, and uses a constantly stationary camera to portray the stuck state people are in. Scenes include endless and pointless traffic jams, a young girl being pushed over a cliff to symbolize the sacrifice of youth, a magician making a mistake and actually sawing into a man, and other unforgettable visuals like the sea of people overloaded with suitcases at a huge terminal. Visually rich, but pointless.

Sore Losers, The  
Colorful punk-rocker sci-fi oddity featuring aliens sent to Earth to kill a set number of beatniks and country folk, but updating that to hippies. Pizza-delivery aliens are stuck on Earth for breaking the rules and get a blood bond with a psychotic repulsive girl who goes on a killing spree while stripping, making out with other girls and lifting motorcycles. A naked angel with a snake appears every once in a while, as does Guitar Wolf from Wild Zero complete with laser beam eyes, a zombie grandmother and some incoherent bizarre sequences that make no sense.

Sorry to Bother You  
A satire that is about as heavy-handed as an obnoxious activist with a new catchy slogan. But at least it's moderately funny. It reminds me of that sketch Eddie Murphy once did where he paints himself white and discovers society is actually one big party for white people. It's similarly over-the-top and unreal, but hilarious nevertheless. Cassius gets a new job as a telemarketer, finds out he is quite good at it when he puts on his 'white voice', and soon the evil powers-that-be swallow his soul as he rises in the ranks and discovers surreal horrors at the very top. An Eyes-Wide-Shut orgy is only the beginning, the executives are ready to take slave-labor to the next level... At the same time, society is obsessed with violent TV shows that humiliate and beat up contestants while his girlfriend takes her performance art very seriously. To say more would be to ruin the surprise. The message is tired, but the humor is amusing.

Spider, The (Zirneklis)  
Yet another female sexual coming-of-age film that uses surrealism and horror with a slight erotic Borowczyk flavor, except this one, uniquely, works equally well as an atmospheric and strange horror film, with both aspects given equal attention and effectiveness. Vita is a beautiful young woman getting the attention of every man, and blooming with her own new feelings and desires. Symbolically, she is brought up in a religious school under the watchful eye of a priest, but when a strange intense painter arrives and forcefully arranges for her to model for him as his 'Virgin Mary', things heat up. The painter's aggressive and controlling approach and eye for artistic erotica takes over, threatening her composure and her nights with bizarre nightmares and visions, and her sessions in his studio full of vivid, imaginative and gothic paintings soon come to life and take over her imagination and dreams, or are they only dreams? Desire becomes a monstrous spider that becomes the painter, and nightmares mesh with reality, until she is sent to a rural gothic castle to get away from it all. Except there, she encounters more luring men, and everything seems to turn erotic, leading to a final battle between good and evil (priest and painter) that involves some gory body horror. Who will win?

Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation          
Exactly what it sounds like. An ongoing festival produced by travelling producers featuring sick and twisted short animations and who also release video compilations. The animations are mostly humorous and very short, from seconds to minutes, and focus on gross-outs, gore, depravities, offensive content, plain weird, toilet humor, sick jokes, twisted fantasies, politically incorrect rants, etc. There are some reoccurring characters and artists such as Joe No Neck and his life's little misadventures with no neck, Brian's Brain - a kid missing the top of his head, and Lloyd who constantly mutilates himself in gory ways with his clumsiness. The shorts range from stupid, dull and pointlessly gross, to funny and entertaining, but the fun of these things is in the short gross-outs and the reactions by crowds. The stand-out artist included often in this festival is of course Bill Plympton.

A cult, low-budget, sci-fi, cyberpunk movie about big brother vs. individualism. There's the powers that be that are all-seeing with the help of technology, led by a strange decaying leader hooked up to machines, who seems to be slowly turning into one. They discover an individual who is not in the system, and who has strange powers to evade them. He changes his personality, voice and outward appearance at a flick of a switch and disappears. He preaches pseudo-philosophy that seems more mystical than logical, and connects with people in strange ways. The movie unravels towards the middle as he develops a relationship with an oddly pushy waitress. He shows people strange surreal visions that overwhelm various senses, while his own paranoid and bizarre nightmares seem to be taking over his personality. In the meantime, big brother develops more dependency on complex machinery, including the ability to transfer a personality via a computer. Who will win the battle for humanity and reality? The movie does a lot with its budget and one can only guess what it could have done with more. This is strictly for people that enjoy weird low-budget movies like Liquid Sky with an approach, language and personality of their own.

Spray of the Days  
French adaptation of a popular, surrealistically romantic novel by Boris Vian, later remade by Gondry. The surrealism is somewhat subdued relative to the novel, but is still very much there, employing a constant jazzy and playful tone. The story is about two couples in love, one gets married instantly as soon as they meet but she becomes sick with a waterlily growing in her chest, and he spends all of his money on a bizarre cure involving lilies. The other couple is plagued by his obsession over the writer Jean-Sol Partre, spending all of his money and efforts into buying anything and everything connected with him. Thus, the world of delicate and light-hearted fantastical love gives way to strange tragedy, both depicted through fantastical and absurd viewpoints and little surreal vignettes. In this world, people play tennis with live grenades, there's a 'pianocktail' that creates drinks based on music, weapons grow like plants, death is a barely annoying absurdity until it happens to your loved one, people get jobs guarding strange obelisks, and so on. But although it is playful and interesting, this adaptation seems to have lost something in translation and isn't quite rewarding or cohesive.

Stink of Flesh, The  
A zombie sex movie that may become a cult item. Matool is a zombie killer who prefers to kill the undead with nine-inch nails. He's also a horny bastard who tries to get into the pants of girls he rescues. When he runs across a couple who live an 'alternative lifestyle' despite the post-apocalyptic world around them, things get complicated. This lifestyle includes having sex with anyone that crosses their path, including a laughably mutated sister in their orgies, and keeping a naked sexy zombie around in case of hormonal emergencies. When more people join them and tensions rise, things get out of control. An inventive, offbeat, kinky, funny cult movie with the expected gore but for some reason leaves you unsatisfied due to some flat elements and acting.

Stop the Bitch Campaign  
Japanese schoolgirls are prostituting themselves for money and gifts in a kind of epidemic. One group of psychotic sleaze-bags working at a porn shop decide to teach them a lesson by having sex with them, abusing them and not paying. Another couple decide to entice men who go for these schoolgirls and torture them for being such perverts. When these groups clash, the blood flies. The clash of twisted ideals and sick characters is entertainingly violent and warped, the rest is extreme sleaze and filth.

Stop the Bitch Campaign 2  
Disgusting sleaze once again, but so bizarre and over-the-top insane that it's entertaining. The abused schoolgirl from part one is back working as a pimp with a team of schoolgirl whores, all on the look out for her assailant. The psychotic comes back for more abusive fun to teach schoolgirls a lesson, only this time he's practically super-human and has an obsession with vegetables and his grandpa. Features vegetable rape, over-the-top camp with sleaze, various perversions including a diaper fetish and one man who likes to be abused while yelling 'Michael' repeatedly, harassment by a stuffed toy down a man's pants, and random crazy scenes such as a basement that turns into a disco while the lunatic dances with his dead grandpa. Many vegetables were harmed in the making of this film.

Stop the World... I Want to Get Off  
This one-of-a-kind bonkers Italian comedy seems to consist only of a stream of throwaway visual gags. It throws reality and plot out the window for an anything-goes approach to satire, and has fun with random props in the meantime. A group of flat-mates try to defy a world overcome with commercialism and celebrity-worship, even though one of their own has become an overnight TV-superhero commodity thanks to his ventriloquism and a silly robot toy. One girl constantly attempts suicide and her friends see these antics 'between life and death' as annoyances. Another girl becomes enraged throughout the whole movie because her friend sees her as being a copy of her father after reading a psychology book, and she wants to be seen as a sex object. There's a delirious LSD sequence where a sex-act turns into hallucinative madness while a TV camera and public become obsessed over a mole seen during the act. Fears of pregnancies bring upon surreal hordes of pregnant girls and menacing cars, furniture moves unexpectedly, supermarket-goods talk, a wall turns into a magnet for no particular reason, men and women fight endlessly, in surreal logic, a woman finds herself unable to seduce her man in a car while every car around them seems to contain hidden couples in sex acts, and every act seems to be one of raving madness or frenzy, leading to a delirious final half-hour that comes off like a frenzied dream gone chaotic and completely nonsensical. The movie is difficult to describe, but is lots of fun.

Story of Mr. Sorry, The  
Delightful little Korean animation with a purposely crude and ugly drawing style that creates its own warped and surreal atmosphere. It starts like a quirky children's fantasy about a timid man who works as an ear cleaner for an ear cleaner company, failing with his customers, and always in search of his sister who once used to clean his ears. The CEO conspires to make him shrink in order to make him a more efficient ear cleaner by actually climbing into ears. This works, but he discovers that he can go further into people's heads and witness or help their subconscious fears and secrets, all visualized in pure surreal fashion using strange creatures and psychedelic sets.

Strange Case of Doctor Faust, The  
By far the most experimental and bizarre of Gonzalo Suárez's movies. This take on Faust has a narrator telling us the tale as if it's a bedtime story, backed by a Greek chorus consisting of squeaky voices, against a backdrop of lights as if on an alien spaceship. Faust is after a deep secret, investigating life itself in books and scientific experiments. Then it rapidly veers into nonsensical sci-fi and mystical strangeness that mixes several classic stories together: The secret involves a child's drawings, and "beings from an unspecified place in the universe", appearing in oceans wearing gas masks or in a plastic bubble, are behind everything with complex plots and machinations. There's Margarita, a seductive, very sensuous distraction, who is possessed by the spirit of Helen of Troy, Faust's ex-wife with whom he had a child who wanted to fly. Mephistopheles is another powerful creation of the beings, sent on a mission to confuse and deal with Faust, who then gets distracted by Margarita. When characters are introduced, we usually get a delirious scene of strange dancing and rituals accompanied by avant-garde sounds. For example, Faust's son is shown as a baby bouncing rhythmically in his crib along with a howling dog, then he grows up and performs acrobatic stunts in a bizarre montage. The experimental cinematography and sound makes an already strange movie even stranger, making ordinary objects bizarre, zooming in on things like a dissolving tablet in a glass, a giraffes tongue, or squirmy tadpoles in unknown liquids. One-of-a-kind bizarreness.

Strawberry Mansion  
Fun but limited, little low-budget movie that merges sci-fi with dream-logic, depicting a dystopia where dreams are taxed and invaded by big business. A dream-auditor is sent to an isolated mansion in the country inhabited by an eccentric old lady with a huge collection of dreams. As he audits her dreams, he discovers that dreams nowadays are not what they are supposed to be. The character is reminiscent of the bureaucrats-that-could from a Gilliam movie, and the use of dreams is slightly reminiscent of Gondry, but this is on a much smaller and low-budget scale, with a poor-man's version of retro-steampunk technology. Actually, the dreams feel like they came from the imagination of a child, as in how a child would film dreams, rather then being oneiric. But the use of dream-logic improves gradually as the movie progresses with some nicely done scenes towards the end, and even with its childish visuals it is still fun and involving in its own quirky way. The title of the movie is appropriate.

In terms of comparisons, think of this as a much more surreal Repulsion, reminiscent of Eraserhead with Svankmajer's gritty textures and objects. A girl moves into a truly miserable slum-hole of a decrepit, tiny, filthy one-room apartment that looks like a store with windows covered in graffiti and dirt. It still has mountains of bric-a-brac left-over from the previous tenant, and it may actually contain the previous tenant himself somewhere in its walls. To make matters worse, the girl's mind is falling apart in claustrophobic and disturbing nightmares, and her doppelgänger is born out of her fridge to take over her life and take care of her corpse while she's out cold. There's a lot of attempts at cleaning, things falling apart to surreal, nightmarish proportions, including bulbs that explode inside flames, shaking walls and dangerous mixes of electric sockets and leaking water. This is more intriguing Jolley/Reynolds surrealism after their initial shorts, but it feels like a stretched out short and doesn't develop or satisfy like, say, Eraserhead. They should have released this as a 30 minute short along with Burn. Recommended only as a rental for people that think they can handle a more impenetrable Eraserhead by way of Repulsion.

Sun Choke  
A beautifully filmed movie about a severely disturbed psychotic person. The movie holds back on explaining what exactly is wrong with her, but it drops hints, perhaps even too many different hints. You see, this movie wavers between portraying mental illness in a chilling and very effective way that disturbs due to the fact that she never makes sense in her deranged behaviour, and between just piling on deranged ways of thinking and several possible past traumatic events until one gives up that the film-maker has any clear grasp of this character. Regardless, it's a gripping, chilling watch. Janie seems to be recovering from a psychotic break of some kind, and is being treated at home by a strict woman with a holistic approach of talking, diet, yoga, various psychological exercises, as well as punishments when needed. When Janie is allowed out of the house, she instantly develops a very unhealthy identity transfer with a woman whom she stalks. Her caregiver tries to control the rapid deterioration as Janie's various repressed memories and disturbed thoughts come to the fore.

Surrealist and His Naughty Hand, The  
A surreal Finnish film biopic about a surreal and perverse, possibly insane Finnish artist. The film focuses mostly on his work, and one is never sure if the snippets of his life in this movie are pure fantasy, since they are always infused with images from his paintings, fantasies, dreams and comic books. If this movie is anything to go by, this is one very odd duck, possibly insane, definitely with a juvenile perverse mind obsessed with rape and wanking, and it's no wonder he wasn't accepted as an artist in his lifetime. In school he reads an essay he wrote about the evolution of man as rapist. His hand, as implied by the title, has a life of his own, literally. And when he falls for a strange bookworm woman, his hand does what he cannot do, like something from Addams Family. But that's only the beginning. There is flying reindeer, a man riding a bicycle on fire, and other random imagery which we see in painting at the end of the film. But most of the film is taken up by the very weird story of two cowboys and a Native American on a nonsensical mission from Russian noblemen pretending to be French, who randomly rape villagers and each other and discuss their randy basest desires with each other. This story merges into his 'real' life as well, especially when he visits a strip club along with his infamous hand. Not sure what to do with this one, and I wouldn't call this art, but it's definitely out there.

Taevalaul (Sky Song)  
45 minute Estonian surreal animation. This is a bizarre world where postmen have to go through a rigorous and long training programme which includes many physical challenges and transcendental meditation, until one is chosen to carry a message to the moon. Creature-objects fill the scenery, from a flying pipe-creature, to an eyeball pet, some kind of sea-creature-pet that keeps announcing stuff, a dog that turns into a naked woman, a matador playing with an animated razor-blade, and so on. The letter consists of bar-codes and must be transferred via telegraph in the most painful way imaginable through a strange world where Hitchcock is scaring teenagers with his moon-like head. Magically surreal and fascinating, full of symbolism, Freudianisms and the plain bizarre, as long as you don't insist on deriving concrete meaning from your imagery.

Takeshi Kitano's films always had a touch of whimsy. In between violent Yakuza scenes and drama, Kitano would insert artistic images, paintings, dancing, sound, or make the characters detour into fun and games for almost no reason. In Takeshis', this whimsy is given free reign and is the star of the movie which seems to be exploring Kitano's world with self-references, merging his cinematic roles and real life in numerous ways. Kitano acts as both a Yakuza-film star and a regular loser in the street, going to auditions, hounded by fans and strange characters, Yakuzas, bizarre dreams, and elements from his life being used in his acting roles and vice versa, until you have no idea what is real. The climax of the movie features one absurd gun battle after another, as if saying that this is what the audience expects of his public persona which he both despises and has fun with at the same time, throwing disparaging remarks at himself and converting gunshot flashes into star formations. Repetitive, obscure, whimsical, but interesting for Kitano fans.

Taking Tiger Mountain  
An obscure movie with great potential for cult following. For starters, the writing makes use of some material from William S. Burroughs with his approval for the film, and it is co-written and directed by Tom Huckabee, who allegedly bought the film (70s) without audio and who then reconstructed the dialogue and added his own material (80s). There were at least a couple of versions of this rare movie out there in the past, some with audio quality or sync problems, until it was 'Revisited' and re-released in 2018 with massively improved picture, sound and editing. The setting is a dystopian future featuring various chaotic deteriorations of society after a nuclear war, as well as an extreme ongoing gender war, with most of society ruled by a patriarchal government, fought by SCUM-like feminist terrorists and scientists that are trying to both radically alter or kill its enemies. The protagonist is Bill Paxton in his first role who has been extensively experimented on and brainwashed by this group of feminists, and then sent on a mission to kill the leader of a Welsh village which happens to be a government sponsored community that offers sexual services based on its long history of prostitution. This is the setup, but once it gets going in the village, the movie ignores the plot and becomes an increasingly hallucinative experience as Bill's past brainwashing and many gender-switching experiments cause havoc with his sense of reality. There are several graphic sexual encounters (brief pornography), oneiric statues or visions of vultures eating at people, and several psychotropic encounters backed by an odd soundtrack, including surreal repetitive encounters with a gender-ambiguous boy (perhaps his gender-confused alter-ego) that always end in some kind of violence or with a strange lip-cutting game. There are also many audio snippets of his past mind-control experiments by the feminists that play in his mind, and an endless stream of radio announcements about the various anarchical events around the world, including the invasion of the USA, a Christian Democratic State, assassinations, mutant rats, plagues and various political crises. It doesn't really go anywhere, but it touches on themes of the gender-war dropping hints of a scary 'tiger'' that doesn't exist, and the experience itself is quite an effective surreal mental-fugue best handled while under the influence.

Temptation of St. Tony, The  
Estonian meditative art-film that uses allegory and surrealism to explore the idea of goodness in this life. A man feels alienated when he performs basic good deeds in a world run by greed, selfishness, violence and ulterior motives. His world becomes increasingly bizarre and unreal, blended with dreams and literary allusions. He finds dismembered hands in a dark forest, tries to convince a disquietingly perverse and aggressive policeman of what he saw. He is made to fire people due to a 0.7% profit loss, his wife seems almost alien in her cruelty and infidelity, he dreams of floating female apparitions, has a conversation with a strangely foreboding and omniscient priest against a backdrop of a fallen crucifix, and when some thugs kidnap his girl and seem to run things by incomprehensibly reprehensible rules, he starts to lose his moral clarity.

Ten Years Thailand  
This is an entry in a series of speculative anthology movies about ten years into the future. If this movie is anything to go by, Thailand is mostly pessimistic and paranoid (or are they?). This contains four shorts, the middle two are surreal, and the last is another boring one by Weerasethakul. The first is about military censorship of art where no one understands the rules even while the military itself is photographing the same art. The second is fantasy-metaphor similar to 'Planet of the Apes', where mindless hordes of oppressive and aggressive cat-people have eradicated humans except for one human who has managed to hide until now. The third is bonkers surrealism and psychedelia, depicting a dystopia that may have been imagined by Matthew Barney. A cult-like organization controls everyone through their mobile phones, training them in strange camps full of colorful lights and clothes, and broken people are attached to lights, converted into mobile-app avatars, and sliced up in a psychedelic cyber-outer-space full of lights. The fourth just has long takes of people discussing environmental-related problems or personal experiences, one of them breathing through a strange device, all while sitting next to a statue of a politician-leader.

A symbolic-surreal experimental movie without dialogue on the themes of death, fear of old age, memories, collected possessions and trinkets, and observing life versus living it. The camera follows a middle-aged man as random hidden people take potshots at him, he runs with a constant fear of unknown death and dangers, ruminates over his collected trinkets, hand-me-downs and artwork, observes his neighbours gather as a family or make love, studies old women with a morbid fear, dies and comes back to life, etc, all peppered with symbolic imagery like a book bursting into flames, or pictures of war. The movie is an experimental existential expression, perhaps of what it is like to live in Serbia, or perhaps just a personal meditation of a man having a mid-life crisis. Very slow moving, with some points of interest.

Theatre Bizarre, The  
Another very uneven horror anthology, this one containing six shorts and a wrapper involving Udo Kier as the host in a bizarre mime performance on stage while a horrified girl looks on. By far the most bizarre of the lot is the last: 'Sweets', where social interactions are expressed via colors and food fetishes. A guy is being dumped with all the cliches in the book while he eats disgusting leftovers, and she, a cold ice-cream, remembering all the increasingly fetishized and warped food sessions they shared, leading to a party where the socially weak get their just desserts in a gory climax. 'Vision Stains' is another sick one by Karim Hussain, involving memories passed on via injected eyeball fluid, leading to extreme eyeball trauma, except it's all illogical and pointlessly gruesome. 'Wet Dreams' by Savini is a reality-bending gory one about a man who has Freudian dreams involving his penis-chopping wife, who keeps waking up to multiple levels of reality, each more gruesome and emasculating than the next. 'The Accident' is a good one, but seems like it doesn't belong here, about a woman explaining death to her little girl who witnessed a fatal car crash. 'I Love You' is the worst one about a pathetic man and a bitchy woman in a fatal love triangle, and 'Mother of Toads' is an ordinary Lovecraftian horror short involving toad monsters and sex. In short, mostly mediocre or weak, with some highlights.

Artistic nihilism and absurd, surreal comedy on the rat-race and banal lives with useless habits and jobs. Dialog is thrown out in favor of grunts, gibberish and other animalistic sounds. Themroc gets fired from his job painting half of fences black, so he goes home, throws out all his possessions and turns his house into a cave, smashing the outside walls and climbing in through a rope. He has incest with his sister, declares war on confused policemen, and gets his neighbours to join him in this much more satisfactory, bestial life.

They Have Escaped  
Finnish art-house road-movie about teenage rebellion and love, from the point of view of the teenagers. Most of the movie resides in realism, as a young man who deserted the army finds himself in a halfway house, and into trouble in record time thanks for a free-spirited blonde girl. They escape into the wide world based on a story of a treasure that she found, living on whims and with each other, escaping the world of authority, police and adults that make them more dependent on each other. There is a superbly atmospheric dream sequences with psychological symbolism galore, and a fun surreal trip as they discover some drugs. And then there's the ending: They come across something so outrageously warped and violent that it can only be taken as a surreal final push towards isolation, once again driving them together against such a cruel and insane world. Except that the surrealism conflicts with the realism that came before, leaving one highly unsatisfied, and the message is simplistic at best, or muddled at worst. However, the surreal sequences, by themselves, are superb.

Russian artsy and atmospheric horror movie that is one big part Silent Hill with its emphasis on random, strange, gothic and horror imagery without an actual plot, and one part The Cell involving entering the subconscious of another. A strange disease kills a woman, and of her two surviving and very close-knit daughters, one becomes sick as well and her sister will do anything to save her even though the town washes its hands of her. When she finds a priest who has some ancient esoteric magic up his sleeve, she pressures him into helping her sister. Strange symbolic nightmares are followed by an exploration of her traumatic past as seen through her subconscious, which is a dark world full of fears, violent symbolism, dark strange monsters, shifting environments and symbolic actions. Unfortunately, the plot never even begins to tie up its threads and just keeps shifting its focus to new discoveries and plot developments, and then just leaves you stranded in a highly unsatisfying way. 100% style over substance.

Thou Gild'st the Even  
Magical Turkish movie that frustrates audiences by not providing a key to its surreal and absurdist view of the world. The seemingly only way to inject some sense into this movie is by viewing its protagonist as a schizophrenic, thus seeing the world through his eyes. His behaviour, and the movie's detachment from its flights of fantasy, impossibilities, and violence, thus all make sense. And yet, from within this confusing, detached world of violence, there's a heart of romance. It's about a strange man who works as a barber as well as a football referee. He sometimes indulges in outbursts of violence against others or himself, and the strange behaviour of other people is pictured in his mind as magical abilities, such as a doctor who frequently wipes tears off his face except they are made of blood, or a woman who can make things move with a wave of her hand, a giant man, an invisible woman, a man who cannot die since he came back to life after he fantasy-killed him, and a desire to see through walls suddenly becomes real in his imagination. There are many ordinary human interactions spiced with his imagination that cannot tell fact from fantasy, as well as romances with women he meets, even though he cannot make sense of his own violent whims, leading to an ending that is somehow both strong and confusing. The character study never really came together for me however, and the movie seemed to prioritize whims and moments rather than a cohesive whole. But it has its magic.

A simple story of a man going with his family on an annoying vacation serves as a backdrop for surreal absurdities and nonsense, presumably to explore the life of a Hungarian in the 80s. After some family tension and sexual problems, the wife develops a strange hair on her face and things fall apart while he visits relatives and grapples with the various eccentricities of city life. Some examples of scenes and visuals: Neglected dead men in a cinema, a meeting with his uncle who doesn't recognize him who starts barking bureaucracy which turns into a Western shootout, doors open into bizarre fantasy scenery, a hotel clerk drills them to fill in a feedback form as soon as they enter the room, brand names pop on screen like capitalist balloons, a tiny dancing woman in a matchbox, and many more odd tangents, musical pieces and freewheeling scenes. Mostly chaotic, confusingly entertaining at times, but you probably have to be Hungarian to get anything out of this.

Tin Can Man  
A highly effective, superbly made surreal nightmare on the brutality of social and family pressures; although you won't realize this when you first start watching it. This film is carefully structured in a way that very gradually progresses from ordinary drama about a meek awkward man having a very bad day with his boss and girlfriend, to an uncomfortable thriller about a minor home-invasion which grows worse and worse in its intensifying nightmarish qualities, until you suddenly realize you have entered the world of dream-logic a while back. It's very dialogue heavy, the awkward, controlling, can't-get-rid-of-him type, gradually becoming abusive, dangerous (politely), intrusive, life-threatening and sadistic. The Tin Can Man himself is a Kafka-esque symbolic scarecrow character, a man run down by life, family and society and made to dance, only here he assumes flesh and blood. Unfortunately, besides the nightmare, the movie doesn't develop much towards a payoff or beyond the never-ending sadism (it needed more notes for its length), but as mentioned, it achieves what it sets out to do effectively and gets under your skin.

Julia Ducournau's follow-up to her body-horror, coming-of-age provocation Raw/Grave is another body-horror provocation, but an insane one. It's one of those movies you'll watch just to see what it does next, and this is by design. Assuming you enjoy extreme movies that is. Alexia is a bad child whose first love is a car that almost kills her and puts a metal plate in her head. She grows up to be a psychopathic relentless serial-killer that can only get turned on by cars and who kills everyone else. This is not another Crash however, but an idea taken to an absurd extreme involving car-sex (with, not in) and car-pregnancy (don't ask, all I'll say is that it involves lots of motor oil). The second half of the movie has her pretend to switch gender so that a man who lost his little boy will adopt her. Except this man is also insane; a fireman with a steroid problem and a mental problem that desperately sees his boy in this psycho no matter how absurd it becomes. Believe it or not, emotions develop between them. Unlimited, unconditional, unhinged emotion, where an unlovable machine of an inhuman non-woman is supported by a ridiculous father's insane need to love. Audiences that read into this all kinds of gender issues or statements, or some other kind of meaning, are barking up the wrong mad tree. This is simply body-horror for its own sake, combined with a drive to provoke and surprise audiences, and with emotions added on just because they are applied to an inhuman being with a human body.

Todo Modo  
A scathing, well-made, surreal, political satire by Elio Petri. It attacks political and industrial power that is in bed with the Catholic Church in several ways. Hypocrisy, fake religion and pseudo-humility is only the beginning. There is the use of religion and piety to justify any behaviour, back-room deals and friendships, the completely useless and hypocritical preaching by the clergy about corrupting power, and so on. The movie does this by setting up a surreal situation where all people in power have been collected into a strange intimate but abstract spiritual retreat for spiritual cleansing, while the world outside is dying in an unnamed epidemic. They undergo spiritual purges, exercises and preaching. Right away there are rivalries, power games, machinations, theft, corruption. Soon there is murder, and then they start dropping like flies, as others try to solve the murder-mystery in impossible circumstances where everyone is a liar. Much is presumably specific to Italian politics of the time, but there is plenty that is generic. Visually rich, a huge cast, and a surreal treat for the politically minded.

Tokyo Elegy  
A full-length from Ian Kerkhof/Aryan Kaganof, a South-African/Dutch film-maker who usually makes transgressive shorts. An aggressive Dutch man on the run from the Yakuza is at a wild and desperate end of his rope when he meets a neurotically submissive, real-life porn-star in a bar. They get together through desperate lust and needs, their psychology explored through flashbacks, horribly pretentious monologues, perversion and censored hardcore sex. The cinematography is all over the place, using filters, superimpositions, wild movements and colors, but in a raw, gritty way like a Richard Kern movie. A blend of art and hardcore porn that both studies and revels in perversions and neurotic relationships, and which doesn't really work, but is, nevertheless, somewhat interesting.

Towers Open Fire  
Cult ten-minute short by Burroughs, Gysin and Balch. There's a nonsensical narration (more like a stream-of-consciousness rant) by Burroughs, a random montage of Bela Lugosi, cut-up and randomized text, images and movie scenes, some footage of Gysin's gadgets like the Dreamachine, and just when your brain gives up making any sense of it all and goes into a dream state, it shifts into a dream-like sci-fi involving attacking radio-waves, Burroughs with a ping-pong gun and other mind-warping oddities.

Dennis Hopper is a Vietnam soldier on a train with a lot on his mind. He is accompanying his friend's body back home to his funeral. His interactions with the train passengers at first are awkward, with various people talking in confusing new-age jargon, making him feel like an outsider. He hits on a beautiful girl who is drawn to him, but that turns sour as well due to awkward inner tension and anger, acted by Hopper with incredible realism. Soon, his mind goes off into fugues and his imagination and disturbed thoughts blend with his reality. He imagines a rape, a run through a crowd naked, and the chase of a dangerous revolutionary that may or may not have taken place. Even banal events and conversations start to become tenuous in his memory. Matters escalate until his breakdown at the funeral. A surreal mood piece on Vietnam that doesn't try to make sense, carried by Hopper and the cinematography.

Trap (Piège)  
Experimental and improvised French movie with Fernando Arrabal as a trap-seller who gives the movie its primary surreal and amusing depth. The movie opens with a strange man looking for a trap in a store that displays dead rats in its window. The seller verbally riffs on possible psychological and surreal reasons for wanting a trap, provoking the man into digging into his motivations. The rest of the movie consists of the man luring two wild and criminal young thieving ladies into his house, who then proceed to go on an anarchical spree, both exploring and wrecking his house while he hovers in the background, a house that seems to contain an awful lot of erotica and S&M toys. Their behaviour soon veers towards something resembling avant-garde improvised performance-art and the whole thing feels like a very strange dream. Although the movie tends to be way too loose for interpretation, I felt it was exploring the way others intrude into our minds (houses) and personal lives, especially when it comes to gender relationships, the fearful man luring, then watching as the thieves discover and toy with his fantasies, but who ultimately end up wrecking everything. A one-of-a-kind amusing experiment that works at a certain level.

Treasure Island  
I could almost swear this was Guy Maddin making a movie under a pseudonym. This odd indie movie derives pleasure from twisting around the postcard-perfect, romanticized images and propaganda of the USA during WWII into almost Lynchian deviant, racist and odd behaviour. To that end, it recreates the look of a 1940s noir complete with amusing news reels, then has its characters deadpan their cursing, obsessions, threesomes with married couples, bigamy, rape, and lots of repressed (and therefore surreal) gay urges. In fact, it could be argued that most of the subtexts and behaviour in this movie emerges from repressed homosexuality, giving Enola Gay a new meaning. The story involves two intelligence officers trying to create useful misinformation by building a fake life, letters and back-story around a dead body, then dropping the body near the Japanese as a kind of information bomb. In the meantime, they partake in their sexual escapades with many women, always in lifeless and awkward moods, as if in a frustrated search for something else, until the naked dead man appears to come back to life to shake up their psyches. Even the endless nonsensical encrypted messages and random letters that seem to be everywhere take on a new meaning in a surreal fashion.

Treasure of the Bitch Islands (AKA Land of the Dead)  
Try to imagine, if you can, a more energetic Stalker, as directed by a French punk musician with art-house pretensions. This sci-fi challenging oddity is much more about the Kafka-esque journey rather than the plot. And nonsensical dialogue is often used for its existential impression rather than its cohesion or logic. A bunch of misfit colleagues travel to an island full of strange dangers in order to collect some mysterious powerful chemicals whose power borders on the occult. Previously, their friend had managed to combine these elements, creating a deadly radiation that makes everyone mad, sick or dead, except that the resulting material has now become valuable for the power it created. They travel to the island and have to deal with one nonsensical obstacle after another that feel more like nightmares than anything real. An evil empire with its bureaucratic obstacles and lies, a delirious seductive palace with its rooms floating in water, a circular path through volcanoes, madness and disease, hordes of cannibals that are never seen, and always an elusive "Korean girl" hovering over the bizarre adventure. This is backed by an industrial-ambient-synth-punk soundtrack. It unravels into incohesive nonsense and doesn't really go anywhere, but the non-journey is all. Ossang's previous punk movie 'The Case of the Morituri Divisions' with its themes of government mind-control, revolution and punk gladiator arenas (!) is similarly abstract, segmented and chaotic, but not as bizarre and surreal.

Tribulations Of Balthazar Kober, The  
While not as surreal and incredible as Hour-Glass Sanatorium by Wojciech Has, this more obscure movie by the director comes the closest to that classic, although it is a heavier affair with larger themes and less of a surreal personal dream. It's about a simpleton young man who seems to either have connections to the supernatural and spirit world, or is a schizophrenic. He lives in a world of plague-death and is learning about life the hard way in a series of tribulations, starting with the loss of his whole family. Angels, an almost cartoonishly oppressive priest (Emilfork), a free-thinking father-figure, various ghosts and dead family-members, and an ultimate fantasy love of his life all visit him on his journey across a land of death and doom. Some or all of these characters may or may not be real. The world is currently going through a clash between progressive ideas, the new printing press and a corrupt church, some of which literally conduct their affairs inside a whorehouse. We are never quite sure what is real either, but it is a spiritual and psychological journey dealing with love and death and disillusion. The love of his life is his primary objective, appearing to him repeatedly in surreal scenery with a tower that later merges with his real life, and he would even cross the river into Hell for her.

Tsuburo no Gara  
Artsy Japanese piece with gritty, grimy textures and strange industrial objects, drawing comparisons to Tsukamoto, but the approach is more atmospheric. A nurse, and a man with a bizarre contraption attached to his back, wake up in a closed room full of pipes. Parallels are drawn to snails, the man carrying metaphorical issues on his back as he drifts into hallucinations, while the woman desperately tries to escape through the walls, leading to an artsy, wet and snail-slimy sex scene. Visually rich and moody art piece.

20th Century, The  
Sometimes, unoriginality is a feat. This is a Guy Maddin copycat almost all the way through, but emulating somebody as utterly unique as Maddin this well is very impressive indeed, not to mention that it is based on its own ideas and merely uses Maddin's cinematic style and humor with which to deliver its satire. Most of the satire flew right over my head, however, as this is based on Canadian politics, and specifically, a biopic of William Lyon MacKenzie King. And I use the term 'biopic' as loosely as it gets, because not only does it feel at times like it took the Ken Russell approach of pushing rumors and highlights of a man's life over-the-top into comically surreal territory, I'm pretty sure it also invented some of the facts as well. Canada is a surreal city made up of animated cardboard with its king literally in the clouds. William is hen-pecked by a drag-queen prophetic mother, he is admitted to the government only after thorough testing of his tickling endurance and urinating calligraphy skills, and he has a shoe fetish that requires nothing less than cutting-edge alarm technology and an ejaculating cactus to treat it. While the forces of good (a mustached girl with a nest of birds on her shoulder and a cult following) & evil (a king with a red button) grow stronger, he has to choose between his crush for the king's daughter, and a good-hearted nurse. A love ritual involves crossing a river of blocks of ice blindfolded, and a skating competition will determine the fate of the world.

Ubu and the Big Thug  
Purposely crude animation by Jan Lenica for a crude 19th century set of plays by Alfred Jarry involving a crude king Ubu. These 19th century plays are seen as precursors to absurdist theater and perhaps Dada. The characters are caricatures, using crude forms of language, and Ubu demonstrates every despicable, crass and boorish trait as he entertains his ambitions to kill the king, brutally kill his subjects that he doesn't like, and extract everything he can from them. It's a satire with absurd caricatures, also using burluesque and grotesque violence and behaviour. Hence Lenica's use of crude figures and animation styles, but he also adds additional and plentiful touches of surrealism such as when Ubu's nagging wife turns into a buzzing insect, or a man literally winds up another man to continue his grotesque social fawning. If not for the surreal touches, and the complex story elements and satire, one could easily mistake all this crudity as some late-night modern animated trash.

Umbilical World  
A 13-year collection of surreal and gruesome animated shorts from David Firth, an internet phenomenon. The shorts are very varied in animation style, tone and 'characters', but they have been surgically joined together like mutated alien conscious cancers emerging from each other's torsos. And yes, that description is also a description of his shorts. Some are just random bizarre and whimsical gruesomeness, more 'look-how-grotesque-I-can-be' than a realistic oneiric nightmare, the kind of modern random bizarreness that I don't enjoy. But other shorts are more biting in their pitch-black humor, and some do feel like a nightmare. That is, if you had a very disturbing day and just finished watching an extreme horror movie. A recurring theme is various modern commercial or medical services getting people to take experimental treatments that turn limbs into grotesque body-horror nightmares, with mutating body parts transforming into creatures, talking cockroaches, and random extreme violence to self and others, with bizarre creatures serving as the badly deformed human consciousness born of extreme depression. Some examples of visuals: An umbilical cord with a baby-face penetrating a vagina or a moon, a disturbed green creature playing with psychotic puppets that drill holes into horses, a man that plants and waters a tumor on his body as if it were a plant, people that sell their own life-time for money, eyeball-spiders eaten by mutants, etc etc.

Uncle's Paradise  
Crazy Japanese Pinku about an uncle who is afraid to sleep and his life turns gradually more outlandish and absurd, descending into a sexual hell. His sleeplessness is combined with wild sexual lust, and the women are only too happy to acquiesce to his demands for some reason, even his nephew's girlfriend. But his life turns to an absurd hell, plagued by giant poisonous spiders, a sperm-battle with a snake, squids and tentacles, and an orgy with a blood-covered succubus. His nephew and girlfriend try to save him by negotiating rock/paper/scissors style with the devil and fishing for giant squid. Don't ask me what it all means.

Uncle From Brooklyn, The  
This movie lets you know what you are in for right from the start with a scene of a Sicilian man having sex with a donkey after paying its pimp owner. This is a surreal Italian satire on Sicily and its citizens as portrayed in a hodgepodge of surreal visual scenes, vignettes and subplots. The city itself is wallowing in squalor, death, grotesque near-naked men, and a bizarrely dysfunctional mafia. The only signs of life in the streets are funerals, each with its quirky parade of followers seemingly walking the streets endlessly. One set of brothers get an 'uncle from Brooklyn' forced on them by a duet of midget mafiosos. But the uncle does not eat or speak and no one seems to want to claim him. One mafioso can only burp, many fat men stand in their underwear naked in the street, endless eating involves lots of flatulence, people break out in random impromptu operatic singing or useless rants, zombie-like men wander the streets, there's a mafioso subplot involving a revenge for a brother, and there are no women. Some lengthy wide-angled scenes of the lifeless city are reminiscent of Songs from the Second Floor, and the movie ends with a surreal symbolic resurrection.

There are nearly no films that could claim to reproduce Peter Greenaway's unique style of film-making successfully, but this Canadian playful film has a screenplay that is as Greenaway-esque as it gets. The visuals may not be as rich, but the screenplay is full of pedantic variations on a theme, a fascinating and quirky story about characters that seem more abstract than real, as well as many obsessive and fun details in a multi-media presentation. The theme here is copyright, privacy, and various invasions of privacy. One gay character is obsessed over Pierre Trudeau to the point of stalking him, and the film presents much documentary footage on Trudeau, riffing on his persona, both public and private, especially his famous quote about the government in the bedroom. Another gay character is obsessed with circumcision and foreskin, cataloguing all the ways in which circumcisions have gone bad (yes, accompanied with some footage). There are other talking heads that discuss amusing stories of copyright infringement, including a side-bar on the copyright symbol itself. And the characters communicate often secretly amongst themselves with many inventive ways to express the alphabet, including typing without a typewriter, or musical tones. The surreal touches are very light, but are delightful: Everything is out in the open in this movie, including a typing office on a roof, a shared bathroom, a highly surreal opera-court in a park with a jury of snails, and the ultimate absurdity: An open-air prison. A fun movie.

Under the Silver Lake  
This one is strictly for fans of movies of Wes Anderson with a heavy dose of Lynch. In other words, it uses quirk and many odd, colorful characters and events with touches of noir-mystery, and out-there strangeness, but it's all quite flat and uninvolving, using quirk for its own sake, and it goes nowhere. In fact, the ending doesn't even bother tying any of its plot elements together or solving most of its mysteries, and leaves its audience very very empty. Still, while its on, it is quite entertaining, albeit when it's done it will feel like a waste of time for most people as most plot elements are dropped and left dangling. It's about a young slacker living in the weird part of L.A. who falls for his neighbor, who promptly disappears, triggering a movie-wide search for her through various odd parties, cults, and eccentrics. There's a dog-serial-killer, a supernatural evil owl-girl, lots of hidden codes and messages everywhere, a homeless king, the same group of people that appear in every strange party, a godly song-writer who rules the entertainment world, naked hippy neighbors with an inscrutable parrot, kooky cults, a music band called 'Jesus and his Brides' that takes its name seriously, celebrity call-girls, and lots more. There are scores of homages and references to noir movies and retro movies and music, and the soundtrack wants to be a classic noir movie. Pity that the writing doesn't know how to make all of this color and quirk remotely interesting.

Underwater Love  
If you ever doubted that the Japanese are just plain weird, try this one. It's a musical pinku with Kappas (Japanese folklore creatures that live in swamps). A woman's childhood friend who died comes back as a Kappa and befriends her. Problem is, she is about to marry her boss at the fish factory. The Kappa in this movie, by the way, has a fish mouth mask, a bald scalp that needs constant watering, and a large spiral rubber penis. In addition, the God of Death (a hippy-esque drunk male in a colorful dress), has his eye on her. Will the Kappa save her and get her to fall in love with him? Features interspecies Kappa-sex with a friendly prostitute, magical necrophilia, a magical (and huge) 'anal pearl', wedgie-sumo-wrestling with the god of death, and other oddities, all delivered somehow in a very light, innocent and happy tone. Oh, and they frequently break out in dance to some odd chirpy pop-electronic tunes with lyrics involving gluttony and old women. Culture-clash city.

Untamed, The  
Mexican relationship drama cum surreal-sci-fi-horror with a blatant nod to Zulawski's Possession. Although this movie also uses a tentacle monster as a sexual symbol, it lacks all the subtleties and complexities of Zulawski, replacing surrealism with simplistic sci-fi creature mechanics, thus disallowing subconscious effect and layered interpretation. It also uses the tentacle creature very differently, as a simple symbol for its protagonist's repressed primal lusts and desires, rather than for the more needy relationship fantasies of Zulawski's characters. The movie is about a troubled marriage with a husband who much prefers meaningless gay sex over his pretty wife, a neglected wife, a rebellious lonely girl, and a gay brother. The creature can both fulfill primal desires as well as bring fatal danger to its pursuers. A simple movie, with a highly empty and unsatisfying ending.

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders  
A gentle, tasteful but very surreal and dreamy exploration of the confusing and overwhelming sensual awakening of a young girl who gets her first period. Sensual curiosity is projected onto friends, relatives and even parents, identities change often, fantasies reach fairy-tale proportions and confusing fears rear their heads which involve marriage, old age, sex, parental arguments, love, and oedipal conflicts, all beautifully filmed using confusing allegories of vampires, monsters, witch-burning, mysterious characters, and magical earrings. A magical experience for a while, but then wears out its welcome with too many confusing or meaningless cinematic wanderings.

Venus Drowning  
Old-school Cronenberg horror mixed with a touch of Eraserhead. The luminescent Jody Jameson acts as a girl trying to recover from a trauma after losing her baby and boyfriend. She travels to her childhood home at a beach-side village while recuperating. A local gentle man and her horny girl friend from the city provide visits and support. She finds a creature on the beach that takes over her life. She feeds it, and it feeds her like a drug in increasingly bizarre scenes of fleshy horror. The creature's symbolism is obvious and serves as physical manifestations of her sorrow, loss, guilt, sexual hangups and fears. Interesting and well done, and very beautifully acted, if somewhat obvious and unsurprising.

A head-trip of a movie that deserves to have a cult status on par with Jodorowsky's movies. An older man, a worker of the earth, finds himself trapped in a cave-in, this starting a sequence of mystical transformations and rituals as he passes through various stages and onto death. The majority of the movie consists of a hodge-podge of hallucinatory sequences, esoteric rituals and religious mysticism mixing together a variety of sources. He battles through a storm of ashes, encounters a pulsating egg which births a creature, interacts with a bizarre android guide acted by a skeletal Japanese butoh dancer, performs rituals, one involving the contribution of blood from his penis, watches a skeleton dance, prays to Mary, is led through water and roots of trees, etc. these scenes interspersed with memory snippets of his life on earth. On the one hand, I am probably not knowledgeable enough in esoterica to understand what all this means. On the other hand, I can't help but feel that this is just some personal drug-induced hallucinations and a meaningless salad of mysticism. There is no denying the utterly unique experience of this movie however.

Vermilion Souls  
Bizarre art-piece by Butoh performer Masaki Iwana. Butoh is a strange Japanese dance-cum-performance that is difficult to describe, but it involves very slow movements in difficult or grotesque positions, some taboo and shocking elements, an encapsulating philosophy, and references to WWII and its after-effects in Japan, wherefrom it originated. In this movie, a young boy follows a leaflet from an airplane into some decrepit grounds containing a castle populated by a troupe of strange people afflicted by an incurable disease and some mutations. They are guarded, and anxiously await gassing by a 'chief' who visits them once a year to make sure they pass some absurd criteria before approving the gassing. The castle's inhabitants include a failed kamikaze pilot, a calligrapher with glued fingers who uses his mouth instead, a suicidal prostitute, a strange woman with psychic powers, and a corpse. They perform Butoh, images of the war are glimpsed, there is graphic fellatio and the insertion of a fist, and they discuss their longings for death. This is the kind of bizarre movie that is neither good nor bad, simply because you don't know how to digest it.

Video Diary of a Lost Girl  
This is a fun one and displays its influences upfront: Mostly 'Liquid Sky', with a healthy dose of Caligari sets mixed with 80s neon psychedelia and 80s horror VHS. As with Liquid Sky, this has a unique look and feel, mixing low-budget artificial sets and cheap digital effects with very quirky punk music and attitude, and a wry, goofy, hipster sense of humor. It also borrows the idea of a woman cursed with the ability to kill men by having sex with them, In this case, it borrows some ideas from a tired feminist revisionist myth of Lilith and her offspring, and has our protagonist go after rapists, but don't worry, it rapidly turns into a quirky and bizarre romantic-horror-comedy. Louise works in a porn/horror VHS store, loves old movies like Nosferatu and Carnival of Souls, and is blessed/cursed with fatal sex powers, fatal menstruation, immortality and other bothersome things. When her reincarnated lover boyfriend appears, it complicates things even more. The fantasy and flashback scenes are surreal in a retro-punk way, adding to an already delightfully done, low-budget, psychedelic and artificial set design, and the music is very offbeat, adding to the atmosphere, but it's the actors' fun interactions and dialogue that seals the deal.

Violence Voyager  
Ujicha follow-up to Burning Buddha Man is done with a similar combination of grotesque cardboard-cutouts moved by hand along with various fluids (I don't want to know what they are) and 'special effects' applied to the cardboard. This one is slightly less bonkers but even more grotesque. It starts like a children's horror movie with a couple of kids finding themselves in a strange adventure park run by an eccentric mad scientist. And then suddenly there is mad monkeys, gory violent child deaths, grotesque and nonsensical body-horror and mutations that are difficult to describe, lots of cardboard-child nudity, and a bizarre plot that never makes any sense, ending with a robot-child-ninja-mutant action climax with a bat and cat as a sidekick.

Virgin Sacrifice, The  
Allegedly a full length movie that got burnt up, and only 10 minutes were saved. Must have been Satan... It starts as 70s exploitation cheese about a mute girl that moves in with a couple of Satanic room-mates (who do it because it's trendy). But then, for seven minutes, we get a psychedelic & bizarre occult montage that would make Kenneth Anger's head spin, with occult symbols, hallucinogenic imagery, psychedelic animations, and a sacrifice.

Visitor of a Museum  
Lopushansky is no stranger to sci-fi, using it often like Tarkovsky as metaphor, backdrop or metaphysical introspection, but in this case he just goes for a surreal, fantasy world. Like Stalker, this is mostly a strange, religious, existential meditation. In this world, a man is on a quest to visit a mythical underwater museum in between the tides. To get there he must pass through a town that is basically a big garbage dump, which the materialists there see as the produce of humankind. While this handful of snobbish atheists party, the rest of the masses, which consists of the mentally challenged, the ugly, and the midgets, pray at their monastery to 'let them out of here'. The masses are prone to religious hysteria and irrational fears, while the rational handful try to train them as servants for their materialistic needs and social rules. The religious symbolism involving redemption, Jesus, etc is heavy-handed and the allegory is a touch too simplistic, but the imagery is strong and the atmosphere is unique.

Wakey Wakey  
A one-of-a kind surreal, experimental oddity that is mostly about the experience than the plot. This is in no small part thanks to its avant-garde and very eclectic atmospheric soundtrack ranging from remixed drone-doom-metal, to cacophonous goth-rock, to ambient guitar sounds. The experience that this movie wants to deliver is of a narcoleptic girl who permanently wears a helmet because she keeps falling asleep in any situation and hurting herself. Since her dreams blend seamlessly into her waking life, she has a hard time telling apart what is real. The big problem is, she lives with her goth half-sister who has a serious streak of sadism in her, and who exploits her and experiments with her every time she passes out, not caring if she hurts herself seriously in the process, and further adding to her confusion with blatant lies and manipulation. This isn't made any easier given the fact that she admires her and they both are harboring a twisted sexual attraction for each other. There's no plot or conclusion, just one developing, confusing and surreal situation after another as she starts to catch on to her half-sister's tricks, but struggles with her confusion and dreams.

Wanderer, The (Le Grand Meaulnes)  
Very strangely-paced epic full of themes and feelings of lost-loves and lost magic childhood memories and innocence lost. Augustin Meaulnes is the king of the rough-house boys who can do anything. A young man that feels like a version of Peter Pan with a rowdy gang of boys who has an adventure and then has to grow up. One day he wanders and gets lost in some mysterious woods, finds himself in a magical place, and he is never the same again, always seeking to find the mythical happy place where he met the love of his life. The first part is like a Fellini version of a children's fairy-tale party in a magical house full of costumes, colors, circus performers, games, music, lights, beautiful woods and fairy-tale boats, a delirious magical place filmed in very fuzzy lenses. Then there is the longing, with several friends on quests to find their individual dreams, romances, finding only heart-breaks, chasing mysterious circus performers, traveling, wandering, searching, etc... until tragic reality sets in. Unfortunately the pace is so fast the movie feels like it used to be a 6-hour mini-series at the very least and then chopped down to viciously cut key-scenes only in order to fit a 100-minute slot. A whirlwind of non-introduced characters constantly get emotional and dramatic and the constant feeling is that we skipped a lot of story. The editing jumps from one scene to another without letting anything breathe and live. For the second half I wondered if the oneiric feeling was simply disorientation.

Water Spider, The  
This French fantasy movie is much more than just a fairy-tale or atmospheric fantasy in the vein of Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast. It has maddeningly surreal elements and scenes, symbolically heavy with familiar meaning, yet not quite within grasp. An older man stuck in his ways and drifting apart from his wife, becomes enchanted with a singing water spider. He takes it home, watches it grow, then metamorphose into a young female beauty. The conservative villagers disapprove, as does his wife who grows hysterical when she finds out, going through several stages in trying to come to terms with her husband's new obsession. Symbolic cats constantly threaten their peace, or are used as weapons against the villagers, and dead butterflies are magically let loose, while the spider's grasp tightens.

Weininger's Last Night  
If I hadn't seen the director's name in the credits, I would have sworn this was a Ken Russell biopic. The man in this crude portrait is Otto Weininger, a self-hating Jew that converted to Christianity and wrote an intelligent but wrong-headed philosophical book about gender and Jews, then killed himself at the age of 23 when his book was poorly received. His past life haunts him in surreal vignettes on the night of his suicide, from an Aryan whore literally chomping on his circumcised wiener, to Freudian-heavy scenes with his overbearing mother, an anti-semitic puppet show, his female doppelgänger in a moustache who constantly teases him, his parents dragging him in his baptist-bath while he spouts his philosophy, to his critics that make surprise appearances to torment him. All of which, as with most Russell films, come together to create an entertaining but populist, crude and not-so-insightful portrayal with pop-psychology. But at least the movie is peppered with some provocative and intelligent, albeit neurotic, commentary taken from his writings.

Where Evil Dwells  
Although a 30-minute short now, this was originally a full length movie called Satan Teens that was burned, and only these fragments remained. It is also an extreme movie even by the standards of Cinema of Transgression, the circle from which this film emerged. The topic is the real-life murder of a teen in Long Island by his drug & Satan-fuelled friend and his friends. This movie starts with a narrator in the form of an evil ventriloquist dummy who is being 'handled' by someone who seems to be brutally mutilated and dead. There are scenes of a gang performing general mayhem, violence and vandalism, a devil walking along train tracks, a gruesome ritual involving a skeleton dug up from a grave, and the brutal murder involving endless eye-gouging and stabbing with pretty realistic-looking special effects. Then there's heaven and hell, Jesus gorging himself like a pig in a cheap restaurant while a bouncer sends the killer away, and hell: A chaotic warehouse that looks like a wild party for violent youth, full of gang-rape, suffering men, babies and lots of smoke. All this is in gritty B&W backed by a pounding metal and industrial soundtrack.

Who is Beta?  
Brazilian, surreal, post-apocalyptic, metaphorical, hippie-esque oddity. In this world, the world is populated by uncontaminated and contaminated people. The 'contaminated' are basically just poor, simple-minded, religious people that are constantly asking for food, but the uncontaminated shoot them down like deer, or zombies, if you will, except these zombies are completely harmless. The uncontaminated always walk around with guns for just this purpose, except they enjoy shooting so much, they do it for fun anywhere, and even shoot each other as a form of foreplay. No one except the contaminated gets hurt by this happy-go-lucky shooting spree, except one time, and then a convenient double appears to take the place of the uncontaminated shot person, and henceforth she appears interchangeably with her double. There is seemingly an endless supply of bullets, there's a hippy commune, some new-age spirituality nonsense, they move around between various menage-a-trois arrangements, and they also sit around watching or recording memories of themselves in other lives via smoke and old technology. Beta is a woman who comes and goes as she pleases, even though everyone seems to like her. But who is Beta?

Winter Silence  
Dialogue-free, symbolic, visual and lyrical art-house mood-piece that feels more like images from personal dreams rather than a narrative or concrete ideas. In other words, if you are not into slow, ambiguous but pretty imagery that can be interpreted in any of various ways, skip this one. It portrays a Catholic family of mother and four daughters living in the snowy mountains. After the father has an accident, there is a period of mourning, and lots of harmonious, synchronized daily activities at home, and devout praying and ritual. There is also a symbolic innocent girl and a wise owl that coughs up hairballs. But outside elements threaten this peaceful, if closed and limiting existence, including a fool, and some mysterious deer-men that seduce the daughters, and there's a suggestion of pregnancy and abortion. Blood stains the careful embroidery, eggs are toyed with under their feet, and a marriage and spring bring back harmony.

Wool 100%  
Reclusive, eccentric, twin sisters have been collecting trash for decades, their house literally covered in bric-a-brac both inside and out. When they find a big pile of red wool, their lives are invaded by a strange girl who obsessively re-knits her red dress over and over, while yelling in multiple other-worldly voices. Various inanimate articles around the house declare war on the girl and a mess ensues. Doll-houses and wool bring up childhood memories of mother and first love as the movie and flashbacks weave together. Lots of wool is knitted, knitting is seen a method of getting pregnant, dolls act out the flashbacks, there's a river of wool, random musical pieces and chaotic animations, and more wool. Gentle, unusual, weird and interesting but whimsical.

If I were to name-drop for this one, I suppose the closest thing I can think of is Repulsion as directed by Lynch collaborating with Ryan Nicholson. This is a surreal, mind-warping, emotionally intense and nasty movie that succeeds in creating a mental portrait of a deeply disturbed woman with a nasty psychological wound, but is also gratuitously nasty as well as bizarre. You will never know how much is real in this movie, and exactly how much of it is in her mind. A past trauma of rape-incest coupled with a pregnancy at 14, which may or may not have been stillborn, plagues this woman, causing anything from images of her castrating her father in gory detail, to desperate S&M role-playing with a dominant male, to emotional psychotic breakdowns, to the haunting of her goth daughter who may or may not be real and needs her help with a rape-wound of her own. Amidst this neurotic mess, other surreal images insert themselves involving a warped birth of full-grown twins, licking of menstrual blood, and an obsessive collection of excrement that gets psychologically tied in with her trauma. Not a complete waste of time as with other movies of this type, but you have to know what you are getting into.

Bizarre alien horror movie about an abductee who returns three years later in alien form in order to abduct his son. He goes through several transformations, one of them by impregnating a woman through her mouth and gorily emerging a short while later as a full grown male. He transforms his son by sucking on his shoulder, who then joins him in bizarre activities like melting phones, creating a killer midget clown and stuffing the babysitter into a cocoon so that she can lay eggs. No, this movie does not make any sense.

Yaji and Kita: The Midnight Pilgrims  
Bonkers Japanese comedy that feels like one of those energetic Japanese comedy duos that feed off each other's silly and wacky non-sequiturs. The whole movie is basically one wildly, impulsive, inventive gag after another which are much more silly than witty. Yaji and the drug-addict Kita are a gay couple on a road trip from medieval Edo complete with period costumes with flamboyantly gay colors. Hallucinations, dream-sequences and gags include: Bodies on a river turning into a Tetris game, elastic testicles, deadly stand-up comedy trials, a 'face-tumor' which grows as a clone of your partner's head on your arm, a samurai procession turning into a parade of half-naked samba dancers and toy tanks, numerous technological anachronisms in a medieval setting, sudden bursts of gay dance and music, a drag-queen sex-change surgeon, an old lady that serves as a radio, a King Arthur that squeezes yam out of his fists, a bartender's wife who grows mushrooms on her body, a giant, farting human source of the river Styx, and much more. Fun, but too random to be truly entertaining.

Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus  
I usually don't bother with and don't enjoy purely visually experimental films, but this one sounded like it may have a structure, narrative or theme. This ones uses every visual animation, effect and editing trick in the book, with a narration that is more often non-sequitur poetry than story. And the images follow the random words, or is it the other way round? Either way, those of you that enjoy a rich visual barrage and collage will probably enjoy this one a lot more than I did. Some recurring themes include surveillance and a hodge-podge of sci-fi tropes involving consciousness transfer and deconstruction of human memories into data. There is also a detective running around investigating something or another, making this feel at times like Alphaville. As an example, bees enter as a visual motif later on and become visually merged and spliced to create imagery of human hives. The snippets of stories feel like they were taken from at least four different movies. In between all this is a completely random collage of images and words. There is even an homage to some ideas from Guy Maddin, and references to Tarkovsky's Mirror, etc. If there is a narrative or coherent idea in here somewhere it would take way too much effort to rebuild, but I'm quite sure there isn't. It's a free morphing flow of images, words and narrative impressions with several very loose themes. The title should have given this away.

One of the handful of the Zanzibar Group films, a French, anti-establishment, film-making group in the late 60s that went beyond the New Wave to make avant-garde, unscripted, highly experimental works. Some were models and dandies, attempting to raise the approach of superficial outer appearances to a metaphysical one, in which emptiness was the means towards an undefined goal. This crackpot, pretentious, unscripted movie aims at destroying the synthetic social constructs in oneself, and any analytical thought, reaching towards Nothing in other to re-discover some kind of undefined transcendental nature of man. The title of the movie refers to a Bataille concept of a headless deity aiming towards 'loss'. To this aim, the movie has the youths improvise, spout pretentious statements, hang out in decrepit ruins of civilization acting out in some kind of performance art, or communing with nature. One scene has a youth read a manifesto to an audience of three strange men and two children, another has a guy performing with a pigeon on his belly while a woman emerges from a raincoat. For avant-garde crackpots only, or for people wanting a glimpse at a lunatic asylum.

Adventure of Faustus Bidgood, The  
Odd, fragmented Canadian indie movie exploring the mind of Faustus, a weak-willed bureaucrat in the Education Ministry slowly going insane. He has violent fantasies about his annoying co-workers, an imaginary friend/devil/angel who constantly hovers around him with advice, various fantasies about getting power, becoming president and a popular hero, and many trips down memory lane remembering mother's advice and dad's strange behaviour. His coworkers are planning a staged play in costumes, his boss worships an almighty Grid that runs everyone's lives, the cheesy-poem-spouting Premier keeps disappearing, prompting a TV show to give rewards to finders of the Premiere, and a chicken-actor has a nervous breakdown and runs around killing girls. A confusing movie that meanders between these various real, odd and imaginary worlds, but doesn't really do anything with them until the ending which sort-of ties the threads together.

Alice In Wonderland (1966)  
This BBC adaptation managed to grab many name actors, but is highly eccentric (beyond the source material) and misguided if you ask me. It covers much of the story that is usually not covered and remains relatively loyal to the source without adding elements from other stories, but the performances are so strange or stiff, they don't seem to be involved in the moment and color of the scene and are in their own world, wherever that may be. The various creatures are portrayed by regular humans in various levels of society, and at first this seems to be more of a loony satire on Victorian society rather than a fantasy adventure. But Carroll's material is often more of a wacky dream and some scenes work less well than others using this approach. The chief problem, however, is that the director has chosen to portray Alice herself as extremely stiff and detached from everything going on, and even her lines are spoken robotically, making her interactions very clunky and uninvolving.

Alice Through the Looking Glass  
Of course, any adaptation of Lewis Carroll's works is bound to be surreal and bizarre. But this one unintentionally adds its own bizarre layer due to a lack of vision. Of course, there is no sense in reviewing the plot because there is nonsense in the plot. Alice finds she can go through the mirror into a world where she must find her way through a chessboard landscape full of strange characters with their own nonsense logic, in order to ultimately become a queen. The biggest problem with this adaptation is that they senselessly cast a 25 year old, bored-looking Kate Beckinsale in the role of what is supposed to be a confused, pedantic, surprised and demanding child. But there is no sense of wonder, no sense of a confused child in the world of adults, and no sense that she cares about what is happening except to recite her lines and crinkle her brow occasionally. The various name actors in the various roles are a mixed bag, with White Queen and Ian Holm as the White Knight bringing their characters to life, but most of the rest seem awkward or set up in inappropriate costumes, failing to bring their roles to life. And what sense is there in the Wasps nonsensical lines if he doesn't have a face like a Wasp? There is a difference between no sense and nonsense you know...

Alien Beasts  
This isn't just a rock-bottom terrible film, it belongs on the list of films so terrible they need to be studied by bad-film enthusiasts as to how things can get so terrible, they become transcendental experiences. There's a family and some random people fighting 'agents', monsters, aliens in random masks and bizarre make-up. 'Fights' as in, completely random kiddie fight play-acting in back-yards and random locations. There's a mentally-challenged narrator who keeps spouting random nonsense about agents, radiation, extra-dimensional beings, and battle-tactics that are so sophisticated, they are baffling. And he repeats his lines very often to help us understand the mind-boggling depths of the... I guess... plot. Add lots of psychedelia, and an editor on drugs who splices random footage of staring people into the action, and a couple of blood-splattery home-made effects, and you have a mind-warping masterpiece.

All Jacked Up and Full of Worms  
There are messed up films that try to construct the equivalent of an LSD trip for its audience, and then there are films that are so incoherent and pointlessly bizarre that you feel that the film-maker was on LSD while making the film. This is strictly random bizarreness, gore and gross-outs in the vein of Calvin Reeder. The characters never resemble humans, there are no laughs, no plot, not even basic horror. There's a messed up fat guy who, for some reason, thinks a sex-doll in the shape of a baby will result in a baby. There is a trio of weirdos that do 'weird hippy shit' together, which involves some bizarre emotional and sexual experiences. There's a psychotic clown who runs around with his Chinese girlfriend giggling and massacring everyone, as if he emerged from an August Underground video. And then there are worms used as drugs, lots of trips, and all these characters running around jacked up and on a violent rampage, with intestines used as psychedelic gory killing weapons, a worm-king creature, and a worm-drug guru constantly talking on TV as if he's William Burroughs. This doesn't even begin to describe the unique and utterly empty-headed trashy effect of this movie however.

Alma Mater  
Odd Uruguayan movie about religion and society and the pseudo-emancipation of a meek Christian woman. It's one of those strange movies that intrigue with mystery for most of its running time then ends in abysmal disappointment. Pamela leads a virtuous but completely empty spinster life. An ominous messenger who may or may not exist, visits her at the supermarket where she works and seemingly works behind the scenes with violence to guide her on her new mystical path of enlightenment. She befriends a transgender prostitute who provides warm support while on her new path. Mystical visions, mystical pregnancies, mystical messages... and she is on her way to a dating site to meet the man who will be the father whether he likes it or not, armed with a list of demands. There are two ways to understand this movie: Either she is a loony and this all takes place in her mind, in which case she is an unlikeable thief and a loony. Or this is some kind of pseudo-mystical journey with nonsensical events which leads to new-age pseudo-spiritualism that is as meaningless as it is inclusive.

Most of the surreal weirdness in this horror movie is at the end. Taken superficially as a horror movie, this is quite good actually. But ideologically, the message that this movie delivers, is as toxic as it gets. To explain why would spoil the movie, since one has to take into account the many twists at the end of the movie. But that's OK; some movies should be spoiled. This movie says that manhood (as in male) is inherently evil and violent, so much so that even man's need to help women will inevitably lead to violence against women with no chance of forgiveness. It does this by setting up a loop where a supernatural being posing as a Catholic nun manipulates an ex-soldier to move in and help a woman being abused by an evil 'mother' (thus setting up a 'church-approved' 'marriage' where the man always abuses the woman). But once he tries to help this kindly woman who only cares for others and cooks for them, his evil emerges, he is then punished for enjoying her meals by being impregnated with this evil and he becomes the next abusive suffering 'mother' in a body-horror gender-bending climax of surreal proportions. His past is also explored in flashbacks where his gentle kindness towards a woman in the forest turns to violent rape out of nowhere, while worshipping a female 'amulet'. This interpretation was basically confirmed by the director. Man-hating trash par excellence.

Annunciation, The  
Hungarian theatrical art film that is based on a literary book about the Tragedy of Man. After Adam and Eve fall from Eden due to their conceits and Lucifer's seduction, they continue with their sins and are guided through the world's history during monumental events when humanity takes a few steps forward. In ancient Athens, Byzantium, Prague (as Kepler), Paris during the revolution and London during industrialization, Adam is constantly faced with a new ideal which gives him new confidence in his conceit, only to have it fail in his face as humanity twists it around, using it for violence and more depravity. All the while he yearns for Eve and finds her in each historical setting as well as Lucifer who appears in different guises to show him the failure of mankind. This is all filmed in a confusing hodgepodge of dense historical references, poetic, pretentious soliloquies, and surrealistic snippets, and for some reason, the actors are all children who perform like a bizarre avant-garde theatrical group complete with nudity and posing theatrics. A messy art film that gets lost in its overly avant-garde pretensions.

Assault! Jack the Ripper  
One of the nastier Pinkus and by far the nastiest movie by Hasebe. An annoying woman and her weak boyfriend who decorates cakes get a taste for blood when they accidentally kill a deranged woman. When they find out what an aphrodisiac killing is, they go on a killing spree. Things get out of control and the man develops an obsession for carving up women's genitals. Not visually graphic but relentlessly nasty, like an extreme Cat III entry.

Atmo HorroX  
This is one of those modern movies whose approach to the bizarre is to simply conjure up random costumes, sounds and props and deliver a sequence of bizarre visuals without any actual content. In other words, this is strictly for fans of Calvin Reeder. There's a creature (a fat man covered in pantyhose and random props) with balloons for genitalia, working for another fat-pantyhose-man decorated with remote-controls, who is stalking and capturing humans with the help of a whirling-dancing creature in the forest and some randomly appearing and disappearing objects. Humans are captured using balloon genitals that turn into burnt hot-dogs, as well with as inter-dimensional teleporting high-heeled shoes. There's an agent of some sort spying, a doctor who takes ages to write gibberish prescriptions, lots of ordinary folk doing ordinary things serving as victims and who talk in garbled-electronic sounds, repetitive scenes of a man battling it out with a monster that usually end with some kind of squishy head-goo serving as gore, and a couple of other aliens or strange people doing unexplainable things. There are hints of a theme on pharmaceuticals and doctors, but that never even starts to develop into anything. It's obvious that no brain-matter was used in this movie, it's not nightmarish or surreal, it has no point or plot or comedy. A useless waste of visual wankery.

A seemingly random series of strange and absurd vignettes joined together by some kind of anarchistic, big, deaf-mute man. A midget bullfighter fights a rhinoceros, man attacks golfer and removes his shoes, a rich man uses the man as a chew-toy for his dogs, animals are eaten and stuffed at a taxidermist while being decorated with syringes, a fat woman is kidnapped and dragged up a mountain, two men shoot each other with darts as some kind of game, a Dali painting is reproduced in real-life and some new-age philosophy on death is discussed. I couldn't decipher any meaning or goal out of this unfunny mess. Maybe it was just an exercise in wordplay and strange humor.

Baby Blood  
Messy, bizarre film involving a lion-taming assistant who gets raped by a snake-like monster that ripped its way out of a leopard who then talks to his mother while in the womb and forces her to kill people and drink their blood so that he can be born and return to the sea and replace mankind (don't ask). At times a silly satire on the sacrifice of pregnancy and female harassment by idiotic men, and at other times just a very gory, bloody and incoherent horror movie with elements of black humor. Cult French horror, followed by a dull and cheaply made sequel 18 years later (Lady Blood) with similarly borderline-nasty gore.

Back Woods  
A terrible home-made comedic romp on the backwoods horror genre that knows how bad it is but makes us suffer anyways. It's a celebration of trash: After a trashy sex scene, an androgynous fat person of unknown gender carries a baby for 30 years while living in the woods. A full-grown man emerges from a posterior birth with a superior intellect, but is unfortunately dropped on his head thus making him retarded. That's one of two laughs to be had from this movie. When a group of campers kill his mom, he receives messages from a genitalia-challenged Mangina creature to cross-dress and go on a killing rampage. The rest of the movie consists of endlessly padded out limp scenes of teenage hormones, chasing in the forest, tedious attempts at comedy and acting retarded, and weak gore. There's a splattery breast-eating scene, one cute girl does the director a favor and exposes her breasts so he extends the scene as much as he can by playing it on repeat several times, and then this camcorder movie with terrible sound came out short, so he extended it with several pointless post-credit titles and played the whole movie in reverse.

Bad Brains  
Bad horror movie by Zuccon that tries to be mysterious and sophisticated by adding psychological layers of reality, only confusing us in the process and adding up to nothing. A strange serial-killer couple kidnap various people before killing them in the hopes of finding something in their bodies. Then they kidnap an unusual man who seems to have a psychic connection with them. Flashbacks regarding a murder in the family, a strange relationship with a mother, and constant shifting of reality (i.e. bad editing) complicate matters as they occupy themselves with sex and try to achieve their goal. What this goal is, is never explained, their attitude towards their victims is extremely inconsistent, one second they are strangely compassionate, then they are eating eyeballs, and the multiple twist endings are both cliched and nonsensical. A confusing mess.

Baise Moi (Rape Me)  
This is what you get if a group of pornographers tried to make a film about misandry a la Thelma & Louise. A low-budget, gritty look at a violent neighbourhood and a couple of extremely angry drug-addicted whores, one of whom gets raped, sending them off on an anarchical crime and sex spree. This X-rated movie alternates between pornographic sex and pointless bloody violence, following the very unsympathetic women on their path to doom. The film-makers' previous movie was a vile pornographic half-length 'comedy' about S&M, scat and snuff called 'I Love Snuff'. Figures.

The state of underground cinema must be pretty bad when even cheap exploitation grindhouse movies don't make an effort. The approach of this movie is to take a bunch of normal youngsters, give them some messed up personalities and have them do nasty things to each other, except they still behave like normal young folk. In short, this one is never believable for a second. It desperately wants to be shocking except they didn't bother working on the story and characters. A killer couple that kill everyone in sight for fun, pick up an innocent couple and stay at an inn where people are getting viciously butchered. Throw in random incest, a suicidal and messed-up gay police-man, girls that like to rape their boyfriends, and forced abortions, all just because you can and not because it adds anything to the story, and you get this waste of time. The gore is at a slasher level but is unrealistic.

Beast in Heat, The (AKA Horrifying Experiments of the S.S. Last Days)  
Another in the long line of Ilsa-style Nazisploitation clones with a lesbian German officer in charge of torturing, experimenting and humiliating women. Mixed with this one is a dull action and drama movie of guerrilla activities and warfare. The occasional nasty bits come out of nowhere, including ridiculously sleazy scenes of a bestial dwarf raping women and ripping off their pubic hair.

Beautiful Girl Hunter  
Only the Japanese can mix art and exploitative violent sex this way. An early shocker supposedly dealing with the topic of nature versus nurture as an insane rapist begets a son through his victim who is a wife of a professor. This anti-social son grows up wanting to be like his father and more, despising the weak idiotic masses, kidnapping popular girls and methodically humiliating them until their psychology breaks down and becomes something else. For every weak statement the movie makes however, there are 10 exploitative scenes of rape, torture and wicked humiliation.

Waiting for Godot was a play that was so neutral, everyone saw something different in it (or nothing at all). Beckett, himself, at first, objected to people injecting their interpretations into the play, as well as to seemingly minor changes, then accepted that this was what made it popular. But how much change can one make and still claim to be an interpretation? This movie tries to recreate the spirit of the play in an absurd, quirky and surreal landscape. But the characters are not even waiting for Godot, they are searching and walking towards Godot, and the dialogue is more often than not so nonsensical, that it doesn't really evoke daily life like the original did. Which is why I found this completely unrewarding. The plot: Two men wander a desolate landscape on their way to 'Godot', some being beyond the mountains that plays electronic Rave music for the whole world. Along the way they encounter a strange singing oracle, a strange cowboy called 06, Adam the DJ and his nagging Eve, other mythological creatures, a distracting search for Mother Earth, or sexy woman who wants them to swim in her waters, as well as various people discussing life, religion, jokes, stories or random nonsense, and everything seems to be repeating itself, everything repeats itself. What does it all mean? Up to you. I remained neutral and found that it evoked nothing at all.

Berlin Alexanderplatz Epilogue  
This concerns only the last episode of the 15 hour TV series by Fassbinder. Whereas the series was based on a book and develops an existential character study of a weak-willed, violent, naive man, the epilogue is Fassbinder's surreal interpretation of this story as a mad Ken Russell biopic. Characters, events and dialogue are reshuffled as in a dream, traumatic highlights of the man's life re-appear in different ways, there are strange characters in shiny costumes, anachronisms, random nudity, characters re-interpreted as gay, the Nazi subtexts are exposed, Franz has several nightmares in an insane asylum involving violence, strange doctors, torture and revelations about his friends and girlfriends, and all kinds of artistic, symbolic scenes are included such as Jesus crucified against a backdrop of a nuclear bomb. A mess, and a complete clash with what came before.

Black Candles  
A bad rip-off of Rosemary's baby complete with a married couple, a traitorous husband, Satanic neighbours, rituals and Satanic brides, only this one is soft-core porn and happens to include rape, sex with a goat and sodomy with a sword.

It's time for yet another surreal movie about a young girl's coming-of-age. Except this one is very crudely made and purely for the TikTok generation. A 13-year-old girl with a wild imagination witnesses a traumatic act of sexual violence. This rude awakening causes havoc with her internal world of colorful sparkly dragons, fancy costumes and makeup, and tiny little cute animated creatures. Every emotion is spelled out and taken over-the-top with tantrums, acting out in make-up, and a random over-loud playlist of emotionally-heavy songs. Her inner sparkly world of dragons and dolls is invaded by darker images and emotional or violent outbursts, hitting us further over the head with her emotions in case we still didn't get it. This is all emotion, arts & crafts, makeup, and no thought, and it isn't going to provoke it either. Your emotions aren't interesting on their own, kids.

Blood-Red Ox  
A journalist and his boyfriend travel to Bolivia to investigate some ecological story. Surreal nightmares and hallucinative visions start right away, often involving a bloody ox-human beast, after witnessing an ox being put down. Portentous mythology about the creation of the world is shared, there are strange rituals, a heavy song is performed in full, reality is shown in non-linear timelines, and scenes and details keep repeating in different configurations, and they even throw in some eco-activist drama. They get confused, one loses his identity and memories of the other, and there is much emotional melodrama. After all of this, the revelation that pseudo-explains it all is nothing short of banal.

Blue Movie  
Art-house sleaze supposedly making statements about consumerism and violence vs. sex, but this is just a strange, disgusting mess of a movie. A woman with rape fantasies is taken to a photographer's home who treats his models as merchandise and has dominant, perverse relationships with them. The rest of the movie consists of weird sex and fantasies, submissive women degraded and used, and models being locked up, fed junk food and made to urinate and defecate into coke cans and cigarette boxes

Body Melt  
This Australian gore movie gets a prize for the most bizarre deaths ever. The movie is all over the place and so messy that plot lines are left hanging, characters are left in the middle of a predicament, and neither the dialog nor the deaths make much sense. A chemical company making super-health vitamins and treatments is illegally experimenting on the locals. But their chemicals rapidly get a life of their own, causing people to hallucinate about deformed lovers who massage ribs out of chests, drink detergent, crack up and break out with wormy tentacles, explode, melt, deliver a living killer placenta, get hard-ons that explode, develop grotesquely swollen tongues, drown in their own snot, etc.

This brings to mind Singapore Sling, another movie featuring insane females playing extreme and twisted games for their own sake. Except with that movie, the trashy elements made it somewhat entertaining. Here we have three very unlikeable and brainless brats, one more insane than the next. They get in trouble with a drug-dealer due to stupidity, go to steal from their old friend who is even more insane than they are, except in order to visit her house they have to play strange psychotic games with seemingly random rules, where anyone can get tortured at random for no reason whatsoever (except that they seem to have supernatural healing skills). There are a few acid trips, there's a policeman on their trail, and then there are multiple twist endings that never make any sense whatsoever and which could be interpreted in any of a dozen ways, none of which make the movie more interesting. I was hoping they killed each other in the first ten minutes. Very brainless.

Bride of Frank, The  
And I thought nobody made movies like this anymore since John Waters mellowed out. Frank is a real-life old and nasty bum who doesn't only recite his lines like a robot, but needs subtitles to understand what he's saying. He was taught by his mom to warn people before he kills them so he tells various people that annoy him how he will bite their penis off, decapitate them and defecate down their neck, do nasty things to their skull and rip off their face, and then actually does it literally and graphically. But Frank is a lonely man in search of tits, so his friends at work who bought him a blow-up sheep put an ad in the paper and get women to come visit him with disastrous results. Extreme trash with a very low-budget that offers a few slimy chuckles.

Bullet Collector  
A art-house violent portrait of a troubled teenager who seems to think only insecure and disturbed thoughts of violence and hatred, and who is possibly schizophrenic. He frequently and stubbornly goes head-to-head with his step-father and everyone he knows, he has a soft spot for a girl except he can't seem to get turned on with girls except through violent imagery and words of violence. After an altercation with bullies, he is sent to prison where he encounters even worse bullies. The movie features no character arc, no insight, no interesting characters or plot besides the minimal events described above, and the protagonist is as flat as the movie. The whole film could be described as a portrait of the inner state of mind of this youth, with frequent flights of violent revenge fantasies as he shares invented stories of violence with his girlfriend and strangers, talking in his head to imaginary friends, some from his child-hood. This is portrayed visually and with voice-overs, resulting in a surreal movie peppered liberally with dreamy violent imagery, until we do not know what is real and what is isn't. Except we don't care since none of it is remotely interesting and it's all one note that keeps going for two long hours.

Buñuel and King Solomon's Table  
A strange, pointless fantasy that imagines Bunuel, Dali and the poet Lorca together on a nonsensical, part Dan Brown, part Indiana Jones adventure. Bunuel imagines the whole thing as a flashback for no good reason other than that Solomon's Table has something to do with time travel, we get pointless numerous references to the works of all three, some fanboyish glowing over Bunuel's movies, and then the nonsensical hunt for the Table that finds the trio going through some surreal tests that don't seem to be testing anything (one of them sleeps with a naked girl then wakes up threatened with circumcision only to cut to another scene with no outcome), and then they travel through the bowels of the earth seeing all kinds of strange images from Dali's head, but nothing ever happens, as if someone built the sets then lost the script. But the worst aspect is that the protagonists have no spine, character or humor, and with such colorful celebrities, one would expect a surplus of these. A tedious mess.

Bunker, The  
German weird black comedy about a very bizarre family and their temporary resident student. The house is a bunker under the snow, the father is obsessive, the mother rewards everyone with sexual favors and breastfeeding, there's a split-personality in the form of a wound (yes you read that right), and the son is 30-year-old who behaves like a 5-year-old. When the family insist that their new resident educate their son, he is forced to adapt to their strange ways to the breaking point. It seems entertaining, but the bizarre comic tone is juvenile, and the movie doesn't really have anything interesting to say, leaving its audience unrewarded.

A 12 million dollar pornography and gore film about the depraved Roman emperor. Explicit hardcore porn, imaginative gory violence, a rich production and Shakespearean actors like Gielgud. 2 1/2 hours of every kind of excess trying to hide under the excuse that it is historically accurate. Unbelievable.

Champagne Club, The  
Basically a remake of Grande Bouffe, except instead of four men systematically eating themselves to death, we get two high-class neurotic couples going mad for some obscure supernatural reason at a massive villa with never-ending food, and indulging themselves in every whim and pleasure. They gradually become more and more insane and uninhibited except for the artist who becomes depressed. Wild eating habits become orgies of pleasures and mountains or baths full of food, then cannibalism and coprophilia straight out of a Salo flick, and this blends with random sexual pleasures, depravities and violence, while the artist broods, makes speeches, and hallucinates. If the movie is an allegory about a life of hedonism without art, then it is an uninsightful one. Otherwise, it's just pointless filth.

Charisma (Karisuma)  
A pretentious study on individualism vs conformist groups by the usually interesting Kiyoshi Kurosawa. A cop tries to save both a lunatic criminal who demands to "restore the rules of the world", and his hostage, but ends up losing both. This sends him on a quest for discovery on the issues of individualism and intolerance, the philosophical exploration depicted using a metaphor of one special tree poisoning the forest and the various factions that try to fight for one or the other. Obscure, a plodding lack of pacing, and inscrutable.

Theo van Gogh's pointless provocation in the form of a movie about a cannibal lesbian serial killer. Although the subject matter would have become trash, cheap horror or exploitation in anybody else's hands, this strange one is delivered as part art, part tongue-in-cheek trash, as if the director did it as a joke to provoke audiences but couldn't help giving it a serious treatment. The lesbian couple has an arrangement where one seduces men and sleeps with them, then poisons them, and the other chops them up, and keeps their chopped-off penises in their fridge for consumption as popsicles. As if that weren't psychotic enough, the blonde is mostly silent, obsesses over a baby doll as if it were a live child, and has nightmares of her father raping her a child in the shower, sometimes including her current lover in a fit of dream-logic. One of their victims is a demented man they pick up in a bar who spouts scatological poetry and 'seduces' them with his disgusting fetish. As I said, pointless in-your-face trash.

Cheerleader Autopsy  
Lame bad taste coroner and autopsy humor, a touch of nudity and slapstick, toilet humor, and the occasional gore effects that consist of very obvious hard rubber dolls and body parts. The non-witty banter involves things like necrophilia, selling bodies as dog food, penis transplants, silly autopsy jokes, etc. Despite the title, this doesn't deliver neither sex nor splatter.

Chidos, Los  
A fitting companion piece to Visitor Q, this Mexican piece of insane 'comic' filth is a similar collection of transgressive extremism posing as absurdist symbolic social commentary. Only the commentary doesn't have anything to say except to portray some Mexican social issues of misogyny, violence, incest, crazy religion and racism in the most extreme and transgressive ways possible for absurd and shocking effect. It's about a Mexican extended family of various perverts and lunatics who run a highway tire-shop but are too lazy to deal with customers. Instead they play with each other, and this includes various incestuous kinks as well as a religious mother who tries to cure her son of homosexuality with highly inappropriate ways. There's a Waters-esque parade of one transgressive act after another including coprophagia, and a neighbor who abuses his new, masochistic, adoring bride in increasingly violent and disgusting ways. Along comes a rich, naive American with lots of money who ingratiates himself with his cash and charm, serving as the butt for their teases and games, and is soon adopted by the family, several members of which develop a crush on him. But matters deteriorate for a deliriously violent clash.

Beyond tedious avant-gardism. This is the kind of movie that will make you vow never to touch anything by the film director again. The synopsis says: "Thousands of years into the future, through the eyes of an alien life form, we see the fossilized beings of Ronald Reagan and William Casey enact their relationship as if in a crude ancient play. Through an array of text, sculptures, drawings, animations and monologues, alternate interpretations of the character's histories and myths unfold." What the movie actually says: Two monotonous amateur actors on an artificial 'sci-fi' stage wear clay masks of Reagan and Casey and throw snippets of their biographies and quotes at each other for 90 minutes, as if they were conversing in a (bad and tedious) Greek play. In between, we get to see weird drawings of strange anatomy while a woman reads from Job, and random quotes from the Quran and Herman Melville.

Colonel Panics  
A muddled, incoherent jumble of plot-lines, ideas and genres. In the beginning of this film, one author character explains that they got an AI program to write her story for her using a feedback loop where the bot keeps adding more elements to the story. I believe that's where this screenplay came from. There's one actor in two roles, in the future and present, as well well exploring Japanese war crimes exploiting women in the past. There are sex robots, sex fantasies, prostitutes and rape fantasies. There's multiple levels of VR worlds where characters in one level put on goggles and go into another level, until you give up figuring out if anything is real. There are also bugs in these games or VR worlds, and a programmer hired to debug them. There is a smattering of random pretentious poetry, literature and art-house film-making, as well as grimy, nasty exploitation involving erotica, and sex-revenge fantasies with brutal killings and necrophilia rape. But nothing adds up or coheres. If it wasn't written by context-free loops of a prototype AI program, then they did a good job emulating one. Just add random elements to a screenplay based on free association and film it? Bad idea, folks.

Cosplay Fetish Battle Drones (AKA Struggled Reagans)  
There are dumb movies, there are insultingly idiotic movies, there are brainless movies, and then there's this. Just trying to imagine what the state of mind was when they made this one gives me a headache. It's a silly low-budget spoof on Power Rangers by way of pornography, and a bunch of other movies, some of them Japanese. The 'plot' involves six youths experiencing a weird trauma like being related to the internet-celebrity that makes her eyes bulge out, or being raped by a cucumber, or dropping half a dozen aborted fetuses, which caused them to gain super-powers relating to their trauma (aborted fetus power!) and causing a tumor in the 'collective unconscious'. They have to fight various bizarre villains, get instruction from their Dad who is a lamp, deal with their mother who is having her stomach stapled, and hundreds of other random events like these. Except the movie can't even collect enough thought or momentum for 5 whole seconds to make a single coherent scene. It's as if someone binge-watched a hundred movies and pornos without sleeping, then made a movie that consists of random mutilated quotes and cliches from all the movies with some extra random words and twists that the director found amusing at the time, while his mind is floating on sleep deprivation and a severe lack of ADD medication. Dialogue is built exclusively using non-sequiturs, as is the plot. Here's one sample quote: "You don't know the depths I've crawled or swam past the ascetic organs I've amputated." And no, it doesn't make more sense if you watch the movie. Forget the complete waste of time; this movie will make you hate the fact that they found yet another level of idiocy and thought it was worthy enough to film.

Crazy Murder  
Somewhere in between Leolex and this movie, the directors seemed to have lost all their subtlety and realism. This movie is basically 100 minutes of a crazy homeless man eating his own feces and vomit, with a couple dozen brutal murders in between. 100 minutes of crazy monologue, feces, vomit, murder, feces, penis self-mutilation, murder, monologue, feces, murder, feces, graphic penis self-mutilation, murder, feces, etc. The murders and violence themselves are realistic, with special effects that will make you wonder how they pulled it off, and the fact that they are performed not by a psychotic hillbilly or a cold-blooded sadist, but by a lunatic that kills anyone and everyone at random due to the chaos in his brain, is uniquely disturbing. But, there are two huge problems with this one (besides the fact that it is vile): One is that the movie is only for coprophiliacs and it constantly and tiresomely tries to shock its audience, the other is that it is impossible to believe that someone like this who eats feces in public and kills dozens of people in the street could stay alive and stay on the streets for a whole year. There are also some semi-surreal nightmares (flashbacks?) involving violence that was committed against him, but this doesn't make him interesting or believable. The least they could have done is added a bit of a character-study.

You know that thing they do in movies where a character arrives at a sudden epiphany or has a supernatural encounter with death and they show us a rapid short montage of colors, lights, filters, flashbacks, memories, short snippets of nightmarish imagery, etc. Now imagine 80 minutes of that with no story. There's a teenage couple with tensions between them and some undefined dealings with death, either cancer or murder or both, amorphous internal morbid struggles etc. But then the whole movie spends its time in this endless montage of repetitive motifs of religious imagery, violence and tensions between an older couple, possible murder, water, many colors, nightmarish wandering in this surreal house with voices, songs, sounds and colors. Except it gives us absolutely zero to chew on, making this an interminable empty torture to watch. All visuals and no content make films a dull chore. Even pure surrealism usually has content, character or a mystery to chew on while we experience the movie. But this one provides none of the above.

Cruel History of the Female Inquisition (AKA History of Women's Torture)  
Also known officially as Cruel History of Prisoners. Similar to Teruo Ishii's Tokugawa torture series but without the style or interesting stories. This is simply a collection of period scenes and stories where women are tied, whipped, raped and tortured to death. Men come home to find their wives or daughters doing something they shouldn't, and that's enough of a 'story' to portray yet another stream of sadistic tortures, which is obviously the focus of this movie. One woman is beaten to death, another has her genitalia tortured with some kind of acid then sliced off, there's a female bisexual masochist into extreme biting, a quick scene of torturing and raping ninjas, and yet another nasty punishment by sharp dildo. So, basically, an artistic snuff movie. Followed by the less extreme and more story-oriented Horrific Torture of Japanese Women which assigns the brutality and misogyny to the dominating Japanese military and its culture.

Daft Punk's Electroma  
About three minutes of material padded out to one hour. Two robots in a robotic world attempt to become human by putting on a human face that melts in the sun. But society shuns them, making them go on a bleak, lonely and hopeless trek in the desert, where one dune looks like a woman's body. The end. Annoying soft art music, no dialogue, repetitive visuals, sub-Tarkovsky-esque pacing on every scene and landscape, and too little material for thought.

Dandy Dust  
This one's practically impossible to review. For starters, there's no detectable plot, and the plots and descriptions released with the movie don't seem to match the movie which is basically a chaotic LSD trip. This is a sci-fi movie made by trans-genders featuring a small budget that seems to have been spent on gaudy, outrageous costumes and a wide range of colorful cinematography effects and filters. The feel of this psychedelia is cheap but uniquely bizarre and chaotic, making Liquid Sky look like a mainstream movie. There's a heavy focus on genitalia and simulated pornographic sex, as if the film-makers were too obsessed with their own personal issues to make a real movie. There's splatter, colorful body fluids, random geeky sci-fi narration, silly comedic voice-overs, and demented action like a gay HK fantasy action flick on acid. And there are the endless bizarre scenes which have nothing to do with each other including: A person urinates on some cheap plastic alien plants which suddenly grow and attack his/her body, artists paint on breasts and are gorily interrupted by a person with exposed genitalia and ridiculously huge shoes, a fight with plastic chainsaws, flower darts and a sparkler, a man with a flame for a head, a spider-vagina creature that comes out of a book, a gory penis-drill, and much more. Ultimately bizarre but annoyingly senseless.

Dark Places  
Drugs, filth, sleaze and violence wrapped in a bad trip of a movie that explores the mind of a drug-addict whore that is having a bad day, except she can't seem to figure out what really happened to her. A bad encounter with a client seems to have ended in violence and possibly a murder, but every time she revisits it, the events seem to change. In the meantime she tries to stay at some fat guy's place who throws strange parties for drug addicts, and who, together with his Dominatrix wife, abuses or rapes his guests in various nasty ways. It isn't creative like a Lynch movie, you don't really care about any of the losers and freaks in the movie or what is going to happen to them, and the trippy camera work and editing tricks just become tiresome fast.

Dead Man 2: Return of the Dead Man, The  
Bonkers and transgressive in an extreme way, this debut short by Ian Kerkhof/Aryan Kaganof certainly makes an effort to kick its audience in the groin and leave them feeling empty. Just for openers it starts with some explicit gay sex involving vomit, for no particular reason. Then there's an old man in random scenes involving a young girl, and a bar populated by several odd people covered in filth, an odd band, and women urinating all over the place. The extreme noise soundtrack is by Merzbow. This is obviously a homage to Bataille and a kind of 'sequel' to Bataille's equally pointless story 'Le Mort'. Of course, you can take any movie about filth and claim that it is a statement about humanity or something similar, but that's just desperate nonsense posing as intellectualism. All-in-all, meaningless filthy noise for one's ears as well as one's eyes, with nothing to say.

Debbie Does Damnation  
If you ever tried to imagine what a fantasy horror movie with a $1000 budget made by a pornographer as a one-time hobby would look like, then here it is. And no, it's not pornography, but the nudity leaves nothing to the imagination. Naked girls find themselves transported somehow to a hellish world full of warriors, human-eating monsters, flying angels, a decapitated supreme-being and talking spider-skulls. Some are given quests to grab a sword and retrieve the lost devil's horns, but they get eaten at random by a claymation monster, which is promptly ignored by everyone else. Interchangeable naked girls keep 'fighting' with various men in cheap horror make-up using home-made props in a confusing stream of scenes and locations. Will one of the heroines reach her goal or will she get so confused that she'll fall into some clothes by mistake and take a taxi home? Filmed in super-8 black & white with dubbed sound, and the dialogue is so silly, it often feels like they MST3K'd their own movie. Strictly for fans of silly bad movies that don't take themselves seriously.

A movie for ADD-inflicted, pseudo-hip, trend-of-the-second Facebook-teeny-boppers that only live for the next cool vid-share or pop-reference of the next five seconds. Directed by the same guy who brought you the equally brainless Torque and some music videos, this tries to be Scream and Scary Movie mixed with Donnie Darko, except it is worse than bad, it is torture to watch. The pacing consists of two hip-jargon-laden statements or pop-references a second, and you may as well forget about a plot or watching real people having an actual conversation. When anything resembling a conversation intrudes, the editing quickly cuts to some unfunny unrelated, cartoonish, Family-Guy-esque scene just to make sure it doesn't lose your attention. The random elements that make up this movie include: Teenagers being killed by someone copying Cinderhella (a slasher movie with elements of torture-porn), a bully with a TV attached to his hand fly-blood and acid-vomit, a magnetic bear-mascot that seems to be a time-travelling pivot for all the random events in the movie, the end of the world due to about five different causes, a mother that switches bodies with her daughter and goes back in time, and about 87,349,345 pop-references. There are two funny scenes, one involving a suicidal girl trying to fend of a killer while trying to kill herself, and another where people in a cliched horror slasher scene are watching a movie within a movie within a movie within a movie. The rest is pure mental pain. It's like Chris Seaver drank a lot of coffee and got a bigger budget.

Devil Story  
What on earth was that? This utterly perplexing French z-grade horror movie never even begins to make sense. There's a freakish man wearing a Nazi-uniform and an old-man mask killing people, a black cat that causes hallucinations, a very frisky and aggressive black horse, some old guy that spends the entire movie, night & day, trying to shoot this crazy horse without any results, a mummy that can raise the dead, some weird old woman that likes to bury people alive, a couple that stay at a castle during a rainy night, some girl that seems to come and go here and there for no reason whatsoever, a ship swallowed by a cliff which is then belched out again, confusing fight scenes, and so on. This is a movie where you give up on it making any sense right from the start, except there isn't much to entertain here besides the constant confusion and surprise. Oh, and there are a couple of lingering cheap splatter scenes that would make Nathan Schiff proud.

Dharma Guns  
If Ossang's 'Treasure of the Bitch Islands' was difficult but partially cohesive nonsense, this film is impossible chaos. There is a kind of wrapper to the story involving a water-skier in an accident who dies or is close to death, but everything else feels like random snippets from dozens of other movies. Our protagonist sometimes seems to be writing a screenplay for his own film or life, travelling in time, ruminating on clones, on engineered people that come back from the dead, zombies, genetics, genealogists, nonsensical thriller plots involving a long-lost heir and a mysterious island and professor, conspiracies, undefined fatal dream-logic dangers hovering over the whole mess called Dharma Guns, attempts at communicating from the land of the dead via scripts, attempts at finding his girlfriend who was with him during the accident, etc. For lack of a better explanation, I would say that this is a movie depicting the chaos of the mind of a man who is dying, but instead of reliving his life, he invents it with a wild imagination, with stories always laden heavily with existential questions on life and death and frustration at not being able to complete his life or communicate. But it never coheres; neither the stories, nor the meditation. There is only the headache of trying to piece it all together, as you can see from reviews of this movie, each one describing the movie in a completely different way. Even if this interpretation is correct, it makes the movie sound a lot more interesting than it is, which consists only of random snippets of random stories and ideas. Visually, however, it is filmed with striking techniques that are a feast for the eyes.

Divided Into Zero  
A surreal trip into the mind of a sick man who got cut by the doctor at birth, lost his parents, became addicted to self-mutilation by razor, has whores urinate on him, and develops an unhealthy attraction to little girls, one of which he nails to a wall. This sick and disturbing but very well filmed short offers no insights or plot, only a nightmarish, non-linear experience. Also features a gripping dark soundtrack.

Doll Syndrome  
More pointless extreme nastiness. This movie is also 100% dialogue-free, character-development-free, and plot-free. A sociopathic man who is dead inside is shown in his boring daily life, waking up, masturbating, urinating, throwing-up, licking toilet bowls, mutilating his penis....you know, the usual stuff. He stalks a woman, uses a blow-up doll for his sexual fantasies and in his mind the doll becomes the woman in some disturbing scenes, then he finds out she has a boyfriend which triggers the first and only reaction in him, so he goes after the boyfriend and tortures him in very nasty and gruesome ways. The end. Well, kinda, as the epilogue is completely baffling and can only be attributed to a warped gay sado-masochistic fantasy. Features pornographic and very extreme detail in all of its scenes which gradually increase in their nastiness as the movie progresses.

Doom Generation, The  
A stylistic movie in the vein of Natural Born Killers, unsuccessfully attempting to copy Jon Moritsugu, about teen angst and a group of teens on a violent crime and sex spree. The crucial difference though is that this movie respects and even idolizes these repulsive creatures who murder, lie, cheat, and indulge heavily in their sexual depravity, intensely filthy mouths and despicably self-absorbed, psychotic characters. This is also a homosexual movie posing as heterosexual and features non-stop gore, violence, sex and very colorful language. To top it all off, the climax features even more repulsive characters in the form of homophobic Nazis that chop off a guy's genitals and this was supposed to be a comedy yet lacks even one laugh.

Driller Killer  
An artist slowly loses his mind as he fights with his girls, is stressed by his agent, and an annoying punk band plays their obnoxious noise next to his apartment day and night, until he starts rampaging in streets drilling holes into random people. Gritty and repulsively dark.

Even Dwarves Started Small  
An artsy, dull, allegorical study by Herzog on antiestablishmentarianism and the free human spirit portrayed by some undefined establishment and its rebelling members/students/patients. The whole cast consists of dwarves, perhaps to point out a system that is too big, impractical and inappropriate for an enjoyable and free life. The manager of the place tries to keep things under control as the troop goes on a rampage, destructing property and nature, throwing live chickens through windows, bullying blind dwarves, laughing and having a wild time in general while the chickens resort to cannibalism. A typical scene is when a dwarf stares and laughs at a camel for 5 whole minutes until he starts coughing and the camel defecates.

Ex Drummer  
An angry hateful movie by an angry writer who seems to think his misanthropic bile is interesting. The protagonist is a middle-class ex-drummer with a varied sex life who is willingly drafted by three trashy punk musicians to join their band. One is a violent woman-beater, another is deaf and lives with a junkie wife and child, and the third is homosexual, his arm is numb from masturbation, his mother is bald and is having an affair with the violent one, and his father is psychotic and bed-ridden. Add to the mix another band singer with a huge penis and a penchant for raping people of both sexes. The ex-drummer enters this world with arrogant anti-social motivations of manipulation and twisted amusement, philosophizing occasionally while revving up the violence, obscenities and hate. Non-stop indulgence in pointless trash, hate and violence that is out to offend every race, gender and sensibility, backed by creative, talented and bizarre cinematography including people who walk on ceilings, a movie moving backwards and a woman who's vagina becomes a room.

Exterminator City  
A few movies edited together that never really meet: A cheesily dubbed sci-fi flick about a world run by robots (cops, psychiatrists, priests, etc) who are after a robot serial killer, a psychotic robot that goes around killing women and carving them up into gory quivering flesh while seeing confusingly edited hallucinations of mutated creatures, devils and talking books and stuffed animals, literally dozens of porn actresses showing off their huge fake boobs while screaming, and lots of huge bugs getting squashed. The kills consist of the aforementioned screaming boobs edited together with scenes of bloody weapons. An extremely repetitive, silly mess.

Faces of Anne  
There is a horror movie to be made about online bullying and the existential crisis of online identities, but this overlong Thai movie is not it. This uses every reality-bending horror trope it can, as a girl wakes up in a strange hospital populated by girls with the same name as hers, all of them changing their faces and fearing a deer-headed killer monster. Loops, shifting realities, shifting identities, and dreams within dreams ensue. It's all mysterious and surreal, but in an artificial way. When the movie finally starts to join the dots together, you realize too late that the theme was hardly developed, and the horror tropes are just there to get more Likes.

Ferozz: The Wild Red Riding Hood  
Didn't they already trash-up Red Riding Hood in Freeway? In any case, this Cuban version raises the trash and sleaze quota, and places its story in a Cuban backwoods countryside, but, although there is a girl with a red hood, a woodsman, and grandmother, that's as far as the original story goes in this version. One of the first scenes involves a very ugly man dressed up as a grandmother with multi-colored teeth, convincing her son to sodomize his wife at the dinner table in order to teach her a lesson while the retarded son of the union between the grandmother and her son watches on. And it doesn't get any better after that, with puppy-bestiality, an uncle that practices Satanism, violent sex and more. Pointless shock-trash for its own sake.

Final Flesh  
The background of this video is that a warped writer named Vernon Chatman send some screenplays to sites offering custom-made porn, containing the most absurd, inane, retarded, bizarre, warped and strange fetish scenes he can think of, all containing nudity but no real sex. And they actually delivered, in four short movies with a level of quality that makes porn-production-quality sound good. There is simply no describing how... speechless this one will make you. And it's not just one retarded idea, it's a never-ending stream of insanity and prank fetishes that could only have come from a heavily medicated mind. A woman washes herself in water from a jar labelled "tears of neglected children" then reads from the Koran. Another woman holds a knife to her throat while claiming she is turning British. And so on. Imagine 70 minutes of the following type of scenes, each only lasting a few seconds before switching to the next absurdity and non-sequitur: A man, his wife and daughter (in panties) are sitting on the floor. The man says "I was born and raised by lesbians. Wanna meet my daddy?". After which he pulls out a large dropper out of his pants. The daughter takes it, says: "Hi grandpa. Get yourself some gramps." Rubbing herself with the dropper and then: "I'm going to kill your dinner with karate...hiyaa!". And this is a moderately insane example amongst over a hundred. Enough said.

Firm Man, The  
An incomprehensible, highly eccentric and unrewarding absurdist Australian film. A man is promoted to work for the all-mysterious and revered firm, which turns out to be populated by madmen. His boss talks about vegetables in incomprehensible ways and acts like a cat, he is given the day off on his first day, then given assignments which consists of interacting with two odd men dressed in black, and yellow hats, that keep popping up chasing him in airplanes or tractors to play bizarre games and make him deliver meaningless messages and fulfill pointless missions. More odd things happen, like walking on the beach and seeing a vision of a hippy in a cave who promptly disappears. In the meantime, his wife is having an affair. Most people talk in non-sequiturs, three girls from another section are sent to give him an exorcism when he goes temporarily mad, there is a completely surreal board meeting involving a hodge-podge of costumes, nonsensical speeches, after which they act like cats and make a pumpkin explode, and so on. Tedious eccentricity.

Flaming Ears  
Earlier work by the transsexual-lesbian maker of Dandy Dust. A lesbian sci-fi movie involving a female pyromaniac revolutionary wearing Groucho Marx eyebrows and pyramid horns, a comic book artist whose print-shop was burned down by her lover, and a weird woman in a red latex suit who likes eating snails and blow-torching mini alligators. This trio interact and take revenge on each other randomly and boringly for most of the movie with pretentious, poetic, nonsensical dialog, or non-sequiturs. The scenery consists of cheap toys and miniatures, a car is made futuristic by covering it with a sheet, there are some parties and art shows, sex with furniture, a bizarre sex performance, and a climactic fight scene where people are turned into a cardboard cutout in latex. Nothing makes sense and there seems to be some kind of fetish for liquids. Boringly murky, chaotic and self-indulgent.

Flaming Nipples  
Trash doesn't get more obnoxious, slimy and juvenile than this. These guys got some dead rabbits, tied their limbs up with puppet strings, including genitalia, and filmed them in a 'sex drama' with some stuffed animals. So, basically, this is a porno with dead animals. But wait, there's a plot: The rabbit is a pizza delivery dud...I mean animal, who has sleazy and rough sex with various animals including some violent sodomy, until he meets a drug-addict rabbit entangled in some criminals, leading to violent fights and action. In between, there are endless depraved orgies. Now imagine all that with dead animals and toys on strings filmed in some dude's living room against paper backdrops.

Indescribable 6-part Japanese anime. I have a theory about this one: Someone wrote a home-made computer algorithm for generating an anime script based on random snippets from other anime shows, and he animated whatever came out of the printer. Japanese shows are notorious for being confusing and nonsensical, but this one takes the cake. There's random dialogue between an adolescent, his sister and family, an alien on a moped, and an agent without eyebrows. There's a fire, some random violent action, a drama over a baseball bat, sexual innuendo, cutesy cartoonish drama, and lots of random stuff that teenagers get obsessed over except it's just jumbled together, and then there are the robots that keep growing out of huge bumps in his head after the alien hits him with a bass guitar and a moped. And that's the only description you'll get for this one. This show redefines the word brainless. You brain will be screaming 'what's going on?' over and over until it'll overload and shut down. An unpleasant experience.

Flexing With Monty  
Monty is a narcissistic bodybuilder that is a bundle of impulses, bigoted views, idiocies and self-worship, and he would represent a raw Id except for the fact that he is too disciplined a muscle-man. His brother Bertin is the 'brainy' one, but he only looks brainy standing next to Monty. Bertin keeps a pet man in a cage who masturbates and eats bananas, there are repressed homosexual urges, weird Freudian dreams and fantasies involving their mother and incestuous grandmother, silly macho bashing, a home-made gym with a man-sized hamster cage, lots of silly phallic symbolism, a weird nun that talks poetic nonsense and who seems fascinated by Monty, fart humor, sex with a blow-up doll and stuffed bear, dialogue that is both pretentious and sophomoric, and a mish-mash of Lilith mythology. What does it all add up to? Nothing. To think that people persevered to get this bizarre movie made and released for 14 years is depressing.

Flowers of Vice, The (AKA Bloodbath)  
Another Dennis Hopper rough head-scratcher from the 70s and a fitting accompanying piece to The Last Movie. A group of pathetic, has-been Anglo-Saxon white people are living their days in a Spanish village. A junkie poet (Hopper) keeps hallucinating his mother and abuses a local girl with some eggs in classic eye-poppingly intense Hopper style, an ex-Hollywood-starlet keeps boasting on and on about her heydey, a war veteran is lost in his old glory days while his alcoholic wife suffers, and an aging queen isn't getting any. A group of beautiful people appear to torment this human detritus with nothing except their own desires, all of their hallucinations getting worse, until they each meet an ironically cruel end. While this is happening, the locals suffer or die accidents and no one pays attention, and there's a strange girl who is always involved with some kind of animal death or suffering. An attack on Anglo-Saxon corruption and vice? Perhaps. But it's too stoned to make its point.

Freddy Got Fingered  
One of the worst movies ever made about a retarded character that thinks things like huge animal penises, spraying elephant semen on his dad, and swinging newborn babies by their umbilical cord are funny. The movie spares nothing in its ultimately juvenile and annoying 'humor' on things like crippled girls that like their legs caned, child molestation, gore, etc. There is a plot about a loser cartoonist with a dysfunctional relationship with his dad who is trying to become successful and get his TV show picked up. But the retarded humor doesn't even make it to the starting line.

Freeway 2: Confessions of a Trickbaby  
Without Oliver Stone's hand, this sequel is pure trash and exploitation entertainment without style. This time around, the story is loosely based around Hansel and Gretel with characters such as a female, murderess necrophiliac (Hansel) who receives visions from a transvestite cannibalistic nun (the witch), and a whole slew of female prisoners with various disorders and crimes, all young nubile females of course. Brings to mind a slicker John Waters flick.

This one is strictly for the experimental theatre crowd although it is shot largely in a country setting. The 'story' involves a country-boy that shows much more affection to his pig than to his fellow cruel humans and girlfriend, evoking an outraged, and even violent and hysterical reaction from people. One man goes insane and commits murder, and this is blamed on the pig-man. There's also a very promiscuous woman that is both used and criticized by the people, and an incestuous relationship between man and his nursing mother. Every scene employs heavy theatrics, including song, dance, performance-art, over-the-top accents and body movements, stilted speech, and heavy use of a Greek chorus where everyone chimes in with shared styled speech. The intro features a violent reaction by the audience to an avant-garde musical performance, and in between there is some surreal imagery of orgies and a woman on a pig. In short, this is provocative theatrics on sexual mores, anti-conformism, and social reactions, like watching 90 minutes of loud and obnoxious performance-art.

Gary's Touch  
Only a 25-minute short, but this one is as bizarre, transgressive, surreal and perverse as it gets, and it allegedly, and understandably, caused quite a ruckus during its screening. It is about a man who seems to be gay, a pedophile, a gerontophile, impotent, and obsessed with his own sperm and reproducing, all at once. He hangs around schools and kid's clothes stores, sleeps in a dirty basement which is more like a stony hole in the ground, and stores his sperm in a fridge. When he picks up an insane old horny woman in a library bathroom, he tries to find some way to make it all work. Features graphic umm... 'sexual acts' (for lack of a better description), and a very surreal and transgressive ending. I have no idea what this movie was trying to say.

Garden Without Birds, A  
20 minute Japanese nasty that has more nasty scenes than half a dozen other movies of its ilk. 6 friends gather for a party and take some heavy drugs. Before you know it, euphoric happiness mixes with nihilistic joy of gruesome stories involving violence and gore, and they start playing with each other in the same way as well. Giggling, they corkscrew their friend's head, drive a pencil through an eye, and stab themselves several dozen times, while imagining a gory execution or the roasting of a newborn baby while one guy draws birds on the wall with a mutated hand-brush. Filmed with classical music and artsy use of color and black & white, but pointlessly shocking.

Gestapo's Last Orgy  
While Nazisploitation movies are bad enough for using concentration camps as cheap titillation, this one commits the additional crime of pretending to be a real movie. Yet again, beautiful women are used, raped, tortured and killed in a camp with sadistic Nazis and a dominatrix. Worse than any of the torture or rampant nudity however is the Nazi propaganda, the attempt at drama amidst all the exploitation, and the really sick 'love' affairs between the soldiers and the female victims.

Giant of America, The  
One of Bressane's more surreal efforts is also one of his most exploitative, messy and campy. A native from Brazil finds himself in some kind of purgatory chasing a blonde and the meaning of life. Various historical figures appear and make for silly comedy and dialogue in b-movie costumes, hellish scenes involve 50s-style torture of women and papier-mâché tunnels, girls get the zoom treatment as they dance in skimpy outfits and serve the bored, horny men in purgatory, syringes and hospitals add to the disorientation at random, and huge penises and feet make their appearance to terrorize the blonde woman of his dreams and stomp on her. They wander, party and sing songs, all the while Bressane populates the movie with ripped-off soundtracks from famous movies including Psycho seemingly at random.

Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai, The  
Deranged Pinku satire that mixes lots of sex and nudity with a silly plot about Bush's secret finger as sought after by spies. I can promise you that after my description, you will still not understand any better. Let me start at the beginning: A prostitute who role-plays teachers finds herself in the wrong place and is shot by a spy who is after Bush's finger. Still don't get it? See, the finger controls a super-weapon that can destroy the world. It can also give a Japanese girl orgasms by remote control. Problem is, the bullet in her head didn't kill her, instead it makes her psychic and able to learn and understand everything in books within seconds. It also makes her feel sweet and spicy foods long after she ate, and makes her break out in another attack of horniness just in time for the Pinku sex quota. So she uses her newfound powers to educate young men by rewarding their understanding with nudity and sex, except spies with guns keep interrupting. Obviously a statement about US as a super-power but not a very insightful one. All I am left with is the knowledge that I just saw a movie that uses the words 'Noam Chomsky' as an aphrodisiac. Woe is me.

Go Down Death  
Random unenjoyable nonsense pretending to be an absurdist comedy about life and death. Although it's in black and white, portrays a timeless retro-setting in a small village, and features absurd references to sex and perversions, comparisons to Guy Maddin are off since it doesn't even seem to have its own internal logic. An amputee philosophizes about the merits of being legless (this is the only amusingly absurd vignette), a young boy mature beyond his years works in every job imaginable, a prostitute suddenly goes deaf blind and dumb for no particular reason, two soldiers in a forest discuss mutton obsessively, a doctor is suddenly replaced by another character, people break out in the most cringe-inducing awful improvised songs, including one about hurting their face in front of a deformed man, a salesman is beaten by a man in a gorilla suit in front of cheering children, and suddenly the film switches to a more modern setting at a dinner with endlessly banal dialogue. The dialogue is heavily laden with non-sequiturs making this a painful watch for those that try to follow the non-existent threads. Nope, all of the above never even begins to cohere and almost never amuses.

Goodbye, 20th Century  
Bizarre and dark chaotic movie with a seemingly misanthropic message. It starts like a Mad Max post-apocalyptic movie by way of Jodorowsky as a man with a curse is being executed ritualistically, but he cannot die. Then it goes on to angels and prophets with a comical edge, incest, a battle with a joker-like man with green hair, a scene of an incestuous marriage in 1900 ending in violence, then even more madness involving Santa Clause at a wake full of of weird people that turns more and more chaotic, nonsensical, violent and gory with every minute. The message? The future will be as screwed up as the past. Bah.

Gore From Outer Space  
A sequel to Crazy Lips. Actually it's more of a revisitation of the insanity and some of the characters, this time involving an even more nonsensical plot. A mother is accused of murdering her daughter but when she tells her tale, things don't seem to make sense. Her husband says they have no daughter, there's a psychic that can trace phone calls, a blonde who sings the US anthem, a house with no bathroom, some Lynchian dream sequences, aliens, breeding experiments, very quirky FBI agents, and some other random events. Oh and the main actress breaks out into song again. I've had enough of this after the first outing.

Gore in Venice  
More like 'Misogyny in Venice'. This is part giallo, part soft-porn featuring a parade of acts of violence and humiliations to women, some of the women actually liking it. The mystery case involves the usual murders and beautiful women, as well as a man who forces his girl into perverse humiliating sexcapades. A couple of gruesome murders include rape with a knife and sawing off a woman's thigh.

Grand Departure, The  
Some heavy drugs were most probably taken and worshipped for this movie. Once a lost film, made by French painter Martial Raysse, this one could be a more hippie-esque accompanying piece to Begotten. Some ordinary people sitting in their kitchen are criticizing some banalities while watching TV, when all of a sudden a cat-mask wearing weirdo cycles by. The movie suddenly swerves into an improvised, pretentious, fantasy trip, all of it filmed in negative colors and gritty film stock. We meet 'Innocence' (a naked little girl), 'Mr Nature', a mad leader of a cult who speaks of the Grand Departure where his flock will depart from this corrupt Earth and be liberated, a bunch of people wearing animal masks, a girl named Mona Lisa who is getting married in a strange ritual, and so on. 'Heaven' is a country house, the Cat Man is associated with death, and indeed he does seem to be involved with some questionable odd people with strange ideas and guns, not to mention that he randomly rapes a girl in the woods, and the cult finally embarks on a 'raft of life' for the hallucinogenic 20-minute climax involving a cacophony of sounds and imagery while the people on the floating raft do odd things and play with the Earth which is by now a toy ball. Tedious, and strictly for people looking for the cinematographic equivalent of a trip.

Grande Bouffe, La (Blow-Out)  
Four men decide to try to commit suicide by overeating. It starts out with style as the various men find new ways to indulge their hedonism to excess, but it then becomes debauchery with whores, lots of sex, extreme endless flatulence, exploding toilets, and of course enough food to make you sick just by watching it. A schoolteacher joins them to add to the allegory I suppose. Allegedly a parable on the fall of modern society, but there is no satire, no tragedy or insight, and no message. Just shocking brainless art posing as an allegory.

A bunch of sociopathic cannibals with a twisted sense of humor invade a restaurant and hold its employees hostage for a night of cannibalistic game-playing and wise-cracks. I can see how this would be a love-it-or-hate it flick, except that I really hated it. It's a horror-comedy that takes its quirkiness so over-the-top, the effect is jarring and never works for even a single second. It's like watching a Looney Tunes version of a cannibalistic torture-porn movie, except the cartoon characters have been replaced with a bunch of wannabe clowns on their first day of training, and are given lines that are such awkward head-scratchers, one is constantly trying to figure out what exactly was meant to be funny. As you can imagine, the characters never even begin to come alive, nor do they resemble anything in reality, and the developments and violence never really make sense either. They're all just there as props for the writer/director who acts more like a drunk puppeteer who watched one too many ultra-violent movies, jerking his actors around the screenplay, which is too much in love with its own obscure movie references, unnatural dialog and quirky similes to notice that it isn't actually funny. The ultra-violence is very creative though.

Greasy Strangler, The  
It's like John Waters suddenly became a hipster with a twisted 10 year old boy's sense of humor. This is warped beyond belief. I spent the whole movie agape at the constant unexpected turns and at its unrelenting need to drop its toilet-humor gags on its audience, and yet I never laughed once. This is definitely a cult movie and would only appeal to the kind of people you wouldn't want to have anything to do with. An aggressive grandfather with a huge fake dong (who likes to display it as often as possible) eats food that is literally swimming in grease, until he becomes a grease-monster and runs around strangling and popping people's eyeballs out. His son is a meek balding man with a tiny fake dong, who falls in love, but his father can't take that non-greasy nonsense. They both run a business dressing up in pink outfits showing tourists run-down houses where disco legends once stayed. Matters escalate as tempers flare, farts speak louder than words, fat, loose flesh and dongs dangle, as more of their friends find themselves at the greasy end of the stick, up until the completely bonkers surreal ending. You're on your own with this one.

Gross Out  
Somebody must have been watching too much John Waters and decided he can outdo him. Except that the mentality here is that of a kid obsessed with bodily fluids (and solids), who thinks that the pinnacle of entertainment is to gross-out people, hence the subtle title. A disgusting fat woman decides to withhold inheritance and blackmail her three idiotic adult children to prepare a video that will make her puke. If they fail, they get nothing and their dirty secrets will be revealed. Problem is, she is too disgusting to disgust, but perhaps her abused black slave (a man in blackface) has an idea. Which is all just an excuse to film 80 minutes of people touching, drinking, eating, licking, throwing, abusing, and be covered in every bodily fluid, solid, semi-solid, things that should not be fluid but are, and other things that should not be solid, all in endless scenes and long takes to make sure you had time to digest every ounce of it. Enough said. Actually, the tiresome, juvenile and lame factors outweigh the gross and camp factors of this movie considerably.

Guinea Pig: The Devil's Experiment  
The first in a long series of Japanese movies that deal with the topics of snuff and gore with attempted shocking realism. One of the releases actually fooled Charlie Sheen to report the release as a real filmed death. This first entry is quite dull however, mainly due to the boring and unrealistic acting by the female victim. A group of men kidnap a girl and torture her in various ways for days, using beatings, loud noise, pliers, maggots, knives, etc. The effects range from lame to sickening but the unconvincing way this is handled makes this worthless even for gorehounds except as a pioneer movie. The lack of a plot makes this 'movie' worthless for everyone else.

Lots of strange things happen in this art-film to two women called Helen that live in Troy, USA, and then it ends. That's really all that can be said about this empty, impenetrable film. There's a meteor event, a wide variety of odd reactions by many people with no rhyme or reason, both physical and mental, random things happen like water flowing upwards or out of a cup, a head of a statue floating in a river, a black horse appearing in odd places, and so on. If there's one theme here, it's about people that live in their own imagination. In this film its especially true of these two women that have different issues with imaginary babies. But this goes nowhere, and the ending provides nothing to take home with you. Dropping a couple of random references to Greek mythology that don't cohere won't make it any better either.

Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind  
A cut-and-paste job of Coffin Joe movies consisting of the most odd and horrific scenes from previous Coffin Joe movies, and some deleted scenes usually involving more nudity, strangeness or evil, all wrapped together inside a weak movie about a man who is deliriously obsessed with Coffin Joe, thus providing the excuse to splice together all of these scenes as dream sequences. An interesting touch that predates New Nightmare is to bring in Jose Mojica Marins himself to try to cure the man, but, as you can imagine from this description, this isn't a real movie.

Hands Up!  
Experimental film from Skolimowski consisting of an avant-garde introduction, and footage from a censored movie he made during his surreal Barrier period. The intro is a kind of surreal film-diary depicting images of Skolimowski's film career, war-torn Beirut, some bizarre sci-fi scenes of carnage, a ping-pong game with blackness and other miscellaneous symbolic imagery. The film itself consists of a group of anti-communist students participating in strange rituals, death re-enactments and games in a boxcar full of dusty plaster and candles, taking speed, discussing various topics with increasingly impenetrable dialog, and being interrogated by an unseen party about a poster of Stalin with four eyes. Strange, haphazard and mostly impenetrable self-indulgence. For fans of experimental films only.

Normally, twisted porn movies wouldn't be listed here, but this one happens to be insane. A nymphomaniac is locked up in a special treatment center where a cult has orgies and uses neurotic patients for their severely demented ideas of eroticism. These ideas include chopping off a penis or the girl's head while having sex, torture, and some kind of gory necrophilia. Also includes hallucinations with flying, sparkling and squirting dildos and other bizarre, gory or over-the-top scenes of sexual depravity gone mad.

Herb of the Rat  
Pretentiously poetic, experimental and artsy movie that takes its symbolism so far and takes it so seriously, it becomes laughable. A man meets a frail, convict woman in a cemetery and vows to take care of her. The begin a bizarre relationship where he dictates to her literally volumes of books on various subjects while she writes, or reads poetry, and then it develops into an 'erotic' relationship where he obsessively takes pictures of her snatch. But this 'paradise' falls apart as she becomes restless, does very strange things while she sleepwalks, and a literal rat enters their lives to pleasure her sexually and eat up his erotic photographs. The herb of the rat is the symbolic poison which contains its own antidote. In addition to all of this obvious symbolism, the movie also features scenes of him taking pictures of a skeleton in provocative poses, which is when I couldn't stop laughing.

Hey, Happy!  
It doesn't get much more worthless than this. Forget about giving gay cinema a bad name, this makes you rethink you opinions on state control of movie makers. At times a John Waters-esque piece of campy trash, but mostly a boring, self-indulgent mess. Some braindead, boring guy that runs an open-field porn-store is trying to complete his goal of sleeping with 2000 men, with number 2000 being some dysfunctional bizarre man called Happy who talks to his squeaking radio box. A manic, over-acting, flamingly gay dude who is angry at the world in general terrorizes them while some transsexual prances about like an elephant showing off his fake boobs riveted to his chest. They dance at endlessly boring rave parties, there's a nasty disemboweling and rape scene that is promptly forgotten for some reason, some pointless witch-doctoring, talk of a flood that never arrives, an acid-trip of an ending, and other stupid randomness that never adds up to anything.

Highway of Heartache  
Colorful campy trash that brings to mind Forbidden Zone, or a country-musical as directed by John Waters, except this is a Canadian movie! Wynona-Sue Turnpike is having a hell of a life, bouncing from one soapy over-the-top misfortune to another, when all she wants to do is chain-smoke and play guitar. Her response to anyone that pushes her too far is to shoot them in the head. She goes from a philandering abusive husband, to a guy that gives her a VD, forces her into porn and keeps a pet gender-bending freaky girl with a beard and a massive attached dildo. She is inspected by an Elvis-impersonator gynecologist, given the death sentence, molested by her dad, cheated on by a pathetic lover, and hated by her mother and huge black slut daughter. Racist epithets fly in this movie where big ugly drag-queens are ever-present as a kind of Greek chorus. The sets and costumes are day-glo cartoons with only the most garish colors, and the ton of makeup and hairdo on everyone is so over-the-top that it would make drag queens blush. The honky-tonk country music is painful, but nothing beats the protagonist who whines, screeches, cries and wails throughout the movie in an ear-grating high-pitched voice, and, as if that weren't enough, we get her constant narration and singing as well. This movie should be referenced in the dictionary under obnoxious.

Hitler Third World  
Bonkers guerrilla-style Brazilian dadaism and absurdism. Not only does it not seem to have a plot, but the scenes are so incohesively put together, any random order would have resulted in the same movie. The soundtrack adds to the confusion by including random musical snippets from random genres as well as random dialogue, most of which seems to have been lifted from other movies and spliced into this one. This movie visits the moral and social chaos of Brazil using several very odd characters that interact with the locals using guerrilla-film-making. There's a robot fascist who performs a coup, the rise of Hitler as a conservative democrat who brings moral order by torturing and castrating enemies using a troupe of hairy cavemen, a very fat man in a kabuki-samurai outfit, wig and makeup who wanders the streets or among the poor hovel-dwellers and repeatedly dies, kills Hitler, or commits suicide, and there is a wild radical in a 'Thing' rock-costume who adds to the chaos. A couple of consumers are treated as objects in a tire factory when their bouncing Volkswagen fails with a flat tire, a Jesus-figure rises from a boat and miraculously walks on land, there's a midget celebrity, a naked woman is executed, Hitler finds a gay companion, and so on. Random nonsense that never adds up to anything.

Holy Trinity  
A cheery, orange-haired lesbian, who stars in a cheesy fake clairvoyant show and works as a strangely fragile Dominatrix in her spare time, sniffs some mysterious 'Glamhag' aerosol, and discovers she can now communicate with the dead and the afterworld. Her newfound fame and fortune gets in the way of her friendships, which include her 'submissive' butch-lesbian self-mutilated girlfriend with whom she has the most marshmallow soft-n-light BDSM relationship, a day-glo neon-puffball costumed drag-queen, a gas-mask-wearing artist, a neon-blue witch, an effeminate priest, and random other trashy denizens of the TikTok world as well as dozens of pseudo-kink-obsessed people that look more like they dressed up for a kid's Halloween party than anything really kinky. There are 'surreal' visions of the afterworld, 'strange' hipster rituals and pseudo-new-age 'spirituality', and a 'Christian'-themed costume party that makes the eyes and ears bleed from the cheap kitsch and bad taste. Sets, props and costumes all consist of only the brightest and loudest colors, as if a clown and a drag-queen had copulated and crapped out a millennial interior designer. An ugly and brainless movie strictly for the TikTok crowd.

Honor Farm, The  
Although this movie starts and sounds like a typical teenage horror movie, it most definitely isn't. A group of fringe-teenagers are joined by two regular girls that just got their perfectly-planned prom-night ruined, for a night in the woods taking shrooms. They do this next to an abandoned prison with a bad history. Thus far, a standard horror movie. What the movie is about actually, or at least what it wants to be about, is a trippy internal drama about teenagers with a head full of silly teenage worries that have a strange night that combines head-trips and an unplanned adventure with both horror and romantic elements, from which they supposedly emerge wiser kids, shucking their careful plans and worries and living in the moment. The horror elements may or may not turn out to be strange little molehills, and are up for interpretations as extensions of their little dramas. Except that the drama and outcome are banal at best, and laughable nonsense at worst, and everything feels like a bunch of random, half-baked, pseudo-arty nonsense that only a stoned millennial would find deep. It's one of those movies that will make you feel you missed everything at the end, but that's only because it is one big nothing.

Various loosely-filmed stories are spliced together using a slew of cinematography tricks with a Dogma feel and improvised acting. A film-crew with a pretentious director is filming a fast-food version of The Duchess of Malfi while his producer conspires, an annoying documentary team is following him to film the 'making-of', various other characters weave in and out of the movie to abuse their wives or rant about Venice, and the mysterious hotel they are staying in practices violence and cannibalism. Features a dozen celebrities in strange, short, improvisational roles, gratuitous and explicit fetishistic or perverse sex scenes, and endless boredom. I really tried to like this movie given its brave experimentation and handful of bizarre, fascinating scenes but it just never coheres or develops.

House of the Seven Tombs, The  
Argentinian oddity that is one of the most incoherent horror movies, to the point where you're not sure whether it is a poor attempt at a depiction of madness, or whether the editor of this movie got very drunk, sliced up the movie into snippets, spliced together random snippets, while leaving the important bits out. Even in the final few minutes, when the film reveals its intention, you're still not sure what it was really about. One lady goes on a cursed holiday with her boyfriend losing themselves in the backwoods while her childhood friend recluses herself in her house going insane, alternating between babbling curses at her friend which seem to become reality, and remembering childhood traumas and scary stories about witches. There's a witch that burns cats and enslaves or abuses men, some of which she throws down a well, a mentally-challenged pig-girl who humps mud, random men on horseback with swords, random skulls in a dovecote, random graves, a lady lusting after a stinking horseman, etc. The time of day and location have no meaning here, and it never adds up to anything beyond delirium.

House of Yes, The  
A twisted black comedy about a dysfunctional family. Jackie-O is obsessed over Jackie Kennedy and the JFK assassination, and has an incestuous relationship with her twin brother ever since she was born holding his private parts. The mother is obsessive-compulsive and makes jarring remarks like 'how did you fit in my womb?'. The father disappeared mysteriously and the older brother has his own disturbing quirks. When the male twin brings home his new, very normal and innocent fiancee, matters get out of hand.

How Far, How Near  
Polish surrealism similar to Hour-Glass Sanatorium, in that it weaves non-linear snippets of a person's life through the prisms of a dream and overlapping, freely-associated memories and thoughts. Unlike the superb Hour-Glass Sanatorium however, it fails. He meets people from his past (many of them women who all strip and perform a sex scene as if there was some kind of quota for the actor), and we are told what happened to them, but not who they are, barely anything about what they meant to him, and nothing about their story. He informs us that he killed a person, and we have to wait until the end for the killing which, once again, tells us nothing. His main purpose for this reminiscence is to figure out why his friend Max killed himself, and this goes nowhere. He asks personal questions without answers, he shares thoughts, most of which have no meaning except to him, and the symbolism falls flat. In short, a self-indulgent art-house waste of time.

How the Sky Will Melt  
This strange movie is strictly from the school of Thomas Nöla/Calvin Reeder movies. I.e. it thinks that merely adding random bizarre visual elements will make the movie Lynchian or interesting. There's a girl in a girl-band recovering from a traumatic death of her friend who goes back to her home town and interacts with her father and various old friends. In between the completely random banal 'existential-crisis' talk between them, she discovers several strange colorful things like eggs and strange bottles of liquids, makes a colorful cake, experiences some kind of disturbing video-aural immersive experience through retro-goggles that play cassette tapes, and a strange alien falls from the sky that wants to eat their colors. Nothing adds up to anything at all, there is no mystery, no interesting characters, no plot, no interesting dialogue, just random nonsense from a film-maker that assumes that strangeness in movies is all on the outside. The super-8 film does bring back the look & feel of old movies though and the ambient/booming 80s synth-soundtrack is effective.

Silly and naive dystopian sci-fi movie from Italy. Conventional human activities and behaviour are all made childish and weird against nonsensical 'sci-fi' sets and props, close to the point of unintelligibility. A childish young man travels to a kind of scientific school where students are brainwashed regarding the evils of liberty and sex, and strange experiments are performed on people. Men are washed in silly 'futuristic' washing machines and car washes, a robotic little girl is made to do things like kill a fish, and they perform strange rituals. When a student breaks out in the spirit of liberty, chaos and nudity erupts, but they are too naive and immature to understand what to do and the consequences of what they do, even when given a gun in their hands. The boy and girl take a break, living in a hut in a snowy wilderness where they experiment with relationships, then the boy returns to school and oppressive masters with some violent thoughts.

Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), The  
The first movie was as vile and disturbing as it gets, but it knew when to hold back, constructing a horror movie with riveting performances, pushing audiences systematically way beyond their limits without resorting to boring gornography for its own sake. To repeat this in a sequel seemed not only impossible, but pointless, yet the director seems to have risen to the challenge and met it head-on with surprising creativity and effectiveness. This sequel takes places in a world where the first movie exists only as a movie. A pathetic and very disturbed short fat man obsessed with centipedes has adopted the movie Human Centipede as his new love and hobby. His background includes an over-the-top, controlling, suicidal mother, a surreal, pervert shrink, and possible molestation as a child. The first 60 minutes of this 90 minute movie tells only his story, his efforts to collect his own human centipede, and his psychological and violent breakdown. It is very disturbing, features yet another riveting performance of a completely different kind, and once again, draws you in. If the movie had left it at that, with incomplete centipede attempts, but a complete exploration of a twisted psyche that finds this kind of thing fascinating, then this could have been watchable and maybe even interesting horror. But then, finally, there is the building of the Human Centipede, this time with a dozen human beings, and this time, by an insane amateur who has no clue what he is doing, using a hammer as anaesthesia, pliers and kitchen knives as surgery tools, a stapler for connecting everyone, and laxative for the ultimate goal. Since this movie is "100% medically inaccurate" but 100% realistic and graphic, this results in an ultimately repulsive, grotesque, retch-inducing half-hour merciless sequence which I don't think I need to describe beyond this. Whatever you imagined for the last two sentences, multiply it by ten, and throw in some gratuitous sleaze and filth, and pregnancy gore. Unfortunately, these 30 minutes seem to be the ultimate goal of this movie, which is why I cannot say anything positive this time. Some of us may wonder what is wrong with the director, but what about the actors?

Hyde's Secret Nightmare  
Gay pornographic take on the Jekyll and Hyde theme, only this time it's a mad doctor obsessed with finding a cure for his impotence who finds a potion that changes his gender and turns him into a sadistic and horny female killer. Note that it's the female version of himself that becomes a vicious killer... hmmm... However, this barebones plot not only unravels into nonsense towards the end, the movie also spends most of its two-hour runtime in sex clubs, sex scenes, S&M and completely useless, pretentious and random speeches given by various characters about sex, psychology and hedonism. Add to this a a lot of genital mutilation with knives that is not as graphic as it sounds, lots of hardcore bisexual pornography (but the camera is much more interested in the guys), some nasty necrophilia and fetishes for dead things, not including dead penises, and some lightly surreal nightmares involving the above themes. A trashy mess.

I Am  
Russian drug-movie and semi-autobiography about a young man who gets himself locked up in an insane asylum in order to dodge the army. It's not so much a story as a free-form series of vignettes of his life as a kid and in the asylum, glamorized by surrealism and colorful style. His friends all worshipped a whacked-out drug-addict living in the asylum while they were growing up, there is a scene of the police beating him up, and various abuse and interactions with the insane while in the asylum, all portrayed in glamorous color, magical-realism, hallucinatory visions, and over-the-top energy. But, like a mind on drugs, it finds nonsensical dialogue cool, and worships whimsy as well as themselves, tediously portraying themselves as crucified Christ figures that walk on water, or as dismembered bodies to be put back together, while they fantasize of wreaking violent wrath on the orderlies and police. The cinematography and some unusual scenes make an impact like where he demonstrates magical mimicking powers and disappears, rides cars driven by horses, or gets dragged on a cross through the street by a dog, but overall, it lacks a story and is too high on itself to be interesting.

I-Be Area  
This rivals 'Shaye & Kiki' as the most obnoxious, pointless, random, endurance-test film ever made. Like that waste of space, it's doubtful whether this even counts as a film, as it basically consists of braindead camera-whores acting out in front of the camera. Scratch that, 'braindead' implies that there was a brain there to begin with. There may be a sci-fi plot inside here somewhere involving clones, adoption plots, lesbians, and other things done to the body that these people love so much, but I couldn't, and didn't want to exert the effort that it would take to decipher it amidst 2 hours of absolute random time-wasting obnoxious garbage. It feels like a collective of camera-whore drag-queens and their extended families and kids, filmed themselves in random bright-color makeup and outfits, prancing in front of the camera, 'improvising' on whatever 'came to mind' with a variety of high-pitched and obnoxious voices, then some person added computer graphics and edited it together to make it a thousand times more obnoxious. The dialogue consists of 100% non-sequiturs and is therefore indescribable.

Ice-cream Ballet  
A 'film' released by the short-lived Hungarian, art-punk band 'A. E. Bizottság' (Albert Einstein Committee). The name art-punk suits this film very well, for if art is unusual, provocative and obscure, and if punk is in-your-face, purposely sloppy, whatever-goes attitude, then this film is complete random nonsense with an attitude. The first half is Dadaistic randomness presented as a sequence of scenes with no rhyme or reason, the second half is mostly live music mixed with random footage and visuals. There's a little sketch involving Einstein lookalikes in a band stealing a letter from the committee trying to smuggle it to China, there's a liberal sprinkling of pornographic, cheap attention-grabbing images, a bunch of people having a really messy ice-cream party, people in random costumes spouting random lines, other people having 'conversations' involving completely random words and sentences, as if the dialogue was created by a computer random generator, lots of animals, many people walking on ice skates instead of shoes, a man shooting his head clean off, and other such random things. It's like sketches written by braindead mongrels that forgot all the punchlines. And the music is as eclectic as the visuals. Challenging and unusual is one thing, but this is just obnoxious, braindead randomness.

Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS  
The absolute, unsurpassed apex of exploitation sleaze. In a Nazi camp, men and women are experimented on in a wide variety of horrifying ways by Ilsa, an Aryan dominatrix who's pet project involves proving that women can withstand more pain and torture than men, and also tends to punish men that don't perform to her satisfaction in bed until an American comes to tame the shrew with his sexual prowess. The real tragedy is that this story is based on real experiments and accounts of SS camps, only in this movie the girls are all sexy, and the nudity, S&M and gore is gratuitous and rampant.

Tedious student film with pretensions of being an amusing and surreal piece of existentialism. Except that it is too dull to be amusing, too full of tedious nonsensical dialogue to feel like a dream, and too empty-headed to be existential. Not all dreams are interesting, and this is one of the dull ones. A soldier walks through the forest throughout the movie, looking for two elusive missiles labeled 00 and 01. He meets various people and has nonsensical exchanges with them, including a nonsense-spouting intellectual that throws out theories as to the possible outcomes of his search, various acquaintances from the army, some girls, and a talking octopus buddy. Yes, you read that right. He also has an interminably boring ten minute session with a girl as they reminisce about banalities. It's like Alice in Wonderland as dreamed by the most boring guy on earth that speaks in a droning mumble. The definition of 'waste of time'.

Inner Scar, The  
Artsy, symbolic, poetic (read: pretentious) piece with an overacting, annoyingly whiny Nico from Velvet Underground performing abstract scenes with various men, spouting monologues, rants, poetry, and singing terrible new-age music. The symbolism covers a rocky relationship between man and woman in a barren landscape (e.g. woman cries while man walks in circles), children, monologues about mercy and justice, the soul, and various existential ambiguities, with surreal scenes of fire, deserts, ice, waterfalls, shepherds, naked man on horseback, etc. Emotions, symbols and cinematic experimentation that is obviously up for various interpretations by film-school buffs, but for me this is pretentious artsy indulgence at its worst.

Island of Death  
Extreme Euro-trash featuring an incestuous brother and sister who visit a Greek island to violently kill all perverts while inflicting them with their own over-the-top sickness and brutality. Goat-sex, urine, rape, homosexuals and various very brutal deaths decorate this boring pseudo shock-fest that isn't even interesting enough to be called bad taste.

It Couldn't Happen Here  
Pet Shop Boys, the movie. Not much of a movie actually, but more like a sequence of strange music videos wrapped around a supposed road trip or tour of England. In this road trip we get a blind serial killer priest spouting non-sequiturs, various odd ranting characters, a practical joker in a restaurant, an existentialist ventriloquist dummy pontificating about our perception of time, a man on fire going to work, and various other odds and ends, all backed by the music obviously and the usual boringly deadpan Neil Tennant. If you want to see what pop-music looks like when it gets pretentious, look no further.

It Takes from Within  
If you've ever watched a tortuously slow and pretentious art-house movie and thought things can't get any worse, then think again. This is a pretentious Millennial art-house movie, or at least that's what I'm calling it without knowing anything about the director. It is ponderous, self-obsessed, emo-art-house that uses surreal performance-art to express its passing emo-whims without even attempting to shape it into something externally meaningful or palatable for its audience. Yes, it's that bad. There's a couple having problems on their way to a funeral. Except we don't even know what their problems are since all they can do is drown in their own gloom and make fatalistic statements about how it's all over. They have no personality either. And that's the whole 'plot' of the movie. The rest of the movie involves this couple wandering about the town or country-side where they are staying doing nothing except brood, occasionally encountering symbolic older or younger alter-egos for another performance-art scene of strangeness to express their inner feelings. Old people groan in bed ad reach out, young ones crawl over grass to grasp at the other couple, they spout some emo-poetry, there's an artsy suicide scene with blood on white sheets, a masturbation fantasy, an old man bowing and drinking at a dirty fountain, and so on. Insufferably terrible.

Jesus and Her Gospel of Yes  
This looks like some mentally-retarded trailer-trash somehow watched a couple of Greenaway multimedia presentations and thought to himself that he can do the same for the Gospel. (Or some version of it thereof...). To modernize things and make it provocative, all he has to do is take random quotes from various Jewish and New Testament sources, change the genders, insert lots of references to penises, nipples and drugs, and that will make it provocative art. Then collect all the random footage from those old VHS tapes, even family footage, add completely random footage of trashy people acting out re-interpreted religious scenes except as whores, white trash and drug-addicts, and splice it together with completely random and cheap flash-video effects from 30 years ago in order to create 'surrealism'. Well I have news for you mister: This isn't provocative, experimental, artistic, surreal, or even blasphemous; it's the opposite of interesting, and it is a 100% brainless and very juvenile waste of time. It would take super-human effort just to make something this brainless, and the mind boggles at the skill involved at avoiding any and all possible meaningful content for 75 minutes. And that's putting it mildly.

Killbillies, The  
A whole movie based on trashy redneck/hillbilly 'humor' featuring deranged backwoods families who wear cheap, repulsive masks, cross-dress, talk about idiotic or random filthy subjects, tell tales, go on a feud and out-gross each other with a general lack of hygiene. One man tracks by licking filthy underwear, another blind old man asks God for some company and gets the cross-dresser whom he mistakes for a young girl, etc. Spliced with this John Waters-like trash are random scenes involving cheap aliens and anal probes, zombie impregnation sex and a nasty anal birth, and sprinklings of gore and bargain-basement surrealism. Tedious, unfunny trash.

Killing Machine (AKA Teenage Hooker Became Killing Machine)  
Bizarre mess from Korea that starts as surreal exploitation with a hooker who gives specials in back alleys and meets up with her angry mutant teacher after waking up his grandmother. They perform a strange dance, then she is killed by some giggling loons, is turned into a killing robot, goes through some scenes ripped out of Nikita, then comes back for revenge with a mechanical penis. Boasts distorting and colorful cinematography, but it isn't as fun as it sounds.

Necrophilia filmed as if it were a mystical and romantic experience. A girl grows up feeling a twisted affinity with dead things and becomes a full-fledged necrophiliac as an adult. An idiotic student falls for her but she prefers the dead so he figures out a way to make her love him... Idiotic, emotionally warped and unforgivable movie with filth posing as something beautiful.

Knee Dancing  
There's a fine line between non-linear storytelling and scatter-brained writing, and this movie crosses it. This is also a clichéd feminist movie about a woman with a long line of bad relationships and abuse with a severe loss of identity. Of course, all men in the movie are rapists. It is surreal though, with a repeating symbolic theme of a loudspeaker announcing a phone call for her that never materializes, bloody dolls, and three cartoonish older women that keep appearing to sing about abortions, marvel over her breasts, or gleefully gossip about violence. The movie explores the mess of her mind, her various husbands and lovers all intertwined, until the final clichéd and predictable revelation. Bad sound and lighting make it difficult to understand, and the effort wasn't worthwhile.

This isn't a real movie. It's just a series of incoherent images and scenes by a man-child on heavy drugs that never progressed beyond the anal stage as a baby. The description for this one goes like this: Idiotic musical number about zombies, everyone has an infectious disease, pustules, blisters and pus, a weird diseased man-child interacts fecally with a creature in the forest with an anus-like orifice and a head, sex scene with sperm and pus and asphyxiation, squishy creamy bug-eating, furry TV-wearing aliens with a retarded sense of humor that like to fling feces, maggot-ridden food, more feces, more gross-out 'sex' talk, man that lives in a toilet, vomit, random grotesque gross-out 'art' animations, random weird repulsive creatures and mutations, tentacle porn, instant conjoined people, a 'humoristic' sketch involving discharge and a blow-up doll, a doctor's treatment that involves an anal lobster and feces, and so on and on and on. It's not surreal or entertaining or provocative, it's not even interesting enough to hate. You will need a long shower afterwards though.

Last Bath, The  
Avant-garde cinematography mixed with hardcore porn, art-house surrealism and psychedelia for a very, very stoned but dull art-porn flick. There's this guy who dreams of being chased and 'raped' by women, and his real life isn't too far from his dreams as he is taken to a weekend getaway by two nurses who lust after him. There's a suicide that may or may not be real, tarot cards, a bath and a river that get ambiguous surreal meanings, and lots of sex scenes filmed in eye-melting psychedelia, superimpositions and various color filters. This is one of those movies where you are sure that everyone involved was taking lots of drugs while filming.

Last Dining Table, The  
This shouldn't even qualify as a movie by some standards. It's as if someone went to a movie archive, chose 150 movies at random, sliced out random scenes from each, and then spliced all of these pieces together. Except that, occasionally we do see the same character interact with another here, and there is some grouping of scenes together according to theme. The scores of scenes range from completely banal (someone eating or walking, a business interview), to surreal (man is choked to death and dragged in front of a break-dancer, or weird dirty naked men appear in a subway while everyone is asleep), to dramatic (man screams in the street about his ruined life, woman tries to divorce her dead husband), to absurd superstitions and various religious rites, to sleazy (encounters with both male and female prostitutes). Nothing emerges from all this even after the movie ends, and defining this as an artistic portrayal of human existence is really pushing it.

Last House on Dead End Street, The (AKA The Fun House)  
Gritty movie about a psychotic who is released from jail. Angry and cynical, he decides to repay society's lust for daring porn movies and sadism by making snuff movies. His acquaintances assume it isn't real at first, but soon learn just how mad he and his psychotic friends are. Features an effective, disturbing atmosphere but is undone by bad dubbing, shallow characters and lack of plot. The gore and nastiness is mostly off-screen except for one notorious scene where a girl is cut up and taken apart in a kind of prototypical Guinea Pig. Supposedly cut from 170 minutes down to 77.

Last House on the Left  
A modern adaptation of Virgin Spring by Wes Craven and a very early 'landmark' in the twisted exploitation-horror genres. This tells the tale of two over-confident girls that get raped, humiliated, mutilated and killed by a gang of disturbed criminals and the girl's parents who take their bloody revenge on them. Much tamer by today's standards but caused fainting and walk-outs when it first came out, this has the feel of a gritty, trashy Herschel Lewis film featuring silly music, slapstick cops, unflinching humiliation, and death by chainsaw and oral sex. Followed by a dozen (mostly Italian) copy-cats.

Last Movie, The  
A cult movie by Dennis Hopper which is actually more incoherent than anything brilliant. While in Peru, a man called Kansas is hired as an actor in a violent Western. When the Americans leave, the locals use the sets for their own film but don't realize the action has to be faked. In the meantime, Kansas's life becomes like a movie, hanging out with a Peruvian whore who wants American comforts, searching for gold, going to parties and shows at the local whorehouse. Slowly his life becomes a movie as the cameras become fake, and his life shows its seams with gaps of 'Missing Scenes', disorientation and surreal cuts. None of these themes and plot-lines are developed however, and the extremely choppy editing make this a chore to sit through.

Little Gay Boy  
A triptych of three very gay short movies that take the gay obsession with Jesus to a more extreme conclusion. Each short starts with some poetry, then dives into trash. The first tells the boring 'tale' of a very obnoxious and empty-headed fat prostitute who is foretold she will give birth to a gay boy via a 'virgin birth'. The second follows him as a very gay-looking teenager stupidly putting himself in harm's way so that he can be constantly sexually exploited and abused, with intercut scenes of extreme sado-masochism, while a white-painted dancer writhes in blood. Ooh, symbolic. As if this has nothing to do with the director's fantasies and something to do with a gay teenager's Christ-like suffering. The third has him wander in the woods occupied by various trashy-looking random 'surreal' beings like a blue Buddha, then meets his father for some incest and betrayal. It's all too crude to be artistic, too brainless and random to be interesting, and too obviously trashy to be blasphemy.

Live Freaky Die Freaky  
Juvenile smutty stop-motion animation telling the tale, yet again, of Charlie Manson, bookended by a completely useless live-action sci-fi wrapper. In 3069, Earth is a barren wasteland, and a nomad desperately searching for food finds the book about Manson, Helter Skelter, which opens his eyes on how to save the planet (yeah right). Most of the movie is the stop-motion Manson story that has nothing new to tell except to make everyone involved behave like a 15 year old frat-boy who has been watching nothing but bisexual porn for the past 5 years. The humor on selfish materialistic celebrities (that only think of sex even after death) and the weird brainwashed hippy Mansonites, is too brainless to be deemed 'satire', there's gory stop-motion massacre, and the rest is just stop-motion pornography to titillate fellow frat-boys. Sorry but this is too immature and silly to even be shocking.

Living a Zombie Dream  
A confusing, zero-budget, surreal mess where various repetitive scenes are weaved together into a nightmare. A guy's wife has slutty sex with his brother, his brother is sliced and gutted by a strange man with a zombie philosophy, his wife keeps telling him the same phrases like "you're home early", he has cravings for biting into flesh and dreams involving blood feasts, zombies, guts, his beckoning wife, etc. as he keeps waking up from dream after dream. With plot development and more than $100 for a budget, this could have become something Lynchian.

Lost Realities of Hog Caller, The  
This pig-head-fetish of a movie actually starts as a moderately fun Spinal Tap-esque type of mockumentary about a reporter in search of an elusive, mythic real-life grindcore band in Pennsylvania. Locals, fans and non-fans take turns both disparaging and praising the band's music and its members who seem to worship both Jesus and Satan, create the most trashy or sublime music, and generally perform supernatural feats of drug-fuelled insanity. In between, we get extremely raw, dirty, simplistic grindcore metal mixed with sludge backed by very processed croaking vocals and random images of pig-head gore and psychedelia. At first I thought this was just goofy, fun promotional material for the band with an amusingly dirty approach, but then they get lost in one random, tiresomely trashy, goofy and filthy sketch after another, usually involving pig-heads. There's a band member hunting down a redneck version of Bin Laden, caring for and abusing a dead pig dressed as a baby, a fly-ridden pig-pet, pig-head target-practice, naked girls with pig heads, random splattery gory violence against random people including Elvis and a wizard, coprophagia, lots of drugs, random surreal fantasies about an annoying wizard or the devil, etc.

Love Song for Rapper  
A more comic Japanese Gummo with an over-the-top ending. Fragmented vignettes of a loser family involving two loser brothers, one wanting to be a baseball star and the other, a manga artist. Scatter-shot scenes filmed on grainy home video, many ending in dumb slapstick, failure or trashy humor. The brothers seek sage advise from a Visitor-Q-esque neighbour who instructs them on how to play baseball or have anal sex, they attempt to fulfill their dreams, collect rent from an aggressive tenant who threatens to poison the water, and seduce girls by pretending to be disabled. The ending features a bizarre spoof on a climactic battle featuring magic, brutal fights with pens and cameras, and over-the-top splatstick involving disemboweling and decapitation. A terrible mess.

Lucker (AKA Necrophagous)  
Boring sick movie about a lunatic who escapes the insane asylum and goes on a rampage killing people and raping the female corpses after they're dead. In one scene he waits for the corpse to decompose and rot before he deems it ripe for fun.

Luminous Procuress  
Basically a series of dreamy, mostly homo-erotic visions put on film as imagined by some guy (Steven Arnold) with a love for outrageous costumes and sets. Two men enter a house where they can peer through the looking glass into various rooms full of oddities: Wind-up mostly-naked human toys jittering on stage, strangely costumed and colorful drag-queens or transsexuals, some bizarre sci-fi settings and props, nuns and bishops getting it on, a mass of naked male flesh through a fish-eye lens, various silly costumes and people playing games, an Egyptian pharaoh, some hetero hardcore porn, etc. all accompanied by strange sounds and soundtrack. In other words, this is like Jack Smith on acid. Arnold became Dali's protégé, emerging also as an artist and photographer, and made several other shorts containing a similar preoccupation with bizarre or Eastern costumes on transvestites.

Feminist and Gender Performance Art: The Movie. Don't be fooled by the description that this is some kind of religious metaphor involving Mother Mary's pilgrimage, it is thoroughly modern feminism that uses religious symbolism. A 'Virgin Mary', associated with the desert and sand, emerges from the desert and is carried by an awestruck young man (Joseph? or Daniel) on his car. She is more 'Woman of the Dunes' than 'Virgin Mary' though. She is influenced by mass media, performing a variety of emotions shown on the TV, and then she is sexualized. She is promptly gang-raped by every type of stereotypical man while a wicked motel receptionist literally pops a cherry. She uses her fanboy and his symbol of water as a provider while denying him sex, but develops a playful relationship with him (all of this is performed without dialogue and only through physical movements in a motel and with surreal and symbolic imagery). She starts adopting a role imposed on her by men as exemplified by her underwear. She banishes everyone and everything from her motel room, leaving the men to suffer in the desert with their materialistic things. After absorbing a whole swimming pool of masculinity, and a violent self-harming cathartic dance later, she becomes a male sexual aggressor, but her womanhood and pregnancy brings her back to her role as mother, accompanied by Vegas showgirls and opulence. Technically, visually and physically this is a well made movie and Celia Rowlson-Hall is beautiful to look at. But the themes of melodramatic feminism and gender theory are as tiresome as they get.

A slutty, married woman has sex with the decapitated head of her former lover while teasing a blind man. And she is actually the healthier of the two sickos in this silly and pointlessly gruesome horror movie that has no plot to speak of.

Machines of Love and Hate  
This one is so bad, it's something like Ed Wood's attempt to make a bizarre head-trip of a movie. There is no originality here, only a jumbled bunch of copy-pasting from other movies into something incoherent. The dialogue is cliched and cheesy, most of it stolen from other movies, with even a sampling from Star Wars. The acting by the two parents hams it up to truly silly and campy proportions, but the rest of the cast seems to think they're in a serious movie. The story involves a Christ-like figure in a gas mask on a quest with a treasure map that depicts a treasure chest with the word 'truth' on it (I kid you not). He is led to a home of a very broken family consisting of disabled bitter father and lustful haughty mother, with a teenage daughter stuck in between. Scenes repeat, morph into nightmares, stuck in a loop, break off into strange & bloody outcomes, there's sex in a gas mask, some twisted lusting by the mom, a lot of yelling and silly dialogue, a symbolic sub-plot about another warrior-quest dude that meets a little girl with a bloody doll that goes nowhere, and then the surprise twist nonsensical ending that can't seem to decide whether it has to do with a horror cult or a religious second coming of Christ. Terrible.

Mad Foxes  
Euro-sleaze with such unbelievable levels of stupidity that you'll split your sides laughing. A biker gang gets entangled in a cycle of revenge and violence with a philanderer in a hot-rod, leading to rape, gore, karate, penis-chopping, family massacres and lots of gratuitous nudity and sex. Features extremely dumb dialog and possibly the worst dubbing job ever recorded.

Imagine a Korean Jodorowsky doing a new-age movie about the environment and spiritualism vs. destruction. This beautifully filmed, symbolic and surreal project is new-age claptrap at its worst. Pure spirits are naked women swimming in clear waters, but business, medicine, science, internet, industrialism and men are all corrupt, destructive, greedy and filthy, destroying the environment and all that is pure, and even eating meat (gasp). All this is wrapped in a creation myth about Mago and 12 female (naked) spirits and how the earth became corrupt and the spirits went into exile. Pretentious, dumb, preachy, misandrist, new-age excrement.

Making Off  
French found-footage-style 'documentary' about a film-maker filming himself trying to make the most shocking movie of all time. Towards this goal, he hires friends and family and works himself to obsession, even avoiding sleep, but gets increasingly frustrated at the amateurish and weak result. One day he does off the rails with his girlfriend, which leads to brutal violence, murder and necrophiliac rape on camera. And this takes him in a new direction: To kill everyone for real ... and rape them afterwards. This idea about a director gone mad has been done several times, but this movie has a dark streak of black humor, except it becomes so vile there is nothing to get amused about. Comparisons to Serbian Film are only as far as the sickening necrophilia scenes are concerned, as his victims progress to animals, men, mutilated bodies and body parts. The content, however is nowhere close to that movie. The level of gore is medium, the special effects range from adequate to disturbingly good, and the brutality and sadistic torture level is pretty high. But it's all just pointless sickness.

Maléfices Porno  
Warped, censored, unusually twisted, cult French pornography. It starts tediously with an impotent husband and his wife who seeks her sexual pleasures with guests, and his pathetic behaviour in bed, until he falls asleep and loses himself in surreal sexual and twisted dreams inspired by a book he was reading. The dreams involve S&M in a cave, strange costumes involving a top hat, guignol torture and sexual murders by buzz-saw, sulphuric acid baths, and lengthy sexual teasing and torture of a pet black man, including gruesome penis torture, until he turns into a raving beast for a surprise ending.

Bizarre Brazilian mish-mash of genres. It starts as a somber movie about gypsies attending a funeral, accompanied by beautiful Flamenco by Paco de Lucia. An old woman reminisces about her dead lover, except her memories are full of magic, over-the-top romanticism and fantasy. They both transform into young people, the music turns cheesy as she meets her love, a travelling gypsy, clown, performer and bona-fide magician, their imagination creating magic. Then they elope into the forest and the movie switches from magical realism to silly fantasy with a dozen forest-fairies, gnomes and whatnot in fake sets with endless silly antics. And finally, there's Felliniesque grotesqueries as they see visions of the people chasing them. It never really works, but it's kinda entertaining.

Ma Mère  
Artsy French perversion using the Oedipus Complex and other base Freudian instincts to contemplate on ...something or another. A young man comes back home with idealistic worship of his mom only to learn she is a perverted bisexual slut and a lush. She tries to educate him in the ways of life by pulling him into perversions with her wildly kinky and bisexual lover, only to find him diving into her life lessons with wild abandon and nihilistic passion, soon to go out of control. She tries to re-adjust him with another neurotic girl who has a masochistic slave, etc. Psychology, incest, philosophical musings, coprophilia, artsy pretensions and necrophilia. It would be disturbing if it made any sense or added up to anything. Based on a novel by Georges Bataille.

Man, The Woman, And The Beast, The  
A hatefully twisted precursor to Blue Movie by Alberto Cavallone. Society in all its forms is attacked. While festivities are going on in the streets, various depraved people interact and have sex. There's a nymphomaniac, psychotic woman, a hypocritical policeman who uses whores, a priest that seems to like the boys a tad too much, a man with a fetish for pictures of nude women and internal organs, a butcher that humps his frozen meat, some surreal imagery involving female genitalia, billiard balls and an eyeball, and an unbelievable grand finale involving snuff coprophilia.

Strange Dutch sex-art-film which doesn't seem to fit in any category. There's a butcher shop, a lustful butcher that has sex in the meat locker and harasses his young female co-worker, there's a lust triangle, a murder, a detective and his unhappy marriage. Except the butcher and the detective are the same person, the pretty young co-worker seems to welcome his sleazy advances and has wild kinks of her own, and at some point, the movie turns in on itself, making less sense after it's done. Most of the movie feels like some older fat guy's fantasies of treating women like meat, the movie making many visual parallels to this effect, except the women welcome it and are only to happy to comply in order to supply the next unrealistic sex scene. There are surprises, including a water-sports scene and a 'rape' scene that appear out of nowhere. The pseudo-Lynchian dream-logic doesn't do anything interesting either. In short, the movie doesn't seem to know what it's about and characters as well as various interpretations contradict each other. Unrewarding and lurid.

A horror movie titled "Men", released during a peak of Woke insanity in 2022; I wonder what it could possible be about? Turns out it goes way, way beyond what I imagined to become the ultimate misandrist film. A woman goes on vacation in the country after a horrible violent separation from her husband. Things start to get weird as the men in the country all start exhibiting toxic behaviour one after another, and they all look alike. Then things get bizarre. Then they become gruesome and surreal. As a horror movie, this deserves top marks for getting under one's skin so effectively, for taking its concept to such extreme and imaginative places, and for using its cinematography, location, soundtrack and surreal visuals so well. As a concept, and as hinted by its title, this reduces all men to their most broadly drawn characteristics as defined by insane Woke people, literally merges them all together into one being in terms of identity, casting, character, personality traits and biology (you'll have to see the movie to understand this one), and rather than use this only as a plot point from the point of view of its character, concludes that only women can make another woman happy. And there is only this single point of view throughout the movie. I find it interesting to compare this to Doghouse which attacked a campy horror image of man-eating women, only it did so tongue-in-cheek, whereas this one plays it straight.

Men Behind the Sun 2: Laboratory of the Devil  
A pointless sequel that has the Japanese butchers from camp 731 gather together for a reunion of sorts and rehash the original story, this time with more gore and a cheesy love story. We see some of the same experiments again, freezing a woman's arms then striping off her flesh, some splatter autopsy scenes, experimenting on Chinese prisoners with nasty diseases and chemicals, and testing guns on lines of live humans. Nasty exploitation but not disturbing like the first, and flawed by cheesy drama.

Metal Messiah  
Rare, low-budget rock opera, with some passing thematic resemblances to Tommy, about a messianic figure made into a rock star. At first, the low budget makes this feel like Alphaville in the sense that the pretentious, nonsensical narration tries to make up for what the visuals lack. But then it gradually becomes weirder. A man resigned to his fate and puppet-strings is sent on a mission to kill the Messiah, who is an anonymous silver-faced force of nature with some kind of prophetic, moralizing message, but seems to cause social excesses wherever he goes. The encounters include a depraved discotheque-cum-orgy, junkyard mutants, a bizarre group of stock merchants who sell air and water, a robotic marine-headmaster, a drug addict priestess Violet who gets the messiah hooked on drugs, and a despicable rock-concert promoter, all acted over-the-top with campy costumes and makeup. The point of the movie seems to be about the power of rock stars, but portraying the messiah as a victim of his own popularity and ideas seems to conflict with the passive, ego-maniacal, self-indulgent rock-star that he actually is.

Midnight Gospel, The  
Strictly speaking, this is not even a proper film/TV series. It's just rambling podcast recordings combined with animation visuals. The podcast part consists of random ramblings by a person so in love with the sound of his own voice, he obviously enjoys the smell of his own farts, with random new-age pretentious twaddle that one typically secretes while under the influence, thinking it is the deepest philosophy every uttered until one gets sober again and pretends to forget it under sheer embarrassment. Topics shift from one area to another in a new-age salad of consciousness, drugs, magic, life and death, being and time, cults, world religions and spirituality, soul, etc etc, except it meanders in ADD style, and I found myself shaking my head at the nonsense in each and every random statement. The fantasy, surreal and psychedelic animation seems much more entertaining at first, with a young character travelling to another virtual world in every episode, a world with its own (non)rules. Some of the worlds include a prison of souls where violent prisoners live through a psychedelic cycle of violence, death and rebirth until they transcend; another involves life growing up as a baby talking to his mother then giving birth to his own mother and then discussing and experiencing a form of death. Another world involves running away or fighting endless monsters and zombies, and another involves a bizarre cycle of life where discussions take place while their bodies are being crushed into a pulp, and repeatedly merged and transformed in psychedelic ways. And these are only the general themes; the animations mainly involving myriad psychedelic details and free-form strange, imaginative violent or fantastical sequences of events as the characters podcast on and on regardless of what is happening around them and to them. But these random images rapidly get tiresome, and only an idiot would think the visuals add meaning to a meaningless podcast. The fact that this show gained a popular following is scary.

Mock Up on Mu  
Cult director of found-footage, sci-fi conspiracy films, Craig Baldwin, presents another one of his unique creations here, except this time, the subject matter is occultist celebrities like Ron Hubbard, Marjorie Cameron, Jack Parsons and Aleister Crowley, their real-life relationships and views on life are warped into another one of his sci-fi re-imaginings of history through wacko-conspiracy goggles. Combine this with decades of creating movies like this with a style all his own, and you have one demented, hard-to-follow, harder-to-describe, nonsensical movie. The plot involves Hubbard's Mu moon colony powered by 'Mu poo pile' nuclear waste, and his 60s spy-style machinations to create a shuttle from Las Vegas and manipulate brain proteins with the help of said occultists (who have their own big plans involving new technologies and moonchildren), Lockheed Martin, and Crowley (who lives under A-bomb testing grounds). There is a lot more, but like I said, this is nonsensical mumbo-jumbo told via a barrage of home-made footage, voice-overs & narrative, and several tons of found (AKA stolen) footage from many old movies, documentaries and soundtracks. You may enjoy this if you are one of those people that find thematic mix-tapes entertaining, but I was extremely bored by all the nonsense.

Mondo Weirdo  
No, not a Mondo movie but a German low-budget stab at Richard Kern and transgressive surreal pornographic cinema. Backed by a pounding soundtrack, we dive into the mind of a shocked virgin girl who sees lesbians going at it at a rock concert. Everything she sees afterwards brings on sexual and bloody, violent, perverse fantasies and images.

Monkeys in the Attic  
Here's how I imagine this experiment came together: The director collected four avant-garde theatre actors that tend to chew the scenery, gave them some drugs, gave each of them a basic character but no plot, locked them in a house for a few days, and told them to improvise anything they wanted as long as it was surprising and had emotional content. There's an angry, neglected, probably cuckolded husband, a depressed wife, a wacky, horny artist who likes to role-play, and a completely insane but needy actress/dancer. But it's really just about acting out random scenes of mental instability and extreme emotion, including one scene in a clown outfit, a whimsical rape, and random scenes from theatre. Throw into a mix a straight pizza-delivery-dude who is abused, sexually exploited and toyed with by all four characters, and you have...well I don't what you have but it wasn't enjoyable.

There is no attempt to explain this strange world, which is occupied by about 5 women and a couple of faceless men. One girl walks around in a red bathing suit all day with a special shoe to compensate for one shorter leg and works as a prostitute for a few gold coins (that aren't what they appear to be). Her mom is depressed after she got fired from her job as Minnie Mouse at a fairground, and she regularly receives a strange medicinal procedure involving her blood going through a machine in a big white room. Then there's a big 'Godmother' who tries to mother them both, and who likes to play in a makeshift small pool even though water is scarce. Emotions flare, but the plot or the characters don't really develop after that. An empty oddity.

Mosquito the Rapist  
An old shocker about an insane deaf-mute who was abused as a child and has an unhealthy obsession over dolls and violence. He has a crush on a local pretty girl who dances all day and has trouble with mean co-workers at the office. When he discovers the joy in mutilating and toying with corpses, there's no turning back, and soon he is darting into funeral homes to cut up the dead dolls, pull out eyeballs, and suck blood through a straw, thinking himself untouchable. The symbolism is crude however and I found nothing of interest here.

Obscure movie by Michael DiPaolo. The banality of a necrophiliac and serial killer in a grimy, oppressive, B&W film shot almost entirely without dialogue. The intro rushes through his birth and upbringing displaying only the highlights of sicknesses and deaths in the family, as well as a constant presence of Mother. Then there's a sudden interest in anatomy for no particular reason, which leads to a series of randomly depraved activities that start with robbing graves for body parts, and continue through various acts of necrophilia and murder, often involving women that look similar to Mother. It's not a very graphic film, but the atmosphere, thanks mainly to the avant-garde music, maintains an uneasy and off-putting mood. The biggest flaw, however, is that it provides no character insight or interesting narrative, and is therefore boring.

Mother's Meat & Freud's Flesh  
Meandering underground movie in the vein of Warhol that simply observes trashy and campy behaviour. Except that it is so whimsical, pointless, loose and tediously self-indulgent, it seems to last forever. There is a man who acts in 'artsy' gay porn movies, whose mother hounds him every second of the day with endless ramblings, inappropriate near-incestuous games, and suffocating attention. His friend, the psychologist/dentist, has a gay crush on him, but chooses to experiment on him and his psyche instead with things like hypnotising the mother into believing she was born male. But the movie doesn't have a real story and focus, and, instead, gets lost in an endless date that his mother has with some guy, endless ramblings about nothing in particular, and random strange scenes including a new movie that he finds himself in involving 'artistic' disemboweling and castration. The end.

My Lovely Burnt Brother and His Squashed Brain  
After a silly intro involving a man beating up a Schwarzenegger poster and the producer telling us that this film sucks, we get a short tale about a dentist assistant and her burnt brother who is insane from pain and wears a KKK outfit after he was hit by a black car. She gets harassed by sleazy patients and a door-to-door saleswoman but she soon discovers that by injecting her insane brother with her urine, she can command him to do whatever she wants. So she makes him eat his own vomit and then kill her enemies in gory ways, including slicing up a face in a meat slicer. Purposely goofy and bad in ways that almost goes beyond terrible into the realm of the cult. Almost.

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done  
A collaboration between Herzog and Lynch shouldn't work, and it doesn't. Herzog films down-to-earth eccentricities and oddities that sometimes feel like they were captured on camera by mistake, whereas Lynch invents worlds and explores mysteries through dream-logic. Herzog previously went off the deep end with Even Dwarves Started Small, but that was a surreal metaphor, and this is just a nonsensical film about a nut who goes crazy and kills his mother, except that everyone around him seems to be insane as well. The movie is basically a series of flashbacks involving Michael Shannon doing or saying nonsensical things, while the police surround his house after he killed his mother. His uncle (Dourif) is a farmer of spectacle-stealing ostriches, who tells tales of huge chickens. There are two pet pelicans, a theatrical Greek play directed by Udo Kier involving matricide, Sevigny is his passive and dumb girlfriend, and a box of oatmeal is god. There is no point, and no Lynchian mystery, since its obvious from the start that he's insane and never says anything remotely interesting.

Nature of Nicholas, The  
Canadian weirdness that is like Zulawski's Possession by way of David Lynch, except it's not as intriguing, provocative or surprising. This is obvious, heavy-handed symbolism telling the tale of a gay young boy with a secret attraction to his male friend. He resents his friend's attraction to girls and when, one day, he kisses him, his friend splits into two identities, one of which is a sensitive, dying zombie-boy that he cares for and hides. His dead father always hovers disapprovingly, turning various people into puppets (using scissors) in order to manipulate and disapprove of the boy's secret behaviour. Unrewarding and obvious surrealism.

Necrophile Passion  
A German film obviously inspired by Nekromantik, except that the focus is on the trashy and extreme sex and a superficial, hastily put-together back-story. There's a guy with mother issues who finds a dead body in the woods, and a cold girlfriend with a fetish for putrefactive corpses and boyfriends that play dead. As if that weren't enough, and instead of developing any of these, the movie keeps throwing more shock content at the audience in the hope that something sticks: Self-mutilation, undead corpses, schizophrenic voices, and pretentious inner monologues that all add up to nothing except a desperate, contrived attempt to portray a very disturbed man. In the end, the twisted and rotten 'sex' scenes get the much longer running times, making this merely a very unappetizing porn movie with failed pretensions.

Neptune Frost  
Joint NY-African, Woke, slam-poetry version of a cyberpunk film. Basically, it's all makeup and costumes and no brain, offering 110 minutes of 'spoken-word' ranting and music, preaching against all forms of authority and business, where gender-fluidity will free your mind and save the people. African ethnic culture is merged with creative tech-trash props to create a merging of South and West, where the internet is used literally as well as metaphorically to depict the network of the people 'hacking the system' and standing up to exploitation. African people hack the 'internet' in the forests and villages with leftover pieces of circuit boards, sci-fi/fantasy effects, TikTok cyberpunk outfits, and a whole lot of electro-African mashup music. Victimization is all, whether it is in mines, or by businesses taking natural resources, or by men that refuse to accept the whimsical gender-of-the-day. Thus 'the people' rise up and become the authorities they despise, forgetting that the 'evil' authorities they are fighting are people just like them. One character is acted by both male and female actors, others have names like 'Innocence' and 'Memory'. There is no plot, no coherent ideas, just obnoxious endless ranting via obnoxious slam poetry and music.

Never Belongs to Me  
More insanity from the Korean maker of Killing Machine. The nonsensical plot and random scenes mostly revolve around a man who angers some criminals because of two eggs in a noodle pot, they smash his fingers and he goes looking for revenge by changing his penis into a gadget that shoots bullets when he ejaculates. He soon finds that ballerinas are the equivalent of instant orgasms, that the penis is not all its cracked up to be, and becomes a perverse serial killer. Other elements include a lustful mom, a histrionic brother who is half lion and gives carcasses as gifts, a cyber prostitute, splatter, sex, a gimp suit, some bizarre fighting scenes with weird powers, and other random nonsense.

No Mercy No Future  
A portrayal of a schizophrenics life and mind based on a schizophrenics writings. Although it claims to be from inside her mind, this offers no insight or in-depth exploration, and is content merely with a series of events, hallucinations and encounters that are as disconnected as she is. Veronika tries various forms of suicide, wanders in and out of the psychiatric hospital and her parents' house, but mostly just wanders the world looking for Jesus in every straggler and sad, forsaken male of society, getting nothing but exploitation and sex in return. One nasty scene involves pressured sex soon after an abortion. The beginning and end of the movie wanders into hallucinations of things like strange painted men in the subway, and gardening with dismembered hands. Bleak, gritty and raw, but pointless and unrewarding.

No Rest for the Brave  
Alain Guiraudie has a knack for creating stories and fantasy worlds out of mere dialogue, a simple location (usually outdoors), the mundane and the quirky. After some light half-length experiments, his first full-length movie is a free-form movie about a superficial teenage slacker who is afraid to sleep in case it's his last, and who spends the entire movie running through a confusing barrage of locations, identities and some absurd adventures. A whole village is killed, he falls for an old man, he rides an airplane to a bar in the middle of a field without taking off, a big wave takes his friend away, he is hunted by various eccentrics and thugs, people seem to die, but then they don't, etc. But there's no depth of character, ideas or story, only annoying whimsies, endless banal dialogue, and faux-creativity. Pointless.

So what if Beverly Hills 90210 featured a kaleidoscope of bisexual, sex-starved, extremely neurotic, nihilistic, foul-mouthed, angst-ridden teens with various personality disorders? And to top it all off some of them run around killing and raping or getting abducted by aliens? You get this movie of course, a pointless, repulsive but stylish piece of garbage with non stop depraved sex, violence, teen-chatter and drug-induced weirdness. Just a bunch of pretty teens pretending to be angry, violent and cool.

Once Within a Time  
Another visual experiment from Godfrey Reggio of 'Koyannisqatsi' fame (not a fan), with a multi-cultural soundtrack by Philip Glass. This one, however, goes for surreal imagery and heavy use of visual effects to depict a confusing world overrun with technology. Children stare in bewilderment as an organic world and singing nature become inundated with strange robots and cellphone-creatures, with a bizarre-looking Adam and Eve trying to cope. Monkeys wear virtual reality glasses, reality converges with digital effects in many ways, people become trapped in hourglasses, the first primitive man smashes cellphones, and Mike Tyson appears as a Shaman. Still not a fan.

On the Old Roman Road  
Frustratingly disjointed and self-indulgent art-house movie that wears its influences on its sleeve. Based on an auto-biographical book by an Armenian writer and poet called Totovents who was yet another victim of Stalinism, this movies tries to weave together history, a series of political murders and antagonisms between Turks and Armenians, folk-oriented surrealism, poetry, sexual encounters and personal musings. There are terrorists, political murders, an agent in Rotterdam hunting them down, a kidnapped boy, ritualistic killings and grave-abuse back in Armenia, and several oneiric scenes in the desert. In between these disjointed scenes, a mumbling and difficult-to-understand narrator inserts random snippets of personal memoirs, historical facts and poetry, while we try to piece together any kind of story from the snippets and surreal vignettes. The first half sometimes feels inspired by Parajanov, but these surreal moments are few and far between, and the last part unwinds into endless dull scenes of driving through Rotterdam inspired by Tarkovsky, except that instead of having something to think about, we only have confusion. Watching this is the equivalent of spending hours trying to piece together pieces of a puzzle, only to find out they make up only very small parts of several puzzles. His previous movie Avetik was a much better example of this approach because it used more accessible and global symbols and visuals.

It doesn't get much more experimental and annoying than this. There's a narrative in here somewhere about a white man called Zohommm!!!, a black man called Grrr???, a woman called Shuick..., and their love triangle. There's seduction, friendly plotting, then suspicion and suicide (by self-decapitation), then they somehow get their heads put back in place but on the wrong bodies with the help of some electronic being, and the love triangle continues with even more confusion. But the narrative is deliberately deconstructed and consciously sabotaged over and over until it becomes incomprehensible. The goal seems to be some kind of Dadaism of cinema, without the politics and philosophy. In addition, whim reigns supreme like a kind of stream-of-consciousness mix-tape put together over the course of 10 years, the director splicing together bits and pieces of random scenes, weird images, cartoons, documentary footage of film-makers and revolutions, mystical symbolism, and other odds and ends, then re-cut up again in an attempt to achieve ultimate confusion, surprise and lack of cohesion. The images rarely add new dimensions to the images, but mostly just attack in a barrage. This isn't the manifesto it wants to be, it's cinematic masturbation. This would go well with Venom and Eternity.

Ornithologist, The  
This weird, symbolic trek and adventure in the forest feels like a blend of Pasolini crossed with Werner Herzog and Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee). A gay ornithologist is trekking through the deep wild on a river when he is distracted by storks and his kayak is swept away. A couple of Chinese Christian girls find him on their way to a pilgrimage. This starts his adventures, each encounter a little stranger than the next, often combining homosexual eroticism with various references to Christianity and saints, until it becomes a supernatural but very personal quest of redemption for sins, to the point that the director replaces the actor with himself for the denouement. Of course, most of these encounters should be interpreted symbolically, but while some are obvious with various gay, homoerotic, Christian suppression, guilt and saintly undertones, the rest of the meandering scenes feel like a personal dream with no interpretation. Amongst the people he meets are a strange nihilistic cult dressed in wild costumes that burn and kill everything, Christian Chinese women into bondage and castration, a gay mute Jesus-shepherd, a white dove with a personality that tricks him, topless Amazonian huntresses, a forest of stuffed animals, etc. Nothing comes together at the end. Unrewarding and self-indulgent.

Out (AKA Deadly Drifter)  
'Avant-garde', absurd movie about... nothing in particular. A man wanders from scene to scene in different roles and with different people who say things that only a deeply drugged person would find meaningful while they act out absurdities. He is a secret agent with many sticks of dynamite, he keeps encountering a girl in different roles but he always seems to want to ball her, he joins a revolutionary gang that get their mission instructions by forming words made of alphabet soup (and then eat it to understand the message), he blackmails the girl into sex by acting a cop, he marries the girl because a stick of dynamite didn't blow up his head, there's a cryptic but good-natured Native American that teaches him the joys of esoteric mumbo-jumbo, peyote, the story of Jonah and the whale, and more non-sequiturs, he develops a sixth sense and has the ability to win jackpots every time, and so on. If the movie has a point, I have no clue what it is, and neither, I suspect, does the film-maker. Perhaps someone took LSD, scribbled some thoughts while under the influence, then collected all the scribblings and made a screenplay out of it.

Australian oddity by actors that look like something between 80s punks and village people, attempting to make a camp cult movie a la Rocky Horror Picture Show. The story revolves around a mysterious Dingo woman (a playmate) who spends most of the movie dressing and undressing while most of the cast try to bed her for different reasons. There are the parents who tried to kill her as a baby, a punk-master of the occult who thinks she's the center of a spiritual event, a short blonde Hitler-clone with a Pinocchio nose, lesbian Nazis who want to inseminate her for the Third Reich, horny Dingo incestuous pagans, a Tarzan, a mad scientist, and other assorted strange characters and plot-lines involving the Christian Trinity, sacrifices, actors, and spiritual powers. Tries too hard to be off-the-wall and funny.

Bertolucci's most experimental feature by far, modelled after Godard. It's a freewheeling piece about everything and nothing that lacks coherency. The movie consists of an insane young man and his antics with his doppelgänger, aided by Bertolucci's rich visual sense. Themes such as our alter egos and their capabilities that extend beyond our own, ideas that take on a life of their own, masochism and suffering caused by our own hands, theatre and film used to manifest ourselves and our ideas, all linked to politics and revolution, are all touched, but never developed. Instead, the movie is as schizophrenic and random as its protagonist. He kills or abuses on a whim, makes statements about theatre from behind a tower of books, fights with his own huge shadow, turns his landlord into a slave, who drives him to a date by rolling the car downhill because he can't drive, then makes driving sounds while the wacko verbally abuses his masochistic date and gets her to smell his armpits. He teaches unorthodox acting as well as how to make a molotov cocktail to a class, sets up a guillotine for his double, while a girl makes speeches about the destructive qualities of commercial detergents and frolics in soap suds. Empty and unrewarding. Someone should have told Bertolucci that the French New Wave was about being an auteur, not about making glossy photocopies.

Period, The  
Wildly trashy and juvenile, bad-taste, gross-out comedy that would make John Waters proud. It's about a lesbian that suddenly gets a permanent projectile period, and nothing can stop the gusher. To say this movie is a bloodbath is only the start. Everyone and everything that gets near her gets blood-soaked, including art-students and gynecologist nurses. The jokes and gags are rapid-fire, but are almost all juvenile smut and trash, from ubiquitous references to vaginas, lesbian flirting that sounds like a 16 year old porn-addict wrote their dialogue, to blood-splattered art-students making references to porn. Her nightmares include outrageously bizarre things like a dozen bloody eggs coming out of her vagina, to bizarre fetish-prostitution, to a discussion on exploitation with her gum-chewing talking vagina. A strange masked man follows her, but when her friends have had enough of her blood, she finds herself on the street dealing with exploitative gynecologists into blood, and other spiraling nastiness, turning her blood into in-your-face performance-art, all leading to a bonkers ending. Some of the trashy gags are so over-the-top they are funny, but these are overshadowed by the overall tiresome juvenile attitude in the first half, and the high-school-level feminist-angst in the second half.

Phantom Love  
Nina Menkes's movies are usually insufferably dull and pretentious endurance tests with light touches of near-surrealism, but here she improves slightly and also develops more surrealist techniques. It's still a punishingly slow, plotless and humorless exploration of a lifeless, navel-gazing female character though. Lulu is a braindead and disaffected Russian beauty who seems to be as bored by her boyfriend's endlessly mechanical lovemaking as he is of her. She deals cards mechanically at a casino to lifeless people, her mother is an overbearing nightmare, and her sister is a self-mutilating medicated mess. Surrealistically, she steps over snakes on her way home, has floating experiences where she disappears into thin air, or dreams of being swept away by a river and strangled by her mother who is swarming with bees and talks to her mirror. The rest is just some endlessly long scenes where nothing happens and nothing meaningful is conveyed.

Eduardo Casanova's follow-up to Skins is another exercise in silky pink transgressions, this time with a metaphor to chew on, but one so heavy-handed and over-the-top as to be trashy camp. Extreme smothering motherhood and Munchausen syndrome are used as metaphors for dictators like the one in North Korea and the dependency of its citizens on being both abused and cared for by their leader. Mateo can't live without his mother who lives only for her son and who can't tell the difference between his name and feelings and her own. She is also happier when he is sick and bleeding so she can take care of him. Everything is pink, except his endlessly bleeding toe and the cancer in his head that gets worse when he wanders away from her, but also because she put it there. They even vomit synchronously, all over the pink tablecloth. A psychologist tries fruitlessly to separate them, there's a parallel story involving a Korean dictator poisoning children with strawberries, some gratuitous transgressive scenes, and surreal dreams involving killing unicorns and a mother giving birth to an adult boy. About as deep as a sheer sheet of pink satin.

An underground, darkly atmospheric B&W short by Nico B. and Rozz Williams containing an act of ritualistic torture and murder combined with incomprehensible imagery. Rozz notoriously killed himself right after this movie was made. A man uses a bizarrely illustrated book called 'Why God Permits Evil' to inflict elaborate sadistic tortures on another man involving a syringe, head bandages, forced blood swallowing, what looks like real cutting and marking his body with the word 'Pig', and so on. Intercut with this is some incomprehensible symbolism and surreal imagery. Followed 14 years later by '1334', another short movie made by Nico B. about the effect of Rozz's suicide on his friends, recreating the suicide, and depicting a ghostly presence, emotional outbursts, tarot cards and after-death symbolism

Planet Manson
Obscure, absolutely worthless nonsense from Jacques Boyreau (worked with Moritsugu but with none of the fun of his movies). It's a completely random and probably improvised stream-of-consciousness riffing on exploitation movies and a poke at various 'trendoids' that want to make these films. Strictly speaking, it can't be called an actual movie. There's lots of dancing in a club, random braindead people spouting pretentious random twaddle at each other going on and on about nonsense, some of them throwing their ideas about exploitation or sci-fi b-movies. Throw in some random sci-fi weirdness, people in cheap costumes, scenes of an evil producer getting a blowjob by an 'android' called Cupcake, blaxploitation 'fight scenes' with someone with a huge fake afro, as well cheap sci-fi/fantasy sword fights, and so on. It's like a retarded guy with no ability to hold a single coherent thought for more than 2 seconds took some LSD watched a dozen exploitation movies, and decided to film... whatever came to mind.

A gay nerdy teenager with an obsessive crush for a hunk actor finds himself in a neon world where he lives with said hunk. Videodrome is the explicit inspiration for this gay fantasy. It plays out exactly as you imagine, as a gay sex fantasy with an unreal hunk object that never seems human who plays all of his games, except with a twisted Videodrome fleshy twist somehow turned into gay sex. Female competition conveniently die after some neon-green vomit overdose, and a bizarre man bent on revenge comes to visit which soon turns violent. The strange violent and murderous streak running through the film gets a surreal dark twist at the end. Sexual fantasies never make for interesting stories or characters as there is no real relationship or people, especially one as warped and narcissistic as this one, and are only of interest to the fantasizer.

P.O.E. Project of Evil  
Poe must be turning in his grave where he was buried alive. This is a sequel to the slightly better 'P.O.E. Poetry of Eerie', which featured 15 short movies based on Poe's stories and focused on the horror/atmospheric aspect of his stories. This one, however, tries to re-imagine seven stories as modern transgressive/nasty shorts with gratuitous brutality, gore and sex. 'Pit And The Pendulum' is transported into an ineffectual 'THX 1138'-esque sci-fi setting with a weakly imagined threat and no pendulum, 'Alone' is somehow converted into a torture-porn short, 'Loss Of Breath' is set amidst pornographers with a very graphic castration scene for no reason whatsoever, 'Morgue Street' is supposed to be a dark murder-mystery with a surprise murderer, but the mystery is completely ignored and is replaced with a graphic bestial rape and murder scene involving two drug-addict hookers, 'Tell-Tale Heart' about a murderer's guilt is a disjointed sequence of scenes in Thailand with transsexual thrown in (albeit artsy and unusual scenes), 'The System of Dr. Tarr' manages to invoke an insane atmosphere in an asylum and injects it with naked men tarring and feathering each other, masturbating and eating a face, and 'Premature Burial' finds a neat little twist for the buried-alive story. In summary, the last two find something only moderately interesting to do with the stories, but the rest are a waste of time and feature heavy, sometimes indecipherable accents. Those of you looking for Poe adaptations will be disappointed since these are suggested by (not inspired by) Poe's stories, at best.

Artsy nonsensical movie with three intercut stories whose only common theme seems to be crime & punishment or sex. The three stories are: A documentary about a kid that shoots his father for attacking his cheating wife and then literally flies out the window, a horror movie about a scientist that isolates the sex drive in liquid form then drinks it and becomes a leper, and a prison story of obsessive homosexual lust and abuse. The movie is full of strange events, dark moods, repulsive scenes, and artsy nonsensical quotes and dialog that add up to nothing at all.

Pony Trouble  
What the...? A live-action role-playing (LARP) movie where the players go bad and insane. It's like a group of drugged geeky students with ADD and no budget decided to film a Dungeons & Dragons version of Videodrome/Existenz. Plot threads don't even get a chance to unravel, as the characters just say whatever nonsense is in their head and switch to another 'movie' on a whim. This movie starts with a girl beating the crap out of a teddy bear in bondage, then proceeds to some kind of girly TV show about 'pony games' and some of its obsessed girly fans. Except that the boys in the troupe keep undermining the childish games with their hormones, and one Dominatrix seems a little too depraved and evil for their unicorn fairy tale roles. Before you know it, there is some blair-witch prancing in the dark woods, forced cross-dressing and humiliation, then gritty and gory violence involving dismemberment, disemboweling and head-crushing, then some kind of robot gang war with cyborgs and terminators. Don't ask how it all fits together because it doesn't. Excruciatingly bad - one of those movies that makes you feel that you lost IQ points.

Pop Skull  
Experimental movie about a pill-popping depressed young dude, his friend and friend's girlfriend, and his pining for his ex-girlfriend. His mind breaks down from the pills, endless longing and an empty life of inactivity, and starts hallucinating ghosts, violence, trips and interchangeable people. The hallucinations and sounds are guaranteed to give anyone with even slight tendencies of epilepsy a fit, and they are quite effective in reproducing the disorienting effects of a head trip, it's just a pity that they are used to depict such a boring, empty mind. It's like the whole movie is only there to share the experiences of a depressed, self-indulgent, empty-headed, whiny emo-boy. It's also very clear what is real and what isn't, and there is no mystery or plot, besides the deterioration of his mind into violence.

Population: 1  
A curiosity led by the colorful Tomata Du Plenty who splices together a hodge-podge of strange performances, musical-videos, beatnik-like poetry and monologues, video-art and various footage while telling the history and future of America as it revolves around him meeting Sheela. Old footage is mixed with 80s-punk renditions of old songs, Tomata performs in his bunker while various bathroom appliances fly in the air and work on him, then he tells of an apocalyptic future of which he is supposedly the only survivor, during which doctors performed experiments on people until they mutated and girls got breasts for eyes. Odd but mostly uninteresting.

Post Tenebras Lux  
This is one of those depthless art-house movies pretending to have meaning by stringing together a bunch of seemingly random scenes and letting the audience read whatever they want into it. The title translates to Light After Darkness, so you could interpret the movie as covering the general theme of a broken society going bad, but this is covered so superficially and unrealistically, there is no insight or thought to be found. The opening shot is the only striking scene, with a toddler in an alarmingly dangerous situation in the wild as darkness slowly sets in, symbolically setting up the theme for the movie. The film is also bookmarked by surreal scenes of a literal devil performing work on some parents while they sleep, and a man ripping his own head off. But, in between, we just get a bunch of slow scenes of people doing or talking about bad and tedious things, whether it is a man beating up a dog, fighting with his wife, donating his wife to a repulsive orgy of strangers, culture clashes between urban white people and locals in Mexico, a robbery gone bad, etc. Tedious and unrewarding.

Prayer for Hetman Mazepa, A  
Yuri Ilyenko continues his cinematic style of fragmented snippets of a story presented poetically, only this time, he emphasizes obtuse and pretentious theatrics. This is based on the history of Hetman Mazepa, a controversial 18th century figure who was involved in the independence and joining of Ukraine, and the great war with Russia and Sweden, although many see him as a traitor. But the events are dramatized in fragmented scenes involving artificial sets, theatrical props in natural settings, colored strips over the film that make it look like a dreamy painting, melodramatic acting, symbolism, and some bizarre behaviour, especially in the surreal ending that reminded me of a Ken Russell film. Symbolism includes fake heads and straw men being executed, a collection of decapitated heads of previous failed rulers, naked abused women as a symbol of the country, a box placed over the ruler's head as the next head magically appears, etc. Not only incomprehensible, but also leaves one clueless as to what the goal was, even if you manage to piece together the actual history and fill the huge narrative gaps on your own. An art-house flop, if such a thing exists, and the definition of theatrics, to the detriment of everything else.

Psycho Weene  
Imagine a movie so bad, that even when it makes fun of itself it's painful to watch. David Heavener is known for terrible but enthusiastic low-budget action movies, and this comedy-horror is an outlier in his repertoire. This feels like a failed/unfinished experiment or short, padded together with lots of random stuff like a gothic-industrial music video, random footage from other movies, multiple takes and endings, Heavener talking endlessly to the camera in visually cringey, bizarre, S&M gear making fun of stuff while partaking in some S&M 'comedy', and hosting his own movie. The movie itself consists of a girl in her underwear stuck in a hell of her own mind, and this gives Heavener an excuse to pull out all those Twilight Zone visual ideas running around in his head, some of them so incoherent and random the movie becomes surreal. This includes a bizarre cybersex session with her boyfriend who is stuck in an alternate hellish dimension with a $2 demonic-teeth prop in his mouth. It also includes a surreal psychedelic scene made with home-made props, and 'mystical' references to Adam and Eve. The only part that made me laugh were the title cards telling us how every actor suffered from making this movie.

Puss Bucket  
Retarded and insane musical filmed in grainy black & white with voice-over dubbing. Two hillbilly religious retards that constantly watch a demented and foul-mouthed preacher on the television are visited by aliens that pose as the Virgin Mary in order to get what they want from the humans. They are sent on a mission to kill demons in human form and collect puss from their heads and collect it in a bucket. In the meantime, a scientist, who expresses his love to his wife via descriptive biological functions, is on the trail of the aliens, followed by the evil military. But you won't see much brain-draining unless your brain counts while you're watching this. Instead we follow the retards and the scientist on various random, chaotic and boring outings. The extremely silly voice-overs with many cartoonish voices and accents basically MST3K their own movie, there is a lot of random heavy music that drowns out the voice-overs, and they sometimes dress up in outrageous random drag outfits and break out into horrible song, like some stoned rednecks attempting to duplicate the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Some highlights include a scene where one retard painfully brushes the knotted hair of the other retard while they spout random nonsense, they visit a bar full of freaks and a gay KKK man, followed by an insane and depraved orgy where they carve out a nipple in graphic but very low-budget gore. In short, this is a headache-inducing, terrible, terrible movie from all points of view, and it is a torture to watch.

Race War: The Remake  
Blaxploitation strictly from the Chris Seaver school of film-making. In other words, moronic toilet and gross-out humor from the mind of a man-child whose testicles did all the growing after the age of five, featuring actors in random masks and wigs. Two black drug-dealers and an alien with the head of a fish, come up against a plot not only to take over their turf, but also to create zombie slaves thanks to a bad drug. Will they show those alien crackers who's boss, and hold back on killing everyone long enough to extract information from them? Features much more home-made splatter than a typical Seaver movie with a dozen fake heads crushed and torn apart, a moose-puppet as a devious Arab store-keeper, various people in silly stereotypical Jew, Chinese and Mexican costumes, a drug addict whose vocal cords seem to have been replaced with an auto-tune box, more random vomit, feces, sperm and other body fluids that you can shake a prosthetic penis at, and many cartoon sound-effects. It's a wonder how they could invest all this wackiness into a movie without coming up with anything witty.

Rebellion of Red Maria, The  
I wasn't aware that they were letting insane asylum inmates direct films nowadays (and then interpreting the film as a political statement). A young man acting like a retarded spastic ferret that constantly spits, grunts and plays with himself, is befriended by a seriously ugly and old transvestite that likes to dance, perform and talk nonsense. After saving the boy from an attack by two punks, they lust after each other, dance to unappreciative audiences and preach about some kind of rebellion that died, and about right-wing souls, God, confused metaphors about feeding frogs and the merging of planets. The bizarre interaction and behaviour between them would make a lunatic scratch his head and lock himself up in a padded room. Along the way they get caught up in violence and brutally murder two people for no particular reason. Anyone that tries to derive political and social meaning from this ugly movie is merely doing what the masturbating ferret did on the bathroom seat.

Red Cockroaches  
Vastly overrated award-winning micro-cinema dares to make a sci-fi film for $2000. A repulsive man meets a repulsive girl (both inside and out), alternatively fight and get the hots for each other, then find out they are long lost siblings. This is pointlessly set against a sci-fi backdrop of a futuristic New York occupied by acid rain, genetic engineering, strange cockroaches, and flying vehicles. It also starts off with a darkly bizarre Lynchian atmosphere, including things like a mysterious human tooth, a genetically engineered bug, dark lust, and walking on eggs in the park, but this soon peters out and along with the sci-fi, disappears in favor of an ugly drama involving incest. Bad accents are used and then discarded, and the acting is weak. Supposedly part of a trilogy, and this may develop into something interesting in the future, but as a stand-alone it's a horrible mess.

Revenge is Her Middle Name  
From the first minute to the last, this is simply jam-packed with over-the-top nastiness, each scene designed to be as scatologically slimy and sleazy as possible, and a parade of the trashiest characters that would make John Waters proud. It's a rape & revenge movie, but it uses I Spit on Your Grave only as a starting point, trying too hard to outdo it in every department, and everything around the plot is actually trashier. Michael Todd Schneider participates, there are blood-splattery murders, but the context is worse than the gore. There's gang-rape mixed with bloody murder and a man in a wheelchair, a male sex-slave tortured by an angry woman, a gory castration in a glory-hole, implied dog-sex, etc etc. The fact that it's one-note trashy throughout means it's not even disturbing, just ridiculous.

Revenge of Billy the Kid  
If Bad Taste consisted of mostly fart humor, this would be the result. An ugly, foul, trashy family with a farm live their lives with filthy habits full of farts, burps, other bodily functions, horrible living conditions and idiotic humor. To get more milk out of the goat, the farmer has sex with it and the result is a half-man half-goat monster which grows to become an angry monster that wreaks its gory revenge on the family.

Robber Girls  
Swiss-German trash-camp-exploitation in the vein of John Waters. This supposedly takes place in the Middle-Ages with bandits, corrupt nobility, slaves, and forced marriages, but much of the costumes are modern, the gadgets like TVs, cars, sunglasses and so on appear and disappear on a whim, and the attitudes are all modern. The nobility are fat perverse naked childish trash, the woman are trailer-trash feminists, and the world is full of gay bandits, dominatrices and whores. In short, it's just a bunch of ugly trashy porn-rejects role-playing in campy 'period' roles. Teeth are used for circumcisions, girl-bandits gang-rape pacifist men, penises are stomped on, the noble prince sucks on pacifiers, and whorehouses host orgies that turn violent.

Rocky Horror Picture Show  
The ultimate cult movie made popular by the village people and a worldwide horde of cross-dressers. A repulsive campy horror spoof about a couple stranded and caught in the clutches of a transvestite from the planet Transsexual accompanied by a circus of mad, colorful characters and a Frankenstein monster with golden underwear. A mad night follows complete with immensely popular musical numbers, kinky sexual adventures and lots of cross dressing. Dumb obnoxious lunacy for the rest of us who are comfortable with our daily apparel.

Rohtenburg (AKA Grimm Love)  
It's telling something about society when a lonely, disturbed faggot eats another disturbed faggot, and people makes four movies about it, a documentary and a few songs, and no one has anything interesting to say about it. This movie tells the real story of Armin Meiwes who advertised on the internet for a man to eat, and how both of them actually went through with it, as researched by a boring fictitious girl who is fascinated by the story for unknown reasons. As opposed to Dora's Cannibal, this is not a disturbing graphic gorefest, but only a disturbing and very uninteresting movie about two boring sickos, without any insights or thoughts to share.

Runaway Nightmare  
In some ways, this is like a surreal, mentally-challenged, pot-smoking version of Fellini's City of Women with a pocket-change budget and a dozen willing women. The movie is so inept, it makes one wonder whether the surrealism was even intended. Two worm farmers are kidnapped by a cult of desert feminists and become entangled in a nonsensical plot involving the mob, and a suitcase of platinum that gets confused with plutonium. They are repetitively threatened by an angry feminist who hates men, tested with some off-screen undefined tests, adopted, and randomly offered sex by a group of very confusing women with some very confusing rules and rituals, one of who bursts into random short outbursts of giggles, while others shoot spiders with a gun or ride motorcycles through the living room. Scenes are constantly cut short before their payoff, and some of the dialogue and wisecracks seem to be spouted by a randomizer program on pot. The movie then takes its thriller plot seriously for the ending, which features such low-budget action scenes, that most of them are not even shown.

Saint Francis  
Francis is a drug-addict, son of a corrupt rich TV preacher, experiencing a surreal blend of memories and hallucinations while on the operating table. There is a mother that killed herself, brothers and sisters that kill each other for various reasons, a sister that runs a business supplying whores and porno stars, and repeated imagery of the father preacher preaching on their sins, a criminal demanding debts be paid, and alien abduction documentaries blending together with drugs, and surgeons on the operating table. Some actors commit to their role, some don't, and the movie feels cheap, with poor editing, but the biggest problem is that the whole thing goes absolutely nowhere. The characters never coalesce or make sense, there is no plot, and we never know what is real.

Nazi-controlled Italy rounds up some youths and takes them to a castle for extreme sexual and sadistic experimentation and entertainment. Probably the most extreme and sickening movie ever made. Based on De Sade's writings, this one features unwatchable explicit scenes of true nihilism and depravity that start with bisexual sodomy and go on to humiliation, nauseating coprophilia, torture and snuff. Explores fascism, themes of sex, body and politics, and De Sade's sadistic philosophies, but despite these artistic aspirations, the focus is firmly on Sadean depravity with Sadean philosophy, which, like his books, is more interested in indulging in sadism and graphic shock tactics rather than making coherent statements. You can practically smell this one through the screen.

Salome   & The Forbidden  
Two shorts by Clive Barker in his early years. Both are in grainy black and white with no dialog, and make use of various tricks such as dark sound effects, negative exposure, grain and extreme lighting to achieve a dark dream-like effect (this predates Begotten). The interpretation of Salome is too fast and obscurely hops from one dark scene to another, lingering only on the 'erotic' and death scenes. The Forbidden is a precursor to Hellraiser, featuring a man who discovers a puzzle that opens various worlds of pleasure and pain. The climax is a sickening, endless 10-minute long scene where a man's body is skinned slowly in layers. This is true underground cinema but there isn't much of interest here.

Scars of Youth  
Terrible, snail-paced, pretentious, post-apocalyptic sci-fi. In the first ten minutes we learn that there is a scarring disease, that people don't age, and that there are pockets of isolated survivors and powers-that-be that try to control and fence-off the rest of them. For the next 70 minutes, we learn nothing new except that the moody protagonist has a very warped Freudian relationship with his non-aging diseased mother which involves lust and murder. The rest of the time is filled with slow scenes of nature, dreams, uninteresting conversations with a terrible actor, memories of his mother and father, pretentious poetry and pseudo-philosophy, and scenes about nothing in particular. In other words, this is a very dreary mood-piece with pretensions of Tarkovsky but is so full of itself it doesn't realize how empty it is.

Season In Hell: Evil Farmhouse Torture  
I suppose one way to try to make a zero-grade terrible backwoods-horror movie more interesting is to convert it into a psychedelic experience and a 'homage' to 70s movies. The plot is simple: Two travellers stop at a remote farmhouse occupied by a weird redneck with a horribly fake accent, and find that the house is a gateway to hell and that the basement contains a psycho killer, a demon, and a harem of crazy women who can't decide whether they are victims, murderers, or lusty devil-worshippers, or all three. The acting is atrocious, but you aren't going to see much of it, seeing as the director decided to throw everything and the kitchen sink at the movie: Color filters, speed changes, random psychedelic effects, kaleidoscopic colors, sound distortion, a barrage of noise, industrial sounds, synth ambients, and jamming garage-rock. Whether this makes a horrible movie worse or great, I suppose, depends on whether you are on drugs while watching it. It works for about five minutes while your brain recoils from the disjointed punishment of sound and images, and experiences it like some kind of nightmare, but then it starts to revolt and stare at the paint drying on your wall instead since nothing interesting is happening.

Serbian Film, A  
And here I thought the Japanese had the market cornered in extreme perversion. This movie is a catalogue of the most extreme, sick and twisted sexual perversions not known to man, all of them given an extra boost into darkness, and all backed by some great effects and acting to make this movie not only vile, but disturbing. An aging porn-star is drafted by a mysterious porn-producer who thinks porn can be extreme art and a statement on life. The ex-star soon finds himself in over his head and unable to quit as the producer and his henchmen devise one sick scene after another. Of course, some braindead people will interpret this movie as an artistic statement on the atrocities in Serbia just because it features atrocities, brutal control and power-games, and it comes from Serbia, but it really has nothing to express except its own depravity. The director actually declared this to be inspired by porn, and he made use of extreme sexual exploitation as a symbol of Balkan cinema and its political correctness and how they are exploited to the extreme with fake emotions and victims, and how Serbians are forced to take the role of sick aggressors. This last bit is the only theme that actually fits the movie, but it's still just an extreme sick provocation and doesn't make its point very well. The theme is drowned and lost in gleeful over-the-top depravity. I'll provide some short descriptions of scenes, and it's safe to say that you should assume the worst: A penis used as a killing weapon, gory death during sex, surprise incestuous sodomy, pedophilia, extreme S&M and humiliation, 'newborn porn', and more. This is one of those movies almost all sane people will wish they hadn't seen. I realize this will be seen as a recommendation to some, but I mean it.

Serpent's Tale, The  
Turkish art-house sounds like a contradiction to some, but this movie is a bizarre horror movie weaving poetic non-linear threads and strange other-worldly logic with near-Lynchian moments. It's difficult to piece together the elements and story from this confusing movie, and I am pretty sure most of it comes from bad movie-making and storytelling rather than from the deliberately circular and poetic structure. There is an 800 year old Byzantine child-vampire-princess, some secret scrolls promising ultimate power of knowledge but killing everyone that even translates two words in it, a confusing conspiracy involving a woman and her son who may or may not be dead or a vampire, a cult that is after the scrolls, and competing vampiric emissaries. Crumbling historical buildings, old languages and strange night-life also add to the atmosphere, complete with Lynchian sound effects, but in the end, not much of the confusion is lifted.

Sexual Parasite: Killer Pussy  
Well what can you expect with a name like that? Japanese campy gore-horror-sleaze about a dumb group of back-packers in the woods that encounter a parasite that lives in... female genitalia. The infected then seduce and tear apart their victims. This is similar to Cronenberg's Shivers but with campy gore and exploitative sex and nudity. Theoretically this would deliver to fans of the genre but the nudity isn't a pretty sight and the whole affair is silly and too low-budget.

Shakespeare's Plan 12 from Outer Space  
One of the most obnoxiously and tortuously self-indulgent movies ever made. It's Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night', as imagined by a bunch of childish trailer-trash people with pretensions of art, unlimited access to a complete theatre wardrobe, and a very extreme affliction of ADD. The Bard's play is butchered every other second in new ways in the name of being different and 'creative'. Some scenes are filmed as a trashy sitcom, others as a really stiff artsy theatrical play with synth music, others as a bargain basement sci-fi b-movie. The cinematography switches from scratchy B&W to bawdy colors, VHS, psychedelic colors, always with an even more schizophrenic editing job that adds color filters, super-impositions, random effects and other multimedia in completely random ways every other second. This is definitely no Greenaway editing job. Naked girls in strange masks appear often to distract you from the horror that is on the screen. The costumes and sets are just as random, and people appear in whatever costume the film-maker happened to brush against that day. For many of the characters, every word is acted out or re-interpreted in the most childishly bawdy or trashy way as if John Waters had taken over for the day, for other characters, this production is pretentious melodramatic high-art. Some chew the stomach-churning cheap scenery, others act as stiff as a board, and the rest can't act. One thing is for sure, you won't get the story from this movie if you don't know it ahead of time. Beyond terrible.

Shaye & Kiki  
A collection of about 50 mind-warpingly useless web-shorts on DVD, each ranging in length from 1 to 4 minutes, from a mentally deficient and damaged, transsexual camera-whore. Shaye Saint John in a mask and mannequin body parts, and his half burnt doll Kiki, prance and babble on in front of the camera in a very annoying high-pitched distorted voice. Each short covers some banal or bizarre topic, repeating the same lines and images ad nauseam in a frenzy of editing techniques, warped cinematography, psychedelic colors and sounds. Feeding the cat is one such fascinating topic, others include getting a new dress or putting on makeup, pretending to be a phone operator or acting out some other role, or bizarre things like 'wire therapy' and the 'horrifying' telekinetic powers of Kiki (soda bottles floating on a string). In summary, this is like some self-obsessed retarded Jack Smith/Warhol flick on acid, or something comparable to Dandy Dust without the sci-fi and gore. A waste of molecules.

Shirley Pimple in the John Wayne Temple of Doom  
One of those insane underground movies that is more a chaotic splicing of scenes with a backdrop narrative rather than a real movie. As such, it reminded me of Dandy Dust/Flaming Ears, except that, instead of the obsession with sex and genitals, this one seems to be obsessed with Shirley Temple, establishmentarianism and John Wayne. In this movie, 'Shirley Pimple' is a celebrity brat used by the industry and 'The John Wayne Institute for the Preservation of American Ideals', to perform, push products, conservative ideas and weapons. But when she reaches puberty, she becomes foul-mouthed and kills people at random, and even hooking her on heroin doesn't help, so she joins 'The Psychotic Weaklings', a group of sado-maso child-molesters, to fight John Wayne. The first part of the movie is like a mockumentary full of random odd performances by a Shirley-look-alike, then it goes berserk, and the last half is one long chaotic battle with random splatter and changing of scenery, where you never have any idea what is going on. Indescribable props include some kind of vehicle made from a lamp-post, a shoe that shoots every projectile known to man, insane costumes that seem to have been put together from everything found at a theatre trash bin, and a miniature doll that breathes and spurts blood. The endlessly weird scenes include an old man injecting himself with Shirley's blood while his skin falls to tatters, military training of children, a masochistic Pimplette that wants her to kill him, John Wayne as a walking dessicated corpse on a tricycle, random babies walking on the sets even during battle, experiments on Shirley in a bubble, and lots more. Despite the dense visuals and wild description, this is a very tedious watch thanks to the complete lack of cohesion, development and point.

An underground Italian tribute to Fulci and D'Amato consisting of an anthology of short and disgusting comedy-splatter vignettes. A monster carnivorous purse, a mutant, slimy blow-up doll from hell, a cannibalistic virus, a transvestite doctor and a coprophagic psychotic all strut their stuff in this extremely silly and ploddingly repulsive hodge-podge.

Silver Cell  
A woman on the verge of death goes on an inner mental journey split between her good and evil selves, and ruminates on the choices she made in her life. The concept is OK, but the imagination for the movie is very poor, and the characterizations are so broadly drawn and simple as to be dull. This inner mental hell consists mostly of desolate landscapes populated by twitching human-creatures in gas masks and a guide that looks like he walked in from next door, spouting pretentious poetry, and that's about as far as the vision goes with no development. Her split personality and evil side never begins to make sense. This felt like 1% of a movie.

Very loosely inspired by Bataille's 'Story of the Eye'. That story was just a bunch of tedious transgressive smut, supposedly designed to shock people into breaking free of social norms and into Bataille's philosophies by way of extreme metaphors, except nobody really seemed to understand what the metaphor was for, leaving people with only the twisted transgressive smut with no purpose. This movie is neither here nor there. It merely uses some names and elements from the story, tames it down and removes the shocking extremes but leaves some wild sex and kinks, adds a bunch of melodramatic lurid nonsense, and films it all in an incoherent surreal Italian Eurotrash style. Using flashbacks within flashbacks, it tells the tale of a bunch of insane people, each one more insane than the next. There's a hedonist bestial couple that indulge in any and every kink, a timid girl with sexual lusts that joins them for a threesome, and her insane father and uncle both of which have a very incoherent deviant relationship with her. There's kinky sex with eggs, milk and seaweed, a surreal orgy with statues that come to life, post-auto-crash rape, incest, wild lust, a strict father, a mansion of madness, and other various nonsense all leading to a completely incoherent final third.

Sinful Dwarf, The  
Unrealistic, sleazy piece of trash about a dwarf and his mother who kidnap women by enticing them with toys, lock them up, then inject them with drugs and make money off them as unwilling whores. A poor, married couple move into the same building and cross paths with this nasty duo with dire consequences.

François Ozon frequently injects depravity and violence into his movie characters (especially women) for no good reason, so it comes as no surprise to me to find that he directed this absurd farce that blames a white rat for the deterioration and reinvention of a conventional and happy 'sitcom' family. A father brings home a lab rat who immediately starts to transform the family members. One child becomes a gay artist, the other a suicidal sadomasochist. Orgies take place, incest, kinky dreams and near-surreal sexual shenanigans that include the maid and various guests. The father is the only person who remains unaffected, in discord with the family that finds happiness in kink and group therapy, so of course, the ending is only to be expected. Except it has a bizarre twist. Does Ozon really think his movies are sexually subversive? Empty, stupid and pointless.

Sixteen Tongues  
It's the future. An insane brutal cop with 16 tongues grafted onto his body after a near-fatal accident stays in a hotel where you have to pay to switch off the porn, and interrogates suspects by forcing them to perform fellatio. A lesbian duo of internet hacker and criminal robot killer cross paths with this man and the sparks fly. The ideas are ludicrous and don't make sense, the nudity is not sexy, and the pace and cinematography is slow and amateurish.

Skin of the Teeth, The  
A date becomes awkward, drugs are taken, things go wrong, and Josef finds himself being interrogated by very strange police who get up close and personal. Then things get surreal. That's all in theory; in practice, however, this film doesn't know what its doing and has nothing to say. Although it is obviously a surreal character study that uses a bizarre trip to explore personal issues, the surrealism is clunky and forced, the character is utterly banal and uninteresting, and the attempts at leaving the audience with several ambiguous alternatives with trendy references to LGBT issues are all cheap and transparent. The film feels like a sophomore student's first attempt at performance art.

This movie places its most offensive scene right at the beginning, ensuring its audience knows what it's in for. But what is this movie's audience exactly? There's a pedophiliac at a specialist whorehouse that provides deformed little girls, while his wife is having a baby at the hospital. There's a girl whose anus and mouth are in the wrong places, a young man who wants to cut off his legs and become a mermaid, a morbidly obese woman, a whore with no eyes, another woman with a deformed face, a little person that wants to get pregnant, a man with severe burns, and a man that likes deformed women. Their lives intersect in this film, each of them living in desperation and need, trying to find a life that works, while cruel people do cruel things to them. In between the drama, the film goes out of its way to pile on the transgressive and scatological scenes such as bad things done to a butt-mouth. Except that everything else (besides the people) looks pretty, in ubiquitous colors of pink and purple, adding to the many clashes of tone and visuals in this movie. Critics compared this to John Waters spliced with Almodovar, except it's too aesthetic and meaningful for Waters. It doesn't work as a film on tolerance (if you were so inclined) because of its equal sympathy for pedos and wackos. Neither does it work as a drama for the same reason, and also because of its scatological need to provoke with juvenile trash. It's simply a scatterbrained juvenile millennial attempt at transgressive cinema. Or, like watching a freak-show put together by an interior designer.

Small White House  
Yeah...I'm not falling for this one. The alleged artistic backdrop is that this is some kind of essay on the triangle of JFK, Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, but I think it's just a practical joke to see if the audience injects meaning into this random montage of scenes, dialogue and sexual fetishes. There's random non-sequitur dialogue, like when John rants about some guy who doesn't hold his penis while urinating then says "I didn't come here to shed light on you, but to take my refrigerator". There are random injections of Greek mythological names in intertitles, such as Plato and Orpheus as transparent and useless attempts to give the movie depth of meaning. A re-enactment of the cavalcade shooting is spliced randomly throughout the movie, and, in one scene, there is the sound of a space shuttle taking off. There are endless meaningless interactions and scenes, most of them revolving around various sexual kinks and fetishes, with a particular obsession over urination in pornographic scenes. What exactly are we supposed to understand from scenes like the viewing of genitalia through a goldfish bowl, all three of them getting married in front of a mannequin with pencils in its mouth acting as a priest, or when she offers to help him with constipation while some guy pours milk over both of them? Or how about when one of the characters bicycles topless and has an accident, JFK rubs mud all over her, lights a match next to her nipple, then shakes a Snow Globe over her face? Like I said, it's a stupid practical joke. A very long and boring one.

Snow White And Russian Red  
Meta-fiction madness involving a not-quite-real, horny, drug-addict animal of a man who is obsessed with two things: His girlfriend who always acts slutty while everyone tells him she is cheating on him or is leaving him, and his hate for Russians and the deteriorating state of Polish society. Most of the movie consists of cartoonish and a very repulsive set of characters that constantly babble on in non-sequiturs while treating each other in cruel and utterly selfish bestial ways while doing drugs. The constant trashy dialogue is so ADHD, it's headache inducing. But the tone of the violence is like a cartoon with people literally flying large distances after every punch. It's like a juvenile version of Tarantino-does-Trainspotting written by an author on drugs who can't keep her brain focused for longer than two seconds. Speaking of the author, she is in this movie writing the movie and interacting with her characters. Except the lack of focus also starts affecting reality, and our characters start shifting from one reality to another, and you keep hoping that things will start to cohere and develop some kind of meaning or theme in one of these realities, except they are the same obnoxious, juvenile, horny, chaotic, ADHD-ridden non-entities in every random reality up til the last second. (Directed by Zulawski's son, but his father's style is nowhere to be seen.)

Obnoxious and nasty 'comedy' about a sodomizer rapist that runs around raping rapists with a drill. The 'Wolf Pack' is a team of annoying horny bros that drug and rape girls and live for partying, but someone is hunting them. The endless bro-humor featuring male behaviour at its worst is very obnoxious, fills most of the movie's running time and is never funny, the rape and sodomy are just mean-spirited and nasty, as are all the supporting characters. There is brief sodomy gore, if that's your thing. Badly misjudged comedy obviously made by a 'bro'.

Someone's Knocking at the Door  
Chad Ferrin continues to make muscular and edgy trash. His movies feel like old-school grindhouse in the way they balance shock, camp, depravity and entertainment, except they're without that trendy and artificial retro-look. This one is more like his first Unspeakable in terms of shock value, but with more sophisticated cinematography. Some students discover an experimental drug used disastrously in the past and which resulted in mysterious sexual violence. Drugs and hallucinations mix with guaranteed-to-offend rape scenes involving monster genitalia always used fatally and on the same sex. Ferrin uses sound, editing and cinematography tricks to disorient while the movie keeps you on your toes with both unbelievably tasteless violence and confusing reality-twists and hallucinations. If all you are expecting is unique and shocking trash, then I suppose this delivers, but it never does anything but wallow in the gutter. His previous film Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! was similarly trashy but less extreme. Surprisingly, it's his least mentioned film, The Ghouls, that I liked.

Soul Odyssey, The  
Mostly baffling and impenetrable Japanese art movie by the art director that worked with Shuji Terayama. The best explanation I could come up with is that a young man is on an inner journey as he searches for meaning in love, eroticism and marriage. He boards a train, and all the clocks are mirrored from then on, as if looking at them from the inside. He travels to a homey village, meets a potential fiancée, then a more sensuous and mysterious stripper. Some enigmatic statements are made, there's a naked child that keeps appearing, lengthy stripper shows are shown, one maturely sensuous, the other more energetic, crude and young. There's a bizarre impromptu game with masks and a dwarf that's not quite Kabuki, some interaction with elders, odd encounters with a woman selling cigarettes, and other random artsy, often visually rich symbols and incoherent artsiness. There is some homage paid to Terayama, but I couldn't get much out of this one. Perhaps I am missing something because I am not Japanese.

Splatter Farm  
If John Waters were a retarded 15 year old, this may have been the movie he would make. The budget almost makes Schiff's movies look like blockbusters. Twin brothers visit their necrophiliac grandmother who drugs and molests them, while her homosexual farm-hand chops up passers-by, has sex with their decapitated heads and organs, and rapes one of the twins. This would be vile or disturbing if the movie had even an ounce of talent but if ever you need a benchmark to know how bad movies can get, this is it.

Squalor Motel  
Unusually bizarre and kitschy pornography sometimes reminiscent of Cafe Flesh with its outlandish, random weird costumes and performances mixed with hardcore sex. A bride checks into a very seedy motel run by a horny madame and her perverted husband, both of whom encourage weirdos to stay and have sex then peek in on them while wearing a pig mask and a tutu. Random bizarre and unsexy scenes include a mad scientist who recharges women's 'batteries' as if they were cars, a Greek chorus gaggle of transsexuals, flying blow-up dolls that turn into real women, and other assorted weirdos that occupy the hotel rooms, some of which take their turn in abusing the bride.

Jon Jost's most experimental film-essay by far. Allegedly a visual essay on communication, language, roles and theatre and supposedly portrays a woman who is unleashed when she assumes a stage character. But what we actually get is a bunch of actors against a black background improvising various nonsense for almost the complete running time of the movie, involving miming, making faces or uttering gibberish, except for one scene where a woman is harassed by men in various roles talking nonsense, some endless 'magic' tricks, a super-slow-motion scene of a man getting a pie in the face that takes several minutes, and another scene where a man reads from the bible in Hebrew while red liquid is dropped on the Hebrew text. I would guess they were told to express themselves on stage at the most primal level to see what emerges, and the result is embarrassingly annoying and endless. It is movies like these that make me hate the intellectual art-house genre.

Story of the Eye  
I read the Georges Bataille transgressive story this is based on, found it largely uninteresting smut at the surface, and deeply useless as a metaphor with which to deliver Bataille's philosophies. This movie, however, has nothing to do with the story and only shares filth in common, and is a total failure on all fronts. It's a disjointed collage of in-your-face imagery, most of it involving ugly pornographic scenes of sex, gay fetish sex, S&M, urination and other fetish scenes, as well as a graphic birth scene, two painted naked dancing girls in huge top hats, 15 minutes of a woman climbing stairs, and ten minutes of a buzzing sound accompanied by black screen. People are debating whether this is just porn or transgressive experimental art. It is pretty obvious that the movie's primary occupation is sex and to get in your face in any way possible, and it has nothing interesting to say or show, thereby classifying itself as porn, except that the in-your-face elements in this movie as well as the filth means that it is not even enjoyable porn. Which doesn't make it art either. It's just... nothing.

Strange Factories  
This very theatrical, surreal film covers a theme I dislike: Art itself as a larger, mysterious force that controls and overwhelms the artist and performers. I find it ultimately pretentious to elevate and worship a personal creative force and a whimsical imagination, an approach which ultimately enslaves rather than frees. To be fair, much of this surreal film focuses on the destructive aspect of this, but it reaches the opposite conclusion. The film portrays a symbolic, surreal world where the protagonist is a suffering writer in search of completion for his play, a play which is fed to him from mystical forces beyond his comprehension. He is also attempting to join a troupe of confused, refugee actors while making a deal with the all-powerful 'Stronheim' that runs the 'Strange Factories' whence everything seems to emerge via a mysterious hum. There is a contrapuntal 'Society of Vandals' cult, whose members have turned emerging art into a religious god, using more violent means to manifest any art, sacrificing things and people towards it. Actors find themselves, their memories, their bodies, their selves taken over and destroyed by the play and its art and interact in a series of symbolic confrontations. For example, one performer literally has his voice and tongue taken away and replaced with another so he can fulfill the role he was assigned. All this is presented in very abstract and surreal ways, and I am constantly aware that there is no actual story here, only the idea of a story and how stories affect artists. I read that this was meant to be an immersive experience for cinema-goers, but I found the film itself interminably pretentious, ponderous, narcissistic and dull. Like watching an intense actor's workshop where they explore the meaning of their art with transformative intense dramatic interactions, rather than anything an audience is actually looking for.

Strong Medicine  
Avant-garde theatrics at their most obscure, pretentious and unrewarding. There is no discernable plot, and it's all about the mood, acting and symbolism. In this case, the mood is anxiety. A woman is subjected to scene after scene of discomfort, tension, awkwardness and confusion. The actual content isn't important, and the nonsensical dialogue usually feels improvised, as long as it evokes the appropriate reaction and mood. She has a birthday party where the guests perform unhappy and tense songs and games, and her husband makes her dance with her stiff doctor. There is a trip on a train that goes nowhere for days and the passengers are all eccentric and unpleasant. A troupe of older women keep appearing yelling 'Jesus Christ, my feet hurt!'. Other nonsensical exchanges involve signing a newspaper, or being forced to dance and sing while climbing up a wall, or images of her performance on stage as a chicken juxtaposed with her wedding. This nightmare builds to a sort of frenzy and depression, but it's all painfully and unwatchably repetitive, since the effect was achieved in the first five minutes and then never develops further, besides throwing around more symbolism that only makes sense to the director.

Subconscious Cruelty  
As the director put it, this is an attempt to catch the darkest subconscious side of people with brutal honesty. First, the left-right brain dichotomy is explained, the left side said to be in need of exploration as a woman's womb is cut open and an eyeball pulled out (what this means is beyond me). Then a man ruminates on the ultimate evil against creation (killing a baby as it is born) and concocts a plan to commit said evil on his sister for whom he has incestuous fantasies. He also is both fascinated and scared by her menstrual cycle. After this nasty bloody sequence, some nature worshippers have an orgy with nature which bleeds on them. And finally, the hypocrisy of religious people is portrayed as a masturbator loses himself in twisted guilty fantasies where his penis is shredded and Jesus is cannibalized and urinated on by naked frenzied women. What does all this add up to? Not much. The points are shallow and could have been made without the series of extremely shocking and gross-out images. Jodorowsky at least had fascinating or wild imagery, this is just a collection of shallow gross-outs.

Sweet Movie  
Two intercut stories of bizarre repulsive satire that never make sense. One features a virginal beauty queen that goes from a hygiene-obsessed tycoon (capitalism) who urinates on her with a golden penis, through various adventures, ultimately reaching a commune (led by the sicko Vienna Actionists) that regularly participate in a banquet of vomit, feces and urine, and pretend they are babies as part of their retrogression physical philosophy. The other story features a madwoman who lures people onto her boat to discuss obsolete communist politics and to participate in sex, murder and child molestation. Supposedly a political satire thats shows the social abuse of both Capitalism and Communism, but everything is disgustingly explicit and bizarre, and the insights are lacking even after you dig under the filth and childish shock tactics. Feels more like a catalogue of depraved fetishes hung conveniently onto political hooks, rather than a satire.

Swiss Army Man  
I guess this is what a movie would look like if a 10-year-old decided to make a 'surreal movie'. It purports to be a character-study and voyage of self-discovery by way of an extremely absurd surreal-comedy about a very useful farting corpse. Go head and read that last sentence again. A loser castaway on a deserted island decides to kill himself when he finds a corpse on the beach that turns out to be quite useful and friendly. As the movie progresses, the corpse becomes more animated, in a way, and he develops a 'friendship' with the corpse, as he keeps discovering new useful super-powers that the corpse can do to get him out of his many predicaments. In the role of the corpse is Radcliffe, who seems to be hell bent on distancing himself from Potter with the most extremely different role he can find. For some people this may be enough to make them run to see the movie. But the movie keeps shooting itself in the foot by being more interested in telling its juvenile jokes and playing with its audience than in writing anything coherent or interesting. The character developments are idiotic and completely chaotic and unfocused, and the screenplay wants to have its cake and eat it too by insistently hanging on to its silly jokes and ideas even when it's way past time for the character and plot to develop, all the way to the silly ending. It will merely leave you with the feeling that you were just told a very long joke by an obnoxious kid obsessed with bodily functions whose primary goal is only to get attention.

Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat in Space  
Unusually bizarre Anime with over-the-top cutesy animation and kittens, mixed with adult themes of violence and a chaotic sci-fi setting. On CatEarth, a planet run by a super-corporation Catty and Co., Tamala is a strange, whimsical kitten who goes on a voyage and befriends Michelangelo while being pursued by a hungry police-dog. The rest is an incoherent mess suffering from ADD: There are many short scenes that lead nowhere, characters like a Dark God of Death pop-up then disappear, some of Earth's history is re-invented (brand-names and the Loch Ness monster), a dog has some S&M with a mouse, some typically over-convoluted armageddon anime-mythology is established but nothing is done with it, a cat grows old, develops maggots and starts falling apart for no reason, etc. This would go well with We Are The Strange.

Lust, fire-shooting penis, gory evisceration of a pig, pedophilia, sex with fat lady and with pig remains, speed-eating contests, gorging, vomiting techniques, more fat sex, taxidermia, lots of dead things, gore, extreme fat, death, artistic self-mutilation. Although this barrage of shocking and disgusting scenes is filmed wonderfully, artistically and creatively, and there are claims of all this being some kind of allegory, this doesn't change the fact that this is still merely a collection of gross-outs. The narrative involves three generations of twisted people (sex-maniac with a fetish for fire, speed-eating olympic champion, and taxidermist) but there is no thread that ties things together into some kind of plot.

Ten Nights of Dream  
Ten, wildly varied short dreams from Japan that aren't very dream-like. They range from artsy, confusing meditations about the cycles of time and health, to infantile madness involving a strange man who sculptures religious statues by dancing techno, to the tale of an overly handsome man who is fed human-flesh with spit and attacked by a farting female human who turns into a pig, to dark nightmares about haunting bad pregnancies and the killing of a kid, to a Final-Fantasy-like manga. Mostly pointless or dull weirdness with nice cinematography. Just because you can write down a chaotic dream you had that does not make it interesting. Kurosawa did this much, much better with his Dreams.

A somewhat enigmatic and ambiguously symbolic film by Pasolini. A stranger visits an upper class family and proceeds to fulfill each of their psychological needs, all represented by sexual acts. When he leaves, they all fall apart (the mother turns into a desperate slut, the son grasps at art but ends up urinating on his painting, etc), except for the maid who leaves the house and turns into a country saint, levitating and performing miracles. The meaning seems obvious, the stranger representing a seductive religion/god providing something crucial to each of the family members by connecting with them, and the film then portrays how they handle a life without their god, with only the lower-class maid with her simple values emerging strong. But the seduction tactics seem more devilish than god-like and the intellectual insights are shallow.

Think Jörg Buttgereit directs Repulsion. This simple movie takes the concept of inner decay manifesting itself in the flesh in Cronenbergian fashion, and just pads it into a full length movie. A young girl is dead inside, her boyfriend uses her like a piece of meat, and she feels nothing. It starts with bruising and various uncontrollable body fluids, and progresses to decay, rot, worms, and limbs falling apart, slowly, step-by-step, displayed in full graphic horror in between long takes of banal and deadly dull activities at home like washing up. Sex becomes a desperate act of unfeeling flesh, and masturbation becomes a disgusting act of fumbling with rot, and in a grotesque surreal scene, her flesh is literally cut up and given to her male acquaintances. After 50 minutes, you just want to torch the whole movie set with everyone in it in a cleansing furnace, but there are still 40 minutes left of increasing decay as she literally tries to keep her body from falling apart and lashes out at her visitors. So, basically, we have a single concept stretched out into an endlessly gruesome movie without any development or reward, just so that the special effects guys can go nuts with goo, fluids, vomit, rot and worms. A metaphor for the film writer's creativity?

ThanksKilling 3  
Whereas the first ThanksKilling was just an attempt at making a bad but fun horror movie with one or two splatter scenes, this one is the director taking a few deep puffs from his bong and letting loose with anything-goes puppetry. It feels like a bunch of braindead, foul-mouthed frat-boys with way too much time on their hands making a fantasy puppet movie in the vein of Labyrinth, except that it's like a juvenile version of Charles E. Cullen and is endlessly dull instead of entertaining. There's a quest to find the last copy of ThanksKilling 2 AKA 'the worst movie ever made', a human salesman Uncle Donny and his brother who wear wigs and who invented the PluckMaster 3000, a self-aware turkey cooker. The evil turkey has a kid who is promptly squashed and turned into a spirit of some kind, there's a Wise Turkey, a bisexual worm, a disgustingly foul-mouthed grandmother puppet, Yomi who lost her mind and is trying to find it, a robot called Muff with a vortex-butt, and more. And yet, despite all the unpredictable craziness, the braindead script, endless unfunny dialog and silly voices make this a torturous watch. It wears out its welcome after 5 minutes and then you have 95 more minutes to suffer through.

That Little Monster  
Both goofy and bizarre, this B&W oddity tries too hard to pay homage to cheesy old horror or Twilight Zone episodes as well as to be a cult item a la Eraserhead. The story simply involves a babysitter who has to deal with a monstrous baby, but the focus is on the interesting cinematography and quirky characters and sets. Odd sculptures decorate the house, machines seem like they're from the 50s and the future, and strange scenes involving fluids or odd people in masks are spliced into the movie. It simply doesn't go together though: The unsubtle acting, the cheesy horror, the miles of boring dialog all undo the bizarre atmosphere.

Three Trials, The  
A free-form, schizophrenic hodge-podge of sexual fantasy revolving around a submissive woman who may or may not be a nun with narcolepsy. The movie wanders from silly attempts at blasphemous kink, to nunsploitation, laughable domination and humiliation scenes with weak Story of O ambitions, a dreamy lesbian encounter in a castle, a fling with a Yeti a la Borowczyk, to a colorful theater of extreme and ugly kink, masochism and perversions. In between scenes we get random kaleidoscopic montages to make it look artsy, and various cinematography filters and effects are used at random. The acting is bad and unconvincing. In short, a bad movie that isn't as avant-garde, erotic or surreal as it thinks it is up until the last few minutes when it veers into Lynch territory.

Toto Who Lived Twice  
Ciprì/Maresco's followup to 'Uncle From Brooklyn' is more of the same, except this time it feels more like crude, cheap and silly filth masquerading as provocation rather than satire on a decaying Italian society. It's a triptych of short tales, except that even these short tales basically consist of surreal vignettes of filthy surrealism. There's a poor abused loser living in a city full of degenerates (that gather in the local porn cinema's bathroom for a surreal group-wank), who doesn't even have money to pay for the extremely popular visiting prostitute (a fat man in drag). Until he eyes a locket left on a statue of Jesus belonging to a local mafioso... The second is the dumbest one, telling the tale of a local old homosexual toothless couple and the craving of one of them for the other's ring. The third goes all out in a filthy attack on Christianity and the locals' attitude towards it. A foul-mouthed Jesus appears to raise Lazarus after he has been dissolved in an acid-bath by a local mafioso (who gets everyone to scratch his balls). There's sodomy by a gang of fat men, a defecating angel, and other similarly-crude surreal stabs at humor that fall flat. There's only so much that can be passed as a satire.

Toy Box, The  
Swingers get together in a mansion belonging to a strange old 'Uncle' who hosts all-night orgies and asks couples to act-out bizarre sexual fantasies for which he gives them a reward from a toy box. These fantasies include sex with a possessed bed (huh?), a butcher who hangs dead girls corpses like meat then has sex with them, murder during oral sex, etc. But why are corpses and decapitated heads appearing out of nowhere? Why does the uncle lack eyes and seem deceased? What's up with the 50 foot naked woman? Is it all a cruel alien conspiracy? A totally off-the-wall & bizarre softcore porn flick that isn't as interesting as it sounds due to the low budget.

Tristan and Iseult  
Highly experimental and operatic treatment of this tale of royal adultery that seemed to have made its way into many cultures and legends, including Celtics, Persians and the Arthurian legend. The film is basically a series of symbolic tableaux vivants to the sound of a screeching and noisy prog-rock-opera soundtrack. Knights dressed in colorful, 70s, hippy-esque robes and equipped with battle-ready antlers, repetitively fight it out in stagy sword-fights, all representing his violent male world, while Isolde tends to his wounds, cleans the floor and encapsulates sex with masturbation scenes. They love, their worlds clash, he dies often, she mourns, and they repeat the cycle. Scenes become increasingly more surreal and symbolic as battle scenes turns into a slaughterhouse with dead animals' heads, then they wander inside a real slaughterhouse. They appear in churches and fjords, and in another surreal scene, he gobbles a raw fish she was fawning over. I found it too repetitive and noisy to derive any kind of enjoyment from it.

Tropical Malady  
This is the kind of film that gives art-house cinema a bad reputation. An endlessly boring gay love story that delves into symbolic folklore and mysticism to explore gay desire and love. For the first half, we get a slow Ming-liang Tsai-esque depiction of a soldier who falls for a country boy, with slow scenes that observe their daily mundane lives, until it's time to crawl into a scary metaphysical tunnel with looming dangers. Then suddenly we are transported into the jungle where the soldier and his love, who is now part shaman, part tiger, part ghost, take turns hunting each other, having to deal with various fears, talking monkeys, cow ghosts and jungle dangers before finally accepting personally scary passions. Tedious and pretentious.

I have a feeling that Kevin Smith watched The Human Centipede, found something funny in it and decided to make his own movie inspired by whatever it is that inspired him. Except that this is a misguided failure of epic proportions. It is a comedy about a horrifyingly disturbed thing that someone does to somebody out of his disturbingly demented ideas that emerged from his traumatic survivalist encounter with an animal. If this doesn't sound like a comedy, then you would be right, except the movie plays it for laughs. The people involved have typical Smith-esque amusing conversations and relationships, there are lots of jokes at Canada's expense, and Depp chews the scenery with one of his extremely mannered and completely artificial comic roles as an eccentric French-Canadian detective, which clashes with the other more realistic roles. So you watch this movie and don't know whether to laugh or be horrified, and end up doing neither.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives  
Apichatpong Weerasethakul's follow-up to Tropical Malady has a similar empty-headed, tedious and unrewarding approach to symbolic magical-realism. Of course, since it deals with Buddhism, past lives, reincarnation as animal spirits, death, and the spiritual world, and it has a meditational (translation: painfully slow) pace, many are praising this movie because, as we know, anything that deals with Buddhism is cool. But the Emperor has no clothes. Uncle Boonmee is dying, various creatures and spirits visit him, either as representations of past lives, or people he knew, both living and dead, and then he goes into a cave as a metaphor for his death and rebirth. The movie blends the mundane, the modern and the magical in a gentle world that isn't afraid of death, and this is the movie's only good point. Other than that, it's as simple as the above description, and it has nothing to say. Of course, if you want to watch a movie where people have mundane conversations with men in a 'monkey spirit' suit, where princesses have sex with a fish spirit, and monks take a shower then project themselves astrally to a pop-music diner, be my guest.

Uncle Kent 2  
The original mumblecore movie was about Kent Osborne, a lonely cartoon artist trying to find someone through modern technology and prone to fantasies and masturbation. This unofficial sequel is about a sequel to Uncle Kent featuring Kent Osborne fantasizing about a sequel about himself, and masturbating his reality away out of existence. The first twelve minutes is directed by the original director, then he hands the sequel he doesn't want to make, over to Kent. Reality starts to disintegrate in very random bizarre ways while he does daily banal things that his own script says he will do. Shirts change, monsters appear, people disappear, Weird Al appears. It's like a Dupieux movie if Dupieux had completely run out of ideas and had no screenplay. The problem with this movie, is that it is as self-referentially empty and masturbatory as it intended to be.

Unquenchable Thirst for Beau Nerjoose, The  
A movie so insultingly idiotic, moronic and juvenile, it makes 'Freddy Got Fingered' look mature and I imagine even Beavis and Butthead would deride it without so much as a 'huh huh you said Beau Nerjoose'. It's 90 minutes of fart, boner and poo 'jokes', where every plot element and line of dialogue has to do with boners, excrement, boobs or dildos. And it's a painfully terrible musical to boot. There's a loser drug-addict, his insane whore mother, an evil Beau Nerjoose, a threatening apocalypse involving a heavenly fleshlight, butt worms, breast maggots, magic mushrooms, lots of excrement, cross-dressing space nuns, and whole lot more that isn't worth mentioning. Don't be fooled by the above description and think it must be entertaining though. As someone once said, there is seemingly no limit to human stupidity.

Vienna Actionists    
A group of radical Austrians (including Otto Mühl and Kurt Kren) who claimed 'art is flesh and blood' and made a series of vile short films consisting of men and women at their most animalistic and disgusting, their naked bodies wallowing in various liquids and substances, exploring various perversions and fetishes, coprophilia, eating their own vomit, having sex in front of babies, etc. Some of these creatures established communes for like-minded people and one got arrested for pedophilia. A charming artistic movement, their shorts now compiled on DVD.

Ming-liang Tsai delivers another glacially-paced work of cinematic torture, with even less narrative than usual, and that's saying a lot. There's a plot element about a Taiwanese director in Paris filming an art-house version of Salome (what is it with homosexuals and Salome? is it the idea of a seductive woman being fatally dangerous?), but this doesn't develop or go anywhere. Instead we get random, often 10-15-minute long static scenes of: A woman blacking-out a window, a gratuitous gay sexual encounter in the woods with Amalric, a woman cleaning out a freezer, games in the dark, people playing with a pet bird, random interactions between the Asian and French actors, random homages to Truffaut, highly surreal and campy musical scenes featuring a model lip-syncing in snow a sewer or a meat-locker, actors struggling with their costumes, and so on. There is an amusing scene of the director fighting with a leaking faucet that keeps getting worse and worse, and striking visuals of mirrors and a stag in a snowy forest, but these don't even come close to making up for the two and a half hours of self-indulgence.

Voulez-Vous Coucher avec God?  
According to this trashy movie, God is a stoned slob and braindead, foul-mouthed, Jewish New Yorker with a black wife whom he has to convince to have sex with (hence the title). He lives either in some tent-harem named Hashish Seventh Heaven, or in a bathtub, and makes lots of telephone calls just to hear himself speak. Much ado is made over Abraham (a masturbating ugly wacko) and Isaac's sacrifice, and the angel Gabriel (a toothless braindead bum who also serves as the President), who failed to stop Abraham from killing Isaac. All of which may make this cheap trash sound coherent, blasphemous and satirical, whereas you'd be hard-pressed to believe that this had a single writer, nevermind three. It's random tiresome nonsense by a bunch of narcissistic braindead drug-addicts that falls apart right at the beginning. There's random stop-motion animation featuring the most puzzlingly unfunny comedy sketches and puns you've ever heard, a TV evangelist in horrifying clown-paint called Daddy Bishop, random snippets of stolen footage from Disney et al, improvised scenes that look like two drunk braindead bums trying to be witty, a random Asian acting as 'Buddha' spouting nonsense, random black-faced characters, and references to Vietnam, and a climactic punishment by mouse-omelette and enema. Too dumb to be blasphemous. It's not a good sign when by far the most intelligent thing in a movie is a pig.

Waking Life  
A plotless, experimental film from Richard Linklater that raises a bewildering range of philosophical, existential, social and new-age questions. At least that's what the movie wants you to think. The actual product annoyed me in much the same way as his follow-up 'Before Sunset' did initially, which featured a romantic couple that had a real encounter ten years ago, except now they are just self-obsessed and pretentious, talking in half-baked, seemingly thoughtful monologues but never actually communicating until the last part of the movie when they clicked again. Except here, it's surreal and lasts the whole movie. For starters, the real actors are rotoscoped in a way that makes them hazily unreal, their animated details constantly shimmering, distorting, and vibrating. The protagonist wanders in a constant dream-state, waking up into another dream, interacting with various people that provide sound-bites, thoughts, absurd situations, random aphorisms, and Zen-like advice, while trying to stop himself from floating into the sky. This is like a pothead, freshman attempt at a latter-day Godard movie. The various ideas range from basic and familiar freshman stuff, to brainless new-age twaddle, to vaguely humorous, to moderately interesting except the movie doesn't give us time to digest and develop and these rare moments are few and far between. This will appeal to pothead philosophers with ADD, but that's an easy crowd to please.

Warped Forest, The  
A wacky follow-up to Funky Forest by one of the directors with equally random nonsense that never adds up to anything. It's like someone wrote sketches while horny and on drugs and decided to free-write the screenplay. There are more Cronenberg-esque fleshy objects or foods that are vaguely erotic in a bizarre and silly way, random disappearing objects and giant-sized people, a penis-sci-fi-gun that shoots sperm, lots of fruits resembling nipples, phalluses, anus or vagina, a bizarre nipple-sucking animal, naked-girl-trees, floating sci-fi objects that enable 'dream-tinkering' and 'warping', an indescribably bizarre complex procedure involving a weird animal-in-an-animal curing holes in a girl's body, and in between all this are many random sketches and conversations that are never funny and which seem to be part of different movies. There are many bizarre 'romantic' gestures and snippets of drama that never actually make sense, and even more bizarre sexual offers between the characters. I don't get it.

Watch Out  
Extreme narcissism played over-the-top by way of American Psycho for some kind of satirical effect, but the result is banal disgust rather than anything insightful or witty. Jonathan Barrows is an arrogant narcissist acted by an obviously gay man, who is repulsed by both men and women, because he is in love with himself, to the point that he masturbates to videos of himself masturbating, and has sex with a blow-up doll with a picture of his face on it, all graphically depicted in this trashy movie. The movie plays along with his fantasy that everyone wants him, and features endlessly pathetic scenes of one annoying lamer hick piece of trash after another try to seduce him while Jonathan arrogantly rejects them with long words and twisted insults. This is backed by cartoonishly trashy scenes of his parents and babysitters trying to get him laid in some demented John Waters-esque filth. I waited a whole hour for some kind of payoff, but then it only veers into serial killer territory featuring forced feeding of sliced penises and toes.

Wax, or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees  
Sci-fi surrealism filmed as a documentary. Actually, this feels like some guy sharing his dream/stoned vision with heavy narrative accompanied with a barrage of short filmed scenes, found footage and cheap computer graphics all spliced together with a meticulous editing job. We learn about James Maker, his inherited beekeeping job, his associations with the 'supernormal society', as well as his real job working with flight simulations for NASA and missiles. Along the way we learn in detail about all of his ancestors and past lives. A strange experience with his bees gives him a second sight via an internalized 'bee television'. The rest of the movie is a hodgepodge of mysticism, occultism, personal visions, new-age baloney and pretentious pseudo-philosophy dealing with messages from the bees, ghosts (including the victims of missiles come back to haunt the simulated worlds), his projection as a bomb sent to kill someone (it takes over 45 minutes of visions just to learn who he is meant to kill), Mesopotamian bees, something to do with the moon, karma, time-travel and spiritual journeys through deserts and caves, becoming an X, a poem, a lump of wax, etc etc. Imagine someone describing his personal symbolic dream which he thinks is terribly important, in a monotone and in excruciating detail. Let's say it is interesting enough for five minutes, and add another five because it is accompanied by a visual presentation, but then you realize you have 75 more minutes to bear. Excruciatingly boring.

Wayward Cloud, The  
Ming-liang Tsai directs an artsy study on, presumably, longing and perversion, love and connection replaced with imitation and fetish. Taiwan is plagued by a water shortage but a surplus of watermelons. One girl obsessively gathers water bottles, while she longs for her neighbour who is a porn star. Both try to open a locked suitcase in a heavy-handed metaphor. Watermelons become replacements for water, erotica, romance, simulated pregnancy and in one pornographic scene, a girl's vagina. Characters break into song dressed in gay dance extravaganzas to express their longings and problems, while the porn and madness continues on mechanically. The theme would be interesting except that there's no focus or consistency. Notorious for its shocking and confusing pornographic ending.

We are the Flesh  
Mexican slice of depraved madness with pretensions of an artistic/political statement. In a dead world, a madman lives in a cave getting his food through a mysterious/magical source. Along come a young brother and sister full of innocent mischief, but he soon makes a deal with them, making them plaster up the walls and eat while he prepares and warps their mind to submit to rampant fleshy desires and insane fleshy mysticism. It starts with incest, then proceeds to various bodily fluids, necrophilia, sacrificial murder and cannibalism ('eat my flesh'), throwing in feral behaviour and pseudo-philosophical gobbledygook insanity, as well as a rebirth and a seemingly immortal man, with a twist ending that links everything right back to modern civilization. Now, you can interpret this in any of the following ways: A piece of juvenile blasphemy portraying the garden of Eden (in which case you only need one guess on who the insane man is supposed to be, hence his magical creation of food and giving of his flesh), perhaps via Satanism, or alternatively, a symbolic piece on humanity being at its core just depraved flesh, or a representation of any reprehensible act in recent human history. No matter which interpretation you pick, however, there is absolutely no insight or anything of interest here to reward your pained sensibilities.

Wedding Trough  
A farmer is followed with a camera while he handles his daily chores, bathes, feeds the animals, eats, plays games, places doll heads on birds, plays bizarre games with his animals, chases his pig around, has sex with the pig, takes care of the resulting piglets, kills some animals, prepares tea and food out of his own feces, collects dead things in jars, eats various repulsive things and vomits. There is no dialog, only a bizarre soundtrack. This probably has some artistic symbolism or message, but frankly, I don't care what it is.

What? (AKA Diary Of Forbidden Dreams)  
You'll be calling this movie's name several times while watching this baffling oddity by Polanski. Even his movie The Tenant was mostly grounded in reality, but this one is just bonkers for its own sake. Allegedly a sex-comedy homage to Alice in Wonderland, but it is not funny and has nothing in common with that story except for the fact that it is full of nonsense and strange characters. Nancy, acted by the doll-like Sydne Rome, is travelling in Italy when she finds herself in an absurd adventure in a strange villa where people make less and less sense. However, she is just in the movie to be treated with one humiliation after another with a passive and dumb demeanor. It starts with an attempted gang rape by a group of very strange people, her clothes are then systematically stolen so that she is never fully dressed throughout the movie, and the various characters can then poke, prod, stare, comment, slap, fondle, paint her left leg blue, and treat her to S&M, or oral sex while she is sleeping. Polanski even has her crawl out of a dog kennel with the camera placed behind her. Mastroianni acts as a bizarre pervert that enjoys kinky role-plays and squashing ping-pong balls while covered in mosquito bites which may be syphilis, Polanski is his eccentric enemy called Mosquito, Hugh Griffith is a dying old man in a wheelchair but that doesn't stop him from chasing her either, and there is a whole lot of other tenants that add to the mind-warp, including a maid that sprays the air with shaving cream. The only reason to watch this movie is for its unique form of mind-warping absurdity, but I can't say that it was interesting, rewarding or funny.

What Is It?  
What if I told you that this was a bizarre movie of Jodorowsky proportions, as acted by a cast of people with Down's syndrome, and directed by none other than Crispin Glover? What if you also knew that this contained a scene of a monkey-mask wearing woman with large breasts stroking the penis of a man with Down's syndrome who is lying in a big seashell while clouds of love-making actors drift by and while Glover plays the most extremely racist song you ever heard? I have an interpretation for this movie and I don't mean it as a joke: It represents the psyche of Crispin Glover, his many sides, inner voices and personas. The black-faced minstrel who is trying to transform into an invertebrate using snail injections is obviously his public entertainer persona, whom he seems to mostly hate, which would explain the racist/Nazi aspects of this movie, and he sees his various other inner voices (or perhaps the people in his life) as retards that commit various acts of violence or lust against each other while Glover sits on top as the annoyed super-ego. There is also lots of snail abuse with salt, or attacks on snails by force or praying mantis (despite the fact that the 'young man' loves snails), and the praying mantis even surprise-attacks a Down's Syndrome person. I would guess that snails represent his crushed dreams. Then there's the repetitive Nazification of Shirley Temple, another attack on his entertainer figure who was whisked away by the industry. Glover keeps talking about how he wanted to provoke people in this movie to take them out of the comfort zone and start asking questions about content and censorship, and how it's all about breaking taboos, but I know better. If you thought Crispin Glover was eccentric and weird, then you were wrong. Judging by his many personalities in this movie, he is insane.

When Black Birds Fly  
Another laughably juvenile faux-blasphemous 'extreme' animated production from Jimmy 'ScreamerClauz'. The story involves a warped version of heaven, a god, and evil 'do-gooders' led by an opportunistic self-deifying Caine, versus the other side of the wall offering faux-Satanic eye-opening freedom from even one's own body, led by a female embodiment of lust who wants to do good for her creations. It all develops rather predictably as one would expect from this kind of a budding, immature, wannabe-evil mind. It's not as extreme and desperate as 'Where the Dead Go to Die', but there's plenty of messed-up creatures, gory violence also against children, and warped sex. The animation is cheap computer-graphics like some game from a decade or two ago, and everyone not only looks crudely drawn they don't behave or talk like anything resembling people either. The approach to animation here is most definitely in the 'more-is-more' category, with every frame filled with a kaleidoscope of tripping patterns and as many colors as he could add, as well as heaps of floating weird random objects, and the soundtrack is just as pointlessly busy as well. It's the kind of movie that gives one a headache within the first 10 minutes, and then goes on and on for another 100.

Where the Dead Go to Die  
Three animated shorts that desperately want to be as shocking and extreme as they can be, but the actual result is just silly. This effect isn't helped by the name of the person behind these creations: 'Jimmy ScreamerClauz'. The attitude of the animations is exemplified by a scene where a man hiding in a church kills a prostitute who just got eye-gouged by a psychotic war-veteran with no legs, in order to extract a liquid from her body and revel in her memories, only to find himself in a grotesque hell where he is told that the prostitute knows his 'testicles are filled with God's tears'. At that point I just couldn't stop laughing at the movie. Until 20 minutes later, that is, when it got really tiresome. It's the equivalent of Satan's little puppy trying to make a movie to please his master: It desperately wants to be disturbing and is so over-the-top, immature and relentless, that it's silly and tiresome. There's a kid who kills his parents with the help of a Satanic dog after ripping out an unborn baby, there's a kid having sex with a dog to sacrifice his virginity, a father who uses his little daughter for child-porn and torture while the next-door siamese-mutant-kid who is made to feel guilty for killing his mutant brother attached to his face, is convinced that he must take part in the porn film, there are endless hellish surreal sequences with one grotesquerie after another, and so on and on. And, and top of it all, the animations are cheap 3D computer graphics, and half of the vocal performances are laughably poor.

Where the Dogs Divide Her  
I watched this film after Amnesiac, a similar movie made by the same directors, and found it similarly impossible to enjoy. The movie combines heavy atmosphere, surrealism, symbolism and horror to depict the mind of a man troubled by many things... things that cannot be determined throughout the movie. It all takes place in his mind, as he encounters mental demons and ghosts, and elusive memories of his own crimes as well his parents'. The majority of the movie consists of cryptic imagery, visions, fragments of memories and scenes that take place in his mind while he tries to figure things out. There are many little clues, some of them connecting with other visual clues, and I really did put in a lot of extra effort to try to piece it together, but was only left very frustrated and clueless all the way to the end. None of the fragments came together in any way. There is some dialogue amongst the pretentious literary quotes, but half of it is drowned in sound effects or a loud and obnoxious selection of over-emotional music, making it impossible to understand half of what was being said. If you're going to make a challenging movie, at least let your audience hear what is being said.

Whispering of the Gods, The  
Transgressive, repulsive and depressed art-house Japanese movie with nothing to say except how depraved and warped life and religion could be. A young man who may or may not be a criminal is used sexually by priests that adopted him in a bizarre commune seemingly populated by perverts, and he in turn pours out his bile on other people by beating up dogs, raping nuns, smashing the teeth of a friend, and coming up with evil ways to torment a priest by faking confessions. There are moments of friendship and tenderness but these are very quickly smashed or warped by a misanthropic, hateful mind, and he in turn is beat up by a very strange scoutmaster who likes spit and vomit, while they all toil every day shoveling excrement from the farm animals, and castrate pigs while the pigs are trying to have sex. There you have it.

Won Ton Baby!  
Wannabe Basket Case-type of warped campy horror. A brothel madam, in love with an Elvis Impersonator that likes to mix the wrong pills with alcohol, gives birth to a mutated girl who grows up with her twin embedded inside her, thinking that she is the daughter of a Chinaman. When this creature is finally let out, it turns out to be a mutated, perverted, over-endowed, short pseudo-human with a prehensile umbilical cord and a taste for coprophilia and body parts. It's all played for trashy laughs and campy horror, but the pacing is dreadfully slow and the movie is full of long scenes that do nothing, and lots of juvenile warped humor that falls flat. There is some fun to be had with the sheer trashy strangeness of it all, and the movie does have a bit of fun with Asian stereotypes, but it's too little and mostly overwhelmed by the rest.

Worm Eaters, The  
A near-cult flick about a club-footed weirdo who owns land with a lake which business men and the town want to take over. He lovingly keeps worms as pets, naming each one, singing to them and building them homes, he plays music to his foot, and is visited and harassed by various strange city folk, students and dead fishermen. He starts feeding them worms and turning them into beeping worm-humans that excrete whipped cream and crawl after women. Several throwaway weird scenes, schlocky acting and weird characters would make this entertaining if it weren't so terrible in general. Features close-up worm chewing.

Wounded Fawn, The  
A tiresome modern-day version of a bizarre art-house giallo. It's modern in at least two senses: First, this is a giallo where the womyn victims fight against their serial killer with supernatural womyn goddess-powers. And second, like many horror movies lately, it thinks that coming up with one random 'creative' horror visual after another without working on an actual story, will make the movie more interesting instead of boring. A serial killer into art, who seems to be controlled by something supernatural, lures another very stupid reckless woman who is sick and tired of abusive men. What follows is, at first, predictably violent, then otherworldly and almost surreal in its hallucinative, hellish punishments. Horror cinema hath no future like a woman scorned.

You and the Night  
Erotica has never been this pretentious, theatrical, and full of empty melodramatics. This French oddity is more about the existential ennui of lust than an orgy. A mysterious couple, accompanied by a transvestite maid, host orgies. To this orgy arrive four objects of lust that would rather tell their stories of human longings and empty existence rather than participate in the orgy. There's The Slut who tells about a surreal dream of penises and her estranged mother, The Stallion is a well-endowed man who would rather be a poet than being chased as an object of lust, and then there's The Teenager, and The Star. Fantastical stories that may or may not be true blend with surreal dreams and tales of incestuous longings. Everyone is bisexual, dead inside and melodramatic. Everyone waxes poetic and philosophizes. Nobody enjoys sex or has anything interesting to say.

Home-made silly movie about powerful beings controlling human 'zappers' to play a fantasy, violent Treasure-Hunt-type game where they have to collect clues and objects to achieve the final ultimately meaningless goal while shooting their competition. All objects, weapons and even creatures are random household objects such as bananas, board-games, and a moose-head. There are no rules, and players come and go, and kill each other, while the godlike beings bicker. Except the editor went nuts and applied dozens of completely random effect and color filters to the whole movie from start to finish, in order to try to make it 'psychedelic'. Bleeding colors constantly morph from one color to another, and random effects and objects fly across the screen at random times. Unfortunately, it only distracts and makes this movie feel like an obnoxious 90s screen-saver. Effects should add to the plot (if there were one) or to the experience, not just be applied constantly and at random. The 'gun-fight' effects are the only effects with any purpose. But the real problem is the lack of plot, idea or character development. It's just a bunch of random people playing a game that has no rules with random objects. Even watching someone playing a computer game would be more interesting. At least it would be going somewhere. This feels like an extended TikTok video.

Dull and overlong experimental movie that dives into the mind of a very pathetic, lonely and schizophrenic man who talks to pornographic mags, indulges in racist rants, wanders around the woods, maintains a biology hobby, collects dead animals and parts in jars, and develops a sexual relationship with the upper part of a mannequin. Sounds and images are cut together to make the experience, using images of animals parts, the female body, lactating breasts, etc, all of which slowly get more deformed and bizarre as mutating flesh, a head that is part chicken, a growing mutation connected to a woman through an umbilical cord, bleeding breasts etc. A particularly dark scene mixes colors, disturbing visions and sound as the man tries to cut into a nasty cyst on his arm. A repetitive, long and slow movie studying a character that only deserves 3 minutes tops.

Zombie Toxin  
A truly abysmal home-made splatter movie about (let's see if I can get this right): A guy who chops up a horse belonging to a shoe repairman who tortures people for a living. The horse infects him with a toxin that makes him defecate and vomit nastily, and then infects a field of yeast (what?) which catches the attention of a Nazi who plans to kill the world by selling the toxin in wine bottles. The wine bottles then come alive and attack the locals while random characters sing and blow each other's heads off, eat each other's flesh to the bone, slash, cut, rip and blow off each other's body parts until Mary Poppins comes to save the day. If this sounds like insane fun, think again. The horrible acting, production values and annoying voice-overs balance out the fun.

Zoo Zéro  
Avant-garde movie that explores the relationship, or equivalence between humans and animals. There is no narrative, only a series of artistic performances, provocative statements and bizarre dialogue, all touching on the theme. A cabaret singer performs in Noah's Ark to an audience in animal costumes, and then goes on the prowl through the city and zoo. People's roles and titles are interchangeable, and human relationships with each other and society are compared to animals through their basic impulses. People crawl like cats, respond mechanically to situations, driven by simple motives, they lust, they sing, discuss nudity, seduction and murder as meaningless options chosen indifferently by impulses, and they talk through dehumanized mechanical voice-boxes, all leading to an encounter with the 'zoo manager'. The movie asks whether human behaviour is just training, what law and order truly means, and whether even Mozart was an animal. Unfortunately, it only touches these topics and doesn't explore them. For art-house purists that prefer their movies highly experimental, intellectually unrewarding, and without narrative.

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