Borderline Extreme Movies


Angel Heart  
A PI is hired by a mysterious character to track down someone who disappeared. This person, he's told, is needed to 'settle a debt'. Strange murderous events seem to follow every lead and things get darker and more violent with each development until everything dives into the supernatural world and stays there. Voodoo craft and devilish work is at hand, leading man to murder, incest and other violent deeds. Very gritty, stylish and dark with a dark sweaty texture that you can feel, and bizarre atmospheric sequences that all make sense at the end. Brilliant.

Barton Fink  
An intelligent satire on writing screenplays, pitting inspired work against Hollywood cookie-cutter and commercial pressures. The uptight, tormented Barton is whisked away to Hollywood to write a pointless b-movie after his plays become a success, and he finds himself in a surreal hell that becomes more and more literal. Small touches such as heat, peeling wallpaper, pus and flames are turned into a full-blown surreal vision in a climactic ending, with a wonderfully enigmatic epilogue that teases with themes of beheaded muses, hell, the devil taking over, and living in a beautifully superficial but enslaving postcard world. One of the Coen Brothers' early masterpieces, and definitely their most bizarre movie.

Beasts of the Southern Wild  
A truly magical movie that deserved its hype. This tells the tale of a strong-willed little girl and her strict father that live in a poor bayou community in the American South called the Bathtub. They live behind the levees and are in constant fear of flooding, but are very attached to their homes and lifestyle. Her father contracts an unknown disease, adding to the fears, but the people are well trained in the practice of toughing it out and ignoring bad news. The movie is not only seen through her eyes, but also through her mind, combining gritty realism with the unexplained mysterious world of adults, and several stories or warnings become fantastical, imaginary and surreal. When she misbehaves, her fears that she may have broken the world are seen as reality, and beasts of legend turn into symbolic monsters. A trip across the waters that may or may not be real, leads her to a floating whorehouse where a woman who may or may not be her mother seems to do magical things. And so on. I am usually not a fan of movies carried by children, but this one features a very striking and unforgettable lead, and the magic revolves around her.

French madness in the form of a black comedy. Bernie is an 'orphan' who decides to leave his orphanage where he has worked all his life, and search for his parents. Trouble is, he is also a paranoid and violent-prone idiot several levels removed from reality. Amongst the things he discovers is that he was thrown into a garbage can as a baby through a garbage chute, but this is obviously the fault of 'them' and not his loving parents. His father turns out to be a psychotic sodomizer bum, and his mom has succeeded in building a respectable life, or has she? He also encounters a drug-addict, money-loving bitch whom he pays to be his girlfriend, and her sleazy wheelchair-ridden father. Sparks fly, madness and violence goes rampant, and the movie is full of one shocking, blackly comic and colorful surprise after another. A bit too full of wackos for my taste, but undeniably entertaining if you don't mind trashy over-the-top madness. Compared sometimes to Pulp Fiction for ambiguous reasons but this doesn't have that movie's sense of reality nor its inventive structure. This is more like a nasty cartoon. Some of Dupontel's subsequent comedies are similar but less nasty and insane.

Buddy Boy  
I suppose it's popular to compare anything slightly weird to Lynch nowadays, but the only movie Buddy Boy compares to is The Tenant. But whereas The Tenant was fatally flawed by Polanski's acting and unbelievable madness, this one is more subtle. A stuttering, shy and guilt-ridden Catholic man lives with his weird step-mother in a filthy apartment, peeping on his sexy, Vegan neighbour and then developing a relationship with her. He keeps watching and discovers his neighbour's dark secrets...or so it seems. Guilt and a fear of hypocrisies lead him to doubt his neighbour's Vegan and loving 'religions' until he, and we, can't tell what is real anymore. A flawed, well-crafted masterpiece with a pointless bizarre and twisted sub-plot involving his step-mother. It also boasts a very exquisitely intriguing ending.

Calvaire (AKA The Ordeal)  
A flawed but fascinating entry in the backwoods horror genre from Belgium, mixing Straw Dogs and Deliverance with great camera-work. The original title also translates to Martyrdom as well as Ordeal which is much more interesting. A corny performer of love songs is hounded and desired by old women, but this is nothing compared to the fans of his romantic talents in the local backwoods village populated entirely by insane, inbred, desperate lonely men (and no women). This desperation soon leads to crucifixion, rape and other acts of violence (although the director cuts away from the shock and gore, sometimes too much in fact). The lead actor is somewhat weak and the idea of artists and romantics as martyrs for sad, lonely people isn't explored to complete satisfaction, but the last half hour makes up for this with several scenes of gripping madness, brilliant black comedy and atmosphere. Contains several demented scenes that rival Texas Chainsaw Massacre in its backwoods insanity.

Carré Blanc  
French dystopian sci-fi, where the sci-fi is all in the behaviour, resulting in surrealism. Although reminiscent of movies like THX 1138, Brazil and Zero Theorem with their themes of an individual desperately looking for humanity in a dehumanized world, the look of this movie is strictly contemporary, employing cold office-space and urbanism. In this alternate modern world, big brother is always on ubiquitous speakers instructing people on safety, encouraging them to procreate from a very early age, and suggesting they grow to love the game of croquet. The game, in this case, being a symbol for the larger theme of the movie of dehumanizing, alienating and sadistic social behaviour. Violence breaks out and crowds turn away politely, men die or kill themselves in the millions, and loyalty to authority masks cruelty, or, alternately, soulless masochism and suicidal tendencies. And it is up to the protagonist to separate these two types of citizens using absurdly cruel but simple tests at his office. Humans submit to these tests to prove their loyalty, and the tests are designed to identify the people that actively think, but either way they end up soulless. The movies explores this character, whose soul is being torn apart between his mother on one end who committed suicide in order to harden him into becoming socially 'normal', and his wife who saw humanity in him once a long time ago. A quiet movie with a deceptively simple story that grows on you.

Children, The  
This one is here purely for its incredibly effective and disturbing horror. Well written, well acted, superbly directed horror with tension and psychologically terrifying developments that just keep building slowly to a crescendo. You may be thinking that a horror movie about killer children has been done lots of times before, not always successfully, except that this one really hits you in the gut. It feeds off several fears: The chaos of misbehaving children doing dangerous things somehow gone very wrong thanks to an unknown disease, the terror of not being able to defend yourself properly when faced with a toddler, especially if you are the parent of this toddler, and the inability to believe that a toddler could be a culprit of senseless violence, leading to wild reactions and accusations between adults, and the inability to handle such a situation. The story is simple: Two sisters and their families meet in a remote location for some family fun, when a virus strikes. I can imagine the average young horror fan will not understand what all the fuss is about, especially since it isn't all that gory, but I can also imagine parents not being able to watch much of this. I see this as the toddler version of the intense Eden Lake, except that it is forced by necessity to use a virus to explain the behaviour and make it realistic. A masterwork in horror construction that feeds off basic human fears, with superb editing that knows exactly when to cut and splice to build up the horror that spirals rapidly out of control.

Clean, Shaven  
A very effective study on schizophrenia posing as a serial killer movie. The mental state, fears and nerves of a man just released from an asylum is portrayed grippingly by both a great performance and minimalist, inventive cinematography and sound. As he travels to see his long lost daughter, sounds in his head make him a nervous wreck, mirrors set him off on an obsessive shaving spree that causes self-mutilation, and he becomes convinced that a radio transmitter is in his head and fingernail, leading to a stomach-churning mutilation scene. In a brilliant twist, an obsessive, pedantic and neurotic policeman thinks he is a killer and tracks him down.

Henry Selick delivers another animated dark work of wonder, this time based on a Neil Gaiman story, except that, this time, it betrays its juvenile origins despite its dark almost-adult-oriented content. The animation is a wonderful blend of CGI and stop-motion, lending the computer effects some tactile texture. The story, feels juvenile and simplistic, spelling things out for the audience, but the visuals are outlandish and the imagination is the real star of the show. Coraline is a bratty young girl who finds herself stuck with parents that are no fun, in an old country house that hides dark secrets and features very eccentric stage and circus neighbours. A creepy doll that looks just like her, and some mice, take her into a surreal adventure that goes beyond the twilight zone, through an Alice in Wonderland tunnel into a land that tempts her with ideal alternative parents and endless fun. The only thing that seems bothersome is that the people there have buttons for eyes. But who cares when you have gardens that come to life, mechanical huge insects, a mouse circus, canons that fire cotton candy, and dotty neighbours performing for a dog audience. Probably too scary for young children, with a dark imagination that will entertain adults, but perfect for that age in the middle. However, for a much better version of this story, see MirrorMask.

Cure for Wellness, A  
Gore Verbinski's horror ode to... well, everything. The story is about a young ruthless businessman sent on a mission to retrieve a wayward CEO 'taking the waters' in a Swiss wellness center, only to find that the spa is not what it seems. But the themes, tropes, and movies that this film references would take a page to summarize. In one sense, this is Shutter Island done right with its is-he-or-isn't-he-hallucinating psychological reality-twisting plot, only with a more palatable horror denouement. But there is also a lot of Argento (especially Suspiria) and Mario Bava here, as well as some German expressionism. Visually it's amazingly rich with dozens of striking rooms, sets, locations and machinery. There's incest, doctor-horror, dentist-horror, gothic horror, possible ghosts, creature horror, etc. Themes cover several kinds of madnesses both old and new, the old corrupt aristocracy, the modern soul-sucking life, innocence, psychological wellness vs cruelty, a female coming-of-age story, personal redemption, etc. And yet, with all this, the film still coheres as long as you are willing to accept that some elements are attributable to hallucinations and you go along with its own internal Argento-esque supernatural horror logic. I was enthralled by the sights and sounds and atmosphere despite the flaws, the piling on of ideas, and the excess. Though, in fact, all of this is somehow also a boon to the movie.

A post-apocalyptic, futuristic dark comedy from France with an artistic sense strongly reminiscent of Gilliam's (Brazil). Food is rationed, the economy is back to the barter system and people resort to cannibalism while vegetarians are underground revolutionaries that live in the sewers. A circus clown finds a job in a building where various psychotic and neurotic men and women dwell, and where cannibalism is a rule-based system. Visually rich and superbly hilarious. A superb precursor to City of Lost Children by the Jeunet and Caro team.

Kevin Smith finally achieves his potential and directs this hilariously blasphemous and rude satire/comedy about Christianity, and various priests, sinners, devils and angels. It isn't as blasphemous as it is made out to be though as the characters discuss and ramble philosophically, wipe out sinners, challenge or support God (who happens to be a Canadian rock singer), and try to get laid. Along the way we are treated to the sight of a demon made of pure excrement. Joy.

Double, The  
A surreal doppelgänger used to explore a character's psychology is nothing new, but this movie uses it in exceptional ways. The style of the movie will also remind you of several other films, giving the movie a further flawed feel of unoriginality, but it is very fascinating, well done and watchable despite all this. The look and feel creates a dilapidated steampunk world similar to Brazil except slightly more dark and depressing, combined with some fun cheesy injections of 60s retro-color on its TV shows and commercials. Simon James is a 'non-person' who is absurdly easy to forget. He has to sign in to work as a visitor every day because the guard can never recognize him, the system seems to have it in for him, with near-conscious elevators and computers malfunctioning in his presence, and people walk all over him in so many ways it becomes absurdly depressing and blackly humorous. He also pines for the depressed girl next door. When a new employee joins his company, nobody seems to notice that they are identical, since this new guy is everything he isn't: A confident ladies man. Their lives become intertwined in ways they don't expect when they start to take over each other's lives.

Endless, The  
Benson and Moorhead have gotten a reputation for intriguingly strange and different horror movies, but this one is their most strange as well as their by far their best, and it can be enjoyed on several levels. It also expands on ideas and characters from their previous (very unsatisfying) movie 'Resolution', but that one is not required viewing before this one. I normally don't like modern horror movies that just throw a bunch of random strange visuals at the screen without any kind of coherency, but this movie has its own internal logic, even if some plot elements remain unexplained and unexplainable. It is about two brothers that have escaped a strange cult-ish group as kids, and now find themselves drawn back to them. All is not as it seems, and at the same time, things get much stranger and infinitely challenging, a horror that threatens to control their lives as well as their deaths. They encounter events and a being that could be taken as a sci-fi metaphysical super-being, a scary horror creature with mind-boggling powers, a metaphor for humanity or for existential crisis and confrontation, or as symbolism for religion, or all of the above. I found this movie unclassifiable, not being truly horror nor fantasy nor sci-fi nor reality-bending strangeness, and yet it is all of the above all at once. The characters are very well written as well, some scenes are creepy and scary in a unique way, and others are fun mind-bending sci-fi. A very good, one-of-a-kind movie.

One of the most intense and thought-provoking movies ever made. A psychologist encounters a teenager who has created his own abnormal religion of horse-worship and unbridled passion. The jaded psychologist, acted powerfully by Richard Burton, already having doubts as to his work of 'normalizing' youths, reaches an intense state of self-doubt as he both respects, fears and psychologically manipulates the sick but vibrant youth who had a bloody eruption of passionate guilt that ended in violence. An unforgettable masterpiece.

Far Side of the Moon, The  
A magical, quiet, subtle and rich movie. This is one of those movies where the experience surpasses any attempt at description. Phillippe is a sad man who seeks out the greatness in humanity through space travel. But he is constantly bogged down by his cynicism and perception of reality, and writes a thesis on how humankind's attempts at reaching the moon were driven by narcissism. This metaphor is combined with the far side of the moon as a hidden, disfigured facet, the movie drawing parallels with this man's turmoil and troubled relationship with his gay, superficial, twin brother. All this heaviness is perfectly balanced with the humor and subtle comedy emerging from his personality, one highlight being a video he prepares to instruct aliens on the lifestyle and foibles of mankind. Another special mention must go to the highly inventive segues and superimpositions of fantasy and imagination, many of them so smooth and beautifully done, they result in surreal moments, leading to the delightfully playful ending.

Fausto 5.0  
A provocative, modernized Spanish retelling of the Faustian story that goes where Hollywood would never dare to go. An uptight doctor who treats and researches terminal patients is barely alive himself until an ex-patient of his with the uncanny ability to grant wishes and be everywhere forces himself into his life. The doctor's evil, nihilistic side starts coming out and his wishes more perverse and immoral. The movie brilliantly leaves the supernatural aspects ambiguous so that you don't know if something magical and evil is truly going on, and uses an ugly but gripping urban set design to explore the psyche of a man who has buried himself in hospital plastic and professionalism, hiding from the ugly world outside and his ugliness inside. A challenging and bold movie that will leave Hollywood fans in the dust, and a great accompaniment to Angel Heart.

Fight Club  
A dense, beautifully shot, thought-provoking, violent attack on modern society and the apathetic, lost people populating it obsessed with materialistic minutiae and enslaved by consumerism. One schizophrenic man gets caught up with a radically new attitude that starts with the anarchical release of a fist fight, which grows to a fight club and then to a full fledged revolution. A fascinating, energetic film with an almost inconceivable twisted ending that pushes the whole exercise further into dementia and anarchy. A modern classic.

5150 Elm's Way  
Now this is more like it: A psychological and disturbing horror movie about a psycho killer and a hostage that is believable and twisted in a human way, rather than just going for shock. Yannick, a film student, finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and soon finds himself forced to become involved with a demented religious family, trying to confront or exploit their various issues in order to escape them. The father-killer is a three-dimensional character that reminded me of old-school horror characters like the Stepfather. But there is also a believable angry teenager, submissive dependent mother, and a near-psychotic damaged little girl. The father seems to have luck or providence on his side as nothing works out for Yannick, including all attempts at escape, and his need to prove the father's self-righteousness wrong, grow to the point of obsession and madness. This brings light surrealism in the form of hallucinations, reaching a climax of deeply disturbed explosive breakdowns and a twisted game of chess in the basement. Comparisons to Mum & Dad are way off, since this is about the character arcs, warped family dynamics, obsession and psychological horror. It's more like Frailty in that sense.

Psychological reality-bending using delusions and fantasy to explore several characters. The four plot threads start in puzzling ways and slowly weave together for a single ending. One storyline takes place in a fantasy dystopian world where a single atheist, bent on revenge for the death of a little girl, evades a religious ministry and a city populated by absurd religions (one worships washing-machine instructions). The rest take place in our world, one involving a young man jilted at the altar who chases his childhood love, another (Eva Green) with serious problems with her parents who creates a suicidal student-art-project, and a religious man in search of his vet son. Many clues appear in parallel stories, sometimes in puzzling ways, only to work themselves out. Even a seemingly chance encounter at the end is tied with clues dropped at the beginning of the movie that somehow both compounds the fatalistic coincidence, as well as explains their attraction. The ending is not as satisfying as it should be and the tying together of clues in several stories is not as clever as it thinks it is, but the subtle way they emerge and the development is done in very intriguing ways, making for a mentally invigorating watch (you'll need to watch at least twice), and the ambition of the movie, as well as the visual look of the fantasy world are big pluses as well, making this a keeper. Comparisons: There's a bit of Del Toro in its psychological escape to dark fantasy, a bit of Gilliam in its meshing of reality with fantasy except fantasy doesn't exactly triumph here, and it is reminiscent of Stay in how clues come together except this one doesn't use dream-logic.

Immortel (ad vitam)  
Another dreamy, slightly weird, stylish French sci-fi movie by Enki Bilal, a comic-book artist. Take Fifth Element with the fake-looking CGI effects of Final Fantasy, mix with a healthy dose of Blade Runner and add a splash of Manga and Stargate. In the future, a corporation called Eugenics rules New York City, performing experiments on humans, raiding the lower levels of the city for rejects and guinea pigs. A pyramid has appeared floating on top of the city and the Egyptian God Horus is out searching for a hosting body and a female to mate with. He finds a subversive human amidst the genetically altered population and a strange alien female capable of bearing his progeny. There is a lot more to the plot and many elements aren't explained fully. The city of the future is unoriginal but well done, the CGI characters however are badly done. The real actors mixed in this CGI world aren't that interesting but the overall effect of the movie is somewhat mesmerizing. Flawed but good.

In the Company of Men  
Although this is not an extreme movie per se, it packs quite an emotional wallop, provoked a controversy, and features realistic human cruelty without pulling any punches. This is an intense, disturbing and intelligent masterpiece. The movie explores two male characters as they plot to manipulate a sweet deaf girl at the office into love before pulling out the rug from under her feet. A meeker man goes along with the schemes of an alpha jerk, only to get bitten by their cruelty in some ways even worse than their intended victim. This is also a look at the theme of dehumanization in cut-throat business and the various types of characters that are swept away by it. A powerful look at male-oriented emotional cruelty in the modern world. Neil LaBute followed this with the equally bleak and disturbing 'Your Friends and Neighbors', a very sharp and dark satire on selfish and broken human behaviour with awkward moments that rival Happiness, except without that movie's extremism. The final entry in a trilogy on the theme of modern social cruelty is 'The Shape of Things'. All three are superb.

Jack Be Nimble  
Gripping and unforgettable cult Australian gothic horror movie. It's the dark story of a boy and his sister, abandoned by their distraught psychic mother and philandering father. Each are adopted separately by very different families, the boy abused terribly, and growing up intensely hateful and angry. The girl develops psychic abilities, but the boy harnesses his gift in angrier ways through a bizarre machine which he builds in order get revenge. Features an unforgettable silent set of four malignant sisters, a fascinating and unusual psychic romance, hypnosis-violence, intense performances by everyone involved (especially by Alexis Arquette who is given a lot to do), and the emotions and cruelty build to a crisis, leading to a strange finale indeed. A cult favorite.

Jacob's Ladder  
A Vietnam vet starts having bizarre and disturbing hallucinations which appear to be spilling over into his reality and day-to-day life. Is he insane? Dreaming? Suffering from trauma? Military drug testing? Either way, it's a dark supernatural trip and we're invited to experience it with him. A classic amongst reality-bending horror movies.

Miracle Mile  
Strictly speaking, this isn't a surreal movie. And yet it is, for what could be more surreal than the possible end of the world? This is one of those movies, like Cloverfield, that you are better off watching without knowing much about it in advance. It is also a cult movie in the sense that it polarizes audiences, and you will either hate it or love it. Be warned, however, that it is a feel-bad movie, and unforgettable. The first 15 minutes make you think it is a romantic comedy with quirky characters, then it veers into 'After Hours' territory (also a great movie) with an increasingly surreal reality. The odd people and events accumulate to the point where you feel you must be dreaming. L.A., with all its quirky citizens, goes chaotic under a pending, possible apocalypse which may or may not be real. It's all very 80s, but the Tangerine Dream soundtrack is superb. Just watch it.

An underrated sleeper of a surreal fantasy and coming-of-age story by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. Although produced by the Jim Henson Company and often compared to Labyrinth and Alice in Wonderland, this is somewhat darker and uses masses of Dali-esque CGI imagery. A teenage girl in a circus has typical bratty and escapist issues and fights with her loving mother. When her mother is hospitalized, she is disturbed by her own immaturity and struggles with her subconscious in a movie-length dream-like world of her own creation where temperamental books fly back to the library when insulted, palace guards are strange creatures on stilt-legs, there is a good queen in a coma and an evil one who is turning everything into shadows, real faces are bland or disgusting and masks are popular, and pets are scary creatures with men's faces who like riddles and eating books. Very dense with metaphors and psychological layers, and the effects feel somewhat overdone at first but are magical once you get used to them. A quiet masterpiece that grows on you extremely well in your subconscious and imagination.

Moustache, La  
French existential provocation and drama without a solution. This is not about time-lines, alternative realities, sci-fi, dreams, or madness. It is not even a puzzle for audiences used to a narrative to try to shoehorn into some kind of logical theory. It is French existential horror that simply enjoys raising mind-warping questions without caring whether there are answers. Here is my interpretation of the movie with minimal spoilers: A man shaves off his moustache on a whim after his wife raises the question of how her perception of him would change if he did. Thus, we realize, his world and actions, just like most of ours, are dependent on other people, little things they say or do, especially when it comes to seeing things through the eyes of the ones we love. So what follows is a complete breakdown of this stability. Did he ever really have a moustache? People he knows and trusts don't seem to think so, but strangers do. They can even look at the same photographs and see different things. He considers whether it is an elaborate joke, a conspiracy, etc. but it is simply a metaphysical breakdown of his perception of reality which is too dependent on other people. So he escapes. He goes to get lost, to keep moving, to be surrounded by strangers. And when his confidence and peace of mind returns in this world full of strangers, so does reality. But does he really have his identity and confidence now?

Night, The  
Iranian-American deeply atmospheric head-trip of a horror movie that surprises with its effectiveness. You know how many horror movies use hallucinations, brief waking nightmares, disorienting confusion, and supernatural apparitions that may be there one minute and gone the next? Well this one knows how to make use of these properly, and uses it for most of its running time, eschewing jump-scares, opting for subtler dark and confusing apparitions and strange happenings that mess with your mind, layering it with psychological secrets in the protagonists, and constantly building it up with great pacing, until the final superb 20 minutes that simply runs with it to a surreal finish line. In other words, although this is just a horror movie and not surrealism, this one takes these tropes further than most, and uses them amazingly well for a change. The plot is simple: A couple with a baby on the way home from a party with friends stay in a strange hotel where nothing is as it seems, and as the dark night continues endlessly, they fall further and further down the rabbit hole. Horror-movie fans will be sure they have figured it out for much of its running time, and the plot indeed isn't trying to be too original. But what it does aim for (and succeeds at it), is to unnerve its audience and explore the psychological black hole of guilty secrets between spouses using horror and thick atmosphere as its medium. And the final 20 minutes are what elevate the movie towards this goal with a chilling final scene that stays under your skin for a while. This is one that must be watched with a big screen and big sound and no interruptions, and you will be rewarded.

One I Love, The  
This is one of those movies that are almost impossible to review or summarize without spoiling plot twists, twists that start almost at the beginning of the movie. Even comparisons to other movies would spoil something. I'll just say that it involves a married couple in marriage therapy that get sent to a special retreat to try to bring the marriage back to life. Except that it comes to life in very unexpected ways. This has a Twilight Zone-esque concept behind the film which it primarily uses to explore the characters. This is very good. But it also drops hints about possible rational mechanics behind these strange goings-on which at the very least involve some sci-fi, possibly fantasy. Except it plays both sides by adding partial explanations, rules and limitations, which is confusing at first, but actually good fun. But, as I said, the focus is on people, and the actors convey a lot with subtle nuances. It's not an amazing movie, but as a small movie, there is a lot of detail here that I greatly enjoyed.

Orbis Pictus  
Quietly absurd, slightly surreal, and magically entrancing Slovakian movie. It's a road movie full of quirky characters, but unlike any road movie you've ever seen. The protagonist is a 16 year old headstrong, slightly wild, simple-minded girl discharged from her boarding school and on a quest to return to her mother. The absurd world and characters she encounters are full of quirk, of lurking but hidden dangers, and behaviour that is so strange, it becomes absurdly surreal or even fantastical. A man's job is to burn clothes but he doesn't know why, a chairman hides from his board meeting and gives her strange advice, so does the priest at a wedding that ties together a depressed young man and an older woman with bizarre rituals, then there is the charmingly insane old woman that wants to convert part of her house into a car park while the rest of her house floats in water when it rains, and so on. When she finally reaches her destination, her goal seems a lot smaller than she hoped. The truth is, the charm of this movie is magical and indescribable. It manages to convey sadness through light cheery innocence, to distill broken people through lovably quirky humanity, to hide dangers behind a flimsy curtain of optimistic cheery innocence, and to leave you with a feeling of both bittersweet resignation and warm hope for a broken world.

Creepy horror movie about strange things happening to the dead at the local cemetery. Famous for its deadly flying silver balls that drill into people's brains, a Tall Man who's amputated limbs have a life of their own and eventually turn into large insects, shrunken zombies, and other bizarre elements. A very imaginative b-movie that doesn't make much sense but achieved cult status thanks to its creativity and creepy atmosphere. A memorable cult classic.

Phone Box, The (La Cabina)  
Possibly the most classic, highly-regarded and loved cult short horror movie ever made. It's only strange in a light Bunuelian absurd way, but the tension keeps building until the unforgettable ending that packs a wallop. An ordinary man becomes trapped in an ordinary phone booth with amused reactions from various passersby. The situation becomes more ridiculous as time passes by. To say any more would be to ruin the movie. Watch it.

Platform, The  
Superb Spanish sci-fi-horror allegory that can only be watched as an allegory. Although it has horror elements of Cube, and Hunger from 2009 (both good movies), Cube was primarily about the sci-fi puzzle and survival, and Hunger was just survival horror. This one, however, is nothing less than a commentary about life, society and civilization. People are imprisoned in a multi-level strange prison, fed using a strict but (theoretically) very fair system where all of their required and high-quality food travels from the top level down to the lowest. Every 30 days people find themselves in a different level. Unfortunately, while the system works in theory, human behaviour within such a hierarchy ensures misery, abuse, murder and cannibalism. Some try to improve the system, others try to fight, most just make it worse. Every detail of this allegory can be understood clearly with a little thought, with an ending that is both dark and desperately hopeful which looks towards the next generation.

Possible Worlds  
Another quiet, subtle and thought-provoking wonderful metaphysical film by Robert Lepage. This one would go well as a slightly darker but more subtle companion piece to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The movie is mostly metaphysical, philosophical and intellectually romantic with only one surreal dream sequence. A bizarre murder takes place where a man's brain is stolen. At the same time, we witness a man who seems to live in multiple worlds and is very aware of it, and in each one he encounters the same intriguing woman only in different roles. This movie asks many intriguing questions about the imagination and power of the mind: If you had the power to live in infinite worlds, wouldn't you be as omniscient as God? What would life be in a world of mind unconstrained by physicality? What would happen to emotional attachments in such a world? How does one find meaning and passion under such conditions? Etc.

This is a home-made, very cerebral sci-fi movie made amazingly right. The plot is about some engineer hobbyists that try to make money by building an unusual machine. So many ideas get thrown around, and the machine's goals keep changing so often, that even they can't figure out what they put together, and soon unusual things start to happen, until they figure out that they have invented a time loop. At first, they use it for simple financial gain, beautifully taking into account minor details such as the many ways they may affect their own timeline, two cellphones with the same card existing at the same time, and leaving a car ahead of time so they can drive back home. But as they use it repetitively, the recursive permutations involving the same people going through the same short timeline noticing different details every time and trying to fix little things that have gone wrong encountering their future selves trying to change things that haven't even happened and that may not even happen, all goes over their and our heads. The techno-babble and the various repercussions of time-loops are both thrown around at a brisk pace to provoke thought without caring whether the audience can catch up or understand, and eventually, like with the more existential 'I Love You' by Resnais, something else emerges and you just enjoy the movie's metaphysical provocations at a higher intellectual level. This is like the hardcore geek version of 'I Love You' with the low-budget and intelligent feel of Pi, it is metaphysically challenging and purposely confusing, and is only suitable for people that really, really love the technical, ethical and philosophical side of time-travel conundrums. This one dives into the limitless possibilities of time travel, and isn't afraid to drown in it.

Although not as dense as Shane Carruth's movies, this is like Resnais's Je T'aime as directed by Carruth. It deals with repeating fragments of memories by a man who becomes obsessed with them, until something different emerges from the movie: An existential, thought-provoking, reality-bending experience. It's Synecdoche, New York done right without the self-loathing. This man suffers severe damage from a mysterious falling object after being there for unknown reasons with a mysterious suitcase. After a long recovery, his life without memories has become meaningless and disaffected and the remainder consists of only fragments of memories which he struggles to remember and piece together, these memories becoming his only link to life and meaning. A large financial settlement allows him to hire anyone and anything to reproduce the memories. But his obsession gradually shifts from trivial fragments to more violent events that awaken something inside him, and he goes to very extreme lengths to explore and reproduce those and get any kind of connection to life. Reality merges with staged reality, real lives become subservient to an obsession, and life becomes a quantum reality that creates itself.

Save the Green Planet  
A cult movie from Korea that stylistically mixes genres in a highly entertaining, constantly surprising package. An unstable recluse and his brooding aerialist girlfriend kidnap a CEO whom they think is an alien from Andromeda and submit him to various tortures in the belief that they are saving the planet. A police duo provide some intelligent sleuthing to track down the kidnapper. Is he insane or does his convincing encyclopedic knowledge about aliens have a factual basis? The film mixes touching drama, wacky black comedy, bloody horror, cruel violence, thrilling tension, science-fiction, demented plot twists and props, and rich scenery and cinematography which is at times a tad reminiscent of Gilliam and Jeunet. For those of you that have had enough of the relentlessly grim Korean war and vengeance cinema but enjoy the style, this early entry may be just what the doctor ordered: Uniquely insane and balanced with a human as well as a blackly humorous angle.

Six-String Samurai  
The best rock'n'roll, heroic fantasy, kung-fu, post-apocalyptic, Hong-Kong style, sword-fighting, anti-communist, campy and stylish movie ever with a guitar-strumming, glasses-wearing, ass-kicking superhero. OK so it's the only one of its kind, but it's absolutely great entertainment. The heroes and villains are mythical and almost surreal, the scenery and costumes are inspired by Mad Max but have a style of their own, and the action, music and camp comedy are all superb. This movie defies any and all categories and is superbly entertaining to boot. Definitely a cult movie waiting to be discovered by a wider audience.

Straw Dogs  
Peckinpah's most controversial and brutally violent thriller about a peace-loving American mathematician who travels to the British countryside to relax only to find that the locals are nasty bullies. They set their eye on his wife who encourages and flirts with them to annoy her husband, they fight with him about a construction job they are too lazy to complete, and start a lynching party after a local retard whom they think is a perverted animal. It all escalates quickly, pushing the American over the edge into brutal violence and intense psychological emotions that he didn't know he had in him. Features an intense, semi-cooperative rape scene that obviously annoyed the feminists. A classic. The 2010 remake is competent but inferior thanks to the weaker location and casting, and this movie simply didn't need a remake in any case.

Tears for Sale  
A blend of Jeunet's magical modern fairy-tale look-and-feel with Kusturica's earthy, lusty but wacky energy. The setting is a pseudo-mythical land of Serbia during WWI after most of the men have been wiped out, and some villages consist of only women, lust, longing and magic. Two women, who work as professional mourners, and after having a disastrous appointment with the only (old) man left in the village, are cursed and sent off to find men to bring back to the village, while the rest drink spider-brandy and literally flirt with ghosts. They find a circus strong-man and a smooth-operator Charleston dancer, bring them back after a delirious marketplace chase, and promptly fall in love, complicating matters with the village. A visual feast and a nice blend of sadness, energy, ghosts, death, overflowing lust for life, and magic that loses its way only a bit in the second half.

THX 1138  
One would never guess in a million years that this artsy sci-fi movie was made by the same man who brought us Star Wars. Its main focus is atmosphere, experimental visuals and the portrait of a futuristic dehumanized world rather than a complex plot, which simply tells the story of a man trying to escape a world where everything is mechanized, budget-driven, and efficiency-oriented, and passion is controlled with drugs. This world is occupied by strange, unsympathetic characters, driven by deeply confused but subdued neuroses, prisons are stretches of pure white without bars and walls, and people look for answers in robotic spiritual booths with canned answers. Not a popcorn sci-fi movie, and full of gripping atmosphere and enigmatic details.

Toys In The Attic  
This one is recommended primarily for older kids, but adults will get a kick out of it as well. This is Jirí Barta's masterpiece, who made many shorts but whose only full-length movie before this was his dark animated take on 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin' decades ago. One possible description of this one is Toy Story, as made by Svankmajer. It is as if a bunch of kids (and one accompanying adult that added a couple of darker touches) went into a very very old, dilapidated, dirty attic, and found mountains of very dingy toys, heaps of junk, bric-a-brac and whatnot, and created a whole world out of anything they found, and turned it into a stop-motion animation that must have taken years to create. A piece of clay with a bottle-cap for a hat becomes one character, an old plastic tube with an eyeball attached becomes a spy-snake creature, a very dirty wooden doll becomes a heroic Don Quixote character, and so on. Real bugs interact with the toys, and even the cat dresses up to become an ominous character, but when people visit the attic, the world stops. This universe is split into two realms, the friendly community of random toys, complete with an elaborate train, and the world of evil run by a tin dictator on a safe, and his minions are the grimiest, rattiest creatures, some of which look like they were pieced together from a dust-bunny and doll-legs. A trip from one 'world' to another to save poor little Buttercup becomes a long trek full of dangers. Pillows become clouds in a magical, delightfully imaginative scene, and old clothes and black material turn into flash-floods. The creativity and animation are always astounding and delightful.

Triplets of Belleville, The  
The closest comparison I can think of for this unique French animation is Bill Plympton, but only in the sense that it exaggerates familiar details and stereotypes to the point of grotesqueries, and that it has a highly idiosyncratic style. And what a magically warped, and charmingly grotesque this movie is. The story involves a little French woman, a dog that hates trains, and her boy obsessed with cycling, whom she trains until his muscled legs become five times the size of his skeletal torso. He is kidnapped by a 'French mafia' while on the Tour de France and she follows him to Belleville, a grotesque version of America, where she enlists the aid of a very eccentric performing triplet of old ladies. This a world where legs are massaged with vacuum cleaners, dogs dream of riding trains and being barked at by humans, old ladies blow up frogs with grenades for food and play music on refrigerator shelves, ships tower over the water like skyscrapers, and waiters literally bend over backwards to serve. I also liked the use of Bach and other classical pieces in the soundtrack. Endlessly surprising, amusing and highly recommended.

Uninvited Guest, The  
One of those movies where the last few minutes forces you to re-evaluate the whole movie in symbolic/surreal terms. A Spanish horror/thriller divided into two parts and a climax that warps your brain. The first part is a horror-thriller about a man who just split up with his girlfriend and who is sure that a strange man is lurking in his big house but he can't find him. This first part gets under your skin and is done very well. The second part becomes subtly bizarre as it reverses the roles, and is highly entertaining as well as unsettling. And then suddenly everything turns utterly bizarre into dream-logic, leaving you no alternative but to re-interpret the movie, especially when you realize that the same actress acts in two roles. This brilliant movie turns out to be about relationships and the fears of living with somebody and sharing your space and living habits with them, an artsy movie about living with someone with secrets, where a basement symbolizes the subconscious. A horror movie indeed.

Stone lightens up somewhat after his controversial Natural Born Killers and delivers a similarly deranged, stylistic but humorous look at the adventures of one man who takes a wrong turn. Full of over-the-top dark humor, this noir film follows the life of a man whose life just keeps getting worse and worse to the point of absurdity. He gets caught up with domestic, incestuous violence, greasy opportunist mechanics and many other strange adventures in an inbred, trashy town from hell. Twisted fun.

Wicker Man, The  
Cult classic about a Christian policeman that comes to an island inhabited by Pagans in search of a missing girl, and finds a lot more than he expected. The atmosphere, music, characters, acting, story and setting are all extremely well done, and the movie has an extraordinary and indescribable effect, etching itself permanently in your brain with a powerful ending. It offers a fascinating and unsettling look into Pagan lifestyles of old, complete with long musical episodes where the folk dance and sing joyously while performing acts of alien and barbaric religion. And yet the comparisons to Christianity provoke thought. I usually don't like musical performances in movies, but the musical set-pieces here are unforgettable and add a lot to the movie, including a popular number by a naked Britt Ekland. Chilling, fascinating, erotic, unforgettable, classic cult material.

Young Man with High Potential, A  
This is one of those movies that, although not visually extreme, make such good use of their dark content, they get under your skin and become deeply disturbing. It's only here due its ability to get under audiences' skin very effectively and it is well done. I see this one as a 'Crime and Punishment' for the computer geek or the modern lonely male. Although it obviously doesn't come anywhere close to the existential depth and unrelenting darkness of Dostoyevsky, there's a powerful theme in this movie that gives it a thought-provoking edge: The potential messed-up things that even a self-professed idealistic and smart man can do when he knows he can get away with it, especially when he is angry or emotionally distraught. That, and the mental consequences, as well as the way such things can easily spiral to dark places. A secondary theme is the way the internet and its many conveniences affect today's generation. The two protagonists of this movie are both likeable, sympathetic and realistic, even when horrible things are being done. Their only sins before the events happened are standard thoughtlessness on one end, and a lack of character on the other. The plot involves a smart but socially very awkward computer-science student that teams up with a sexy, friendly and warm girl looking for help with her paper. To say more would be to spoil the movie, but it suddenly turns from light and sweet drama, to dark and gruesome quite fast, in extremely realistic ways. There is nasty gore but it's not a gore movie, there is crime and depravity although not from a typically depraved person, and there is punishment although only if you pay close attention in the final scenes with the brilliantly insightful detective (Amanda Plummer). Although I am not sure I would come back to re-watch this one, it is underrated and recommended for at least a one-time watch.
Of Some Interest

Acción Mutante  
Mutants form a terrorist group and attack the beautiful, the rich and the aerobic instructors. Things get violent when they kidnap an aggressive mogul's daughter and run off to a planet populated by psychotic miners who haven't seen a woman in decades... Campy, violent, slightly twisted fun with an art department that went on to do Delicatessen. The crazy debut feature by Álex de la Iglesia who went on from this campy lunacy to make the superb (conventional horror) movie: The Day of the Beast.

Adjuster, The  
One of Atom Egoyan's strangest, artsy entries in his oeuvre of unconventional films. The theme seems to be about empty people living through objects, rented emotions, fantasies, and other people's lives, the value of life classified, evaluated and adjusted by insurance adjusters or cinema censorship systems. Noah goes above and beyond the call of duty to help people after a fire has taken away all of their possessions, comforting them and even giving them sex when they need it, regardless of their sexual orientation, all the while evaluating their lives through their belongings, leading his customers and motel owners to put him on a pedestal as a kind of saint. His wife evaluates films by pressing buttons, then records the deviant pornography so that an immigrant can experience what she is going through. They live in a model home with fake books, opposite billboards depicting more fake homes. Finally, a rich woman with ridiculously complex sexual fantasies involving exhibitionism and her accommodating, insane husband, take over their house and lives under the pretext of making a movie, leading to a bizarre ending that kinda makes sense once you understand the language of this movie. As opposed to the rest of Egoyan's fans however, I didn't find this particularly deep or interesting.

An amusing oddity. Most attempts to make a so-bad-its-good movie on purpose fail, but this one knows what it wants and it gets the tone right. It's a pity they didn't develop the story enough to make it interesting beyond the initial amusement however. This one models itself after goofy 50s B&W horror movies, as well as Night of the Living Dead, and it gets the look and feel just right with a straight-faced layer of silly comedy, except it uses a modern punk soundtrack which somehow adds to the amusement. An evil corporation is concocting an evil plan to infect the water and the local teenagers with huge head-zits, which turn them into semi-zombies some of the time and makes them need to rub oily food or chocolate into the zit. The whole top of their heads just turn into a popped zit and they spend the movie walking around like that, scaring the locals. But instead of developing the story, the movie gets lost in many other somewhat weird sub-plots: An army woman with an obsession over her boyfriends going bald, a gypsy fortune-teller with bad eyesight, etc.

Adult Swim Yule Log  
From the little that I have seen from Adult Swim, it's mostly a juvenile approach to all things 'adult', including its surrealism. Like overgrown kids thinking they can 'do Lynch'. This horror movie combines that with the American Horror Story approach: Throw everything and the kitchen sink together, and hope that impresses people. It starts like a joke static youtube broadcast of a yule-log burning. Then it dives into the home-invasion genre Hills Have Eyes style, a ridiculous evil object in the vein of 'Rubber', a horny teenage slasher movie, a cursed-house movie, a weird Lynchian-wannabe twilight-zone horror movie dealing with hellish fireplace time-travelling demons, a Satan-worshipping horror movie, and even a cheesy alien-abduction-tentacles movie. Throw in a couple of brief splattery gore scenes for good measure. Of course, nothing sticks, and it's all rather silly, but it'll keep you from getting distracted for its whole running time.

Alien Abduction  
A low-budget attempt at a dark Jacob's Ladder-like thriller that deals with... alien abduction. A group of teens (sigh) find themselves abducted and then entangled with a sinister government project and nasty individuals that experiment with alien semen and perform lobotomies with a blender. Some interesting nightmarish and bizarre moments, some gore, lots of bad acting that ruins the film, acceptable special effects, an interesting twist ending, and a weak final scene.

This is one of those movies that feel like an extended Twilight Zone episode, except it's one of the creaky, dated ones with dime-store, unchallenging psychology. It's also Danish and has superb production values, even though it uses shaky cameras and gritty lighting, almost like a Dogme 95 film. Zetterstrřm is a professional piano player that has lost his soul, his past locked away in a surreal 'Zone', a section of the city where he grew up that is completely blocked to the world. The powers-that-be arrange for a visitation to the Zone where he will learn Important Lessons about his past and his soul and where his Talent is stored in a jar. There is some light wry humor that pokes fun at the absurdity of the fantasy situation, but, otherwise, this is obvious, crude and unchallenging.

All the Gods in the Sky  
Modern-day French nasty somehow combines horror, transgressive dark drama, and art-house. An insane man has been 'taking care' of his severely disabled and disfigured sister for many years after a childhood accident for which he is to blame. (The sister is acted by a real-life model with a genetic disorder.) Years of guilt has driven him to fantasies of alien intercession. His care-giving involves a few disturbing practices, and his madness is rapidly deteriorating, causing alien hallucinations and bursts of violence.

All Women Are Bad  
Odd and somewhat-strange nudie movies from the 60s are a dime a dozen; Just ask the Something Weird releasing company. What makes this one stand out is it's use of light surrealism. A New York salesman having a bad day is "pulled by a voice back to civilization", but finds his wife is cheating on him. What follows is a spree of peeping on women in New York while ranting about them all being bad, the movie using his narration to explain his reactions to all the odd sex encounters he witnesses while somehow always staying a non-participant using dream-logic. There's a strange old man into feathers and feet that visits a young girl, a flamingly gay encounter, the usual fluffy light giggling S&M, strippers, horny hippies, and then there's the horny fortune-teller, and a necrophiliac. Except many of the women turn out to have his wife's face. Movie watchers will guess the twist long before the ending, and the nudie sex is standard 60s eccentric fare, but the narration, dream-logic and randomness is entertaining.

Think of this horror movie as similar to the movie 'May', except without the charm and quirk. It even has the same flaw. Alyce, who is obviously mentally unstable from the start, and her friend Carroll, are both stupid girls trying to get over Carroll's boyfriend cheating on her in an endless setup where we get to hang out with a distasteful group of youngsters. After she accidentally pushes Carroll off the roof, she makes the stupid decision to run, hide from police, feel horribly guilty, and then sell her body for drugs (what?). But this is only the beginning, and when she snaps, it's not a pretty picture. Unfortunately her personality never rings true, but the acting is good, and her psychotic, devil-may-care attitude in the second half of the movie as she starts masturbating to news footage of the Middle-East, playing deranged and violent games with lovers, flirting with necrophilia, and inventing gory ways to get rid of bodies, is a must see. And no, besides the names, and the fact that it has some colorful characters and a girl losing her mind, this has nothing to do with Alice in Wonderland.

Alma Corsária (Buccanner Soul)  
Brazilian avant-garde movie that paints a portrait of 50 years of Brazilian life through an interconnected series of dramatic, magical-realist or absurd vignettes. A man takes a suicidal man to a bar where he is celebrating a biographical book with his old friend. They tell the tales of their past since growing up in the 50s until the 90s, with characters from the past popping up in the bar as they go along. The movies and music that shaped Brazil interweave with the stories, some involving sudden violence or crime, a strange relationship with a prostitute, life in the country and in the city, the turbulent 70s where his bedroom suddenly becomes a mass of swarming red-book students and Godardesque intertitles, that all somehow turns into a sex thing. Other absurdities include a bodybuilder posing in front of the bar, a skeleton in a typing office, and people magically transported to different settings. A moderately interesting complex artsy epic.

Greek art-house movie inspired by the Greek myth of Antigone. Instead of a woman fighting an unfair system in order to bury her brother, here we get a modern day woman refusing to get involved in a surreal society that has deteriorated to creepy gangs of violent youth and violent gangs of gas-mask-wearing brutal soldiers. After turning away her brother, she is haunted by her lost innocence and honest youth, and is forcibly placed under a tree containing her dead brother. Here she ponders her choices. It's all very heavy-handed in its message and delivery and this spoils the movie, but visually and atmospherically this is a beauty.

American Fable  
Taking it's cue from 'Pan's Labyrinth' and 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' this movie depicts a difficult time in the life of an 11-year-old girl from her point of view using magical realism and very light surrealism. But whereas Pan's Labyrinth clearly separated its fantasy and real-life events and drew very deep and affecting parallels between them, this one blends the two together, is very light on the fantasy, and draws very superficial parallels between them. Gitty is a girl growing up in an American farm in the 80s which is being threatened by big business. While farms and farmers around them are losing their livelihood and lives, her family seems to be taking the fight more seriously and upping the stakes. When she encounters a man locked up in the silo who wants to grant her wishes, her innocent mind fails to absorb what is really happening, until the stakes grow really high and she is forced to grow up and make a stand for what is right. The cinematography is beautiful, and the acting is amazingly good. The light surrealism is limited to only one nightmare dream-sequence, and the hallucinative visions of a human as a devil-like creature that makes people do things they shouldn't. The theme of making a moral stand even amongst family is a strong theme, but the implementation is poor. The biggest flaw here is that people's behaviour never makes sense: A prisoner keeps asking for idiotic things that won't really help him and never states the obvious, a family member becomes psychotic against his own family for no believable reason, and the girl never even asks basic questions. But the good aspects of this movie still make this a solid one-time watch.

American Scream, The  
A family and four teenagers visit a very strange town full of various wackos and killers, a town that seems to have a vicious and insane hatred for youngsters. This was panned by almost everyone that watched it for being an incoherent and incomprehensible 80s horror movie. Besides the endless parade of strange people and bizarre acts of violence, the weirder thing is that the teens never seem to be fazed much by all the murderous mayhem, and continue with life as normal. The thing is, and I may be wrong here, it's not meant to be watched as a horror movie about a killer town. It's a surreal satire on generation gaps in a somewhat similar way to Society (expect without the splatter). Babies are viciously exploded, teenagers are hunted for sex but are also hated to the point of murder, and the local preacher is the worst of all, because it is the standard adult disgust of immoral teenage behaviour that has been transformed into surreal violence. And the teenagers are used to that. Except that teenagers also grow up and become the next generation of teenage-hating adults. So there you go: It's a surreal social commentary movie that uses horror. Whether the director intended this is another question, since the movie is still rather strange and somewhat put together.

Dutch psychological thriller/comedy about twin brothers who meet for the first time after many years at their mother's house, after which their dark, traumatic past slowly rears its head. A girl appears out of nowhere who has a thing for burning cars, a criminal dies at the dinner table to which his mother reacts with a mild criticism, and a crime boss brings along a woman who urinates on graves on command. Features a sprinkle of absurdism, a dash of psychological tension and Freudian themes, an ambiguous ending, and a speck of surrealism but none of these elements stand out and the movie doesn't quite feel original.

Anatomy of Hell  
A woman slits her wrists in a gay discotheque because 'she is a woman' then strikes a deal with a homosexual to have him visit her nightly to discuss and experience her femininity while sharing male insights as to why he finds the female body repulsive and/or powerful. So she displays her body and bodily functions, seduce each other in twisted ways, intellectually discuss sexuality as only the French can while he plays with and mildly abuses her body while trying to come to terms with his disgust. This one uses explicit pornography to explore the female body and wanders into gratuitous territory with some nasty menstruation games, but as usual with Breillat, it manages to philosophize nonsensically as well as provoke some thought.

And the Mud Ship Sails Away  
Quirky Japanese dramedy about a slacker living in a small village with his old grandmother. Most of the movie is an amusing character study, pitting the defiantly unemployed slacker against several people: There's his friend who tries to pull him back into life with several semi-misguided tactics, there's a young man who keeps knocking on his door trying to guilt him into buying handkerchiefs for charity, his ex-wife who hates him and bars him from seeing their son, and finally, a young city-girl who appears from nowhere and claims to be his half-sister from a time when his father wandered. This girl calls him for what he is and doesn't take crap from him, but all of them can't shake him from his lethargy. I said 'most of the movie' above, because, for the climax, the movie suddenly veers into the surreal and possibly a drug-trip involving hermits and aliens, with a comical, ironic and absurd ending. It feels like the director didn't know how to end and hit the self-destruct button, but the absurd and silly irony hits some kind of fuzzy and amusing target anyways.

Angel Guts Series          
The definitive Japanese Pinku series on the topic of rape. These movies straddle the border between erotica, exploitation, art and thoughtful drama. The first deals with teenage rapists as brutish animals trying to deal with their conscience and their treatment of women, one of whom has a young sister that makes things difficult for him to behave as if he doesn't care. The second deals with porn and illusion as a pornographer falls in love with an innocent-looking girl in a rape flick only to find that reality is much darker, her innocence and charm long dead as she sells herself and practically rapes customers in nymphomaniac lust. The third follows a female reporter who tracks down rape victims to document the aftermaths, and finds much more than she bargained for as victims show her their twisted lifestyles, or cower in fear and look at her like a disease as she uncovers their experiences. The fourth deals with perception and relative perversity: a girl is tricked into posing for a porn mag and suddenly finds herself stalked, used and looked down on, a guy falls for her but is confused for a local pervert by angry neighbours, and several people all practice strange fetishistic masturbations in the privacy of their own homes. The fifth tells the tale of a couple with trust issues after being raped, cheated on, abused, lied to and abused by society, who then try to build a romance (after he hits her with his car and rapes her in despair). All the movies are filmed beautifully and artistically enhanced by some dream sequences, they linger on numerous graphic sex and rape scenes but creatively hide the cruder details, the actors are all good, and the themes are explored thoughtfully.

Angels of Revolution  
Fedorchenko explores another story of a pagan tribe, this one hit hard by the Russian Revolution. Except this time instead of using magical realism, he uses fun, avant-garde, very creative art with quirky humor and rich visuals as the medium. Russian revolutionary artists are sent to convert a tribe that would much rather follow their gods than the new Soviet vision. First Polina collects her team of highly creative and unusual artists, then the film depicts their communication through art, all of which is delightfully inventive and amusing, then suddenly the movie turns dark delivering its message with a hard blow that sneaks up on you. Most of the movie consists of sketches and short playful scenes with delightfully surprising props and visuals, each with a sardonic point to make. An artistic 'radio' tunes into the message of the people, a dead owl turns out to be a relative, a church is quickly converted into a cremation factory, a composer makes music with engines and factory sounds, a tribe buries cats up in trees, a propaganda film using ethnicity imagery is projected onto smoke, etc etc. Every frame is rich, colorful and carefully composed like a Greenaway film, each prop a surprise.

Angst (AKA Schizophrenia)  
A study of a killer sociopath that belongs on the same shelf as Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. A pathetic sociopathic loser with ambitious fantasies for committing evil is released from jail and promptly goes looking for people to kill, plotting and planning but always failing to pull anything off due to his weak will and mind. After running away from a confrontation with a suspicious female taxi driver, he finds a house occupied by a lady, her mother and her retarded brother and even then, his attempts at sadistic murder become extremely messy. The camera-work is incredibly skilled as it follows him around, and the voice-over by the killer informs us of his plans, thoughts, and dysfunctional relationship with his family. Gritty, grimy and unpleasant.

A movie about zoophilia is one thing. What's really weird is how straight this Argentinian black comedy plays it. It takes the idea of a man having a passionate affair with a sheep, and just runs with it, as a deadpan comedy-horror. The sheep's eyes call him, they fall in love, there's an torrid affair in the barn, he shares his feelings and thoughts with the sheep. But then the problems start and never stop. A rapist farm-employee, discovery, his family becomes involved, he may have to commit murder and other immoral deeds to protect his love, and what if the sheep decides to cheat on him with a ram? It also contains one of the most deranged cover-ups of a murdered body ever. I can't say that this is a tasteful movie, but it does its utmost to be tasteful, except it's completely warped and witty, resulting in a hilarious movie, except you wouldn't want to tell your friends that you laughed.

Animals (Tiere)  
Polish/Swiss reality-bending mystery and relationship drama. A husband and wife with a troubled marriage go on vacation and leave a house-sitter in charge of their home. Problem is, she looks like the upstairs neighbor who may or may not be having an affair with the husband. Things get weird when they run over a sheep, and reality starts becoming quite confusing. Relationship tension is mixed with confusion, as events happen out of time and in the wrong order, numerous strange parallels develop between events on vacation and what is happening with the house-sitter at home, they are further upset by disturbing and confusing dreams of attempted murder between them, and when a cat starts psychically communicating with the wife and putting ideas into her head, things become completely derailed. For those that have watched a couple of movies of this ilk, the ending will come as no surprise, and I found the movie somewhere in between a copy-cutter, pedestrian Hollywood reality-bending mystery, and a layered, slightly more interesting, lightly-surreal European flick about a relationship. Don't expect anything deep though.

Sci-fi horror with an imaginative and interesting concept, but a very troubled implementation. A biologist finds herself joining a team that is studying and exploring a very threatening phenomenon: a shimmering area on the planet that is slowly expanding to take over the Earth, and from which people never return. What this being actually is, and its form of biological invasion is the interesting part, causing havoc with the very basis of life and re-interpreting life on Earth to suit its own purposes. The bizarre and scary encounters that the scientific team come up against are also grippingly strange and threatening in new ways. The movie is part near-surreal Tarkovsky, part Hollywood action and horror, part indie sci-fi. The primary flaw, however, is the way humanity deals with this phenomenon, always in the most brainless and ridiculously idiotic way possible. And this happens throughout the movie many dozens of times, starting with the fact that the 'military' that is studying this threat seems to consist of a handful of clueless, depressed people that don't take even the most minimal precautions, and ending with the constantly irrational ways the team behave. This flaw is fatal, as it is constantly distracting and unrealistic. The ending is also unsatisfying, and the flashbacks are banal, as if they were shoehorned in just to fill in a quota. In addition, while Portman is, as usual, reliably good here, her partner for the movie seems heavily medicated, as is Jennifer Jason Leigh. In summary, it feels as if the film-maker took some solid ideas from the book, fiddled with it based on what he thought would be cool and necessary for the movie, and kept fiddling with it to make it into a primarily visual and atmospheric experience, not paying attention to the fact that it stopped making sense a long time ago.

Anonymous Queen, The  
Strange, sometimes slightly surreal farce by Gonzalo Suárez about a housewife having a very strange day. It starts with a dream about faucets left running and a strange person knocking at the door, then it turns into reality as one strangely dressed person after another pops up in her house. People appear, disappear, there's a murder, the victim may or may not be alive, people in raunchy costumes appear for a sex party, there's a painter, a television with a mind of its own, etc. all somehow related to anger against men or her husband, and sex. Is it all in her mind? But surprises and odd events turn out to have perfectly normal explanations, then again, the normal explanations run out of steam and it becomes an absurd fantasy involving queens and special powers. Or does it?

Ambitious low-budget metaphysical-buddhist-sci-fi flick. A grounded, thoughtful young man discovers what appears to be a video camera that shows him other lives, the past and some possible futures, which gradually alters his perception of reality. Dangers also appear, insanity, and it is discovered that previous owners of this object may have died. Metaphysics, perception, the power of the mind, transcendence, and similar concepts are thrown around, as the young man rises through levels of enlightenment while being jailed for a crime. The first half of this movie is intriguing and promises good metaphysical sci-fi, but then it unravels with a mish-mash of new-age mumbo-jumbo and muddled writing, hoping that something grander will emerge by throwing together random Asian characters and random cliched concepts of mental powers, reincarnation, astral projection, flying, subjective perception and how reality affects and stagnates our abilities. The actors are either bland, or poor, and the dialogue tends to become unnatural and pretentious. Top marks for ambition, above-average marks for making the movie look good despite the low budget, low marks for implementation details and muddled new-age claptrap in the second half.

Arrival of Joachim Stiller, The  
A very strange thriller/mystery/horror movie that revels in the inexplicable and unknown. A writer, some friends and associates are haunted by the continuous presence of the mysterious Joachim Stiller. Letters arrive with impossible knowledge, proof of Joachim's existence from different times in history, prophecies, mysterious bell music, omens and messages. Joachim can be interpreted alternatively as God, a guilt complex, a prophet of the apocalypse, a conspiracy, a time traveller, the second coming, a supernatural being, a magician, an illusion. Intertwined with this mystery are the lives of the protagonists, their love affairs, and a hilarious story of a deranged, old bathroom-graffiti pervert who is grabbed and promoted as a new visionary artist and bribed with whores. A very well-done and intriguing movie, but I'm not sure what to make of it.

Mexican version of Mad Max, with Iggy Pop and an emphasis on dark characters and strange events rather than action entertainment. The future consists of huge megapolis cities with the desert area in between ruled by local despots with their police or anarchy. Advanced gadgets mix with isolation and depravity such as a 150 year old judge (kept alive with machines) with a taste for young boys, and a priest who lectures against modern science in public and has flings with two S&M whores and a dog in private. One man tries to escape from this life with dire consequences.

Atom Heart Mother  
Very unusual Iranian movie that is basically a dream turned into a movie. Like many dreams, there is a lot of nonsense, strange characters with a heavy psychological meaning and weight, a bit of completely absurd dream-logic, and most importantly: that feeling of mysterious dread where you can feel it but don't understand it, yet. Two airhead modern girls leave a party and drive through the city talking about various silly subjects while providing some sly social commentary on Iranians. There is reference to an absurd situation where Ahmadinejad was providing money to the citizens but causing ATM machines to stop working during that time. Various people join them in the car, including a hipster and a strange cop with a wacky sense of priorities. An accident, and a charming but dominant man steers the night towards something more evil and strange, including possible encounters with the devil, an alternate world and Saddam Hussein. There's a general feeling of the powers that be always existing and dominating their life from right around the corner. Like a dream, it just stops after an absurd but tense encounter, leaving you with the mystery and dread. Very light, barely-there surrealism, but effective.

Atomik Circus  
Another crazy French genre-blender that mixes a musical (the seductive Vanessa Paradis acts and sings), sci-fi, gore and romance. A stunt-man has the hots for a local country girl with vocal talents but her protective father puts him in jail. A sleazy talent scout finds his way to the village and sets his eyes on her, but so do some violent flying aliens who enjoy decapitating and impregnating humans. Chaos ensues while another local talent makes a dog howl musically by fingering its wound. Entertaining and nicely filmed but feels unfinished and has way too much singing.

Spanish rumination on death that feels like an Italian mondo complete with 70s soundtrack, filmed as a drama. A journalist wounded in Vietnam continues his thirst for answers after witnessing raw death and birth in the war. He conducts interviews with various experts and asks people in the street what they think of death in preparation for his book, but of course, not many people have interesting things to say and most ignore it or have unrealistic attitudes about it. This is mixed with some poetry and quotes recited by various characters, drama over a sudden death of a young man and his family, and drama over marriage and various people who forget to live. But all this is just decoration over the centerpiece, which is a real human autopsy in graphic detail intercut with all of the above that the journalist watches and films for his book, and which this movie treats as a life-changing experience. Of some interest only.

Autopsy of a Ghost  
Bizarre, completely wacky and silly fantasy-comedy from Mexico for fans of nutty bad movies only. A ghost, and his own walking-talking skeleton who keeps trying to dig himself out, is finally judged by God and given one last chance to redeem himself if he makes one woman out of four fall in love in him to the point of self-sacrifice. To this task, the devil himself is given the job of bringing women to his haunted abode and he recruits some odd families, luring them to the castle with the promise of money, playing games with them and pitting them against each other. There's a silly gag and surprise every other minute, with a mad inventor, a robot grandmother, a retractable tail, a reduction chair that makes the devil splatter sulfur, many women in bikinis, Christmas trees as disguises, rain that literally falls in buckets, beatnik juries, a man-child that speaks in a tiny voice, special agents and much more.

Babylon: In Bed with the Devil  
German sexual horror with a surprise-surreal twist. A nurse ignores her better judgment when she gets involved with a confident con-man and skirt-chaser. In the meantime, women are arriving at the hospital with bizarre and painful pregnancies that end quite nastily, and a blind and desperate female patient with cancer keeps hitting on her. Matters escalate, the con-man seduces more and more women, while she tries to dig herself out of the trouble she finds herself in and get away from the devilishly overpowering jerk, leading to a surreal twist.

Baby, The  
Cult, grindhouse, politically-incorrect horror about motherly love gone horribly and twistedly wrong. A welfare worker becomes interested in a case of a grown man still acting like a baby, in diapers, unable to speak or walk and under the care of a mother and her two grown daughters. The acting is chillingly superb, the characters are never stupid, and the movie makes its case well, making for some disturbing, plausible horror, up until the surprising twisted consequence-free ending that disappointingly makes the movie lose its plausibility.

Bad Milo!  
Imagine a version of Henenlotter that likes to stick things up his butt, directing Gremlins after watching The Brood. This is a movie that, right after having watched it and picked your jaw off the floor, you may find yourself wondering why the hell you just enjoyed a movie about a butt monster. This feels like a comedy-horror throwback to the 80s in a good way, except it's about a man whose alter ego is a creature that lives in his stomach. This vicious-cute demon has a.... unique doorway to the world which provides ongoing jokes for the movie that are somehow both juvenile and amusing. And they somehow snagged Warburton, Root and a couple of other good actors for this one. There's awkward comedy over his mother's way-too-active sex life, office humor straight out of Office Space, one gratuitously splattery scene involving a penis, and sessions with a crazy shrink that just keep getting funnier. My favorite line: "I had a monster up my ass. This is the furthest thing from a metaphor!".

Bad Timing  
A dark, intelligent and intense study of obsessions in relationships and clashing personalities. A self-possessed, pedantic, jealous and passive-aggressive professional psychologist gets caught up with a free-spirited, neurotic, flirtatious, spontaneous and self-absorbed woman. They are drawn to each other as only opposites can, each needing and lustfully attracted to what the other has, their relationship rapidly becoming unhealthy and obsessive from both ends until the final twisted ending. A third obsessive character is provided by the stern and pedantic detective who tries to piece together what led to her attempted suicide shown at the beginning of the movie. The structure is superbly non-linear and carefully edited together, the characters are intensely familiar, extremely well-drawn and realistically twisted and Roeg pulls no punches, thus receiving criticism from people who can't stand seeing such insightful exposure. The overly-explicit and nasty ending always ruins it for me however, not feeling completely in-tune with the rest of the characterization, and ending on a note of pointless nastiness rather than insight or dark catharsis.

Bag Boy Lover Boy  
This movie starts off with great promise, featuring colorful and unusual character interaction, then deeply disappoints when it squanders it all away for a very banal and never believable serial-killer plot development. Albert works at a hot-dog stand, and is a strange guy both inside and out. Mentally deficient in many ways, quirky, but with his own character and opinions, and he knows how to stand his ground. He also has bizarre sexual fantasies. When a transgressive-art photographer (that could only come from New York) decides to make him his muse for some violently-themed erotica photographs, his sexual fantasies take a highly bizarre and twisted turn. While the photographer tries to exploit everyone under the sun, Albert has his own ideas... The tone is gritty, like an old-school movie about the underbelly of NY, and it is somehow both twisted and humorous, and, as mentioned, the characters are superb. But then... that happens. And then it ends.

A Pasolini-esque mythical tale that is probably a metaphor for Serbian-Croatian Yugoslavia of old and its politics, but I am not knowledgeable enough to decipher it. On an island that floats, the leader is an old captain constantly awaiting death who always holds up a picture of himself as a young man, there are dozens of black-clothed crones always hovering in the background, there's a priest, a sailor, an older woman with desperate lusts, a young man, and various other characters that all seem to represent something. There's also a law that says that people are not responsible for their actions during a depressing storm. When a beautiful and mysterious woman arrives by boat, she creates havoc, with all the men lusting after her, the women chasing and hating her, as she stirs up dark secrets like greed and lust in the priest's home, a pregnancy, and deep confused desires from the dying captain. She only seems to get along with the laid-back young man who plays with her. The natives sing traditional song, the atmosphere is earthy and mythical, all leading to a violent metaphorical climax.

Beyond Dream's Door  
Low-budget amateurish horror movie but with a decent script, sometimes reminiscent of Nightmare on Elm Street. A college boy's nightmares start blending into reality, the scenes strung together in a sequence like real life, and people and objects from real life changing, dying and coming back to life. He involves his psychology professor and some teacher assistants only to put them in danger. Somewhat entertaining and interesting, but contains weak acting and rubbery gore and monsters. Brain Dead did it better.

Big Empty, The  
This one is like a road movie spliced with an alien conspiracy from Twilight Zone as directed by Coen Brothers. The result is mild fun, quirky and entertaining, but it also feels like it's trying too hard to be weird. An aspiring actor is manipulated by a strange neighbour who knows his masturbation practices, to go on a mission to deliver a blue suitcase to a cowboy. Along the way he meets many odd characters and is asked to do odd things, until the oddest finale. It has fun with clues and meaningless cross-references like the number 11, sperm and neck band-aids, but this is the equivalent of putting together a lot of puzzle pieces only to find that the final picture is one big blank, a journey that the protagonist also seems to go through. Score one for the Zen-like movie title, except that it isn't satisfying in the slightest. The moral? Don't leave sperm samples lying around.

A Spanish experimental movie that feels like a poor man's version of Hiroshima, Mon Amour. This is a jazzy, stream-of-consciousness movie, due to its loose structure of flashbacks, voice-overs and inner thoughts, as well as due to its score. Like Hiroshima, the subject matter is its flaw, in this case yet another self-obsessed but internally dead woman who leads a successful life of actress, mother of three and rich wife, and who is so bored that she spends her time obsessing over her affair with a frustrated artist who constantly tries to provoke her into coming alive. Flashbacks weave together with other flashbacks often involving hurtful things he said to her, to the point where we are not sure if she is projecting these conversations only within her mind, the games and tension between them devolving into a tedious game of counting numbers while awaiting each other. Dead architecture is portrayed as more alive than she is, and his frustration and blocked writing makes him try increasingly desperate acts. Mostly tedious and frustrating, if only because the movie succeeds in its experimental editing and structure to evoke a mind devoid of interest clinging to others for its source of blood.

Birds Without Feathers  
Odd, very fragmented, experimental movie about very broken interactions between people where everyone seems to be lacking an identity and is trying on different identities or having trouble with their self presentation and no-one seems quite real. There's one woman who puts on outfits and personalities depending on who she meets, dancing for them. Another one is only preoccupied with her image and selfies for Instagram, even combining parts of herself with posters. There's a motivational speaker who has no confidence, a stand-up comedian with stage fright, a foreigner with an obsession for becoming an American and a big fan of Jeff Goldblum even though he doesn't seem to know what Jeff looks like, a lying nurse who has a very bad connection with the elderly at the old-age home where she works. The movie consists of snippets of interactions, many of them suddenly cruel, other times just full of whimsy. Sometimes they do bizarre things like dig a hole in the desert, socially. Truth is, I didn't know what to make of all this and hated it. It felt like actors acting out abstract experiments in disconnected pseudo-social interactions. Or, if you prefer, a kind of z-generation version of Todd Solondz. Then towards the end I figured out how to interpret this: It's people acting in real life as they do on the internet, trying on identities, posing for others, partaking in broken snippets of communication attempts, having fantasy-identity sex, interacting with fake celebrities, pretending to be social masters but not having a clue, etc. I can't say it provided insight, but that's my take on it.

Bird Talk  
Based on a script by Andrzej Zulawski and directed by his son, this messy movie combines a father's themes with the son's incoherent over-the-top approach to making social commentary on Poland's extremes. There's a literature teacher and poet with a famous film-maker for a father having an existential crisis, standing in for Xawery Zulawski. A musician with leprosy is loved by a blue-collar girl working for a depraved rich couple. A violent painter only has one eye, thus completing the trio of handicapped artists lost in a broken society that is going to extremes and superficiality. And, in its most compelling and coherent story-line (were the others altered?), a history teacher is bullied by fascist students into becoming a violent fascist himself. For the most part, this film doesn't have any of the primal expression of Andrzej and the unique performances he gets out of his actors, although the characters are generally over-the-top and often use that fragmented, tiring, free-association non-sequitur mouthpiece dialogue that plagued 'Snow White And Russian Red'. And, after a nice segment that pays a homage to Andrzej's films, one woman tries her hand at a Zulawski-esque primal breakdown but doesn't pull it off. There is also an amusing clash between a sensitive young person and the film 'Possession'. Most of the bizarreness takes place in the last few segments, as the characters turn to mindless violence and robbery to achieve their dreams, only to die within or turn against each other in confusing behaviour, leading to a surreal meta-ending. Throughout the film, I couldn't help but imagine what this would have looked like if Andrzej had directed it. A mess, with some points of interest.

Birthday, The  
Unique, cult, Spanish, Lynchian-horror movie with Corey Feldman as a very prominent lead, somehow carrying the movie in a strange, Jerry-Lewis-esque nasal performance. Most of the movie is quite normal, actually, but it builds up slowly for a very overwhelming ending. Norman is a weak loser in love with a rich girl who barely seems to be able to stand being with him. He joins her for her father's birthday party in a strange retro-hotel straight out of Barton Fink, and spends the evening trying to talk to her while trying to avoid embarrassing her. But strange things are afoot with the waiters, and people keep ending up dead, while some madman keeps giving him instructions on how to stop an apocalyptic cult-ritual. The climax blends ear-splitting sound, silence, complete chaos, and very strange and incomprehensible goings-on, as all hell breaks loose and Norman tries to stop it with increasingly desperate measures. Reminiscent of Miracle Mile in how it starts as a regular movie gradually increases the chaos for an explosive ending, leaving you wondering when and how it turned surreal.

Black Journal (AKA Gran Bollito)  
If anyone had told me Max von Sydow had a campy role in drag, I wouldn't believe it until I saw it with my own eyes. And this is only one of the elements that makes this Italian movie kinda weird. Shelley Winters delivers another unhinged performance loosely based on a real-life female serial-killer during WWII, who seems a normal, pleasant and helpful neighbour on the outside, but has convinced herself that she has a deal with Death after 12 miscarriages, and must regularly kill people as sacrifices. She doesn't just kill, however, she converts every part of their bodies into something useful, including soap and medicine, and converts her kitchen into a factory. She also has a disturbing, overly-protective and near-incestuous relationship with her one son and does everything to keep women and other dangers away from him. Her mentally challenged assistant and disabled husband complete the picture of her highly-controlled domain. Sydow is not the only drag-queen here, and the movie also revels in drag camp, drama and music for no particular reason.

Black Rose Is an Emblem of Sorrow  
Art-house Russian film that attempts to capture the zeitgeist of Perestroika through a collection of eccentric character archetypes that are portrayed with almost Fellini-esque delirium. It all takes place in an apartment building complex joined by roofs, and even the film's budget constraints are used to take a jab at governmental constraints. The general feel is of a society lost in a transitional state, both nostalgic but glad to see the old system go, and going out-of-control with the possibilities of the new. I am sure much of this went over my head, but I still got a feel for the society through the hodge-podge of anecdotes, random musings, whimsical song and dance, and the many interactions between the characters. There's a madman into drugs and alcohol, a modern man that takes his business and relationships to uncharted but chaotic territories, a female academic escaping the pressures of her family and her studies, a young boy inheriting traditional culture and money, and various other visitors, including a violent fascist, and man mourning for the loss of the past and his children. There is a lot of partying and acting out, touches of magical realism, a few absurd stories about Stalin and Brezhnev and their physical decline, a surreal dream sequence, and one character even joins the party straight from a dream. The eccentric ramblings and antics do wear out their welcome, but there is a social commentary here for those want to tune in. The second in a trilogy that started with the more conventional but cult movie Assa.

Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre  
From the maker of Men Behind the Sun comes another harrowing look at Japanese atrocities during WWII, this time in Nanking where a planned massacre took place. The numbers of murders, rapes, sadistic brutalities, and various inhumanities against civilians including women and children are all shown one after another including infamous scenes where a soldier rips out a fetus from a woman on his bayonet and some child rape and murder. It's a mixed bag, some scenes seem over-the-top and even exploitative in their indifferent and rapid delivery, others are disturbing and have a documentary feel, and others, like the massive burning of bodies, are powerful.

Blind Owl, The (1992)  
This has nothing to do with the classic Iranian novel as far as I can tell, except only in terms of vaguest references (see Raoul Ruiz). In fact, by setting it in a realist rent-boy drama setting, it arguably goes against that novel's themes. On its own terms, this is an idiosyncratic gloomy drama with realist settings, theatrical deadpan performances, and very light surreal touches. It portrays the life of a rent-boy, family and friends, including a pretty young teenage girl who also prostitutes herself. He takes his dead-end, desperate lifestyle in stride, encountering various perverts and clients with strange fetishes, doing their bidding best he can with a deadpan expression, in the same way that he takes a random violent beating in the bathroom. Violent pimps visit his house in search of his female friend, and everyone ignores his frequent smashing of windows as if it's nothing. He also makes a living caring for and serving an eccentric and abrupt blind man who has other strange friends that care for him as well. He cares for his mother who is sick and dying. And his father seems completely detached and purposely oblivious as to what his son is doing. Suicides are brief surreal events, the rent-boy hangout and pickup location is like a Felliniesque fetish circus, the drama is frequently interrupted by folk-music performances, and when death hits him, surreal poetry suddenly erupts in a brief visual scene (the only scene that feels inspired by the novel).

A strange, condensed movie that could easily have been made into a long mini-series given its amount of plot and characters. Harry Joy, who loves to tell stories, has a heart attack, dies and comes back to life, and finds that his life has turned into a hellish mockery of his old one, which drives him mad. His wife is cheating on him with an accountant, his daughter is giving sexual favors to her brother for drugs, his business accounts are using carcinogenic products, an elephant sits on his car, and he has to tell stories to stop getting beaten up by the police. He falls for a new-age vegetarian prostitute with an obsession for honey, and so on and on. This is also a strange magical world where people blow themselves up to get attention, fish falls out of a woman's skirt as a symbol of her infidelity, and men have visions of cockroaches coming out of their chest after heart surgery. The movie doesn't feel like it takes the time to develop themes, but it does entertain with its offbeat storytelling.

Blood Dolls  
An exceptionally creative piece of camp from Full Moon that almost deserves cult status thanks to its bizarre characters. Travis is a mutant product of genetic engineering at war with his business competitors. He employs an ordained assassin that wears clown makeup, a dwarf, shrunken humans that have been transformed into killer dolls, and a female rock band, the members of which he keeps in a cage and electrifies when he wants to hear a tune. His nemesis is a manipulative dominatrix for whom Travis has a soft spot. Will the two evils join forces or die a horrible death? Campy, interesting, offbeat fun.

Bloody Knuckles  
Entertainingly trashy and inventive comedy from Canada. Travis is a comic-book 'artist' who makes a living drawing deliberately offensive comic books called 'Vulgarian Invasions' that target anyone and everyone. When he pisses off the wrong person, some henchmen come to chop off his hand, except it turns out it was the hand that was the alpha male in the relationship and the hand comes back for revenge and to kick Travis's life back into shape with some well-placed finger-penetration and offensive drawings. When things get out of hand, a gay S&M super-hero inspired by the comic-books joins the fight. Ultra-violence and gore ensue. The messages about censorship and freedom via offensive material is silly childish stuff, but the movie itself is fun with a little bit of everything for exploitation fans.

Bloody Wednesday  
Somewhat undervalued fun crime-horror from the 80s about a very unstable man descending into madness and violent thoughts. Unable to cope and plagued by endless hallucinations and fantasies involving the various people in his life, he, and we, can't tell fact from fiction. He creates complex fantasy interactions with the people he knows, as well as invents new people to talk to, while his teddy bear gives him advice. When he moves into an abandoned hotel, this goes beyond The Shining as he interacts with ghosts and violent intruders, and we never know who is real for most of the movie. Based on a real-life shooting.

Bomb Was Stolen, A  
Dialogue-free comedy from Romania that starts and ends with satire and comical surrealism, and presents a fun farce with slapstick in between. The farce involves a goofy caper where a mob gang steal an atomic bomb, and an oblivious bystander becomes involved, carrying the bomb for most of the movie. Much comedy emerges from everyone knowing about the bomb except him. The military (wearing buckets), the mob and our Tati-esque hero frequently engage in side-plots involving love interests (angel wings are used in comical ways) and goofy parties. The opening and ending involve satirical portrayal of the military, and a surreal solution for nuclear power. Sometimes funny, mostly just fun.

An extremely divisive as well as extremely misunderstood Swedish movie. It's also that type of movie where the less you know about it going in, the better. Trust me. Which makes reviewing this film difficult as well. It is in the fantasy genre. And I am going to compare it to Unbreakable, only in the sense that it approaches a fantasy topic in a brand new and extremely intimate and personal way. And no, it has nothing to do with superheroes, or mutants. You should understand this comparison after you watched it and thought about it and realized that it is a very simple movie. Most reviews couldn't get past its first-impression weirdness and repulsive and bizarre scenes of people doing gross and mutated things. But it's not weird at all, just a basic fantasy-folklore trope shown in a new light which will make sense if you don't know anything about it when you watch it and can go along with the idea of folklore in real life. I just wish it had more story that didn't rely so much on alarming its audience. It's well done, it's unforgettable, it has amazing acting and make-up, but prepare to be challenged in a squirmy way.

A movie that starts out as a heist comedy and then just piles on the absurdities until it becomes insane. This one is so comfortable with and proud of its stupidity, silliness, and camp that it gets drunk on it and celebrates its silly outrageousness. So, although it is a stupid movie, I could not take my eyes off the screen, was very entertained, and when it ended, I just kept on laughing. Unfortunately, one has to wade through a half-dozen painfully fake accents and silly acting, and this for me was the movie's fatal flaw. The story involves an unlucky thief who is sent to Russia to steal a valuable ancient cross, but gets in over his head with some very inept and strange characters in a hostage situation and matters escalate when they start getting killed barbarically. To tell more would be to ruin it, but the spiked-booby-trap with disco music scene is priceless. Recommended to watch at least once, if you can get through the accents that is, and can accept the movie for what it is.

Bothersome Man, The  
Enigmatic Norwegian absurdity about a man who finds himself on a strange bus in a wasteland, then in a materialistic-utopia-city where everyone gets what they need. Wounds and death have a way of disappearing, but everything is tasteless and lacking passion. Even sex and women are cold and joyless. When real music and smells emerge from a crack in the wall, he starts digging, much to the annoyance of the city-dwellers. A superb movie, if only there was some way to approach or understand it. Attempted theories to explain aren't adequate: It can't be hell because of the ending, it can't be purgatory because there is no soul-cleansing going on, it can't be a satire or morality tale on modern lifestyles or the joy of living because of the strong supernatural aspects. The beginning suicide is misleading because it re-appears in the middle, and the ending is impenetrable. Unforgettable, but confusing.

Boy and his Dog, A  
The first half is a moderately interesting post-apocalyptic snippet of life where it's everyone for himself and where women get hunted and raped regularly. A man communicates telepathically with his dog who teaches him history, English (yes, the dog is the teacher) and comments cynically about the man's hormones while helping him sniff out target females and rivals. The second half is a great satire on controlled society and empty-headed sheep as the man goes underground (Morlocks?) and gets kidnapped in order to inseminate their brides. The surprising blackly humorous ending makes it all worthwhile. A cult classic with consistent characters that put extreme practicality and misogyny above such mundane things as manipulative 'love' (and that's putting it mildly).

Boys in the Trees  
Australian thoughtful coming-of-age drama-horror hybrid. At first it seems like it's going to be yet another teenagers-in-supernatural-peril-during-Halloween movie, but it grows more mysterious and thoughtful as it goes. Corey is part of a gang of skater teenagers that run around wildly on Halloween, often performing cruel tricks or bullying other people, especially when it comes to their favorite victim Jonah. But Corey has second thoughts about who he is, and his gentle father and female friend are influential. A walk and a dare become mysteriously spooky, the past, the present and some scary elements weave together in scenes that are part fantasy, part 80s horror, part surrealism, part symbolism. Not as deep as I would have liked, but a somewhat interesting movie for a teenage audience.

Bubble Bath (Habfürdö)  
Unique psychedelic Hungarian animation. The story is a piffling romantic musical comedy about a man who visits a lovelorn Anna and who falls heads over heels for her, except he is already engaged and wants to break it off. But the reason to watch this is for the animation style which is extremely rich and varied, using every animation style under the sun. Characters morph their sizes, shapes, clothes and colors all the time to suit the mood of the scene, dialogue or song, all of which adds a light element of surrealism in this sense. There is lots of psychedelia, effects super-imposed onto the negative, artistic impressions, etc etc.

Bunny and the Bull  
A quirky movie by Paul King, director of Mighty Boosh, reminiscent of the works by Gondry. An obsessive, socially-challenged man is in his flat where he has locked himself up for a year, collecting every useless thing he owns or produces in neatly labelled boxes that stack up to the ceiling. He reminisces a trip he went on with his friend who is the complete opposite: A loud-mouthed, confident, skirt-chasing, laid-back, anything-goes, party man. The trip is filmed surrealistically as memories and postcards, with almost everything in the scenery made of photographs or household items, and the locations are often linked to rooms or furniture in his house. This is done very nicely and artistically, giving the movie a unique look. We learn of their friendship and its developments in stages, mostly through wacky adventures that include matador practices, many gambling games involving dangerous or outrageous activities, a crazy homeless man that uses his pet dogs for milk and other purposes, a Swiss woman with a pet stuffed bear, and so on. The dramatic payoff at the end is pretty good, but the writing, casting and the comedy in general feel more like wacky, juvenile sketches role-played by British comedians rather than anything witty, satirical and fleshy. Fun and entertaining, but not great.

Buster's Mal Heart  
Derivative and predictable mind-bender film in terms of its concept and goal, but a semi-interesting journey until it gets there. Buster is a man who seems to have gone off the deep end, living off-grid, except he also breaks into people's homes and lives there as well, telling people about the 'great inversion' and babbling conspiracy gobbledygook. His story is told in non-linear fashion in several timelines. His dead-end job at a hotel working nights brings him a strange conspiracy freak who will change his life. Comparing this movie to its obvious sources would give away the twist, but most experienced movie-goers should be able to predict where it's going. However, most of the movie is a mildly interesting drama about a deeply troubled family man, and then it just throws several reality-bending loops towards the end that change the movie. Watchable, but nothing inspired. It also didn't help that I dislike the actor.

This French-Canadian filthy, gross-out comedy should be billed together with Stone's U-Turn. A man with a serious lack of hygiene starts the movie by killing his depressed alcoholic mother in his car while she puts her mouth around the gun on his lap, then he gets his finger stuck in a bullet hole in his car. That should be enough to tell you what this movie is about. What follows is a farce with his celebrity sister and many misunderstandings involving the wrong dead bodies, eccentric cops, lots of pigs, a cellar, raw sewage, some wacky criminals, and incest. Oh, and he has a talent for spinning on the head of his penis. Filthy entertainment.

Calamari Union  
Kaurismäki's experiment in absurdism features about 15 men all named Frank who go on an impromptu quest to reach a utopia called Eira where, supposedly, riches and happiness abound. What happens next is a free-form improvisational piece as they hop onto various vehicles, commit random crimes, discuss various topics, keep bumping into other Franks up in trees, on streets or other odd places, try to commit suicide, are murdered for absurd reasons, perform crazy acts in attempts to reach their goal, or keep getting distracted and detoured by their need for women, food and drink. A somewhat amusing surreal satire on living a constantly moving, surprising and absurd life with obvious metaphors of unreachable goals and distractions.

Caller, The  
A man calls on a woman in her house in the woods and right away they seem to be playing games with each other. Making up excuses and motives that may or may not be fiction, aggressively finding logical faults in each other's words and stories, things often turn violent and chaotic, they scare each other, try to kill each other, etc. Most of the movie is dialogue that keeps you guessing. What's odd about this one is the truly surprising and bizarre twist ending, and the fact that nothing makes much sense even after it's done. Interesting and unusual.

Camping Cosmos (AKA The Sexual Life of Belgians 2)  
A slightly surreal satirical sequel that explores the life of a more mature Jan Bucquoy who is trying to teach culture, art, debates and Marxism to a group of vacationing Belgians on a beach. At the same time, he has to mend a relationship with his resentful thirteen year old daughter. Problem is, all they're interested in is sex, sports, food, singing, hoola-hoops and Tintin. The campers fight, have sex with Lolo Ferrari who has monstrous breasts and can only orgasm when Tintin is read to her, writers get a pie in the face, a government representative has an unhealthy attraction to young girls's dolls, an autistic young man paints provocative statements on the caravans, and terrorism is taught to children.

This film takes the concept of a 'safe space' to its utmost extreme. A couple with some baggage in their lives from a recent bad experience both find each other, lock themselves up in their flat, and get lost in juvenile fantasies ignoring the world outside as best they can. Childish games gradually deteriorate to malnutrition, madness, hallucinations, animalistic behaviour straight out of Lord of the Flies, and a severe case of losing oneself in one's bad thoughts with no healthy distraction whatsoever. This includes hard love from an overbearing parent. And where one of them goes, the other follows in acts of extreme dependency. The actor lost 55 pounds for this role. It's a disturbing experience of a downward spiral into a very unhealthy form of isolated pseudo-happiness that is so prevalent nowadays, and is done quite well.

Cannibal Mercenary  
Thai war move that attempts to blend violent war with gruesome cannibal movies but it only partially lives up to its reputation. The plot involves Thai soldiers in Vietnam sent to kill an insane, brutal group of Vietnam soldiers turned cannibals (sound familiar?). Most of the movie is non stop violent and brutal shooting or fightings, some torture, and some short nasty scenes of head impaling, eye-gouging, chest impalement, worm and brain eating, and urinating. Violently entertaining and pretty well done for the most part as far as Asian b-movies go.

This is a Tom Hardy crime movie. That's all really one has to say. He's like Nicolas Cage in the sense that almost every one of his performances is a suitcase full of eccentric mannerisms, twitches, voice-acting and make-up/costumes that straddle the border between brilliant and absurdly over-the-top scene-chewing, or both at once. Some of his performances are great, others, like this one don't really resemble a real person, yet one has to admire the craft, detail and energy that goes into it, and it is mesmerizing. This movie also has an approach to Capone that turned most people off: It is the ultimate anti-glamorous statement about famous crime bosses. It depicts Capone in his last year, released from prison suffering from full on dementia from syphilis and a stroke, and literally crapping his pants. His dementia is portrayed using free-flowing dream-logic hallucinative mish-mash of his past exploits, and random repressed inner reactions to everything that has happened in his life, as his life catches up with him at the last minute. One scene has him machine-gunning his household with a gold machine gun while chomping on a carrot and wearing a diaper. And you're not sure it's really happening. It's not a good movie with something to say or a story to tell, but the approach to crime is somewhat refreshing. And, of course, it's another Tom Hardy experience.

Cargo 200  
Balabanov's (Of Freaks and Men) darkest and most demented movie by far. This is a portrayal of Russia from when it was about to break up, and the movie reminds us twice, at the beginning and end of the movie, that this is based on true events. The events take place in a town that is the recipient of 'Cargo 200', a continuous shipment of dead bodies from the war with Afghanistan. The police are corrupt and absolute, and suspected criminals are shot brutally in the most unexpectedly offhand and meaningless manner. There is an alcoholic dreaming of a new utopia he calls City of the Sun, and he has an angry religious and moral debate with a professor who doesn't believe in God or the soul. A young daughter of a politician finds herself in an unfriendly farm, visited by an insane cop, who, as soon as he sees her, promptly kills a Vietnamese worker and proceeds to humiliate and rape the girl, then kidnaps her and takes her to his mother's house where even more unbelievably demented things happen concerning dead bodies. The whole situation is so absurd, it feels like a pitch black comedy, except, the movie reminds us, it is based on true events.

Carnival of Souls  
A revered classic of low-budget, atmospheric horror from 1962 that obviously influenced George Romero. It was made independently with cheap, guerrilla movie-making tactics, and was obscure for a while, yet gained a cult-status, and has since then become a popular classic. Although it is often described as a surreal movie, this only refers to its very effective oneiric atmosphere, and not due to any surrealistic content. It actually only makes use of supernatural-otherworldly horror, and would look right at home as an episode in the Twilight Zone series exactly as is. The story involves a woman who suffers a car accident, climbs out of the river in shock, and proceeds to try to continue living her isolated lifestyle as a lonely church organist. Except nothing is quite right, and the people around her are unable to help her solve the mystery of the ghoulish people that haunt her. Her reality often turns into a creepily quiet world. Cinema-goers will obviously guess the plot soon enough, but this was a pioneer in this sub-genre. The soundtrack is a very effective loud pipe organ, and the cinematography is a beautiful B&W, both contributing to the atmosphere. Despite some cheesy old-school horror moments, if you watch it in the right mood, you will feel that you dreamt it.

Casual Relations  
Mark Rappaport's debut is rough around the edges, an experimental film featuring a series of vignettes observing neurotic people in absurd social or anti-social situations, all of them with some kind of psychological problem of social awkwardness or detachment. It's artsy and can get lost in its own whimsical cinematic experiments, but it's also playful fun and subtly sardonic. Most of it is mere artsy experiment, although there are two short surreal vignettes involving a dream or hallucination. There's a violent interaction between man and woman where each one tells the tale from their completely different point of view, Rashomon style. There's a couple that meet and have nothing to say to each other during a long trip. A girl that watches TV all day and can't get anyone on the telephone. A gay man who watches catastrophe newsreels. Another man who loses himself in a photograph. A nude model who also lends herself to stag films as well a horrible artsy cheap vampire film (both of which are given extended viewings). A man recovering from a bad acid trip, and a woman who dreams of a strange man in her house who doesn't touch her. Rappaport would deliver a similar sardonic and dry follow-up about various broken relationships (but with even fewer touches of surrealism) in 'Local Color'.

Cat Has Nine Lives, The  
Prototypical German Feminist movie from the late 60s in the style of Godard. Various archetypal women are portrayed in a wide variety of flowing vignettes, snippets, dialogue, fantasies, and interactions. There's a married woman wanting to get divorced, and a single woman wanting to get married, a pop-star, etc. Each woman has her idea of what life is about to offer her or should offer her, and each seems lost, or her views contradict the other woman's, pointing to a general problem with women's lives. As such, this is typical early narrow-minded feminism that is content in observing and pointing out problems with women without being too insightful, structured or broad in its observation. They work, they play, they discuss their desires and outlook and relationships, except in between these pieces of the puzzle that are juxtaposed for didactic purpose, we also see their inner fantasies and thoughts acted out in short lightly-surreal flashes to complete the character studies. Men's lusts for women and women's desires to be wanted reach absurd proportions, one woman fantasises about killing her husband, and Circe sometimes appears with her sword to literally turn men into pigs. Competently done, but for Feminists only.

Chasing Sleep  
Lynch/Polanski wannabe but still a pretty effective psychological horror/thriller. Ed is a college professor with insomnia whose wife disappears. He keeps losing track of time, sees visions and his leaking house cracking up, while being visited and hounded by a student with a crush, a suspicious policeman and his wife's admirer. House leaks worsen, a severed finger comes to life, and a huge baby appears in the bathtub. Unoriginal and predictable, but still very effective atmospherically with surprisingly good acting by Daniels.

Haunting short movie from 1962 on the civil war based on a short story by Ambrose Bierce. The story tells the tale of deaf-mute boy who is used to playing with adults, and who falls asleep in the woods and suddenly finds himself in a scene of post-battle death and destruction with crawling & wounded soldiers, except, through his innocent eyes, he thinks it's another game and plays with them. The movie converts this idea into surrealism, the soldiers literally turned into animals, crawling beetles or sad clowns from his point of view. It contains many haunting, memorable images and a heavy ending.

Child of God  
Definitely a one-of-a-kind twisted experience. This is one of those movies made by its unforgettable central performance. Scott Haze really loses himself in the role of a violent and insane man in backwoods Tennessee, who starts off rather unstable when he is dispossessed from his home, and deteriorates into a feral and very insane necrophiliac and worse, as he tries to survive in the wild on the outskirts of civilization. Although the movie at times goes for visual repulsive shocks, the majority of its focus is on the realistic and gradual process of deterioration and, more importantly, a character study unlike you have ever seen. Haze alters his face and garbles his speech, and combines wildness with loneliness to portray this very broken (barely) human. His relationship with teddy bears won at a carnival is a nice touch and serves as a respite from the filth. However, the best that can be said about this is that it is a gripping performance and a morbidly fascinating study, albeit not a very interesting one, since there is only so much you can get out of watching trash deteriorate into a beast.

Children of the Dark  
It doesn't get much more grim than this. A Japanese-Thai movie about child trafficking that pulls no punches without getting manipulative, fake or exploitative. Thai children are used in sex brothels and organ trafficking, they get beaten, infected with AIDS, and killed for their organs. An NGO and some journalists are on the trail, trying to gather evidence while fighting a ruthless and unglamorized mafia. The brothel scenes veer dangerously close to overly-graphic, but the movie tells its dark tale and paints its grim picture while exploring the personalities of the people involved, all with a solid balance and no manipulation.

Children of the Sea  
Japanese manga animation that combines every pseudo-mystical idea it can based on the magic of the oceans, ocean-life, human-life, Buddhism, nature, some anthropocentrism, aboriginal mysticism, and various other odds and ends. It involves various marine researchers, several of them with heavy mystical leanings, a young girl who makes a discovery that changes her life, two supernatural boys raised by the ocean, and many many spiritual events revolving around the ocean leading to a grand vision of existence that brings to mind 2001 A Space Odyssey only much less focused. There is barely any story here, just a sequence of spiritual events and 'revelations'. In other words, a new-age hodgepodge designed to evoke and impress anyone with an undefined pseudo-spiritualist bent, with many snippets of ideas in search of a structure and direction. The only real reason to see this one is the beautiful and detailed animation, and the grand vision is visually impressive despite its lack of meaning.

Choking Hazard  
Amusing offbeat Czech zombie movie about a group of people that seclude themselves in an inn in the woods to hear the existential and philosophical teachings of a blind man. A porn-star Jehovist (!) joins them thinking they are shooting a porn movie but things really get out of hand when local dead woodsmen attack them. Features super-smart woombies that lead the pack, zombie break-dancing, rewinding reality, and some splatter. Moderately amusing.

Christiane F.  
From the maker of Last Exit to Brooklyn comes another gritty, disturbing and depressing slice of life, telling the true tale of a German female teenager who gets addicted to heroin, sinks to depths of prostitution, addiction and other desperations, and watches her friends die and degrade themselves while she tries to quit.

Citizen Dog  
Sasanatieng's followup to Tears of the Black Tiger is a Thai colorful version of Amelie, except with fantasy absurdities and odd whimsy. It's also very simple-minded and juvenile, but entertaining. Pod is a country boy who falls in love with a girl in Bangkok. The main plot is a plain old romantic-comedy-template that takes a whole movie to get rid of silly little obstacles and put the two lovebirds together. But this one is about the secondary characters and little adventures along the way. This includes getting his re-attachable finger chopped off and shipped in a can of sardines, a zombie scooter-taxi driver that died from helmet-rain, environmental activism that collects an absurdly huge pile of plastic bottles, grandmothers getting reincarnated in surprising places, talking teddy bears, and cardboard pulp romance heroes coming to life.

City Zero  
Very Kafkaesque and absurdist Russian satire. An engineer arrives at a town to fix their air conditioner, comes up against a wall of bureaucracy and things that don't work and soon finds he cannot leave. Strange things happen, like a nude secretary, and being offered a pastry in the shape of his head by a suicidal chef, and then he somehow gets entangled in a local fight between Soviet traditionalists and people that want rock'n'roll.

Class Trip  
The French really know how to make good films about children for an adult audience; films that take you back to your childhood days with their realistic characters. This is a slightly darker one however, dealing with a boy who has nightmares and bed-wetting problems, and an over-protective and strict father. For most of the movie it is just a drama and character study about this boy who finds himself in a special school trip away from family for a few days at a retreat. It uses dreams to explore his vivid imagination, fears and morbid wish-fulfillment fantasies. Although these dream-sequences are not heavily surreal and more like typical movie dream-sequences, they are imaginative, they explore his mental state, and they fill the first half of the movie. The rest is a slowly unfolding thriller plot, much (but not all) of which takes place in his made-up stories.

Clone Returns Home, The  
This Japanese cerebral-mystical sci-fi movie is often compared to Tarkovsky and Solaris merely because it is slow, meditative and deals with death, souls and fantastical psycho-projections and apparitions of dead people, but it definitely has its own viewpoint. It deals with a twin who lost his brother and who develops a close relationship with his bereaving mother based on their guilt-ridden survival. When he grows up, he becomes an astronaut and takes part in a cloning program that kicks in on the event of death. The professor in charge of the program shifted to a more mystical interpretation of the erratic behaviour of clones after a complicated encounter with his daughter's clone. A new clone wanders the countryside trying to get home, haunted by his dead clone as well as his dead brother, carrying scars both physical and psychological thanks to a shared soul. Thus, the movie asks gentle questions about the nature of souls, death and the bodies they inhabit.

Cold Souls  
Although this is strictly a fantasy/sci-fi film and nothing as bizarre as Being John Malkovich, it adds many little absurd touches to its little exploration of the soul. Paul Giamatti acts as a public image of himself: a tortured actor. He finds that he can't take his existential burden anymore while practicing for a stage version of Uncle Vanya, and goes to a company that claims they can remove and store souls. What follows is more of a comedy about the commercialization of inner feelings and the modern desire to be other people, rather than a proper exploration of such a concept. For starters, the film seems to equate the soul with emotions (a moot point), and even lust (ridiculous). But if you alter something as fundamentally obvious as emotions, shouldn't there be more radical changes in his personality when he tries on a female Russian poet's soul, and in his feelings towards his wife, himself and acting? Surreal touches include an all too brief look inside his own soul, the shape his soul takes when extracted, and complaints from his wife that he is turning reptilian. There are several funny scenes concerning the dry way the corporation approaches soul-extraction, the ongoing absurd jokes about what the soul looks like, and the episode with a Russian soap opera queen stealing his soul, but, overall, this feels quite undeveloped and unsatisfying, with an abrupt ending in the middle of a new development.

Come True  
A unique use of dreams in a horror movie, but, unfortunately, not developed enough. A teenager is haunted by strange dreams, so she joins a sleep-research facility in the hopes that it will help her find a safe place to sleep. The experimental research combined with her strange dreams soon threaten to take over their sanity with creepy subconscious figures and mysterious callings to dark places. The many dream sequences are depicted in near-darkness with bizarre imagery, and the shadowy figures inside them are haunting. I did not find them true to oneiric dream-logic however, the film makers opting for more otherworldly fantasy imagery hidden in the subconscious rather than typical dreams, using dark nightmarish computer-art-graphics. They seemed to have invested much more in the imagery than in the story however. Interesting, but very unsatisfying.

Take a UFO abduction story allegedly based on reality, add a muddled screenplay and random pseudo-philosophical statements, inject a few strange, surreal encounters involving several types of funny looking aliens, some of which dance and high-five, or produce human clones that perform magic, and on top of all this, add Christopher Walken at his most weird and eccentric trying to pass off as a family man, and you have one very odd, cult flick.

Company of Wolves  
Folk-fantasy horror re-imagining of the Red Riding Hood story. A girl is told werewolf-horror stories by her wise grandmother, she has surreal dreams, and encounters a devilish, mysterious hunk of a man in the woods who seduces her. The movie is obviously symbolic and deals with coming-of-age themes, sexual awakening and wild passions, but all the pieces don't quite come together. Somewhat interesting but unsatisfying.

Corpse of Anna Fritz, The  
You know a movie is going to be disturbing when it starts with necrophilia and builds up from there. This dark Spanish thriller is about horny fans and a dead celebrity, and you won't believe how it goes all the way with this setup, then introduces a twist which really gets under your skin in many ways, then it kicks off its thrills all from that setup. Which means, it's dark and tense throughout its short running time. It lacks an explanation for the twist, and its narrow focus is both a strength and a weakness, making for a taut, disturbing but little thriller.

Corridor, The  
This unusual Canadian horror movie had me hoping for a while that it would become another thought-provoking strange experience like the great Pontypool. Unfortunately, it turned out nowhere near as mature or developed. The plot involves the often-used trope of a group of friends encountering a mind-altering supernatural power, bringing out the worst in them. Decades after one of them lost his mind and became violent and was committed, they meet for closure and perhaps to try to patch things up. What they find in the woods is mysterious and is never explained, and, unfortunately, the script is happy with just making it take on random supernatural powers, turning the protagonists to random insane directions. The acting is pretty good. There is some disturbing violence that emerges purely from insanity, lots of mumbo-jumbo with existential or religious overtones, and mysterious sci-fi/horror hybrid elements. But it's not satisfying, and feels like the writer just threw a bunch of things together.

Coto de Caza  
A somewhat intense Spanish thriller that is somewhere between a Last House on the Left home invasion movie and a poor-man's Straw Dogs. A rich lawyer and her family is hounded by some criminals who are after her car and country chalet. She is in the habit of defending any criminal for his social upbringing but things escalate into nastiness after a violent encounter and she finds herself in an untenable position to defend criminals who attacked her and her family. Most of the movie is a straightforward thriller and the nastiness occurs during the surprisingly sleazy climactic finale.

Crank: High Voltage  
Insane and cartoonish sequel that is like an ultra-violent video game with outrageous trash and sleaze. This one continues where the first one 'left off', by literally scraping our hero off the road for some nefarious heart surgery. After his heart is replaced with a temporary machine, Statham gets up and spends the whole movie chasing his heart, injecting electricity into his body using anything he can find, while fighting various gangs and the law. This kickoff sets the tone for 90 minutes of even more outrageous scenes. In between the over-the-top action and shootouts, there's interrogation via shotgun-sodomy, a crazy Chinese whore that gets all her slang wrong and gets possessive over Statham, Carradine as a horny old Chinese mob boss, nipple and elbow slicing, receiving of electricity via friction with old women, a public sex scene that outdoes the one in the first, an animated decapitated head, a surreal scene where fighting men turn into giants from a bad Japanese monster movie, a porn-star protest, and lots lots more. Crazy brainless entertainment, and anyone that didn't like this but liked the first probably thought the first one was serious.

Crazy Love  
Three-part drama/comedy about a boy whose romantic fantasies are shattered by the reality of sex, then grows up with a devastating case of acne that impedes his advances in love until he grows up an alcoholic and his shattered ideas of love make him turn to necrophilia. Touching, then painful, then twistedly dark.

Crime Wave  
Canadian quirky cult-classic about a passionate script-writer who wants to write the greatest crime movie, finds various beginnings and ends, but can't work out the middle. He only writes under a street-lamp and shares his little passions with a little-girl neighbouring movie-fan while she encourages him and tries to partner him with another writer who turns out to be strangely disturbed. What makes this movie unique is the myriad energetic little details and quirks, including things like a dynamite costume that makes people nervous, tribute kings, a street-lamp hat, an endless cornfield, a disturbed cowboy, and merging story-lines and characters. Doesn't add up to much but very entertaining.

Criminally Insane  
70s grindhouse about a hugely fat psychotic woman who is released by the mental hospital in the care of her grandmother who tries to control her eating habits. In addition, her sister is a prostitute who brings home her tricks. This obviously doesn't end well and the bodies pile up. Ethel then attempts to get rid of the smell and bodies with amusing incompetence until the final twist ending.

Cube, The  
A cult item by Jim Henson that may have inspired the 1997 Cube movie. A very mild-mannered man finds himself trapped in a cubic room where people and objects keep appearing and disappearing. The movie is a series of vignettes as people come into his cell, mess with his mind or put on some kind of act, then leave. The vignettes start silly, then become more and more metaphysical as reality is twisted, and he can't tell who he really is and what reality is about. Strawberry jam takes on a whole new level of existence. Entertaining and clever.

Spanish biopic on Dali's life as told in a flashback to an American reporter. The movie starts with a surreal nightmare involving the eroticism of Hitler, shows Dali in various provocative and absurd performances, explores some his paintings and his two notorious movies with Bunuel, depicts the absurdity of the Spanish civil war as it lives in his imagination, splicing together chaotic war with Dali-esque imagery, displays some bizarre artistic creations he made in the US, and attempts to portray him as a human being, albeit with extreme eccentricities, who tries to live in his own extreme ideals. The acting is only fair, as I did not feel he managed to capture the unique eccentricity of Dali, but who can? An interesting but average biopic.

Dark Arc  
This is like some juvenile attempt at an early Greenaway flick by way of Neil Labute narcissistic characters, except the emphasis is on juvenile. A man obsessed with images, a 'non-sexual' escort obsessed with creating charged images and making her mark on the landscape, and a graphic artist with an eye for detail, form a strange love triangle over fetishized art imagery. Each uses or plays games with the other over images and words, and this is what makes the movie somewhat strange. Both images and words are inter-linked and imprinted on the mind. The images, however, are simplistic and puerile, consisting of a single color streak or simple motif, or even containing cheaply sexually provocative content. The dense wordplay is mostly obnoxiously pretentious, but sometimes amusing and entertaining. The movie, despite being a black comedy, is almost as annoying as its arrogant pretentious characters for the first half, until the plot kicks in, then it becomes somewhat interesting, as the trio get as sick of each other as their audience did for an amusing confrontation.

Dark Matter, A  
One of those movies that tries to do too many things without focusing on any of them, and ends up with nothing. The plot involves an artist and his girlfriend who leaves him, taking his muse with her. Everything else is up for interpretation. There's a bizarre underworld being or criminal called 'Albino' that seems to be into eye-ball organ-trafficking, and into manipulating others to do his bidding, threatening to take their eyes. There are many other elements that riff on the theme of eyes, including the difficulty in capturing them on canvas, the influence of eyes on others, dating by choosing a person's eyes, and the sci-fi concept of extracting energy and creativity from eyes using technology or dark magic. This movie can be taken first and foremost as a Lynchian mystery with not-quite-real elements depicting the artist's detached perception of his reality and affecting his ability to paint, except the movie doesn't actually cohere using this method. The sci-fi and horror elements aren't developed at all. And the mystery doesn't really make sense in terms of people's wildly inconsistent behaviour. The acting varies from good to poor, and there is too much footage of his girlfriend singing. In summary, I found it a waste of time, but there is so much material here, you may find it of interest nevertheless.

Dark Side of the Heart, The  
A delirious poetic romance about a poet who is looking for a woman who can fly. He beds women but as soon he gets bored with them he presses a button on the side of his bed and they fall into an abyss. He recites poetry to passing cars for money and sells his poems to a steak house for food, he talks to his own psyche that appears as his doppelgänger, his mother talks to him through cows, and he has frequent conversations with death who is a woman that wants him to get a job and live a practical life. When he finally finds the woman of his dreams, she is a prostitute who keeps him at a distance and asks him for money despite her feelings for him. Poetic, muscular, funny and passionate but not challenging, and the whore with a heart of gold is a bit cliched.

Dark Sleep, The  
Fun little low-budget Lovecraftian horror movie with stop-motion animation. It's got elements of Nightmare on Elm Street in how nightmares bleed over into reality, but the dreams are much more Lovecraftian with light surrealism rather than slasher-horror dream-logic. A bitchy woman fresh from a divorce moves into a big house with a strange painting and bizarre creatures. Nightmares start taking over her life, and people from her life bleed into the nightmares, both affecting each other. The many dream sequences are part stop-motion fantasy-horror, part dream-logic. Good fun dialogue, above-average acting, cheap effects, and nothing great, but not without its charm and fun.

Dark Tourist, The  
The concept of a vacation involving visits to historical serial-killer hot-spots has been done before, especially in Kalifornia. But this one is more interested in the dark psychological trip of such a tourist, and is actually a twisted character study. Jim is a loner, a security guard with an unhealthy fascination for dark thoughts and places. On one of his trips, he makes friends with a nice local waitress (Griffith), but his hobby and possible dark past start taking over his behaviour as well as his reality, leading to very psychologically twisted and grim developments.

Dasepo Naughty Girls  
Highly entertaining cartoonish musical based on a manga. In this wacky high-school world, poverty is a little grey creature that lives on your back, cellphones are drawn faster than any western, criminal bosses are gentle cross-dressers, teachers carry a briefcase full of kinky spanking toys, prostitute clientele like to play Nintendo, the faculty includes mutating mythical monsters, and a fellow student is a cyclops. The movie is merely a series of colorful short stories, sight gags and musical stints strung together featuring absurd teenage sexual hijinks.

Dead Leaves  
Many works of sci-fi Japanese anime are imaginative, excessive and energetic, but this one takes the cake. The protagonists are a pair of criminals with seeming super-abilities and no memories, one with a television as a head, and the other a female punk. When they get put away in a prison that performs mutant experiments and wraps their prisoners up in tight bundles with only their anuses exposed, they find an unusual way to break free and cause a prison break. They befriend a mutant with a huge drill for a penis and have to fight their way out through increasingly more insane enemies until the nonsensical grand finale involving a monster caterpillar. The action is so insane, one wonders how much coffee and cocaine was needed to create this.

Deadly Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey.  
Think of this UK home-invasion movie as Funny Games tightly interwoven with a Pinku. The first half is mere sadistic home-invasion trash with a cruel invader who decides to spend the weekend with a married couple. There's torture, humiliation, bondage, erotica and mind-games. The second half becomes worse, at least partially worse, because the invader starts finding out things about the couple, getting into their minds and getting quite close with them, and so the horror becomes psychological. Except it becomes increasingly more contrived and disingenuous, because it starts to attribute motivations that were clearly not there in the first half, and one of the characters starts behaving in completely unrealistic ways for the last third. Still, the acting is good, and the combination of genres, and the psychological angles do work to a certain extent, making this one a somewhat interesting and intense, albeit a disturbing, watch. Ironically, the political-incorrectness involving the woman's reactions caused a controversy, except that this is another point in the movie's favor. In short, this one is part edgy and intense, part trashy, part contrived.

Death Laid an Egg  
Artsy giallo that uses strangeness, style and irony instead of thrills and gore. The plot revolves around a husband who married a rich wife with a modern chicken farm, his twisted flings with prostitutes, and a pretty lady who has an affair with him while plotting with a secret lover. Double-crosses fly, but the chickens don't, since they are both wingless and headless. Lots of chickens and artsy segments add to the strangeness of the story, but the grating, avant-garde soundtrack has the strongest effect.

Degenerates, The (De Generazione)  
Energetic, chaotic but fun Italian anthology of ten varied shorts. Asia Argento directs one of them (the most bizarre one), and acts in another. The general feel is somewhat similar to the 80s Twilight Zone in the sense that each short varies in length, most being quite short, never wearing out their welcome, and there is a light tone of playfulness mixed with the horror, along with an anything-goes attitude. The first one that must be mentioned is the 3-minute short 'Prospective' by Argento: A baffling surreal dream that never makes any sense except perhaps to her shrink, who also just happens to be in her dream. It involves a hairy man, a large umbrella, possible sexual pleasure of some kind or another, a mirror, flying, and a symbolic tower, and unity. 'Finally Together' features a loving couple building their home plagued by bizarre nightmares, one of them involving a woman sucking blood out of him in the morgue with a straw. 'Chains' is another lightly surreal one portraying men tied to their women literally with chains, and a man who is desperate to not be chained himself who comes home to his own little fantasy... 'Squeak' is a demented one about a man plagued by bad luck and having a bad day, who, on top of everything else, suddenly finds himself hounded by several groups of insane snuff-movie-makers that fight amongst themselves, and a couple of ninjas. 'India 21' is a more pensive one featuring an invisible man and cab driver. 'Empty Gift' is an extremely brief peek at a dystopian world with its own solution to over-population. The first short short is also a very brief anarchic one with a chase by cyborg-mutant-aliens-whatever. And finally, there are three ordinary and average shorts, one with an old gay vampire who goes home with a young man, another with an evil TV, and a silly one with a present gone wrong and a very persistent monstrous delivery-man.

Dellamorte Dellamore  
Soavi outdoes his mentor Argento with beautiful cinematography and style as well as a near-surrealistic plot. Unfortunately, he also suffers from Argento's lack of coherency, dubbing jobs and mediocre acting. Dellamorte works in a cemetery where the dead come back to life after seven days and have to be sent back to the grave with a bullet (or other sharp object) in the head. His quirky, moronic assistant (who vomits on girls he loves) helps him keep this a secret so that they won't lose their jobs. Things get out of hand as the assistant falls in love with the Mayor's dead daughter's decapitated head, and an accident involving a bus-load of boy scouts floods the cemetery with new bodies. The centerpiece is Dellamorte's love interest who keeps coming back from the dead in different shapes and forms until he gets sick of love and death and tries to escape, leading to an provocative existentialist and surreal ending.

Denti (AKA Teeth)  
Wonderfully surreal Italian movie about the inside of a man's head and his various life's problems as symbolized by his front teeth. The director shows a great talent for crafting and weaving the real, surreal, absurd and magical so you never know which is which and feel like you may have imagined something yourself. His insecurities symbolized by his extremely prominent front teeth, his fears of his wife's possible infidelity with their dentist, his experience as a child watching his mother be probed intimately and painfully by a dentist, his girl breaking his teeth after he lashes out at her, he goes to various crazy dentists with different attitudes towards his teeth and it ends up messy or bloody as if this were a dentist horror movie, only it is never quite real, his mouth paralleling his messy old life as well as a possible new one, etc. And always there are touches of magical realism, women with scaly skin, uncles dancing in a glass of water, etc. Intriguing and well crafted, but the director may have found a visual path into our personal subconscious that is perhaps a bit too intimate and painful, and the revelations aren't as deep as I would have liked. Your teeth will hurt more than your soul, but this is a must-see once.

A factual look at the character of Ed Gein, a severely twisted serial killer obsessed with his mother even after her death, who used dead and then live bodies to keep her corpse 'repaired' (Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Psycho were also based on him). Along the way he talks to himself using his mother's voice, pursues, then violently avoids sex as per his mother's instructions, and becomes fascinated with body parts and corpses. This graphic and gory portrayal sometimes seems like a figment of the writer's imagination despite its factual base and the movie is flawed with a misplaced narrator.

Deranged (1987)  
A New York version of Repulsion as made by porn stars and a porn director, except it doesn't have porn. For the majority of the movie, a woman stays in her apartment haunted by traumas, memories and suspicions which may or may not be real. The main fear that drives her is of a vicious burglar that she killed and hid in the closet, but she also is hounded by scenes and memories of her relationship with her dirtbag husband who had a thing for her sister, as well as her father, a shrink, and a baby she may have lost. People appear and disappear in her apartment as her memories overlap and switch schizophrenically between time periods, and her family and priest keep pointing at her guilt in surreal fashion as the bodies and zombies pile up. The acting is pretty good, and the constant streaming hallucinations and surreal segues keep things disorienting, but it doesn't have any subtlety or good writing that allows the whole thing to be believable or absorbing.

Der Samurai  
A strange German horror movie that can be interpreted in several ways, except none of them are complete or satisfying. One way to watch this is simply as as a strange and atmospheric horror movie about a young police-man in a tiny village who is trying to track and control a wild wolf that is causing havoc in the town. Instead he discovers a seemingly supernatural and untameable samurai-transvestite man that runs around chopping people's heads off while taunting him to join him. One possible surreal interpretation is that he is a closet homosexual and this wild creature represents that, as well as all of his pent-up anger towards the townspeople. Except the ending doesn't support this theory. Other broken theories are that it represents his effeminate side that needs to be killed, his wilder manly side, a Satanic movie about embracing the wolf inside you, etc. Nothing really clicks into place however and the symbolism clashes with the straight horror plotting. So, like with Company of Wolves, it may be intriguing, but in the end nothing adds up and it doesn't strike one as a thoughtful movie. Just a slightly strange one.

Desire Called Anada (AKA Adrift)  
Somewhat difficult Czech movie and borderline surreal due to the fact that you are never sure if you are dealing with reality, or a man's internal struggles displayed as real. Anada is an enigmatic beauty literally pulled out of the river. János is a poor fisherman with dreams and desires, and a beautiful loyal wife. Anada soon becomes the obsessive object of his desire, and his desire and jealousy makes him come up with elaborate schemes to find out her secrets. But the more he chases his obsessions the less he figures out about her. He soon has murderous thoughts both about men that interest her and about his poor wife, and whether he actually takes action or these remain in his guilty thoughts, is never quite clear. To make matters worse, his wife takes a liking to Anada. Anada never coheres as a person and remains a cryptic object of desire, which is in line with the above description. This brought to mind 'That Obscure Object of Desire' except that movie brought humor to the table. Much of this movie takes place non-linearly, and the story emerges as he talks to three people that may only exist in his subconscious, and his story soon becomes peppered with dubious details, including one very obviously surreal wish-fulfillment dream of a funeral, and the final few seconds dive head-first into nightmare-logic further supporting this interpretation. Interesting, and beautifully filmed movie; it's just a pity it deals mostly with petty actions of jealousy.

Detective and Death, The  
Very strange dark and artsy Spanish movie loosely inspired by a short story by Hans Christian Andersen. It's not quite a fantasy but feels like one, telling the tale of a dark, ruthless man and his strange 'detective' friend who both work for a big boss. The boss owns a technology that creates ghostly reproductions of people, wants his ex-lover Duchess killed and has a strange relationship with her daughter. The two henchmen encounter a strange woman with a baby, and some strange events and a brutal act lead the mother to follow them around a city full of violence in search of the power of life and death. Everything about this is very strange, and yet all somehow within the confines of a conventional noir thriller.

Diamonds of the Night  
Near-surreal Czech movie that puts editing to amazing use to depict the minds of two boys trying to escape the concentration camps. Weaved together are snippets of their escape from the train jumbled out of order, memories of normal life in the city, of past crushes, hallucinations in the forest of falling trees and the surrealistic mainstay of ants on their hands and faces, desperate, paranoid, violent fantasies fuelled by hunger as they encounter locals, and the juxtaposition of scenes such as partying old home-guards and harsh treatment of prisoners for provocative effect. The result is quite effective at times, creating almost surreal absurdities out of mixing civilization with animalistic, desperate or cruel behaviour.

Digital Dreams  
What looks and sounds at first to be a tiresome vanity project in the form of a video autobiography by Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), turns out to be an amusing whimsy with little surreal touches, dry wry humor and light character insights. It's also too short to wear out its welcome. This quickly serves some light-hearted highlights of Bill's and his wife's childhood that offer some insights into the way his life turned out, and there is also some Rolling Stones footage. A more amusing and interesting aspect is his relationship with his wife, which, although strained, is depicted with wry and droll humor, along with an odd jester butler. Bill's obsession with computers comes up often, which has turned his wife into a 'computer-widow'. And then there are numerous lightly-surreal fantasies and animations going on inside his head, all involving James Coburn for some reason, as some kind of computer prophet, alter-ego, or Western nemesis, everyone coming together for a final Western showdown as a kind of surreal weave of the elements that make up his character.

Based on a novel and manga series, but this is a Mika Ninagawa movie, which means the colorful and very detailed visuals are turned up to eleven, outdoing any manga in that department. Although the first few minutes promise a candy-surreal fantasy where the thoughts and fears of a quirky lonely girl appear in the form of hyper-reality colors, magical-realism and dancing crowds, the rest of the movie unfortunately gives up on that and turns to cartoonish violence instead. An invisible sad girl wants to travel to a colorful town in Mexico, but a one-time job gets her in trouble with the mob and binds her to an insane chef in a restaurant catering to even more insane assassins. The assassins in here, typically for manga, are more about pretty faces, meticulous hairdos and hyper-stylized outfits rather than anything skillfully menacing. And, similarly, the action scenes focus on bizarre acts of violence and a dance of guns and poses rather than anything remotely realistic. Some scenes and ideas are obviously copied from movies like Matrix, John Woo and Leon. And then, gradually, the ultra-violence and battles between psychotic and disturbed cartoon characters suddenly give way to a marshmallow romantic heart at the center of it all. Classic style-over-substance, but what a colorful and entertaining distraction it is!

Dirty Saints, The  
Luis Ortega follows-up on his Monobloc with a similarly enigmatic and impenetrable metaphor where people are archetypes, standing in for whatever metaphor is in Ortega's head, except that he never provides any clues, depth or handles by which to explore his idea. This is seemingly a post-apocalyptic movie, with six archetypes: The materialist man, his possibly gay young lover or dependent next generation, the older man who rings the bell for everyone else who stands for wisdom, a mute man who may be the artist, an enigmatic dwarf-boy that follows the mute artist, and an almost-feral wild sexy young woman (Monito) who represents love. The five men get a transcendental calling to cross a river and leave behind their dead world, but they are tempted by Monito. Except the gay materialists hate her, and the wise old man is overwhelmed by his calling. Other humans only cross this decaying world of decrepit factories, broken objects and dirt in super-fast cars and planes, providing some sort of threat that we never see or understand. In summary, the worlds inside, outside and across the river are never clear, the characters are vaguely drawn enigmatic archetypes, and their motivation for crossing the river never makes any sense. In fact, the only thing worth doing seems to be Monito, effectively undermining their intangible existential mission. The world that the movie creates and the existential mood are somewhat interesting though, and Monito is fun to watch.

Very Henenlotter-esque movie with bizarre, mutating body-attachments and creatures, similar black humor and low-budget charm. A strange woman checks into a strange, dirty, rundown hotel with jars, chemicals and equipment. There's a hungry alien deformity, various types of bizarre stop-motion-animated body openings and created offspring, spores and acid, a detached brain, a friendly hooker next door, a mad scientist, and a diseased hotel clerk that likes to watch high-school science-education films. There are also strange dreams of alien worlds and beings that alters reality. Low-budget but entertaining with fun, quirky characters.

Divide, The  
A lost-potential movie by Xavier Gens that could have been a modern update to Lord of the Flies. A handful of survivors after a nuclear bomb find themselves restricted to a cellar with limited food. Their personality flaws soon emerge and are amplified by the circumstances, their aggressiveness, fears, weaknesses and immoralities, which were only held in check by a defunct civilization. Fights over food and violent visits by hazmat-suit-wearing soldiers tip the group into divisive teams of weak and deranged. As with Frontier(s), Xavier splices together a hodgepodge of scenes and elements without making them cohesive: Some torture, a mystery of mad scientist experiments by mysterious soldiers that never makes sense, squabbles turning into vicious fights, a woman turning herself into an abused sex toy in order to gain favor, etc, all held together by bad science and chaotic motivations. Nobody thinks to find an alternative way out, two guys go completely unhinged until they pass the border of plausibility into gratuitous shock value, there's cross-dressing and disgusting sexual abuse, a nonsensical and melodramatic suicide, and an even more nonsensical ending. But the riveting tension and situation keeps you watching, making you wish it were handled by someone more competent.

Unsettlingly intriguing but ultimately muddled dark comedy that blurs the borders between a man and a dog. It's about a very passive and gentle man who loses all meaning in his life in a series of catastrophic family and financial changes that take everything away from him. A last-resort attachment to a dog evolves into a very unhealthy new life-style, especially when a dog trainer adopts him. As a character study, I didn't find this thought-provoking as it's too over-the-top to resemble human behaviour. As a moderately surreal movie, or a metaphor, I couldn't quite tune in to its concept. I'm also not sure how the film-writer feels about this obviously broken character, since it doesn't mock or criticize this man's choices, and even allows for some kind of muddled redemption. Unique but unsatisfying.

Don't Go in the House  
Like most 'video nasties', this one is quite relatively tame and features only one really objectionable scene, but that one scene is so unusually sadistic it sticks in your mind and makes the movie stand out from the other 'nasties'. Like Psycho, Maniac, et al, this one features a disturbed killer brought up by a deranged and abusive mother, except, this time, the punishments and pathology revolve around fire. When his mother dies, his repressed and warped feelings come out in a rush of anger, taking it out on women with a flamethrower. Despite the obvious schlock, trash and sadism, and the ridiculous ending, this one still retains some ability to get under your skin.

Don't Let Me Die On a Sunday  
A provocative, black-hearted, French, intelligent exploration and character study. A collection of desperate, empty, mostly selfish people fill this bleak movie. One is adored by several women but he hates them all, treating them like garbage, another is lonely and suicidal and counts his hundreds of sexual conquests on paper, another is dying of AIDS, another just parties and dies of an overdose but is brought back to life in the morgue, etc. Afraid of love and beauty which causes them to feel trapped and self-loathing, desperate for passion, they search for it in S&M, kinky sex games, humiliation, and necrophilia to the point of forcing one man to have sex with his wife at gunpoint. Thought-provoking but overly sordid.

Don't Touch the White Woman  
Way before Von Trier made his crude attacks on American society, Ferreri released this odd satire that revels in anachronisms to make its points. General Custer is a war-happy imbecile recruited to clean up the town and eliminate the unwanted, filthy people, and the Natives start getting upset at the growing racism, killings and abuse, and group together to deal with the problem. Only thing is, this all takes place in modern times so they ride horses in a modern city, receive orders from Nixon, and get coffee from a machine while discussing genocide in their period uniforms. Custer is preoccupied with his looks and hair, an anthropology professor hangs around in a t-shirt eating chips, Buffalo Bill is an idiotic, arrogant celebrity used for PR, people break out in song, and they instruct their abused native scout not to touch white women until it all ends in a massacre. Entertaining but somewhat limited.

Dream City  
Unique German movie that is a much more artsy, philosophical and surreal version of Westworld. A painter and his wife are invited to a dream city in a faraway place where everyone can 'be themselves', and cater any whim without worries of money, sickness or death. When they get there, this utopia predictably shows cracks right away that only get worse over time. The city is used symbolically as a microcosm of human foibles and madnesses. Everyone entertains eccentricities until they become psychoses, from the spoiled princess with two dozen cats who lives like a slob, to the man who loves his bureaucratic job so much he makes people enter the room twice so he can bombard them with rules, to a theatrical stage where everyone dresses, reads lines and behaves as they wish as in an insane asylum, to much more depraved things in the 'French section' involving wild abandon to lust and obscure fetish pleasures, and eventually to nihilistic violence. There is a very Kafkaesque search for the leader of the city, and their treatment of sickness and death takes getting used to, to say the least. Part dystopia, part surrealism, part art-house drama. Interesting.

Dream Demon  
A British Nightmare on Elm Street with a focus on dreams, dream-logic, dreams that bleed into reality and reality that becomes a nightmare. A woman about to be married to a celebrity has nightmares while another woman is drawn to the house where she lives, and some tabloid reporters stalk them. Features a variety of nightmarish scenes where people morph into other people, a reporters flesh gives way to punches, hellish basements, ghosts, alternate dimensions, mirror worlds, a woman wakes up only to find herself still in a dream, etc. Weak horror but mildly entertaining.

The last time Bruce McDonald, Tony Burgess and Stephen McHattie combined, we got the masterpiece of horror that was Pontypool. That movie was very underrated when it came out and has since been defined a cult movie. This movie, while definitely not as good, is even less appreciated. Pontypool gave a strong impression of the creepy, unreal and strange, yet was anchored in reality, but this one takes things much further with a not-quite-there crime drama with both feet in dream-land yet pretending to be in the real world. It's not cerebral and intensely creepy as with Pontypool, but some kind of delirious concoction of pulp entertainment. At first it's slightly strange, then it becomes disconcerting, and afterwards you feel that you dreamt it. McHattie is in a dual role, one a killer working for a bad-guy who just crossed the border to very-bad-guy (Henry Rollins), the other is a jazz musician living in his own drug-induced reality. There's a vampire whose mere presence in this crime movie feels bizarre, there's pedophilia, violent kid-criminals like something out of Bugsy Malone, lots of people that aren't quite there, including a wife that wants to kill her husband out of love, and finally, a ridiculous wedding celebration where the whole world turns out to be an evil cult.

Dream No Evil  
Definitely falls under the 'oddity' label. There is a narration that spoils the twist right at the start: A young girl in an orphanage grows up with a disorder, a delusional wish-fulfillment dream world involving her father. She is adopted by a preaching family, and her foster brother (who chews the scenery as a very energetic preacher/entertainer) soon turns the family business into a circus, literally, having her dress up in a sexy outfit and jump off a tall ladder down to 'hell'. She develops healing powers which helps her on her quest to find her father... but both her foster-brothers are in love with her and may clash with her father's aggressively protective nature. Features quite a few strange moments with an undertaker-cum-pimp, a reluctant roast duck, a long death scene where the victim wanders around doing odd things while dying, and a panty-flashing Irish jig performed for a squeeze-box-playing daddy. It's very heavy-handed and not exactly a good movie, but it will be entertaining to fans of odd movies.

Drifting Classroom, The  
Obayashi's sort-of follow-up to Hausu ten years after with a similar bonkers approach to kiddie-horror, except this one is based on a manga by the famous cult figure of Kazuo Umezu, and has many incongruous dark or mature elements mixed with its juvenile adventure, and it even features a couple of musical interludes in between child deaths. It's about a school that drifts into a 'time slip' (everyone knows this as if its a common occurrence, but nobody can explain what it is). The kids and teachers find themselves in an alien desert wasteland occupied only by a strange cute creature with a built-in water-spout, and huge cockroaches that constantly attack and massacre the kids, but which react strangely to piano music. Their food problem is ignored, there's a Buddha-like kid on a tricycle, violent struggles over leadership, time-tornados, a horrific death by sand and fire, happy musical dances, bad special effects, an interesting dramatic theme of teenagers separating from their parents that suddenly emerges via surrealism, and terrible, terrible acting. As you can imagine, this is a bad movie and a jarring experience that never quite works, but it's got a charm of its own in a very unique way.

Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam  
Over-the-top cartoonish camp that's so silly it's bizarre. Dr. Otto Von Schnick-ick-ick-ick is an evil genius with a third hand on top of his head who is destroying the world by making money worthless. Lance Sterling is hired to save the day, but he is somehow both hopelessly naive and resourceful. The movie then becomes a series of scenes where Dr. Otto (Jim Varney in manic mode) mutates into a different body/personality (pirate, old woman, etc) and tries to trap and kill Lance. Like a live version of Road-Runner with road signs popping up in forests, bizarre costumes, literal cliff-hangers, lots of insanely colorful machines and sets, etc.

Drowning Man, A  
This quiet and artsy Japanese movie about divorce takes a single simple surreal concept, and runs with it as a metaphor, extracting a surprising amount of meaning and material to ponder from it. Tsukamoto acts as a married and inept salaryman who one day finds his wife seemingly dead in the bathtub. Except that she wakes up later, and everything seems to have changed. The movie meshes the undead idea in both a literal down-to-earth way like something out of a horror movie together with its psychological metaphorical meanings. He struggles to connect with a wife who may or may not be dead, different than how he used to know her, and these realizations slowly grow and evolve until he learns something disturbing about himself, and she grows from denial to awareness of what's lacking in her life as well. A deceptively simple movie that leaves one musing.

Experimental, gritty, artsy, British character study that is quite effectively disturbing, like an art-house, and more deranged version of Midnight Cowboy. Duffer is a young and confused teenager who wanders between two people: An older prostitute who shows him carefree love and fun, and an insane man who makes movies involving spitting out worms on Duffer, and who lashes out in sadism and other deranged obsessions on the boy. The movie is accompanied by a stream-of-consciousness narration by Duffer, commenting on what we are seeing, and talking to the audience with full awareness of what it may look like to us, but the descriptions are tainted by his increasingly detached sense of reality, and this is all we get to piece things together. In addition, strange melodramatic dialogue acted out by voices in the background replace the on-screen conversations, like an internalized, emotional version of what actually took place. Duffer, who is a kind boy to a fault, makes excuses for Louis-Jack's insanity and sadism, but when Louis gets it in his head that he needs a family and a baby and Duffer is going to provide him with this, things get more and more out of hand and disturbing.

Dust Up  
Now this is the way to do it. This is old-school grindhouse with black humor that isn't trying to be faux-retro-cool or trying to emulate Tarantino; it's an original movie with its own style and humor, and a fun one at that. There's a brooding ex-soldier and a funny hipster Native American living in the desert trying to help people, or pass their days with existential nothingness. A local drug-addict, with a beautiful wife and baby, gets himself in trouble with the local insane criminal who throws wild parties and orgies for his followers and assorted nut-jobs. Things get out of hand and escalate to ultra-violence, then cannibalism. One murder is particularly warped and disturbing, and the baby is always there to chortle at it all. It's got plenty of gore and violence, but not over-the-top. Not a classic, but good fun.

Edge of Sanity  
Anthony Perkins had more than his fair share of twisted roles, but this is by far his most demented performance in a surprisingly uber-sleazy movie. The idea behind this one is to explain Jack the Ripper as actually being Mr Hyde, and to explain Jekyll's transformation into Hyde via a drug that looks like crack. Sure, why not. Perkins portrays a doctor with a repressed fear of women, boosted by nightmares involving an over-the-top sleazy and humiliating encounter as a kid. I bet the director knew exactly what he was doing, given Perkins's real-life fear of women. So after an accident with some chemicals, Hyde roams the streets and terrorizes a bizarre whorehouse straight out of a Ken Russell movie, and lets loose in some really warped scenes of frenzied perversions and unpredictable turn-ons and turn-offs, terrorizing both men and women before forcing them to perform sex, masturbating a whore with his cane, and then slicing them up of course. Altogether a surprisingly unpleasant and disturbing one from Perkins.

Edison & Leo  
A stop-motion animation written by George Toles (who wrote many Guy Maddin movies) should be promising. But this is one of those movies where you wonder why it isn't as entertaining and captivating as it looks like it should be. Edison the inventor and his son Leo are the stars in this re-invented and not very flattering portrayal. Edison steals everything he can get his hands on, even if it means ignoring explicit instructions from Native American witch-doctors on how to save his wife. Leo becomes a freak as a result, and the natives come for revenge, while his other son, the idiot Faraday (?), gets more frustrated at his lack of recognition and falls prey to a dominating female native. The tone is jarringly inconsistent, and this may be the prime reason why it doesn't work. One second it's all cute Nick Park kiddy animation, then there is flippant mutilation and beheadings. Come to think of it, all the deaths here are flippant, without being funny. Another potential weak point is that almost all of the characters are unlikeable. There is an endless stream of mildly entertaining jokes with Edison's 'inventions', and there are even robots, but something is missing here...

Elephant Walk, The (AKA For Adults Only)  
Unique Swedish absurdly colorful movie about a day-in-the-life of a little girl from her point of view. All rooms and locations are painted with only the loudest shiniest colors with some imaginative details and props that only a kid would notice, and everything else doesn't exist. Adults are reduced to their most amusingly absurd, simplistic confusing and dramatic behaviour, and kids are dressed up as adults, at least as it would make sense from the point of view of a kid. Interactions with other kids take the utmost seriousness, an encounter with a hoodlum in the street reduces him to a caricature that might just break out into song and dance like a Hollywood musical, and the film is bookended by two musical kid-dreams of a birthday party involving various people she knows taking place inside rooms and furniture with absurdly large proportions as well as gifts, shoes and props the size of furniture. It's like a kid's movie on acid.

Japanese horror movie and murder-mystery that feels like it was based on a manga. Not because it looks like one, but because of the kitchen-sink approach to a plot that, like many mangas, doesn't make a lick of sense and is all about the colorful plot elements. The title is only one of them. There are embalming procedures in graphic detail, illegal organ harvesting in graphic detail, a cult with very bizarre motivations and activities, a girl with multiple personalities, twins, confusion over the identity of a father, a hard-boiled detective, and a missing head. There's gore but it's not a gorefest, more of a gruesome-fest, what with all the twisted activities. A blackly entertaining and bizarre, albeit empty and nonsensical horror movie.

Erotic Witchcraft  
French highly-atmospheric and strange horror movie about dark erotic sorcery. Reminiscent of Rollins in the sense that it never quite makes sense and is mostly about the atmosphere and the constant bouts of nudity and eroticism, except this one is stranger than most of Rollins's output. A bullied young boy becomes a sorcerer's apprentice, learning about various magic, especially how to guard and channel the power of a female figure of dark magic. His girlfriend is a two-timing bitch that treats him horribly, and he lusts after his cousin, but when he performs rituals to gain power, the dark magic overpowers him, leading to a gender-bending and identity transformation, causing people to behave in all sorts of strange ways, including self-mutilation, a writhing dance, with sexual obsessions driving them mad as the witch performs her magic with strange rays and floating flames. Things become increasingly stranger, leading to a climax of surrealism in the form of a bizarre nightmare.

Evenings (De Avonden)  
Dutch lightly-surreal coming-of-age character-study based on a classic novel that is sometimes compared with Catcher in the Rye. The movie dives deep into a highly eccentric and unstable young man's mind, his complex fears and confused mind trying to come to terms with getting older, his strange thoughts, longings and sexual confusion. He obsesses over things like hair-loss, navel-lint, body parts, sanity and counting time, while awkwardly interacting with his devoted mother and absent-minded, intellectual, almost-deaf father. He also has a neurotic relationship with a school-friend, hangs out with a strange one-eyed guy who entertains detailed torture fantasies, makes clumsy sexual attempts, sees his own doppelgänger, expresses his feelings to a toy rabbit, and has confused surreal fantasies. A mix of poignant humor, eccentric character study, a portrait of youth, underlying homosexuality, and a psychological drama

Everything Everywhere All at Once  
This wildly popular movie is as if a new-generation Woke version of Stephen Chow directed The Matrix using the currently popular idea of the multiverse. It's got that way-over-the-top approach to the imagination mixed with crude juvenile humor, but it all comes together for a highly entertaining watch. A Chinese mother of a lesbian teenage drama queen is currently going through many issues to do with her gentle husband, her oppressive old father, her daughter, and dealing with the daily frustrations of running a laundromat, when her world(s) are almost literally turned upside down and finds that only she can save every single universe out there (no matter how silly they may be). Special abilities, details and characters start merging from multiple universes and realities, causing endless chaos and confusion. It was good to see Short Stop/Data as a middle-aged man looking like he hasn't changed much and Michelle Yeoh is superb as always, both with acting and HK-style wild kung-fu comedy. The first half of this movie is very well put together and I was very impressed by how everything was so clear and easy to understand despite all the chaos. This wasn't a bizarre movie like they said it would be, it was all very well thought-through sci-fi and very organized chaos. It just chooses to use things like hot-dog fingers, meta-universe donuts, talking stones, and butt-plug multiverse travelling devices as its humor. (It's by the same directors that brought us 'Swiss Army Man'). But then, halfway through the movie, they start breaking their own rules, one after another, focusing instead on humor and crazy action. Somebody at one point must have decided that if you have a multiverse, you may as well just throw out everything and allow anything to happen, because sci-fi and fantasy are the same, right? And thus the movie which started out so well, deterioriates with every passing minute. And then as the crisis escalates (warning, spoilers), it turns out that every single universe was put in danger, and thousands of people were murdered, just because... a lesbian drama-queen wasn't getting enough love and pride in her lifestyle from her mother. Kindness and hugs turns every killer in the movie into a marshmallow, and a multiverse serial-killer who thinks everything is meaningless turns instantly into a positive person in an endlessly sentimental ending that just kept going and going. Just when I thought this generation couldn't possibly get more narcissistic and obsessed with their emotions, along comes a movie like this one.

Evolution (2021)  
Kornél Mundruczó has gotten a reputation for being a master of the long-unbroken-take not only using it to show off technically, but to use it in ways that add to the impact of the drama. This triptych of a movie consists of three long-take segments, each one depicting the next generation of a Jewish family, starting with the Holocaust and ending in current times. The first is a grippingly, harrowing, brilliant use of surrealism mixed with realistic horror that manages to depict the horror of a concentration camp in 20-minutes with no dialogue simply by showing three cleaners given an unusual task. The second features a holocaust-survivor grandmother and her daughter and is a theatrical piece with (too) long dialogue that depicts the tension between a woman who sees the world through a traumatized survivor's eyes and her daughter who wants to move on despite the still present anti-Semitism. It ends with a surreal tsunami of emotion. The third, which in some ways is the most tragic, shows how the new generation only two stages away is already wanting to simply throw away their heritage and ignore everything that is happening around them. Peace and love at the expense of meaning. An interesting movie, though its technical skill is amazing.

Eyes of My Mother, The  
Portuguese horror movie about a young schizoid woman who was brought up to love surgery by her strange mother. After a traumatic home invasion, she grows lonely and desperate, and makes pets of whomever she can find, even killers, using her surgery for disturbing purposes. Most of the violence is off-screen, but her twisted mind and the long-term sadistic acts of this woman are disturbing nevertheless. The B&W cinematography is nicely done, as is the minimalist atmosphere and mood, but the story is undeveloped with a weak ending. Another fatal flaw is that the characters never make any sense. This movie doesn't even try to build its characters, who murder and do horrible things for no apparent reason.

Exterminator, The  
Although ruthless and even sadistic protagonists and movie heroes are a dime a dozen nowadays, and this movie is pretty tame compared to some modern movies, this 80s movie was a pioneer and caused a big ruckus when it came out, and has become a cult movie since then. It takes the vigilante/revenge movies inspired by Death Wish a few steps further and makes the vigilante just as sadistic as the sleaze-bag criminals he kills. There's a streak of slimy, gritty sadism throughout this movie, from the shocking opener involving a very gory and slow beheading in Vietnam, to the kills involving meat-grinders and flame-throwers, to a sadistic pervert that tortures young boys and girls with a soldering iron (off camera). Truth is though, beyond the big controversy, this movie isn't any good. Death Wish was a hundred times more powerful and memorable and well-written thanks to three-dimensional characters and a practical approach to vigilantism, whereas this one focuses merely on the cruelty and action. But it is interesting for what it is.

Fabulous Baron Munchausen, The  
Czech fantasy has always been a unique cinematic delight, and Karel Zeman's animations are no different. Terry Gilliam cites him as an inspiration and you can see his strong influence in most Python animations. This wonderful Czech version of Munchausen is an impressively seamless combination of animation and live action with a uniquely magical style. As opposed to Gilliam who explored Munchausen's adventures with his patented meta-story approach and surreal exploration of the imagination peppered with Munchausen's actual adventures, this movie simply tells some of his adventures (without his super-powered side-kicks). Except the adventures sport an imagination that knows no boundaries, which is to be expected with Munchausen. The tales sometimes becomes so absurdly fantastical, when combined with this dream-like not-so-juvenile style of animation, it almost becomes surreal. A space-scientist moon-man finds Munchausen on the moon along with Cyrano and other romantics, and a quick trip to the Earth with flying horses and witches sets off a series of adventures where Munchausen battles whole armies single-handed, gets eaten by a fish, travels on a cannonball, etc. while the moon-man becomes his rival adventurer and fantasist. A marvel and a joy to watch for all ages, but Gilliam's masterpiece superseded this by miles.

This one screams Troma from every pore but surprisingly, is not a Troma movie. It's a very silly horror-sex-comedy with a couple of splattery scenes of gore. A horny guy wakes up with an unusual hangover and a booty call from an even hornier girl. Turns out he has acquired an unusual form of STD vampiricism, and, given his unusual theory on how to cure STDs, they both go on a quest to find new crotches...I mean victims. The dialogue is silly but hilarious, the rude and crude genital-humor is juvenile but amusing in the best Troma tradition, and there are a couple of splatter scenes courtesy of Koch. Also features cheesy nude aliens, a gay fisherman, and a Hasidic drug-dealer. Strictly for people that like their comedy rude, horny, immature, home-made and silly. Wears out its welcome towards the end.

Fantastic Planet (AKA Savage Planet)  
70s inventive sci-fi animation about humans living under the oppression and domestication of huge blue intelligent aliens who refuse to believe that humans (Oms) are intelligent. Some humans are domesticated and played with, others live in the wild and are regularly massacred in a cleansing. When a domesticated Om escapes with a machine that teaches dangerous knowledge, the tables turn. The animation is simple but unique and effective, the plot isn't particularly creative, but the star of this one is the amazingly inventive and almost surreal alien world where aliens meditate, float in bubbles to another planet on top of huge statues, glowing humans participate in strange rituals, and various extremely alien plants and creatures weave clothes, whip their stems, move or hunt in strange ways, etc. Sometimes feels like an early French version of anime. Dreamy, fascinating and unforgettable. Also check out Laloux's "Time Masters" which is equally fantastical and imaginative but less surreal.

Female Convict Scorpion Jailhouse 41  
The second in a series of six classic Japanese exploitation movies revolving around an angry, wrongly convicted woman who quietly endures numerous acts of humiliation and violence from various people as well as her prison guards, waiting for her chance to pounce like a scorpion and wreak her horrible revenge. She is silent for almost the whole movie and acts with her defiant glare. This entry is the most bizarre of the lot, featuring insanely colorful surreal sequences while they attempt their escape, usually involving her fellow convicts as she envisions them teasing, attacking or performing bizarre acts of violence, and a hallucinative scene with a witch who leads a theatrical performance introducing the crimes of each convict before she is swallowed by leaves. Obviously one of the movies Tarantino paid homage to in Kill Bill. Colorful and entertaining over-the-top trash with cartoonish characters, blended with art-house aesthetics.

Female Hell: The Moist Forest (AKA Woods are Wet)  
A slightly more extreme Pinku based on Marquis De Sade's writings. A woman on the run is tricked and kidnapped by a married couple that run a hotel/brothel for indulged perversions. The owners philosophize about lust, desire, nature and happiness while they rape, murder, whip, play psychological games and indulge in some necrophilia.,

Female Ninja Magic  
Actually a series of exploitative, violent, pinku eiga movies on strange female ninja fighting techniques, pioneered by 100 Trampled Flowers, which is also possibly the most extreme of the lot. These movies are like the female counterpart to Hanzo the Razor, except they are more outlandish. The plots are typically convoluted or confusing, but who pays attention to the plot when you have one violent or bizarre sex scene after another, involving things like: vagina bubbles used as weapons, breast acid, instant pregnancy, vaginal tentacles, deadly pubic hair, explosive testicles, third leg hell, vaginal liquids used to make molds and copies of faces, and lots more. This is the kind of film where you learn valuable life lessons such as that female ninja vaginas are dangerous even after their death, and it's a no-brainer for people that would like to see Japanese violence, weirdness, exploitation, sex, and period action all in one movie. So what are you waiting for? For reference, here are links to more entries in the series: Another early entry from the 70s In Bed with the Enemy, the classic 90s series: 1 2 3 4 5, and some other miscellaneous entries: here, here, and here.

Flavia: The Heretic  
A beautiful defiant woman is locked up in a convent by her father. Flaunting dangerous feminist tendencies while other women are being raped and tortured, she befriends a local Jew then welcomes invading Muslims in the hope for emancipation and revenge. The overly-handsome Arab leader at first seems to be all she hoped for and feeds the nuns hallucinative drugs, making them take part in orgies and strange games, gnaw on each other and climb into gutted animal corpses (don't ask). If ever there was a classy nunsploitation movie (normally an oxymoron), this would be it. But the good production values can't rise above the exploitative roots, and the nudity, gore and crude feminist tirades pull this down.

Flora on the Sand  
Very early Pinku with a very light sprinkling of art-house and surrealism, Koji Wakamatsu style. It's like Resnais directing a Pinku. A man, obsessed with stories of jealousy and strange love triangles, hears a rumor that his father may have slept with his current wife back in the day when she was very young. The barber teases him that he looks just like his father and this doesn't help matters. He soon meets a teenage girl and seduces her. But this girl has a strange hatred towards her sister who is secretly into masochistic sex. Things get complicated. Soon he isn't only merging with his father in his mind, but the two sisters as well. There are strange references to dolphins, the color red, a dream of getting lost in a bright light, and sudden changes to the scenery synchronized with changes in their relationship. By the director of 'Crazed Fruit' which paved the way for Pinku films.

4th Dimension, The  
Strictly speaking, this reality-bending atmospheric movie isn't a surreal movie, although it may feel like one. It's a character study of a young intelligent man with an obsession with time. Through flash-backs we witness his upbringing, his clash with a boring school, relationship with his sick mother, and precocious knowledge and scientific investigations. He narrates about finding himself in different realities while he sleeps, and discusses ideas and possibilities of time. But his reality seems fractured, and his mind, disconnected. His customers and acquaintances find him strangely detached, and the room in which he works seems to change on its own. This all leads to a reveal at the end that should be obvious to anyone that has watched movies of this kind. The movie is very well done, with very good cinematography, acting, and sound, despite its low budget. The problem is only the simplicity of its ideas, plot and ending.

This psychological horror movie takes its cue from Angel Heart, except that it is a variation on that theme. A man with amnesia starts getting strange experiences, nightmares and visions in some kind of alternate reality involving blood-soaked women. He follows clues into his past. The direction and atmosphere is neo-noir and quite good, the developments and acting are also good, but the protagonist is a bit too flat during upheavals, and the ending is way too pat and weak, leaving a hollow aftertaste. The visions are nicely nightmarish and lightly surreal, and the gore effects come courtesy of Fred Vogel, who seems to be restrained for the most part until a jaw-dropping splattery and brutal scalping scene where it feels like the director suddenly handed the reigns to Vogel. A pretty good one-time watch.

Henenlotter style mutant twisted comedy mixed with Airplane-style wacky joke-a-minute writing with a dash of Bill and Ted moronic humor. A celebrity is hired as a spokesperson for a company that produces a toxic chemical. He soon finds himself converted into a disgusting mutant and living with a group of freaks while warding off a psychic connection with a child-troll and evading rasta-eyeballs with machine guns. Features Mr. T as a bearded lady and other freaky casting choices. Very entertaining but moronic.

Red Riding Hood - the trash version. Little Red is a foul-mouthed, illiterate, angry criminal, abused and molested by her step-father, various other people and the legal system. Her mother is a prostitute and drug-addict, her step-father a crack-addict pedophiliac and the wolf a clever pervert, murderer and necrophiliac. This is trashy entertainment at its stylish best, with colorful characters and events that manage to appeal to most people, but it isn't as clever as it thinks it is and is therefore too dumb to be a satire, too low-brow to be funny and too full of repulsive people to be involving. Like a car wreck though, it is entertaining.

Free Will, The  
This is a 3-hour uncompromisingly dark German character study in the vein of Gaspar Noé movies and Leaving Las Vegas. For three hours, it explores the character of a beastly rapist, his attempt to rehabilitate, and the broken girl that is unlucky enough to fall for him. That description alone should let you know what you are in for. Their relationship is highly unusual, each as dysfunctional as it gets and hating both themselves and the opposite sex, but somehow they find comfort with each other for a while. The movie is also filmed in a realistic gritty style and holds nothing back, including lengthy and graphic rape and masturbation scenes. After one rape, our rapist finds himself locked in a garage and has to search his victim awkwardly for her keys for a few minutes. It's that kind of detail that this movie is after, adding realism and slow depth to its characters, which explains its length. Of course, this raw, slow, wandering style will try the patience of many viewers and add to what is already a difficult film. A couple of scenes towards the end get a little too melodramatic and fatalistic, but despite this and its slow pace and length, the ending still packs quite a punch and leaves one exhausted. And the title of the movie is inspired.

Funny Man  
A cult horror-comedy not exactly having its own logic as much as being completely bonkers. At the surface, this is a movie featuring a supernatural wise-cracking killer. But the victims all react very oddly and unnaturally to their encounters with death, partially taking part in the strange game that the Joker has set up for them, as if they were all drugged. There's a lengthy sequence where a man partakes in a sex-club run by an obvious demon who offers music-wigs and even appears in drag, there are various odd deaths with even odder wisecracks, and then there's the female 'Psychic Commando' with a mutating hand that turns into a weapon. It's actually indescribable how odd this is. The wrapper plot, by the way, involves Christopher Lee losing his ancestral home in a game of poker, only to have the last laugh. An oddly odd oddity.

Ga-ga: Glory to the Heroes  
The last, and the most surreal, in an interesting trilogy of sci-fi and dystopian Polish films with satirical content. The first is War of the World: Next Century, about Martians landing on Earth and mingling with society, the media and officials using both the Martians and the humans to force radical changes and rules on the population. The second is O-Bi, O-Ba - The End of Civilization, a downbeat post-apocalyptic movie where almost everyone has gone insane in a bunker while waiting and going to absurd extremes to prepare for a mythical Ark. And this movie is about a forced 'hero', who is first kicked into a spaceship after an absurd ceremony and told to colonize a planet, and then lands in a ridiculous planet where heroes are manipulated into committing crimes so that they can be impaled on a huge pole and thus serve to uplift society. He wades through this absurd world dominated by a fascination with violence, prostitution and crime, where the long arm of the law is a surreal zombie arm that can be ripped out its socket, and restaurants serve human body parts, trying to find a way out for him and an innocently young, forced prostitute.

Another imaginative sci-fi animation from René Laloux (Fantastic Planet) where he creates such an alien world, the imagination becomes surreal. This features plants give birth to little strange creatures breast-fed by a blue woman, a mysterious huge brain behind an army of mindless hollow robots that turn people into statues, video-camera birds, a whole range of bizarre mutants, weapons that grow spiked plants, psychedelic life made of a pink mass, and more. The story involves an idyllic planet suddenly finding itself at war with robots, and a hero is sent to investigate and fight the menace. The developments and writing only really make sense if you are under the influence, and the animation isn't exactly impressive, but it's the visuals and imagination that are the stars.

Garden of Delights  
Catholic guilt and frustrated repressed desire has never been more prominent and artistically portrayed in a movie than in this Italian piece of provocation. It closely resembles some of the more mystical and heavy Ingmar Bergman movies about Christianity, except it dives into the inner mind of its protagonist rather than tell a tale. A recently married doctor checks into a hotel with his new ravishing but pregnant wife whom he did not want to marry. Sex is out of the question, but lust and sin are always there, even in the form of a mysterious surreal neighbor who constantly lures him and taunts his roller-coaster emotions right into a surreal nightmare. His childhood traumas and repressive upbringing is explored in hallucinatory flashbacks. One scene juxtaposes wild swinging youth with a procession of choir boys. When his wife is taken ill, the guilt and panic take on new forms. Ironically, church censorship allegedly cut out 20 minutes of this film, leaving 70 more minutes of aspersions.

Garden of Delights, The  
Spanish metaphor and psychological drama with touches of Bunuelian absurdity and surrealism. After an accident leaves a millionaire businessman with amnesia and partial paralysis, his family try to stage complicated scenes to shock his memory and recover his fortune. Harsh childhood punishments, a naked breast, his first communion mixed metaphorically with the Spanish revolution, momentous board meetings, harsh treatments from his household, and even a seductive nurse he had an affair with are all fair game towards their ultimate goal. The man finds himself re-experiencing various parts of his life and re-creating reality, with his mind suddenly digressing into fantasies and hallucinations involving a violent ride in a wheelchair, menacing medieval knights, and an army of kids fighting in a bloody battle. Slightly vague in its message, but in the end, everyone in Spain is in a state of paralysis and trying to remember or recreate their memories.

Get Mean  
There have been several odd Westerns such as Django with elements of fantasy, odd characters and strange atmosphere, but this one takes the cake. It throws logic, coherency and history out the window and replaces it with a cartoon featuring one outlandish adventure after another just so that the wannabe-Clint-Eastwood hero with no name can wisecrack and kick ass. A man is dragged through the desert by his horse while magic is afoot, and before he knows it, he becomes embroiled in a war between Barbarians dressed as Vikings and a Spanish princess, whom he decides to take to Spain for a big reward (what?). In Spain he finds a war between Barbarians and Moors and decides to play them both, getting himself in constant danger with a Barbarian that has an anger problem, his effeminate assistant and a humpback who thinks he's Richard III. In between, he finds time to go on a quest for treasures amidst ghosts and skeletons that make him howl like a wolf and turn him black in a puff of smoke. Yeah, I don't get it either. Too silly, incoherent and brainless to be entertaining, but definitely distracting.

Gloria Mundi (AKA In Hell AKA Tortura)  
An attempt at blurring the lines between revolutionary or political art, and terrorism. The actress in this movie convincingly acts as an actress in a movie within the movie, giving her total commitment to the cause of repressed and tortured revolutionaries everywhere. When the director wants her to scream in pain, he asks her to actually torture herself. She willingly undergoes humiliations throughout the movie, not only for the movie she is making, but also by the detached and depraved bourgeoisie in the movie-industry that are fighting a passive-aggressive war against her missing director. This war at times seems and feels like a real guerrilla war, with many secret underground activities required to get the film produced and away from the powers that be, humiliations and physical abuse by rich producers, and an uncaring first-world audience that perverts and pokes fun at the important message they are trying to convey. She undergoes vomit, self-torture, dangerous acting practices involving actual bombs, and seedy assignments in filthy apartments. And then there's snippets of the film itself, involving sexual humiliation with bottles, and torture by an oppressor. This is performance art on a visceral level backed by a message, albeit the message goes no further than to provide general support for victims in oppressive countries, and it is almost drowned in the primal anger and abuse in the movie that borders on exploitation in itself.

Gnome (Skrítek)  
Czech slapstick comedy with fantasy/surreal elements. A dysfunctional family is portrayed in Benny Hill sped-up fashion, with grunts and garbled words replacing dialogue. The father works in a meatpacking plant and is having an affair, the son is a pothead vandal and generally wild youth, the daughter doesn't pay attention at school, and the wife, who works at the supermarket, is slowly going insane. There are antics with the meat at the factory, and inventive ways to smoke pot in class, but the story is generally mundane and uninteresting, except for the fact that a very weird gnome keeps appearing with magical abilities and a rubber face, that beguiles the little girl, takes her on silly little outings on a pig, climbing over buildings, and makes trees grow out of her homework. There's not much of a payoff and it wears out its welcome, but it's somewhat entertaining and definitely unique.

God Made Man  
There is quirky humor, there's humor with a bizarre imagination, and then there's just bizarre humor that lives in a world of its own. This comedy reminded me a bit of Robert Downey Sr. movies in its scattershot, anything-goes approach. This goes out of its way to make its characters do the unexpected. It also has a subtitle "...But Monkeys Supplied the Glue". From among the many scenes and sketches here, there's a CEO having an affair with a very slutty bisexual Satan, there's random gory violence against hands (one of which is worn as a hat), a dead rat that serves as an aphrodisiac, ongoing tasty urine jokes, an evil doctor and a masochistic married woman, a blaxploitation spoof with a character nicknamed 'The Baby' that wears diapers, and much more. Some of the scene punchlines are amusingly absurd, others are just out there.

God Told Me To  
Messy but thoughtful film that tries to mix religion, faith, alien abduction and a Scanners-like plot-line where beings with superpowers are controlling others and making them kill. The killers are convinced God made them do it and a religious police investigator tries to put the strange pieces together. Unfocused and flawed in many ways, but somewhat interesting.

Art-house, borderline surreal, sci-fi from Poland. The writing is at times, challenging, obtuse or interesting and the setup seemingly involves a future where humans are engineered beings, shaped and re-shaped by the government as necessary. In the midst of this strange world, a man (Pernat) who shows kindness unpredictability, and humanity is a freak that sends the officials into a panic. This is a strange Kafkaesque world, with repressive powers in control, and insane humans, their personalities changing day by day, their friends and neighbours barely trying to make sense of the changes and shifting new realities around them. In this surreal world, a director thinks Pernat wandered off his fake television set as part of a crowd of make-believe excited humans, Pernat sheds skin off his face, criminals don't care for consequences because they know they will simply get a new life, and angry sons send a vial of their blood to their fathers in a confused gesture. Half fascinating, half enigmatic.

Goodbye Dear Moon  
This one feels like an Argentinian version of 'Dark Star' with its low-budget space-mission-gone-bad anything-goes humor, though it has more social commentary and is a bit less funny. Three astronauts are sent to destroy the moon. Things go wrong, they get stuck in orbit, then they go mad, then a bizarre alien comes to visit and converts the ship into a musical soap-opera drama gone weird while their government keeps changing its mind. Includes edible alien gunk, a hallucinative love triangle, fatal computer games, and shape-shifting genitalia.

Horror involving motherhood and babies is not new, but this one carves its own niche by making it more disturbingly realistic. Not campy like It's Alive, and not intensely gory, but this one reminded me of Zombie Honeymoon in the way it mixes undead horror with loving relationships, warping everything and getting under your skin in the process. Except this one deals with a baby and a lot of subtext involving dominating women. The wife lies back joylessly for some sex in order to get impregnated, the wife insists on her way of doing things and chooses a lesbian vegan midwife over a patriarchal doctor (who turns out to be wrong), the mother, who had two miscarriages, brings her stillborn baby back to life and insists on taking care of it no matter what happens, the mother-in-law wants to take care of it herself now that her son and whipped husband don't need her. Even more horrifyingly, the husband dies without any grief from his wife now that he did his part. Now take all this, and add an undead baby with a taste for blood, and the extents the women will go to in order to feed it, and what do we have?

Great McGonagall, The  
An odd, mad biopic made into a Pythonesque comedy based on the real McGonagall, a poet so bad only he didn't know how bad he was. Spike Milligan, a purely British nonsensical comedian who also wrote Bed-Sitting Room, acts as McGonagall, who delivers a guttural groan before each recital, Peter Sellers is Queen Victoria, and some guy dressed as Hitler (top half only) is Prince Albert. Most of the movie is repetitive as McGonagall tries to impress various people and the queen with his poetry, only to be laughed at, played tricks on, abandoned and beaten up. In between these bouts of bad verse with inspirational music are sight gags, odd and comical staged sequences of travels and wars, ad-libbed humor, silly antics, and bizarre touches like a dancing naked girl in his jail cell after he gets punched out. Mostly silly, sporadically humorous.

Greener Grass  
Very eccentric and oddball comedy that sometimes feels like a Bunuelian satire on suburban behaviour, and the rest of the time it's just an extended offbeat SNL sketch. This is a warped but very plastic and colorful suburban-housewife world where dramas are made of absurd little things like soiling a beanbag, but disturbing things like giving your baby away to the wrong person or kissing the wrong husband are oopsied away. This is also a world where parents wear braces, kids can change species, where objects pass as babies, and a boy can become an evil kid after watching one wild program on TV. Jill finds herself losing everything in this minefield of suburban manners, and having to apologize for it.

Green Knight, The  
A retelling of the Arthurian legend 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' that not only changes the heart of the story, but focuses purely on its symbolic and visual aspects. Which explains why it went over the heads of audiences expecting a fantasy story. This movie is very ambitious in terms of mythical visuals, art-house abstraction and cinematography, but is insultingly small-headed with its approach to humanity and honor. You see, the original story was a story about a brave knight being tested for chivalry and honor, and one tiny sin of dishonesty during his many adventures marked his neck, and he kept a symbolic sash forever to remind him of his weakness. This movie however, portrays a pathetic salacious youngster with no honor or bravery whatsoever, who displays only the most cowardly and weak-willed behaviour in his adventures, and one tiny act of courage brings him redemption. Oh, how our standards and heroes have changed! In addition, it wants to portray Arthur himself as sick, and nature/women/witches as strong. The movie as an experience, however, is nothing short of magical, with misty naked gray giants, demanding ghostly maidens, strange magical rituals, a tree-knight challenging knights, a talking fox, etc. and the atmosphere together with the fact that this tale can only be interpreted though its symbolism creates a not-quite-surreal experience.

Half wacky spoof on Jaws, half hardcore porno. The monster here is a mermaid with a fatal oral sex technique. There are scared but excited beach-mongers, hunters, a tense sheriff, an expert pervert as his aide with a blow-up doll, and a Nazi hunter of dangerous mermaids with a secret Fuhrer in his bag. Very off-the-wall parody with scenes of men getting off on a woman riding a horse, a horny parrot, a mermaid appearing in a toilet, and actors suddenly being replaced with very horny puppets.

Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack  
Weird animated manga horror madness by the writer of Uzumaki. Watching this, I thought that this is what a movie by Hayao Miyazaki would look like if he converted to the dark side of the force. It has the richly imaginative unique creatures, as well as traces of eco-horror, except it is dark, apocalyptic and horrific in the vein of Urotsukidoji. Various people try to survive in an onslaught of creatures from the sea: fish, sharks, and others, all somehow equipped with mechanical legs run by foul-smelling gas. The horror keeps mutating throughout the movie and starts affecting humans, resulting in gas-ridden body-horror and nightmarish apocalyptic visions. There's even a circus that pops out of nowhere that finds gruesome entertainment in the new mutant creatures and gas. The story involving a mad professor, a journalist, and a girl trying to find her friend are instantly forgettable. It's all about the grotesque and imaginative visuals.

Australian experimental drama about an old, violent-prone ex-con who gets released from jail and comes back to his girlfriend. The filming and acting are highly naturalistic, and the movie takes its time setting up the characters and atmosphere for most of its running time. The cinematography often experiments with rough close-ups and short oneiric scenes that present the inside of his mind during emotional situations. But this goes full-on experimental for the final third of the film as things go haywire and the man goes off the deep-end, taking the cinematography, sound and editing along with him. Scenes become increasingly disjointed as the visuals explore his inner turmoil, and as he goes into free-fall and turns to violence, so does a horse, literally flying through the sky. It's quite effective and very intense, but not for everyone.

Hail of Bullets, A  
Greek surreal comedy that caused a huge controversy in Greece when it was accidentally partially aired on TV in the 80s despite some nudity, which was then cut off the air after a few minutes, triggering an uproar and even rumored to have caused a resignation. People are still talking about this incident and don't talk much about the movie itself, which isn't much to write home about. The 'artist' director presents a seeming auto-biography of his life, his various relationships with women and the various stages in his life, all portrayed in absurdist scenes of satire, some surrealism, and peppered with many traditional songs usually sung by the female actresses. The first few minutes are what caused the controversy, featuring him acting as a baby while his mother covers his genitals with talc powder, diapers him up, and breast-feeds him, while his other female relatives all surrealistically appear as breasts with masks.

In an alternate world where Japan is smashed by continuous war and bombing, the depressed, insane and poor population is still looking up to pop stars and models. Models pose amidst wreckage, and bratty, psychopathic pop-stars live in a huge mountain castle next to a poor village. Isawa is a suicidal artist who is suffering from depression and who slowly falls for the eccentric neighbour's strange pet, an idiot woman. Striking movie with some poetic imagery, and weird characters and costumes a la Fifth Element, as well as a handful of short surreal dreams, one involving a huge goddess idiot woman coming out of a volcano. Poetic, with a theme of people abandoning their humanity under duress, but not as deep or focused as I would have liked.

Hamburg Syndrome, The  
At the surface, this looks like another one of those Euro post-apocalyptic eccentric movies where the cause of the end is less important than the rapid deterioration of society. A handful of survivors run from one adventure to another, encountering all manners of people going insane in a kind of frantic road trip. But what makes this one slightly more than eccentric, is Arrabal himself in a demented performance as a very vigorous survivor in a wheelchair with a devil-may-care attitude, as well as several satirical stabs at a petrified German culture dying from a weird virus that reverts people to the fetal position.

Ham on Rye  
What's interesting about this little film is how it manages to be surreal without using any surrealism. It's all about capturing a feeling, a symbolic rite of passage in society, and the portrayal of social circles that don't fit in and get left behind. It features scores of characters, but no stories, and it will both bore the hell out of you and intrigue. The youth of a town are gathering for a rite of passage, a kind of prom that takes place in a diner. It's strange and awfully familiar at the same time. Expectations and anxiety are high, including the parents. They slowly gather, most of them awkwardly but successfully emerge from the event with a partner, and there's a literal light of revelation that is reserved only for the successful ones that promptly disappear and move on away from the town. Except that some of them drop out of the conformist social railway track for various reasons, and promptly find themselves in a not-quite-surreal awkward life of the isolated eternal townie, left behind by society and friends, where nothing happens for a very long time both in the movie and in their lives. A perfectly ordinary strange film.

Háry János  
Phantasmagorical Hungarian animation and folk opera that often feels like a marriage between Baron Munchausen and Fantasia, if the Baron were on shrooms that is. It tells the epic, mythical-in-scale tale of a Hungarian hero whose adventures and exploits are bigger than the world, and all of them are depicted with the most lively, colorful, imaginative, constantly morphing imagery that knows no boundaries, sometimes reaching surreal proportions. He can lasso a snowballed complete house just to save a maiden, defeat Napoleon single-handedly, tame a wild horse that can tear apart a palace, etc. When Napoleon asks for a bigger map, it literally covers the whole army, an annoying French nobleman literally turns into a fly, a gaggle of boys literally multiply into a grand choir Fantasia style, etc. Every few seconds there is something imaginative and colorful to look at, and it is backed by a grand symphony orchestra.

Hawks and Sparrows  
Pasolini's strange absurdist satire about life, relative ideologies and preaching to the choir. An old man (Toto the clown) and his jaunty son walk down the road witnessing and remarking on birth, marriage and death while being preached to by a talking Marxist crow. In an alternate story, the same duet find themselves Franciscan monks told to proselytize to the hawks and sparrows. After much meditation and soul-searching, his eyes are illuminated and they start hopping and chirping the love of Jesus to the birds. The birds agree, but not with each other. After much disillusionment, they decide to enjoy their life on this world with simple things like prostitutes and cooked birds. Mostly meandering silliness with some amusing satire.

Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, The  
After Asia Argento's self-indulgent, boring debut Scarlet Diva, she tries again as another self-destructive girl, this time with the focus on a 7 year old boy who gets a childhood from hell in the process. Asia acts as his mother: a drug-addict, trashy, bitch whore with a serious chip on her shoulder who tells the kid she wanted to flush him down the toilet when he was born, his grandparents are cartoonishly cruel Christian fundamentalists, and in between these two alternative hells he gets hooked on drugs, dressed like a little girl, raped, etc. The abuse is too over-the-top to be realistic and the true story this is based on was exposed as a fake, but the gritty unrelenting drama is strong and the direction is surprisingly good.

Heart of Midnight  
Another lurid Jennifer Jason Leigh vehicle that is kind of a remake of Repulsion but which takes the concept further, with a strange, other-worldly gothic atmosphere like Jack Be Nimble, and some light Lynchian touches. A strangely neurotic woman inherits a night club from her uncle, and as she renovates the place, she discovers disturbing things about him while experiencing ghost-like happenings in the seedy rooms. Perversions and strange characters wander into her life and pitch their tents, slowly driving her insane. Includes surreal nightmares and some weird scenes that don't make sense, and the ending somehow ties things together without explaining much. Weak script, great direction.

Heavy Traffic  
Gritty, feel-bad, but magical animation from Bakshi who is at the top of his game here, tying together his favorites of raunch, violence, bizarre touches, stereotypes, animation mixed with live action, and some autobiographical elements in a confident, free-wheeling creation. Michael is an underground cartoonist with an Italian hood for a father, and a psychotic Jewish mother. He befriends the local riff-raff, and gets hooked with a black woman who leads him down the road to pimp-dom, while his father develops complications with the Mafia. This is a cruel, violent, filthy world where a son laughs off his mother's attempts at killing his father, where women push cops off a building, and people are killed for no reason while pedestrians brush it off with a joke. This unpredictable, cruel, frustrating life is compared using editing to a pinball machine. There is a masochistic, desperate transvestite, an angry half-man, a hugely fat woman who tries to sexually train a son in front of his parents, psychedelic strippers, and various other odd, filthy and raunchy scenes, including a completely bizarre Godfather scene involving bullet holes in the face, Jesus and human pasta.

One-of-a-kind campy trash about an angry killer in a wheelchair. But it's really about just delivering one trashy vignette and campy scene after another. At the center is a twitching, homeless, wheelchair-bound guy (acted with gusto by Ron Litman) who is very angry at the world in general, especially bullies and rich people. When his aunt gets attacked by siamese-twin rapists (!), he goes on a rampage. There are random extended scenes of porn stars working out and getting naked only to get killed. There's Johnny Legend as a homeless guy who wants to rob rape and kill, preferably in that order. There's death by iron, a bit of gleeful gore, sexy female bullies, news bulletins about the latest social antics by serial killers, and a funny mad scientist who invents a serum that will convert intellectuals into bums. The actors are bad but are having lots of fun with it, and the movie is done very cheaply. A bad movie for sure, but an entertaining trashy one that knows its limitations and its goal.

Here Comes The Devil  
Argentinian horror movie about evil that is part intense and dark horror, part sloppy exploitation. A demonic force originating in a mysterious hill is possessing people, making them do nihilistic and violent things like chop off the fingers of a lesbian lover and rape babysitters. When a couple with two pubescent children almost lose their children after an encounter with a pervert, their lives are turned inside out as they suspect a traumatic sexual encounter. The movie toys with things like pedophilia and incest, and delivers demonic visions as well as one shocking splattery scene of throat-ripping from an unexpected person. Motivations and behaviour feel undeveloped and all over the place, and the lesbian sex is completely irrelevant, but the dark and twisted horror stays with you.

Japanese art-house ancient-history piece from a time of cult tribes and rival worshippers of sun and mountain gods. Himiko is the queen and psychic medium of the sun cult, and she falls in love with her half-brother who prefers a woman from the mountain-god clan, while her high priest manipulates and moves his political pawns. But this movie is less about the narrative, and more about the striking, bizarre and other-worldly costumes, sets, makeup and theatrical physical performances. I am not well-versed enough to classify these, and they do seem partially modern, but, visually and aesthetically they are fascinating, unique and make a strong impact. Some very odd freaks creep their way in a physically-twisted performance through the various sets as possible symbolic elements of destruction, and the punishments and executions are bizarrely grotesque but tasteful. Moderately interesting, theatrical, visual art, good for a single watch.

Holy Sand  
Yugoslavian oneiric allegory criticizing the outcome of the Communist revolution; A film that was hidden by the authorities for a long time. An older man, a war veteran who committed a faux pas, finds himself both shunned by society, irrelevant and even ignored as if he didn't exist, unable to connect with people. He tries to impress a woman (who probably stands in for the revolution), with stories, pictures and maturity, but she loses interest and is seduced by a charmer instead, leading to a symbolic coupling and fight on top of a corn tower. He is left with only a crazy woman-child whom he chases to no avail. The past is shown as an absurdly strict, ideological and harsh work camp, and the man wonders what it was all for...

Horror Network Vol. 1, The  
An otherwise completely amateurish, poor and forgettable horror anthology if not for one segment. Anthologies are rarely cohesive, but this one also happens to be particularly random in tone as well as in style, the shorts being completely different from one another. There's a completely inept, ambiguously supernatural scare-short that relies completely on sound and cheap jump-scares since it has nothing else to offer. There's a badly acted, predictable and annoying confrontation between patient and shrink that leads to a twist that only a first-time movie-maker would find interesting. There's a scared, mostly-deaf girl being stalked in a short that does well for a while with its paranoid atmosphere and a nice little twist, but then this short commits suicide for a cheap ending. The fifth short is both a pretentiously biblical and empty-headed, forgettable portrayal of an extremely deviant gay serial-killer neighbour. The fourth Spanish short, however, is called "Merry Little Christmas", and is a visual hell of extreme trauma portrayed via horrific nightmare imagery, gore, abuse and the self-abuse that results as experienced by an abused mother, and her traumatized daughter who saw the extreme abuse. Although it has nothing interesting to say, it manages to create an effective, disturbing, visually-oriented, slightly surreal, hellish nightmare of abusive trauma for its short running time.

Horror Story  
Pulp gothic horror, Czech style. A writer/narrator guides us through a kaleidoscope patchwork of old-school horror, melodrama, slapstick and expressionism all filmed in tinted sepia and intertitles with sudden bursts of unexpected gore and nudity. The stories are lurid, wild, whimsical and all over the place, and include an evil Jesuit, a proud nobleman, pirates, bloodthirsty monks, necrophiliac morgue employees, wild passion in the forest, criminals, cave monsters, zombies, seductions, corruptions, primitive tribes, bar brawls, etc. Some of the stories blend in incoherent ways and the writer's own life becomes its own little horror story. Entertaining, stylish and wild.

House (AKA Hausu)  
Extremely campy Japanese take on the haunted house theme filmed almost as a bouncy children's story with bright colors, cheery schoolgirls, Beetlejuice-like crazy hauntings and insane editing. Seven schoolgirls, each with a special talent (kung-fu, melody, fashion, brains, etc), visit grandmother in a spooky house filled with flying objects, biting decapitated heads, hungry grand pianos, malignant light fixtures, and a few dozen other hyperkinetic bizarre special effects colored into the film's negative.

How to Get Ahead in Advertising  
British, obvious, over-the-top but amusingly insane satire with elements of fantasy, absurdism and a touch of surrealism. A wicked advertising guru reaches a psychological crisis when trying to come up with a new way to sell acne and boil cream. His mind and conscience split as he reaches an epiphany but can't contain it or come to terms with it, going insane. His body grows a boil on the side of his neck which starts talking to him, and which slowly grows in both size and personality. Over-the-top intense acting, with a wicked twist that turns surreal in the end, but crudely written and lacking insight.

Odd and eccentric cult sci-fi movie with Terence Stamp. He stars as a version of himself who is convinced by an group of scientists to take part in their outlandish time-travel experiment. Time travel in this movie is performed by collecting emotional energy from many human beings, then travelling using this energy and a dangerous form of mind-control. In order to collect the energy, Terence is placed in a series of dangerous situations and broadcasted to the public. Terence is motivated by his own idea of re-connecting with his dead girlfriend. We are then treated to a series of several striking scenes of Stamp on a disappearing island, walking amongst a lava river, on a glacier and so on, as he emotes and projects a variety of emotions and meditational thoughts, all accompanied by a very eccentric soundtrack. It doesn't really reward the viewer beyond the visuals however, and this is not anywhere near the level of Resnais's 'I Love You, I Love You', but it has an atmosphere of its own.

Human Animals  
A very simplistic parable about humans reduced to savagery filmed on a low budget with no dialog. Two men and a woman wake up in the aftermath of nuclear armageddon. At first they are innocent and happy and are joined by a helpful dog, but soon hardships, food, pleasure, weapons, and mostly lust convert their simple paradise to hell with jealousy, rage, and greed rearing their ugly heads. Who will the woman choose? The answer is not what you think. An uninteresting but entertaining romp full of sex and nudity.

Hunt, The AKA Chasers (Jakten)  
Norwegian unique movie blending an unusual structure with Resnais-esque style that explores psychology and memory through cinema. A love triangle of friends embark on a hunt during which confessions and secrets raise tensions between close friends with a fatal ending. The movie reconstructs the drama via the narration and memories of the protagonists, alternating between their stories so that different viewpoints emerge and diverge, often getting lost in personal tangents and flashbacks, some events becoming confused and muddled by memory and subjectivity. Also features a twist psychological ending. Interesting.

José María Nunes's many films are often just art-house experiments in delivering intellectual ideas or character-studies via unusual editing structures and sound, but sometimes they are so experimental, they flirt with the border of the surreal. For example, Biotaxia was an almost-surreal stream-of-consciousness movie exploring the inner life of a woman who is dead inside. Sexperiencias, the banned movie made eight years before this one, explored what it would take to invoke a revolution and to connect to and care about news-reports, as explored via voice-over dialogues between a girl and her lover, an older revolutionary man. Sexperiencias merely experimented with form and delivery, whereas this one imagines and portrays a kind of psychic relationship between an archetypal city-man and hippy-girl, exploring their needs and longings and possible symbiotic relationship. Although it is portrayed via a man and a woman, they are archetypes, and their relationship takes place as an idea. Their meetings are often layered with baggage from each of their worlds, and while they often meet in many shifting idealized romantic situations, they are also often burdened with their respective lifestyles. The man, especially, is hounded by urban decay, repressive government agents, crime, and social pressures. But also the girl's hippy commune is visited by violent bikers that abuse and rape the hippies. Thus, their encounters shift surrealistically as their psychological pressures and backgrounds impose on their love and romantic meeting places. If Sexperiencias tried to capture empathy with revolutionary feeling, this movie, eight years later, seems to want to escape it. Beyond the interesting cinematic experiment however, the movie soon wears out of things to say, and the idealizing of the hippy commune is tiresome.

I Inside, The  
Another one of those reality-bending mind-warping movies that belongs in the category of Donnie Darko, Stay, etc. except that, at first, it seems to be a relatively more conventional non-linear narrative that unfolds events with criss-crossing timelines involving mental time travel and the ability to change things. This should obviously draw parallels to the more conventional Butterfly Effect or The Jacket, except that there are also nonsensical hallucinations, and illogical cross-references between the various alternate timelines (people change roles, and cause and effect seems to have gone completely haywire). The plot is about a man who wakes up in the hospital with a memory loss of 2 years, who slowly uncovers confusing events involving a possible murder, an affair with his brother's girl, an accident, a blackmail, some of which may or may not have been committed by him. These soapy melodramas seem unreal, also thanks to the inappropriate casting, but the movie seems to insist on their possible reality until the end. There is also another sick man in the hospital that may suggest other solutions to the puzzle and there seems to be as many theories as clues, except that there is always another clue that contradicts any theory you can come up with or a detail that simply has no reason to exist within this theory, and thus your mind will keep wandering in circles. Even the end of the movie itself provides a solution which doesn't fit. In the end, the details fall apart the more you think about it, making the only possible explanation for this movie a surreal, mental hallucination, except that it's too left-brained to be a Lynchian dream-mystery. Intriguing and guaranteed to drive your mind crazy if you think hard about it and pay attention, but it just never clicks together and stays stuck in an endless loop (which may have been the point). I preferred Stay or The Jacket.

I Lost My Body  
Unique French melancholic animation that deals with the many swerve balls that life throws at us. It is a moody animation with moving music, interweaving themes and a simple story, and it makes use of several metaphors, one of which involves a severed hand travelling far and wide to try to re-unite with its owner, like some kind of existential, lightly-surreal and depressive version of Nemo. It portrays a young man who is not having a good life, to say the least, from a family tragedy early on which directly involved him, to many small things that keep on going wrong for him. He makes a connection with a girl, and tries to pursue this through very questionable methods. There are themes of avoiding destiny by doing unpredictable things, a pesky fly that constantly moves faster than everyone else, and an unhealthy interaction with the world through proxies such as intercom and recorded sounds, leading to fantasy and dreams over reality. And of course, there is the severed hand makings its way through Paris, remembering memories and ambitions, and trying to symbolically re-attach itself. It's mostly about themes and moody emotions however, as the story doesn't really go anywhere, and the ending is very weak.

I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK  
Chan-wook Park takes a break from his violent films and directs a romantic comedy a la Amelie, only instead of charming quirks, he uses contrived insanity. A young woman working in a radio factory snaps and thinks she's a cyborg, connecting electrical wires to herself. Or perhaps she just inherited her insanity genes from her grandmother who thinks she's a mouse and eats radishes all day. She gets put away with other quirky loonies, she talks to machines, licks batteries, refuses to eat, watches her power indicators on her toes, fantasizes about shooting all the doctors with her fingers, and interacts with a fat woman who think she can fly using static, a yodeler, a kleptomaniac who steals things like Sympathy and Thursday, the romantic male who tries all kinds of tricks to get her to eat, and so on. The quirk is forced and silly, failing at charming or involving the audience, but the movie is interesting and fun because of its amazing visual style, albeit with Park's typical pointless shuffling of flashbacks and narrative.

I'm an Elephant, Madame  
A very Godardesque movie from Germany that is all about shaking things up socially, and having fun with a rapid-fire series of scenes revolving around students and student-teacher confrontations. There's not much a plot besides the student who goes to extremes to provoke and break every rule in the book, causing a political, ideological and existential crisis in the school. Most of the movie consists of playful vignettes, whether it is about the rapid machine-gun attack of education on students, students having fun riding a ridiculous scooter or having awkward sex, the faculty ruling from a balcony like monarchists or fascists, teachers acting out a scene from The Idiot sharing ridiculous stories about the worst things they ever did, a dead teacher, a swastika on a wall and subsequent interviews with angry people in the street, protesting, dancing and acting out as a Native American in front of a line of fascist police, various debates, various oddities and surrealisms that seem to be inserted as jokes, and so on. Not as rewarding as it thinks, but its playfulness is entertaining.

Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle, The  
Dory loses his office job after a mental breakdown, has a religious fit, causing him to try out a different religion a week, and joins a group of highly eccentric janitors consisting of a cross-dressing ex-soldier, the emotionally unstable and very horny duo Methyl and Ethyl, and a colorful man who creates art out of toilets. They unwittingly take part in an experiment involving self-heating cookies that cause striking hallucinations, stomach cramps, salt cravings and very unexpected biological effects in the digestive system. The oddball comedy on janitorial work is funny, but the satire on corporate greed and religions is too silly and superficial, and the movie feels just a tiny bit too wacky, immature and preoccupied with toilet humor to come together satisfyingly. But generally, this is a very uniquely entertaining movie thanks to superb colorful performances and a unique story and direction. I'm hoping for even better things from David Russo.

Impressions of a Drowned Man  
Art-house Greek new-wave style metaphysical experimentation and strangeness. The movie is an existential reflection of self and itself, featuring loops and cinematic mirrors. It plays variations on this theme, such as having a man end where he started, not knowing who he is. It plays heavily with the idea of a ghost stuck in a loop, except he seems to be an ordinary man. There is a riff on poets living forever as exhibitions. And so on. The movie also refers to its own scenes and plays around with its own existential meaning. If one removes the scenes of its protagonist, what is left?

India, La  
Dark Mexican art-house about a bad case of Oedipal Complex. A young Mexican boy witnesses a man having steamy sex with his mother (after he has been thrown out into the rain). This triggers a life-long complex, hating the man to the point of murder, always full of anger against most men, seeing his mother through men's eyes, made worse by witnessing a disturbing graphic abortion and the burying of his unborn sibling. His only friend is an old drunk who is in charge of educating the local village boys, but he isn't treated very well by life in general and the boy turns out even more bitter. The movie is full of symbols such as the taming of animals and animal passion, graphic horse sex, cock-fighting, and his strange encounters in a bar full of freaks and one virginal girl.

Argento's stylish second part of the Three Mothers trilogy is strange and incoherent, cutting from one scene to the next without attempting to make sense. A man in Rome hurries to New York to help his sister who seems to have uncovered a strange, dark supernatural secret. The most memorable scenes are the secret passageways in the walls and under the floorboards in a NY building, the book-seller attacked by a horde of rats, and the only great, creepy scene in the movie where she drops her keys in an underwater room in the cellar and swims down to retrieve them.

In Their Sleep  
Although this is a modern French horror movie involving home invasion, it is not for a desensitized audience expecting extreme gore and violence. The horror in this movie is about deeply disturbed emotional behaviour and melancholia. Anne Parillaud (still as sexy as ever) acts as a mother who lost her teenage son in a stupid fit of suicidal angst. This affects her behaviour when a wave of robberies hits her neighbourhood, and a wounded young man seeks shelter in her home from a violent man. To the movie's credit, it doesn't rely on its fairly predictable twist, revealing this halfway through and developing beyond it. As mentioned, the horror is in the very sick motivations of the bad guy, who mixes vulnerable emotional needs with psychotic behaviour, and his interaction with Sarah results in disturbing developments. But there is also the horror of our vulnerability while we sleep of which this movie brutally takes advantage, including a chillingly cold killing of a child. A movie that will get under your skin, but with a very out-of-place alternate-ending scene spliced into the middle of the movie, and only to be watched if you can take bleak melancholia.

In the Name of the Father  
They don't make satires like this anymore. Marco Bellocchio directs a muscular, off-kilter, provocative, over-the-top satire on the Church and seemingly outdated traditions versus new neo-fascistic and other rebellions and modern systems. Somewhat reminiscent of Lindsay Anderson, he uses a religious school as a microcosm of society, where very eccentric and strict priests try to train rich young men, teenagers, some with a sharp intelligence, and with new ideas that are borderline fascism, and a wild, hateful and rebellious attitude. The place is maintained by the working class who are often treated badly by both groups. The disrespect knows no bounds, resorting to violence, spitting, various psychological games, and worst of all, intelligent but dogmatic debate. One priest lives in a coffin, one young man has his masturbatory fantasies interrupted by a religious experience with a Virgin Mary statue in an amazing scene, and the teenagers act out a Grand Guignol splattery version of Faust on the stage that must be seen to be believed, with the priests confused as to whether they should clap or not. If the intention was to show one side as better than the other than this movie failed. But if the intention was to satirize both sides of a broken society, then it's a memorable one.

Into the Forest  
Atmospheric French movie with light touches of fantasy, horror and surrealism. It's about a tense relationship between two boys and their estranged father in Sweden, especially the younger boy who seems to have a mysterious psychic gift that allows him to connect with his family psychically and also to see strange, disturbingly disfigured, lurking people. The father takes them to a sudden long hiking adventure into the forest, which in itself can be taken metaphorically. Tensions rise in the secluded forest, and the boy worries about the strange disfigured man who seems to have followed them. This one features a very simple idea portrayed using fantasy and surreal elements, and the plot is quite straightforward as well, but it's the atmosphere that makes this one a bit more effective than expected.

Introduction to Another Life  
Serbian very-lightly surreal art-house movie about a writer having a difficult time with writer's block in his house. The whole movie takes place in his attic-house as he contemplates and muses, until he starts getting visitors that may be imagined characters from his stories, real people that he knows, or a combination. There's a sexy girl who may be his girlfriend and who is having problems with his writing as well, and her father, an ex-assassin of some sorts for the Communist party who tells tales of horrific things he was asked to do, and one strange tale of a bear. The past, the imagination, his desire to write something meaningful, and the longing and horrors of real life merge.

It's Me, It's Me  
Satoshi Miki directs a comedy about doppelgangers and identity, but his usual approach is so whimsical, meaningless and chaotic, it turns out surreal. A young man tries a Japanese scam almost by accident that involves him pretending to be someone else, but the result turns out to be so existentially fantastic and confusing, it rapidly goes out of hand. Identities switch, doppelgangers appear, a group of Mes is formed, his various personalities start to clash and then overwhelm, rapid chaotic multiplication must be followed by deletion. Violence ensues. There is no sci-fi explanation, just a wacky comedy on identity that leaves one head-scratching as to what that was all about, but it is entertaining.

Jajo (The Egg)  
Maybe it's something in the water in Poland, but this is not the type of thing you expect to see labelled as a TV movie. Also, at half length, it feels like it was chopped down to 45 minutes. This amusing and very odd drama-comedy-fantasy-horror juxtaposes inter-gender relationship woes with experiments on eggs. Gee, I wonder what the egg symbolizes? It also helps if you notice that our protagonist says she was a cuckoo in her past life, and then she boards with a strange flat-mate who replaces her egg with a mysterious new egg, who then turns into a monster that rapes the professor's wife who wants her ineffectual husband to impregnate her. And then it all becomes clear. Eat your heart out Zulawski.

Jessica Forever  
A lightly surreal, slick metaphor of a French movie about violent masculinity in a world that refuses to give these violent youths a second chance. The film cleverly portrays a dystopian vibe inside a regular urban setting, as if an apocalypse had taken place and nobody noticed. Jessica is a calming gentle muse of a figure for a group of violent youth that society has decided to hunt and kill using an army of drones. Their truly pointless and horrific violent acts clash with their gentler side that only finds its place when they come together as a group with their female muse and influence to calm them. There are some ghostly apparitions of their intentions and deeds, in the past and present, portrayed via sci-fi. Reminiscent of a Claire Denis film, this film is simple, but evocative, and it gives pause.

Heavy-handed Japanese meditation on life's bad karma and suffering, and then a brutal, gory hell. A man accidentally runs over someone with his evil friend who then drives away. Things go terribly wrong from then on, with deaths and moral corruption driving his guilt and despair into a hellish abyss. The artistic gore of the hell sequence achieved notoriety for its time and predates even H.G Lewis.

Jigoku (1979)  
A remake in name only that focuses more on bizarre supernatural occurrences and hellish atmosphere, as well as the expected moral drama and short descent into hell, but not the gore. A pregnant couple is killed by their disgraced family, the daughter is born after her mother's death thanks to supernatural forces and years later comes back accompanied with vengeful spirits to grapple with the evil family members. Possessed machinery, strange hellish visions, magical reflections in mirrors, some erotica, and various fantastical odds and ends, mixed with some nightmarish punishments in hell involving an abyss, flames, a huge human meat grinder, giant demons, sharp impaling floors, etc.

Johnny Got His Gun  
Notorious anti-war movie on which Metallica based their song 'One', telling the truly horrible tale of a soldier who lost all his limbs, hearing and sight and finds himself somehow still alive on a hospital bed unable to communicate with the world. The only thing left is his mind, in which he spends years in flashbacks and memories, thoughts, despair, depression, hallucinations, dreams and madness. He has conversations with Christ (Sutherland), his father, and his lover, while memories blend with hallucinations. A story like this demands the lightest touch given its ultimately heavy subject matter, but this movie gives a new meaning to the words preachy and heavy-handed dramatizing, spelling everything out over and over and letting the actor get too melodramatic. It's a tribute to the terrible existential despair of the story that despite all of this, some emotion and thought does come through despite the bad direction. While I'm at it, I feel a need to rant against such anti-war statements: Everyone agrees that war results in terrible things. To make a convincing anti-war argument, one has to argue against it as a solution, or argue against specific wars and their motivations or methods, but to say that war is terrible is not the same thing as saying war is always wrong. This is mere emotional manipulation. I may as well argue that amputation is wrong only because it is horrible.

Johnsons, The  
Bizarre Dutch-American horror movie. The plot is about a prophecy and a strange evil that haunts a girl, first in her dreams then in real life, while an anthropology professor races against time to decipher a ritual that turns out to be all-too-real. The horror elements involve a monster embryo with blue eyes, evil and very violent incestuous-rapist sextuplets, bizarre nightmares and rituals, a mad cult figure who is father to the professor, geysers and explosions of blood, genetic experiments, fire-water, and menstruation anxieties.

A disappointingly flawed, potential masterpiece of disturbing horror. A man goes back to his home town with his fiancee and awakens a dark past. To reveal the story is to spoil the movie but it involves psychopathic killers, horribly twisted teenagers and children, and extreme child abuse. The concept is absolutely brilliant, the writing is mediocre and could use some improvements, the acting ranges from flat to pretty good to badly over-the-top, the cinematography is inventive and interesting, and the soundtrack is superb. Even with the flaws however, the ending is chillingly disturbing. In other words, this is a movie that needs a remake.

Twelve-part anime series, overflowing with ideas to a fault. The core idea of the show is a technology that allows not only memories to be stored as individual nuggets, but also extracted and manipulated, a whole personality stored in a chip, and then implanted in any kind of body, whether biological, a rag doll, a fantasy creature or a machine. But this is just the core; Every episode, in fact every other minute, sees new strange worlds, bizarre creatures, otherworldly visuals, use of a bewildering variety of bodies, random sci-fi ideas, crazy action scenes, metaphysical fights, etc. At the core of the story is an all-powerful man (who looks like a little boy) who invented this technology, who has an indestructible body and various abilities with memories, and the story covers his relationship with a girl and the various factions that are after him, usually to try to destroy him. There is also an amnesiac with a big hole in his chest, wandering the universe and witnessing the many cruelties and depravities inflicted on the many worlds thanks to this technology, as ruthless people sell memories and bodies, manipulating the poor and weak, exploiting their very souls and memories. Amongst the many ideas in this show, there is one cool gadget that allows people to literally expand memories into a virtual-world bubble-which one can then enter and explore. There is some depraved sex and lots of ultra-violence, but this is a series about extraordinary sci-fi ideas, fantasy and freewheeling visuals with plenty of dark pathos. Despite the above dark description, the animation style is jarringly childish, making use of old-school crude animation styles, and the characters look like children or children's toys, some segments looking like vintage children's cartoons from a hundred years ago, others like a 70s Euro-animation. The first half of the series explores many new bewildering worlds with an endless stream of throwaway strange visuals, sometimes a few worlds in one episode. The second half focuses on more typical anime anything-goes action but with constantly changing rules and twists, as well as some metaphysical memory-oriented 'battles'. The style and approach is an acquired taste and very overwhelming, often confusing. The mind simply doesn't have time to adjust before the world and the rules change completely, and the story-telling technique is extremely difficult, barely hinting at major events and developments in the blink of an eye while your mind is still trying to process what you are seeing, before shifting rapidly to a new twist and plot development, or a world with new rules. There is no denying the uniqueness and imagination of this show, however.

Greek minimalist surrealism that tackles the journey of life as it leads to inevitable death. As with Godard's Alphaville, this makes use of natural and simple settings and situations to explore its theme, life portrayed simply by a man taking a taxi counting the miles on its meter while carrying a coffin, and the movie often changes its location symbolically to mirror the emotional state of the current stage in the man's life. An old man oversees a past life like a passive god of destiny, observing a young man fall in love, work hard and raise a family. The settings change to an intimate home or a pastoral scene when things are rosy, then changes to an empty wilderness, an industrial factory, or to Sisyphean work at a rock quarry, etc. Throughout the story, a woman appears at various ages in erotic fashion to represent desire and family. The final trip involves a broken-down old truck. It's an obvious art-house movie, it doesn't have much to say and is minimally interesting, but it is effective in its atmosphere and in evoking the journey.

Killer Joe  
If you had any doubt that grindhouse is becoming mainstream, watch this one. If this were a 70s movie, it would be relegated to sleazy actors and a low budget and shown in a midnight drive-in, but, somehow William Friedkin is directing Matthew McConaughey in a scene involving rape with a chicken leg that will make your jaw drop. This is a well-made trashy movie about a trashy family that hires a trashy man to kill their trashy mother. One can only imagine what the Coen Brothers would have done with this. There's an intense alpha killer who takes a liking to a damaged 12 year old daughter, a son who is in big trouble with the local drug dealers, an insurance policy, and some noirish twists in a trailer-trash expression. A family turns into pimps and murderers on brainless selfish whims, there's pedophilia, and a devil-may-care display of pubic hair. Is there such a term as 'quality grindhouse entertainment'?. There's a chance this will do to chicken what Brando did to butter.

Killer Me  
Others have compared this to Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer or American Psycho but it's actually the opposite of those movies in terms of its approach, since it is actually a serial-killer movie with a heart, exploring a much more realistic and human killer with both a disturbed psyche as well as a delicate conscience and fragile heart. The film is not about sick acts of brutality and sadism at all. This is what makes this film stand head and shoulders above the rest, especially since it is done very well, both by the director and the actors. It does play with a subjective reality however, and that is why it is included here, and we are never quite sure if he is even a killer or just disturbed. The film starts with a budding relationship between him and a girl that falls in love with him and pursues him both gently and aggressively. A lot of the film takes place in his mind that blends reality, fantasy, traumatic flashbacks, and violent thoughts which he may or may not be performing. At the same time, his extreme vulnerability is portrayed very well, to the point of painful masochism, and he develops a warm relationship with a girl who is also vulnerable, allowing for hope.

Killer of Dolls, The  
Spanish, weird, psycho serial-killer movie, this one with an obsession for dolls and women, with a subconscious neurosis leading to violent hate. A highly unstable young man who is a groundskeeper's son is sought after by the horny countess, but it's her daughter that he falls for. His childhood issues with his mother and her desire for a daughter make him a very volatile person though, and it's a wonder the people around him don't get creeped out by this over-the-top behaviour. The movie is from his point of view, and we get violence against dolls, brutal murders, a masked serial-killer, and many odd hallucinations, dream sequences, etc conflating dolls with women combined with personal traumas, leading to a disturbing ending.

Turkish, art-house, atmospheric and magical-realist movie sometimes reminiscent of Béla Tarr's existential mood-pieces, except with more life. A strange madman suddenly appears in a small town where everyone knows everyone and is afraid of opening its borders to foreigners. Strong winds and a war constantly rage in the background, and the locals seem afraid of anything that doesn't fit in with their buttoned-up life, routines and viewpoints, many suffering from various problems or ailments. The madman runs around wild like some kind of combination of wild animal and child, using bird-calls, quoting scripture, wanting to love many women, stealing from stores, and refusing to work. Thus he clashes with the locals, except that he seems to have a supernatural gift for healing people and they see him as a dervish and try to make use of his gifts, but his disruptive behaviour becomes overwhelming. A local woman also falls for his wild ways, leading to magical scenes of gravity-defying romps. Thankfully, this movie doesn't posit him as the solution to everyone's problems in a new-age cliche, but as a disruptive breath of life as well as of death that both wipes out bad habits and ruins lives, leading to an ambiguous ending.

Kyua (The Cure)  
Another enigmatic movie by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, this time about the killer in people triggered into action. In the movie, a strange character wanders around challenging people and their identity with his annoying amnesia and then hypnotises them into committing brutal acts of murder. One detective isn't fooled by this mysterious skill but is intensely pressured by these manipulations and his care for his unstable, neurotic wife. The intellectual theme is one of change in an individual driven by an external terror and an individual who is free of all patterns, oppressions, laws and moralities. Typically with Kurosawa, the events and scenes are obscure and confusing, and the editing is strange and slow-paced, and in the end, there is much more atmosphere than real content (which was needlessly difficult to understand in the first place).

Another in the wave of oddball Greek art-house films, this one a metaphor for life using cars and motorcycles as symbols, archetypes as characters, minimalism and absurdism. The protagonist literally lives in his car, working in it to bring honey to his pedantic and eccentric boss who sleeps on the ground and comes up with strange tests for his drivers, sleeping in his car, and meeting his estranged wife and children in it as well. He sees a dead adventurous friend who crawls like a bear to honey (another often-used metaphor), and is confronted by motorcyclists regarding the protected and isolated environment of his car from which he can kill motorcyclists with impunity. He soon tries and adopts new lifestyles (forms of transportation), but will his family and friends tolerate the change? The title probably refers to the Learning status of a new driver. Only moderately interesting.

Labyrinth Of Cinema  
Hausu-director Nobuhiko Ôbayashi's final movie is an interminable work of self-indulgence but jam-packed and overflowing with an almost childish love for the history of cinema. The idea from Keaton's classic Sherlock Jr. where an audience dreams itself into the film itself is taken to its extreme here, with an audience being taken on a roller-coaster of dozens of films that have fun with hundreds of classic scenes, film tropes, and characters, historical figures, events, songs, poems. The pace is extremely fast and the film lasts for three whole hours, every second filled with scenes and characters from many films merging into one another, with an engaged audience participating in both the adventures and the horrors. The tone is light, even when the scenes get violent and nasty, but the emotions are drawn out to the point of heavy nostalgia. One female character is fated to die in every movie and historical tragedy. The old-school cheap green-screen effects add to the childish charm, and even when war gets crazy and violence gets splattery, Obayashi adds his whimsical fantastical touches, such as a piano played by bullets, cartoon characters come to life and a talking decapitated head. The only really bizarre parts involve the wrapper scenes with an out-of-time narrator flying in a space-ship full of floating fish in a surreal universe. Way too long, indulgent, whimsical and scattered.

Lady in a Cage  
This may be tamer compared to modern movies, but its intensity still has the power to shock and disturb, and it must be honorably mentioned as the grand-daddy of all nihilistic, sadistic crime movies like Death Wish, Last House on the Left and others of its ilk. This arrived during the wave of horror movies featuring older actresses in the 60s that started with What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, but it is probably the most nihilistic. An upper-class lady must use an interior elevator to move between floors in her house, but when the electricity goes out, she discovers the jungle that exists in the city amongst the new generation. Cruel, insane and selfish winos, whores and thieves all somehow make their way to her house like vultures when word gets about that she is helpless, but even they are shocked by the trio of nihilistic hoods that appear to take it to the next level. There's a pointlessly mean sub-plot involving her desperate son smothered by his mother, and some brief climactic gore. It's hard to believe this modern trash was made in 1964.

Lake Michigan Monster  
It's good to see that quite a few directors are mimicking Guy Maddin for a change rather than only Lynch. But not quite. One description of this movie could be: A Looney Tunes version of a Lovecraftian horror tale, as directed by Guy Maddin, with a dose of Python-esque goofy self-mocking humor. Yes, it's that much fun, but goofy. A very silly ship-captain gathers the 'ultimate' team to take revenge against a sea...I mean lake-monster. The attempts at revenge become increasingly sillier, from luring it with nudity, to kidnapping an egg after a bizarre dream, to visiting near-surreal catacombs and gathering an army of ghosts. In between there are many games of checkers, and nasty fish-sticks, eyebrows and beards that disappear, and checks that bounce. All this is filmed in a low-budget but meticulous retro-Maddin-esque black & white style. Goofy fun.

Lakki... The Boy Who Could Fly  
Norwegian coming-of-age flick with touches of crude surrealism and symbolism. Lakki is a 14 year old boy with divorced and dysfunctional parents and abusive teachers, one of which his mother brings home as a lover. When he isn't erupting in anger tantrums, he watches angel wings sprout and grow out of his shoulders, lashes out at a pedophile neighbour, explores drugs with a dope dealer and has a bad and bizarre trip, and dreams every night of keys opening doorways, and eggs. Only slightly interesting stuff, mostly because all of the characters are drawn and acted over-the-top, including a boy that behaves like a lunatic, and cartoonishly broken, flatly insensitive and inhuman parents and teachers.

Lala Pipo: A Lot of People  
Crazy sex comedy by the writer of the similarly cartoonish and quirky Kamikaze Girls. This one weaves together several human stories Magnolia style, but with a wacky energetic and colorful style of its own. The movie veers without warning from silly to offensive, from sad to comical, and from gentle to over-the-top raunch. There's a fat sad pervert who gets off listening to his neighbour having sex and talks to his green puppet penis until he meets another fat girl with a sex secret of her own, a scout seduces and manages women into the prostitute and porn business until he finds a uniquely charming and innocent girl, there a very strange youngster lost in his fantasy world of super-heroes and aliens, imagining things like lust-viruses and a sex battle between huge robots, and there's an older nymph-prostitute with a house covered in garbage to hide a dead body. Surprisingly entertaining and funny despite its content. Much better and wackier than the empty-headed Kamikaze Girls.

This is one of those movies that just runs with a slightly strange concept without thinking things through, plays it straight, drops a few hints through subtle acting that something deeper is going on, and then lets audiences everywhere rack their brains to try to figure out what it means and read things into it that just aren't there. The director himself allegedly said that he didn't have a definite idea about it and would rather leave it for audiences to chew over. It is filmed very nicely though, and the concept is intriguing, but the writing is poor and I refuse to be fooled. The movie features another strong performance by Noomi Rapace in the role of an unhappy childless married woman living in an Icelandic farm with her husband. Avoiding spoilers, a strange occurrence changes their domestic lives greatly and brings them temporary happiness, but it was not meant to be. The atmosphere and location are great, as is the acting. And the movie's strongest aspect, ironically, is the ordinary domestic drama involving a visitor. But the ending involving a death simply doesn't work on any level. Some call this eco-horror, similar to the other (very obnoxious) eco-horror movie that came out in the same year 'Feast'. Except there is no justice for anyone: Not for the victim, the abuser nor even for nature in this movie. It's not surreal, the symbolism doesn't work, and the ending doesn't satisfy. It's just a modern supernatural folk story that takes place in some alternate world where these things are commonplace.

Landscape in the Mist  
Artsy 'cinematic poetry' by Angelopoulos with visual scenes that flirt with surrealism but almost never quite cross the border. A young girl and her little brother are the protagonists in search of their mythical father, and they remain passive archetypes throughout the movie except in a couple of scenes that demand a symbolic emotional breakdown. They run away from their mother onto a train, and begin a bleak road trip full of obstacles and symbolism. At first, the law and society try to get the children back home but soon turn distracted, incompetent and catatonic by something as absurd as falling snow. An uncle shuns them. A troupe of old actors spouting history wander the world in search of a stage and audience. A truck driver rapes the girl. A horse dies while humans celebrate marriage in a cycle of life. A huge stone hand is fished out of the ocean by a helicopter in a mystical scene probably symbolizing the fall of religion. And so on until the bleak symbolic ending. The only ray of light comes from a friendly young man on a motorcycle that helps them in any way possible and guides her sensitively through her rocky first crush. In short, individual scenes are sometimes pretentious, sometimes just bleak, sometimes beautifully poetic, sometimes painfully slow for no reason as if he were emulating Tarkovsky, all adding up to a flawed but interesting movie. Orbis Pictus did this better.

Last House on the Beach, The  
Yet another Last House on the Left clone, but whereas the original dived head first into exploitation and comedy, and Deodato's entry went for full-on graphic nastiness, this one chooses to focus mostly on the nasty psychological side in people rather than on visually explicitness. Ironically, this provoked exploitation-movie reviewers to accuse this movie of tameness, even though this contains just as much psychological nastiness as the others, if not more. The setting is a trio of criminals who take a cloistered group of catholic girls hostage for several days while they hide from the law. The angle is that these criminals seem to present a more civilized veneer at first, especially one charming hood, except their nasty and cruel rapist sides take over again and again, leading to (mostly off-camera) humiliations, rapes and impalements of the virginal girls. This leads even the catholic women to eventually explode in angry violence and renounce their vows.

Last Frankenstein, The  
Scatter-shot Japanese artsy comedy-horror with a bunch of ideas that never come together. Predating Suicide Club, this one portrays a society suffering from an epidemic of suicides, ranging from sudden inexplicable suicides, to death cults and mass suicide by teenagers. A mad misanthropic scientist may have the answer, except that he is happy that humanity has come to an end, and focuses on his project to create a new, evolved, emotionless superman from dead bodies. A professor with a long-dead wife by suicide and a telekinetic daughter become involved with his project. The ruminations on humanity and death go nowhere and the thinking is very muddled, especially since the supermen obviously have strong emotions, but the silly comedy keeps you entertained: A hunchback with a two-foot hunch that collects dead bodies in a Volkswagen, many attempts at teaching the monsters how to have sex, including showing them porn and anatomy books, surreal scenes of a city frozen in time around the scientist, an insane failed-experiment wife, levitation in class, and other such random and unpredictable scenes.

Last of Us, The  
A Tunisian oddity. A mystical meditation on immigration and the search for a place in the world by way of a magical-realist Robinson Crusoe adventure. It also has no dialogue. An African man treks across Africa by foot and tries to cross the sea to Europe in a tiny boat, and finds himself stranded in wild nature, taking his survival challenges up a few notches. His only friend becomes a nature man who may be his alter ego, and who teaches him some tricks. As his adaptation to nature develops, strange things happen to sound, a mystical guiding light appears, until his enlightenment and nirvana.

Atmospheric, somewhat confusing horror movie in a supernatural, nightmarish way, but an intriguing mystery. In other words, artsy, lightly surreal euro-horror. A little girl's mother dies mysteriously one night seen in a vague vision experienced by her daughter. Her father continues leaving her in the care of her sick grandmother while he sails away, so she has to deal with caring for her grandmother, befriending a bullied boy at school, and dealing with a strange teacher with emotional father-issues tied to religion. The country setting with a derelict castle add to the dark fable that hints at nebulous dark thoughts, potential pedophilia, parents and teachers as ominous authority figures, evil, and supernatural powers and ghosts, without spelling anything out.

If you are very patient and quiet, this one may sneak up on you. It's an hour-long experiment without dialog in B&W and features only one actor (Quall). The camera follows him around his home and outside as he does absolutely nothing except try to stay medicated and calm, making faces, and listening to recordings of endless numbers. The sound builds it all up around him as the movie just gets into his state of mind. When he finds himself locked out and unable to access his medication, shadows start haunting him in the city-streets, until he loses it, for a puzzling, disquietingly bizarre, but primally-felt ending.

Unique character-study and semi-autobiography by Jean-Claude Lauzon about a 12 year old boy raised by a family of lunatics. The grandfather tries to kill him for splashing water on him and pays the pretty neighbour to indulge in his bizarre fetishes while he takes a bath. The father believes in one bowel movement a day, resulting in lots of scatological humor and cinematography. His brother is a slow-witted man who turned himself into a muscle-head after getting beaten up by a bully, but remained a coward at heart. Leo is convinced he is Leolo, conceived by a tomato infected by Italian sperm, his friends rape cats for fun, and his job is to collect and sell items found in a polluted river. At times reminiscent of a much more pessimistic Fellini, often hateful in its gleeful desire to display the world in as much filth and insanity as possible, other times poetic in its longing, searching narrative that is way beyond a 12 year old's capabilities. A pointlessly filthy but greasily poetic art-house singularity.

Lickerish Quartet, The  
An art-house, reality-bending softcore sex flick from Radley Metzger, his distinctive style and elegance succeeding in this rare hybrid where so many have failed. The movie weaves a delicate braid of several narratives: A man, his wife and her strange magician son watching an old WWII sex film, and their pasts, all of them playing some kind of game of denial and fantasy as their motivations and true pasts are slowly unraveled. Sex is seen as a liberator of repressions and blocked memories, the actors in the stag film changing, hiding their faces, literally switching roles with the audience, and vice versa. A blonde woman seen in one version of the film is picked up and brought home as she flirts and plays games with all three, taking on different roles in a kind of psychological-cum-fantasy instigator of repressed memories. One notable sex scene takes place in a surreal library decorated with sex-oriented dictionary definitions. Interesting, with some overlong scenes.

A borderline-extreme Italian thriller that pushes its smut level a few steps further on the scale of immoral bad taste compared to its peers. The world of a despicable family consisting of an invalid patriarch with a gun, a slut and immoral wife, and a sociopathic 12 year old girl, is rocked when a pedophile murderer hides from the law on their property. The girl gets a crush on him, and the wife sleeps with him in order to use him for her murderous plots. The person who emerges victorious from this sleazy setup is surprising. Features a completely gratuitous and twisted sex scene with the child that splices partial nudity with a very obvious body double, and lots of immoral behaviour that starts sociopathic and ends psychopathic.

Living Hell  
A cult hit popular due to marketing touting this as the next Audition or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, promising grue and shock. But the truth is it's so tame it almost shouldn't be on this list. The acting and directing are a mess as well. The story is mainly psychological and tells the tortures a wheelchair-bound boy undergoes under the hands of some creepy and mysterious female relatives that come stay with his family. His mother doesn't believe his tales of woe as the old woman tortures him with pliers (amongst other things) and the weird climax features mad but dumb twists. Messy, disappointing, unconvincing movie that tries too hard to be thrilling and shocking.

Looking Glass, The  
Irish atmospheric and unsettling psychological portrait of a fearful man. Although the movie's events are grounded in reality, the strange atmosphere, people and stranger events beg to be interpreted from a surreal point of view, and the star of this movie is the unspecified dread of the protagonist, not the plot. In this way specifically, it is reminiscent of "Jack Be Nimble". It portrays a timid man who has recently impregnated his fragile girlfriend. He is also shown as a child, hiding in the forest with his protective toys from all kinds of imaginative fears, and this theme is used often to portray a man who never grew up beyond his fears. When her nurse mother comes along to aggressively check up on her daughter and inspect the boyfriend, she wastes no time in finding faults and suspecting him of all sorts of secrets and weaknesses. A mysterious pyromaniac and burned-man whom she treated also appears along with her visit, who promptly starts many more 'fires'. When he discovers the park nearby is visited by gay men setting up meetings, he even becomes confused about his sexuality, but therein lies even more fearful dangers from the local violent soldiers. Psychological fear is everywhere.

Lost, The (Die Verlorenen)    
Art-installation and performance-art turned into an art-film in the style of Guy Maddin. The topic is the last days of the Weimar Republic, its alleged excesses, bohemian lifestyles and even interest in the occult all taken and displayed quite literally here, while the Republic is falling apart around them and being taken over by censoring fascists. A British writer finds himself in an eccentric and bohemian German cabaret, where a bizarre old man adopts artists of all kinds, and they perform strange scientific experiments, engage in loose morals, perform seances and attempt the raising of the dead. The combination of strange occult rituals, perverse sex and eccentric men in a historical setting is all very Maddin-esque, but the very well done cinematography is also retro, sometimes going silent and using damaged film effects to recreate the era. Lacking in story and depth, but an experimental and visual curiosity.

Truly nutty Belgian comedy about female, ex-factory-workers using their compensation money to hire a killer to shoot the boss. The mentally unbalanced Louise hires Michel, a very inept and silly 'security expert' with a custom-made Mauser pistol. Besides the fact they are insane and don't know what they are doing, the boss turns out to be impossible to find and may not even exist. Michel tries handing the job to terminally ill relatives, duct-taping a dog adds to the expenses, along the way Louise eats a rabbit captured via briefcase, Michel reproduces the chemistry of 9/11, there are several other inexplicable scenes, and several people turn out to be the wrong gender.

LovecraCked! The Movie  
Anthology of nine very short, home-made movies from around the world inspired by Lovecraft's work, wrapped by a series of very silly and random sketches involving a silly, very incompetent journalist who is trying to uncover things about Lovecraft. These sketches make fun of themselves and how silly they are, but almost all of the silly humor falls flat. The recurring joke is that no one really knows anything about Lovecraft, Lloyd Kaufman uses the interview just to promote Troma, one expert speaks in German and is only interested in football, there is a lot of chasing of a mad businessman in the street who likes 'H.P.' stock freaks out over books, and so on. The shorts themselves range from pretty good but short, to inconsequential, to downright silly. 'Bugboy' features an ex-boyfriend who transforms himself into a half-insect via powerless rage, 'Remain' features stop-motion animation of an evil painting that comes to life while being painted, and 'Chaos of the Flesh' seems to have copied 'Jenifer' from Argento. There's also a silly one about a punk guitar player that summons evil 'lurkers' from pervert rooms, an empty-headed gore & sex cutout-animated stream-of-consciousness musical, and the porn and gore short 'Re-Penetrator', edited without the porn. Mostly a waste of time, but there are some good moments, and the movie never sits still enough to get boring.

Love is the Devil  
An artsy portrait of the English painter Francis Bacon. Depending on whether you love art and artists' eccentricities and pretensions, you will either find this an annoying bore or a fascinating, brutally honest portrait of Bacon and his gay lover (who originally met him by breaking into his studio to steal). Bacon is both masochistic and sadistic and is fascinated by the ugly side of humanity and the human form. He studies bloody boxing matches and accidents, and spouts nonsensical pseudo-philosophies about pain, wounds, flaws and whatnot, often turning things upside down. The photography used in this film effectively makes use of Bacon's techniques and artist's eyes to distort, blur and darken settings, people and various dream sequences.

Love Letter from a Killer  
Love, death and longing intertwine in surreal ways in this Spanish art-house psychological mystery-drama. A lonely librarian has complex relationships with the people around her, interacting with cryptic dialog that hint at her closed but desperate personality. One day she receives a love letter from an infamous murderer who killed four people in cold blood, and her life is never the same. We never know if the murderer is real, or at least if the letter is real, but her repressed desires start developing undertones of death and violence as symbolized by her murdering lover. Images of cadavers haunt her, she starts looking differently at her pet fish (whom she plays with while naked), the murderer appears everywhere in ghostly forms, and her dreams and reality blend together. The surrealism is light, and is more about symbolic images that haunt her than about dream-logic or strangeness. Moderately interesting and challenging.

Love Me Deadly  
A 70s exploration of necrophilia as a developed psychosis of a disturbed woman. After an overly close relationship with her father and his death, she finds herself afraid of sex but drawn to corpses, and soon joins of a group of necrophiliacs at the mortuary, one of whom picks up whores and embalms them alive. Not as explicitly shocking as it sounds but a twisted horror movie nevertheless. Most of the movie deals with her relationships with normal men and their confusion at her behaviour.

A twisted little black comedy about an alcoholic writer of cartoons who starts talking to his dog and slowly loses it. His own agent dumps him, the delivery girl scorns him, he dates old women and his hermaphrodite step-sister, his dog humiliates him, and his house is drowning in empty beer cans. He goes from imagining cutting up a bible thumper who appears at his door, to fantasizing about slapping, cutting and strangling the woman of his dreams, to worse. But the dog has him writing inspired stories now and the matter of whether his sick fantasies are only in his head or not seems irrelevant until...

Machinist, The  
Mainstream psychological thriller that is borderline surreal, portraying the world through a cracking mind, like a more confusing male version of Repulsion. Christian Bale is famous for losing 60 pounds for this role, his skeletal, anorexic frame adding to the portrait of a man obviously not at ease with himself. He works at a factory with machines, suffering under endless insomnia, his grasp of reality and people slowly slipping. It isn't a spoiler to reveal this, because the movie makes it obvious. What the movie is about is mechanical plot-devices and repeating cross-referenced clues that will all be tied together for the final semi-logical twist. There is a mysterious co-worker with toes for fingers that other people don't seem to know about, strange hangman post-it notes on his fridge, his friendship with a diner waitress and her son, a car that keeps following him, a fishing trip and a picture that appears different to different people, a hellish ghost train ride at the amusement park full of disturbing clues, the time of 1:30 keeps standing out for some reason, and so on. Uniquely unsettling thanks to Bale, but when all the mechanical clues are removed, the problem is that the only thing left is a not-so-satisfying predictable thriller where all of the details are obviously building up to the final psychological twist. Once that arrives, it's just over.

Mad Cow  
South African low-budget attempt at a zany spoof inspired by movies like Naked Gun, with bits of Monty Python and Mel Brooks, except this one is a spoof on horror with naughty bits and some gore, and the humor is wacky bordering on bizarre. A mad scientist has built his own human-creature, except he has grafted a cow's head on it, and it is on a killing rampage. A clueless, hapless law-enforcement officer is on the case, with the aid of his side-kicks, one of which plays music on a saw, and the other is a house-plant disguised as a human... or perhaps it's the other way round. A local sexy vegetarian helps them as well as the audience with eye-candy. There are jokes and gags every other second, some are amusing, most are awkward and clumsy with weak timing or acting, proving that this is a difficult genre indeed. But it's still kinda fun. The gore is borderline but comical, consisting of many flying body parts and blood splatter. Don't expect much.

Mafu Cage, The  
Decidedly odd 70s psychological horror movie with great acting. A woman working in astronomy has almost no social life because she decided to devote her life to taking care of her very disturbed and insane sister. Their late father studied animals and especially monkeys, and the crazy sister continues with her father's work of keeping monkeys in a cage at home, drawing pictures of them and taking care of them, except for the fact that she has the mentality of a violent child that lashes out in unpredictable ways. Thus, themes of dependency and captivity with reversed roles are touched on. She keeps killing her pet monkeys in violent fits, frequently dressing up in bizarre tribal costumes and colors and dancing to African music, and matters escalate from there. The character of the older sister almost makes no sense, being so blind as to give in to her demands for more monkeys and somehow not seeing what is obviously coming, at a loss on how to deal with her and constantly making poor decisions, not to mention having an incestuous lesbian relationship with her (what?). Another huge flaw is the horrible lighting and sound that makes it impossible to understand many scenes.

Magass (AKA Holy Shit)  
Pure whimsy and low-budget silly fun. A film-maker (Shokof) is having a variety of absurd troubles with the film industry and the unreasonable people in it, as it seems he has somehow become black-listed. His questionable hygiene and constantly messy house has attracted a fly, who at first is a pest, but which is soon adopted as a family pet which he and his girlfriend soon decide may be an angel in disguise. Feeding this new baby pet, unfortunately, may involve some level of sacrifice in the bathroom. In addition, the fly always likes to interrupt them, especially in the bedroom, which leads to a surreal sequence involving a man-fly in the couple's bed. His girlfriend is acted by four actresses from different races just because it adds color to the film. Their phone ring-tone consists of machine-gun fire. They indulge in food and sex with great gusto as directed in whimsically fun and quirky scenes where fruits and body parts are positioned as juicy morsels like props in a hedonistic painting. And finally, a religious and morally uplifting burial involving a toilet...

Magic Toyshop, The  
Women's coming of age films always seem to be made as mystical/fantasy/symbolic flights of fantasy and this one is no exception. Melanie is 16 when she loses her parents and is forced to live with her scary, stern and authoritarian toy-maker uncle along with her young sister and brother (who fantasizes about sailing). The uncle has some Irish siblings under his thumb whom he forces to assist him with his craft, his joyless hobby of staging puppet shows in the basement, and his strict domestic rules. He clamps a large silver necklace on his wife, has an obsession with a large goose puppet, and performs violent and sexually suggestive plays. Melanie puts on her mother's bridal dress, gets blood on it, puppets seem to come to life and real people turn into puppets, and many other symbols and fantastical scenes blend into reality. A rich film that can be taken in many ways: coming-of-age symbolism, the British rule over the Irish, strict Christian authority (Guy Fawkes reference), and an artsy dark drama about family. The incestuous development on the part of the protagonists may be Pagan, and may explain why this movie isn't easy to find.

Magus, The  
Based on John Fowles's extraordinary book and featuring a screenplay written by him, and yet it was badly received mainly because it didn't live up to the book. A cold-hearted man (Caine) travels to a Greek island where a very mysterious man (an intensely good Anthony Quinn) plays complex mind-games with him. To reveal more is to ruin plot developments, but the movie is a wonder on how it peels away layer upon layer of reality, most of them explainable by rational means, but becoming more surreal towards the end, each one making you start to believe right before the rug is pulled out from under your feet yet again. But the major theme is a man's re-awakening and journey into his own mind and heart, and this is where the movie falters. Slight flaws pile up that have to do with characterizations, specific handling of scenes, some modifications, all of which make you feel there should be much more to the movie than what it provides. In short, this movie comes highly recommended to people who haven't read the book, because, if they pay attention, they will want to after seeing this.

Hentai animations normally emphasize perverse sex as their main appeal but this one tones down the sex and opts for a surreal and very atmospheric feel instead, giving us a fascinating, if illogical and messy experience. Malice is a doll (robot) that once used to service humans but in the new post-human world which is populated by broken-down robots, she just wanders the streets giving other robots kisses ('that's all I can do'). She wonders about other forms of existence and her wish is fulfilled when a strange biological creature rapes her and gives her the virus of life. Features Dali-esque art, CGI effects mixed with animation and dark but poetic atmosphere.

Strange artsy fantasy involving a young man who gets caught in a kind of alternate reality in the form of a huge mansion populated by odd characters. Cassavius (Orson Welles) is the master of the house and there's dozens of family members waiting for him to die in order to inherit his riches. Jan is somehow a key in Cassavius's mysterious plan, he is pursued by various women, a taxidermist is impatient to get Jan's body parts, people turn into stone, and there are random references to mythological beings. There are several endings and twists, each twisting back into the fantasy world, and the set design is unique and atmospheric, but it doesn't really come together from a narrative point of view.

Sensationalist rent-boy drama, filth and misery taken somewhat over-the-top, not in the sense that is is unrealistic per se, only that it all happens so fast and the misery is endless, the boy finding himself in one repulsive misadventure after another. As such it belongs in the same genre as Larry Clark movies, Pixote, The Last Exit to Brooklyn and Christiane F. This tells the tale of a runaway teenage boy who finds himself in a downward spiral of sudden prostitution, rape, violent abuse by a wide variety of depraved and twisted customers, as well as by pimps and gangs, depressing tales of drama from other doomed rent-boys, drugs, and an over-the-top abusive and filthy pornographer who runs his business in his family house along with his kids and wife.

Mansion of the Doomed  
Disturbing horror movie about a doctor whose daughter loses her sight and who gets obsessed with curing her. This he does by experimenting with eyeball transplants. He kidnaps and drugs one victim after another, removing their eyeballs and transplanting them to his daughter, but failure drives him to grab more victims (even a child). What makes this movie interesting is that he doesn't kill them, but keeps them in the basement and the good, chilling part of this movie deals with their lives, reactions, desperations and attempts to escape. What doesn't work is the doctor's psyche, unconvincingly acted by Basehart. The eye socket, surgery and gore ranges from gruesome to unrealistic.

Mantle of Love, The  
Supposedly created in a fit of personal upheaval and as an act of existential revenge, this wild Dutch movie by Ditvoorst is a vicious satire very loosely based on the Ten Commandments. It starts with a blasphemous Pythonesque sketch featuring Jesus trying to retire Moses with vicious consequences, then features a series of intercut vignettes dealing with the various sins and human weaknesses, often also around a theme of (anti)-love. A cyclist on a bridge finds himself abused by one social cruelty after another, an emasculated husband has a fit evoking the wrath of his feminist neighbor, a priest tries to bring the Mass to the masses in a local bar with disastrous consequences, a bishop mercilessly negotiates and blackmails businessmen over abortion issues, accountants break into a surreal orgy, relatives argue over funerals before their grandfather has died, and bakers have after-hours depraved hobbies that you would rather not know about.

Man Who Could Not Laugh  
Norwegian oddity satire about Norwegian culture, mostly accusing them of being incapable of laughter. It does this in a free-form comedy about a man who makes weird noises when he tries to laugh, scaring people away. He works as a comic-book caption interpreter and has serious meetings dressed in superhero costumes about what noise a superhero punch should make, and he goes to a shrink who helps him explore his childhood and performs several eccentric tests. His chaotic mind withdraws into a surreal fantasy about a party in a train locker where they crown him station-master. The rest of the movie seems to be improvised, random, odd sketches, making fun of the tourist industry, Norwegian attitudes towards marriage, road-making in the mountains, etc. All mixed with a series of strangely unfunny silly performances and jokes to attempt to make the man laugh. Messy. Perhaps I need to be Norwegian to appreciate this.

Mark of the Devil  
Early nasty and cynical film about witch-hunting, extreme abuse of power, and numerous grisly torture scenes. A more respectable witch-hunter pulls rank on a local, beastly witch-hunter which at first promises to be an improvement for justice. A young apprentice watches with disapproval as innocent people are thrown into the torture chamber, and the local town-people start to get tired of being whimsically tortured and killed...

Artsy and perverse drama about the Marquis de Sade as a prisoner, his writings and the taking of the Bastille. The actors all wear animatronic faces of animals that suit their temperament and character, and this is sometimes taken to an extreme with Justine the cow being raped by forcibly milking her udders until they bleed. The Marquis talks to his huge penis which is a claymation creature with a mind of its own, while the gay guard lusts after him and the politicians and lords conspire, indulge in perverse orgies, and fall to the revolution.

Martyrs of Love  
Czech comical-art-house triptych by Nemec on the topic of love, with homages to old cinema and light symbolic/surrealist touches. The first story involves a young working man with lustful daydreams, his view constantly haunted by glimpses of lovers, women and their body parts, his workplace surrealistically populated with rows of glaring secretaries. The second involves a young woman with romantic fantasies over a celebrity singer, who is forcefully pushed into a marriage with a man who wants to symbolically shoot down her travelling suitcase. The third tells the adventure of a tramp-like character who gets invited into a rich house where they give him free clothes and female attention. Minimal dialogue, lots of music, light Czech new-wave fun.

Mask, The  
An oddity horror movie from 1961 that employed pretty effective 3-D and special sound effects in 3 surreal sequences to create a dark head trip. The story is typically slow and cheesy horror for its time involving a mask that turns its wearer into a desperate, animalistic addict, causing him to commit murder. But every time the mask is put on, the audience is taken into a dream-logic nightmare world of strange faces and masks, dark rituals, flames, morphing skeletons and hands, and stream-of-consciousness fantasy imagery.

Max Mon Amour  
Nagisa Ôshima directs another controversial movie about warped sexual mores after In the Realm of the Senses. Peter discovers that his wife (Rampling) is having an affair with a chimpanzee. He goes through several stages after the initial shock, but mostly acts very civilly as he brings the chimpanzee to his house in order not to disrupt their and their little boy's lives, and they all slowly get used to living with it while the wife continues her affair. It plays it all straight and looks like a satire in the vein of Bunuel about the absurdity of the bourgeoisie as they seem to be able to accept anything in the name of civility and politeness, and it also throws a few curve balls about the family unit and what it takes to create a proper marriage with intimacy, but it plays it all so straight that I started getting doubts. The movie spares us any explicit sexual content even though the husband is maddeningly obsessed with figuring out how it works, but it explicitly displays something even more disgusting: Intimacy with a chimpanzee.

Mayhem Motel  
This is billed as horror but it is actually a black comedy with bad-taste, trashy humor. It's structured like Tarantino but feels like a series of home-made skits filmed in a cheap motel as written by a fratboy version of John Waters. There is a guy vomiting into his own bathtub while bathing, a hooker who always seems to get spanked, and a bizarre pimp with scars all over his body and huge goggles who always introduces himself by making sounds through a megaphone and then talking through it even when on the phone. One guy is left blue-balled by a blow-up doll and spends the movie seeking increasingly desperate outlets. Trash-talking youths exchange disgusting ideas of what to do with a girl. There is a midget, a female rapist, and there is oral sex performed on a medical device with a not-so-happy ending. There are numerous surprise senseless murders. Sometimes cringe-funny, but more often like watching somebody make bad jokes about an entertainingly nasty car-wreck.

Medusa Raft, The  
Artsy Yugoslavian film about using provocative, progressive art-forms to revolutionize society, the characters using arresting, didactic but anti-educational techniques similar to Dada and the film employing strange symbolic visuals and behaviour to provide insight, but mostly this feels like artsy absurdism. A schoolteacher, a strongman, and three people attempting a new art-form, tour the country instructing the masses with confusing, provocative performances while their troupe falls apart due to infighting, desertions and deaths. Some sample snippets: A brother takes erotic pictures of his sister to lure the businessmen, when lightning narrowly misses a man, he says "'it's healthy to drink electric milk", a man puts boxing gloves on two women who are fighting, and when his friend dies a man states: "it's strange to live, it's strange not to live".

Megan Is Missing  
The Blair Witch of internet predators of underage teenage girls. Don't be fooled by any labels that say it may be some kind of social message and wake-up call, as any sense of cautionary tale that it does have is half-drowned by its other goal: to be an exploitative horror movie. Much like Kids, this movie tries to realistically portray very lost, promiscuous and sexually-precocious teenagers in peril, while exploiting them at the same time. Megan is a typical brat that hates her parents, except she also does hard drugs and provides oral sex to the most sleazy guys around for the tiniest favors. Her friend Amy is more ...virginal, and these opposites evidently attract a whole lot of fascination for each other. But then Megan makes a new internet friend and bad stuff happens. The movie is constructed using web-cams, news-footage, video diaries, surveillance camera and even photographs all to give it that extra realistic feel, and the teenage actresses are annoyingly good. But the way the predator keeps using the internet and a camera should have gotten him caught right away, and the director freely adds gratuitous scenes of teenage sexual abandon and a rape. Wouldn't the movie have had that much more impact if Megan weren't as over-the-top?

Another metaphysical meditation by Weerasethakul, this one not a waste of time despite its punishingly slow pace and inherent pseudo-mystical ambiguity. As implied by the title, the theme is memories, but as primarily contained in sound. We are talking about a metaphysical sound, however, sounds that haunt you in your dreams, in your subconscious, sounds held within the land and the very planet itself, sounds with a very, very specific tone and timbre that shake you to your very core and define who you are. Characters in this movie may not even be real people, serving as containers or enablers for memories. Memories of traumas uncovered by archaeologists hinted at by bones with a drilled hole inside them, memories of recent traumas due to violent politics in Colombia. Music is a pleasant distraction, but feelings of something else that you may have neglected will still come to haunt you in dreams. Dreams, for instance, of a possibly neglected homeless dog serving as metaphor for the human existential dread of curses from the past. One person may even serve as a container of dreams and memories for another who ceases to exist in his sleep while this person holds his dreams. The most mysterious sound of this film, seemingly emerging from the center of the Earth, is depicted in a surreal sci-fi moment as something metaphorically otherworldly and alien. Except that metaphysical sounds are not just in your mind, but also affecting reality, and can cause car alarms to go off. All of the above descriptions are of actual scattered scenes in this movie that I had to tie together within this underlying theme, and they are not just meditations derived from the movie. The film depicts Tilda Swinton in extremely long takes as she wanders between several strange experiences or social interactions, scenes that become increasingly metaphysical, all the while haunted by sounds and dogs. The ending features only natural sounds of the Earth, and they have never been more ominous and haunting. This film will test everyone's patience, and it suffers from the typical scatter-shot pseudo-mystical nonsense of Weerasethakul's earlier films, but it's nevertheless a strangely involving experience once you tune into its wavelength and underlying sound. I may be reading too much into this film given Weerasethakul's penchant for random incoherent whimsy in all of his previous films, but there you have it.

Memory of the Dead  
Argentinian horror movie that emphasizes disturbing imagery over plot coherence. Its approach to horror visuals is something like with Nightmare on Elm Street, all nightmarish dream-logic, except without the wisecracks and driven by the characters' traumatic pasts. A group of people gather to mourn a dead man, except the gathering becomes a ritual that has the power to bring up the dead in everyone's lives, as well as repressed memories, old grudges and secrets. Ghosts don't just show up though, they come to play with the living in gruesome ways, leading to a series of disturbing scenes of explosive pregnancies, the self-sewing of a face shut only to force it open again, ghoulish dead spirits, and the really creepy and gruesome one of a girl who uses her relative's teeth and eyes to fill her own fleshy face. All of this physically expressing their innermost fears weaknesses and guilt. But, as explained, this all comes at the price of the plot and a nonsensical twist.

Although this is no way as imaginative and bizarre as Eraserhead, it definitely tries to emulate its slow and dreary atmosphere in B&W. A man is released from prison and he enters a mundane and depressingly routine life inspected under the microscope of his parole. But cracks start to appear. Visions of wounded girls, a preacher promising guilt and hellfire, prostitutes that seem to offer something scary, and all the while his body is mysteriously and literally falling apart. The grand reveal is so unimaginative as to be disappointing, and the whole movie doesn't really provoke the right-brain enough to fill its slow pace. But it has quite a few good atmospheric moments.

Mickey One  
An experimental attempt at kick-starting the American new-wave by Arthur Penn, as inspired by Godard. This is a jazzy film in B&W featuring Warren Beatty as a paranoid stand-up comic and entertainer. He accumulates a life of indulgence and womanizing, then, suddenly & inexplicably, he thinks the mob is after him for some reason or another and runs away. He spends the rest of the movie fearful of dangers and shadows of the mob that seem to lurk everywhere, slowly drawn back to the stage but afraid to really chase success for fear of being exposed. A loving woman tries to help him while a producer attempts to convince him to go for gold, but everything that happens seems to somehow fit into his paranoid theories. The movie is full of odd scenes of not-quite-surrealism, including a fearful sequence in a car-wrecking plant where everything seems to threaten a violent end, a strange mute Japanese fellow that builds a bizarre musical art-piece from garbage cans and wreckage which sets itself on fire, a gripping scene on stage where Beatty sweats under an intense spotlight with an ominous, invisible, one-man audience, and a delirious scene where street-performers in various costumes beat him up for no particular reason. Kafka-esque existential jazz in movie form.

Unique Japanese animation with many static drawings that creates a strange world of poetic grotesqueries. A young girl finds herself living with some freaks from a sideshow after her mother dies a nasty death. The horny freaks abuse her, turning her into their Cinderella as well as raping her and making her world a hellish nightmare of deformities, until a dwarf magician arrives and takes over the show and the girl with his freakish talent for magic. Her world becomes less and less attached to reality as the powers of his mind control their thoughts and fantasies...

Midori - The Camellia Girl  
Live-action adaptation of the grotesque and cruel manga, only made much more campy, comic and colorful, and even a bit more surreal, with a new twist ending. They cast the most fragile skinny girl they could find, then heap on her a stream of abuses and cruelty. Her mother dies a horrible death, she is molested, adopted by a gang of circus freaks (since this is a Japanese movie, they are extra freaky), who all gang up on her to abuse, torment, tease and rape her in many cruel ways. When a mysterious magician appears who seems to be able to do anything (his act involves climbing into a bottle much smaller than himself), things start looking up for her as he sends her off into lightly surreal fantasies and takes revenge on her tormentors, controlling their minds. But soon he becomes obsessed with her, she becomes addicted to his magic, and his magic takes over her reality. The tone wavers somehow between cute and cruel, and from kitschy to surreal.

If Hereditary was Ari Aster remaking Rosemary's Baby, this is his remake of Wicker Man. In both cases, he demonstrates a talent for creating dread and atmosphere with a superbly slow and deliberate pace, and for getting intense performances from his female protagonists. In both movies, he adds gruesome scenes of bizarre horror and violence that are mostly there for the shock factor and that sometimes make no sense in the movie. And finally, in both movies, there is only just barely enough new material and twists that don't really justify the remake. This is an almost three-hour long version of Wicker Man in Sweden with some elements of 2000 Maniacs (some gore and other over-the-top behaviour with the guests). Some college students and a recently traumatized girl travel to Sweden to witness a once-in-90-years 9-day-long obscure ritual. Aster piles on the strange ceremonies, song and dance performances, trippy experiences, bizarre mating rituals, gradually growing tension, and gruesome offerings. But don't expect too much extreme stuff, as the trips are just light visual psychedelia and there is only a couple of scenes of gore. In the end, despite this being much better than LaBute's remake and despite good atmosphere and not forgetting how the unique music defined the original, it still felt like a weaker remake and it only made me want to re-watch the original Wicker Man. That, and the ending was weak, just like Hereditary. This generation only seems to know how to remake movies and add nonsense to them.

Mike Yokohama: A Forest with No Name  
Strange little Japanese movie reminiscent of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's abstract philosophical oddities like Cure and Charisma. A detective down on his luck is sent to retrieve a girl from a mysterious resort-cum-cult-commune. He finds some very strange happenings there as the youngsters are reduced to numbers, made to follow strange rules until they 'graduate', led by a doctor with a hypnotic power, constantly challenged to find their purpose and individuality even if it means violence or suicide. The detective is sent into the forest to find a tree that looks like him while he tries to convince the girl to leave. Oddly meditative with a bizarre ending, but not very rewarding.

Mind Game  
Unique Japanese collaborative and experimental animation that is at times reminiscent of Plympton's anything-goes stream-of-consciousness creations, and Bakshi's lewd, satirical, crude and off-the-wall animations, but has plenty of its own touches to spare. Nishi is a loser with a crush for a girl with big breasts and this feature follows his adventures as he makes mistakes, goes to a high-tech heaven with an insanely psychotic shape-shifting god and back again, gets involved with the Yakuza and has bizarre adventures involving a whale and a castaway, all the while he finds that his decisions and attitudes alter his destiny to the point where he can get second chances (hence the movie title). There are numerous types of animation techniques all blended together, from cute, colorful and fluffy, to rough sketches, crude & warped, psychedelic, rotoscope, etc. and the movie is constantly energetic, inventive and morphing, following whims, fantasies and ideas as with a stream-of-consciousness, capturing the animators' ideas as well as daydreams and whimsical tangents, all leading to an intensely fantastical climax that takes off into ambiguous and limitless possibilities.

Mindwarp (AKA Brain Slasher)  
Cult 90s sci-fi horror flick with both Bruce Campbell and Angus Scrimm facing each other as enemies. If you think about it, this wild movie somehow manages to combine almost every element from post-apocalyptic movies, as well as throwing in reality-shifting movies like Existenz, and even some gnarly gory horror to boot. There's a rebel that wants to get out of the virtual world (pre-Matrix), post-apocalyptic radioactive wastelands, underground mutants, cults, new mutated animals, slavery, low-tech Mad Max-esque battles, and more. While not exactly a gorehounds movie, there are a handful of gratuitous scenes, and the gore is very unexpected, brutal and memorable, along with the movie itself, despite its poor twist ending and weak writing.

East-German movie that waited to be made until the fall of the wall. It's more of a series of subtle social commentary and symbolic sketches rather than a narrative movie. Sebastian is the Christ-like young man who gets caught up in various social circles, pressured by his peers and attempts at social control to clamp down on non-conformists. It starts with a group of misfits and a series of unlucky coincidences that get him caught stealing cigarettes, after which he gets drafted into the job of catching ticket-evaders on trams, which he turns into a parable on love as he dresses and acts like Jesus, except that a devilish figure keeps undermining his efforts. People talk about pre-programming in humans, matching face-types to predictable behaviour, and themes are also covered of humans compelled to perform petty crimes and non-conformist acts. The movie veers towards a drama of a man on the wagon who is seen as an existential lost cause, and the whole theme of ticket and ticket evaders gets heavy symbolic and surreal meaning. Probably a richer experience for East-Germans, but even I found it interesting and full of intriguing questions, and it obviously hides its meaning from potential censors.

Mirror of the Planets  
Pure non-narrative art-house. The subject is an astronomer in love with the mysteries of the universe more than his girlfriend, reaching through the science to the wonder and art of it all hoping to find answers to death and love (while ignoring the life he has). The whole movie consists of snippets of his life blended with poetry, music, dance performances in striking locations, architecture, song, and many philosophical or poetic musings. In between there are visions and dreams, symbolic tableaux, some to do with death, many involving another woman, who may be memories, his inner self, or a ghost, or all three. Most of it is pretentious, random and ponderous; a lot is dreamy, visually striking and poetic; a handful of scenes succeed in tying together the aforementioned themes and attaching a sense of wonder and poetry to it all.

Miss Violence  
Although often categorized in the 'Greek weird wave' together with Dogtooth, it actually belongs in the category of hard-hitting realistic shock-art-cinema of Haneke. The movie starts with an 11-year-old girl's birthday party, a girl who promptly kills herself at her own party. Something must be very very wrong, but the movie takes its time in opening up this seemingly normal family to us, a family that guards its facade of normality with strict discipline under the iron hand of the father. But then the depravity is revealed, involving abuse of women and minors, shocking audiences, mostly without turning into an exploitation-horror movie. A gang-rape scene is borderline gratuitous, and so are the misandrist undertones, and the ending seems like it was copied from an exploitation movie, but the expressions on the girl's faces are very memorable.

Mondo Keyhole  
An unusual entry in the Something Weird catalog: An 'art-roughie', with psychological symbolism and a couple of very surreal dream-sequences, as well as the usual psychedelia. This cult movie tells the tale of a serial rapist who runs a pornographic business and who only gets turned on when she puts up a fight. His poor wife who wants him is completely neglected, until she wanders into a very psychedelic hedonistic orgiastic party. In the meantime, we get a narration from the rapist as we dive into his mind and dreams, helped by a narrator who analyzes him through Freudian and Jungian terms. His rape fantasies blend together in oneiric fashion and become haunted by a dark woman, skulls and burning roses, and his gun turns into a banana. One day he rapes the wrong woman, and her lesbian lover dons her Dominatrix outfit to make his nightmares come true...

Wacky Hollywood semi-animated comedy by Henry Selick that frequently wanders into the surprisingly bizarre. But in the end, it's just another below-average comedy vehicle for Brendan Fraser. Stu Miley, the inventor of the cartoon character Monkeybone ("the most disturbed cartoon character in America"), named after a certain body part which springs to attention for unexpected things, slips into a coma. In this coma world, he finds himself in a nightmare world populated with various warped animated creations come to life, and some trapped humans with their bodies in comas, ruled by Hypnos (the God of Sleep), and Death. Monkeybone is there to humiliate and make his life hell, and there is a conspiracy which involves Monkeybone taking over his body in the real world. The mixture of juvenile humor, crude and cartoonish surrealism, wacky and warped humor, some adult raunch, and black humor involving a walking corpse and organ donations, make it unclear who this movie was meant for. Mostly unfunny.

Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment  
They don't make movies like this anymore. British cult comedy from the 60s featuring David Warner as a madman Communist artist who tries to win the love of his life back before she marries his friend. This he does with anarchy, charm and shenanigans worthy of a Marx Brother. His mental state is off and a 'suitable case for treatment', and one of his quirks is that he sees people as animals and himself as a gorilla... or as Trotsky. The interactions he has with the sane people around him are hilarious and edgy. His fantasies and dreams are borderline surreal and serve to satirize society. The final reel is where things reach a chaotic climax as his antics become more and more desperate until his mind cracks, and the movie turns completely surreal for a mental confrontation with his fears and friends.

Mother's Heart  
Italian oddity on violent influences in society, at times somewhat Godardesque. A strangely apathetic and mute mother watches on as her children develop disturbing behaviour. They torture the nanny, accuse each other of Communism, build dangerous rockets that tend to blow up and kill whoever is nearby, read medical details about death, and seem to be involved in a series of deaths and accidents. The mother joins a strange revolutionary group that preaches violence against the bourgeoisie, builds bombs, and takes part in odd didactic presentations, while another mother buys her children books by De Sade. Eventually the mother decides to fight fire with fire and put a violent end to the madness.

Small, cult, entertaining flick reminiscent of Repo Man with obvious symbolism that can also be seen as a coming-of-age flick. A 10 year old kid (naivete) drives around the country (life) in a stolen car playing a game called Motorama (any of life's pointless driving goals) where he has to collect all the letters to win the grand prize. Most people see him as an adult (because he isn't really a child) and he encounters strange characters along the way including a kooky religious gas station attendant, rebellious bikers, a greedy man after money, an old man still obsessed over Motorama, a family man who abandons his kids in the woods, etc. The message seems to be that all of life's goals are meaningless and most people are crazy bumbling fools and you just have to stop driving around like a lunatic and relax. Bah.

A simple drama about a young woman dealing with her mother's sudden death, reminiscing often, and trying to sort out her various emotions and aspects of their relationship. This would make for a pretty dull chick-flick drama, except for the fact that this is adapted from a play involving performance-art where two women act as one role, representing the duality inside her in many different ways: Her internal conversations are obviously performed as simple conversations between the two women, but there are also synchronized movements creating a surreal mirror effect when they are in sync, and many events where each one reacts differently to the same provocation, as well as some flights of fancy where supermarkets turn into a musical set trying to figure out what her mother likes, or a scene where her other self keeps criticizing her harshly while she is trying to have sex, or a eulogy becomes a literal physical and bloody struggle. Wears out its welcome soon enough despite this gimmick, but it's interesting for a while.

Murder Obsession  
Slightly more bizarre than usual giallo. An actor is getting a little too obsessed over the murder scenes in his latest movie, going into a murder trance, and given his trauma from being involved in the bizarre murder of his father as a young boy, this becomes worrisome to say the least. Not that this stops girls from giving themselves to him for some reason. He takes a break at his mother's old house together with his friends and girlfriend. And that, of course, is when murders and strange events start happening. Features the usual gloved killer, many nonsensical twists, some brief badly-done gore, many red herrings and layers of preposterous explanations for the same murder, etc. But it also throws in black magic, creatures, incest, religious imagery, and an extended surreal night sequence.

My Case  
Possibly Manoel de Oliveira's most experimental movie. A meta-play in four versions, where the actors (who possibly aren't even actors), as well as the writer and other participants break the fourth (and fifth) wall and rant and rave about the misfortunes or loves in their life, then rant and rave about each other's rants and raves, each trying to get 'his case' heard by accusing each other of a lack of relevance or of reality, thus constantly escaping the fact that they are in a play to begin with. The second variation shows the same events as a silent movie with an artsy, introspective voice-over pondering or reciting about death like a self-obsessed inner voice making all that is on screen secondary. The third is a weird version with absurd distorted dialogue and images of Africa on the screen overshadowing their personal rants. The final version escalates the suffering to biblical proportions, telling the ultimate tale of Job and his entourage as they preach and rant to each other. Part tedium, part interesting meta-gimmick that keeps rising higher, all together raising questions about relative human suffering and egotism.

My Name is 'A' by anonymous  
If you thought modern teenage girls were annoying and messed up, you haven't seen anything yet. This does to teenage girls what Kids did to teenage boys, except in a more original style. This is 'inspired' by true events surrounding the murder of a nine year old girl by a 15 year old girl. But it doesn't tell that story, nor does it offer insight into what could bring a girl to commit such an act. It doesn't even portray the murderous act as something that definitely happened. Instead, it portrays a group of four angsty teenage girls with various mental disorders and suggests that perhaps their state of mind could lead to such an act. Boredom, angst, cursing God, pouring out of emotions on cellphones like cheap exhibitionists, depression, bulimia, acts of OCD with vomit, self-mutilation, suicide games, and desperate lashing out with filth and anger. All these plague these girls in a frighteningly realistic and well-acted portrayal that even throws away its plot for angsty mood and disturbing realism. If the movie is tedious it's only because the girls are so annoyingly messed up, but the movie itself is well done for what it set out to do.

Naan Kadavul (I am God)  
Tamil cinema (Kollywood?), directed by Bala, an up and coming director who doesn't like to compromise. This is a brutal film, at the surface employing the standard Bollywood staples of melodrama, violence, music, dance, and a god in human form taking out his fury on evil people. But this one has muscle and a big dose of realism to spare. Bala employed real beggars, horribly disfigured people, and Aghori ascetics in his movie and took his time with it, but the two leads are pretty actors and the lead ascetic is much too healthy and has blow-dried conditioned hair. A strange mix to say the least. The story involves a family in search of their abandoned son who became an Aghori, except this one now thinks he is a god, Shiva in human form, his only purpose to bring death upon people that can't live a human life. To this purpose he cruelly shuns his family, bullies random people, smokes heroin, and beats annoying beggars, acting more like a megalomaniac hoodlum than a holy ascetic, but what do I know about this culture. In the middle are the beggars that could overrun a Jodorowsky movie, a varied group of disfigured people and freaks, or just poor people that only live to beg or entertain the passersby and a corrupt police station in even freakier clothes and makeup. The other part of the story involves a cruel, evil, vicious man who trades beggars like slaves, beats them senseless, and even disfigures them so they will earn more. When his gang and the Aghori meet, it becomes a climax of godlike fury vs. evil that must be seen to be believed, leading to an uncompromising ending.

Naboer (Next Door)  
Norwegian psychological thriller with a Lynchian plot of twisted sex and relationships, a man who prefers to remember things his own way, and strange characters, coupled with some Polanski claustrophobic apartment neuroses. The Lynch comparison is only partial however, as the bizarre dream-logic is not here. A man is dumped by his girlfriend and then has disturbing encounters with his strange, slutty female neighbours, one of which enjoys bloody and violent punching in the face during sex. Secrets reveal themselves as psychoses emerge. Could have been great but it feels uninspired and derivative, and the ending is predictable.

Nasty Girl  
In case you were wondering, the title of this movie refers to a mild insult the heroine is called during her investigations. This is a true story about a stubborn German girl who relentlessly researched and uncovered collaboration with the Third Reich involving many of her friends and neighbours in a small town. She and her family received death threats, and her research was constantly blocked by obvious backhanded bureaucracy and by citizens who would prefer to forget about the whole thing. The story is told as a quirky art-house biopic, starting with her opinionated and eccentric childhood. What makes this movie stand out, besides the subject matter, is that it is filmed in a very strange satirical style, like a naughtier 'His Girl Friday' farce combined with light touches of surrealism. Lady Justice appears in court-rooms, their living room is transported into the streets as her investigations become popular, sets are often stagy and artificial, and other similar symbolic visual enhancements add to the story. The farcical tone, however, detracts from the subject matter, and one has to constantly sidestep it to get involved in the story.

Navigator: A Mediaeval Odyssey, The  
A unique movie that lies somewhere between a Terry Gilliam movie and Ingmar Bergman. The setting is the Black Death threatening to arrive at a deeply religious and simple village in 14th century England. The villagers pin their hopes on a prophetic boy who may or may not be just a dreamer, who guides the villagers on a quest to make a huge cross and put it on the highest church in a city, and thus save them all. Except this quest becomes half-dream, half-vision, half-surreal-allegory, half-sci-fi-adventure, half-boy's-imagination (yes that's a lot of halves) when their quest takes them through a tunnel that they dig into the Earth right through to the 20th Century. A city of magical light and dangerous metal machines challenges their religious quest, including an almost surreal scene involving a boat, horse and scared medieval villagers fighting a submarine. This film has Gilliam-esque themes of imagination intermixing with reality and prophecy, creating a light-hearted adventure that may or may not be real, but also has heavy underlying themes of death, faith and religion.

Hour-long dutch horror/thriller about a traumatized person with a fear of death, who is being treated by an unusual shrink. A man who recently lost his wife in a brutal accident gets entangled with these people with violent consequences. Features some gory dreams, sick minds, and off-screen necrophilia.

Neighbour No. 13  
Japanese psychological horror that deals with bullying, split personalities and revenge, causing reviews to compare this to everything from Fight Club to Oldboy. But it's really just a psychological, twisted manga with a slightly surreal twist and ending. A man who was severely bullied as a schoolboy finds himself both working with, and living next to his ex-bully. His evil alter-ego plots revenge, taking it out on the man's wife and child before it escalates. His mental state is explored in a surreal dark cabin where his two alter-egos live, and his fury causes him to turn into a hideous and scary Mr. Hyde as he seeks satisfaction.

Night Games  
Although somewhat tame by later standards, this 1966 Swedish art-house film is here for its initial shock value, pioneering taboo subject matter in art-house cinema, and employing some Fellini-esque elements in its over-the-top depiction of a debauched aristocracy. A man brings his fiancée to his family-castle, exploring his memories, to attempt to heal his many psychological problems, many of them sexual. The primary cause of his problems is his mother, and Freud would have a field day with this Oedipal wrecking job. A hypocritical libertarian only in some ways, she frequently entertains a circus of debauched characters in her house, mostly to bask in her cynicism and narcissism. At the beginning of the movie, they all gather to watch her give birth, including her son, except it's a still-born. As a kid, he develops a very unhealthy cosy relationship with her, wanting her or wanting to be her, leading to a catastrophic complex over his penis as she becomes furious when she catches him masturbating. There are debauched parties and various sexual experimentations, often including a bishop. Crude, but colorful and well-directed, with a really silly ending.

Night Train  
A gritty tribute to film-noir and expressionism that revels in cinematic tricks of the trade and artistic flourishes rather than entertainment. In other words, a film for art-school only. A nasty man investigating his brother's murder gets involved with a snuff ring, a prostitute and a dwarf pimp in Mexico, and some philosophical talks with street bums. Amidst this downward spiral of artsy sleaze are some striking expressionistic dream sequences and a shocking splatter scene that comes out of nowhere.

Night Train to Terror  
80s cheesy horror anthology, with a persistent oddball edge. The wrapper story involves God and Satan on a bizarre train trip that never makes any sense, and which is supposed to crash for no reason, while they haggle nonsensically over who will get which souls. They watch three movies about screwed up people's lives and God interferes with one of them to explain its unexpected ending. Except that these three shorts are three actual full length movies that were never released at the time, all cut down to fit into a single hour. As you can imagine, most of them are extremely disjointed and the first one feels like a nudity & gore highlight or trailer reel from a much longer movie, about organ harvesting, rape and murder at a brutal insane asylum, causing much confusion. The middle movie is the weirder one, with a porn actress getting involved in a death-wish club that finds ridiculously elaborate ways to put themselves in mortal danger, including huge insects and evil computers. The third is the most coherent with many shortened subplots involving Nazis and demons. The director supposedly added the really cheesy claymation demons and monsters to the movies. To add to all this mess, there is a really bad 80s rock-pop band on the train that 'God' likes for some reason and which gets to dance and sing in between the horror, causing a jarring tone shift.

Very 80s but unique horror movie that throws everything and the kitchen sink at you, until you dream the movie. There is a mad professor studying the supernatural and dreams, a haunted house, ectoplasm gateways, aliens invading bodies, bug parasites, evil professors with simple-minded henchmen, hallucinations, etc. and on top of it all sits the strange character of Brian Thompson as the king of the highway who likes to run over bunnies. There's a twist that you may see coming, but it doesn't matter when this amount of confusing horror entertainment keeps coming at you.

Northerners, The  
Probably Warmerdam's strangest black comedy featuring several characters and subplots that don't really go anywhere. The setting is a housing development where the whole town seems to live on one street and someone is always watching. There's a horny butcher who can't get any from his increasingly devout wife, and a horny wife who can't get any from her neurotic hunter of a husband who think it's his job to patrol any funny goings-on in the nearby dense forest. A postman opens all the mail using a steam kettle in the forest, a young boy pretends to be a Congo leader in blackface, and a naughty young lady who may or may not exist teases everyone like a forest nymph. When a 'missionary exhibition' brings an African man in a cage to town, and the catholic wife starts punishing herself into saint-dom and seeing holy statues and birds coming to life, things stir up. Entertainingly unique and colorful, but unsatisfying.

Although a very odd Greek movie, this is not your typical 'Greek weird wave' art-house entry, but a quirky vampire comedy that feels like some raver on acid imagined he is a vampire and made this movie. A vampire who must dance to live, visits Athens, falls for a mysterious woman, and accompanies her on a series of night-errands that grow more and more strange as the movie surreptitiously grows surreal. Blood is multi-colored, there is constant electronic music, there is smoky sex with gas masks, a drug-dealer turns into a spaced-out moron after being bitten, when the vampire passes out he has surreal floating dreams involving flying stags, and there is a bizarre old man who wants to live forever and who may be Bram Stoker or Hitler. Or not. Although not a rewarding movie, the strangeness will keep you watching.

Nothing Lasts Forever  
Slightly strange cult item recreates the look of 30s movies complete with newsreels, as well as a sappy technicolor romance and 50s sci-fi. Adam is a young artist in search of his art, going to New York that is now under control of the Port Authority where he is tested for art talent by having to draw a nude model in 3 minutes. He tries experiencing some whacked out New York art performances before being led underground by some powerful bums in control, and then to the moon, which is run by the government in a conspiracy to turn it into a Hawaii like tourist and shopping trap.

Strictly speaking, this is only a gothic fantasy movie about folk-magic amongst medieval peasants with a romantic-tragedy angle and not anything bizarre or surreal. Except the magic is so ubiquitous and atmospheric, it can have the effect of a dream, some of the magic is decidedly odd, and there is a light sprinkling of absurdities such as visions of supernatural beings as large chickens in a sauna. There is barely any narrative, and the little there is involves a doomed love triangle between a dumb peasant and his poetic snowman, a werewolf girl, and a sleepwalking baroness. The peasants here are dirt-poor but only desire and lust all day, spending their time loafing or employing magic to steal from others. Most of the movie is a sequence of many magical encounters: A deal with the devil in the forest to create animated slaves out of branches, farming tools and a borrowed soul, witches that advise on repulsive love potions, visions and quests for hidden forgotten treasures in the river, a night of interaction and meals with walking-dead relatives, sacrament wafers used as bullets, amusing superstitious ways to fool the plague that appears in various guises, and so on. It's beautifully filmed, and it's a feast for the eyes and the imagination, but thanks to its extremely boorish, one-dimensional and bestial peasants, it does nothing for the soul or mind.

Strange thriller with Madeleine Stowe that tries to be too many things and ends up very confusing. A woman and her daughter are on a road trip home when they encounter a group of very strange people that seduce her obnoxiously rebellious and angry daughter. Paranoia creeps in as she finds herself in a nightmarish chase through dark highways, where people aren't quite what they seem. After the character set-up, it becomes part thriller, part near-Lynchian mystery with strange people and confusing hallucinative events, part horror with a not-quite-vampiric fetish for blood, without quite being any of the above. Just when you think you have it figured out as a reality-bending hallucinative experience, it snaps back into place as a straightforward thriller, except nobody's behaviour ever makes sense, and then it becomes not-quite-there Lynchian again. Intriguing while it's on, but the characters are annoying, and when it's over it will leave you very dissatisfied.

Of Freaks and Men  
Unique Russian art-house film seemingly exploring themes of upper class, humanity, technology and their corruption and exploitation, the freak and the twisted inside man and perhaps nature vs. nurture, but not satisfactorily. Set during the beginning of the 20th century and filmed in sepia, this follows a cold, murdering pornographer, his grinningly perverse sidekick, some kinky maids and their upper-class employers including a beautiful, blind woman with sexual repressions, a passive photographer who only pays lip service to decency, and a pair of singing siamese twins. Women are seduced to pose for spanking erotica and get addicted to it, the twins are exploited for both erotica and singing performances, the maids corrupt, the pornographer has a weird relationship with his nanny, and lots of trains go by. What does it all mean?

A philosophical/human/existential/religious/epistemological/reality-bending/whatever film based on a story by Stanislaw Lem of Solaris fame. All of the rare books in a bookstore have been replaced by a mysterious book called '1', which covers everything and nothing. One minute of facts covering the whole of humanity, evoking strange and extreme reactions in the people that glance at it. At the same time, a stranger appears that spouts mystical and philosophical thoughts on the current state of affairs. The 'Reality Defense Institute' doesn't like this one bit, and very thoroughly and aggressively investigates, tests, abuses and experiments, in order to make everyone conform with reality. But what is reality really? What we see and what is seen in our eyes is the same. And why is the Reality institute such a strange and impossible place? This movie is reminiscent of the (superior) Pontypool in the sense that a strange occurrence is used to meditate on larger abstract musings. This one tries to cover so many topics (including media control, state control, internet imagery, subjectivism, idealism, and even a literal fruit of knowledge in the form of pears to know good & evil), and is so dense, that it ends up not covering anything to satisfaction. Plus, the idea of disturbing almanac facts is disappointingly mundane. But it's an invigorating watch nevertheless.

One in the Gun  
It starts as a cheesy and cliched femme-fatale thriller with acting and dialogue straight out of a soap, but the plot-writing shines in this one, and the details will get re-shuffled a dozen times before the movie is through, each time making sense within a new context. After a few double-crosses, the movie suddenly veers to After Hours/Lynch territory where nothing is quite right and every person is delightfully weird, but then it comes back for a few more twists, again, each one a slam dunk. The acting ranges from poor to good to scene-chewing fun, the first part is cheesy and weak, but the middle bizarre mystery in an alternate reality is fun, and the twists are good.

One Night a Train  
A very lightly surreal character-study that sneaks up on you with its insight using dream-logic, reminiscent of a Resnais movie. A professor and linguist has a difficult and overly detached relationship with a French girl. Much communication is studied, and many words are analyzed, but not much is communicated. One day, after a fight and during a tense trip together, the professor suddenly finds himself in a strange desolate landscape abandoned by the train and then in an even more bizarre village where nothing makes sense, and they cannot communicate with the locals...

One Night in One City  
Fantasy Czech stop-motion animation in the distorted, grimy and texture-rich vein pioneered by Svankmajer, Quay Brothers and many others. Although the characters look distorted and their eccentricities are somewhat warped, it's not quite so dark as is typical with these types of animations, and it actually has a light-hearted, sometimes even child-like approach to its little stories. It's more fantasy than surreal, but there are surreal touches as well. The stories include various men with strange hobbies such as a mini-circus with dead insects, dressing up as a mystical magician, and a man who seduces women by setting up an elaborate show in his home and acting as a dog undertaker and funeral director. There is also a story about a tree who aspires to become a guitar, his frog friend, and lots of charming little inventive details that anthropomorphize the life of a tree. There's a tone-deaf accordion player who finds an ear, and a couple of thirsty and horny drunks who find a genie that gives them unlimited wishes. Overall it lacks depth, but it is very entertaining and very nicely animated.

Only God Forgives  
Now that Refn has become popular, the masses either don't want to allow him to experiment, or gush over anything he does, making this kind of a polarizing and misunderstood release. But I found it to be middling and merely an interesting one-time watch. It's a slow, art-house mood-piece that straddles the border with modern ultra-violent movies. It is somewhat similar in tone to 'Valhalla Rising' (his previous work of medieval brutality spliced with hallucinative religious visions and mythological symbolism as if directed by both Tarkovsky and Herzog). 'Only God Forgives' takes place in modern Thailand, where two brothers deal in drugs and prostitutes, one more than the other. When the pedophile brother kills a young prostitute, this unleashes a sequence of vengeful murders, with the brother's monstrous mother on one side, and an angel of death on the other. As opposed to people who assumed he is the god from the title, this man has no forgiveness, and metes out either swift death by sword, or slashes off the arm of the rest that have some kind of excuse, whether it is justice for murder, or for allowing one's daughter to prostitute. Thus, he becomes the avenging symbol of Thailand that has been reduced to catering to Western criminals and perverts. The surviving brother has demons of his own to deal with, looking for forgiveness or redemption in the arms of a prostitute or death, while his incestuous mother abuses him psychologically, leading to several Lynchian near-surreal scenes of soul-searching and violent, symbolic punishment while the merciless angel of justice sings to a select Thai audience.

On the Comet  
Czech fantasy oddity about a French colony in North Africa at war with the local Arabs and the conquering Spanish. A soldier falls into the sea while surveying the land and is saved by a beautiful woman who escaped from a weapons dealer. Before you know it, a comet that looks like a planet almost hits Earth, a bomb causes a chunk of the colony to fly up into space and land on the comet complete with people, buildings and bottles of wine. The warring people keep on going for a while as if nothing has happened except now they are also plagued by huge bugs, dinosaurs and dragons. And so on... one meandering absurdity after another backed by social satire. The effects look like drawings and toys, but the effect of the movie is oddly entertaining, albeit chaotically silly.

Orphan, The  
AKA "Friday the 13th: The Orphan", but don't let that title fool you (it was released before that one). This is actually an art-house psychological horror movie about a kid under intense pressures. His bohemian loving parents died in a freak accident, and when his stern aunt takes over his upbringing, she systematically gets rid of everything and everyone that he loves in his life. The film is lightly peppered with hallucinative imagery as the kid's mind cracks. He worships a stuffed monkey in a rebellious display of abandon to something wild, leading to a surreal scene involving his father and mirrors. There is a nightmarish/surreal sequence of an orphanage from hell, possible murders that may or may not be real, and a mental breakdown where he dresses up as his aunt. It is slow-going, and the acting isn't particularly good, but it has several points of interest and is not as bad as reviews make it out to be.

Overwhelm the Sky  
An indie mystery movie with praising reviews across the board. I found it punishingly slow at almost three hours long with many indulgent overlong scenes, although it has several good things going for it. In other words, there is a much shorter, better movie in here. A late-night radio host is obsessed with his friend's murder, revisiting the scene of the crime in the park, and slowly starting his own investigation. When he discovers a strange drifter with sleep problems who also hangs around the park, his investigations take a strange turn as everything he knows turns upside down. Along the way he meets several curiously odd people, including a friendly homeless person, an assortment of wackos on his radio show, and a sadly desperate woman that tries to seduce him. Experienced audiences will be able to predict the ending long before it's over, but the journey is still somewhat of an experience. Some of the characters are almost-but-not-quite Lynchian in their oddness, the dialogue is half-improvised adding a fascinating realistic feel to some of the scenes, and the mystery has a psychological-reality twist which is almost-but-not-quite surreal.

Probably Solondz's best film and the only one that comes close to the disturbing depression and provocation of Happiness. Aviva is a thirteenish girl with dreams of getting pregnant and loving a baby, but the world is too ethically corrupt or complicated to handle this. She is acted by many different actresses of different ages, looks and colors, effectively making it a general statement about society rather than a drama about one girl. There are very awkward or disturbing moments involving pre-teen sex, her parents pressuring her into an abortion, several pedophiliacs, a Christian commune of rejected children that has a hidden agenda, and statements are made against both sides of the abortion argument, all twisting into a moral pretzel by the intriguing screenplay until they are right back where they started. Once again, Solondz somehow creates a world that is both skin-crawlingly realistic, and unrealistically, unrelentingly depressing.

Wow, another female coming-of-age movie that uses fantasy and borderline surrealism to explore the mind of a budding teenager. I wonder what it is about females growing up? This is a horror movie based on dreams, a theme made popular by Nightmare on Elm Street, only this movie digs into a girl's psyche, making the fantasy surreal. A rebellious girl finds that her drawings are creating a reality in her dreams, and she somehow makes a psychic link to a very sick boy who is transported into her drawings. Her fear and emotional turmoil over her separated father makes for some misandrist horror that makes the father into a monster. The set design is striking, reproducing the slight warps of a child's drawings, her fever causes some nightmarish sequences, and the concept is fascinating and gripping with a sublime supernatural ending, but the acting is very poor. This could use a remake with better actors.

A boy suspects his parents of cannibalism and other strange practices behind their cheerful facade. Things get darkly funny and horrifying and meat never looked more distasteful. An unfocused movie that is sometimes horror, and other times satire, a psychological study, or black comedy.

Paris Does Not Exist  
French temporal metaphysics as related to art and an artists viewpoint. An artist takes some drugs which gives him the ability to see into the past and future. It starts small, with objects changing location to where they will be in a few minutes, then he starts predicting events, seeing dozens of variations at once, and into past decades, spectating on people from the past and previous sexy tenants, until he questions the meaning of reality. He discusses metaphysics with his friend, while his girlfriend worries. Stop-motion animation is used well to depict time and interesting explorative questions are raised, but I am left with a feeling that the movie should have taken it further.

Party and the Guests, The  
Czech banned classic attacking the Communist party using obvious but carefully constructed symbolism. A group of freethinking individuals are having a pleasant picnic when they are interrupted by a strange group of harassing, dominating guests who turn them into guests. They draw lines, make silly rules, harass them, until the deceivingly charming leader comes along to berate this harsh behaviour and convince them all to join a banquet in the woods. After some conflict about wrong seating arrangements, soon they are all conforming and before they know it, hunting one of their own. This is the main story but there are many more satirical details. Good but obvious.

Passing, The  
Ambitious low-budget film that explores the lives of two people: A disturbed, violent man waiting on death row, his life told in confusing flashbacks involving rape of his wife, murder, and abuse of a man, and the life of an old war veteran and his disabled war buddy as they help each other, reminisce, chat and try to commit suicide. A bizarre sci-fi experiment is performed to transfer the soul of the old man into the body of the young man, the film going into a 2001-esque metaphysical, psychedelic fugue as the implications of this act of soul-transfer sinks in. Atmospheric, intriguing and odd despite the bad lighting.

Patch Town  
This surprisingly charming and fun little movie seems to be have been conceptually inspired by City of Lost Children (complete with Santas, and kids being used by an eccentric cruel skinny man). But visually, it looks more like a low-budget poor-man's Gilliam-esque alternate reality. It is also full of Canadian humor, and it is a musical, although the songs aren't likely to become hits. It's about a toy maker who invents a machine that converts babies to dolls and vice versa, and the evil son that uses this machine in his cabbage-industry-baby factory run like a Gilliam-esque dystopia complete with memory-wiping. Jon, who works at the cabbage-baby factory, dreams of something more and tries to escape to the real world to find his toy-mother and protect his secret baby. The tone is not as dark as City of Lost Children, and a lot of this is childish and corny, but not too childish so that adults won't enjoy it. So it's in a strange gray area in between. The actors create fun characters, and the movie is small but with big ambitions.

Perfect Blue (2002)  
Live version of the anime, and much more subtly surreal, but also way too drawn out and lacking in content. An upcoming pop-idol is about to upgrade from posters to pop song and commercial. The song she wants to use is her friend's who killed herself. At the same time, a strange store clerk is so obsessed with her, that he starts to become her, and her manager's wife is becoming jealous. The theme of living life and love through someone else until you lose your own identity is explored simply and nicely, but, as mentioned, the movie is very drawn out and often dull, and the wistful pop song is played a dozen times, sometimes in its entirety.

A tribute to Russ Meyer, admirably reproducing the energetic, comedic naughtiness and raunch of Meyer at times, but wallowing in trash the rest of the time. A pervert comes back home to help his father at the ranch, his father recruiting a line of young, well-endowed females as his companions who promptly get involved with his son and get mysteriously murdered. Silly, raunchy, funny, trashy, naughty fun with a surprising rude climax that goes way over-the-top.

Like with Inferno, Argento again goes all-out with style and creepy or bizarre elements, but seems to have skipped the cohesive plot and the fact that actors must be directed as well. A girl with telepathic connections to insects finds herself in a school where mysterious murders are taking place. With the help of an etymologist and a few bugs, she tracks down the location of the killer who, among other things, keeps a pool full of body parts and maggots in the cellar.

Pig Pen  
This falls in the genre of low-budget, extremely dark and depressing grindhouse movies like Combat Shock. A long-suffering, poor, single mother and her teenage skater kid are already suffering from a depressing life in a crime-ridden part of town, when she desperately falls for the wrong guy and brings him home. Matters deteriorate quickly, the kid finds himself in the dangerous streets, and his mother in the hands of a psychopath. What sets this movie apart is the realistic drama and the dialogue that draws you into the characters, before the movie viciously punishes them over and over in increasingly violent and hopeless circumstances. The acting isn't strong, but it's passable, and the psychopath is scary. The sound is a big minus, making it difficult to understand much of the dialogue. But the movie is basically an effective dark drama mixed with grindhouse shocks.

The classic movie about criminal, exploited, nihilistic kids in peril that predates the much more stylized City of God and the spoiled Kids. Like Lilya 4-Ever and Christiane F., this goes for gritty realism, and even uses real children from the slums. Pixote is a 10 year old boy who is taken to a detention center along with other young delinquents, and witnesses brutal homosexual rape, murder, abuse, the criminal exploitation of boys by thugs and corrupt authorities. After an escape, he becomes involved with pimps and drug-dealers, then mugs men for a depressed alcoholic prostitute who just gave herself an abortion. Realistic, disturbing, and terribly pessimistic, with a tragic ending.

Planet Blue  
Israeli stoner comedy inside a logic and world of its own. A drifter on his way to Cairo encounters a mildly strange person sitting on the street who promptly disappears with his knapsack. As he tries to track down this guy, he encounters a circle of acquaintances that help him on his own path to 'transforming'. Objects like purple bicycles, blue bags, and a cassette of electronic music become clues and acquire mystical meanings. He finds himself washing windows for no particular reason, bumping into unenlightened bicycle thieves, and flirting with some girls while using vocabulary that only has meaning to this circle, all on the way to the promised 'blue planet' where he may find his goals. On the other hand, he may have never left the bus station. A movie to watch while stoned and its experience is difficult to describe.

Pornographers, The  
Avant-garde, provocative, absurd comedy from Japan exploring the strange, warped lives of some pornographers using non-linear narrative, absurd behaviour and perversions, and slight surreal touches. Ogata is trying to make a living making two porno movies a day while his business suffers from one catastrophe after another including Yakuza, theft, difficult customers, police, and family pressure but he keeps going, defending the morality of his career. But as the porn movie rolls, the viewers become actors in their own movie and perversions start to plague his family, including an incestuous mother and son, lust for his young step-daughter, prostitution, madness and sluttiness, until Ogata becomes disillusioned with women and starts building his own. His wife keeps a carp she thinks is the reincarnation of her previous husband which she also uses to gauge when something is wrong. In addition to the non-linear, fragmented approach, there are surreal inserts (dreams?) involving orgies, an accident, his wife going mad in a desert, etc. Although the protagonist argues against repression, the film seems to be ambiguous about the issues. A difficult, odd, taboo-breaking and dense film with no titillation.

Private Parts  
Guaranteed to completely confuse you by the end of this slowly building piece of very odd and intriguing perversity. A beautiful, sexually-awakening, young, annoying brat of a woman runs away and moves in with her aunt who manages a strange, rundown hotel. The eccentric occupants of this hotel include the moralizer aunt who likes funerals and pet rats and hates dolled up ladies, a kinky gay priest with a strange perverse shrine in his room, a spectre of the missing and mysterious Alice, an old senile lady who seems to know when her neighbours are masturbating, and a recluse photographer with strange tastes for blow-up dolls. There's an unforgettable scene involving a see-through blow-up doll, bath-water, a picture, and a syringe full of blood, and many nonsensical and bizarre twists towards the end.

Queen Of Angels, The  
Polish delirious romance that often seems inspired by the Zulawski school of acting, except the actors here are more overwhelmed by melodrama, delirious romance and superstition rather than primal emotions. It blends a few stories of overwrought or broken love and passion from two time-lines, both involving the same couple as well as the stories of people around them. In one she is a servant prone to fantasies, surreal and symbolic visions and dreams in a rich household with two generations of broken-hearted women, and the man comes to them as a priest who may or may not be an angel. In the second, she is his girlfriend and he kidnaps her to reveal to her dramatic secrets and connect with her in some melodramatic fit of passion. The cinematography is particularly beautiful, as is the female protagonist, but the constant overwrought estrogen may be a hurdle for some.

Quiet Place in the Country, A  
A tortured-male-artist version of Repulsion that was released soon after that movie. Leonardo is a painter that seems to be losing his mind and identity in the city, while his materialistic manager-cum-girlfriend plays kinky sexual games with him and tries to keep him commercially viable. He is drawn to a villa in the country where he thinks he will be able to paint, but the villa may or may not be haunted by a long-dead nymphomaniac countess with mysterious ties to the local village. Reality is seen through his eyes, visions and nightmares, including surreal violent dreams with a sadistic and materialistically-obsessed girlfriend, doppelgängers in the street, houses that come alive, a seance that goes wrong, and visions of the past and future that somehow include him. The superb artistic cinematography, impressive editing as well as the avant-garde soundtrack by Morricone all, in themselves, make the movie a worthwhile watch. But, personally, I find movies about tortured artists to be too self-obsessed and dull as character studies. Recommended to those that enjoy this sort of thing.

Fantasy on the Japanese mystery/horror writer Edogawa Rampo, who named himself after the Japanese pronunciation of 'Edgar Allan Poe'. The movie touches on some biographical elements such as the censorship of his works, but is not a proper biography with insights, and it explores one of his stories about a woman who allegedly murders her husband by locking him in a box, but does not make the story interesting. What it does focus on, is the interweaving of fantasy and reality as his censored novel comes to life with all its details in the form of a real female murderer with mysterious motives and strange life adventures. This includes shacking up with a kinky, perverse, borderline suicidal, cross-dressing Duke. Rampo's alternate ego from the movies takes over, he sees imaginary people, and takes psychedelic car trips as his senses merge and his fictional world overwhelms his reality as it comes to life. A pretty and atmospheric movie, but mostly dull and unrewarding with empty characters.

Raw (AKA Grave)  
The popular art-house-horror theme of a girl's coming-of-age is often depicted using either surrealism or horror motifs, and here it is given the bizarre Belgian treatment, this time using cannibalism. A teenage vegetarian girl is sent to a very wild veterinary college that is run more like a boot-camp for party-animals and perverts rather than for doctors. Her wild and sexual side emerges, except in the form of a literal lust-for-flesh. Her older sister tries to guide her, but is lost in her own lusts and hungers. The first part of the movie made me think of Wetlands and seems to be more interested in shocking its audience with a wide variety of gratuitous scenes including shoving a hand up a cow's rectum, and a hazing ritual that reaches near-surreal proportions. But the theme of a girl's psychological and physical changes gradually emerges, along with new wild discoveries of her body, and uncontrollable gory bites of anyone and everyone. Unfortunately, this movie, although filmed and put together very well, has nothing new to say on femininity besides upping the shock factor, and comparing a woman's lusts to cannibalism doesn't really provide insight. At least Ginger Snaps was entertaining, whereas this was more about rocking the boat.

Razor Trilogy (Hanzo the Razor)      
Highly entertaining trilogy of movies that are basically a sleazy samurai version of Dirty Harry. Hanzo is an idealistic law enforcer who regularly insults his corrupt or stupid superiors and works beyond the boundaries of his jurisdiction and accepted rules, or even morals. He also has a huge penis which he trains every day with a hammer and a sack of rice and which he uses for interrogating female suspects. They confess not in order to get him to stop, but to get him to continue. Due to his many enemies, he keeps secret weapon gadgets in his house and keeps ex-convicts as his assistants. Some sword fighting, lots of politically incorrect sex, and a powerful personality. The sequels only get better.

Danish abstract art-piece about love, infidelity and choices. There are many movies that are presented as a meta-movie and feature a being or event manipulating the details of the movie, only this one features an experimental being who doesn't seem to know what he is looking for. A young man falls for a beautiful married woman for inexplicable reasons. They meet, unmeet, meet again for the first time several times. He can't seem to make up his mind between his new mysterious love and his girlfriend, and when his mind chooses or wavers, his reality changes, undoing his past life, and even his family relations. Intriguing, but empty and unsatisfying, the metaphysics don't add up, and the movie turns out to be as muddled as its master. Like an abstract David Lynch without the weirdness, and like a Robbe-Grillet without the confidence.

Red Dwarf, The  
A talented Belgian art-house piece that is somehow fascinating but empty at the same time. A dwarf feels out of place everywhere he goes. His job as a lawyer who writes compromising letters for divorcees is suffocating, people in the street stare at him with amusement, and even after he seduces a huge Countess, she treats him like a toy. When he befriends an 11 year old trapeze artist at a circus, she falls for him and wants him to be his guardian angel but he is still struggling with his past life. He snaps, gets nasty with the boss to get fired, then commits murder and tries to build a new life with the circus where he may be accepted. A well done film that leaves you very unsatisfied.

Red Nights  
Belgian-Hong-Kong cross-over that not only merges countries and cultures but genres. It's a sadistic crime horror-thriller that is more about the stylish visuals and experience than a compelling plot. In this crime world, it's survival of the sickest and the most ruthless, as double-crosses fly in every direction amidst several groups of criminals and murderers, all revolving around a jade stone containing a poison that renders its victims paralyzed and with heightened sensitivity to pain and pleasure. The opening sadomasochistic scene is guaranteed to grab attention with its bizarre form of latex torture and gruesome murder. Most of the movie consists of ruthless criminal dealings filmed in glorious Bava-Argento-esque use of bright colors with aesthetic props and clothes, until the climax involving a gruesome and gory torture scene that is all the more jarring due to the aesthetic spotlessness.

Reflecting Skin, The  
Overrated American Gothic study on growing up, innocence and death. A young boy grows to think his female neighbour is a vampire thanks to his father's stories and her freaky musings about her age and dead husband. The boy's idea of fun is blowing up frogs in front of passers-by, covering them with blood. His friends are dying mysteriously and the local grizzly sheriff think his father, with a previous record of homosexuality, did it. His brother comes back from the war and falls in love with the suspected vampire and his mother is severely neurotic. Ambiguous symbolisms of religion, death, sex and love blend with dark drama and almost surreal characters, but not successfully. Dark, hypnotic at times, but flawed by weak acting, unrealistic reactions and forced drama.

Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre (AKA Harpoon)  
Many movies have been called homages or clones of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but this one goes beyond the basic insane backwoods killers setup to the 'butcher' theme of the original. In this case, an insane whale butchering family, angry at the ban against whale hunting, with a boat full of whale hunting accessories and nothing to hunt except humans. This Icelandic tongue-in-cheek horror movie adds a bit more black humor, silliness and irony than TCM though. An eclectic group of very annoying tourists find themselves stranded in the ocean after an accident with a harpoon, and at the mercy of said insane family. The suspense, cinematography, setting and horror are all pretty good, there is satire on whale-lovers, and the violence involves unusual and creative accessories, including a death by flare, but the biggest problem is with the actors and characters: They are all annoying and cartoonishly one-dimensional, some are badly acted with heavy accents, and one, the manipulative and vicious Japanese girl, makes no sense and everything she does makes no sense either. There is a silly and crazy scene involving kamikaze, some angry feminists as tourists, a religious, lustful childish killer, and Gunnar Hansen has a short role as the captain.

Lightly surreal/symbolic East-German movie from the time of the breakup of the GDR. A young reporter/photographer becomes obsessed with an exotic/erotic body-twisting dancer who only uses him for publicity and coldly keeps her distance from him, just like his mother who abandoned him. His boss at work is a fatherly figure who indulges his obsession a bit too much, giving him excuses to write his pieces about her in the guise of socialist propaganda, but his stalking and obsession becomes too much. When she becomes pregnant by an aerialist, he discovers a new interest in pregnancy and motherhood. Scenes in this movie are often peppered by flights of fantasy: His love on a horse involved in gangster crime, having wild sex with her lover, diving into surreal oceans during her dancing, fantasies of attacking his office with his weapon-camera, and so on. And, of course, his fatherly boss and motherly obsession and her straying with others all easily stand for the GDR, socialism, capitalism, motherland, and the like.

Based on a play and Broadway show and classified as absurdism, this slightly strange adaptation features Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder and Karen Black. The theme is conformity and mob mentality, although the original is often interpreted as a reaction to Fascism. People are turning into rhinoceroses, a strangely attractive transformation that seems to bring with it happiness despite the violent behaviour and destructive rampages that come with it. Wilder is a lazy and gentle fellow alarmed by the transformations he sees, and in love with Karen Black. Now, if this film had actually shown people transforming, it wouldn't be bizarre, merely a symbolic horror-comedy. What makes this somewhat strange for audiences is that nobody actually transforms, and it is all suggested and described and acted out, which makes its point stronger since they are just people. Mostel acts out his 'transformation' with frightening energy. The constant physical comedy and slapstick adds slightly to the weirdness. And there's a dream-sequence musical involving a human cage.

Ring Finger, The  
Lightly surreal erotica that feels like a mash-up of a woman's dreams containing both personally symbolic elements, subconscious fantasies and some dream-nonsense. A woman quits her job at a factory after an accident that cuts her ring finger, and finds a new job in a very strange place that preserves people's painful memories, usually odd physical objects associated with their memories preserved in jars, but also things like scars and music. The proprietor develops a strange physical and sexual relationship with her, starting with a gift of the perfect shoes. My interpretation is as follows: She sacrificed early marriage (the tip of her ring finger) for a career, pines for a sailor who sleeps in the same room as her but whom she never meets, symbolizing her longing for romance, but focuses only on a physical, financially dependent (shoes) but passionate affair with an older man that goes nowhere, which provides her with intensely physical but awkward memories... until she frees herself. Psychological symbolism aside, the movie is well done, and quite erotic and dream-like, but it doesn't provide much beyond that.

Roller Blade  
Low-budget, very 80s, post-apocalyptic B-movie that embraces its cheesy, campy, exploitative and bad qualities to produce something bizarre, like a cheap Mad Max made while on acid and horny. Nuns on roller skates represent the good, protecting their holy order and worshipping the almighty colorful smiley. A magical butterfly-knife, as well as a sauna bathtub with naked babes, provide magical healing powers. They also speak in ridiculously colorful language filled with 'thou's, 'thee's and 'yea verily's. The evil is run by a masked man as well as a cheaply-made mutated hand-puppet with a mind and life of its own. In between, there is a female roller skater with a Walkman and seriously hot legs who can't decide what side she is on. The fights are ridiculous, the dubbed dialogue is terrible, the nudity is superb, the sets and costumes are eye-bleedingly cheap and colorfully 80s plastic, and the movie as a whole is absurdly bad, except you can't stop watching this entertaining, exploitative 80s trip. Followed by at least four(!) similarly odd, bad and campy sequels.

Repentance (Monanieba)  
Georgian movie using slight elements of symbolism, absurdism and surrealism to attack tyranny and how society views a tyrant after he is dead. A leader's corpse is found in his family's garden several times after being reburied, and when they find the culprit, the leader's repressive, abusive and violent history is exposed. Varlam wins an election due to absurd weather, he falls for a local celebrity and arrests her husband allegedly due to anarchist, socially damaging views, he attacks tradition and religion, and soon finds himself absurdly in control of dozens of people who were arrested only due to their name. Justice is meted out whimsically in front of a piano and blindfolded woman holding scales and a knife, nightmares plague the citizens, and an old insane man tries to kill the sun. Somewhat obvious and only moderately interesting.

Repo Man  
Cult classic about an impulsive punk with no personality, floating through life and becoming a repo man (repossessing cars from people who don't pay bills). A second plot revolves around a scientist with aliens in the trunk of his car that disintegrate anyone that opens the trunk. The CIA, fruitcakes and repo men are all chasing this car. The humor that made this into a cult movie is based on the unexpected and the weird (not the clever). This includes various weird characters and quirky dialog and events. If you dig deeper, the movie is basically philosophizing against conformity, creeds, religion, and consumerism (e.g. the tin cans labeled simply 'Food'), and the cars and driving can be taken symbolically to fit in with this theme (being a mere vehicle and driving vs driven). In the end, only the empty-headed, extreme non-conformist people that live for the moment get rewarded. Bah.

Romance & Cigarettes  
John Turturro attempts to channel Dennis Potter in an off-the-wall musical with an impressive collection of colorful actors (Christopher Walken, Gandolfini et al), but the result is more like a quirky jukebox that emphasizes the music over the humanist drama. The simple story involves a marriage on the rocks with a womanizing Gandolfini lusting after a filthy-mouthed redhead (Winslet) to the consternation of his wife and three daughters. The characters and dialogue behave like surreal and symbolic musical lyrics taken literally, with frequent forays into fantastical sequences such as when policemen and garbage men have a dance number to side with the lonely brooding husband, or when Gandolfini dreams he is Samson tortured by Delilah women. Lyrics are given new meaning using tricky editing, and the actors lip-sync and duet with a wide variety of mostly popular tunes. The dialogue is very liberally peppered with dirt, filth, words from songs, or downright strange lines like "Men are seaweed, women are oak trees", or "Do you take me for the cucumber in the gardener's ass?". Entertaining for a while, but then loses steam.

Rubin and Ed  
Rubin (Crispin Glover) is a strange recluse that wears 60s clothes and huge platform shoes which he uses as a weapon, plays with a squeaky mouse while listening to Mahler, drinks water from disgusting sources, and keeps his dead cat in the freezer until he can find a scenic burial place. Ed is a loser who is trying to get back with his ex-wife who dumped him, and to make money off a bogus, get-rich-quick business scheme complete with cheesy motivational speeches. When the two meet, sparks fly, then they get lost in the desert while on their way to a seminar. More weird than funny (featuring dialogue like "my cat can eat a whole watermelon"), but oddly entertaining.

Sabbath, The  
Italian art-house erotic movie about the seductive power of women as exemplified by a seemingly insane, temptress woman (Dalle) in an asylum who claims to be a 300 year old witch in search of a special man. The young married doctor drowns in over his head and hallucinates medieval fantasies along with her, his world transforming into scenes of wild Sabbath orgies of passion and strange unbridled games with a mass of wildcat witches, scenes of inquisition and torture, testing Maddalena for witchcraft with strange procedures, and other rituals to treat or kill the witch, all run by men afraid of her power. Well directed and full of wild, energetic performances.

Sadist With Red Teeth, The  
French vampiric horror-surreal-black-comedy that has fun with the idea of a man who thinks he is becoming a vampire. This draws parallels to Martin, except this is comic, lightly surreal and campy. He is released by an insane asylum that may or may not be helping him turn into a vampire, employing the use of a strange hypnotist and ancient vampire in cheesy makeup. The madman hallucinates, sees people in face paint or walking backwards, has constant fantasies and visions concerning blood, the color red, and random scenes of destruction and violence, he throttles women in the cinema as a prank, and attacks a woman at a joke-shop with fake teeth, causing the police to become obsessed with him.

Salt, Saliva, Sperm and Sweat  
Earlier half-length movie by the strange director of 'Body Melt', which may also give you some background into that puzzling violent body-fluid movie. This little movie's philosophy is summarized by the title. Everything, and everything we are, comes down to fluids, pun unintended. This is largely an experimental, humorous and gooey wet piece. The workplace is a place of food, flirts, bathrooms, and physical violence with the boss. There's body input and output, sounds are made with fluids, everything comes down to sex, there are fluid transgressions at home with family, and violence is splattery too, all acted out to comical effect and accompanied by a strange industrial soundtrack. A strange film essay.

Social realism in Mexico blended with a carefully crafted mystical-visual-aural experience to depict a world where growing injustice shakes the very heavens and invokes the interference of deities and ancestors. The mysticism is nonsense but the way the visuals and sounds come together is masterful. It takes place in poor villages in deep rural Mexico where indigenous villagers speak their own language, and they grow cannabis to try to make some money. The vistas and scenes of nature are awe-inspiring both the villagers and the massacres look tiny within them, and yet the injustices loom larger than everything. The drug cartels and soldiers frequently kill them as mere bugs in the big game of drugs and corrupt politics. As the injustices and murders increase, the villagers pay ritualistic respect to their dead and talk to ghosts, the heavens bellow, fiery spirits meet in a deep cave, and a lost boy amidst a hopeless skirmish with soldiers pushes everything over the edge. Some scenes made me think of 2001, which is strange for a film with its roots in remote world social issues.

Saragossa Manuscript, The  
Wildly praised Polish film allegedly by celebrities such as Buńuel, Coppola, Jerry Garcia, Lynch, etc. For decades I was puzzled as to why everyone described this film as wildly surreal. The truth is, it is a play on narratives with stories within stories, sometimes going six levels deep (I counted), and many of the stories told by different people in different periods start cross-referencing other stories both before and after, with shared characters bleeding into each other's stories, and sometimes the stories and story-tellers switch places until you don't know where any of the stories start and end. Some stories have even been already written in advance, and characters end up writing their own life as stories, which is, of course, the meta-fiction solution to this whole conundrum. Many of the stories are silly or fun adventures, but one's mind could wrap itself into a pretzel trying to unravel the details. This fun riffing on story structure takes place mostly in the second half of this three-hour movie. The only element that comes closest to being surreal is the primary wrapper story that takes place mostly in the first half, with two Moorish princesses that haunt and seduce a soldier, Kwaidan style (only with a much lighter tone), drawing him into their world which may or may not be a dream or a haunting, and repeatedly seduce, play games with him, trick him into converting and drinking from a skull goblet, which sends him into a mad adventurous is-it-a-dream spiral until it starts over again. This is more about ghost stories, absurd adventures and meta-fiction rather than surrealism though. Amongst these many stories and dreams we meet many colorful characters including a hermit priest, a mad one-eyed goat-herder, gypsies, a cabalist, a sheikh, and of course, nobody expects a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

Sawney: Flesh of Man  
Scottish Backwoods horror, except that it's 'Highlands horror', which makes for a much more interesting location. Also very reminiscent of Hooper's second Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with its combination of deranged characters and sets, black entertainment, borderline splatter and general nastiness. This takes the legend of Sawney Bean, a leader of a family of cannibals from 500 years ago that supposedly killed and ate a thousand people(!). Except that this movie runs with the idea that there was a surviving bloodline until today and then just uses it for a pretty uninspired and predictable backwoods horror plot. The family consists of a collection of freaks, ranging from a sadistic and deranged rapist, to several mutant sodomizing relatives, some of which can fight kung-fu style. Most of the nastiness and borderline splatter (a butcher shop made up of human body parts), takes place in the beginning of the movie, and then it settles down for the horror thriller plot as a reporter tracks down some clues. The best part is the location though.

This is one of those movies where, any attempt to describe it would fail in explaining why it feels surreal. Ostensibly, this is just a quirky crime thriller about an ex-criminal that comes back to an apartment-complex dominated by a 'council' gang of hoodlums and various mad or seedy characters. But, like 'Jack Be Nimble', which this movie reminded me of, it's not quite set in our reality, and it even has creepy twin girls. There's a missing person who went through strange training to be good at quiz shows, symbolic dead birds, an arms dealer that sells ancient weapons, neon cigarette-lighters and the strange near-mystical woman that sells them, various other eccentric characters, a prostitute mother, and the amusingly absurd nightmare of being beaten up every day by different people on a power trip while fighting an impossible reality. I found this movie underrated and entertaining. It's not surreal, but it feels like it is.

Scanner Darkly, A  
Many reviewers are praising this as uncompromisingly faithful to Philip K. Dick, but what about the actual movie? The plot involves a near-future where many people are addicted to a harsh new drug that causes extreme damage to the brain, making the addicts lose one mental capability after another and changing their reality. The law enforcement agencies are ineffectually fighting the drug war as usual, despite latest technologies, and there is an organization that tries to help addicts rehabilitate. Bob Arctor is stuck in the middle of all this, but reality is so blurred, it isn't clear if he is an addict, a dangerous dealer, an undercover narc, an investigator, whether his brain is fried or not, or all of the above. The fact that the agency's employees use a blurring device that protects undercover agents by not allowing them to be recognized even at the bureau only makes things more difficult. And then there's the most important detail about this movie: It employs real actors rotoscoped so that they look like animations while staying recognizable. Personally, I found the technique in this movie to be painful to the eyes and the brain, and for 100 minutes my brain only kept trying to see the actors behind the animation, and the animation drawn over the actors. On the other hand, I understand that this was probably intentional given the theme of identity and reality blurring. On the other hand, Robert Downey Jr. gives such a colorful performance of a paranoid, intelligent, brain-damaged addict, that I resented the rotoscope for not letting me see it. And then there is the end-result of this movie: I felt I had seen a cliched undercover-cop-in-a-drug-sting movie, with Dick's usual bag of reality-bending tricks tacked on, but without actually transcending the story's limitations.

Danish low-budget psychological horror about a schizophrenic who keeps his mentally challenged brother in the basement. However, when a teddy bear speaks to him and he hallucinates his own intestines in a gory vision, it's obvious who is the loony around here. He is scared of his brother for some reason, people come to visit but find out too much, leading to gory murders and graphic flashbacks of rape. It's one of those movies featuring a damaged mind closed up at home and cracking up, leading to violence and a hallucinative ending. Moderately watchable.

An experimental, somewhat Godard-like comedy that seems to go anywhere it wants with numerous intertwining stories and intermixed Pythonesque vignettes and characters that keep popping in. There's the satire on Scientology, the paranoid employees and corporate spying, the idolizing of a strange character by rival people who want to film him, etc. This also predates and probably inspired Lost Highway with the concept of people suddenly changing into different characters and having affairs with their own wives and the like. Also featured are conversations where the subtext, general gist or what's between the lines is spoken instead of the actual words, and dialog so banal that the person speaks in different languages or nonsense English and yet we understand him. The overall effect ranges from amusing to dull and always with unfocused quirkiness.

Seasoning House, The  
A dark and disturbing hellhole of a movie that takes place in the Balkans during the war and tells the tale of some forced prostitutes, focusing on a small mouse of a deaf-mute girl who is given the job to prepare the girls for their customers using drugs and clean-ups. The pimp of the house has taken her under his insane wing, demanding trust and loyalty even as he slices a girl's throat for demonstrative purposes. Rape is taken to its most extremes in this movie, with girls literally being torn apart by savage soldiers who pay extra. This is no Hostel though, the gore is only used sparingly, and the circumstances are disturbingly realistic. Although it can technically be called a rape-revenge movie, this intense movie avoids that label by not being exploitative, and by not taking its victim down to the level of her captors. It's the last half of the movie that really gets your blood flowing after the hell that came before, as she fights back by crawling into the walls and defending herself with wild viciousness as the soldiers grow increasingly frustrated. One standout and unforgettable scene has the little teenager face-to-face with a trapped and angry monster of a man. Dark and strong stuff.

Take a Meg Ryan romantic comedy and replace the sweet personalities with severely neurotic but likeable characters, then replace the sex scenes with moderate BDSM, and film the love as complementary pathologies and you have this, a mesmerizing, daring, amusing romance. Lee has been into cutting herself since 7th grade and Edward is an obsessive and isolated lawyer who is shy about his Dominant proclivities. He hires her as his secretary and the sparks fly... while he spanks her that is. Like Meg Ryan though, it all works out happily in the end. Brilliantly directed by a director that knows how far, how and when to push the boundaries without coming off as silly or exploitative. Not for a first date.

Secret of the Secret Weapon, The  
Romanian silly musical fairy-tale and spoof. There are two emperors making war, one with a secret weapon, a hero, an evil dragon, and lots of fairies and magical creatures (people in silly costumes). The constant silliness and slapstick brings to mind Monty Python, only without that troupe's wit, edgy humor and sharp satire. A huge duck is used for a trojan horse, fairies are impatient to sing their songs, the evil dragon dresses as a mouse to avoid detection, statues come to life as a Greek chorus, secret weapons are tested on people's homes, and so on. Kinda fun, but too silly, with the silliness at times bordering the surreal.

This is millennial, tiny-budget sci-fi inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's high on ambition, but low on the development of its ideas, with a simplistic empathic and environmental message. Still, I enjoy seeing what ambitious sci-fi film-makers manage to pull off with a small budget. Planets are being exploited for resources, and so are humans as slaves. Soon after one human slave starts seeing visions, a higher alien intelligence arrives to pick him up for a dangerous mission that involves a mysterious Polychronom, and four-dimensional mental explorations and meditations. The locations are great, the world-building details are medium, the alien intelligence and visions are interesting, although some CGI effects are very 90s and 'dated', the acting ranges from passable to poor. Overall, it was interesting but limited.

Septic Man  
If the idea of septic body-horror makes your skin crawl, stay away from this movie. Not since The Fly has a transformation been this hideous, except here it's worse since it is septic-based mutation in a sewer, not just DNA-based and fly-regurgitation-liquid. Allegedly, the crew of this movie threw up regularly while filming. Add to this the fact that it's written by Tony Burgess, who has a knack of writing horror that flirts with the border between horror and a bizarre nightmare (see Pontypool and Hellmouth for other examples). This is about a town having a water contamination crisis, giving people nasty eruptions (the opening scene is gratuitously nasty). A skilled septic man is given a secret mission with a big reward to find the cause of this contamination. He soon finds himself trapped in an underground septic tank from hell. But this isn't enough. There is also a weird cannibal and his giant brother. And nightmares. And, like The Fly, there is a horrifying psychological deterioration as well. There's one very gory scene, but this isn't a gore movie, it's a horror movie that will make you want to soak in soap for about a week. The behaviour of the characters never really makes sense, realistically speaking, but it's effective anyways, like a nightmare.

This one sneaks up on you with its light gothic surrealism mixed with odd humor. It also defies categorization. It tells the story of three brothers with emotional problems. One is turning into an uptight OCD housewife for the other brothers, another loses himself in disturbing drawings of grotesque sexual violence which he gives titles like 'Breakfast', and the third is a depressed but talented sportsman who sniffs petrol and who disappeared for 18 years and is now back. There is also an old plumber who takes care of a young girl in unhealthy ways, and a mentally-challenged friend that finds buried objects in the woods with a metal detector. The tension builds slowly over a mysterious haunting past, there's quirky rural comedy, and a surreal ending involving a supernatural preacher. One-of-a-kind entertainment with colorful but very broken characters that feel more like squished noodles than men.

Sequence Break  
Although this low-budget horror movie has bits and pieces of Videodrome and Existenz as its obvious inspirations, it doesn't have the originality or its own voice. It's about a young man with a talent and passion for 80s and 90s arcade games, restoring old games and dreaming about creating one of his own. Along comes a mysterious game that seems to take over the mind of anyone that plays it, leading to nightmares and obsessions that gradually increase in their gooey fetishism and slimy eroticism as man and arcade-game mind-merge. The characters here are simple in a good, down-to-earth agreeable way and there's a nice little love story. But the writing doesn't develop anything much beyond this idea, there's a feel of homage rather than inspiration, and there's a particularly weak ending.

Odd British cult film about a man with the ability to project his psychic visions onto film, whether they are from the present, past or sometimes even the future. He tries to sell his gift in order to make money for a sex change operation. But a goon roughs him up for racing tips, and a business-man, who had an incestuous relationship with his model daughter and who has an insane wife that likes to eat coal, sells him to the government. Before he knows it, he is bullied into spying and they hold his sex-change dream hostage while competing government gangs slowly learn about the secret. Will he achieve his goal? It's all just oddness for its own sake, with unlikeable, odd characters that make odd decisions, and an not funny, odd plot. Until the surreal, supernatural ending that is. A bad movie, but it's one of those films that keep you watching just out of curiosity.

Shades of Fern  
A lyrical study of crime and punishment by Frantisek Vlácil of 'Marketa Lazarová' fame, only this film submits its reality to the minds of its protagonists, projecting fears and dreams onto their world until you are not sure what is real. A shy sensitive Václav befriends a rough young man who is tired of being abused by his elders. A mindless murder of a game-keeper sends them fleeing over the countryside, their crimes, fears and desperate dark attitudes increasing. The rough young man pines for a girl, while Václav's friendship borders on adoration mixed with fear of Ruda's roughness (of course this did not stop people from interpreting this as a gay film). The game-keeper starts appearing as different people haunting their trek, sometimes violence breaks out but you are not sure if it's just a dream or a fear, and thus their inner worlds, fears and views of the world take over. A not-quite magical-realist film, with a surreal poster.

An odd comic-horror film acted mostly with pantomime. A deaf-mute puppeteer gets involved in an experiment with a scientist who invents the capability to control dead bodies of animals, making them move by remote control. When the old man dies, the puppeteer's abusive family comes after him for money, and the puppeteer soon learns to control dead humans, making them fight, go shopping, perform clownish acts, dance, and serve at the table. He moves in to the scientist's castle with a (very) young girl and his dead slaves, but a biker gang threatens to break up this happy family. A strange mix of comedy and horror with an emphasis on physical mime performance.

Shark in the Head  
Little Czech film about a gentle charming man, and his friends and neighbours from the street, who is slowly becoming schizophrenic. The movie doesn't develop or build anything, and that is its flaw, and instead repeats scenes of cute little interactions between him and passers-by in front of his window, his finds in garbage cans and his attempts at making these various objects useful or giving them as gifts to strangers, and his hallucinations, which often involve slightly-surreal animations. Pictures and images he sees in a newspaper or TV turn into animated objects, points of lights turn into beads, clouds into animals, and people sometimes seem to do strange things through his window. Cute but empty, like somebody was just playing with cinematography and animations and forgot to write a plot.

A 'Chernukha' film, which means Russian post-Perestroika pessimism and a portrayal of social deterioration, only this film also adds some scattered playful surrealism. There's a police-man who has to deal with a new kind of criminal, lost and broken, and the many homeless and jobless, and after passionate confrontations with these people he drinks himself to sleep. There's an abundance of rock-n-roll, partying, dancing, often feeling too desperately liberated and wild, there's a violinist that plays avant-garde improvisation to a fascinated large street-audience, discussions with people in the street about the new society and criminals, pictures of gruesome Chechen horror in magazines, an awkward love triangle, and there's a young man with an alcoholic dying father. Mixed within all this is a surreal nightmare of face-stomping and angels, escalators that go down forever, three men that put on angel-wings and attempt to fly off a tall building, more angels, absurd conversations with an undead father, and philosophizing fish.

Shell and Joint  
Very odd collection of skits, vignettes and conversations revolving around the theme of humans and crustaceans/insects, drawing biological and behavioral parallels between them. Interactions typically have an odd biological or psychological quirk, until the lines increasingly blur between them, depicting many bodily functions of humans as factual, strange and creepy little biological functions. A man fixated on crustaceans and existential questions works at a desk with a young woman with a strange obsession with suicide that she blames on bacteria. She is also morbidly afraid of cockroaches, and tells bizarre tales of her experiences close to death involving jungles and resorting to eating anything like an animal. They run a capsule hotel that looks like a beehive. Another couple manage beehives which leads them to strange sexual games and discussion on death. There's a bizarre Matthew Barney-esque Butoh performance of three bare-breasted women performing some crustacean biological function or another in an office stairway. There are cockroach puppets discussing life. A man in a sauna discusses his previous life as a cricket. Men and women discuss boners and sperm, some even studying them. Men are compared to caterpillars. In a lovely subtle scene, a young girl observes her mother changing her outer shell then plugs a dead beetle into the wall just like her mother did with her phone. And so on. Most of it is dull. Some is mildly interesting, and some scenes creep on you. An oddball film that is light art-house, slightly absurdist in its approach, but with a coherent theme that sneaks up on you.

She's Allergic to Cats  
Quirky somewhat-surreal comedy mixed with video-art. It's about a sensitive loser who works at pet-grooming but is constantly distracted by his fantasies and video-art hobby to the point that we experience the world through his fantasies and thoughts as seen through psychedelic video-art. The plot is about his romance with a woman he met at the pet-grooming salon and his adventures with his very strange landlord and a rat infestation in his house, rats that chew on his bananas and detergent. His friend enjoys abusing his ideas for a remake of Carrie using menstruating pets, as well as to make fun of him for his approach to women. This story is constantly injected with free-form video-art visuals often involving the woman, rats, and squirting pets, all of this adding psychedelia to the quirky comedy. But since, during the whole thing, you are never quite sure what is in his head and what is real, the movie becomes a somewhat surreal experience. A little movie, but nicely done.

Sound and Fury  
Brisseau mixes Loach-like realistic working-class drama, with an ultra-violent depiction of bad teenagers a la Larry Clark, and some of the fantasy erotic elements from his later movies (naked angels), resulting in a bit of surrealism. It's about a kid who likes birds, stuck in a bad part of town where the teenagers are brought up bad by insane parents. One parent is gun-crazy and constantly shoots a shotgun in the house, one kid is a pyromaniac, and some of the teenagers become involved in murder and rape of fellow teenagers from school. Bruno tries to escape into his fantasy world of birds and naked angels. A strange blend of styles.

Shutter Island  
A U.S. Marshal arrives at an island asylum for the violently insane to investigate the disappearance of a murderess, and finds what seems to be conspiracies and strange experiments. Scorsese directs a Hollywood brain-twister that sometimes feels like a b-movie elevated beyond its potential. It also features an exploration of a dark psychology that makes use of dream-sequences and hallucinations, blending dark memories, thoughts and guilt with reality. It is a dark movie, bringing to mind Scorsese's previous psychological horror thriller, Cape Fear, except that this one is fatally flawed. Scorsese's direction is strong, and even DiCaprio surprised me by delivering a good performance whereas, elsewhere, I can barely tolerate him. The only way to point out the flaws is by spoiling the movie however so beware: First of all, the big twist in the movie should be predictable to people that watched more than a handful of movies, copying from movies going as far back as Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. But even without the twist there seems to be enough meat to dive into here, except that it doesn't work. The more I think about this movie, the more it makes sense logically, and the less realistic it seems. This is one of those screenplays that are well thought out but that reek of artifice and contrivance. The ridiculously elaborate role-play that is the movie could conceivably happen if you follow the writer's logic, but would simply never happen for many reasons, not to mention that an equally effective and less dangerous strategy could have made the same impact. And his 'reset' psychology is even more ridiculously convenient - think of the way the movie starts, a reset that somehow synchronized itself with their experiment and then conveniently becomes oblivious to very familiar surroundings, and so on. So, basically, this is a very nicely executed production of a contrived screenplay.

A stunt-woman in a loveless marriage travels to Spain to see her ex-lover aerialist who likes to take siestas in a little shack behind a church. She wakes up next to a runway covered in blood and tries to piece together what happened, meeting a wide variety of eccentric exiles living in Spain, stalked by an ugly and crude taxi driver, and her adventures and investigations become more and more incoherent as she finds she cannot go back to her husband in the US. Looking up the writer, I was not surprised to see Nine 1/2 Weeks in her credits. This is a whirlwind of impromptu, fantasy passion and daredevil, flippant personalities all by way of Lynch. Although this is not as weird, it evokes comparisons with its psycho-sexual surrealism. There is a long parade of name actors, and Ellen Barkin runs around this much maligned movie in a loose red dress without underwear that progressively gets more torn and loose, which may be reason enough to see it. Not satisfying, and I found the fickle, flippant characters annoying, but it is intriguing for a while.

Signal, The  
Although not marketed as such, this is actually an anthology with a gimmick: A single story was passed along through three writers/directors to make a feature-length horror movie. Unfortunately, it's even more scatter-shot than it sounds, with a very inconsistent tone, and a middle very campy section that completely ruins the other two more serious-minded segments. A broadcasted signal is making people insane, primal and open to suggestions. Most of them turn to unpredictable violence, the rest to hallucinations. Thus, the movie combines mind-trip scenes with ultra-violence, and this, along with the two shifts in tones as well as the non-linear narrative, can mess with your mind. The trippy aspects, and the gore (most of which is left for the last segment), are both very borderline and not as extreme as the descriptions would have you believe. The characters are bland, and the wasted idea also goes in different directions without proper development, thus delivering a really messy and weak movie, instead of what could have been a strong apocalyptic movie about the primal violence in all of us released by technology.

Wild, lusty, earthy, subversive, exploitative, borderline transgressive Philippine movie about lust and repression in a small village. Two female ex-friends, one a whore from the city and the other a local fanatical Christian teacher who lusts after the butcher, re-unite, but their relationship is twisted by jealousies and past back-stabbings. Most of the females lust after Simon the butcher, including a young girl who just got her period. The priest is away and the village goes out of control, their guilt and lust making them go crazy and commit murder and gang-rape. Some gore, animal butchery, some nastiness, some transgression involving minors, and lots of sex and lust. Strongly reminiscent of Pasolini.

Silk Road  
Danish delirious poetic/artistic meditation on death, as experienced by a terminally ill restorer of paintings. As she lies in her bed and is visited by family, friends and nurses, her favorite memories, the paintings she worked on, and especially her dead love all blend together in a lucid dream. Medieval images and memories of artists combine with a strange dark corridor to death, but often accompanied by her late husband as he escorts her passage. Sometimes dream images bleed into her hospital room and briefly merge with reality in very short surreal scenes. It's pretty well done, perhaps too romanticized, almost like a tone poem on the passage to death.

Guaranteed undefinable, one-of-a-kind British movie that is like an early, no-budget Terry Gilliam version of Ghostbusters. Two 'psychic cleaners' walk through the countryside on jobs to clean out the skeletons in people's closets. People hire them to clean out bad emotions and baggage, but soon regret it when their secrets come out. The endearingly odd psychics bicker as they walk to their next jobs, and use low-tech gadgets with unexplained internal logic to dive into emotional pasts through a literal closet, like something out of a Charlie Kaufman movie, except this is more down-to-earth and human. One lives in a boat next to a power plant and is addicted to visiting his own memories, leading to surreal fantasy dreams and their stern boss is a Colonel with a strange scar on his neck. When they encounter a challenging case involving a woman who keeps digging for her husband, they rise to the challenge with unexpected emotional consequences. A very watchable and intriguing oddity, but somehow unsatisfying as a whole. This one will definitely stick around in your mind though.

Slack Bay  
A very different film from Dumont. This absurdist film takes place in the 1910s at a beach site where local poor fishermen literally live off tourists and the inbred bourgeois rich family that keep a mansion on the beach. I say literally, because they not only make money by being their ferrymen, they also eat them when they get too hungry. The rich family of inbreds are all acted over-the-top, from the bumbling incompetent hunchback, to the hysteric women, and they have a girl that frequently changes her sex and clothing on a whim. A Laurel & Hardy police-man duo are investigating the missing people, the fat one frequently rolling down hills or falling down, and trying not to be distracted by the cross-gender teenager, a budding romance between the two families, and a nudist beach. This leads to a surreal, fantasy climax that doesn't seem to go with the rest of the movie. Although this may bring up comparisons to Delicatessen thanks to the cannibal comedy, the slapstick is awkward, and the over-the-top treatment is also annoying and also doesn't allow the satire to be anything other than silly. But it's odd enough to keep one entertained, and it's visually beautiful to look at.

A pretty good adaptation of an unfilmable, amazing book by Vonnegut. Billy Pilgrim is unstuck in time, his life story told through a string of moments, unfolding through a structured kaleidoscope of scenes, his mind travelling in time to his traumatic experiences in WWII and the bombing of Dresden, with sad ironies like the fact that his most fearsome enemy is someone from his own platoon, to his life as an aging optometrist with his loving, overweight wife that just happened just like everything else, to memories of his childhood, to his fantastical abduction by aliens on the planet Tralfamadore where he is locked up with a soft-porn actress and made to understand that time and life consists of inevitable and ironic moments. I was pleasantly surprised by how much of the novel came through, but also very aware by how much more was missing. The detached and weak lead seems a little miscast, key events are missing, and the surrealism and mental escapism of the enlightening aliens is a bit lost as well. Good, if not for the fact that the book is so much better. So it goes.

German take on the dream-horror sub-genre, except that this is actually a haunting horror movie conflated with dreams, also tying together themes of past crimes with German history. It is somewhat reminiscent of Ari Aster in the sense that strange unexplained horror imagery trumps logic and coherency, leaving things not only unexplained but unexplainable. On the other hand, there are interesting ways to interpret this movie, not only at face value as a horror movie about dream spirits, but also symbolically, by way of past sins and traumas that get passed on to new generations until someone stands up to evil, using the past as a weapon. This is about a woman and her daughter who are haunted by dreams, until they visit a hotel run by a strange proud man, a hotel that escalates their nightmares and turns dangerous and fatal in unexpected ways. The spirits in their dreams live in a dream-logic world with violent pig-men, except it's not always obvious that it's only a dream. Past crimes, after all, never stay in the dream world for long.

Snails in the Head  
Intriguing French psychological-horror-drama with one of those endings that forces you to re-think the whole movie. There's a female writer in an insane asylum dealing with strange nightmares on snails and snakes. She meets another self-obsessed person in the form of a fellow male patient and they hit it off. When they are released, they get together, but the past and their personalities come back to haunt them. She continues to have stranger and more disturbing nightmares with snails, and he becomes obsessed with them as well. A death triggers a series of break-downs like a deck of cards. The bizarre mind-twist of an ending could be interpreted as a straight narrative only with great difficulty.

Some Call It Loving (AKA Dream Castle/Sleeping Beauty)  
Strange movie about a morose jazz player who buys a real sleeping beauty off a carnival freak show and takes her to his house for some bizarre games. His house is populated by a bisexual domineering wife and other female toys who play role-playing games with each other involving maids and nuns. The jazz player starts falling for his new innocent toy but reality and his lifestyle get in the way of happiness. The sleeping beauty as an object of desire is explored, there's a bawdy cheerleader role segment, and another strange character by Richard Pryor as his drunk friend. Obtusely symbolic, magically strange, psychologically depressing, mediocre.

Finally, a serial killer movie with some insight and a firm view on the human angle. Which makes it all the more disturbing, even more so when you keep in mind it is based on real events. This is not a torture-porn or sensationalist serial-killer movie. Snowtown is a neglected and bleak suburb in Australia overrun by drug-addicts, perverts and pedophiles. Jamie, a 16 year old boy, grows up in these conditions, constantly raped, and surrounded by hopeless people, but resigned to it. When John Bunting appears and starts creating some order, he is accepted and even partially welcomed, even though he increasingly shows signs of being a sadistic serial killer. His evil slowly becomes as banal as the evil that was already there, methodically indoctrinating Jamie into his ways in gradual stages, as they escalate from throwing kangaroo decapitated heads into the home of a pedophile, to killing and torturing any unwanted person while gathering together a group of followers who have kitchen meetings regarding necessary torture methods.

Sound of Noise  
Uniquely fun absurdist Swedish comedy about musical terrorism and a tone-deaf policeman. This is one of those movies that has a strange but promising magical idea, and just runs with it. Unfortunately, it doesn't end up somewhere satisfying, but you will have a whole lot of fun watching it get there. A couple of guerrilla rebellious musicians decide to punish the city with four musical creations. They collect six angry and skilled drummers, and select four locations, then use the locations own props, furniture, equipment, bulldozers, cables and even people to create their music, wreaking anarchic havoc. A police-man who grew up in a musical family hates music because he is tone-deaf and music physically hurts his ears. When he is assigned the case of these musical terrorists, he discovers something very strange and absurd, and uses it in unexpected ways. Watch it once. Your brain may not like the ending, but you may find yourself smiling anyways.

Spider Forest  
Korean supernatural non-linear mystery that bends in on itself, with some Lynchian psycho-sexual scenes that end up nonsensically surreal. The writers pile on the mysteries, questions and flashbacks within flashbacks, too much in fact, so much so that the end of the movie seemingly fails to tie it all together. There is a double murder in a house in a forest full of spiders, a murderer who seems to know the protagonist too well who may or may not be him, a romantic interest working in a photo studio who may or may not be real, tales of spiders being lost souls with confused memories, memories of a wife who may be dead, and a tragic tale about childhood friends that doesn't seem to be linked to anything. The mood is well done and it is intriguing at first, and there are possible partial answers if you consider that everything may be his own memories made confusing by his accident, but even with a solution I didn't feel satisfied and felt that other movies did this better or stranger.

Andrei Tarkovsky's much talked about masterwork is an interesting, but typically painfully slow, metaphysical meditation. The Zone is an alien, mysterious place guarded by the military, threatening intense unnamed dangers to all who enter unless accompanied by highly sensitive guru-guides called Stalkers. A cynical writer and a strange scientist break into this area with a hired Stalker, discussing and exploring existential questions as they prepare to face inner and outer dangers on their way to enlightenment. This experience can be taken as an existential journey, a religious experience, or an endless bore. Contains some beautiful cinematography and a handful of unforgettably atmospheric scenes, but this is typically punishingly slow and static for Tarkovsky and the insights are not as provocative or deep as I had hoped. Still, it's better than his other well-known metaphysical meditation: Solaris.

Absurdism is alive in well in this entertaining Canadian existential comedy. A woman's existential crisis is triggered by a hawk flying into her office window, and when she walks away from her meaningless life she eagerly latches on to a strange man's offer of a contest that will 'probe the very essence of mind-body articulation'. The prize is a 'Habanero-orange' SUV but it's the contest that counts. Cue a completely nonsensical and nihilistic reality-show-cum-contest with a group of symbolic stereotypes from human society, a contest that will touch on themes from the Stanford Prison Experiment, and employ completely silly rules and contests run by a man who calls himself 'Homunculus', where contestants have ridiculous names that feel like anagrams. But, of course, it's all symbolism presenting a microcosm of life, the rat-race, the greedy capitalist killing his own consumer with goods, the desperation for acceptance, winning and an obsession over material goods, the cruelty and the random meaninglessness due to ad-hoc rules of life made up by people that don't really care, etc. Will Maria find transcendence and escape society's empty trap? Perhaps her mysterious communication device that seems to receive a voice from beyond will help. Quite entertaining, but lacking that extra layer of insight or depth that would make this a great movie.

This movie feels as if some depressed clowns took some drugs and decided to make a movie. The movie boasts an impressive collection of French character actors and interesting faces, and paints a picture of a wandering circus down on its luck, plagued by internal strife, past affairs, love triangles, betrayal and murder. Free-form magical realism mix with this sweeping soapy drama and quirky comic-melodrama, some performers seemingly having strange supernatural abilities, others simply adding to the colorful phantasmagoria that is this movie. Lavant is a clown who has Iggy Pop as his conscience, except he mostly resists and grapples with him in a series of surreal visions and hallucinations, rather than listening to him. Unfortunately, there is not much beyond the soap, the visuals, faces and physical performances. This one entertains the eyes but not the brain.

Star Time  
This is like the small-movie, much less developed precursor to movies such as Fight Club and Natural Born Killers. This is about a suicidal young man's thirst for the media spotlight, and to find meaning in popularity as inspired by the TV, also fuelled by lustful fantasies inspired by the screen and the conclusion that these will only materialize if he becomes a TV persona. The fact that he becomes a serial-killer in order to achieve this is secondary to this idea. Thus, his world becomes one of a not-quite-real devilish TV agent directing him, where the border between TV screens and his fantasies blur, and where his inner world and his sexual fantasies are delivered through surreal TV screens. A nicely done little movie.

One of those psychological reality-bending movies posing as a fantasy/sci-fi/action movie, only this one is Swedish and clumsily made. Un unlikeable slacker lives his empty life of smug easy job, masturbation and drugs, when an action-figure of a woman jumps into his life chased by mysterious killers and starts giving him strange instructions that start to uncover memories of his past. Or are they really his memories? It's a blend of many genres, but doesn't really stick to any one of them for long, causing many tonal shifts and problems. There's comedy, manufactured emo-drama, action and sci-fi thriller, fantasy magic, some hints of computer-game-reality, or mind-games. You can never tell if anything is real or not. In the end, there's really only one way to interpret this movie due to the inexplicable behaviour and knowledge of some of the characters, except the details and reactions of everyone else don't even fit this approach, so it ends up failing to work on all levels. It's still an intriguing and entertaining watch for the first time around though.

Strangers With Candy  
See TV.

Stridulum (AKA The Visitor)  
Pretty odd hybrid of The Omen, Rosemary's Baby, and sci-fi made by Italians and featuring a parade of big names from Hollywood. A girl on Earth is somehow imbued with a genetic alien power of an evil being via her mother, and evil forces in the form of a corporation are attempting to repeat the performance by manipulating or forcing her to make another baby. Shelley Winters is the housemaid wise in the ways of spiritual forces, and John Huston is a mystical visitor from outer space that brings an army of bald workers and birds to help fight the evil child, complete with rip-off scenes from Close Encounters and a surreal opening that takes place on some kind of astral plane while Jesus Christ in in outer space telling stories to children. Entertainingly strange.

Suffering of Ninko, The  
Unique Japanese artistic supernatural fable about a Buddhist monk haunted by erotic visions and who seems to be intensely desired by all women wherever he goes. Although touted as surreal by some, it is more of a supernatural folk tale that uses many art-forms such as animation, painting and dance to tell its mythic strange tale. It also includes psychological erotic hallucinations brought on by insatiable desires and strange forces that constantly threaten to drive the monk mad. Amidst the constant stampedes of women baring themselves for him, he also hallucinates masked female bodies and fleshy desires in the woods. When he goes on a quest to confront his problems, matters escalate when he encounters an evil female spirit that kills men with sex. Thematically weak and simplistic, but visually rich artsy erotica.

Suzie Heartless  
Gloom, violence, grim sleaze, grimy gloom and more gloom. When a movie depicting a couple of days in the life of a young prostitute is this relentlessly and unrealistically abusive, one has to wonder whether this is how the director gets his rocks off. The first problem is that the whore in this movie is an absolute doormat and completely witless, giving herself up for anyone and anything, including a store-clerk just for a can of cat food. But then there is one violent trick after another, some even psychotic, there's random vomiting, and then there is her collection of ragged dolls that look like trash, that even a homeless girl would to too proud to play with, not to mention the ugliest cat in the world that serves as her pet. All to rack up the grimness no doubt. The cinematography is all over the place, moving dynamically, cutting back and forth, switching between color and B&W several times a minute, all blatantly trying to make it more interesting than it is. And then there is repeated hammering over the head with symbolic daydreams and visions involving her chasing herself as an innocent kid that is extremely over-used. But then it ends with a nasty twist, with all of her nightmares swirling together into a surreal nightmare, and you think something interesting happened, but you're not sure what. So it gets points for that despite everything that came before. Oh, and by the way, there is no dialog.

Unusually surreal Norwegian children's fantasy with a logic and imagination of its own. Svampe is a kid that lives in a fantasy world, which is not surprising given that his parents seem to be quite eccentric. In this world, he drives and inspects trains, befriends a childish couple, encounters a jealous wicked Trym on a leaping motorcycle, and two ravens. There's a wizard who can pick locks with string-beans and make walnuts explode, a bird-council populated by children, pigeons and chickens, the locations keep changing without rhyme or reason as if distance didn't matter, and random objects turn magically into birds. A strange one, which may be too strange for children, and too childish for adults.

Svidd Neger  
A Norwegian movie, its title translating to 'Burnt Nigger'. But no racism is in sight in this outrageous and bizarre comedy that tells the tale of a group of trashy people in the middle of nowhere. An alcoholic father who drowned his previous wife and baby wants his beautiful daughter to marry a strong man and give him a grandson. They meet with their only neighbours, a fat soon-to-be-son-in-law for his strong muscles, his trashy, incestuous mother and an adopted black boy who is trying to find his roots. Things turn violent, gory and twisted when the daughter sleeps with the wrong men and a Saami with a portable phone and a reindeer wants to elope with her to Ammrica on a paddle-boat to drink Cokka Cola. A whimsical and twisted black comedy.

Sweet Angel Mine  
This one would make a fitting accompanying piece for movies like Jack Be Nimble or Blue Velvet. There's a young man in search of his lost father, who temporarily stays at a remote farm occupied by some strange and repressed women. The mother is obviously keeping some secrets, and the daughter becomes overwhelmed by the kind manly outsider. But all is not as it seems. This one starts innocently enough, but suddenly piles on the warped behaviour and violent events for the last third of the movie. There is triple, maybe quadruple incest, a completely insane attempt at rape, grisly murders, a deeply disturbed repressed woman, some torture, etc. As with the aforementioned movies, the developments skirt the border of realism, but are so concentrated and over-the-top, that the story becomes bizarre and gothic.

Tale of Iya, The  
Slow-moving Japanese fable on the theme of modernization versus man's connection with nature. There's an old mountain man who raised an orphan girl as his own daughter, an old woman who spends her days making life-size scarecrows, and several other inhabitants in one of the last untouched, traditional areas in Japan thanks to the remote location in the mountains. Even city-folk visit and try to live an idealistic rural life for a while, but the locals look down on their lack of commitment. When a construction project starts building a tunnel, it threatens to wreck this pastoral haven and enable an invasion of modernity. Light surrealism is used to symbolize the old man's physical connection to the trees, the woman's scarecrows come to life, and dreams blend into reality in a cycle of life, as the girl grows up and is torn between moving to the city and staying with her grandfather who seems to be literally merging with his environment. Overlong and slow but beautiful to look at. For a less sentimental and more intriguing and surreal treatment of this subject, try Terayama's Farewell to the Ark.

Tales Of The Dumpster Kid  
Actually a series of short German films between 2 and 20 minutes, originally planned to be 64 episodes but they stopped after 25 due to lack of funding. All of the stories feature a 'Dumpster Kid', a female born fully-grown out of some afterbirth thrown into a slimy dumpster. At first happy in her dumpster and unwilling to try to fit into society, she is forcefully adopted by a woman who tries to teach her manners. Every episode features her in a different environment or period trying to learn the quirks of society, and, often, she dies violently at the end. The satirical stories usually involve absurdities and trashy content that offended the censors. A taste of some of the stories include: Living in a forest eating their own body-parts in a satire on Heimat, picking up unwanted babies from the garbage and drowning them in a river, a violent encounter with a weirdo customer as the 'Dumpster Kid' tries to work as a prostitute, some period films involving nobility hanging and revenge, arguing with Al Capone, or living as a witch in medieval times, being trained to entertain and making/stealing lots of money, a singing supermarket commercial, kleptomania and lesbianism, learning from a spiritual guru, vampires, walking naked through a field, etc etc. Quirky, silly, trashy fun.

Tastiest Flesh (Gakidama)  
Japanese monster-movie oddity about a journalist in pursuit of a story who becomes impregnated by a glowing flying creature and gives birth to a vicious gremlin with sharp teeth. A strange man follows him who has developed a craving for gremlin flesh and the gremlin goes after his wife. Some gore and entertaining strangeness.

A unique mix of live action and animation by Belgian animator Raoul Servais. The narrative employs that popular mechanism of parallel worlds, one of which may or may not exist in the imagination. The main story involves a young prince who is taken to a seaside hotel for some special tuition by a stern tutor. There is a forbidden lighthouse managed by a strange person who harbors mysterious fugitives, and who seems to have a special relationship with seagulls. The boy visits him and finds that he is able to see into another world via the lighthouse, a dystopian world of Taxandria bereft of machines after a cataclysm with science, and choked by rules and obsolete rulers (Oz?) that have banned machines and pictures. When he upsets the system by re-arranging the letters in a printing press, he soon finds himself in over his head with a subversive palace princess and the discovery of a camera. The Taxandrian sets are drawn and animated, full of dilapidated surreal structures and broken machine leftovers, but occupied by real people. Their messaging system consists of a chain of men wearing huge hats that always seem to get the message warped by the time it gets to the other side of the chain. Themes of freedom from oppression and obsolete rules fill the movie, but it's not quite as magical and involving as you would expect. And, with both juvenile and adult elements, it's unclear who is the target audience.

Tears of Kali  
Unusual German horror movie that gets its scares from atmosphere, hinting around a mysterious evil without explaining it, and gore. The movie is a triptych of tales revolving around a cult of mystics/psychologists who performed extreme and occult experiments with groups of people, messing up their souls for life. One woman hides in an insane asylum but releases an evil when a reporter comes probing too deeply, one man performs radical torturous psychotherapy on his patients, and another mystic tries to heal people but finds himself in over his head when another victim of the experiment comes for help. Creepy evil, some very gruesome scenes of eyelid cutting and skin peeling, but undeveloped script and a terrible dubbing job.

Tears of the Black Tiger  
Cult Thai movie that mixes painfully colorful 50s Western sets and costumes, cheesy romance, melodramatic tragedy, over-the-top bloody modern-style violence with traditional Thai elements like a marriage. The movie isn't truly bizarre or extremely gory, it's just strange because of its absurd mix of genres and in-your-face artificial set backdrops. The story involves a class-conflict romance between youngsters, and many twists of fate as the boy grows up to be a fearful gunslinger and finds himself recruited by the local violent criminal gang while his love is betrothed to another.

Telephone Book, The  
Cult sex-comedy unlike any other. It's both very naughty and raunchy in all the right ways, as well as hilarious and constantly full of surprises. It takes the idea of sexual kinks as potential art-forms to be developed, makes its fun-loving perverts eccentric and charming rather than creepy (yeah right, but it works), and has a ball with making lightly surreal comedy out of the raunchiest things without resorting to hard pornography. The attitude is: We'll only go this far, and when we need to show something really dirty, we'll use some surreal visuals, comedy and sound that will feel even dirtier than the real thing. It's surreal pornography without pornography, with a hilariously developed and warped sense of humor. The story is about a naughty little minx that falls in love with the ultimate obscene phone caller. While she searches for her one true love, she encounters various other perverts in NYC that only manage to amuse her temporarily. Various perverts get to tell their life stories and amusingly warped interests to the camera. It all ends with a climactic pornographic surreal cartoon if it were made by Terry Gilliam. Sticky!

Tenement (AKA Game of Survival)  
From the Findlay team and makers of Snuff, bad b-movies and porn comes this surprisingly good urban violence thriller. Tenants in a Bronx apartment building are under siege by a violent gang whose leader goes insane after being arrested and decides to go on a rampage throughout the building. Blind men, single mothers, drug addicts working class people and old folk suddenly find themselves in a brutal urban war. Includes gory and nasty deaths involving impalements and rape with a broomstick. In the vein of Death Wish only more violent and over-the-top.

Thirst for Passion  
Obscure horror oddity from the Soviet Union that never makes much sense but is so stylized and gothic it sometimes brings to mind 70s Italian giallos and supernatural horror. There's a woman, several murders, a detective, a doctor that treated the woman, and a possible supernaturally evil alter-ego that may represent her hidden passions. The detective investigates the woman, her doctor-lover, her passion-less marriage and dead husband. Is she mad and murderous, or is something else going on? Add to this a couple of strange demon/ghoul creatures that appear and disappear at random, many bizarre supernatural occurrences, and lesbian-doppelganger-erotica that appears out of the blue, and you have one entertaining but nonsensical movie.

30 Door Key AKA Ferdydurke  
An odd art-house satire by Skolimowski on social roles, archetypes and classes. It gleefully twists these around in a surreal fashion and toys with social classes to the point of silliness. A writer of 30 finds himself forced into a series of situations where he is expected to behave in certain ways. His professor of old forces him back into school for re-education where he is bullied and the students have face-making duels, duels where adeptly faking a face and posture can be awe-inspiring and debilitating to others. In a family home, he encounters a sexual fantasy and symbol of carefree youth in the form of a school-girl archetype, her promiscuity both encouraged and deterred by her father. In an upper-class home he finds class struggles with slaves, his friend from school (Crispin Glover) becoming increasingly socialistic and fraternizing with the lower class, feeding a revolution. All the while, odd masked crowds herd in the background like sheep. Somewhat interesting, quite whimsical, and a fitting companion piece to Savages.

Thousand Kisses Deep, A  
A reality-bending movie that uses a strange form of time-travel for its psychological exploration of its protagonist. There's a woman with a cruel lover, a time-travelling elevator, and many visits to the past to trace the threads that ruined her life. However, the constant focus on the time-travelling plotting and botched attempts at fixing things undermine the psychological interpretation of this movie, and the strange mechanics of time-travel don't quite work on their own either because of the internal and subjective framework of the movie. However, the digging into the past does uncover endless dark plot threads that are so melodramatic and strangely, timelessly evil, they often feel like a subjective and purely emotional projection of hatred into the past rather than anything real, giving the movie its intrigue and a slightly surreal feel.

Thriller - A Cruel Picture  
Stylish, controversial rape & revenge picture from Sweden featuring a methodical kidnapping of an abused pretty girl, and her forced heroin addiction and life as a prostitute. At first she resists but after a brutal repercussion, she plans her revenge more systematically for the bloody finale. The last half features way too many slow-motion sequences that are extremely slow, but the overall movie is darkly atmospheric and grippingly stylish, despite the subject matter and the hardcore pornographic inserts.

Through the Looking Glass  
A unique porn-movie that just happens to be a mind-trip of a horror movie with hardcore sex. Catherine has a strange, obsessive relationship with an evil being in a mirror. As her lustful obsessions take over, reality and fantasy blend as dark incestuous memories are awakened, the devil in the mirror takes over and pulls her into a bizarre, comic orgy, then a hellish desert of insane perversions. Good, perverse horror and an effective mind-trip.

Times to Come  
Argentinian atmospheric dystopian thriller. Miguel returns to a police-governed Buenos Aires amidst a chaotic demonstration and gets shot by a cop. His ambulance driver adopts Miguel as a cause for vigilantism while Miguel remains in a coma and is visited by his pushy father. The cop, threatened by exposure from several sides as well as by pressure from his bosses, attempts to cover up the incident with more violence, leading to an action climax. Miguel has hallucinations while lying in hospital, the ambulance driver threatens the cop with music, the run-down, almost otherworldly streets are wild with violence, the hospital is flooded with absurd announcements, and other strange happenings and cinematography makes this an atmospheric experience.

Tin Drum, The  
A strange and malevolent brat of a child is born with an adult mentality to two possible fathers and an unfaithful mother, He decides he hates the adult world and, when his father tells him he will inherit the grocery when he grows up, he throws himself down the stairs in order to stop growing. He then runs around banging on a tin drum and shattering glass with his shrieks as a form of protest whenever something displeases him. More heavy-handed symbolism ensues, as well as strange WWII developments and sexual misadventures. A Jewish toy-maker who supplied him with drums dies after Kristallnacht, he drums a Nazi marching band into confusion but then joins the Nazi entertainment army with some midgets, and there's an incident with his mother who becomes sick with seafood after witnessing eels being pulled from a horse's head, but is then convinced she must gorge herself with raw fish. He shrieks at his slutty mother, then lusts after a 16 year old (with whom he has foreplay involving Sherbert and underage sex). He makes a family of his own even though he still has the body of a kid, and passes on his tin drum. The conflicting behaviour probably portrays the contradictory, not-so-innocent and immature psyche of Germany that collaborates with Nazis and violence then claims innocence. Strange and unique, but empty-headed, rancorous, and strangely detached and confused in its symbolism.

Tokyo Decadence  
Ai is a lonely call-girl that tries to please her perverse S&M clientele best she can and has repressed aspirations for intimacy and clings to an any traces of romance and gentleness. The first half of the movie roots itself firmly in the exotic and the perverse as one client after another comes up with strange and twisted requests, some too much for Ai to comply with. Ai finds some intimacy with a Dominatrix, then wanders drugged into a bizarre quest in search of someone from her past encountering a singing crazy woman and other characters until it collapses in a finale that makes no sense.

Tokyo Zombie  
Yes, it's another odd Japanese comedy vehicle for Tadanobu Asano based on a Manga. Only don't expect Ichi, a splatterfest, or anything way out there like Survive Style. This is a zombie comedy where anything goes. Black Fuji is a huge mountain of garbage near Tokyo where people go to bury anything and everything, including people they killed by mistake, annoying decapitated mothers, and student victims of gay teachers. Of course, in comic book logic, this monstrous mountain is bound to start a zombie epidemic, launched by a penis-chomping mother. Fujio and Mitsuo are dim-witted buddies with outrageous hair styles that are only interested in jiu-jitsu, but they find ways to survive the zombie apocalypse. All of the madness seems to be focused at the beginning of the movie, which soon veers off to a dull road trip and then a zombie-fight dome set up by rich folk for entertainment, where fake wrestlers may suddenly find themselves fighting for their life. Light amusement, with scattered odd touches such as cartoon interludes, and a Gatling gun armed with mysterious body fluids used on rich women.

Tomorrow Night  
If you can imagine some kind of middle ground between Robert Downey Sr. and John Waters, then perhaps you would get this first obscure B&W movie by Louis C.K. This is camp comedy acted so over-the-top, it makes cartoon characters look like navel-gazing dramatists. The protagonist is an OCD clerk in a photo-store whose prime concern is getting rid of the photos that people left behind for too long, and whose hobby involves sitting butt-first and naked in ice-cream. There's an alarmingly friendly postman, a local slut who dares him to look at her dirty pictures, a cross-dressing granny with a filthy mouth, and another granny with a cartoonishly abusive husband who doesn't let her pick up her photos, a son who got lost in the army for 20 years, and a very clean house. Will the clerk make a human connection? The secondary details get even weirder, with Downey-esque, random and surreal touches and odd characters. A decidedly odd and crude comedy that is fascinatingly weird at first, but soon wears out its welcome.

Too Young to Die  
Japanese heavy-metal fantasy-comedy-musical with an insane amount of energy and anything-goes crazy visuals. An awkward high-school guy with a crush on a girl finds himself in a bus accident, and then in hell. Hell turns out to be one silly place indeed, with demonic guitar-hero showdowns, random wacky tortures, and a giant being that keeps sending people back to the 'transient realm' (Earth) as random animals. The denizens of hell are made to grow impossible rice and wheat while singing, a 'chubby-ugly', gender-bender hell-vixen steals arms from famous guitarists to win in the guitar contest, reincarnated people keep emerging from a toilet and try to use cell-phones, surprising the humans back on Earth, and so on. But this is only the tip of the iceberg and there is really no way to describe the two hours of entertaining madness. Marty Friedman makes an appearance as a guitar-hero and as a hamburger.

Toto the Hero  
A challenging, both charming & depressing, cult Belgian movie. This is a movie I had to revisit in order to absorb properly, except that, even when I re-watch it, I cannot find a way to enjoy and appreciate it the way I want to. An old man in an old age home reminisces on his wasted life full of charming scenes of childhood as well as numerous tragedies. He blames it all on his rich neighbour Alfred, who was born on the same day as him, and who, he is convinced, was switched with him as a baby during a fire in the hospital. He remembers the actual switch and the movie leaves this open as a possible truth. In addition, Alfred's father indirectly caused his father's useless death, and his resentment of Alfred also may or may not have caused an accident with his sister. All this is filmed in a wonderfully filmed fluid stream of memories, blended with fantasies of him being a hero, or taking violent revenge on Alfred. The element that ruins it all for me however, is the incest angle. The closeness as children may be attributed to childhood innocence, but Thomas/Toto takes this way too far, and he is still obsessed over her as an adult, even pursuing and having sex with a woman who may or may not be his sister. And if his memory of being switched is correct, then that only means that she married her real brother, so either way, this disturbing fact did not allow me to enjoy the whimsy or romance of the movie. The complete waste of his life also overshadowed the light tone of the movie, and the ironic, well written, and very poetic circular ending of the movie did not help enough either. And to take this movie as symbolic or surreal would only undermine the realism and charm of the childhood scenes. In short, a movie with both great and frustrating elements that I couldn't synthesize.

Tower, The  
Strongly reminiscent of earlier Eric Stanze movies, this low-budget movie manages quite a lot with its unusual horror/fantasy hybrid despite its budget. Lucy traces her missing brother to a mysterious skyscraper/tower in Detroit where hellish forces take over your mind and memories and don't let you leave. She treks her way through an urban wasteland that has somehow become hell, filled with mysterious powerful beings, undead humans, warriors, and various ghouls, creatures and demons taking part in strange or gruesome activities, all lost in the endless tower. Confusing visions blend with a very physical hell as she tries to find a way out. The make-up and effects are quite good, the atmosphere and sound even better, and the acting ranges from passable to very good. The characters could use more work though to bring them to life, and the story is too simple, feeling like one of those horror computer games where you encounter one little danger, adventure or clue after another with no rhyme or reason. Definitely worth a watch though, as it is unique and quite nicely done.

Town Called Panic, A  
This is as childish as a movie gets, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. This stop-motion animation is the equivalent of children playing with toys and making up the story as it goes, using whatever toy is nearest to extend the adventure in any imaginative way regardless of logic, and the voices are added as high-pitched falsettos. The bipedal characters in this animation may be standing on a flat plastic platform glued to their feet to allow them to stand, even though the animation obviously doesn't need it, and they may differ in scale, resulting in creatures of various sizes and massive props that come out of nowhere. The protagonists are Indian, Cowboy and Horse, that live next to an aggressive Farmer, and they all panic for any inconvenience. When they order a few million bricks by mistake in order to buy Horse a birthday gift, this sets off a chain of wacky nonsensical adventures that include: stacking all of the bricks on top of a house, getting their walls stolen by fish creatures, a group of super-scientists riding a penguin in Antarctica that can shoot snowballs across the world, battles with swordfish, pigs or cows used as weapons, and so on.

Toys Are Not for Children  
The ultimate 70s movie about Daddy issues, perfectly balancing the drama, psychology, exploitation and sleaze for a jaw-dropping, very effective treatment of the subject. This is not a roughie and it keeps the nudity to a minimum. What makes this one jaw-dropping is purely the subject matter and how it keeps escalating the story and psychology with very well written characters, somehow constantly piling on the dirty subject matter and wrongness while somehow staying within the drama genre. The climactic ending is both tragic, trashy and disturbing, but well constructed. Jamie is an immature young woman with severe daddy issues and an unhealthy attachment to toys and prostitution ever since her whoring daddy was kicked out of the house by mommy. A marriage doesn't go well, but a friendship with a nice prostitute goes too well...

Track 29  
Nicolas Roeg and Dennis Potter are both overpowering personalities and auteurs, making a successful collaboration a dubious but fascinating enterprise. And indeed, there is some pulling in several directions, with Roeg dominating the show, yet taking Potter's introspective weaving of fears, thoughts and hallucinations over-the-top into stylistic madness, and then suddenly allowing Potter to peek through in a musical number that gladdens the heart of the insane. This strange movie explores the life of a couple, a surgeon extremely obsessed with train models and being spanked by a nurse, and his doll-playing wife who is undergoing a crisis, bringing past traumas to the fore until it manifests in an imaginary visitor. Gary Oldman provides another manic and intense performance as the wife's subconscious ruins and the movie goes over-the-top with this concept leading to a climax of wrecked trains, an overgrown insane child with Freudian lusts, and a rapist truck driver driving through the bedroom.

Stylish no-holds-barred depiction of a group of Scottish drug addicts and criminals and the story of one man who tries to get out. Along the way the movie shows a man diving into the filthiest toilet in Scotland to retrieve his suppositories, other problems with feces, infanticide by neglect, and other charming scenes. This is described as an anti-drug movie but the wild comedy and toilet humor clash with this impression and undermine the realism. Watch Requiem for a Dream instead.

Trance (AKA Der Fan)  
An overrated German shocker that tells the tale of a spoiled brat teenage girl with an obsession for a pop star and an unhealthy temper. After some typical fights with parents and the school she runs away to meet the star, finds herself spending time with him, and after he uses her and gives her the cold shoulder, she finds an extreme solution for keeping him to herself. Does not show the expected splatter but has an Audition-like twisted ending that left audiences disturbed.

Trial, The  
Orson Welles's version of Kafka's The Trial is a triumph of cinema. The only reason I don't give it highest marks is because I personally find the story itself limited in its approach and depth, but as an adaptation, this version is amazing to look at. The surreal story involves a man rudely awakened by some aggressive policemen that turn every word he says against him without telling him for what he is being arrested, thus pushing him down an increasingly repressive, paranoid, complex and baffling maze of social and legal pressures against which an individual has no chance. Workplaces are countless rows of synchronized typists working under strict rules, men are beaten in broom closets while they tape their own mouths shut in order to reduce the noise, a courtroom is a scary huge mass of silent and reproaching faces, Welles is an advocate living in a huge house served in bed by a seductive maid and a submissive and broken client, screaming teenage groupies swarm around a painter of judges living in a strange loft, rooms lead into other houses, courtrooms, filing cabinets and churches in surrealistic fashion, etc. Anthony Perkins is at his twitchy best, with Welles taking advantage of his repressed homosexuality by constantly surrounding him with seductive women. Welles uses inimitable lighting and camera angles to enhance every scene and you can see here why he is considered the master of classic cinematic technique. Much more surreal and psychologically unsettled than the 1993 version.

Trouble in Mind  
Strange modern film-noir that feels half retro, half futuristic. An ex-cop with a dark past just out of prison, and a naive couple fresh from the country cross paths in a diner run by the cop's weary ex-girlfriend. The ex-cop falls for the married woman while the husband turns into an ugly punk criminal and gets involved with strange elements including the big bad boss Divine out of drag in a house full of ugly modern paintings, a trigger-happy insane sugar-daddy, and a strange black man with 3 spikes in his hair who recites poetry and likes to kill people Vietnam-style while performing a Shinto ritual. A cult movie, but despite its unusual approach, I found it overdone and too much in love with itself.

French-Canadian sci-fi oddity that delivers its moderately amusing and strange parallel world with a straight face. In a city in Montreal, business is booming thanks to an epidemic of truffles, with private land-owners competing with corporations for the much-valued mushroom gold. An ominous fur-stole factory shows interest in a local truffle-hunter with a talented nose, but their motivations become stranger as the movie progresses. Unforgettable images include a strange marketing campaign that straps refrigerators to sales-people's backs, and fur stoles that turn into bizarre robotic monsters. A visually stylish oddity.

A strange, enchanting but flawed cross between Guy Maddin's retro-cinema oddities, Gilliam/Jeunet/Caro steampunk and Fritz Lang's industrial expressionism. Amazing locations are used for this movie, with the central one a terribly dilapidated and crumbling bathhouse where the floors and ceilings are literally falling apart. An old blind man runs the place and still think it's popular, thanks to the tricky efforts of his wife who collects buttons from poor people as payment, and his strange son who does most of the work. There's a magical steam engine that they keep running smoothly in the basement that depends on a rare mechanism, a cast of crazy bums and strange people that populate the bathhouse, a scheming evil brother that wants to shut down the place, and a girl provides the love interest who is brought by her grandfather along with dreams of sailing to Tuvalu. The movie is in tinted monochrome, the cast is international, and the dialogue consists of grunts, facial expressions and single words. This would be a steampunk visual masterpiece, except I had a few issues with some things: The silly single-word phrases don't work because they are neither here nor there, the over-the-top expressionism wears out its welcome, and the romantic angle never works because he comes off as a mild pervert and her character is extremely muddled, being alternatively innocent, sexually-aggressive, moral, and a despicable selfish thief all at the same time. Some other scenes also don't make sense and it won't click for everyone, but categorize this as must-see-once nevertheless.

Twelve Thousand  
This strange French comedy is not going to make much sense until one realizes this is a metaphor that behaves like a (very light-hearted) Kim Ki-Duk movie. Ostensibly, it's about a couple with lots of sexual chemistry between them that have strange financial agreements, with the seductive and dancing man seeking out jobs that aren't really there. The way I understood it, it's really about work and financial arrangements as a metaphor for the delicate chemistry between people, whether strangers or intimate partners. Physical dance expresses personality and what a person is about, and sometimes it clicks between people, but some people 'pay' to enjoy it from others that have it. A 'job' in this movie isn't about a contract but about what works between people, and it's a very delicate and exact balance, which is why twelve-thousand needs to be twelve-thousand and not a penny more or less. Sometimes one even has to 'pay' in order to have a 'job', giving in order to make it all OK again. An intriguing metaphorical comedy with charming sexual characters.

Ultra Miracle Love Story (AKA Bare Essence of Life)  
Offbeat drama-comedy from Japan about an annoying hyperactive youth with some good intentions that seems to be wired very differently. He tries to grow organic vegetables for his home produce business with his grandmother, and falls for a pretty teacher from the city. When he discovers that spraying pesticide on himself makes his personality more bearable to the teacher, he starts to do it regularly, to the detriment of his health, and strange things start to happen. There's some clinical miracles, and some surreal interaction with a dead decapitated boyfriend, and a bizarre ending involving a brain and a bear.

Hard-working attempt to try and film the unfilmable James Joyce novel. The book consists of episodes in a day of a life of a man with marital troubles and sexual problems, most of it consisting of inner thoughts, stream of consciousness mental associations skips and jumps, and Joyce's unique form of wordplay and use of rich language, full of many allusions and puzzles which he purposely crams into the book to keep the literature professors guessing. This film takes the not-so-successful approach of using many voice-overs and visualizing every word literally, especially a long sequence in a whorehouse where he imagines himself in various roles as king, celebrity, etc. or inspected and humiliated by doctors, friends, his mind wandering into various sexual fetishes and fantasies warped by the imagination. Controversial for its explicit sexual themes, monologues and imagery even during the time the film was made. Ends in a long monologue rant and nostalgic fantasy by his unhappy wife.

Kusturica's ambitious telling of the history of Yugoslavia from WWII to the 90s wars using absurdities, symbolism, and the usual wild Kusturica quirky comedy. During WWII, some revolutionaries, communists, an ex-zoo-keeper and his chimp fight the Germans who let the animals out of their cages, then gather underground to produce weapons. They are lied to and made to stay in the shelter for decades, a confusing love triangle develops between the two invincible leaders and a wild actress, war breaks out and hate develops between brothers and lovers. Overlong and mostly of interest to people from this part of the world who would understand the metaphors better.

Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees  
Part classic Japanese horror, part art-house symbolic drama, part exploitative grotesque violence in the vein of 70s Japanese movies like Baby Cart. This tells the tale of a beastly and powerful mountain-man who robs and murders anyone that crosses his path. But when he falls under the spell of a beautiful, manipulative, evil and wily city-woman, things become unhinged. She immediately uses her power over him to make him carry her through the mountain and murder his harem of mountain women, and it only deteriorates when she gets him to move to the city, demanding a growing collection of decapitated heads to play with. Cherry blossoms are used a symbol of terrifying and endlessly demanding delicate beauty, people and monks going insane as they walk through a forest of cherry trees. Somewhat mesmerizing in its cinematography and beautiful evil, but it needs more subtlety, and its approach to the evil woman is over-the-top. For a better treatment of related material and a truly mesmerizing symbolic and existential experience about losing oneself in a woman, try 'Woman in the Dunes'.

Under the Carp Banner  
If this is what the Japanese go when they want to watch a Pinku porno, what do they watch when they want some bonkers social commentary? This movie brings to mind one of those Hisayasu Sato movies where the director uses his day job as a Pinku director in order to explore some ideas and try to provoke his audience with some insane behaviour. It starts as a Pinku with a horny Tokyo young couple stealing a car and going to the country while having lots of sex to the delight of peeping toms everywhere. But their country friends consist of a wacky couple that have taken the legend of Kappa water-spirits way too far, and who use a cucumber as a replacement for a penis, and their kid is a mentally-deficient man-child that sings on the roof under a carp banner. Add to the mix a homeless, horny, hungry immigrant who can't talk Japanese and who is abused and used by various people that represent different classes of depraved Japanese society. When the Tokyo youngsters take the country bumpkin to the city and introduce him to drugs and rock-n-roll, it evokes a very extreme violent and nationalistic, conservative reaction.

Under the Glacier  
This Icelandic absurd comedy is so quirky, it's quirks are quirky. A simple emissary is sent by a group of concerned ecclesiastics to investigate and observe rumors about strange goings-on in a parish next to a glacier. He finds a very strange group of people that may or may not be magicians. There's a woman that cooks cakes by the dozen but not fish, resurrections are commonplace and often take place via fish, the priest is taking part in Creation, there's a coffin on the glacier containing a surprise, and there's a woman who magically appears who may be everyone's wife and a witch. Trying to keep hold of the last traces of reason, he questions the priest, but receives an answer that although bird-song is pretty, it would no longer be pretty if they spoke truth. This movie chirps.

Under the Skin  
Reviews claiming that this is comparable to Lynch or Kubrick are way off. This is merely an art-house sci-fi flick about an alien predator that lures horny men to an alien equivalent of a meat processing plant using a stolen female body. Except that it is filmed in minimal modern-Euro style where long static takes of extended dull moments are supposed to be meaningful, or at least give you plenty of time to muse and ponder over what our protagonists are thinking. And there's the fact that the process for capturing human males is very bizarre and surreal-looking, involving black liquid, and extraction of human flesh from skin via instant space-travel. The real meat of this story however, is in how the alien (Johansson) slowly acquires an interest in human behaviour and starts developing feelings, and in the process gets to know the good and bad side of humans, while her alien handlers ride around in motorcycles trying to track her down. Somewhat difficult to figure out without the book, interesting as a mood-piece, but not as rewarding as I would want since it barely touches on its themes.

Unknown Man of Shandigor, The  
The 60s and 70s saw many wacky and colorful James Bond exploitative spoofs, but this unique one is somehow both art-house B&W and comically amusing at the same time. Just to give you an impression of the movie, in one scene, a spy is tortured with capitalistic rock music and bubbles in a visually beautiful B&W steampunk set. A mad scientist (Emilfork) has invented a method for neutering nuclear bombs, and he gleefully isolates himself in his strange home while spies from all over the world try to get their hands on his idea. There's a mysterious beast in the pool, amusing spy-craft training with cloned spies learning how to disguise themselves, a bizarre practice of embalming one of their own while they play organ music, a liquefied man, and several other entertaining silly thrills. A marvel to look at, perhaps the most beautiful spoof and exploitation movie ever made?

Uzumaki (AKA Spiral/Vortex)  
A Japanese horror movie and dark comedy about a small town becoming obsessed with everything spiral-like and merging into a supernatural vortex. People kill themselves by climbing into a spin-dryer, getting run over by wheels, twisting into circular forms, turning into snails, etc.. The mood and effects are bizarre but at the same time infused with MTV-style 'coolness' and altogether don't add up to anything.

By the makers of Aurora, once again a visually amazing movie but lacking substance and subtly but deeply flawed in its story-telling. This is dystopian biological sci-fi, very imaginative and unique, and slightly weird but not surreal. This is a world where everything is run by biological gadgets and chemicals and genetic engineering, and all forms of energy are biological. Mysterious Citadels house powerful oligarchs while the rest of the population try to survive in a world gone mad with plant-based dangerous creatures. A young girl with a talent for genetic experimentation lives with her paralyzed father who follows her around in some kind of symbiotically connected floating drone. Her neighbors are led by a malicious uncle and his horde of children. When a drone from a Citadel crashes nearby, their lives change. This is very intriguing, and as I said, visually and atmospherically incredible, but lacking in substance. The first time I watched it I felt like it didn't have a story and that nothing was fleshed out. So I immediately watched it a second time and every time I thought I figured something out, I realized more and more details didn't make sense. The acting is too low-key, making them all feel like they are in a constant medicated trance. The character of Jonas makes no sense, seemingly psychotic, killing anyone for absolutely no reason, and his intentions towards Vesper are contradictory. Vesper shares critical information and trusts when she obviously shouldn't. It is not clear why these organisms aren't edible. The Citadel motivations seem completely contradictory. The idea of the seeds being engineered for a single crop make no sense except for forced trading purposes, except that some Citadels and their soldiers then perform many actions that contradict this, not to mention the illogical plans of Vesper involving the Citadels after working on the seeds. The pilgrims and their purpose make no sense. The ending makes no sense given the high price of seeds. Etc. Poetic atmosphere is fine, but more thought needs to be invested in the mechanics of the plot and themes. This is all visual.

Villemolle 81  
Free-wheeling wackiness and fun camp taken to a new level in this French comedy. The first half is a mockumentary about a village called Villemolle where a plague of hamsters is converted into a sausage industry, mad gurus preach about spaceships and the apocalypse, a man preaches environmentalism to bikers in a teddy bear costume, and feminists draw phallic or sharp-teethed vaginas as town mascots. The second half veers into a madcap horror movie about zombies, walking amputated legs, walking computers with guns, zombie sausages (yes, you read that right), and random musical interludes. Crazy fun.

Fabrice Du Welz makes another genre-defying horror movie that starts as a human drama and slowly becomes more delirious and metaphorical. The good aspects in this movie are excellent, and the bad is very undermining, definitely making this into a love-it-or-hate-it experience (I thought it was both). A depressed couple in Thailand that lost their son in a tsunami go on a dangerous trip to Burma after the wife desperately convinces herself that she saw her son in a video. Their trip starts with dodgy smugglers, continues with various jungle misadventures, and ends with cannibalistic children while they become increasingly delirious. Beart delivers a very good performance as the desperately obsessed mother slowly going insane, the atmosphere and cinematography are stunning, with the thick jungle dread and wild inhabitants blending with emotional delirium. But the characters' stupidity and muddled motives keep distracting, and the ending tries to combine psychological drama, horror, and surrealism, each undermining each other. Even the final notorious shot is obviously a very bad and awkward take judging by the misplaced looks on their faces.

Violent Kind, The  
Like Phantasm, this horror movie hints at new strange worlds and creatures that may be just around the corner, without exploring them. We get only glimpses, since the movie is only about the initial clash with human protagonists. Unlike Phantasm, however, this one feels like the writers don't know what they are doing and are just throwing everything they can think of at us just to keep things unpredictable and intriguing. The first half hour features really bad character development featuring college kids laughably acting out as tough bikers in a violent lifestyle. But then weird things start to happen, and it stays weird until the end: Evil-Dead-like possessions, warped reality time-shifts, vampiric bad boys, deaths involving something indescribable and blobs of flesh, cult-like rituals, and aliens. So, all-in-all, there isn't much to enjoy here, although the insane scenes involving the home-invasion of some bikers by a supernatural James Dean fan has its moments. A sequel that explains some things may redeem the movie somewhat, but I doubt it.

Basically a low-budget and low-intelligence repeat of Brazil, forgoing the brilliant visuals and replacing the surrealism with low-rent absurdism. George is a depressed man working at 'level three' for a huge corporation, processing forms. Titles for employees of the company involve words like 'tunt' and 'goop', the remaining amount of productive minutes in the week are announced every minute, they greet each other with the middle finger, and they are given cuddly teddy-bears to help with their motivation then tested on their relationship with their teddy-bears. George is impotent, has dreams of being George Washington, pines for a happy level-four girl called Charisma, his brother starts a social hippy-esque revolution, while other people are erupting in fits of empty desperation, subdued by 'inhibitors', or literally exploding. The level of stupidity by everyone in the movie is slightly reminiscent of the better and much funnier 'Idiocracy'. Mostly an empty movie without much to say that isn't obvious, with heavy-handed absurdism and silly symbolism, but also with some occasional scenes that are entertaining.

Wall Man, The  
Decidedly odd Japanese horror that is closer to Kairo than Ringu. I.e. it is more about existential strangeness and creepiness than scares and ghosts. It is not even close to being as good as Kiyoshi Kurosawa's masterpiece Kairo (nothing is), but seeing it, you can imagine what Kurosawa would have made out of it. A silly reality TV show that explores rumors finds one rumor that spreads like wildfire amongst the population: The idea that a man lives in your walls and sees everything. The absurdity and impossibility of the idea is given unsettling weight however by the various paranoid and eccentric people that become afraid of it, and also by existential ideas like the fact that walls are everywhere, separating the inside from the outside, yet are systematically ignored. Then the reporter's artist boyfriend goes mad thinking about such things, and reports keep coming in about sightings and attempts at communication with the Wall Man, and creepy dreams haunt our protagonists, resulting in a unique and memorable manga-style horror movie.

Warsaw Bridge  
This experimental movie is like an intellectual visual poem, generating a flow and sequence of scenes to convey a thoughtful observation on the role of culture and art in modern life. There is architecture, intellectuals discussing and criticizing writing and writers, and the interaction of writing with the public, music, etc. Personal and modern life blends with culture: There are several modern musical performances in unusual dirty urban settings, and intimate sensual married life merges visually with the characters' academic or writing careers. And then there are contrasts of death with life, science versus folk-lore and urban legends, surreal violence breaks out randomly in a train, a man works to pump oxygen back into the river in an environmentalist absurdism, and a naked woman stands in a flowerpot in a kind of art installation. The surrealism here is very pinpointed, minimal and unobtrusive, as in a Bunuel movie. Plotless, mildly thoughtful and interesting, and bordering on pretentious.

Way Home, The  
Georgian art-house allegorical drama with some historical & biographical elements. It revolves around the figure of Antimoz Iverieli/Anthim the Iberian who was an ecclesiastic figure and scholar who championed the printing press, and who was imprisoned and sold. In this film, he wanders lost in the wild after being released from capture, encountering many groups of archetypal people in the woods and country. This includes some enforcers and their prisoners, who represent the powers that be, only they have conflicting agendas of their own, as well as simple folk attempting to spread books and knowledge, foreigners living in his home, a mad hermit, some officials with no respect for books, etc. Filmed in gorgeous black & white, with a lyrical quiet mood, and full of intriguing characters, this movie has a simple folk-legend-style magic with slight touches of surrealism, but it is mostly Pasolini-esque allegory (his medieval movies).

We Are Little Zombies  
Japanese movie that embeds touching drama deep inside miles of quirk and colorful comedy. It's about four kids that meet at a funeral for their parents; four kids that are instantly labeled as zombies for not having any feelings one way or another about what is happening. They run off and start a band, and promptly become the pop sensation-of-the-month with their kid-punk, Nintendo-game, hidden-emotions approach to music. It's the direction and editing that are the stars though, with endlessly inventive visual quirks, many of them portraying the real life that is happening on screen, as if it were a low-fi Nintendo game, including life and death. There are also a few kid dream sequences, a surreal homeless band, symbolic hallucinations, an amoeba-land after-life, and a life-or-death decision made through a game menu.

Yet another bonkers Japanese live adaptation of a manga. A supremely-confident woman just out of school that regularly masturbates in odd places and kicks her fan-boys in the head, decides to take over the world via the weather forecast. She replaces the weather woman as a temp, and becomes an instant mega-hit when she lifts her skirt at the end of her forecast. But the chairman's daughter just back from France with a thing for phallic baguettes intends to undermine her and add class and showmanship to the weather report. Features surreal musical performances, over-the-top worship of pop-personalities, a gratuitous lesbian encounter with a maid who proceeds to lick her clean in order to preserve her skin, an accident with an enema-freak in a show called 'Hello Pervert', and a climax that suddenly turns into a weather-fu battle with magical powers.

We Play Zombie or Life After Fights  
Russian oddity from 1993, thought to be lost. It's a blend of atmospheric art-house horror, silly comedy and slapstick, and passionate violent romance, a combination only the Russians can pull off with a uniquely Russian air. A strange man (who looks like Bob from Twin Peaks), gets involved in a love triangle and kills his love in a horribly violent act. Her baby is picked up and raised by by a comical theatre troupe. Years later, she grows up to be a witch and makes battle with his evil witch girlfriend, while the men are bewitched and cursed to perform violent acts. Features chicken legs in the forehead, a snake in the eyes, some vigorous and silly theatrical performance, and highly eccentric comedy.

Werckmeister Harmonies  
A very Tarkovsky-like art-house movie by Béla Tarr which is often taken as an undefined allegory but I see it as a pretentious meditation on humanity's fragile existence relying on harmony and it is more enjoyable as a metaphysical horror movie with an unnamed horror. A village is mesmerized by a spectacle of a huge stuffed whale on display which is accompanied by an evil faceless Prince that has a strange and violent effect on the populace. A local townsman uses drunks to mimic an eclipse, describing it as temporary darkness, panic and confusion, another man pontificates about the evils of the overly restrictive harmonic Werckmeister scale in music, and children behave erratically wild, all strange and ominous signs of an impending chaos. The movie employs striking cinematography but painfully long takes of men just walking for many minutes, exciting the cineasts and art-house snobs, but I found it uninsightful and mostly a bore.

Wet Dreams  
70s anthology of thirteen short films on the topic of sex, some with just nudity, some x-rated, some artistic, some just silly. The centerpiece is an odd surreal one called 'The Janitor' by none other than Nicholas Ray, featuring Ray in a dual role of bizarre preacher and janitor. He preaches bizarre warped nonsense about Moses being a killer, the Ten Commandments, and theft, to a room full of horny young people, all of who call him father (priestly or biological?) and some of which want to give him oral sex, but the janitor gets sick of this whole charade and gets violent. A metaphor for the generation gap vs mentorship perhaps? Who knows. There is one surreal sex and genitalia animation 'Dragirama', another featuring Bosch-like surreal paintings of penises ('Hans Kanters'), and a weird one by Dusan Makavejev as Sam Rotterdam (Politfuck') featuring a contrasting couple that snarl each other into lovemaking with singalong Communist undertones. The rest of the shorts include many that feature nudity or sex acts up close in various artistic ways, an idiotic one involving farting, a moralistic one about finding happiness ('Another Wet Dream'), and two funny ones: 'The Plumber' featuring a pornographic Charlie Chaplin imitator, and 'The Happy Necrophiliacs' where two French girls rape a cowboy to happiness til the very end.

Try to imagine a romantic comedy inspired by the look & feel and attitude of Trainspotting, that uses an anal fissure and neurotic attitudes towards bad hygiene as major plot points. This German comedy has got to be one of the least erotic movies about the female body, and the least romantic movie about romance, but somewhere inside the provocative filth, and disgusting shock tactics, there is some charm to be found, except you will probably be too stuck in recoil mode to feel it. A girl brought up by a hygiene-obsessed, mysophobic mother goes to the other extreme, rubbing her naked hemorrhoidic self all over public toilets, and is unhealthily obsessed with any and all body fluids and body functions. Her adventures and lightly surreal daydreams include things like pizza-sperm, a tampon-best-friend, and other such things that would make the Farrelly Brothers blush. When an accident with her nether regions lands her in hospital, she tries to take advantage of the circumstances to hit on a male nurse, and bring her divorced parents together. But you really don't want to know to what lengths she will go.

White Madness  
The last film by Dutch experimental film-maker Adriaan Ditvoorst, a fiercely idiosyncratic and anti-social man, who made this black character study of a film as a kind of will before his own suicide. It depicts an anti-social and nihilistic young man who has shunned society, lives in a warehouse, paints, works on himself, and takes drugs, all seemingly by choice as a kind of misanthropic ideology, while his eccentric friend works on a machine that will create the ultimate destructive sound. His estranged mother constantly thinks of him and is haunted by disturbing surreal dreams involving her son. When she has an accident, she calls for him and makes a dark secret pact with him which he accepts. They alienate friends and family members, throw out material possessions, while he takes cares of his disabled mother, although they are both haunted by symbolic visions or surreal dreams of their past. A misanthropic auto-biographical character study.

White Meadows, The  
Mesmerizing Iranian fable that uses a slightly different world of ancient customs in a strange, severe land of salt as metaphor for Iranian society. Most of the customs are cruel and unreal but recognizable and palpable, as good metaphors should be. This made me think of Kim Ki-Duk and his own language of cruel but fascinating cinematic metaphors. Into this land of salt, a man on a mission painstakingly collects the tears of the suffering people. He visits a village that weds a beautiful girl to the sea, witnesses the treating of an artist's eyes with monkey urine and ladders that go to the sun because he saw the wrong color, and a man is sent down a well to an evil fairy covered in bottles full of hopes and sorrows. What the tear-collector does with his bottle of tears should make you stand up from your chair in outrage. Full of unforgettable scenery and images.

Why Hans Wagner Hates The Starry Sky  
A indie-debut that manages to do quite a lot with its tiny budget. It's a constantly surprising mix of genres, from quirky comedy, to romance, then fantasy, horror, to melancholy reality-bending with light surrealism. Hans is bothered by heavy questions and anxiety. One day, when his medication and booze runs out, he emerges from his house into a roller-coaster adventure, befriending a homeless guy called Hobbit, and a lonely woman at a hilarious speed-dating fiasco, pining for his crush that works in a supermarket to whom he is unable to speak. But matters turn increasingly confusing as magical creatures start appearing in his house, and reality slowly deteriorates into a Lovecraftian nightmare. The story is ambitious and entertaining, until the disappointingly empty ending, and the acting is mixed, with most of the amateur actors not exactly convincing in the roles, with some exceptions.

Widower, The  
Quirky Canadian comedy about some romantic necrophilia. An old spineless man can't accept that his loving wife passed away, so he doesn't. Enter an obnoxious (in an entertaining way) nosy neighbor, a couple of the most absurdly useless cops in the history of law-enforcement, an After-Hours style long night of slightly strange misadventures, 2-3 or surreal dream sequences involving Jesus and other characters transformed into historical figures, and Jello Biafra as Satan. Has the campy comic feel of an early Peter Jackson movie (without the gore or nastiness), and it doesn't keep the pace going very well in several scenes, but it's a mildly amusing watch.

Wild Dogs, The  
Pointless feel-bad movie that revels in poverty, harshness and cruelty in a realistic but aimless manner. I could portray any city in a bad light by showing its pockets of extreme poverty, mutilated beggars, and perverts or horrible people. But this movie, presumably in some kind of liberal guilt-fit, decided to depict Bucharest in Romania in this special light. A pornographer travels to Romania at the behest of his boss who pressures him to take advantage of the 'looser' laws in the city to exploit young girls. From his story, it seems we are supposed to learn that blackmail and pornography is OK, as long as we draw the line at pedophilia. Another parallel warped story explores the life of a very poor couple, the husband who works for the dog pound catching and killing the thousands of stray dogs in the city, who decides that, instead of finding a new job or supporting his family, he will waste his time caring for dozens of stray dogs. And then there are the horribly mutilated beggars, the little kid with only half a body who tries to adopt a rich woman as his friend, her cruel and perverted husband who gets fantasy-punished at the screenplay's whim, a strange music-minded dwarf who provides the pornographer with girls, and other tales of woe and despair. Harsh, gripping and somewhat interesting, but muddled with liberal guilt.

Wild Zero  
An absurd, somewhat gory punk-rock zombie flick at times reminiscent of Six-String Samurai. A rock-n-roll wannabe saves the life of Guitar Wolf, a near-supernatural super-cool rocker who is now indebted to him. When he meets an androgynous lover and falls into the hands of a slow zombie crowd, the Wolf comes to the rescue, followed by a psychotic business man in tight clothing, and a Yakuza weapons dealer in her underwear. Somehow, UFOs, true love and supernatural eye powers are mixed into the plot but I lost track exactly how.

Wind From Wyoming  
A strange comedy from Canadian Andre Forcier that resembles a wild farce from Almodovar, only with artsier and quirkier touches. Lea is sought after by a hypnotist, who experiments with hypnotising people to love, and by a writer. Her large sister goes on a super-fast diet in order to seduce, then rape the writer into pregnancy and marriage. Lea is in love with a boxer who impregnates Lea's mother instead, and the father is training another boxer to beat him up. Wacky, entertaining stuff that goes so over-the-top in its quirkiness, it becomes weird: the writer uses a moose call to get Lea, boxers break out in dance, and a woman becomes a nun and starts to levitate after over-dieting.

Wise Blood  
The novel this film is based on is supposed to be about a religious existential crisis in a disturbed young man who is intent on proving his anti-beliefs by preaching for his 'Church without Christ' and grows more desperate and violently insane as the story progresses. Mixed with this is a satire about evangelism and a depraved, greedy society. Somehow Huston turned this into a movie about an angry and deeply insane man flailing at a society that seems to consist of a bunch of weird lunatics. There's a fake preacher's slimy daughter who has the hots for him, an older landlord woman whose wildly random attachment to him is only explained in the book, a desperately dependent and insane young man with an obsession for a shrunken mummy in the museum and a man in a gorilla suit, and a slew of cheap, commercial, street preachers. The movie is confusing from a character and development point of view, but eccentrically entertaining.

Wishing Machine, The  
Free-form Czech children's fantasy that crosses the border into surrealism. This movie is like a dream of a child, where anything-goes fantasy is constantly interrupted by strict upbringing rules and homework. Two young boys collect fliers while playing with the latest technological marvels at science conventions, telling tall tales to their classmates about a machine that replaces your clothes with new ones, and so on. The fantasy eventually takes over, as they discover a wishing machine that grants them their wish to go to the moon. Except they didn't ask for a trip back so they have to wait around for a while. They fish for frogs, dig out their grandfather's strange treasures in the attic, are applauded as moon conquerers, then taken to court and jail where skeletons and bears preside. Their jailer is preoccupied with basic math problems, the space ship disciplines them about punctuality, and so on. Charming, with a logic of its own.

Woman with Red Boots, The  
An odd experiment by Bunuel's son that experiments with absurdities and keeps you on your toes, but which never coheres. An eccentric millionaire with strange attacks of madness manipulates artists' lives with obsessive surveillance and complex games. A female writer seems to have the magical powers that transform objects or make them appear, using this for odd amusements such as making an old shoe appear on a lawyer's head or making her own dress disappear. Her boyfriend painter is creating something of his own, while she is somehow manipulated into developing an affair with a publicist. When they are brought together to a house to create art and play a game of 3D chess, the games start to backfire...

A one-of-a-kind oddity that mixes fairy tales with some of Guy Maddin's off-the-wall weirdness and atmosphere. A rubbish collector is given a quest to take Plum to her wedding successfully without getting in her pants. They encounter danger in the form of a strongman from a circus who wants a wife, a strange hygiene-challenged man who gives them magical beans, and kids who break up their car. They ride a donkey, have explicit sex after erotically feeding off a baby-bottle, and occasionally break into song. Random references to fairy-tales appear, and to add to the strangeness, the sound was recorded before the movie was made and dubbed over actors who usually don't move their lips.

W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism  
Makavejev explores his favorite subjects of politics, Communism vs Capitalism, the primitive but basic drives of man, and sex. He blends these together in his unique, challenging and contentious way by cutting together scenes of a Wilhelm Reich documentary, Yugoslavian political rants and discussions on the effect of free love, Alexander Lowen's bioenergetical therapy, some random American repressed neurotics, and overly serious and violent Russian politics. Makavejev would later explore similar themes in the much more extreme Sweet Movie, but without delivering his ideas in a coherent way. As such, this is a crucial introduction in order to make a little sense of Sweet Movie. He also used similar inter-cutting techniques and ideas in 'Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator'.

Your Heart in My Brain  
The notorious case of the real-life German cannibal Armin Meiwes spawned no less than four movies one after another in Germany, which says a lot about our society. This first movie on the topic by Praunheim is surprisingly restrained, also taking into account Praunheim's usual style, and also the subject matter. Except that it isn't really based on the facts of the case at all and chooses to re-imagine the events as taking place between two very lonely men who develop a very twisted inter-dependent relationship with each other that eventually deteriorates to cannibalism (whereas the real case involved an outright advertisement for cannibalism on the internet). Ironically, it's this fictitious relationship and the acting that makes this movie a little bit interesting, whereas the actual facts of the case and the other movies are not interesting at all besides the shock factor. I can't say that the character development is convincing, but it is somewhat interesting, and filmed in a blend of down-to-earth drama and found-footage documentary style. Strangely, the handful of other characters in this drama are acted by the same two actors (including his mother and her female friend), perhaps to portray the closed and almost narcissistic world these two people live in, except it clashes with the documentary approach.

Zero Man vs. The Half-Virgin  
The Japanese are getting really good at taking a silly idea and going all the way with it just for some entertaining fun. This one reminded me of a Hitoshi Matsumoto movie with its absurd fantasy comedy. A man with no memory finds that he has a very strange superpower that makes him see numbers on people's foreheads when he gets an erection. He tries to figure out the mystery of this power that may have to do with sex, except the power keeps giving him new mysteries to solve, including a woman with 0.5 on her forehead that progresses to 0.7, a little girl with 13, a man with 55, and several people with zeroes that shouldn't really be zeroes, including himself. The second half of the movie becomes crazier with constantly entertaining surprises, revelations, and a supernatural development, until the chaotic ending. A greatly entertaining one-time watch.

Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs  
Classic, over-the-top sleazy violent exploitation from 1970s Japan. Like the Female Convict Scorpion series, this features an extremely tough woman who endures lots of humiliations, rapes and beatings but always gets her revenge and fights for her sense of justice. Except here it is a super-policewoman with a magical set of useful red handcuffs, who would rather kill the scummy murdering-rapist men of society rather than jail them, and she will do anything, and I mean anything, to get to them. This film is a lone movie, and the series of erotic-sleazy-crime Zero Woman movies in the 90s have nothing on this ultra-violent slice of exploitation. It pits a ruthless rapist kidnapping gang of animalistic criminals, against a ruthless and rogue group of police-men working for even more ruthless politician who will do absolutely anything to keep his power. The stakes keep rising as the two sides war with each other, leaving behind a wake of bodies, torture and mayhem. Like Dobermann, you'd be hard-pressed to decide which side is worse and the violence constantly escalates.

A complete waste of time due to the writers having no idea what they are doing. This film sets up a world where people are living in a modern world just like ours, they dress and take part in activities just like us, except they grunt like gorillas and behave like animals in very inconsistent ways. They live in spotless modern rooms, but fling body fluids and solids around. They take out dishes for mealtimes, but eat without hands. They party like a bunch of fratboys, but mate like gorillas. Etc. There is no sci-fi scenario where these blatant contradictions can work obviously. And this clash also undermines any satirical or surreal potential as well since it doesn't conform to any reality that we know. So the movie doesn't work on any level. Which only leaves the annoyance of watching actors act out the director's random juvenile ideas that he throws at them involving masturbation, animalistic sex, body fluids, feces, and sudden ultra-violent fits involving penis-chomping, cannibalism and jealous murder sprees.

A strange outing by Tinto Brass featuring a wild, idealistic, nutty actor and his adventures: He gets in trouble with the police, gets signed up for a porn flick, pulls an actress out of the business after she was forced to defecate in front of the crew, has some misadventures in a colorful prison, an insane asylum with mad doctors who break out in dance, with an aggressive gang of punk girls with various genital decorations, a group of people in a forest with their genitals growing out of their faces, etc. A silly, wild, pointless romp.

Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, The  
The definition of a cult movie. Banzai is a neurosurgeon, physicist, rock-star and comic book hero who invents an oscillation overthruster as the means to travel into the 8th dimension. Aliens trapped on Earth led by the madman Dr Lizardo plot to steal this device, escape this dimension and destroy Earth, another rival race of aliens send their own ultimatum to Buckaroo who is now caught in an adventure to save the universe. This dumb plot is forgettable and the characters are dull, but the real stars of the movie are the bizarre campy action, surreal dialog and outrageous 80s costumes. Unclassifiable weirdness, but boring.

Aegri Somnia  
Amateurish, unoriginal and predictable blend of Jacob's Ladder and some Lynchian elements, but it takes more than some copied special effects and eerie music to make this kind of a psychological and surreal horror movie. Edgar is a spineless man surrounded by obnoxious people, including his wife, whom he finds dead in the bathtub. Other strange events pile up involving his various friends and co-workers, threatening his grip on reality, compounded by dreams and hallucinations of an underground toothy horror of the dead. The cinematography sometimes does interesting things, but the blend of atmospheric B&W, and color for the horror scenes doesn't work, the acting is unsubtle and superficial, and watchers of this kind of movie will figure out the whole movie within the first 5 minutes.

Afterman, The  
Belgian post-apocalyptic trash with no dialogue depicting a dystopian future where the world has reverted to its most animalistic, basically using the post-apocalyptic setting to display a parade of sleazy sex and violence. A man finally leaves his nuclear shelter where he has been living on supplies, whipped cream and necrophilia, and finds that the world is full of pockets of brutality and filth, from a farmer that keeps men and women as slaves, to groups of violent rapists, to sodomites, decadent lesbians into snuff, a commune that eats raw meat and filth, to a church that isn't what it appears to be. Will his relationship with a woman help him to become a real man amidst the chaos? Watch Themroc instead.

Alexandra's Project  
Touting a vicious feminist chip on its shoulder, this disturbing psychological thriller tells the tale of an insane bitch wife and her neurotic and cruel revenge on her husband whose only sin is emotional neglect and strong sexual needs. But instead of trying to work it out or getting a divorce, she goes all out and uses the kids against him as well. Intense, discussion-provoking, and very well acted, but in the end, just a repulsive, hateful feminist fantasy.

Alice (1982)  
Alice in Wonderland as an odd romantic musical comedy with a nonsensical criminal thriller plot. Taking a surreal story about nonsense and attempting to squeeze it into a conventional romantic movie seems wrong any way you think about it. But these Polish film-makers seemed to have taken a few nonsense pills themselves. Alice is a hard-to-get gal, recently divorced from Chesire Cat, and she falls for an eccentric jogger called Rabbit who is being chased by a criminal element. Queenie is a rich woman who terrorizes everyone around her, and the rest of the story's characters make appearances as various odd people, some of which have a romantic interest in Alice as well. There is a lot of dancing and singing, including tap-dancing in a factory, "I am a Psychologist" sung in a loony bin, and a Ken Russell-esque dream-sequence in a mind-warping nightmarish disco.

Alien Crystal Palace  
I suppose this is what would happen if the narcissistic world of glamour, fashion and art made a gothic fantasy 'tragedy' about ...the mystical joining of bodies, AKA bored sex that confuses boredom for transcendence. Hamburg is an eccentric alchemist that wants to create the perfect joined being called the 'Androgyne' by manipulating a specific pair of human-wrecks to mate. Arielle Dombasle directs herself in the role of the ultimate being, a director fated to mate with a walking wreck of a goth-rock musician, and between the two of them they manage to bed every woman on the set except each other. Why on earth would anyone want these two together is beyond me. Hovering behind this plot that takes forever to develop while they party, whine and mate endlessly, is the alchemist's father, the Egyptian God Horus his party of minions with a fashion sense straight from Paris, a submarine that serves as a home for the mad scientist, an odd international investigator with his minions of models wearing latex police uniforms with the word Police on it in Gothic font, police-men that investigate by lifting dead girls's skirts, three strange producers that try to manipulate our braindead antagonists to mate while killing everyone else that gets in the way, and other random cults and parties that give the wardrobe people more to do. A kitschy, narcissistic mess.

This movie is atmospheric all right: white guilt fog that is so thick you can cut it with a knife. A female reporter-photographer moans her guilt after she is forced to take a picture of a war-political murder in front of her eyes. Except she ignores the fact that they would have killed him anyways and that she was forced to do it. A mining company inadvertently poisons a local village full of pure, loving, mystical (i.e. idol-worshipping) ethnic minorities. Not that this doesn't happen, but the simplistic black & white way this is portrayed is insulting. The villagers boorishly attack the doctors that only want to help, so the doctors wallow in guilt as well. The suffering of the pure natives is portrayed with light surrealism, with masked figures of suffering haunting the beautiful landscape, a girl who killed herself in protest haunts the rivers with flowing long white dress, and the masked dead line the roads that allow the trucks to invade. Give me a break.

The director's involvement in a couple of Jodorowsky's films had an effect on the very weird costume and set design of this clunker, but otherwise, this is a very empty, amateurish and strange story about nuns and orphans getting possessed by the devil and the hysteria and bloody deaths it causes (a la Russell's 'The Devils'). Endless annoying female shrieking, wailing and screaming while participating in hysteria, orgies, levitations, re-animations and destruction.

Early low-budget movie by the infamous Uwe Boll. A man kills a girl, watches a lot of TV and sadistic movies, works as a waiter where his customers sadistically play with a live fish, ponders a bit on human endurance and the will to live, masturbates to porn while his neighbour dies, then goes on a killing spree. Boring, slow and pointless serial killer movie that doesn't even attempt a psychological study.

Amnesiac (AKA Wyke Wreake)  
British psychological supernatural horror, a lot of which takes place in the mind or in the afterlife. A distraught woman who lost her baby, dives and loses herself in the occult (a room full of symbols and a seance board) and her friends find themselves in over their heads when they try to help. They communicate with a malevolent soul, but her mind may be the most damaging of all. The story then shifts to the dead soul and his violent and tragic story as he ponders his sins in a personal hell (the same room) haunted by a freaky children's show and various ghosts. All are haunted, tormented and possessed by Wyke Wreake, an evil spirit, as well as by nightmarish visions of bloody murders and body parts, butchered and burned babies, and surreal apparitions wearing gas masks fused with babies. It all felt rather tediously theatrical, stretched out and monotonous, but then again I may have enjoyed it more if I could only make out what they were saying. At least a third of the dialogue is drowned out with a constant loud soundtrack, and an already difficult accent is sometimes warped into indecipherable sound effects.

Apple, The  
Golan-Globus-produced, infamous, painfully-bad, way-over-the-top ode to high-camp and an obvious attempt at making a Rocky Horror Picture Show. The barebones plot is about a pair of innocent singers caught in the clutches of an evil music producer and tyrant, who basically controls the whole planet and manipulates or forces everyone to become fans of his bands. So, basically it's a dystopia movie with glam-rock as the ultimate evil. Except that this movie doesn't just want to be a campy musical, it also wants to be a religious metaphor, and a 70s-style psychedelic trip at times. Which means that the movie consists of painfully terrible songs and lyrics (your cringe muscles will cramp up from overuse), hundreds of costumes which are so over-the-top campy, glitzy, shiny, colorful and kitschy, that it looks like they hired a drunk, flaming, wardrobe person and pumped him full of alcohol and let him loose. It's like disco, cheesy 60s sci-fi, and glam-rock combined. There is a musical sex scene involving hallucinogens and a psychedelic array of beds, with lyrics that would make a porn-star cringe, and a surreal finale that is literally a deus-ex-machina, that is, if god were a disco-hippy-pimp.

Arise! The SubGenius Video  
An insane barrage and montage of movie and cartoon clips, pictures, images, music and self-help seminar style narration that satirizes religions, cults, self-help scams, art, pop culture, politics & war, conspiracies, aliens and itself. Bob is the cult figure for the Church of Subgeniuses, who are basically insane people that don't want to be associated with anything and have an abundancy of 'slack', which is a kind of anarchical nirvana. It's quite entertaining for about 15 minutes but then becomes extremely boring in its ATD MTV-style rapid-editing of silly images, brainless goofiness and 'cool' anarchy.

Arrebato (AKA Rapture)  
Cult movie that reached mythical status but is actually just a self-indulgent drug movie that attributes mystical and supernatural elements to film-making thanks to paranoia and hallucinations. A b-movie film-maker receives a film from an acquaintance along with a recording telling his strange tale. The recording accompanies flashbacks from when he and his girlfriend first met this eccentric man-child with a strange fascination for dolls, and the ability to engage in rapturous passions while watching an ordinary montage of clips. They all take many drugs, which also fuel a dead relationship with his girlfriend and some attraction to the man-child Pedro. As Pedro gets lost in his narcissism, paranoia, drugs and obsessive film-making, he thinks the camera is getting a life of its own, bringing to question the relationship between a film-maker and his creations. The camera edits out sequences, objects and people disappear, and when he points the camera at himself, reality starts to change. Or does it? A drug-worshipping pretentious mess.

The title of the movie refers to the two protagonists. Not only do they have that kind of personality, it also refers to their sexual fetish, as well as what they physically turn into. They behave it, they sex it, and then they become it. Throw in a shit-demon, random STDs, some gross-outs, and lots and lots of really obnoxious behaviour by two drug-abusers that define narcissistic, egotistical behaviour as they go wild on the town, and you have one obnoxious 'comedy'. I was hoping for some silly raunchy humor at the very least. But what's funny about really obnoxious and disgusting caricatures in a witless script? Maybe fans of Arrested Development would enjoy this. Some surprisingly good death metal (Alterbeast) on the soundtrack is wasted.

Autopsy: A Love Story  
A morgue attendant with a ball-breaking wife works for a boss that sells John Doe corpses and has strange relationships with the dead. He hears them in his head and becomes their friend before they pass on to the next world. One day he falls in love with one of them and has a long friendship with her corpse bordering on necrophilia, until her sister arrives looking for the body. Features gore and some nastiness but is more restrained than you think. It has one nice touch where he hears the dead but not his nagging, living wife, but otherwise this is crudely made and mostly uninteresting.

Baby Love  
Really silly Italian sleaze-comedy that goes so bonkers with its random odd inanities, it almost becomes a symbolic surreality. Except it is too pre-occupied with being silly and naughty for that. Four rich businessmen from China, Russia, Sicily and America are called to an Italian castle to bid for their prize possession: A virginal girl trained in erotic pleasures. Their clownish acting is like something from a Benny Hill sketch. Unfortunately for the sellers and bidders, the girl revolts against authority and finds adventures with an insane theater-man who is always in the middle of a soliloquy-rant, a very strange cult, a knife-throwing horny guy, and a Kabuki break-dance performer. Everyone wants a piece of her and everyone gets a piece of her. In the middle there are random orgies and cults. It could all be taken as a social or feminist metaphor in the vein of Sweet Movie, except it's just too silly.

Bad Lieutenant  
This is a dark and brutally honest character study of a man hopelessly lost in drugs, perverted sexual acts and constant abuse of a policeman's power. It is littered with exploitative elements from Ferrara's past (such as an explicit scene of a nun getting raped), and features a no-holds barred amazing performance from Keitel, including scenes where he wails like a baby or verbally rapes two teenage girls while masturbating. The theme of this movie is also about religious redemption but the character does not evolve or learn, and the movie offers no insights either.

Bang Bang  
Brazilian boring Godardesque meta-experimentation. The realities of an actor and his movie-character blend and are deconstructed in a slapstick absurdity of a movie, where a man is chased around the city by a group of weirdos who may be assassins, including some cross-dressers, a blind-man and a magician. Guns are fired for no reason, people break out into song and dance, or have a conversation about how they should be having a conversation, or fight with a cab-driver, or generally clown around, before the next nonsensical chase and 'fight scene'. For fans of experimental cinema only. Dull.

Bastard Out of Carolina  
A tale of extreme child abuse. Bone is a little girl who was born due to her mother flying through the windshield of a car and her life doesn't get much better after that. Her mother is a stupid, desperate woman who sticks to an abusive man for support while he keeps abusing the child. The violence and rape are gratuitous and endless and started reminding me of Passion of the Christ - i.e. all ugliness, no insight. To top it all off, there is not a good father or husband in sight - all good men are either unmarried or dead, while the women spout their misandrist nonsense and look to marry a handsome wallet. The topic of child abuse deserves a much, much, much better script than this.

Beautiful Beast, The  
A trinity of neurotic mother, handsome, passive and dumb son, and desperately lonely and psychotic daughter live a near-incestuous life so thick with Freudian symptoms, you could slice it with mother's nail file. When mother brings in a replacement father, the son and his horse birth the green monster and the daughter who has been abusing her brother until now, finds herself hating everyone, lashing out in violent, cruel ways as a defense. A well-filmed and acted nasty drama with unrealistic characters, so obviously this is a literary, artsy study on family, beauty and ugliness, but there is no insight or anything of intellectual interest either.

Bibliothčque Pascal  
Hungarian art-house movie that goes nowhere. A woman is trying to get custody over her child after leaving her with her aunt and going off to England. She is asked to tell her story and what caused these circumstances, and she replies with a strange, magical tale that hides the darkness and banality of the real story. She meets a criminal who appears out of the sand in the beach. He has powers to project his dreams onto waking people, resulting in surreal and colorful visions, and he passes on this ability to their child. She is whisked off by her devious father and then sold into prostitution to work in a bizarre brothel visited by poets, actors and philosophers that want to act out a fetish fantasy with a literary figure complete with rehearsed script and strange dress. One room features vinyl outfits and vacuum cleaners. Unfortunately, the bizarre story goes nowhere and conveys nothing, and neither does the movie, leading to an empty ending that is ambiguous on practically everything.

Black Blooded Brides of Satan  
Finnish horror movie obviously made by amateurish extreme metal fans that relish acting evil and Satanic. Think Devil's Rejects, except replace Rob Zombie's style with a parade of unwelcome fat nudity from both genders, rape and snuff. A Satanic cult is in the business of making snuff movies (for money or for Satan?). A female teenage metalhead who is fighting with her parents becomes entangled with them, while her father tries to track her down. The master of the cult seems to have supernatural powers, there is a corrupt priest, some surprise chainsaw splatter at the end, and lots of ugly rape, but the actors are definitely having more fun than the audiences. Grim, ugly, but very empty.

Black Devil Doll  
This is one of those movies that just does what it promises to do and nothing more, which is to deliver trashy exploitation horror full of bad taste, nudity, racism and misogyny. A black rapist-murderer condemned to death comes back Chucky-style as a puppet and promptly gets himself a new white girlfriend. After some really silly puppet sex and love scenes, he makes her bring over her friends to satisfy his other needs. Which leads to the second half that focuses on endless graphic nudity, exploitative kill scenes, necrophilia, lots of trashy puppet sex and masturbation, and even a long car-wash scene with four girls set to rap music, all leading to the climactic splatter scene. But don't get too excited: These are trashy low-rent girls, and the splatter only makes a short appearance. Just time-wasting trash.

Black Holes  
Italian piece of absurdist fluff that tries to be too many things and ends up being none. There's this guy who dyes his hair blond and is considered a homosexual except the evidence on that is nowhere to be seen. He develops a very odd relationship with a female hooker, especially while she services her clients. She manages the local street hooker club, each of the women bemoaning her own tragedy, some more bizarre than others (missing hands, aged body due to blocked menstruation). She falls for him, but he's too pre-occupied with his own whims to connect with anyone. There's a surreal dream sequence, strange ominous chickens, lots of sex, and an absurd magical finale. The characters make no sense and feel like mere cardboard cutouts for an absurd farce, the comedy is too fluffy and silly, and the light surrealism is an afterthought.

Black Sheep  
German trash comedy practically at the low level of John Waters and just as pointless, filthy and boring. Several parallel stories of various twisted groups of people are told as a so-called 'portrait of Berlin'. There's a con-man 'hand-model' tricking a girl, a hotel, and then the insurance company with self-inflicted violence against his hand. Some overly horny and filthy-mouthed teenagers going for everything and anything that crosses their path. A psychopath who pimps out his own wife. A couple of other random losers and their stories, and last but not least, a Satanist and a goth-boy who are convinced they have to perform a sexually perverse ritual on their comatose grandmother. Filth, coprophiliac humor, perverts, losers and more losers. Is this really Berlin?

Blackwater Fever  
Painfully slow experimental film. A man is driving through deserts and many long roads. He hallucinates, urinates blood, seems to have a fever, strange random scenes of soldiers, atrocities, violence, death and war appear in the corner of his eyes but are ignored even though they increase in visibility, he has problems with his eyes, and he hangs out with his girlfriend. This takes up the whole movie until the ending, when the director first shows a scene of his girlfriend being raped, bringing it closer to home, then decides to use a crowd of real cripples and sick people and threw his actor amidst them until he breaks down and cries. The message about humanity is obvious, emotionally-based, intellectually poor, terribly preachy, bleeding-heart and condescending without saying anything new. I may have spoiled the movie for you, but I see it more as saving you from this dreary experience.

Blind Beast  
Japanese psycho-sexual drama about a blind man who is obsessed over his sense of touch and female body parts. He takes up sculpturing and massaging until he finds the perfect model woman whom he kidnaps and persuades to model for him. His mother helps. Things deteriorate when the model manipulates them against each other and they both get obsessed over their tactile senses to the point of extreme masochism. A potentially interesting concept and movie but the ideas are crudely hammered into you until you lose interest and the sudden decline into twisted masochism is forced and unconvincing. A pioneering and unusual pinku with strange obsessions and bizarre set designs.

Blood and Sex Nightmare  
Limp Friday the 13th type slasher with sex. A spiritual, frigid Japanese girl and her frustrated boyfriend check into a sex resort with a creepy caretaker and a bloody killer. Most of the killings are off screen, yet it suddenly delivers scenes of penis slicing and some lame intestines. The sex is weak as well, with plenty of nudity and one deviant scene featuring two guys playing dad and mom to a girl. All mediocre, weak and dull; Needs some balls.

Blood Beat  
One of those artsy supernatural horror movies like 'Don't Look Now' or 'The Shout' where the inexplicable is an integral part of the horror. Except that this one is also odd and incoherent. A family of deer-hunters is visited by a malignant supernatural force of some kind that takes on the shape of a Samurai warrior for an inexplicable reason. The mother has discomforting psychic powers, one of the guy's girlfriends has mysteries of her own, and the rest of the family may have latent powers as well. People start turning up dead, the girlfriend may or may not be possessed, gyrating sexually while spiritual forces attack, and the psychic battle climaxes in glowing colors. The movie is unrewarding and explains nothing, and the climax falls apart into silliness.

Blood Ranch  
I can no longer hope to count how movies I've seen where some amateur film-makers pick the backwoods horror genre just for the chance to act like demented, sadistic freaks. I guess this role could be fun for some people. This is yet another of those movies, except it looks like a dozen people wanted in, so they expanded the demented family. The first forty minutes are dull except for the British Iraqi war veteran character who joins in with the cliched troupe-of-teenagers-on-a-road-trip. Once they encounter the locals though, it turns into a hunt and psycho fest with one of each: There's only one gore scene, one or two torture scenes, one cannibal scene, one rape, one dinner scene, and so on. Freaks include a transvestite midget that likes being sodomized, a human dart board, a giant mute, a cat-mask-wearing retard, a demented old man, and a couple of inbred rednecks.

Blow Job  
Cavallone messy oddity filmed after Blue Movie. A supernatural horror movie cum mystical psychological thriller. A deadbeat couple in a hotel, an introvert and a horny wench, witness a girl falling to her death from the window, starting a series of events that keep getting stranger and stranger. They encounter a mysterious lady with supernatural powers, are taken to a villa where the witch places curses on them, enjoins him to expand his mental and spiritual horizons with a bunch of mystical gobbledygook, and he finds himself taking part in confusing seduction and dance rituals and in two places at the same time. The original title of 'Naked Witch' seems more appropriate although there may be more pornographic versions out there. Time-wasting nonsense.

An odd, artsy movie starring Burton and Taylor, directed by Joseph Losey and written by Tenessee Williams but is so over-the-top and strange in its approach that it becomes off-the-wall camp. Taylor is all melodrama and bitchiness, a demanding, insane, sick and slowly dying, filthy-rich tyrant of an island populated by servants, that shoot attempting visitors and which is guarded by a sadistic midget with a troupe of vicious dogs. Burton is a wandering poet nicknamed the Angel of Death due to his penchant for visiting older women who promptly die. He risks life to get on the island and see her, supposedly bringing death with him but he is now pitted against the might of Elizabeth Taylor in all her bitchy glory who is looking for a lover. Endless rhetoric and melodrama follow, full of off-the-wall literary dialogue that does nothing but strut and pomp, while the costume designer goes bonkers and dresses them up as Samurai warrior, Kabuki performer, or Indian native. No wonder John Waters liked this mess.

Born For Hell (AKA Naked Massacre)  
Deeply disturbed, dissociative Vietnam vet stops in Ireland on the way home and invades the home of 8 nurses, playing strange games with them, behaving gently while forcing them to strip, dance, etc. then unexpectedly killing them. Some potential is shown as a psychological study but half of the movie is occupied with the abuse and nakedness of the nurses. Doesn't even cut it as an exploitation movie however, as it can't decide whether to hold back its nastiness or not. In other words, neither here nor there.

Boys Don't Cry  
A dumb treatment of a true story. A woman with a sexual identity crisis thinks she's a man and dresses up like one to the point of stuffing penis-shaped objects down her pants. She hits on girls, hangs out wildly with the guys, gets into fist fights, steals cars and shoplifts, lies about everything (not only her gender), and then wonders why she keeps getting in trouble. And this movie then had the balls (sorry) to say that she is a hero that had the courage to be what she is (and got killed for it). How much courage does it take to follow your dumb impulses and deny reality? Her subsequent rape and death by the sick rednecks she was lying to were not in the least surprising or shocking. The director's and critics' worship of this dumb woman is more shocking than anything in the movie.

Boxing Helena  
David Lynch's daughter tries her hand at dark subject matter and fails. The concept is good, but the plot details, the acting and the directing are crudely obvious, one-dimensional and immature. The story is about a wimpy doctor obsessed with an egotistical shrew of a woman until he practically stalks her. When she gets in a bad accident near his house, he amputates her legs in his own house, then later her arms to keep her under his care. The symbolism of putting her on a pedestal as a limbless statue to look up to is used again and again. This is tied psychologically in Freudian fashion to his promiscuous, cold-hearted mother. A waste of a good concept and Misery did the prisoner bit much better.

Breakfast of Aliens  
Annoying and odd sci-fi comedy about a fat, gentle-hearted moron with dreams of being a comedian who swallows some alien green goo in his breakfast and becomes an obnoxiously bad comedian with a bad attitude who has violent outbursts involving green lightning bolts, some gore and goo, shocking his friends and neighbours. The movie is full of color like the bull-headed landlord, his gay house-mates, Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds does a turn as the husband of the love interest, there's a midget pizza man, a strikingly made-up blonde with straight lines everywhere, and a few others. Every fantasy or fear in his head becomes a mildly surreal interlude, and everyone acts way over-the-top. Crude, loud and dumb weirdness.

Breeding Farm  
A really bad, home-made American version of a Pinku with girls being abducted and bred in a house for a wide variety of purposes. Some are auctioned off, some eaten by ordinary white-collar cannibals, some bred to serve as a horse, some used for breeding babies, etc. There even one torture-gore scene thrown in for good measure, making this breeding house one very confused house indeed in terms of its business goals. With one or two exceptions, the acting is absolutely dire, production values are home-made, there is no sense of realism, and even the titillation is bottom of the barrel.

Cannibals, The  
An oddity from Manoel de Oliveira. Taking a page from Bunuel's book, he makes fun of the upper class using their own preoccupations, in this case opera. A movie-opera where every line is sung, telling a tale of love, romance, jealousy, a dark secret and sudden violence. A woman intends to marry a strange Viscount while a jealous lover causes trouble. On the wedding night, a bizarre and grotesque secret is revealed, and in a sudden fit of surrealism, the guests turn into animals and resort to cannibalism (costumes and play-acting only). You may enjoy it more than I did if you like opera.

Cars That Ate Paris, The  
A man and his brother fall into the hands of a town in Australia that lures travellers into a crash zone and then strips the car wrecks and dead bodies for profit. One brother survives and is adopted by the town, while he develops a fear of driving and is put to work at pointless jobs. The local youth are acting up however and smashing property and cars in a destruction derby, until violence erupts. A cult movie that is so offbeat and nonsensical, it obviously is trying to say something symbolic. But what exactly? Whatever it is, it may have to do with consumerism, wild youth, repression and conformist, dull lives. Uninteresting.

Celebration in the Botanical Garden  
Wacky Slovakian movie with touches of magical realism and plenty of confusion. This is a portrait of a village where everyone is hyper and manic depressive, shifting from elation to weeping to anger on a whim or over every little thing, but the next minute they shrug it off, and its gets annoying. The village is like a carnival and the movie is chaotic, with a local band playing music in the streets, giggling girls everywhere in short skirts climbing on roofs, walking tightropes and teasing everyone, men flirt, laugh, weep over graffiti that accuse them of being cuckolded, many abortive attempts are made at proposing marriage, soldiers march, there's a festival, charming village traditions, a foreigner arrives to stir things up further, there is a lot of artsy and nonsensical dialogue, and occasionally, something magical happens like flying men or instantly changing weather. An unrewarding frolic.

Code Blue  
This one takes a page out of the book of La Pianiste, except it seems to focus more on sleazy shocks than any compelling character study. In fact, the character makes no sense. A rail-thin nurse practices euthanasia with her patients whether they asked for it or not. Something is straining inside her, as she attacks a supermarket cashier for 80 cents, lusts for strangers' crotches on the bus, and watches a rape, then goes back to the site to collect a used condom. When her sleazy neighbour makes moves on her, there's an endless parade of nastiness, but by then, the shocks just crawl-by drearily and leave the characters miles behind.

Cold Dog Soup  
One of those movies that tries too hard to be quirky and odd but ends up being dumb and forced. Obviously inspired by After Hours, this one features some dude who hits on a strange but hot girl at the gym, only to get invited to a very strange date at her mother's house, which soon leads to a surreal night. Her mother's dog dies, and he is sent on a mission to bury the dog along with the dog's favorite toys, but Randy Quaid in hyper-weird mode comes along and convinces him to try to sell the dog. What follows is a bizarre night with paranoid Hasidim, muggers on buggies, Chinese restaurant owners, voodoo priests and transsexual auctioneers. Despite the odd entertainment factor, it only gets dumber with every scene and the payoff is non-existent.

Comic, The  
What a terribly tedious movie. The introduction tells of a future-dystopia of diseased men, then the movie forgets this was ever said. Instead we get a padded out story of a comic who kills his competition, is haunted by his victim, falls for a boring drugged-out prostitute, fights with her for no apparent reason, has a daughter who is whisked away after seconds of screen time, has a nasty breakup and goes to jail, etc. Every milestone in the story is stretched out with moody sound, confusing jumps in narrative, overuse of smoke machines, and some dreary surreal scenes involving a psychic, something about extracting gooey stuff out of his girl's stomach, and other odds and ends. Too painfully dull to watch.

Extremely tiresome experiment by Moodysson that features random silent footage of a fat hairy transvestite, his inner woman who appears as a separate entity whom he carries while she takes care of him, various other people and their activities filmed in Chernobyl. During these 70 minutes, we get a whispery female voice rambling endlessly about gender identity, celebrities, pregnancy, body-parts, body-care products and ingredients, whiny self-obsessed rants and depressions, etc. If this chaos is supposed to be a stream-of-consciousness, then the character is definitely psychotic. But a possible interpretation of the movie is the body as a container for external floods of information and identities. This empty shell takes on different genders, celebrity lives and gossip, commercial jingles, fearsome news events, or the body taken over by a baby, all of which is critically disconnected with the mind and soul. Either way I found it uninteresting and a chore to sit through.

Conversation with an Alien  
Obscure sci-fi oddity made bizarre by its incoherency which is most likely due to incompetence. The look and feel is computer game graphics from the early 90s, and the tone is wacky camp with overacting actors in the roles of doctors and volunteers taking part in complex mind-control experiments that somehow involve an alien creature and space-ship. The scientists alternatively go insane, or squabble over various silly things like they are in some kind of absurdist office soap-opera, then perform confusing surgeries and experiments that are somehow dangerous, intercut with computer-game scenes of alien eyes, human brains, alien tentacles (with a syringe attached) and alien space-ships destroying everything in its path. A one-of-a-kind oddity, but I couldn't stand it.

Cries of Ecstasy, Blows of Death (AKA Sesso Delirio)  
Rare post-apocalyptic oddity without much a plot but it shows various strange groups of people either fighting and killing each other, or having lots of sex. There are some decadent sex-obsessed people living in transparent bubble tents, some mobile killer-rapists, warriors with bows and arrows, others with guns and gas masks (which they keep taking off and putting back on), and out of nowhere comes martial art fights. As an added bonus, it boasts blatantly stolen footage and soundtracks from other movies.

Cypress Creek (AKA Lake Fear)  
Possibly the most annoyingly incoherent and incompetent horror movie ever made. Four young rebellious girls go 'camping' in a remote cabin in the woods. After that, the whole movie is just a series of completely random hellish encounters with various creatures and horrors. Seemingly inspired by American Horror Story, the approach here is to just keep piling on scores of horror cliches and rip-offs from the horror genre, blend it in a salad, and bombard the audience with a visual-audio 'nightmare', although it's not clear towards what purpose. It never disorients nor horrifies, and there is no immersive experience, since your brain is too confused to even care about what is going on. It's billed as a comedy except there is nothing that could even be remotely understood as funny. The soundtrack is a cacophony of completely random sounds that only manages to stand out from the movie as a completely separate annoyance. The dialogue is warped and drowned out so it is impossible to understand half the time, and the rest of time it never makes any sense, just like their behaviour. There isn't even any continuity between scenes.

This feels like one woman's therapy, daddy-issues and diary converted into a semi-crude, kinky art-film. She recreates the taboo games and molestation she got from her father, especially during their blind-man games; She rants, confronts, titillates, fantasizes, and abuses her father in a Dominatrix role, both fantasizing and venting about what she went through, part of her admiring, but mostly hating her father. She brings a young girl as well as a young woman to tease and titillate her father before abusing him, as well to recreate the exploitation. There is a lot of symbolism, but much of it is crude, mixing death and phallic objects with religious objects and paternalism, literally attacking the symbols with weapons, humiliations and abuse. This may sound interesting, but I found it too personal and crude, like watching someone's psychological venting session.

Dark Hours, The  
Contrived Canadian blend of home invasion and reality-bending psychological thriller. A cold psychologist that reviews criminal cases has a developing tumor which causes her to have strange episodes involving her various senses. When an ex-patient invades her vacation home to stir up things and play sadistic games, various truths threaten to painfully emerge. The whole thing feels contrived and predictable though, with the lead actress playing everything way too detached to make us care, the twists and plot layers don't really help each other, and the sudden bursts of sadism, violence and gruesome self-mutilation never feel authentic or deserved, only shoe-horned in for shock value. In other words, the character work and casting here is too weak.

Some teenagers break into an derelict insane asylum and discover a strange, tied-up, living-dead girl. Their hormones make them do depraved things with her, keeping their treasure tied up for entertainment, but as more and more teenagers get involved in the secret, things get out of hand, and the sense of nihilistic power grows, making them take things further into murder and other twisted schemes. As a concept, this has potential for a horror movie, but the terrible writing sinks this one: The lack of an explanation for the living-dead girl is not the problem, but the inconsistency is. She behaves differently in different circumstances according to the writers whims and necessities of the plot, her bites affect women and men differently for no reason, all of the teenagers are despicable weak-willed moral vacuums, the physical state of her body and flesh makes no sense, and the plot devices are contrived.

Dead Man  
Jarmusch's strangest movie about an accountant who travels to the wild west in an endless train journey after being promised a job, and encounters a variety of strange characters including an unfriendly tycoon who talks to his stuffed bear. After a violent lovers' quarrel leaves him with a bullet in his chest, he wanders in the wild with a very eccentric Native American while being chased by killers, one of which ate his parents. Other characters on his journey include Iggy Pop in drag doing his version of Deliverance. Creative, sometimes haunting, eccentrically amusing, but the plodding pace, pointless writing, extremely annoying guitar soundtrack and unrewarding ending make this worthless.

Deadman, The  
Georges Bataille may have some philosophical writings under his belt, but the stories of his I read were basically mostly pointless smut and extreme transgressive filth, with occasional snippets of provocative metaphors, creative words and imagery. But even these snippets seem to get lost in film adaptations inspired by his work, the worst example being the 'experimental' fetish-gay-porn flick "Story of the Eye" which is a complete waste of time, and the French "Ma Mčre" that tried and failed to extract an interesting taboo-breaking sexual story out of his novel. And then there's this one: A half-length B&W flick (based on his short story "Le Mort"), mostly focusing, once again, on the dominant trashy aspects of his story. A woman has an emotional breakdown after her husband dies, which, in Bataille's terms, means a wild night of depraved sex, urine and vomit with trashy characters. Some intertitles inject occasionally colorful snippets from his writing, and the ending turns somewhat surreal with a short and all-too-late musing on death as related to despairing and frantic sex.

Death and the Compass  
A confusing, muddled, disjointed, convoluted mess of a movie by Alex Cox. A detective thriller set in a strange and undefined place and time full of odd characters, criminals in bizarre masks with a distorted voice box for a voice, mystical and supernatural events, and completely chaotic costumes and colors. Strange murders grab the attention of an unconventional detective who tries to put together geometric, mystical and Kabbalistic clues (all nonsense) in order to stop the next murder. This narrative is split into three time frames, one during the actual events, one told from the future in a mumbling and incoherent narrative, and confusing and bizarre snippets of the past shown in black and white. Nothing works here; An ordeal to sit through, and the twist ending makes the whole mess even more pointless.

Swiss entry into the backwoods horror genre. This one follows the life of a boy from early childhood as he is kidnapped by some Satanic cannibal bisexual pedophile transvestite serial killers, and brought up to think like them. A lot of the movie consists of sudden deaths in the forest and pretty gory cannibalization, some locals trying to track the killers down while the Satanists send their boy to school only to have him kill the headmaster on his first day. The movie tries to cover a lot of ground, with some bizarre reading of poetry after a transvestite is killed, thoughts on good vs. evil, a priest on a quest, and an epilogue following the life of the boy after the events in the movie. But it is all rather amateurish, offering only demented performances rather than horror.

A modern psychedelic homage/throwback to the early 70s and the days of atmospheric Jean Rollin movies. It's even got a blatant homage to Rollin with a half-undressed girl posing next to an old clock. There is no story, only a background setup for a series of images and visual performances. There's a vampire society amidst humans regurgitating a white drug with which to enslave the humans. There's a girl, several strange rituals, and lots of color filters, superimpositions, psychedelic camera-work, ambient sounds, spaced-out photographic subjects, colored contact lenses, random acid-induced statements in the soundtrack like "aggression is misleading", and the staging of regular urban locations as "The Mute Room" or "Street of Weeping Houses". Unfortunately, the movie is only interested in its psychedelic effects and not on any story or characters. The director followed this up with many many more similar atmospheric non-movies or collages that are basically a collection of psychedelic scenes of women in 'horror' situations or acting out the director's whimsical non-cohesive visual imageries, all of which don't really merit further review since this same review applies to all of them (only with different random imagery). See Honorable Mention.

Dumb and very silly comedy from Portugal about an over-the-top innocent and dumb football star, and the governments, conspiracy plots and family that try to exploit him. When he plays, huge fluffy puppies appear in the football field, there are naive refugee fantasies and semi-surreal visions, a cloning conspiracy straight out of a cheesy sci-fi b-movie, twin evil sisters, man-boobs, a ridiculous plot with a lesbian working undercover as a man, and throwaway pseudo-satirical jabs at Trump and Brexit. OK, so it sounds more fun than it actually is.

Diary of a Shinjuku Thief  
Haphazard Japanese experiment that is obviously trying to copy the free-wheeling French New Wave of the time with Godardesque inter-titles, cinematography hijinks, and a jazzy improvisational structure that goes beyond whim into annoying and non-didactic randomness. Seeing as the New Wave was supposed to be about personality, cloning is a bad idea. This loose 'film-diary' revolves around a strange book thief, his encounters with a girl who seems to like him but also reports him to the eccentric store-keeper, his sessions with a sex-analyst, male discussions on sex, a quirky musician, links between theft, books and orgasms, rape, breaking into a book-store to read about and experiment with sex, random meditations on women, kabuki, musical interludes, and other strange odds and ends. Artsy interpretations suggest drawing parallels between books, what we know, possess or steal from others, and what we are through human connections and our perception of our significant others, etc. but this is largely an uninteresting and unrewarding improvisation.

Team-America type of claymation where the top billing goes to juvenile scatological humor. It's a spoof on Armageddon from start to end. An asteroid is about to destroy Earth, so they gather a small team of misfits to save the Earth. There are claymation splattery deaths, boobs, farting, masturbation humor, poop, plenty of racial stereotypes, some of them funny, lots more farting, a Captain Kirk character that adds some laughs, farting, a smattering of Naked-Gun type amusing jokes, and lots more boobs, poop and farting. In other words, I laughed a bit, but overall it was simply too juvenile.

Divine Intervention  
Palestinian absurd satire on the status of the Israel-Palestine conflict. A Santa Clause of the West bearing gifts is immediately dispatched with a knife to the chest by some youths in a surreal opening. This is neither a happy land nor a place influenced by the West. The rest of the movie builds a portrait of anger amongst the Palestinians using comical vignettes. Neighbours throw garbage at each other or blow up kids' footballs, Arabs are humiliated in absurd ways by soldiers made into caricatures. In one funny scene, a policeman uses a bound and gagged prisoner to give directions to a tourist, an Arafat balloon floats past the panicked guards at a border to the ex-site of the Jewish Temple, and in a silly action fantasy, tanks are blown up with an apricot pit and synchronized trigger-happy men are obliterated by a Palestinian female ninja armed with Islam. For every amusing point about an absurdly violent and hateful society, there are three points of thinly veiled propaganda and the same old Palestinian whining while refusing to take any responsibility on themselves.

Dog Days  
Austrian slice of ultra-realistic depression, portraying a bunch of really broken characters doing horrible things to each other and to themselves. As such, it deserves to be on equal billing as Happiness, except it is possibly even more pointlessly downbeat. These characters sometimes cross paths in this movie, but mostly they are just observed by the camera in documentary style, the realism frequently reaching pornographic levels. There's a dependent older woman who is constantly abused and humiliated by her lover, and a mentally-deficient girl who hitch-hikes all day and talks her mouth off until she is kicked out of the car by annoyed drivers. There's a separated couple grieving over their dead child and their broken marriage via cheap affairs. A salesman is pressured to track down a vandal, and instead just brings in a scapegoat for punishment. A beautiful young stripper is constantly abused by her violent jealous boyfriend, and an old man pressures an old woman to dress in his ex-wife's clothes and strip for him. Miserable.

Dry Blood  
A terrible movie on many levels. It doesn't know if it wants to be a disturbing character study of a drug-addict suffering from hallucinations, or a movie about a deranged killer. The writer just inserts shocking scenes of violence without a care as to whether it fits with the character it started with, and together with the terrible acting, the movie and characters never make any sense. It features horror hallucinations but isn't a surreal movie. It features a couple of disturbing splattery kills (good effects) but it's not a gore movie either. The shocks feel extremely undeserved and shoe-horned in. It just doesn't work on any level.

Earl Sessions, The  
The blurb says "Film about a superhero struggling with failure". What this actually looks like, is an experimental film-maker got ahold of a collection of home-made footage revolving around a fat loser who loves to play-act all kinds of fantasies, as well as random footage of his mentally challenged family and friends, and the film-maker then cut it up, spliced it together with random vintage TV footage in 'avant-garde' fashion, added eerie ambient sounds, and released this. It's like a reality-show made by trailer trash and edited by a film student to make a statement. There is footage of Earl in various costumes, often playing his favorite game of nurse which involves fake bloody special effects and 'erotic' games, as well as his family commenting on Earl in braindead fashion. This is spliced with old science-education TV footage, random vintage boobs, various bizarre found-footage and ambient sounds, and graphic footage of surgery. What was the point? Don't know, don't care.

End of the Wicked  
A Nigerian horror movie produced by a religious Christian cult that preaches about a phenomenon where children are controlled and possessed by evil forces turning them into witches, allegedly spreading real fear and havoc in Africa. This alone would get obscure horror movie fans to flock, but it's actually a very tedious, low-budget and incoherent version of Hong Kong supernatural horror flicks where someone gets cursed and matters escalate until the inevitable bizarre special-effect showdown between good and bad wizards. In this case we get Beelzebub leading a group of witches to commit evil, focusing mostly on a mother who curses her son to endless miseries and disasters, but also hopping between random curses and evil deeds on people whose relevance remains confusing. The English dialogue is so badly muddled and accented that it requires subtitles most of the time. Curses include stomach and back aches, sons dying, and warping a wife's face to cause hatred. But there's also a very bizarre scene with witch-children causing a platter of food to appear on a man's back, as well as laser-effect evil forces, witches morphing into animals, random family drama, nightmare-curses bleeding into reality like something out of Elm Street, a rapist mother-in-law with a demonic penis, strange evil gooey makeup, and so on.

Like a black fairy tale for depressed adults, this magical realist film just leaves a bad taste in your mouth and seems pointlessly cruel, camouflaging luridness with poetry and symbolism. Eréndira is a teenager who has been turned into a personal slave by her monstrous grandmother. When she burns down the house by mistake, her grandmother turns her into a popular prostitute to pay back her huge debt. All throughout the movie she remains passive and devoid of humanity, because she has no lines on her hand. Men line up even though she comes close to death, she is kidnapped by priests who also turn her into a slave, she is sent to develop a special relationship with a rich politician while wearing a locked chastity belt, a young man falls in love with her, finds he can make glass glow, and is willing to do anything for her, but unfortunately, the grandmother is indestructible like something out of a Roadrunner cartoon. The ending, like the rest of the movie, makes no sense, and nothing is heartfelt because it isn't remotely human or real. Probably symbolic of something or another, but the movie fails at every level so who cares.

Erotic Circus, The (AKA Orgy in the Psycho House)  
Early 70s grindhouse oddity that manages to tick all the grindhouse boxes without doing anything interesting. It is also supposedly only available in a cut form at 55 minutes. There are more strange creeps that you can shake a sticky stick at in this one, including an incestuous mother living in a farm, a very creepy mother's boy, an angry and dumb caretaker whose pastimes include 'planting' and raping then axing random girls. And then there are the visitors, a 'speed dealer' into S&M and his two girls. There is all manner of deviant sex to the sound of sitars, a story about monkey brains provided for entertainment, and suddenly it turns from Something Weird style erotica to a grindhouse slasher, with non graphic castration and chopping of body parts.

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues  
Sissy is born with freakishly huge thumbs and learns that, with her thumbs, she can control a life of hitch-hiking that is so powerful, it becomes mystical and supernatural. Her agent (John Hurt as a raging queen), wants her to do a commercial with whooping cranes and their elaborate sexual lifestyle. He also opens a ranch with cows and cowgirls, which is really a beauty retreat for older women. The cowgirls rebel, and Sissy, who fell in love with one of them, finds her loyalties torn. This may sound entertaining, but it is actually a horribly pointless, random and unfocused flick, that is somehow both silly and pretentious at once. One minute the rebellion is about the cows and the ranch, then it's about being a cowgirl and whatever it represents, then it's about feminism and the patriarchy, then it's a fight for whooping cranes and teaching them a new way of life with peyote. Keanu Reeves and his subplot are completely forgotten after the first reel. Dialogue and the narrative are full of pseudo-meaningful statements like "Be your own flying saucer. Rescue yourself.". In short, any meaning this movie may have had was lost somewhere between the peyote and sleeping under the stars.

Evil Eye (AKA Malocchio AKA /Eroticofollia)  
Disjointed, bizarre Italian occult-horror with a bit of everything and a whole lot of nothing. A playboy that hosts frequent orgies is plagued by dreams of a bizarre cult of naked people controlling his mind. Objects move, reality changes, and he commits murders... or does he? His visit to a psychiatrist and a hospital only makes things worse. His quest to to make his empty glamorous life less confusing results in more confusion, more murders that increase in their strangeness, and even his friends and a detective start witnessing elusive acts of violence that may not be there. A death by frog is particularly strange, but it's the disjointed collection of scenes that really start warping your mind. The twist ending is both poor and inevitable.

Excitement of the Do-Re-Mi-Fa Girl, The  
An odd early comedy from Kiyoshi Kurosawa, and another Japanese movie that feels inspired by the French New Wave. It feels like a loose spoof on college life, erotica and revolutionaries, featuring a simple, conservative girl having to deal with various crazies in her college. She has horny coeds, people having sex everywhere, performing strange experiments, declaring fickle love, a professor who is studying shame, some gun-crazy revolutionaries, and various other odd over-the-top discussions and activities that only students could get into. Haphazard and experimental but unrewarding.

Fantom Kiler 1, 2 & 3    
A series that is basically snuff porn in the guise of erotic slasher movies. A killer is on the loose slashing up super-sexy women who get naked for the most flimsiest excuses. To top it off, they pose sexily and seem to like it even while being cut up. The killings aren't particularly gory, but stylish. To its credit, it doesn't try to disguise misogyny and sexploitation like some giallos and it contains some wicked naughty and odd humor, albeit delivered terribly flat. Worthless as movies but will appeal to the perverse. You know who you are.

Far from the Apple Tree  
A young artist is taken under the wing of a mysterious older artist and is given free reign of her house full of secrets. As she works on finding her artistic voice, she is intrigued by a missing family member. Reality becomes dreamlike and confusing as her self-identity goes through a crisis. This one is very predictable, and very barebones in terms of a plot. There is very heavy use of dreams, editing tricks, filters, juxtaposition, many types of film formats, throwback psychedelia, and much wandering about in a dreamlike state, but there is zero surrealism. This is purely an experimental atmospheric film that makes use of 70s horror tropes, and a very simple one at that.

Fata Morgana  
Herzog's most experimental movie started as a sci-fi project in the Sahara, but the 'story' was dropped while filming random footage and artsy narration was added instead. Footage includes landing airplanes, desert, abandoned wreckage, dead animals, strange landscapes, naturalists and their favorite animals talking about uninteresting things, the locals posing for the camera, and a strange musical duet between a man on drums and goggles and a woman on piano, both creating the deadest music you've ever seen. All this is accompanied by a narration consisting of recitations of a tribal cosmology and accounts of creation, and some artsy meditations like "in Paradise, man is born dead". Herzog fans drool over the challenge and come up with various personal impressions, but I think it's just an experiment that completely fell apart but was stitched together like a failed Frankenstein monster and released anyways.

Fateful Findings  
A third movie from Neil Breen, the modern-day Ed Wood, and this one made him infamous and gave him a cult following. He makes two movies over and over; This one is a variation of his debut 'Double Down', and he will later revisit this as well in 'Twisted Pair' only in a sci-fi cyborg format, and with a very incoherent screenplay. The plot in all three involves Breen as a super-agent with powers to disrupt, destroy and hack anything, and he goes after the 'establishment' and their lies. Spiritualism and pseudo-new-age-mysticism combined with terrible film-making results in something that is almost surreal. There is magic afoot, a little box and childhood love that gives him super-powers, and a room with a strange book that would make Lynch giggle where he goes to in his dreams. Vain and preachy, as well as laughably bad, the acting would make 80s porno actors embarrassed. He basically takes all the movie cliches and corny lines and patches them together to make his movies, and delivers them like a bad porno. Some say this is so-bad-it's-good, I say it's just terrible.

Fat Shaker  
Here's my theory about this oddly braindead Iranian movie that is a failure on so many levels: Someone filmed an actual movie with a plot that involves a fat, abusive but clueless man who exploits his deaf-mute son and who tries unsuccessfully to exploit and steal money from young women. Most of the footage got lost, they re-filmed some scenes even though the actor had already shaved his beard, then they ran out of money, grabbed some footage that was previously thrown into the garbage of the editing room, spliced it all together, then released it as an 'art-movie' with a hidden message. The critics and audiences, not wanting to admit their time was wasted, wrote all kinds of reviews calling this 'surreal' and a metaphor, and mentioned some other random memorable scenes like the ones involving the fat man going through cupping and leach treatments while walking around in the same drunken stupor that he is permanently in during the rest of the movie. Not that this movie is surreal in the slightest (except for one scene that is as random as the rest of the movie involving a floating cigarette box and a turkey that walked into the set). Now, even though my theory is probably wrong, this is possibly the best description of the experience that you are going to get while watching this 'movie'.

Fight for Your Life  
A gleefully racist exploitation movie about a redneck convict who escapes and takes a black family hostage. Verbal abuse and various degradations flow thickly from both sides but is so over-the-top and often amateurishly acted, that it comes off as a cheap trick to get midnight audiences riled up. Although this movie's bark is worse than its bite, there are also surprising scenes of child murder and rape. Funny Games did this better.

Frankenstein's Bloody Nightmare  
Extremely incoherent low-budget, snail-paced, 'art'-horror with inaudible dialogue, making this an extremely painful tedious experience. The story is about brilliant young medical professional who loses his love and re-animates a corpse to murder people, collect their body parts and build a new body for his demented love. But don't expect gore or any kind of horror. This movie consists of some half-inaudible-half-boring dialogue and thinking aloud, many endless scenes of people doing nothing interesting accompanied by a strange soundtrack, and lots of cheap cinema effects (blurry images, negative images, and color filters), with the occasional strange behaviour, trippy incoherent images, and one perverted monster-fisting scene that comes out of nowhere.

Visually, this is one of the tamest serial killer movies there is since everything is off-screen. Except that eventually you realize that it is off-screen since all the kills may only be fantasies, and that only some bloody violence was indulged in as part of their masochistic routine. The narrators describe some very sick kills, tortures and body mutilations based on whims, which makes the movie verbally extreme. Except that these gay wannabe-killers and masochist victims are so lifeless, it really doesn't even matter to the audience whether they were really killed or not. Even the constant graphic sex in the movie may as well be necrophilia. So, basically, the movie is all about the portrayal of a bunch of gay men and one woman, who are all so bored and boring, they beat each other up on a whim just to see if they can get excited, and delve into S&M fantasies and images/fantasies of pseudo-dead people and grotesque kills and violence, except that this only makes them even deader inside. But don't be fooled that this is the message of the movie, since the movie itself has nothing to say. So basically we have a serial killer movie without kills, a gay sex movie with boring sex, and a character piece with boring characters. No wonder it caused a controversy when it came out.

Frozen Flesh  
The font used for the five title screens displayed for 3 whole minutes made me reminisce on all the old computer games I used to play. Then this movie made me watch a candle and faucet for 5 minutes and I was devastated by the deep symbolism. From then on my mind was entranced and hypnotized as I watched a pot of water boil, my emotions slowly working themselves up with the water. And then came the preparation and marination of a dismembered hand for 20 minutes and the full horror of this movie hit me. Then the masked killer makes an appearance after 35 minutes, and ten minutes later starts brandishing a knife and stabbing the air in ultra slow motion for 70 minutes and that's when this movie completely warped my mind, evoking feelings of trance-induced psychotic rage at people in general. The casio-music played by a disturbed child only added to the brain-damage. Truly a disturbing masterpiece and highly recommended. The director also made the action-packed Evil Spirits, except that one is totally different since it is blue whereas this one is red.

Gandu (The Loser)  
Bengali weird rap comedy with drug hallucinations and pornographic sex. That description alone can draw in an audience, but there's not much here beyond the gimmick and energetic editing style in B&W. A loser lives off his mother's sleazy lover, even stealing from him while they are having sex. He dreams of being a professional rapper, having sex, and winning the lottery, and he befriends a rickshaw dude that idolizes Bruce Lee. All this leads to split-screen rap videos and various street antics while he tries to break free of his loser life, and ends up in drugs. In his hallucinative drug trips, a local woman turns into the goddess Kali, a colorful and very willing girl has sex with him, he raps about masturbation, and the director of Gandu appears to make a movie about him, but incestuous and homosexual images occasionally pop in to shake him out of his imagined heaven.

Qaushiq Mukherjee AKA Q (of Gandu fame) once again proves that he has nothing to say and is only interested in directing trash. This movie created an uproar over its alleged attack on right-wing Hinduism, politics and misogyny in India, but under the controversy there is really nothing here and if people would ignore their brainless triggers for a moment they would realize they are wasting their time getting worked up. Rami is a stupid angry woman who had a cheap threesome and is very upset over men after a video of her escapade was uploaded to social media. Phanishwar is a stupid taxi-driver fanatically following a Hindu guru to the point of sucking him off. He also keeps a slave mute woman chained in his house while watching porn on social media and uses social media to spread propaganda. After a few trashy and completely pointless lesbian encounters, Rami decides to get her revenge that is so extreme, it turns into laughable trashy torture-porn mixed with feminist rape-revenge fantasies that only a man can come up with. Cutting, menstrual blood, strap-ons, iron-torture and testicular cancer combine for a nasty last third. Both of the characters are so laughably over-the-top, insane and one-dimensional, the movie never even manages to make a single point of interest to anyone. If anything, this movie demonstrates that Feminism has become a mad rabid dog.

General Massacre  
A crude anti-war oddity written, directed and acted by one guy. The main character is a general by the name of Massacre who is under trial for war crimes and during which he gets to rant and rave on his soap box about his ideas of superiority, strength, how war is natural and justified etc etc. Cut with this trial is his personal life where we learn of his murder of his wife and his sick relationship with his daughter while he runs around training a soldier in the local woods and shooting down cows (for which this movie was banned). Very odd atmosphere, bad acting.

Gentlemen Broncos  
Hess goes off the deep end with his off-the-wall 'humoristic' approach to awkward nerds that he started with Napoleon Dynamite, and makes this awful trash. It's like some retarded juvenile jock's view of how sci-fi-obsessed nerds think, writing stories about 'Lords of Yeast' chasing their severed gonads and making war using their assorted body parts and fluids. There is a plot about a young writer who finds out that a famous novelist stole his story, but this film is more interested in its assorted group of retarded 'nerds' that have no semblance to reality, including a narcissistic girl and odd gay film-maker who makes the most terrible movies one can imagine. In between, we get snippets of stories involving flying stuffed battle-reindeers with weapons in their butt, random cyclops, laser mammaries, and copious references to testicles and sperm. It hasn't gotten anything close to the minimal brains required to be a surreal or absurd movie; this is just insultingly retarded strangeness.

Glen or Glenda  
Ed Wood's infamous bad cinema making reaches some kind of nadir with this pseudo-documentary on transvestites. His laughably bad, pretentious dialogue and artistic flourishes at times border on the surreal, and here they cross the border, although unintentionally of course. The movie consists of Bela Lugosi as a Greek Chorus who comments on things unrelated to the movie (green dragons, 'Pull the String!', etc) while men are shown to wear female clothing because their male clothes are rough and their hats close off circulation to the head. While fondling his fiance's sweater and racked with guilt for not telling her his secret, he has nightmarish visions concerning the devil.

Gorno: An American Tragedy  
Taking a page from the book of Gummo, this low-budget flick starts with plotless pieces in the lives of some trashy, screwed up teenagers. They perform lame Satanic rituals, dress up like Marylin Manson, discuss the brutal murder of one of their friends, do drugs, pretend they're gangsta rappers, buy blood from a butcher because they are vampires, talk about conspiracies and racist ideas they get off the internet, have sex with a crack whore and rape a drugged girl at a party, etc. But then this becomes a more standard Larry Clark movie by way of a slasher about someone going on a murdering rampage and the disinterested or twisted reactions some documentary makers get when they try to talk to these teenagers as they go about their stupid lives. This one is not as shocking as it thinks it is nor is it creative enough to be really twisted.

Gory Gory Hallelujah  
Despite the title, this is not a gory movie. It starts like a bad joke: An angry black man, an angry feminist, a Jew, and a bisexual hippy, all apply for the role of Jesus in a play. There's a not-so-funny punchline, then they go on a road trip and soon fall prey to a hillbilly town full of hypocritical religious nuts. That is, after they have a bar-fight with a bar full of Elvis impersonators. There's a lot of kangaroo court-room shenanigans with hidden motives, and they are each taken prisoner and sent to the care of one wacko villager after another. There's a feminist lesbian cult, sodomizing hillbillies, religious freaks and horny daughters, and a surprise zombie-apocalypse-musical brought on by a divine phallus. However, it's all very obnoxious and broadly-drawn camp with over-acting that is too crude to offer laughs.

Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael, The  
Bad Gaspar Noe wannabe that tells the tale of a gifted young man who gets involved with the wrong group of adolescents, experiencing drugs, violence, crime and rape straight out of a Larry Clark movie, all leading to the nasty finale where something shakes loose and he commits the most vicious and nasty acts on a rich woman in her home in front of her husband. The psychology makes no sense, the acting is unconvincing, and editing nastiness together with references to war does not a meaningful movie make.

The first part of this movie looks and behaves as if the mindless Woke-people from Tiktok collected leftover costumes and props from a gay pride parade and made a dystopian sci-fi movie. At least, we hope it's a parody or a dystopian movie and isn't taking itself seriously. Except that it's so nonsensical that I got a headache trying to figure out how the world works. This world is based on 'love', not only genders have been banned but also species, and teens are regularly mated with trees and produce rabbit offspring based on spit. And this is while 'Felist' gangs violently fight against 'SLAVE' gangs, each of which have the most confusing non-ideologies, and the most nonsensical game shows run constantly in the background. Then we are shown other worlds and people behind this Greatland and it looks like it's about to make sense, then it becomes even more chaotic. Oberst makes a weird cameo as a bug-loving 'Philanthropist', and the more characters appear, the more confusing it gets. I think this is a Woke attempt at a Black-Mirror-style satire on Woke people that go too far, but I can't be sure as nothing makes sense. To say I hated this movie would be an understatement.

Half-length experimental strange movie that, like Alphaville, creates a 'fantasy' movie out of everyday objects and people. As opposed to that movie though, this one doesn't really do anything interesting with it. There are some random people, most of them seem to be spies or agents of various acronyms and organizations, there are some thieves in frogman outfits, and another in a gorilla costume. They have random banal conversations, most of which seem to take place on an island, and they mention random magical properties of frogs, three of which are in silver and encased in a protective glass aquarium. There are hints of plots, revenge and double-crosses like the movie were flirting with a strange spy plot involving magical frogs, but it goes nowhere.

Gun Woman  
Another wacko Japanese movie that takes the b-movie staple of a trained female assassin and takes it to ridiculous extremes. In fact, the plot is so outrageous, you quickly realize how stupid it is, and the movie will never recover from that, despite its b-movie entertainment offerings. Assassins are discussing a legendary story of a doctor whose wife was killed by a psycho. The doctor came up with a 'master-plan' of revenge involving a trained woman who will sneak into a lair for necrophiles with hidden weapons, to get at the psycho in his only vulnerable situation. So he picks up a drug addict woman (ex-porno actress with no charm or personality) to use as a weapon. But why would a psycho who regularly kills women require necrophile services? And why can't alternate weapons be found instead of the ridiculous idea this movie came up with just for its gore and shock value, and what's so impossibly impenetrable about a couple of bodyguards? Not to mention the laughable science of blood loss, and an impromptu sex scene so silly you'll laugh out loud. Even b-movies don't have to be this stupid.

Hallelujah the Hills  
Weird, free-wheeling, energetic comedy from the US underground of the 60s. Two young guys both woo the same woman for seven years, and in the end she married a third man. They go to the woods to reminisce and shake it off. Since each one remembers her in a different way, she is represented by two actresses, and their escapades switch randomly between winter and summer. The whole movie consists of two movie-lovers goofing off, the cinematography paying homage to a dozen films and film-makers, including Godard, Kurosawa Keaton and Chaplin, each with their subtitles, style or intertitles. As they partake in various outdoor activities, they perform stunts, act as soldiers, Native Americans dancing the Hava Nagila, convicts complete with stripes and ball and chain, and so on. They shoot at imaginary strange people, run naked into a frozen lake, try to chop down a tree with a dozen girls in it, shoot holes in a frozen cake, twist each others nose in a nutcracker to compete for her love, and lots more, all with never-ending enthusiasm, recklessness and energy. This is one of those movies that were obviously a lot of fun for the film-makers, but, personally, I don't see the fun in watching two guys goof off for 80 minutes.

Hard to Be a God  
One of those art-house movies that is endlessly praised by critics and hated by audiences. It's an endurance test on many levels. An endless 3-hour movie that wears out its welcome after a few minutes. And yet the amount of work that was put into it is staggering and very visible on the screen making it a tragedy. This is medieval sci-fi allegory. It takes place on a alternate 'planet' that is still in the middle-ages, except the behaviour is not recognizable as anything human. A scientist is sent there to try to help things along without interfering and he is considered a god, except he is completely useless. This part of the story is only understood because of the narration at the beginning of the movie. The only other plot-point you can extract from 3-hours of endlessly pointless and confusing scenes is that there is a violent class uprising. The rest is just filth, mud, fecal matter, lots of random interactions between people involving random violent abuse of slaves and rubbing of body fluids on other people, random non-sequiturs as snippets of dialogue, more filth, random gory violence, random discussions of superstitions, diseases, abuse and misery, inbreeding filthy mutated 'aristocracy', more excrement and even more filth. For most of the movie I imagined this is what medieval society would look like if the humans were actually monkeys in disguise. Everything is filmed with staggering detail and long tracking shots despite the dense and random nature of the scenes and dialogue. This may be some kind of impressionistic cinema, except I got the (useless) impression within the first ten minutes, and then there were 170 more excruciating minutes to go, with no reward in sight.

Historias de Cronopios y de Famas  
Odd collection of 10 Argentinian animations based on a surreal book that supposedly contains ironic satirical vignettes and fragments on society and politics. Something seems to have gotten lost in the translation for the most part, as the stories themselves feel like half-finished, abandoned Monty Python sketches with too obvious messages and targets. Some cover the contrast between civilization and nature, ironic consequences of forceful political strategies, clashes of classes and types of people within society, and other odds and ends, such as a completely bizarre surreal segment about a cursed armchair and kids that have ravens for heads. The only aspect that may interest audiences are the very varied and artistic animation styles that cover a wide gamut of striking visual approaches, many of them adding layers of strangeness to the already odd story fragments.

Stylized, pretentious, art-house B&W ode to the city of Chicago in the form of a faux-period neo-noir as told through images and words. Several characters are introduced, including one Ernest Hemingway, and a missing, possibly murdered theatre owner provides the mystery. The detective obsessed with the case investigates, but only via scattered snippets of a plot that never coheres, the impression of a noir more important than the plot. A couple of surreal moments in the visuals include a pigeon coming out of a homeless man's mouth and a god-like hand over the city, adding to the impression of a dark graphic novel. Race issues and history are shoehorned into the proceedings in awkward ways just to give the movie 'social importance', and dialogue and scenes are described using on-screen text that over-use the thesaurus and litter the screen with pretentious non-sequiturs. The characters' sexual hangups are frequently explored, but this is not Guy Maddin's ode to Winnipeg though, as the humor is completely lacking, as is the structure, plot and vision.

Hope Lost  
There's a fine line between a dark, depressing, hard-hitting movie, and a movie that just demonstrates how sadistic the movie-makers are. When the evil characters in the movie pile on the sadism for its own sake even against their own business interests, that's one example of how a movie crosses the line. This is another horror movie about sex trafficking, featuring a bunch of brutal criminals that kidnap young women and force them to work as prostitutes using any method they can think of, including threatening to kill children, sodomy, random violence, and branding. But this isn't enough. They continually test and abuse their workers with useless tests, false hopes and random violence that only makes them more desperate to run and not work, then keep changing their plans to darker and darker things just so that the movie can keep raising the stakes. But it stops making sense so it doesn't evoke anything in the audience except disgust.

House by the Edge of the Lake, The (AKA Sensitivitŕ)  
Unusually incoherent Italian horror-smut even for Italians. A woman dies mysteriously at the lake containing a murderous bloody hand. Years later, her daughter comes back to research her death by sleeping with everyone in the village, only to be followed by a strange female voyeur who masturbates and causes the daughter to go comatose while her lover dies a horrible death. In the meantime, a blind girl spouts words of wisdom while playing with headless dolls, an axe murderer keeps appearing and disappearing, and hands come out of the ground or lake, and a witch is thrown in for good measure.

Humanoids from the Deep  
This one can't decide whether it wants to be a campy exploitative flick or a serious horror movie. Mutated monsters from the sea come out to party by tearing up dogs and men in gory ways, and mating with the women. Yes mating... as in rape of nude women by fish monsters which then results in a nasty birth scene. But the exploitation is brief, the gore is mediocre and the horror is cliched.

Hunters, The  
Another Theodoros Angelopoulos art-house movie that flirts with the surreal but is really just more heavy-handed symbolism. The subject here is the history of Greek politics since WWII, continuing the themes from his previous movie 'Travelling Players', exploring the relationship and conflicts between Fascists, Communists, Americans, internal political rivals and even some monarchists. A body of a murdered communist is uncovered during a hunt, and each of the troupe, representing a different faction of Greek politics, is allowed time to act out his role behind this dead body in symbolic, absurd and artistic ways, demonstrating their guilt, denial, anger, confusion and so on. The fact that this is a 'fresh wound as if it took place yesterday' is spelled out crudely, then repeated again and again. In between, there is a lot of singing and dancing, a camera that travels between time periods, long takes laden with symbolic meaning that beg cineasts to study camera placements and whatnot, and so on. A typical scene is where a woman acts out her sexual fantasy with the king in front of a crowd, complete with gyrations on the floor to an invisible monarch. It's as heavy-handed and dull as it sounds, it goes on forever, and if, like me, you don't know your way around Greek history, you won't come out of this clumsily pretentious work feeling enlightened.

Artsy Korean drama bookended by two surreal scenes, blending neurotic fantasy with psychological melodrama. None of the characters are believable and the movie just keeps piling on the melodrama with increasing miserable elements using choppy, difficult editing that you have to piece together yourself. A miserable shrink with a suicidal wife falls for one of his wacko patients for no particular reason other than that she's pretty, and slowly becomes more insane than she is. She is an intolerable drama queen with Borderline Personality Disorder who has a husband that is having an affair, and who can't stand her yet inexplicably decides to devote himself to her for years even though he is obviously not in love with her. The shrink retires but meets up with her and treats her on a personal basis, and has sex with her while she is hypnotized and telling tall dramatic tales of her second lover who may or many not be a fantasy. Features a shock-surreal-ending that comes out of nowhere, and the characters are never convincing, even when they are not fantasizing. At least the cinematography and people are pretty, but this is par for the course with Korean movies.

I Am Here... Now  
Neil Breen, the modern-day Ed Wood, got a reputation with this sophomore effort. If his debut was a laughably blatant vanity project, this one is beyond vanity: He casts himself as a cross between Jesus, a god, alien and cyborg, come back to Earth to fix his creation and undo the damage humans have caused. He even promptly steals someone's clothes like the Terminator even though he has godly powers. He basically only makes the same two movies over and over and this is the second. It's a preachy, liberal, anti-establishment, pseudo-mystical-supernatural nonsense with Breen as the godly being out to mass-destroy the evil humans and preach to humanity. He was to later take this to more extremes in 'Pass Thru', but here it is also a little more surreal, his other-worldly powers appearing in the desert as mystical doll-heads, crucifixes, and a cheap alien mask. But even this god is horny and gets to make out with all the actresses. As with all his movies, the acting would make 80s porno actors cringe.

Identikit (AKA The Driver's Seat)  
Elizabeth Taylor in an odd, career-killing movie that is basically the negative image of a giallo. A disturbed, shrill, annoying woman roams in Rome searching for her killer. She buys insanely colorful clothes, a knife, and goes to places she is sure will bring her to her killer, all in a surreal sense of pre-destiny. Features strange set designs and props, including a huge pile of chairs, and mannequins in silver foil. Unfortunately she keeps meeting the wrong, strange people: Andy Warhol gives her back a book, one tries to rape her, and another discusses his macrobiotic diet and his daily need of an orgasm while beans fall out of his pants and she insists on separating her diet and orgasms.

I'll Bury You Tomorrow  
Overlong horror movie about a small-town funeral home and the various strange and twisted people that are connected to it. One disturbed woman with a traumatic past and necrophiliac fantasies comes looking for a job restoring corpses, a jerk and his cross-dressing friend steal corpses for money, the owner's wife is an overly devout Christian with a disturbed mind, and other locals add colors to this movie. The writing manages to weave together many stories and twists, the acting ranges from bad to OK, there is some but not too much splatter, and overall, this is very forgettable stuff.

I'll Never Die Alone  
Argentinian remake of I Spit on Your Grave complete with an endless scene of nasty exploitative rape and then some violent revenge. This time it's about four women who vacation in the backwoods and come across some thugs who just shot a local girl, and there are many long shots of the girls where nothing happens, but otherwise, it's the same pointless exercise in nasty violence.

Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks  
Ilsa is back, this time in charge of a harem for an oil sheik. She collects the best girls from around the world, trains, disciplines and tortures them to serve the sheik, or fattens, implants silicone and improves them with surgery to be sold on the Arab market. When a girl infiltrates the harem as a spy and an American soldier comes to seduce the horny Ilsa, she finds that the tables get turned. Features various tortures, a foot eaten by ants, a vagina bomb that explodes during sex, castration, etc. but all in all, a much campier and less shocking sequel that is even entertaining in its sleazy way but will only to appeal to... well you know who you are.

In An Old Manor House  
Based on a play by Witkiewicz who theorized about and practiced 'pure form' theatre, where plays were disconnected from logic, naturalism or even symbolism. The movie takes place in an old manor house and is part nonsensical soap-opera, part ghost-story, part absurdism, part romantic and gothic theatrics. The step-mother is having an affair with several people, one of them being her own step-son. So the father kills her, they all shrug it off, she comes back as a ghost to wreck more of their love lives, and they basically shrug this off as well. Everyone is preoccupied with their own whimsical emotions and passions, deaths and suicides are always interrupted by financial reports on how well their prices are doing, young girls senselessly take poison, the ghost is killed over and over only to start another incestuous affair, and a new member of the family appears magically from under a tree. I would assume all this was symbolic of political parties in Poland, except I read that Witkiewicz didn't believe in this approach. There's a reason theatrics have bad connotations, and distilling theatre to its purest form is not necessarily a good thing.

In the Folds of the Flesh  
Ridiculously complex and twisted murder mystery that gets its bizarre atmosphere more from bad editing than from the trippy flashbacks and story. A woman lives with another insane woman who kills her lovers and may or may not be her daughter, as well as with a sadistic man who may be related. There is a corpse in the garden who any of them may have killed, a dead dog, some pet vultures and a strange man who claims to be the father who may or may not have raped the daughter. Well, you get the idea...

Intruder, The (Intrus, L')  
A frustrating, non-linear meditative portrait of a hard, lonely man in search of a heart. He lives in the wild, has a very dysfunctional non-relationship with his son who is a caring father, supposedly has another son in Tahiti after an old fling, has heart trouble and undergoes heart surgery. The movie isn't about plot however, but about mood, the inner imaginings of the heart and mind. Fantasy and dreams blend with reality to the point where you can't tell which is which. The man goes around the world in search of a son, another son, a ship, entertaining company, sex, comfort. He is hounded, probably in his mind, by Russian illegal organ transplant criminals who torture him as payment, leave a horrible scar and tell him he has an empty heart. Intruders in his body, his heart, his house, who he kills. The movie, despite its visual poetry, fails however because it doesn't add up to anything, neither logically, psychologically nor emotionally. Slow and unrewarding.

I Spit on Your Grave  
The infamous exploitation-revenge movie about a woman who gets brutally raped then kills her rapists violently and methodically one by one. The rape scene is explicit and goes on forever. Many would argue that this should be in the very twisted category but the fact is that it's too lame and obviously exploitative to be deemed twisted or disturbing. The characters, the acting, the plot and even her reactions were all unrealistic to the point where I felt no sympathy for her. Garbage.

Jar, The  
80s amateurish horror movie about a man who is involved in a car accident and takes home a strange injured old man. The old man disappears and leaves behind a jar containing a demonic creature. The rest of the movie consists of a jumble of hallucinations and dreams as the man goes insane, while his enamored neighbour girl tries to help him. Random acts of violence and apparitions appear to him, and he is transported to different places and times while his current life falls apart. The lighting and editing are bad, the acting is poor and overdubbed, and the hallucinations are just a random jumble without much imagination.

Killer Inside Me, The  
The reaction to this one reminded of the one for Straw Dogs, both of which present not only violence against women, but also women that enjoy it. Now, I normally make fun of people that accuse movies of misogyny, seeing as most of these movies either dole out equal or much more violence against men, or depict men more despicably, or at least use it in non-gratuitous ways. I thought Straw Dogs was perfectly justified since her behaviour fit her character. But this one may be one of the rare cases where I not only agree, but feel the writer himself is a sick man. The novel that the movie is based on is a notorious work by a notorious man (Jim Thompson). The movie is about a detached and polite psychopath in a small Texan town, and feels like neo-noir, except that it is told from his point of view. Casey Affleck gives us a thoroughly flat and unconvincing characterization with a grating narrative voice. He is a cop, commits brutal murders for the flimsiest excuses, even killing his own friends and lovers, and tries to cover his tracks. Everyone around him finds plenty of clues that point to him, yet, since they seem to be part of the writer's fantasy, overlook it just long enough to allow the misanthropic writer... I mean killer to continue his fun and end in a ridiculously over-the-top blaze of glory. There are only three women in the movie and all of them enjoy being abused, some even declaring their love while their face is being beaten to a pulp. That particular scene rivals Irreversible in its endless abuse. Yet, while the women get graphically beaten for minutes at a time, the male victims either get killed quickly or off-screen. Add all this up, and you should see why I reached my conclusions. The difference between this and, say, the hundreds of Pinkus with feature-length abuse of women, is that this one thinks its a real movie. Similar in several ways to the tamer, neo-noir "This World, Then the Fireworks" (also by Thompson) that features a pair of psychotic incestuous twins and another ridiculously masochistic woman.

Kill Them and Eat Them  
Extremely low-budget oddity about an all-powerful Company and renegade scientists who run off to develop their mutating gene project. They kidnap homeless people and convert them into Halloween-mask-wearing bloodthirsty mutants, and it all climaxes in violence when the megalomaniac assistant develops plans of his own, and some duct-tape gun-toting agents infiltrate the secret lab. The gore is minimal and only features cheap blood-splattering. The humor is so lame that it's funny but the cinematography and general experience is painfully bad.

Kiss & Tell  
Very loose indie comedy that reminded me of Robert Downey Sr. movies in its series of anything-goes vignettes and very eccentric humor. Unfortunately, it's not the funny kind of humor. The backdrop is a serial killer who kills with a poisoned carrot up the backside, and the three detectives that are on the case. But the movie is mostly a series of unrelated scenes involving the detectives following a nonsensical trail of dozens of eccentric characters and interrogating them, with their stories told in flashbacks. The only funny scene concerns a group therapy session of serial killers and one unexpected guest, and there's also a forensic surgeon with no arms who eats hot dogs with his face, and a bizarre 'lollipop-man' bald killer in bright yellow sporting a huge lollipop, but there are also two dozen more characters that barely even register with unfunny quirks and random eccentric behaviour, dialogue that is so sloppy it may have been improvised, and a structure that would give ADD victims a headache.

Knives and Skin  
Man-hating drama about very strange teenager and parent behaviour in a small town full of jerks, perverts and various insane people. The dialogue and behaviour are completely unnatural, and sometimes feel like the inner emotional narcissistic life of the characters coming out as words. Perhaps taking its cue from Twin Peaks, this story revolves around a missing girl and several local sexual tensions. But unlike Lynch, this has no mystery or bizarre dream logic, it's just empty-headed strangeness that goes nowhere and has no rhyme or reason. I wouldn't be surprised if Jennifer Reeder were somehow connected to Calvin, except in some ways, this is a feminist version of his pointless exercises. All guys in the movie are horny jerks or pervs, and the only welcome sexual advances are by lesbians, so, in one scene, it has them exchange gifts that they take out of their vaginas. Other elements include many musical scenes by a girl choir singing 80s pop songs in a very soul-dead manner for no reason. And obviously, you can't have a feminist movie without in-your-face menstruation art and obnoxious performance art.

Landmine Goes Click  
Georgian piece of cruelty with American actors, often compared to movies like I Spit on Your Grave only because it has extended rape and revenge scenes. The violence isn't anywhere as bad as that movie, but the psychological abuse is worse. And there's also an extra nasty twist that adds another layer of discomfort: Women are often abused only as an excuse for sadism against their men. The movie is just three extended scenes of shameless psychological sadism. There's a vicious revenge by an obnoxious cuckolded lover, a sadistic Georgian that is into bizarrely petty and cruel games and who may have seen Funny Games once too often, and a revenge finale where nice guys turn out to be even more insane and sadistic when pushed too far. Although the tension builds nicely at first, it soon wears out its welcome as it indulges in padded-out cruelty, and it's all quite pointless, only leaving one feeling dirty.

Last Exit to Brooklyn  
Gloomy and gritty depiction of life in a depressing urban setting with a collection of messed-up and very lost characters that learn nothing until the very end. There is a prostitute that lures men into the parking lot so that her associates can rob him. A boy falls in love with her but she can't allow herself to be loved and goes for gang rape instead. Then there is the closet homosexual who tries to come out but gets beaten up for his impulses with a young boy. And so on... Pointless melodramatic filthy misery.

Last Supper, The  
Japan does cannibalism in a surprisingly straightforward Hollywood-esque horror movie. A plastic surgeon develops a taste for women's flesh, first taking home disgusting liposuction leftovers, then growing more sophisticated after finding a human-flesh restaurant in Hong Kong like something out of Hostel, and finally learning to hunt for his own food. Restrained in its gore and uninteresting in its character study and story until the final twisted ending.

Legend of Crazy George, The  
A man's house is attacked by men in bunny and gorilla suits with axes, and this takes him on a weird road trip to meet Crazy George, who by all accounts is a very violent and scary fellow. He is passed on from one character to another, each with their own odd agenda and random acts of brutality, each charging him some money to take him one step closer to Crazy George. Some allusions to Alice in Wonderland, mild but twisted torture scenes, a slew of strange Southern characters, and some pretentious aphorisms, all not adding up to anything.

Life Is Cheap... But Toilet Paper Is Expensive  
An oddity made by an American Chinaman about Hong Kong. HK is portrayed as a collection of strange people, lifestyles and alien culture, half of the movie consisting of vignettes as the protagonist meets one strange person after another while trying to deliver a briefcase to the crime boss. A dancing Chinaman who thinks he's the Asian Elvis, an ex Red Guard, a woman who is labeled a 'chopping-block' after her lovers die, a whore who rants about what she is willing to do, bloody and brutal duck killing with the chef explaining why it's better this way, a very long shaky chase through the streets and alleys as they steal his briefcase, and a gross-out scatological punchline for an ending.

Little Deaths  
Horror anthology on the topic of kink and perversions. The first story reveals all its secrets at the beginning, then proceeds to tell the story anyways about a bored couple that, on the pretense of Christian charity, take home homeless girls to sexually abuse with a twist ending. The second is the bizarre and incoherent one on the topic of experimentation with drugs, selling your body for sex, huge penises used for science, and Nazi experiments. Don't ask. The third deals with a loving, loser guy coupled with a cartoonishly over-the-top bitch, their S&M relationship, and a twisted ending. All feel like adolescent attempts to shock without understanding what makes horror get under your skin.

Living Doll  
Yet another story about a man who falls in love with a corpse at a morgue only this one is tame and dull. When a girl whom Howard had a crush on shows up dead, he takes her home for some romantic living. The worms and rats that appear as she rots away don't seem to bother him, but hiding her from his friends and landlord becomes more difficult. There is no Nekromantik sickness here and the gore is minimal but the ending climaxes with a couple of strange twists.

Love Camp 7  
The first Nazi-sexploitation picture that inspired the wave of much more nasty releases in the 70s (e.g. Ilsa) and a wave of boring soft-core exploitation clones, mentioned here only as a pioneer of this nasty genre. Relatively tamer, but with the same sleazy and unforgivable subject matter: naked, sexy women in Nazi camps submitted to rape, degradations and punishments. In this case, two British women even volunteered to go into the camp as spies.

Love Movie, A  
Another highly-stylized, pretentious, experimental movie by Júlio Bressane, this one on the topic of love, or lust and erotica to be more precise. There is no plot, it merely features two women and a man that meet in an apartment, recite poetry, make obtuse philosophical statements, usually with erotic undertones, and play a wide variety of sexual games, all filmed in art-house cinematography and imbued with symbolic or pretentiously 'erotic' scenes. They pose, they talk about right and wrong while performing lesbian cunnilingus, a woman sits on a saucer of milk, they tell lewd tales of sexual encounters while spreading their legs, they fly through the air, one woman's erotic tale involves being strangled with rhinoceros skin, they quote and declare incessantly... It's as if a pretentious artist wanted to make a movie about fucking without filming porn, so he imagined the most stylized or symbolic visuals he can imagine, and scanned dozens of literary books for anything that can be construed as erotic or pertaining to sex, and had his actors quote them at random. Insufferably pretentious and empty. Followed up later by the similar 'Beduino' that features random bizarre erotic role-playing between a man and a woman.

The debut from the controversial bad boy of Dutch cinema, Theo van Gogh. It's a messily put together experimental poke at film-noir with misanthropic juvenile humor, and is a deliberate attempt at being 'as politically-incorrect as possible'. A young man narrates the film, as he is shown attempting to be a successful criminal and general hater of mankind, with extra bile directed at women, Jews, blacks and cats. His ultimate plan that takes up most of the movie is to kidnap a rich man's retarded daughter and make a quick million with ransom. Except he fails to imagine that others may be just as corrupt or scheming as he is, leading to cynical and ironic developments. Along the way, he shares with us various politically-incorrect jokes and his fantasies of being reincarnated as a one-legged Nazi, he also verbally and sexually abuses a chubby girl who remains a passive target for his hate for some unknown reason, kills two cats with a washing machine, gets paid to sexually molest a disabled girl, and takes a gun to a woman's vagina. The dull story is a mere backdrop for the bratty shock-tactics, and the humor is the type only a sociopath or Von Trier would find amusing, despite the fact that I enjoy political-incorrectness.

Mad Cowgirl  
This is just bad. There's a story in here somewhere about a female health-inspector nymphomaniac slut kung-fu-fangirl with a fetish for old priests who gets either cancer or mad cow disease or both, and who then goes on a killing spree. The multiple story-lines with several of her lovers, doctors and priests are non-linear and told in parallel, which serves no purpose other than to confuse and make the experience tedious, and none of it ever works as a portrait of a girl's insane mind. It looks more like somebody spliced together several disparate wannabe-cult ideas and odd plot lines, rather than creating something surreal, despite the ubiquitous visions of meat throughout the movie and the hodge-podge of languages and neurotic people. And it's not like she was stable to begin with. Don't expect any gore or fun exploitative material with the random kung-fu killing spree either. Tedious.

Magdalena Viraga  
Nina Menkes's first film is possibly her most insufferably pretentious, slow-paced and heavy-handed feminist statement, making this one a very painfully dull watch indeed. As with her later films like 'Great Sadness of Zohara' and 'Bloody Child' there is symbolic imagery bordering on the surreal, but it's as dull and obvious as dishwater. The movie is a feminist portrayal of a whore who is completely dead inside who wants to love someone but doesn't know how, and who lays with her customers like a dead fish (how does she get business this way? and why doesn't she just leave?). Lines are read completely flat, deadpan and very slow, with endless ponderous pretentious pauses in between that will make you want to slit your wrists. Whores claim to be 'sisters since they are orphans' over and over again, talk about their dead life in heavy 'poetic' statements over and over again, she is depicted as a saint, an angel, a witch with burning hair, Christian imagery is liberally scattered throughout the film, and a murder is pinned on her even though she is only guilty of menstrual blood. No, it's worse than it sounds.

Empty movie that focuses only on whimsy. At the center is a nurse and her growing problems with trusting humans. Which would make for a good subject, except that she ponders over obvious things she should have learned already as a child. There's an incident with an x-ray at the hospital of two people about to have sex, her co-workers gossip over it and she wonders who could have taken the picture, which is when her trust issues come to the fore. Which is an amusing story, but, once again: Duh. Then it shifts to the story of a head doctor and her personal issues and strange advertisements that she makes with a gorilla. As the trust issues grow, symbolic sink-holes appear all over the city. Then the story shifts to a bunch of silly guys working with sink-holes and a lost/stolen ring. The narrator is a fish. And her boyfriend may or may not be lying or trying to kill her. The surreal ending just floats away in a puff of whimsy leaving no substance behind.

Ponderous and affectedly dark drama with a transgressive ending. A woman recently recovering from taking care of her dying mother on her own, desperately latches onto the first lost and broken soul she finds for a forced and dependent relationship. When she discovers his broken ties with his family and that his mother may be dying too, she makes it her mission to bring them together and see him through it. Unfortunately, his mother turns out to be a nightmare of cruelty and demented religiosity pushing everyone over the edge. This could have been a intensely dark 20 minute short. But its problem is not only its padded length, endless pregnant ponderous pauses, shaky close-up camera-work, and ponderous mumbling of lines of dialogue; it also lacks worked-out details, color and development, which is why a cryptic short with a punchy ending may have a better choice. It also doesn't help that a fair amount of the very rare lines of dialogue are unintelligible. There's nothing quite like waiting 10 minutes for someone to say something only to not be able to hear what they say. The dark ending is only hinted at via a closed introverted performance that doesn't quite develop character, which means it leaves you scratching your head rather than punched in the gut. And, for a movie about a desperate relationship, their connection is awkward rather than intense and raw. There is a strong performance when things unravel at the end but, otherwise, this one didn't work for me.

Depardieu and Adjani must have been drunk when they accepted their parts in this awful movie. You'd be hard pressed to find a theme or point to this one. Depardieu acts as a hugely fat retiree on a road trip to collect some paperwork for his pension. He travels on a priceless Mammuth bike, visits old jobs and has increasingly bizarre encounters. There's a cursing match with the butcher at a supermarket, an impromptu group cry by lonely men at a restaurant, one-upmanship battles involving efficient metal-detecting techniques at the beach, a woman who shows off her muscle techniques while peeing, a gratuitous gay masturbation session you wish you hadn't seen, a swimming pool used as a boat, and an insane niece who, among other things, uses menstrual blood for ink.

Renato Polselli's follow-up movie to his bonkers, nonsensical and disjointed 'Reincarnation of Isabel' may not be as incoherent, but that's not saying much. It definitely has the highest rate of hysterics-per-minute by female actresses of any movie. The plot is something out of a bad soap: A woman is going insane, sure she is being haunted by her dead husband whom she betrayed with his twin brother, and whom she also let die horribly in his laboratory. While trying to regain her sanity with the wheelchair-bound disfigured twin brother, things escalate. And that's putting it mildly. Nothing makes sense here; it's more about the hysterics and constant nonsensical bouts of violence and absurd apparitions. A bag over a woman's head somehow makes her bleed and turns her mute. A wheelchair-bound man is somehow able to subdue women and abuse them with his chair. A woman is attacked by a net full of eels. A car drives itself. Metal bends and imprisons two women. You would think these are merely supernatural phenomena, but you would be wrong. Also, when women fight here, their clothes always fall off. Scientists should study this phenomena carefully.

Man in Hiding, The  
Very odd art-house Spanish film that makes a statement about the disconnected and alienated status of some people that fought in the civil war and locked themselves away for fear of reprisals and repercussions of what they did in the war. The primary protagonist is a man so disconnected from the world, he doesn't know how a traffic light works, and he has acquired many eccentric rituals at home, such as collecting his toe-nails. He reads newspapers avidly but does not seem to understand them, and each new technology that invades his house astounds him. But his family and friends are almost as eccentric, including a blind girl who is constantly clumsily feeling her way around the house and his bed, a woman with an obsession for buttons, an ex-military man with a damaged throat who can only speak in grunts, and a friend that collects stories with some adjustments to their content. The movie effectively creates an alienated, fearful human environment distanced from society due to upheavals, but seems content to just follow these people around for 90 minutes with endless random encounters or banal activities, without saying something meaningful. May be seen as a precursor to the much later Dogtooth.

Maru (Ow)  
This strange Japanese movie is one of those Naked Emperor stories. It poses a mystery and hints at something surreal, but then goes nowhere and hopes that will be enough to hook an audience. There's an apathetic young man who talks about himself and every little behaviour and whim of his as if he were a story, except he is stuck in his life and lazy. His cheery girlfriend seems to be in the process of being sucked into his lifeless void as well. A mysterious sphere appears that seems to be a surreal symbol for this void, turning everyone that enters the room into lifeless frozen people. But then the movie just veers into a side-plot involving an accident by the police, and an investigative reporter who becomes obsessed with the story. This takes up the rest of the movie, then it ends. The movie also seems to be about an ordinary family with amusing quirks and how they deal with a trauma, and most of the movie shows their interactions as an ongoing dramedy. But this goes nowhere as well. A waste of time.

Migrating Forms  
A man is visited repeatedly by a woman with a huge cyst on her back. They repeatedly share inane chatter, smoke and have boring sex. One day she bites him and he develops his own cyst on his arm. All the while he keeps finding strange random objects and dead insects in his house and we see warped images of a woman's body accompanied by jarring sounds. If this is an artsy metaphor for STDs, it's a boring one. If it isn't, then it's just a waste of space.

Minor Freedoms  
As with Uncut Family and The Last Porn Movie, Zapas depicts a very broken family, except it's not as minimalistic. Whereas Uncut Family restricted itself to 70 minutes of shamed faces and stylized poses, this one goes all out into emotional chaos. The backdrop is a family where a physically abusive father pimps out his daughter and is trying to get his immature but full-grown son to sell himself as well. The daughter has an unhealthy close relationship with her brother, and the ugly father makes incestuous moves on both. Zapas, like Zulawski, has his actors act-out raw emotions and over-the-top irrational behaviour against this setting, except it isn't raw as much as annoying histrionics. As usual for Zapas, there is gratuitous male masturbation, and the constant physical abuse and sexual perversions are ugly, without any insight, interesting themes or realistic characters. This is trash posing as pretentious art.

Moonlight by the Sea  
Zero-budget dystopian sci-fi with an undeveloped, juvenile version of Big Brother Corporation and its army of brainwashing salesmen. Albion Moonlight is one such salesman who finds himself stranded on a deserted world after his ship gets into an accident. The loss of contact with the always-monitoring Corporation causes strange mental fugues as he awakens into a reality of independence, his mind conjuring up a mysterious companion in the form of a freaky albino black man in a white suit while trying to sort through many overwhelming thoughts, desires and memories of what the Corporation did to his wife. His near-robotic assistant loses it completely and goes mad due to the inability to report back, while a manager back in the Corporation loses control as she takes drugs to escape her world and the crisis of losing their best salesman. There is a visual talent here, creating an atmosphere and inner mental world of super-control out of nothing but camera angles, editing and sound effects, but the movie lacks meat and a developed story, spells everything out, and wears out its welcome fast, and then you have to watch another hour of undergraduate pretentiously poetic and babbling inner stream-of-consciousness.

The title says it all. A chemical released into the sewer blends with the DNA of an escaped convict with fatal consequences for the chili-eating town. If 80 minutes of low-budget, campy horror/toilet humor sounds like your thing, you'll find this a laugh-riot. Otherwise, this turd is only worth a few gross-out chuckles and crappy puns.

Weirdo Spanish campy horror movie that throws everything together into an exploitation oddity. There's an over-the-top scientist who invents a formula for creating zombies, there are some prostitutes that read books while servicing clients or take them into the woods to read them fairy tales, there are zombie attacks, a novelist who lives in the woods and writes about zombies who shacks up with one of the prostitutes, a giggling old assistant with a perverted sense of humor who plays with sadism, a group of cultists who have an orgy and get attacked by zombies, and plenty of nudity. Did you get all that?

Mr. Mike's Mondo Video  
Michael O'Donoghue, of National Lampoon and SNL fame, created this really chaotic and odd satire on Mondos, except it hasn't got much in common with Mondos. It is more like a series of sketches from a Monty Python episode as directed by Robert Downey Sr. In other words, random silliness, a bit of satire, strange scenes that are just there for their own sake, obscure, eccentric humor, and so on. There's one scene that shows a cat swimming school, where many cats are thrown into swimming pools while being given encouraging advice, Dan Aykroyd shows his webbed feet, various female celebrities describe various despicable male habits that turn them on, there are repeated attempts at acquiring secret footage of a laser bra, the public are asked silly questions like whether elephants should get the death sentence, a seemingly authentic silent film depicts nude women, there are various stoned and psychedelic musical performances, 'dream sequences' involving skeleton-eating bugs, or men in Chinese masks attacking American consumerism, and lots more. Too whimsical to be funny.

Naked and the Living Dead, The  
Extremely silly exploitation from Japan that features a mad scientist who abducts people, kills them then turns them into creations like sexy maid with nipple darts, blind warrior, female fighter, a Frankenstein, etc. When a female karate cop gets her sister kidnapped, her flesh torn from her arms a la Men Behind the Sun, then converted into a transparent box with pumping heat and lungs and a head, she goes for revenge. Scenes include three female cops in mini-skirts uselessly pointing guns at a knife-wielding man and screaming, and scientific timing of masturbation.

Narcissus and Psyche  
An epic four-and-a-half hour movie in three parts by the cult Hungarian director Gábor Bódy. It borrows these two mythological beings and places them in modern times against a backdrop of 120 years of history. They never age, they are transported to many countries, various social settings, wars and personal changes, their larger-than-life existences contrasted with the more down-to-earth 'evils' of modern life such as social manners, standards and repressions, marriage, careers, wars, diseases and brutal medicinal practices. Psyche is a sexual force of nature (i.e. slut) who is reviled, used, adored, and exiled for her many sins of seduction and irrepressible nature (cheap sex). She loves her teacher and friend Narcissus but their love is doomed by circumstances and sexual diseases and she finds herself marrying someone else. This is the heart of the story, but most of the movie consists of fragments of an epic, poetic dialogue, artsy theatrics and atmosphere, and lots of experimental cinematography: color filters, bizarre superimpositions, dream-like sex scenes, motion trails, etc. Most of the surrealism is in the third part, with striking artistic visions of modernity and flying pigs. Strictly for fans of artistic expression and literary theatrics, but I found most of it tediously pretentious and fragmented.

I'm definitely not the right audience for this type of pretentious avant-garde experimentation, and most 'experimental cinema' barely qualify as movies, focusing only on formalist video-audio experiments. This one came with an official blurb that hinted at a structure, theme and abstract story, except it's one of those blurbs that one would never be able to extrapolate from the movie even after reading the blurb and seeing the film. It consists of what feels like several avant-garde shorts spliced together showing four youngsters and one woman doing random things, some of them with striking surreal visuals, others just static and dull, all spliced and interwoven together with many color filters, and then a soundtrack was added consisting mostly of ear-shattering white noise and harsh sounds that sometimes gives its audience a reprieve with avant-garde ambient music. The youngsters appear in a large room with strange objects dangling over their heads, sometimes referring to time and life's activities, there's one girl with a chair on her head in the woods, there's some footage of what looks like animal eyeballs, they stack sugar-cubes, film themselves and watch themselves, create art, eat jello, etc, but when a darker-minded woman joins the group and dances with death (a skeleton), their games become darker, involving artistic mock-funerals, etc. An endurance test.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion  
A remake of the ending episodes of this much talked-about anime series by its owner after insane pressure from fans. The plot leading up to this bombastic ending is too complex to summarize, but it involves an apocalyptic battle between 'angels' and teenage-piloted mechas, basically a teenage giant robot war laced with an eclectic but random mish-mash of supernatural, sci-fi and religious nonsense smashed together into an incomprehensible pulp, and backed by overblown family melodrama. The final episode is like a pumped up anime version of 2001 that takes the world into a new spiritual evolution that somehow involves lots of robot gore, huge battles, the ending of humanity in order to give way to a better world, psychedelic and surreal effects, grotesque and violent imagery, ubiquitous religious symbols, spiritual new-age nonsense, etc. There's also an extremely annoying whiny, impotent, emo-boy that seems to represent the maker's misanthropy, exemplified by the ending that shows humanity at its worst even when reality is at its new-age spiritually-loving best. During all of this apocalyptic imagery, images of the real world and a cinema audience are shown for obvious reasons. Yes, I hated this nonsense probably as much as the maker hates his fans and own species.

Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, The  
A followup to Bakshi's satirical X-rated animation based on Crumb's characters which goes for wild and raunchy fantasy vignettes instead. While Fritz's wife nags and rants, his mind goes off into fantasies which often end in his death, one more bizarre than the next. These include him as an astronaut about to be launched to Mars getting it on with a reporter, a courier sent to New Jersey/Africa where a nation full of militant blacks have been sequestered and who have a strange relationship with the golf-playing president, a student of an Indian guru in the sewers where he encounters Lucifer, his attempts at selling a toilet to a pickle-eating pawn-shop clerk, and the psychedelic, totally bizarre Hitler sequence where he serves as a psychiatrist. Weird raunch mixed with cartoonish entertainment, but mostly pointless, as opposed to the more satirical original.

Nude Princess  
An offbeat exploitation flick about a transsexual African 'princess' who has been controlled by a dictator to the point where she can't smile or have sex. When she reaches Milan to battle politicians, rapists, sleazy journalists and businessmen, she finds herself re-awakening. Features lots of non-erotic nudity, rape, naked Don Juan dwarves, orgies with stuffed ducks, and silliness.

Night Porter  
Promises controversy, shock, sleaze and more darkly sexual themes than Last Tango in Paris but is really a very slow, slightly artsy sexual drama about an ex-Nazi who meets one of his ex-victims from a concentration camp. They are both psychotically addicted to each other, developing a sado-maso relationship, and his Nazi friends want her out of the way. Supposedly a precursor to the Nazisploitation genre but it has nothing in common and is quite tame, and it would be offensive to Jews and women if it weren't so dull, unrealistic and pointless.

Nines, The  
A metaphysical, brainless muddle posing as a deep, reality-bending puzzle. Three movies intertwine, each featuring the same actors in very different roles but with similar details. Strange things happen in each one, like a very light version of Lynch, with characters saying odd things, objects appearing out of nowhere, the number nine getting all kinds of special metaphysical meanings by appearing often or on top of people's heads as a classifier, invisible people are felt, and random people seem to be aware of a different reality. The first movie is about a dumb movie star under house arrest for doing dumb things, coddled by an assistant, and hit on by a neighbour. The second is a reality show featuring a writer and some backstabbing TV-industry politics. The third is about a normal family-man stuck in the wild with a dead car and his family. The ending provides a sci-fi-metaphysical explanation for it all, except it doesn't justify anything, and it provokes no thought. If you think about it, all the clues and strangeness could have been replaced with anything else, and they are only there because 'reality isn't real'. Of all the reality-bending movies that came out lately, this is by far the worst.

North Wind, The  
Russian art-house theatrical movie that is all promises and rich semi-surreal visuals in the service of a banal soap drama. The story revolves around an extended rich family led by a matriarch. They meet once a year in New Years and enact the same traditions and rituals every year. Pets and wild animals are brought into the house and are trained to perform various household tasks. Strange games are played in this household symbol of opulence. But when the son's fiance dies in an accident, a strange curse overcomes the family and things deteriorate every year. The house literally starts to fall apart and grows branches and moss indoors, new relationships fail, family members grow unstable and eccentric. The matriarch blames the son's new wife, who is the previous woman's sister, and plots various schemes to get rid of her. The movie is book-ended with a fantasy narrative about renewals, which is implemented in this mere soapy plot. And the movie is mostly fragmented vignettes and very theatrical. But if you are looking for very rich and detailed set-design, costumes, and props that feel like a Gilliam or Greenaway movie, then you may enjoy this.

Open Wound  
Simple Serbian lesbian drama that uses a brief horror trope to surreally and symbolically depict a psychological 'open wound'. As usual with these things, the male presence here is the animalistic, toxic boyfriend to one of our protagonists. But it's the tentative shy advances of her lesbian friend that really opens her up to the possibility of a female lover. Except that a betrayal, and then a sexual aggression that she passes on to her, both create a wound that becomes a monster, both figuratively and literally in this art-horror film. The whole thing is simplistic and dull in its concept and execution however.

Orbitrons, The  
B&W zero-budget oddity that often feels like a cheesy 60s exploitation throwback. A biker runs across aliens in the form of a Dominatrix and her spiritual boyfriend. They land in New Jersey with plans to take over the world, although he wants to do it peacefully and she wants to overrun the planet with an army of zombies. Features endless scenes of boring bike-riding with a pounding soundtrack, a dream-sequence with cops wearing pig-noses and omelettes, a crucifixion, a sex scene that consists of whipping and impregnation by syringe, and a woman giving birth to puppies.

Based on a semi-biographical novel by Virginia Woolf, which only means that it explores women's issues throughout history and the idea of a free-spirited personality like Woolf's, detached from gender after centuries of oppressive social gender roles. It does this by exploring the life of a man who lives for centuries and who magically changes sex in the interim, thus commenting on the absurdity of social constraints and expectations that depend on gender. At least that's the theory. In practice, this movie is interminably boring art-house nonsense that feels more like the fantasy of a transvestite working in the wardrobe department who gets to dress Tilda Swinton in the most opulent outfits of both genders from the past 400 years. When one of the first lines in the movie explains Tilda being a man with the nonsensical comment that men at the time wanted to look like women, and then proceeds to show how men detested women, you just know you're in for yet another brainless feminist rant that can't even avoid contradicting itself in the same sentence. Tilda is never believable as a man for a single second, and only a transvestite would think that removing her makeup makes her look male, thus making this exercise largely a distracting one. And to top it all off, there is no story, only snippets and vignettes of a four-century life that seems even more boring than the movie.

Otto; or, Up with Dead People  
A gay zombie movie by Bruce La Bruce who normally makes transgressive, brainlessly pseudo-provocative, gay porn. Otto is not only dead, but also gay, apathetic and lost. He wanders, wanders some more, and then wanders some more, while terrible music plays in the background. The graphic sex scenes populate this movie systematically like a porno, except the sex involves lots of meat, disgusting eating habits, necrophilia, blood, and sex with a wound. And that's what this movie seems to be all about, because Bruce didn't seem to have thought through the satire or metaphors. If everyone is gay, then it can't be a metaphor for homosexuality in society. If nobody seems to notice that he is dead, then why is he a zombie? The spreading of the zombie virus doesn't seem to affect anyone except for the fact that they have to start putting on makeup and blood. There is an annoying female director who seems to symbolize over-the-top pretentiousness as a form of camp, except the movie lets her drone on and on with her speeches about symbolism and meanings and seems to take her side. Her assistant is the only creative but also rather pointless thing in this movie, her presence so 'artistic' that she can only be seen and talked to as a silent-screen movie star via scratched film and intertitles. 'L.A. Zombie', the followup to this movie, demonstrates what it was all about to begin with: Brainless gay hardcore necrophiliac porn.

This one brings to mind a gay, Russian, slightly more art-house version of a Larry Clark movie. These fantasy versions of teens are breaking boundaries everywhere, especially some more than others. One story-line has a gay teen secretly fall for a tough guy in his school who has orgies more frequently than meals. But there's a female 'outlaw' who has gone beyond boundaries, using '120 Days in Sodom' as a starting point, who kills random people at the supermarket just because she can, and who has a powerful 'Daddy' giving her a limited freedom she needs to live her lifestyle while sexually using her. She decides to adopt the tough boy as her pet and open his mind. In another story-line that takes place in the 80s, a general falls for a transvestite, and the violent repression that ensues causes repercussions decades later. Book-ending the movie are two slightly surreal scenes, and a trashy catalogue of depravities in a ridiculous orgy. The point is completely lost amidst these juvenile pseudo-provocative story-lines that go nowhere and endless scenes of every type of sex under the sun. Larry Clark would be proud.

Outside Satan  
Dumont continues his minimalist and slow-moving rural meditations, this time with more magic realism and a subversive Christ-like figure straight out of Teorema to bring the local country-folk what he thinks they deserve. It's the Man With no Name crossed with Jesus and a Pagan, and although it confused audiences, the point is dull and simple. It's a naturalistic Christ-figure who worships nature and uses whatever means necessary to bring his form of justice to the people. He takes a goth girl under his wing, killing her abusive step-father, and then beats a man senseless just for trying to kiss her (which raises questions as to whether her step-dad was really that bad). Nature is worshipped, and the killing of a deer is a tragedy (is Dumont a rabid PETA member?). There's the uncomfortable method he uses to forcibly heal a child who seems both mentally and physically sick, and there's an outrageous scene where he literally screws a girl to a rabid epiphany, presumably to heal her attitude towards life. A tiresome, new-age, dull, slight provocation via paganistic magic beyond good and evil.

Paranoia Agent  
Satoshi Kon's 13-part anime is more random and confusing than surreal, but it bears his trademarks. A young boy with a golden bat is assaulting people that have reached a desperate time in their lives, and somehow, this event usually helps them. But Satoshi doesn't stick to this premise, and explores any direction this takes him on a whim, adds his trademarked hallucinations and dreams within reality, and also uses it to dump all of his unused ideas, which explains the randomness. Standout episodes include one where detectives interrogate a suspect who is so obsessed over video games he transports them into a world of cosplay fantasy, another features women telling ridiculously tall and strange tales of the Lil Slugger AKA Shuonen Bat, there's a semi-surreal episode that seems like a retread of Perfect Blue, an episode involving an old man, young man and little girl who get together to commit suicide, an episode where the animators get slugged one by one, another where they find themselves in a world of crude pre-war animations, and the final episodes blow up the slugger mythos both figuratively and literally until he becomes a supernatural abstract entity-monster, and then Satoshi pulls out another nonsensical twist from left field. Too random to be enjoyable.

Passion of Darkly Noon, The  
Philip Ridley's followup to his Reflecting Skin suffers from crude symbolism and over-confidence and it's not as surreal as people make it to be, explaining everything away until nothing is left but stupid people. Darkly Noon (Fraser) is a religious fanatic who recently lost his strict parents who is saved and left to heal at Callie (Judd) and Clay (Mortensen). It's basically a clash of stupid fundamentalism and stupid hedonism, as Callie runs around half naked all the time and makes out with her husband in front of a sexually frustrated Fraser, nobody noticing the obvious until he explodes in pseudo-religious wrath. He isn't helped by Clay's insane mother (Zabriskie) who shoots at Callie every once in a while, and the appearance of a mysterious huge shoe floating in the river, which is the only real oddity in this movie. The rest is mere stupidity.

Patrick Still Lives  
Extreme sleaze featuring a group of people who are invited to a mad scientist's house where he keeps his comatose son on machines that allow him to project his eyes around the mansion and use telekinesis to kill the guests. Why they resort to murder is never satisfactorily explained but the slutty women strut their x-rated stuff around throughout the movie while they are all violently murdered. Notorious for the fully explicit pole-impaling-a-woman-through-you-know-where scene but this is basically badly directed and dull sleaze.

Pearls Before Swine  
There are many movies dealing with anarchist neo-Nazi criminals, but this one believes in its message. Boyd Rice is the protagonist, his ideals lifted off the likes of De Sade, Nietzsche, LaVey, Hitler, Heidegger et al. His various pastimes include having a surreal epiphany while being caned, beating up or killing people threatening to sue his friends, taping his life-views on violence, Holocaust-denial and social Darwinism, watching his Dominatrix girlfriend feed her clientele with excrement, take drugs, discuss the philosophy of death with his dying friend, etc. He partners with an anarchist acquaintance for a political assassination job with a surprise ending. The acting is terribly flat and amateurish, and the philosophy and provocations are unoriginal and undeveloped. Fight Club brought something new to the table but this didn't bother. This is the equivalent of a sophomore who reads Nietzsche and De Sade and suddenly thinks he made a revelation and needs to preach his newfound superior world-view to everyone else. We've seen it thousands of times. It even has a scene where the man preaches brainlessly about violence as an art-form only to have a listener say: "Interesting, go on".

Piranha 3DD  
Perhaps the makers of this sequel decided that Aja's Piranha was so ferocious that it would be impossible to even match the gore and violence, and so it went for crazy mayhem instead. Unfortunately, the writing of this sequel treats its characters and audience as idiots, and its humor is at the level of a horny fratboy. It's all about boobs and genitalia of both genders this time, and the piranha seem to be as horny as the writers, because they barely cause any damage to flesh this time (they somehow only cause mild scratches after an attack on our heroes), and instead they burrow up vaginas and anuses, and chomp off penises. The scene where a piranha emerges from a girl during sex was so stupidly ridiculous, I was sure it was a dream sequence. Imagine my surprise when nobody woke up. There are about 100 more scenes of equal stupidity, the gore is so restrained it is practically mainstream, and the wit is non-existent. Insultingly bad.

Plankton (AKA Creatures from the Abyss)  
A crazy horror exploitation movie about some teens stranded in the ocean on an abandoned research vessel (with talking showers and wall decorations) and encounter monsters in the form of mutated fish and plankton who take over their bodies and mutate them, 'The Thing' style. Nudity, flying fish, bad special effects, rape by a mutated human, some gore, bad acting, plankton impregnation, birthing and vomiting.

Poodle (Caniche)  
Probably Bigas Luna's most sordid and twisted movie from his early days, and also one of his most pointless. A brother and sister await their inheritance while nursing a very damaged relationship and personalities. The camera keeps their poodle always in sight as the protagonist of the movie witnessing events. The brother hates his rich dying aunt, and is always busy around the big house, resenting his every chore that often have to do with animal control. There are two twisted scenes of bestiality, incest, madness, possible off-screen brutality against dogs even though doesn't make this clear, and some violence in a climactic ending that has no reason or point. Empty.

Practice of Love, The  
An artsy feminist rant by Valie Export presented symbolically as a thriller involving a reporter uncovering a corrupt ring of crime and politics. Judith is a maverick reporter who is also seeking a satisfying relationship with various men. She finds corruption and power-games everywhere. This is an intelligent study, delivering its messages through avant-garde but focused cinematography and editing, symbolism, some vaguely surreal passages involving violence that seems to be prevalent in the streets themselves, and thoughtful almost-poetic dialogue delivered like Godardesque statements and manifestos. Although the film makes thought-provoking statements, its backbone is the age-old bankrupt feminist rant against the all powerful patriarchy and its poor female victims. In line with this cliche, strippers who choose to work for money are sex objects but the drooling men watching them are in power, all men seek to control their wives and girlfriends and are involved in corrupt or ill-defined schemes that seek power for its own sake, and they are afraid of losing themselves in a relationship, while women are faultless no matter what they do. Just because it is presented artistically and sophisticatedly, that doesn't change the same old tired message.

Private Vices, Public Virtues  
An interpretation of the historical Mayerling Incident involving a scandalous murder-suicide of the Prince of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. This mixed-European art movie decides to go the way of an over-the-top Ken Russell historical orgy by way of a Borowczyk parade of flesh. The prince and his party have threesomes, have foursomes with a hermaphrodite, rape the general, have wild orgies, dance and prance around naked all day, and receive hand-jobs from his nanny, while plotting to humiliate or overthrow the Emperor. The artistic idea is to contrast the youthful permissive, sexually liberated new generation vs the repressive old regime, but this you can grasp within 10 minutes. The rest is endlessly boring, extended and wild erotica.

Japanese nihilistic violence that is sometimes reminiscent of Sono, but isn't as interesting. The biggest flaw is the extreme non-linear structure combined with completely chaotic motivations by everyone involved, leading to so much confusion, that you would have to really care about this movie in order to try to see if the puzzle pieces fit. I didn't care. The elements in this movie are (in no particular order): A group of masked youths sending teachers and the law into frantic puzzle-solving challenges in order to save someone from a gruesome death, Saw-lite style. Death-traps and violent surprises built using what looks like toddler toys. Rape as revenge for rape committed by people who were supposed to helping the victim, and resulting in a twist-rape. Pregnancy abuse. Incest. Random mutilation, and so on. A mess for fans of chaotic violence only, although its levels of graphic violence is somewhat restrained relative to the torture genre.

Rape! 13th Hour  
A slightly more extreme Pinku Eiga by Hasebe. A gas station attendant develops a strange relationship with a rapist as they run around raping women while being pursued by a criminal gay gang. Typically for this genre, the rape victims become willing and some even pay them to come back for more. The gay boss seems to have a thing for the rapist as well but when he refuses, it leads to a nasty climax.

Rape of the Vampire  
Debut from Jean Rollin is a confusing mess of an attempt at an art film and was a controversial movie, paving the way for sex in horror movies. The first part is a short about females that think they're vampires and a psychoanalyst that tries to convince them they're not. The second part, added as an improvised afterthought, features a queen of vampires and her strange vampiric society, and the scientists that do battle with this affront to reason. If you can figure out anything else, let me know.

Rapists At Dawn  
Notorious rape-exploitation movie from Spain, allegedly banned as soon as it came out, a movie that can be grouped along with Clockwork Orange, Last House on the Left, and other similarly nasty 70s rape movies. It features a gang of four young men and a pregnant woman that go on a rampage of crime and rape leaving behind a wake of traumatized victims. The problem with this movie is that it wants its cake and to eat it too. It adds some weak political and social commentary about the new generation in Spain exposed to pornography, freedom and violence combined with a ridiculously incompetent police-force, and also shows the extreme trauma that the victims go through, but then it also relishes its four extended exploitative gang-rape scenes that also combine violent abuse, and a nasty cruel nihilistic attitude. It also throws in some incest, a super-horny pregnant sister that is sometimes nastier than the four men, and some possible necrophilia.

Razing, The  
A chamber drama that does everything it can to make the viewer uncomfortable, whether it is by use of distorted and obnoxiously dynamic camera-work and sound, subdued lighting and colors, or the fact that you have to spend an eternal 110 minutes watching the most obnoxious characters interact with each other in random scenes of emotional and physical cruelty that never amount to anything. The movie spends almost all of time in an extravagant room where these people meet every year even though they hate each other, and spend the whole time throwing random barbs at each other, sometimes with words, sometimes with knives. If they were a family, then this forced meeting ritual would make sense, but as friends, this makes no sense. The snippets of opaque and random or even nonsensical dialogue and partial allusions to other events and past dramas are never detailed enough to build a story or build the characters into three-dimensional people. So the only way to experience this movie without going insane with boredom and frustration is to accept it as a mood piece, a kind of emotional impressionism, where cruelty and hate between friends and family is rampant. But even with this interpretation, it's not a rewarding experience and it gives you nothing to chew on except random pseudo-meaningful statements about existence and becoming what you are or want to be. The many pills ingested in this movie offer the characters a metaphorical trip to be what they want or deserve to be, but it is the outsider 'nice' guest Clara that really upsets the 'balance' of mutual hatred. And it is this character, along with a metaphorical end-of-the-world 'razing' or judgement-day that gives the film a slightly surreal, but mostly metaphorical angle. It reminded me of Melancholia in the sense that that film also used an apocalypse as a metaphor for an extreme inner negative experience (depression). But, as mentioned, this movie doesn't give you visuals or a character study, just endless negativity with no payoff, or meat to chew on.

This movie features such retarded and obnoxiously useless slackers, you may start hating everyone involved in the movie. These slackers don't even have any fun. It takes both the act of doing nothing as well as the ability to make everything as anti-productive as possible in passive self-destructive stupidity to such extremes, that it transcends reality and becomes surreal. It features an idiot that keeps getting challenged by his idiot brother to do stupid things like drinking a massive milk jug while playing computer games within a certain time without throwing up or getting up from the couch. Nevermind that it results in vomit and other nastiness, it is completely beyond them that they are not even having fun with these stupid games. The latest challenge for this movie is to not get up from the couch until he passes level 256 in Pacman. This is taken to absurd bizarre extremes, to the point of developing delirious psychic super-powers, digging into walls for food and water, and the end of the world. Despite this description, the movie is not funny, and it never does anything interesting or minimally digestible with this idea. This movie is beyond a waste of time in a near-existential way.

Repo! The Genetic Opera  
A modern outrageous goth-n-gore musical designed for the modern crowd, drawing some comparisons to Rocky Horror. The story is set in the future where GeneCo rules a post-apocalyptic organ-failure world with its corner on organ transplant and plastic surgery. In typical opera style, the lives of the GeneCo CEO, a Repo Man who disembowels late-paying clients and repossesses their organs, his daughter, some psychotic heirs to the GeneCo throne and a grave-robber are all intertwined with secrets, schemes and violence. Regardless of me not being a fan of musicals and rock operas, I find it hard to believe others would enjoy this. Despite a good Anthony Head and a scene that shows Paris Hilton being booed off stage after her face falls off, this movie is painful and all the music is instantly forgettable. It's like the interludes in an opera where the story is developed and you wait for the next grand set-piece and solo, only it never arrives.

Révélateur, Le  
An experimental silent piece by Garrel consisting of scenes where a mother, father and child act out different elements of parenthood and childhood symbolically. A man only succeeds in lighting the woman's smoke when it starts as a long mutual cigarette, the child exchanges places with each parent in turn in bed, each needing intimacy, the parents fuss over the playing child, or chase him as he rides away while spraying something defiantly from a spray-can, there are running and hiding scenes in the woods, struggles with fences, long walks on the road eventually going astray, the parents fight on stage in front of the child, etc. All obvious in its symbolism, somewhat pretentious, and too slow-moving.

This one is only confusing because it is made up of muddled, dime-store metaphysics and psychology pretending to be deep. Guy Ritchie obviously wanted to attempt a Fight-Club-esque 'mindfuck', a stylish and entertaining action movie in the vein of his 'Snatch' and 'Lock Stock..', except with punk-art-house pretensions. Jake is out from jail and wants to get revenge against a casino thug using an ultimately devious con and some newly acquired skills he developed in prison. But he finds he has been poisoned and will die in three days, there is a hit out on him, and some loan sharks are blackmailing him for protection. Except that all of this never makes any sense, and a lot of it takes place in his head, with thugs and various characters representing his ego and other sides of his psyche. The fights and cons are portrayed as both internal psychological struggles and revelations, as well as stylish action and thrill scenes. Except it doesn't work as either. The psychology is dime-store rubbish, and half of the action scenes are so confusing and illogical, you have no idea what is going on and why. And no, it has nothing to do with Madonna's so-called 'Kabbalah' so the marketing people can stop throwing that in there in the hope that it will make people stop thinking. An annoying mess.

Rita's Last Fairy Tale  
One would think that an artsy Russian fantasy-drama about death would be moderately interesting at the very least, and not this banal and dull. This is a scattered tale of a superficial female Angel of Death who is sent to accompany Rita on her final days in a hospital and decides to make her final days friendly ones. She makes a report on her stay with the living, and her time with superficial Rita and her toy boyfriend is seen in a movie-length flashback, interwoven with artsy dream sequences, some artsy aesthetic scenes, and endless talking about unimportant matters while eating, partying and singing. There is recurring symbolism involving buildings being taken down and lots of smoking. This is no Dead Like Me. It's death reduced to chit-chat with pretentious pretty colors.

Ritual of Death  
A terrible and messy horror movie about Egyptians, Indians, rituals, and evil that somehow a theatrical group of actors awaken. The evil possesses one of them who promptly starts to slaughter the rest, half-dressed girls included. A big dose of gore, lots of colorful goo, confusing nightmares, visions and bad acting fill the movie which seems to have continuity and editing from hell.

Rock 'n' Roll Frankenstein  
Cheesy and crude horror/comedy about a producer who arranges to have the perfect rock-star created out of dead rock-star body parts. Dr. Frankie Stein, who has a sexual fetish for internal organs, collects Elvis's head, Hendrix's hands, Sid Vicious' buttocks, etc. but attaches Liberace's penis by mistake and thus the whole movie is reduced to gay jokes about a rock star with confusing homosexual urges. Along the way there's over-the-top blood splatter, large talking green penises, gerbils get abused, a priest gets sodomized with a cross, and a groupie gets disemboweled.

Rogue River  
Bad horror movies are notorious for making their protagonists do the stupidest things, but this one takes the cake. Throughout the movie, this girl does not do a single thing that can be remotely described as safe, logical, rational, or even irrational due to fear. This female creature who never resembles a human being is mourning her dead father when her car magically disappears and a man appears to offer his hospitality at a remote cabin in the woods. And what do you think she does? But this is only the beginning, as her hosts turn increasingly more insane, she hangs around, puts herself in harm's way about a dozen times, and stumbles through this writer's equivalent of a deranged obstacle course making sure that bad things happen to her. The writers, in the meantime, put all their efforts into making the events as deranged as possible without paying attention to whether anything makes sense, including forced incest, forced breast-feeding from a cancer patient, random tortures, forced wound-sewing, and death by ashes, all either ridiculously contrived for their shock value, or impossible. Not an overly graphic movie, but the writers truly go out of their way to make it deranged. I spent the whole movie laughing at the writers.

Salon Kitty  
A 'classic' Nazisploitation film by Tinto Brass that helped kick-start the genre. Kitty is a madame that runs a brothel and performs raunchy cabaret. The local SS enlist fanatical socialist women and test their loyalty and psychology by making them perform with officers and grotesque sexual partners, then plant them in the whorehouse to spy on the perverted officers and diplomats. When a humiliated whore and Kitty find out, they plan their revenge. Decadent, sleazy, colorful, somewhat artsy and even has some political satire.

S. Darko  
Donnie Darko is one of those singularity hit movies with a delicate balance of elements where you sense that not only does it not require a sequel, but it also can never be reproduced. In fact, even the maker turned out to be a one-hit wonder. So this sequel was doomed from the start. I only watched it for completion and not only is it a failure, it also wrong-headedly grabbed some of the obscure time-travel rules from Kelly's notes, added random weird stuff, and a bunch of gratuitous and nonsensical references to the original, in the hope that something will stick. Donnie Darko used elements of time-travel sci-fi, surrealism and the supernatural as a backdrop to explore a character, making it personal. This one just throws in a bunch of disconnected details and weird stuff for some vacant-brained teenagers to interact with. There's Donnie's sister Samantha, her partying friend, a small town with a deranged ex-soldier, meteors, random death and destruction, two tangent universes and random rewinding of events, random appearance of the rabbit head for no reason, meteor rashes, random Christianity bashing, random erratic behaviour, random visions and ghostly messages, a tedious soundtrack, and boredom.

Season in the Life of Emmanuel, A  
French Canadian art-house at its most pointlessly miserable. This tells the tale of an extended poor and miserable family with 16 kids led by a miserable matriarch grandmother who blames everyone for everything. One kid is an intellectual poet seemingly inspired by Rimbaud whose world goes out of control, there is incest and homosexuality, a girl with mystical aspirations abused by nuns who then finds herself suddenly working as a prostitute, there's suicide, boorish angry illiteracy, a homosexual abusive pervert caregiver in charge of the young boys, death, arson, accidental mutilation, abusive religion, juvenile jail, and other pointless acts of misery and violence. All of this is told in an unusually poetic, artistic and non-linear cinematic style peppered with provocative, wild and deranged poetry as well as surreal imagery during a death scene that make the movie only a little more interesting than it really is.

Seven Women for Satan  
Confusing messy sleaze featuring a mad descendant of the evil Count from The Most Dangerous Game, who constantly witnesses an endless stream of sexy women both hallucinated and real, and the violence performed on them. This movie is like a porno movie for sadists, except it's erotica instead of hardcore. Various women cross paths with the rich man under the flimsiest excuse, the woman always oblige and perform naked, provide sexual favors for no particular reason, agree to do stupid things, or instantly forget any violence committed against them, and then they meet a terrible death, which is usually not exactly intentional on his part. Ghostly woman appear and disappear, his butler seems to know about some nonsensical supernatural fate which never makes sense, and everybody behaves in the most confusing and nonsensical ways, which suits the confused plot just fine.

Shatter Dead  
Death is not what it used to be. In a world populated by the dead and when faced with the option of killing your body but knowing you will be immortal as you are now, what would you do? Of course the fact that your wounds don't heal and that you suffer from rigor mortis and a small erectile dysfunction problem may dissuade you from taking the plunge. Good concept, bad execution. The acting is terrible, the effects are cheap, the ideas aren't explored properly, and the nudity is exploited to the point of gratuitous gun porn (don't ask).

B-movie post-armageddon ultra-cheese. Like Mad Max, everyone wears bizarre costumes and the hero wanders in a world full of strange characters, but this one goes all over the place with robot Frankenstein monsters, a man with glowing eyes and telekinetic powers, mutants whose arms fall off, a mad bridge-keeper who clones himself when limbs are chopped off, and more. The plot involves a beef-cake hero who teams up with a goddess She and together fight one danger after another. For fans of extremely dumb b-movie cheese only.

Shivers of the Vampire  
One of Jean Rollin's relatively more surreal and incoherent movies, which is not surprising, seeing as it was created soon after his incomprehensible 'Rape of the Vampire'. What's surprising is how goofy it is as well, feeling often like an unintended comedy. Most of the movie is Rollin's usual naked girls (or girls in transparent robes) roaming around gothic castle locations and the countryside, with plenty of rituals, candles, blood and graveyards. In this case, a family of vampires is presided over by a couple of highly eccentric men heavily into the occult. When their recently married cousin comes to visit (still in her bridal dress), they encounter all manner of confusing rituals, vampiric desires, murders and betrayal, as well as an onslaught of pretentious speeches from the cousins. In the middle of this mess, there are completely disjointed and bizarre scenes involving a dangerous avalanche of books, Rollins trademark 'vampire in a cuckoo clock', and killer breasts.

Silent Hill  
A bad, atmospheric horror movie based on a computer game. The plot never makes any sense from the beginning, and as it progresses, it manages to make even less sense. There's a sleepwalking, suicidal child drawn to a ghost town, so her mother decides to take her there for no good reason, and causes completely pointless trouble with her husband and the police while doing so. The rest of the movie is just about survival in this place where bizarre monsters and phenomena barely make the same appearance twice, while the endless back-story reveals itself, and obfuscates the movie. The imaginative and sometimes creepy monsters are pretty good but don't have the life of Pan's Labyrinth and are sometimes undermined by an adolescent imagination (a group of zombie nurses in short dresses with knives?), the 'surrealism' is just confusion because of the extremely poor writing, the lead actress is never convincing, the characters do and say stupid things, and there is some Hellraiser-esque gore with skinning and barbed wire towards the end of the movie but not enough to be comparable. In short, a very busy movie in many aspects, that fails on all aspects except the visual.

Silent Hill: Revelation  
Six years later and it's basically more of the same crap. It's supernatural horror for A.D.D. kids. The only thing that sticks in between scenes are the characters, otherwise, the plot changes and even contradicts itself from scene to scene, the supernatural powers shift to random abilities, the various monsters appear and disappear as if they just came over to say 'boo', and Silent Hill not only changes how it looks and behaves, it also changes what it's about. One character even tries to excuse all this by saying that Silent Hill is different at different levels. So, basically, the special-effect people dominate the movie and go wild adding random elements, as with a spider-mannequin creature that decapitates a person, then mutates randomly before conveniently disappearing again. I'm not going to bother explaining the plot since the writers didn't bother writing a cohesive one.

Singing Detective, The  
American remake of the stupendous mini-series by Dennis Potter, featuring a miscast Downey. The series used interweaving layers of flashbacks, a fictional pulp detective story, hallucinations, and discussions with a doctor to explore the dark mind of a troubled writer while he tries to deal with the humiliations and pain of a terrible skin disease in hospital. While the long mini-series was masterful in its structure and how it revealed and explored a complex psyche in detail, this too-short movie simply doesn't have the time to pull this off, and instead of revealing mental fugues and fantasies, we get a confusing hodgepodge of bizarre snippets that are near-impossible to put together into a satisfying whole. The biggest problem though, is that Downey never inhabits this role which demands internal turmoil and emotional or angry outbursts that seem beyond his character. Skip this and watch the mini-series instead.

Slave Wife (AKA Captured for Sex 3)  
For the majority of its running time, this Pinku seems to be going for the same old staples of Pinku rape cinema, featuring a posh Japanese wife, horny American soldiers and her angry chauffeur who, one day, inspired by her reaction to the rapist soldiers, decides to show her who's boss. Humiliation and S&M ensue, and, of course, she grows to like it and becomes his pet, like all Japanese women in these movies do. But then the final scene comes out of nowhere, with extreme sadism that literally turns a woman into a piece of meat, and which derives much of its shock value from the unexpected turn of events.

An odd little fantasy movie with a quirky and subtly unreal urban atmosphere sometimes reminiscent of Liquid Sky. A woman gets a mysterious old Chinese manuscript to translate from a couple of odd men and soon finds that its quaint little fairy tales are changing her reality. Her friend starts losing hair, a strange Japanese woman named 'echo-echo' comes to visit, and an elevator seems to lead to lead through dimensions. The movie frequently goes on little tangents to explore the characters, and the ending suddenly swerves into a completely different plot about a thief, then it all fizzles out. What did I miss?

Notorious for propagating the snuff film mythos but the movie is actually an extremely badly acted, written and dubbed Charlie Manson inspired story about a hippy who controls pretty girls and makes them worship him and kill. The snuff in question is a 5-minute segment added to the end of the film where an actress in the movie is slashed, her fingers and hands chopped off and then disemboweled in unconvincing, prototypical Guinea Pig fashion.

Sodom the Killer  
This one is like a Japanese version of Zebub's 'Worst Horror Movie Ever Made': Takahashi throws in everything and the kitchen sink into a purposely cheap-looking and campy spoof on everything that is bad, cliche and melodrama in horror. The main illogical plot seems to be about two vengeful sisters and a cursed man who becomes Sodom the killer after his bride dies during a wedding and he kills the wrong women. What follows 300 years later is chaos: A world domination plot, a mad scientist, random killings of waiters who bring a bill and passersby, death by tin can, raising of the dead, control of the population through their nervous system, Satanic rituals, ghosts, psychic women, a huge gun turret on top of a car aimed using a finger, a huge B-29, a vengeful female cop with a Luger that can shoot like a machine gun, mad pigeon-eating humans, secret needle guns, a blind swordsman, obvious toy models and cardboard stunt-men, and more.

Something in the Dirt  
Until now, Benson and Moorhead's movies were interesting and unusual even when they were deeply flawed. They dropped the ball with this release however. Once again they have two men team up under very unusual circumstances and strange metaphysical phenomena, straining their friendship, except this time, the strangeness is completely random and the friendship feels artificial. They meet as neighbors in a cheap L.A. apartment, and when they witness floating objects and mysterious fluctuations of light, electricity and gravity, they team up to film a documentary and explore the phenomena, spouting endless metaphysical theories and ideas. But the metaphysics are completely random and are more about intriguing an indiscriminate cult audience by mentioning anything and everything under the sun and on top of the sun, than about actually investigating the phenomena. Time bending, space bending, supernatural phenomena, cults, occult symbols, Pythagorean Society, aliens, crystals, synchronicity, brain maggots, etc etc etc. The plot goes nowhere, the personalities feel contrived, and the endless randomness feels like someone read 30 new-age books recently and tried to cram them all into one tiresome movie. The delicate internal logic of The Endless is gone in this one.

Sonny Boy  
For the last hour, this is like a white-trash version of Frankenstein. But your jaw will be slack for the first half an hour wondering what the hell is going on. There's a huge sadistic man who runs a town just because he is vicious and owns a cannon, which he uses to blow up unruly policemen. David Carradine in drag is his insane girlfriend who gets to sing a song, and who insists on keeping a baby that that they found in a stolen car. Yes you read that last sentence right. Dourif is the weird sidekick who has fun with crazy hairdos and he is again teamed up with Sydney Lassick. Together they raise the baby as a wild animal, cut out his tongue for his sixth birthday, train him by dragging him over the desert tied to the back of car, keep him in a grain tower and the back of an ice cream truck, and use him to kill people. But despite all this, he is somehow a nice guy and a girl falls for him. Yeah right.

Soul Survivors  
Mainstream teenage horror movie attempts a reality-bending plot-line that continuously shifts realities from slasher horror to teenage love drama to supernatural stalkings to ghosts to paranoid delusions and hallucinations. A love triangle between high-school buddies leads to a car accident involving some aggressive goth ravers, and everything after that becomes confusing. It copies from several movies, starting from Carnival of Souls, and many people are also name-dropping Jacob's Ladder but it doesn't have that movie's darkness or creativity. It's OK for a while, albeit very derivative and lacking in surprises or interesting writing, and then it features at least 3 or 4 endings too many, all of which demonstrate writers without a clue.

Southland Tales  
Wow, this may be one of the worst instances of sophomore slump I've ever seen. After the brilliant Donnie Darko, Richard Kelly seems to have been overrun with over-confidence, a huge budget, a mass of scatter-shot ideas, an endless line of celebrities and cult personalities, and a complete lack of discipline or vision. This movie reminded me of the Hollywood massively over-produced and over-cast wacky satires of the 60s and 70s. The cast and director are having fun acting silly while a lot of money and ideas are thrown around, but what about the audience? This is a futuristic movie with too much detail and too many personalities to describe. There's WWIII, a wacky scientist who invented a new mystical-sci-fi source of energy, rabid Feminist-Marxist revolutionaries, a government sponsored corporation that controls and censors cyberspace, a movie star (Dwayne Johnson, bizarrely channeling Butters from Southpark) and his twin that wrote a screenplay that is becoming reality, a cop and his twin involved in some kind of conspiracy, a time-travel twist thrown in for no good reason, Gellar as a porn-star-cum-reality-show-host, and many more. If you're wondering how all of this can possibly be tied together, it can't, and it doesn't. I paid attention, I got all the sub-plots, but they all just didn't go anywhere. There is no satire or wit, and all the one-liners, again, feel like writers and celebrities having fun pretending to be something kooky, without being actually funny.

Bizarre and campy erotic movie about the Spermulites who come to Earth in the form of women to suck all the virility and sperm out of men permanently, and thereby save their planet. They are warned not to succumb to the pleasures of the flesh. Udo Kier stars as a technical error who came to Earth as a man with a tiny penis, and there's a side sex show with midgets and transsexuals thrown in for no good reason. It's not as fun as it sounds but the dialog is campy and amusing.

SS Camp Women's Hell  
Another Nazisploitation video nasty featuring women forced into prostitution in a concentration camp in order to show shower, sex and rape scenes. Features a couple of nasty torture and experimentation scenes as well and the usual soldiers vs doctors vs victims routine plot. Splicing real footage of the Holocaust into the movie was really disgusting however.

SS Experiment Camp  
Yet another Nazisploitation movie with sexy naked women getting tortured, humiliated or made to have sex. It's mostly tame despite the unforgivable subject matter and very dull, but is famous for the scenes where a man's balls are surgically removed (shown in detail) and implanted in an officer and the poor fella later confronts the officer with 'What have you been doing with my balls?'.

Starfish Hotel  
This is the kind of movie that is more in love with the feeling and atmosphere of mystery than the mystery itself. A Japanese movie directed by a British director, this tells the story of a man who likes reading dark and 'slightly twisted' mystery novels by a popular author, and finds himself in one himself. His wife disappears, there is a possible affair, a detective, a man in a rabbit costume (references to Alice in Wonderland or Donnie Darko?) keeps popping up everywhere who seems to know more than he should, there's an alternate persona, a strange secretive brothel, possible murders, and so on. The effect is like dreaming disconnected elements of a mystery with undertones of personal guilt, albeit a very slow, ambiguous and mostly dull one.

Stop the Bitch Campaign: Final  
A less demented third in this trilogy once again features a war between a twisted moralist psycho teaching teenage girls who prostitute themselves lessons involving torture, non-payment and humiliation, while a group of girls decide to go on a rampage torturing perverts that pick them up. It's mostly about the torture this time, and everything already feels tired and repetitive despite the plot twist.

This is another one of those psychological reality-is-not-what-you-think movies mixed with some horror in the vein of Stay, The Jacket, Jacob's Ladder, et al. Except that this is one of the worst examples of this genre, and this is coming from someone who usually enjoys watching these. A family man goes to the hospital for a routine colonoscopy, but things go wrong, and only keep getting worse, and the surroundings and events start to make less and less sense. There's a mysterious, menacing, black male nurse that may or may not have killed a patient, there's an unused hospital wing with strange secrets, a sexy nurse that seems to have a thing for him, and his family that may all have skeletons in their closets. The writing declares its intentions and goals on a bullhorn from the beginning, somehow making surrealism as obvious and boring as daylight, then it somehow completely fails to pull all of its threads and elements together. Completely pointless, scatterbrained, brainless, and unrewarding.

Suckling, The (AKA Sewage Baby)  
Man takes girlfriend to trashy abortion house that also doubles as a whorehouse (how practical). Baby is aborted with a coat-hanger, baby is flushed down toilet, coat is hung on coat-hanger. Radioactive waste in back-yard mutates baby into vengeful monster who blocks up the house with bad special effects and proceeds to tear apart the occupants. Stick around for the double nasty and sleazy ending but fast-forward the horrible acting and filming.

Tanya's Island  
Oddity about a beautiful woman (Vanity, who spends a lot of time nude here) with a brutish boyfriend who is somehow transported onto a fantasy island. She lives idyllically with her boyfriend, then secretly befriends a gentle gorilla. When her boyfriend finds out, he turns more and more brutish and cruel, leading to a primal jungle battle between man and beast, with the woman as a trophy and rape object. Features implied bestiality, and is too simple and empty-headed to enjoy.

Land Of Cards (Tasher Desh)  
From the maker of Gandu comes another highly stylized and idiosyncratic experiment that is more about the editing than the content. It is based on the work of a famous Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, and deals with a story of a prince who leaves his dead luxurious world to roam the world and encounters a fascist land, and frees it through its women. I don't know the work its based on, but my feeling through this film is that, except for the original intriguing songs and poems, the work has been reduced to dumbed down slogans black & white morality and societies that resemble cartoons rather than real life. This film deconstructs the story into a stylized montage through highlights and songs, introduces it as a story within a parable story of a storyteller seeking to stage Land Of Cards in the modern world, while the actual story of the prince is told in color. The actual land of cards is a surreal land of painted fascists in goggles chanting about rules. But both the world of cartoon fascists, and the world of braindead horny bisexual potheads chanting for anything 'new' without rules, is neither appealing nor interesting. The only things of worth in this waste of time are the original poetic snippets.

So we have a horror movie about vagina dentata. This can go in several directions so let's see what it does with it (warning: spoilers): A gentle, virginal girl who campaigns sensitively against pre-marital sex has a strange dental problem in her genitals, and is hounded by impure thoughts about her equally gentle boyfriend. So far so good. The movie, at first, treats these characters sensitively and intrigues with its ideas about sex, female modesty and metaphorical sexual horrors. Then the boyfriend suddenly turns into a rapist and the movie hints at evolution. First warning bell. Before you know it, the feminist agenda comes out: All men are perverted, insensitive rapists, from the most seemingly gentle, to the innocent and the old, and women are by nature gentle fragile creatures that must evolve into teeth-gnashing, castrating beasts because of men. In addition, the movie sets up a cartoonishly despicable step-brother for an exploitative gory ending, thus undoing the more intriguing approach of the first half. This could have been an exploitative comedy like Penetration Angst, but whereas that one had a wicked wit, this one, like a rabid feminist, assumes it will get laughs merely by biting off rapist penises. Any questions?

Tender Dracula  
Wacky and bizarre French comedy-horror with Peter Cushing as a vampire posing as an actor. Somebody was smoking something while making this film, that's for sure. There's the theme of romance replacing horror, causing the vampire to retire from his long-running TV series yearning for more existential ...something or another, giving the TV executive a panic attack. So, using pre-recorded orders in a female voice, he sends two incompetent writers to the vampire's castle along with a couple of babes for inspiration. Which is where the random and very confusing antics begin. There's a silly song sung by Miou-Miou, a hallucinative dream-sequence involving a girl cut in half with her lower half still walking around the grounds, a strange butler, who used to be vampire's wife's husband, who seems handy with an axe, a sadistic vampire wife, shoehorned scenes involving gypsies and the vampire's gravedigger father, an absurd orgy, staged suicides with fake blood in an attempt to inspire the vampire, and other violent accidents that may or may not have taken place. A definite oddity, but much more confusing than entertaining.

Ten Monologues from the Lives of the Serial Killers  
Earlier transgressive experiment from Kaganof, somewhat reminiscent of Richard Kern. As the title states, this features ten monologues, some recorded from real serial killers such as Kemper, Bundy, Manson, others from fictional literary sources written by Ballard, Rollins, Lannes, and one rap song. The visuals are experimental or transgressive, some featuring a man musing in jail, others feature actors performing, some showing footage of families and children, and others with pornographic inserts, or footage of a man masturbating to sadistic film footage projected onto his body. The implication is that this is a wave of behaviour and interest in society that permeates even normal society, containing a kind of erotic stimulation and with parallels to pornographic consumption. Personally, I always found real-life serial-killers boring, their narcissistic obsessions, memories and fetishes of interest only to clinical psychologists, and to people scared and fascinated by their own dark side. Contains not one single interesting thought.

They All Must Die!  
Very low-budget but somewhat competent remake of I Spit on Your Grave filmed in a Brooklyn ghetto. A white girl with an attitude and a willful avoidance of consequences moves into a black ghetto for inspiration to write her book. As soon as she moves in, she is harassed by three young thugs and stalked by a fan. Racism, tension and attitudes rapidly escalate until the predictable rape. The first part is gritty, real and well acted but quite banal, the graphic and extremely realistic rape goes on forever, the revenge is so quick and uneventful that it's easy to miss, and there is a dumb surprise ending. I guess it's obvious for which scene they invested the most effort.

A home-made horror movie that plumbs so many new levels of bad movie making, it is astounding. The 'plot' is about some guy's wife that has been impregnated with monsters, and these two beer-drinkers have to fight them off. This is after the bizarre movie opening dream-sequence about a guy who makes a deal with a naked woman wearing a devil mask to provide him with a baby-monster. The movie then pads this 2 minute plot to 90 minutes with the most incoherent, badly paced, painfully boring and clumsy improvisational scenes you have ever seen, backed by a painful soundtrack. Scenes go on for many minutes with nothing happening, they sit down and discuss matters of no importance, make awkwardly brainless jokes or tease each other even in the midst of a gory crisis when plastic, seemingly immobile insect-like creatures rip out of the women's belly and start 'attacking' them. One character is dead, and then he isn't. There is a tape recorder in the fridge for some reason. The terrible gore effects are zoomed into and they keep remarking on how gross all the blood is to help us understand how gross all of the blood is. And intercut with all this excitement are scenes of a fully clothed and shoulder-padded porn-star reading random and idiotic news bulletins off cue cards. If bad movies seem longer than they are relative to their terribleness, then this will take you a week to watch. The end of the film tells us: "You have just experienced: Things". Indeed.

This is like a very low-budget even more juvenile version of Three Stooges attempting a Terry Gilliam-esque epic irreverent fantasy or very silly Pythonesque spoof, only all of this without a comic sense of timing or wit. Throg is a big doofus that wrecks everything, but the gods of Olympus need a champion to entertain them, so they make him immortal and send him on adventures throughout different time periods while the giant Urshag the Destroyer tries to destroy his life. We jump from ruining Arthurian legends, to medieval fantasies with a small Irish battling giants and pig-horses, to wrecking American revolutionary armies, to a musical romp in the forest with a mean green man in a Sherwood-ian forest, to evil clowns, to dealing with fast-food customers, or causing havoc in an S&M club. The many, many locations, sketches, spoofs and silly slapstick eventually turn into a surreal fever dream of really bad humor in many silly situations. There's a lot of hard work here in terms of costumes and cheap effects, it's a pity the humor doesn't work.

Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives  
This one is strictly for the John Waters crowd, as hinted by the title. It's a throwback grindhouse movie that hops on the trend of mimicking a 70s look and feel, except that the emphasis is on camp comedy and trash rather than splatter and brutality. Some trashy guys who are too stupid to tell the difference between a man and woman, take out their frustration brutally on some trannies. The remaining surviving trannies dress up as Japanese women for a weird training scene, and magically turn into ass-kicking trannies much like they instantly turned into women I suppose. Their revenge involves tranny-minded nasty violence such as knives up the backside, but, surprisingly, no castrations. I tend to judge these movies by imagining the movie as if the actors were really women/straight and then comparing it to similar movies. This way, I bypass the gimmick and judge it in an egalitarian fashion. The question becomes, would you watch and enjoy this one if it involved straight men and women? It's really just ugly people with bad taste in makeup and clothes, in ugly situations, with lots of unfunny camp comedy and dumb dialog. Just because it's exploitation doesn't mean it has to be stupid.

To Die for Tano  
Very low-brow, silly, wacky, campy, bizarre musical biopic on a mafioso, bravely made in Italy on a low-budget and with local actors. Literally a butcher, this man's life and death, as well as his long-suffering four spinster sisters, are depicted through silly skits, over-the-top campy outfits, and every musical genre imaginable reduced to a gaudy street cabaret performance by locals. The women in a beauty salon almost serve as a Greek chorus, sometimes their musical skits turn surreal (one woman turns into a Medusa and there are swordfish-hats), there are cheap flying puppet-skulls that help with the narration, and the violent scary men are reduced to kitschy camp.

Tokyo X Erotica  
Very unusual and strange modern Pinku that is half art movie, half MTV clip, half porn. Couples having lots of sex, girls and their various deaths are explored in non-linear fashion. Death keeps popping up its head in the form of sudden violence, a prophecy, a dream, an oversexed teen, a man in a superman costume, and a gay white-faced weirdo. A prostitute's brief fling with a strange man in a bunny costume is explored, people are asked about life before birth and life after death, and more. It's all very random.

Tonight She Comes  
Strange horror movie that has a little bit of everything, and which is not good at any of it. It's a demonic horror movie where anything goes: Strange possessed dead girls, over-the-top warped Satanic rituals, and a bunch of horny youths in the middle of it barely noticing what is going on beyond their hormones. When a naked girl covered in blood with a demonic voice tries to kill you what would you do? These guys try to ignore her while teasing each other about sex. This happens throughout the movie where they never react like normal people would under the circumstances. You know it's bad when the human behaviour is more bizarre than the naked glowing demon girl. In any case, this movie tries to distract you with an old-school synth soundtrack, a massive syrupy blood cocktail from sources you don't want to imagine, random inconsistent demonic special-effects, random self-stabbing, demonic pregnancies, random gross-outs and touches of gore, etc. The horror tries to be intense by being unexplained and bizarre, but the humor is too dumb to be funny, and the strangeness and horror is undermined by stupidity.

Toolbox Murders, The  
Another video nasty where its reputation exceeds its actual shock value. It starts as just another grisly giallo where a masked killer murders slutty women using various tools from his box, then becomes an inept portrait of a messed-up family where the father is a religious fanatic who kills fornicators, the daughter is a naive girl who gets kidnapped, and the cousin is a psychopath with lustful intentions for his relatives.

Torn Priestess  
By Yűji 'Shogun's Sadism' Makiguchi. Another medieval tale of barbarism amidst civilized Japan. A girl urinates right in front of two horny travelling strangers in the forest and is surprised and shocked when they suddenly attack and rape her. She runs and finds herself in one of the millions of convents populated by heroin-smoking, man-hating, cannibalistic, cult, lesbian nuns that we know so well. Any man who falls in their clutches gets the brutal treatment, and is then eaten by a mad cannibal. This super-intelligent girl is then not so sure she likes this new arrangement any better.

John Waters-lite that is mildly amusing for a while but never really takes off. This is about various eccentrics called Townies, and the bored youngsters that like to have cruel fun with them. Except that the eccentrics are all mentally retarded for some reason, which makes them easy game for the most part, and the youngsters' idea of fun is convincing one of them to rape his female acquaintance, or hitting them with their car. Other stories include Dickie who finds a dead body as his first girlfriend, The Licker who licks everything in sight including nasty things found near garbage cans, Pricey the mute girl who likes to walk her baby doll around until she has to find a replacement, and one very strange Townie who goes for some unexpected revenge. Most of the stories don't have much of a payoff and the humor is mildly amusing at best. May amuse some that like this sort of thing, but will bore everyone else.

I don't normally watch or review purely experimental cinema, but this is a somewhat different entry in the oeuvre of Rouzbeh Rashidi. I am definitely not the audience for this kind of thing, finding it more video-art than cinema, seeing as it emphasizes experimental sound and imagery over content. This punishing 3-hour montage puts together random imagery of nudity and people superimposed and contrasted in many ways with imagery of science, sci-fi and strange landscapes, mixed with psychedelic lighting and a barrage of jarring sounds. It also has scenes of men and women applying make-up, preparing for social and dating rituals, presenting themselves to the camera as bizarre and 'alien' naked subjects, some of it feeling like personal cinematic presentations or trailers, except that the spectators in a cinema get involved in their own sexual rituals eventually as well. There are also extended scenes of a woman and a man interacting in strange physical and suggestive ways, until it turns into abuse and S&M. In short, all of the above strongly suggests people in their own worlds when it comes to sexual interests and dating rituals, each person an alien world of personal rituals, fetishes and secrets hidden underneath their social facades. It may have been an OK watch for 30 minutes, but at three hours it very soon became punishment at the level of a Matthew Barney creation. Watch Svankmajer's 'Conspirators of Pleasure' instead.

Rena Riffel, star of Mulholland Drive and Striptease and Showgirls, makes her own damn movie. And what a messy piece of camp and self-indulgence it is. She stars as a Hollywood starlet wannabe that is losing her mind and thinks she is being stalked by a vampire, that she was given magical pumps and lipstick, that her alter trash-bag-wearing ego is a super-heroine called Trasharella, and that Count Smokula, an evil vampiric old Jewish man is after her to force her to wear ugly granny panties. Will the feather-wearing Native-American apathetic alcoholic shrink save her in time? The movie wanders on a whim to a silent-screen flashback from 100 years ago, breaks into trashy song and dance, and other surprises. Count Smokula is funny in a terrible Troma sort of way, but to endure 100 minutes of an actress indulge in over-the-top campy neuroticisms and spoiled Hollywood bimboisms with endless pointless scenes such as when she tries on new clothes with a porn star, is simply not worth it.

Trouble Every Day  
Claire Denis does a vampiric horror movie. This means slow, quiet atmosphere and meandering scenes from which you have to extract a barebones plot. Medical experiments lead to blood-lust, a scientist keeps his crazed wife locked in house who eats burglars and escapes to devour truck drivers. An American who believed in the scientific research and is also under the influence of blood-lust comes looking for them during his honeymoon, accompanied by his sweet wife. Overwhelming lust, fantasies of blood, and graphic flesh eating ensue. Somewhat disturbing and effective, but completely unbelievable, aimless and messy.

An experimental movie depicting a few days in the life of a mentally damaged man via non-linear fragmentation and memories, paranoid behaviour, gaps in awareness, criminal or negligent behaviour, and a schizoid detachment from everything that is happening. The problem is, the world around him seems to be even more insane and immoral than he is. We learn of his affections for his sister, his damaging behaviour with some ex-wives and girlfriends, and some people he may have angered in the past. He gets his ex-girlfriend to take him in only to flood her house because he likes steam, a crazy, female, rich, drug-addict somehow attaches herself to him, he visits his father's ranch populated by strange servants and a gang of freaky thieves that are impressed by the jewels he stole from his sister, and so on... the movie one long parade of ugly, freaky, violent, or deranged people that he is trying to wade through with his limited, fractured understanding. Pointless, ugly and unrewarding.

It's difficult to believe that this amateur-hour mess of a quirky horror-comedy was made by Coppola. It's allegedly based on Coppola's dream, and looks and feels like one of those half-baked experiments and ideas one gets when half-asleep that is dropped as soon as one's head clears or someone else enters the picture. But Coppola actually indulged and saw this one through to the end. A second-rate horror writer finds himself in a tiny town with strange sheriff, a multi-faced clock tower, mysterious murders involving a stake through the heart, legends of Edgar Allan Poe's stay, some goth-kids staying at the lake who may or may not be vampires, and the ghosts of a serial killer of children. He investigates, and works out a story while sleeping and having many surreal dreams blending all of the above gothic elements. The movie is like a series of random vignettes that go nowhere, the story is a mess of multiple loose threads, there are cheap effects, and the tone is all over the place.

Vacuum Killer  
It doesn't get much lamer than this. A mess of incoherent plot-lines that are raised and then dropped without development including a Russian roulette game show, a perverted priest and his fighting female employees, a re-animating misogynist scientist that never re-animates anything, a drug-addict son that straps a vacuum cleaner to his rotting arm and goes on a killing spree, etc. I suppose this is supposed to be a series of funny trashy vignettes, but mean-spirited characters, lame death-scenes where most of the gore is off-screen, and weird people coloring on naked women doesn't count as comedy in my book.

Velvet Goldmine  
Todd Haynes's tribute to glam rock is a like a bad, gay, Ken Russell movie of excess, color and incoherency. A journalist with a deep love for the genre is assigned some research on Brian Slade, a once-super-popular glam star who faked his own death. Through interviews, the world of glam rock in the 70s is explored as it exploded with glitz, sexual ambiguity and controversy amidst the hippies and rockers. But Haynes loses any semblance to a story in a scatter-shot movie that seems to be more concerned with its appearance, poses, costumes, music and attitude than a coherent plot. Ewan McGregor bares all in a wild rock performance and interviews, performances, rehearsals and flings become a Ken Russell-esque surreal circus show. Where there was sexual ambiguity and experimentation, there is now certain homosexuality and a screenplay obsessed with only the sexual relationship between two glam rock stars and the fact that people everywhere were cross-dressing, making it hard to imagine why this appealed to so many people from even mainstream circles in the 70s.

Veruschka: Poetry of a Woman  
Empty-headed Italian portrait of a supermodel that uses light psychedelia and surrealism to explore a depressed beautiful girl. Except it's all from the outside, and she never emerges as a real person, only as an object of pretty melancholia. Her various fears and repressed feelings of trapped emptiness are portrayed using symbolism, dressing her up in a wide variety of trippy outfits and artistic body paint and placing her in a jungle, decaying urban settings, deep snow, an empty room etc etc. In other words, they explore her inner feelings using the same methods that caused them, by dressing her up as a doll. There are also flashbacks, various gloomy love affairs, a drug-trip scene of psychedelia when she encounters an obnoxious improvisational hippy-band, a surreal scene of watching her own doppelgänger die, etc. Despite the eye-candy and Morricone soundtrack, this is a vapid movie.

V/H/S Viral  
This third entry seems to have replaced the splatter with random strangeness and mind-boggling incoherency. Once again, there is a wrapper story that never makes any sense, except it feels like the guy from Memento filmed it and keeps forgetting what the movie is about and just makes up new ideas and tangents every 2 minutes. There is a police chase, some guy who gets obsessed over filming it, a laughably unrealistic random dismemberment by car-accident, kids that risk their life to follow the chase and end up dying in very gruesome ways, a possessed girlfriend, random violence that the chase passes in the street like a violent Latino barbecue with fork-attacks, a meta-camera filming-horror that never even begins to make sense, and so on. Then there are the three shorts: One about a magician with an evil cape that turns violent, featuring some nifty fight-scenes with seamless magic violence, but with bad acting. The second short is actually a good one by the director of Timecrimes, featuring a man who invents a portal to another dimension and discovers that his mirror personality lives in a demonic world with very strange social practices and horrific physical mutations. Unfortunately, the rest of this anthology overrides this good single short. The third one is a headache-inducing mess about some obnoxiously stupid skateboard kids that battle it out with a bizarre cult using impossible fight techniques and bizarre magic, video-game style, except that the jumpy helmet-cameras make it impossible to figure out what is going on and everything is incredibly unrealistic. As mentioned, some brief gruesome gore, but it's more about the strangeness this time, filmed in gloriously painful and fake 'found-footage' style.

Overlong Bulgarian art-house movie about living with and without Communism, compared to motherhood, or the lack thereof. The story covers three generations: A mute grandmother with secrets, a disaffected mother distanced both from her mother and her daughter, and the daughter Viktoria, who was born without a navel and was promptly declared a symbol of Communism, and brought up symbolically by the state that sees motherhood as unnecessary. Viktoria grows up into a brat as the darling of the state and she can do no wrong. But when Communism falls and Viktoria falls sick, the family is forced together. The movie is peppered with very light surrealism, in addition to the symbolic missing navel. Unfortunately, the symbolism is simple and unrewarding, and the movie has relatively very little to say for its 2.5 hour runtime.

Violador Infernal, El  
Mexican sleaze about a man sentenced to the electric chair saved by Satan and given a life of riches and pleasures on condition that he give her lots of fornication and murder. So he goes about enjoying life's pleasures, taking drugs and raping both men and women, stabbing them and then raping them some more. Cheesy special effects and plenty of nastiness.

Artsy navel-gazing at its worst. A moody puzzle that sometimes feels like it wants to a Robbe-Grillet mystery, with repeating takes, re-occurring clues, and a movie that teases the audience with ominous questions about a missing brother, shots of crocodiles and scissors, non-sequitur statements, and dark looks. Three men and a woman wander about an island, diving, playing games, beating a drum, building a scarecrow with a skull as its head, and brooding over a missing brother who had moody sex with the woman, while we get to see the movie itself being filmed complete with clapper board and the director giving instructions. Doesn't add up to anything as far as I can see.

Male clown has a crappy life, constantly made fun of and abused by neighbours and his mom. Clown has bright idea of performing at bachelor parties instead of the stripper. Clown gets abused and sodomized by an extremely twisted trio of father and sons (a la Texas Chainsaw Massacre). Clown recovers, his life improves, then falls apart again. Pointless trash.

War Zone, The  
A gritty and grim exploration of incest and how it affects an isolated British family. Somehow it fooled critics into thinking it's meaningful and brave, but the incest and nudity is needlessly and constantly displayed, turning this into exploitation, and the characters' motives are often impenetrable, or nonsensical.

A boring crime drama, like a poor-man's Serpico, about the police and a lawyer who try to put away drug dealers and resort to using illegal tactics to get their way in court. When the lawyer fights this system, they conspire to ruin him. Most of the movie consists of tedious flashbacks (from a future date for no good reason), and investigation or interview footage as the uninteresting story comes together, with occasional strange drugged-out visions of himself in a nice suit filming nothing in particular or interviewing his court enemies in an outdoor setting, all finally reaching a weird climax that features a man blowing cocaine clouds all over the room and flipping out over a toupee. Filmed incoherently by drug-addicts and it shows.

Watcher in the Attic  
A strange Japanese erotic film about a man who lives in an attic, watching the dwellers below engaging in strange sex acts (clown-sex, man hides in a chair so she can sit on him, men with strange fetishes and obsessions, priest-sex, etc). When he witnesses a woman smother a man to death during sex knowing that he is watching her, they both decide they are soul-mates and embark on a murder spree involving complicated and strange deaths while getting their body painted. The incomprehensible behaviour, body language and dialog all make this into an art film that is not as lurid as it sounds, but is pointless nevertheless.

I don't normally bother with experimental cinema that merely toys with structure, light, sound and camera for experiment's sake, but this one happens to be a notorious landmark that severely punishes its audience. Of course, a movie that is basically a visual blank slate and aural assault will allow all sorts of movie reviewers to attempt to project their pseudo-intellectual prowess on this empty canvas and interpret what they saw using fancy words. And even the director can describe the film as "a summation of my nervous system, religious inklings and aesthetic ideas" somehow without being accused of being a pretentious idiot. But all this 'movie' does is show a slow 40 minute camera zoom in a room towards a window and an image of the titular subject, while emitting a sine-wave hum that slowly grows into a ear-piercing shriek while the camera constricts its view over a period of several days, thus referencing a wave, all of which is possibly symbolic of a banal, slow moving and increasingly painful life ameliorated by the calm sea (or whatever interpretation you'd prefer). In case that isn't enough to get you into an intense intellectual discussion, Hollis Frampton appears in the room and dies, and a woman finds him there, thus adding an element of mystery and death. Yeah, right.

Dutch version of Kids/Bully era of Larry Clark, 23 years later. Whereas Kids was a wake-up call about the kind of behaviour that young teenagers of the time were diving into, this is 20 years too late, uninteresting, and more like Bully than Kids. I.e. it's merely exploitation, trash and sensationalism. A group of eight teenage friends form a kind of anything-goes fun club to break their boredom and challenge each other. The immoral behaviour quickly escalates from sexual games, to porn (explicit), prostitution, blackmail, and violent abuse. As opposed to Clark, this one does show consequences, except most of them don't seem to care about anything or have any semblance of a moral compass, so it keeps spiraling even more out of control anyways. They cause senseless death and destruction, there's a violent attempt at home-made abortion, and one guy turns out to be a sick sadist straight out of Bully. If not for the credits, I would have sworn this was a Clark movie. No realistic characters, just sensationalism and exploitation.

Welcome the Stranger  
This is the kind of movie that starts off intriguing and mysterious and ends up making you hate it for being manipulative nonsense. It's the movie equivalent of the 'Lost' TV series. There's a very odd sister-brother pair with layers of mysterious tensions between them. She comes to visit him in a mysterious mansion, there's a mysterious past with their parents that we are allowed to glimpse only in snippets that never quite make sense. There's a possible alien abduction past, or some obsession with aliens, or perhaps they are aliens, or perhaps they are mad, or perhaps a mysterious person that suddenly appears is an alien. There's a bizarre insect that appears and disappears. There's sexual tension, and their relationship is somehow both too close in a near-incestuous way, and too estranged at the same time. Dialog is pregnant with meaning, and ends up revealing nothing and contradicting itself. Characters behave one way, then in a completely different and contradictory way. There are slight Singapore Sling style depravities and murder. And so on and on. Half-way through the movie I realized this is just an attempt to hook an audience with no plot and all faux-'mystery'. A completely empty movie that spits on its audience.

When Your Flesh Screams  
Of all the movies to emulate, this Argentinian low-budget movie picked I Spit on your Grave. Except it's an unimaginative exercise in nastiness without any of the impact, and the characters are poorly written. You know the drill: There's the long setup, a girl, a group of nasty criminals, endlessly long rape scenes, and a final violent revenge. There's also some bonus male sodomy. The characters try to be edgy by being disturbingly nasty, but it's more awkward than disturbing performances.

Wiener Brut (AKA Sounds of Snow)  
Cult camp Austrian movie that is strictly for the gay crowd. There's a semblance to a satirical plot involving gay punk squatters staging a coup against the aristocracy, but this isn't done with any wit or focus, and most of the movie is scattered scenes of drag-camp. There's a group of anything-goes horny bisexual squatters and cross-dressers, a social worker who visits the building they have invaded who finds herself kidnapped and brainwashed (after a bizarre visit to their various rooms of depravity and a fantasy-fugue chase scene), and a group of aristocratic women (all drag queens) who search for a new butler by taking down his pants and who are very attached to their drug-dealer. There are random scenes of sex, punk concerts, gay-bashing, lots of drag camp, and a slightly surreal ending with ghosts and LSD-inspired horrors for three policemen.

Wild Tigers I Have Known  
Terribly pretentious and crude artsy movie about a 13 year old boy coming-of-age to homosexual interests. It's all about the mood, his life is never explored, and every emotion is spelled out by having him write it out for us on his naked belly. He lusts for an older hunk who seems bi-confused, colors, gritty film, noise and dreamy imagery depict his state of mind, as well as some light but crude surrealism/symbolism in the form of lions, spiders and lion caves as fearful, but ultimately misunderstood beings. There are also long scenes of masturbation, showering and phone sex. If all you really wanted was to make a softcore movie about pubescent boys, why make us suffer?

Witches Mountain, The  
One of the most incoherent Euro-horror movies I've seen, which is what perhaps lends it its 'atmosphere'. There are many standard horror elements here to be sure, but the way the movie is put together, you'll be hard pressed to understand what is going on and why one scene leads to another. The opening, for example, features a seemingly evil child, a desperate mother, a snake, some animal deaths, and flames, but what actually happens is anyone's guess. The rest of the movie involves a photojournalist and a woman that he picked up on an assignment-cum-trek in the country, encountering sudden loud music, an eccentric deaf pervy keeper of a castle-inn, disappearing witches, a completely nonsensical ritual performed by witches in bras, and a woman that keeps changing roles with a sudden ending that makes no sense whatsoever. A mess.

Wonderland Experience, The  
New-age nonsense mixed with pill-popping raver-techno philosophy in a movie that begs to draw parallels to Alice in Wonderland, But it isn't weird enough to be interesting, and the philosophy is as scatter-brained as the writing. A young man wanders through Indian beaches, woodlands and deserts meeting strange mystical and eccentric artsy characters, some of which drop hints that all is not what it seems to be in reality, while he searches for his father. There are flashbacks to a raver party, plenty of new-age gobbledygook about the spirit, all backed by a techno soundtrack. Unrewarding and empty-headed reality-bending movie. Just because there is a strange man obsessed with tea, that doesn't make it worthy of Alice in Wonderland.

Despite reviews and appearances at the beginning of this movie, this horror film is much, much more 'Stalker' than 'Blair Witch'. That is, if Stalker were made by the new generation of horror film-makers that think that unexplainable events, random violence, and careful sound design are all that's needed to make good horror. This is about a group of people that follow a legendary mountain trail, one where a whole group of people died 70 years ago and since then has been shrouded in secrecy and misinformation. Once they enter, nothing works, nothing makes sense, there are only strange sounds and music, and they all find themselves facing who they really are in supposed existential crises. Except what they really do is go nuts and start killing, like this is some kind of Battle Royale. One ridiculous act of violence is simply physically impossible, making one wonder what they were thinking. If nothing else, this film will make you appreciate the subtlety and philosophical approach of Stalker much more. Based on the music and sound, this suggests that they find themselves in some kind of 'movie of life' metaphor of hell. Except that nothing ever develops, makes sense, and there is simply no proper setup nor the required character work here that justifies any of their behaviour, nothing which would give us a base upon which to understand what they are going through or what they are changing into. The acting, sound and location are all good, however, and could have worked in a better screenplay. But this is simply a film by film-makers that do not know what they are doing.

Yet to Rule  
Another one of those movies where different aspects of a personality are acted by different people. This Romanian piece has potentially two layers to it: A character study as performed by two people, and a gender statement since it features a woman in the role of a man's rationality and morality, while the man performs all of the physical and impulsive acts. It's obviously a gender statement, otherwise they wouldn't make a choice to cast two different genders. In addition, not only does it reverse the traditional roles, but it also also gives morality to the female role, whereas typically these movies give instinct as well as morality to the feminine side. So regardless of which abstract role the woman is cast, she is superior. Then there is the fact that the man in this role beats up his rationality then rapes his wife for no apparent reason, before we even get to know anything about their relationship, as if that is all that we need to know. Putting all that aside, what about the character study and drama? The dual acting and interaction between them is done nicely and subtly. Unfortunately the character study is as banal as it gets, portraying a mind-numbingly boring life in mind-numbingly extended scenes of court cases, driving, visiting his dad, eating, and raping. Which is the point of the movie: To portray a broken man in a dead-end life, except that there is no insight here nor anything of interest character-wise. Conclusion: There is nothing to see here except misandry. 'Mouthpiece' was better and, as usual with these things, it came out in the same year.

Zombie Ninja Gangbangers  
So this whore gets raped by a group of zombies, and everyone she tries to turn to with her story disbelieve and abuse her. A policeman rapes her, her friend insults and dumps her, and a bouncer throws her out in the alley where she gets raped again by the zombies. So she gets together with a guy who got beaten up by his father for saying that he got beaten up by zombies, and turns to a psycho who lures women to his basement, and gets his retarded fat friend to kill them after which he has sex with them. They ask him to make them a ninja zombie but he makes a joker zombie instead who ...tries to rape her. This would be quite funny if not for the fact that this was extremely poorly lit, filmed, directed and acted. Trash.

Zombie 108  
A Taiwanese zombie horror-comedy-action movie spliced with a mutant serial-killer-rapist movie. Yes, you read that right. The approach here is to keep on piling more and more characters, random scenes, flashbacks & elements without developing any of them, all of it edited together with the shortest cuts possible and with shaky cam for the action. The result is an endless mess. Cliched elements include the gangsters and cops forced to flee and fight together, people waking up in the middle of a zombie-apocalypse, people getting bitten and hiding it, and so on. But then there is the meat-wearing disfigured fat dude who keeps naked women and zombies in his basement, sexually abusing them with urine and octopuses, and experimenting with the zombie toxin for some reason. There's also some improvised dialogue by some American foreigners, and a random monster mutation that is never explained. Some scenes prompt you with how many hours backwards the flashback took place, but it never makes any sense, characters disappear, there are one or two splatter scenes but it's not really a gore movie, its not really a serial killer movie either, and the ending is very weak and unsatisfying.

Zombie Women of Satan 1 & 2    
Strange British zombie exploitation comedy that lives in a logic and world of its own. In this world, most women are passive playthings that serve as submissive fodder for mad-scientist experiments with zombie viruses and random whimsical murder, and they are eager to play orgy games with twister as foreplay for perverted nobodies and clean up after daddy's zombie experiments. A troupe of performing freaks including Pervo the compulsive masturbating bisexual murdering clown, Zeus the midget, and a mute man who cut off his tongue with a chainsaw, find themselves trapped in the grounds of a bizarre family amidst an outbreak of topless zombie women. This family includes a horny half-zombie mother, the mad scientist father, and a pervert psychopath as a son. There is no Satan, but the zombie women keep coming out of nowhere as fodder, and deaths of friends are shrugged off as mild inconveniences. It's not as fun as it sounds though, with endlessly unfunny dialogue and bickering, scenes of general mayhem, and only one splatter scene with a chainsaw. This is the kind of movie that thinks that a scene of a little person taking a huge dump in the woods is so funny, it deserves several minutes of time. The sequel is more of the same, except it focuses more on the horny and very annoying antics of Pervo the Clown, as well as the family of freaks that are after him for revenge, ending with another wave of zombie women.

Zoom In: Rape Apartments  
According to Pinku movies, Japanese women must really love their rapist serial killers, even when they are brutal enough to burn their victims alive. A married woman (with a husband who has sex with her just for luck), encounters an old flame and a rapist amongst an apartment complex. Murders escalate in the neighbourhood in their brutality, most involving various nasty ways of burning a woman alive. In between there are plenty of sex scenes. The faceless killer, straight out of an Argento movie, is dressed in black and gloves. But what is his identity really? The ending turns almost surreal as the killer reaches a mythological, supernatural status in the woman's eyes, who is by now insanely starved for sadistic lovers.

Zorn's Lemma  
An almost-full-length from Hollis Frampton, who likes to make short formalist experiments with the most basic technical aspects of film. Here he literally deconstructs the ABCs of sight, language and sound for 60 minutes, with about 45 minutes of single-word signs flashed on screen in alphabetical order, individual letters slowly replaced by snippets of random scenes, as the structure of language and the words evolve on screen and go beyond their mathematical set of letters, all bookended by narrators reading out ancient texts (On Light, or the Ingression of Forms, by Robert Grosseteste) or two people reading alternative words from sentences. Reminiscent of a very early Greenaway short. If this is experimental cinema then I want nothing to do with it. Ultimately boring.

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