Borderline Extreme Movies


Recommended

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.

Bernie  
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 seach 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 camerawork. The original title translates to Martyrdom 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 but 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 satisfaction, but the last half hour makes up for this with several scenes of gripping madness, brilliant black comedy and atmosphere.

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.

Coraline  
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.

Delicatessen  
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.

Dogma  
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.

Equus  
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.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind  
An insightful, quirky and sensitive masterpiece about memory, ingrained behaviour and emotional attachment. Although this was written by Charlie Kaufman, I feel that Gondry made it his with his many visual quirks and love for his characters, as opposed to Kaufman's loathing. This movie explores the above themes by taking a loving relationship that has gone bad, and adding a memory erasure procedure into the story. Lovers that live in pain naturally search for a way to remove their suffering, but what is left after memories are erased? Perhaps the love would remain, as well as habits, inclinations and even emotions that would cause us to make the same mistakes over again? What if, during a memory erasure procedure, we suddenly realized that we don't want to lose the good with the bad and that the good was a lot more important than we imagined? Gondry has both visual as well as intellectual fun with all this, adding slight surreal touches as we see the world through a man's emotionally torn mind that is being systematically scrubbed. Memories are consciously hidden or moved elsewhere, change before our very eyes, and even become surreally warped. Superbly touching, fun and fascinating for thinking, sensitive audiences.

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.

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 various 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.

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.

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.

MirrorMask  
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 timelines, 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?

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.

Phantasm  
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.

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.

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.

Primer  
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 technobabble 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 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.

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.

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.

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 refridgerator 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.

U-Turn  
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, incestual 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.
Of Some Interest

Accion 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.

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, evauluated 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 accomodating, 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.

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.

Allegro  
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.

Alyce  
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 Godadersque 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.

AmnesiA  
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.

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.

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.

Animal  
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.

Anonymous Queen, The  
Strange, sometimes slightly surreal farce by Gonzalo Suárez about a housewife having a vey 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?

Antiviral  
The concept is a strongly satirical one about obsession over celebrities taken to biological extremes. But the movie is a dark body-horror movie about a society obsessed with diseases gotten straight from celebrities, ruthless businesses that thrive on this, 'cell-steaks' grown from celebrity biomatter, and a black market based on these and other disturbing abuses of bio-technology. If this makes you think of a certain director, then you should not be surprised to find that this was made by Cronenberg's son. When a black marketeer gets his hands on a celebrity virus that is unable to be tamed, and everyone wants a piece of him, the thriller plot emerges together with the horror and understated dark satire. This also features machines that interface with viruses, and viruses given human faces. I think his next movie should be about horror film-making talent made flesh and passed on via genetics to create little mutant horror film-makers disguised as humans. A quite good one. 'Shivers' for the new generation.

Arcanum  
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 unexplicable 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.

Atolladero  
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.

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.

Autopsia  
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 manchild that speaks in a tiny voice, special agents and much more.

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.

Beasts  
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.

Berberian Sound Studio  
As long as you approach this slow-burning British-Italian co-production appropriately, you should get more out of it. This is not a homage to Italian giallo movies or a horror movie, but a psychological breakdown movie in the vein of Repulsion. Except that in this case, it delves into the mind of a meek, gentle sound-engineer who finds himself working in Italy for the first time on what sounds like a horrifically nasty movie about the torture of witches. The relatively crude, outspoken and fiery Italians keep him alienated, as does the Italian mistreatment and lust of women and masquerading as charm. In addityion, the director is full of himself and pretends his movie his art, and although we don't get to see the movie itself, the sounds, the expressions on the engineer's face, and the abused voice-actors, all bring its nasty scenes to life indirectly. The last reel of the movie veers into light Lynchianisms as his reality falls apart and literally becomes a horror movie, but its all about his attitude and face that reflect the changes he went through. I thought the ending seemed extremely abrupt just when the movie was finally building up to something, until I realized that his mental state was the only goal of the movie. Very atmospheric and well-crafted, but it needed a bit more payoff. Many fruits and vegetables were harmed during the making of this movie.

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.

Big Man Japan  
Hilarious mockumentary/satire on Japanese monsters and the society that used to love them. Big Man is an X-generation superhero that gets zapped with electricity to swell up and fight huge monsters. Problem is, society is tired of the same old thing and ratings are low, not to mention they all hate him for ruining the environment. He also has an angry ex-wife, and an old senile superhero grandpa in a retirement home whom he needs to take care of. So he lives a depressing life with a dreary, painful job of fighting leftover bizarre monsters, like the Swinging Eyeball monster, a Stink monster who is just a huge old lady-monster with a hygiene problem, and a middle-aged monster that uproots skyscrapers while adjusting his combover. The ending features some horribly cheesy superheros in the Japanese bug-eyed robot fashion (with zippers up their backs) who argue over what's good showmanship. Deadpan slow satire with mostly CGI effects.

Biotaxia  
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.

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.

Bliss  
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.

Botched  
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).

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 payoof at the end is pretty good, but the writing, casting and the comedy in general feel more like wacky, juvenile sketches roleplayed by British comedians rather than anything witty, satirical and fleshy. Fun and entertaining, but not great.

Cadavres  
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 freeform 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.

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.

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 politican 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 kindaps her and takes her to his mother's house where even more unbelieveably 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.

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.

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.

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 breakdancing, 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 prostition, addiction and other desperations, and watches her friends die and degrade themselves while she tries to quit.

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 beaurocracy 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.

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.

Communion  
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.

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 staightforward 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 electricty 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 storylines 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.

Dalí  
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 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 doppelganger, 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 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 unsual 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.

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.

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.

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.

Deranged  
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.

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.

Dogtooth  
Bizarre metaphor piece from Greece about the absurdity of isolation and extreme separationism and the existential effect of being a part or apart of society. A father, together with his willing wife, has brought up his three children to never step out of the house. Words that have to do with the outside world are replaced with other meanings (keyboard is female genitals, zombie is a yellow flower), elaborate stories are told as to why they can't step outside the boundaries of the house (killer cats, dogtooths, and magical qualities of cars), movies are strictly forbidden, and overflying airplanes are toy models that sometimes fall into the garden. The father brings home a tollbooth woman to sexually service his son and curb his sexual urges, but when she experiments with a daughter and gives her movies, it causes havoc with their innocent and undeveloped minds.

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 beaurocratic 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 arthouse drama. Interesting.

Dream Demon  
A British Nightmare on Elm Steet 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.

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, bizare costumes, literal cliff-hangers, lots of insanely colorful machines and sets, etc.

Duffer  
Experimental, gritty, artsy, British character study that is quite effectively disturbing, like an arthouse, 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.

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...

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 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.

Field in England, A  
Another intriguing head-scratcher from Ben Wheatley that lives in its own world. This B&W oddity is set in the English Civil War, where three soldiers and an alchemist escape the madness to seek an alehouse. But sorcery is afoot, and, after eating some mushrooms, they find themselves slaves for a strange Irish sorceror who is pulled into the visible world via ropes and who promptly forces them to seek treasures in the field. The banter between the soldiers is part elegant old English, part bawdy silliness, and the attitude as a whole is quite laid-back in an absurd way, combined with folk superstitions and dry humor, all of which creates a unique atmosphere. They also frequently freeze in classic poses to create a live tableau. Tensions escalate, and more mushrooms are taken, leading to a violent and psychedelic climax. This may leave you unsure of what you just watched, but it is a fascinating experience that takes you to another time and place.

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.

Freaked  
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.

Freeway  
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.

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.

Gandahar  
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, The  
Spanish metaphor and psychological drama with touches of Bunuelian absurdity and surealism. After an accident leaves a millionare 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.

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 Told Me To  
Messy but thoughtful film that tries to mix religion, faith, alien abduction and a Scanners-like plotline 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.

Golem  
Arthouse, 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.

Grace  
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.

Gums  
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.

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.

Hakuchi  
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.

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.

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.

Himiko  
Japanese arthouse 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-wordly 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.

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.

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.

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'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.

Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle, The  
Dory loses his office job after a mental breakdown, has a religous 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.

India, La  
Dark Mexican arthouse 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.

Inferno  
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.

Jigoku  
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 occurences 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.

Joshua  
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.

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.

Kill List  
Impossibly cryptic British thriller that defies all possible explanations or categories, leading one to suspect there was no thought put behind it. The strange thing is, that it looks like a conventional thriller/horror hybrid for the most part, as long as you ignore the little details. The first part shows a very troubled marriage, both wife and husband lashing out at each other even in front of a guest friend who constantly works to defuse the situation. The second part turns into a thriller about assassins on a job to kill a list of people, except the victims all react strangely, calmly or happily, the husband growing increasingly more insanely violent as the victims turn increasingly more deserving of death. The final part swerves into bizarre horror about some kind of death cult. Even name-dropping won't help you figure this one out: The Wicker Man for its alien culture of death doesn't explain things adequately, neither does Rosemary's Baby for its supernatural conspiracy, or perhaps Eyes Wide Shut would be more appropriate, except this is about death and not sex? But his wife doesn't behave consistently, and the movie drops many hints that defy all of these explanations. The best theory I can come up with is that it is a surreal study on aggression and violence that take on a life of their own, the husband's traumatic war background leading to anger leading to violence leading to killing, which may or may not be all in his mind, all to the point where killing is justified by any means necessary, until the final death where shocking realization shatters this fugue of insanity. But even this explanation is pushing it.

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).

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.

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 cartoonshily 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.

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 Tango in Paris  
Endlessly talked about classic that was supposed to start a cinematic revolution but never did. It's an artsy exploration of dark sexual obsessions as well as a character study where two strangers meet, have impulsive, anonymous sex, then develop a strange 'relationship' where each is using the other for their neurotic needs. The sex scenes (becoming more twisted as the movie progresses) are explicit and shocked audiences, and the performances are disturbingly frank but the whole thing is unreal and undone by its artsy pretentions. Also deemed a homoerotic movie because Brando seemed to be competing with the girl's fiancee and she was just the object in the middle. More existing analyses abound.

Laurin  
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.

Leolo  
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 beyong a 12 year old's capabilities. A pointlessly filthy but greasily poetic arthouse singularity.

Lickerish Quartet, The  
An arthouse, 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.

L'immoralitŕ  
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.

Louise-Michel  
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 themslves 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 pretentions, 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 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.

Lucky  
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.

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 incestual lesbian relationship with her (what?). Another huge flaw is the horrible lighting and sound that makes it impossible to understand many scenes.

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 incestual 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.

Malice@Doll  
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.

Malpertuis  
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.

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.

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...

Marquis  
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-arthouse 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.

Medusa Raft, The  
Artsy Yugoslavian film about using provocative, progressive artforms 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 artform, 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 webcams, 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?

Mercy  
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.

Midori  
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...

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, pyschedelic, 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.

Miraculi  
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, presured 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.

Monkeybone  
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.

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.

Motorama  
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.

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.

Necrophobia  
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 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.

Notherners, 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 saintdom and seeing holy statues and birds coming to life, things stir up. Entertainingly unique and colorful, but unsatisfying.

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 wacked 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.

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?

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, arthouse mood-piece that straddles the border with modern ultra-violent movies. In Thailand, 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 incestual mother abuses him psychologically, leading to several Lynchian near-surreal scenes of soul-searching and violent, symbolic punishment while the 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.

Palindromes  
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.

Paperhouse  
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.

Parents  
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 psyhological 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 harrassing, dominating guests who turn them into guests. They draw lines, make silly rules, harrass 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.

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.

Pervert!  
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.

Phenomena  
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.

Pixote  
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 acquiantances 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 incestual 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 ambigious 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.

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, doppelgangers 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.

Rampo  
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.

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.

Reconstruction  
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 abtsract David Lynch without the weirdness, and like a Robbe-Grillet without the confidence.

Red Dwarf, The  
A talented Belgian arthouse piece that is somehow fascinating but empty at the same time. A dwarf feels out of place eveywhere 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.

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.

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 whimsicially 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 seuqences 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 arthouse 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.

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 employes 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.

Schizofrantic  
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.

Schizopolis  
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.

Secretary  
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.

Septien  
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.

Sex Is Crazy  
Bonkers erotic comedy from Jesús Franco that is basically a series of sexual roleplay scenes strung together, with the director intervening or narrating once in a while to keep the games going. The first roleplay is the most bizarre and silly, with naked painted people performing a series of alien 'impregnations' that take 9 seconds from sex to child, all the while they are chanting and counting down. After that it's spy-games, torture, melodrama, a foursome wedding and marriage, exhibitionism, and even a Rosemary's Baby roleplay, all flippant, energetic, whimsical, and light-hearted.

Shadey  
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 incestual 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.

Shanks  
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 puppeter 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.

Siesta  
A stuntwoman 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 psychosexual 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 scattershot 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.

Silip  
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 backstabbings. 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.

Skeletons  
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.

Slaughterhouse-Five  
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 travellng 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.

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.

Snowtown  
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 indocrinating 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.

Spider Forest  
Korean supernatural non-linear mystery that bends in on itself, with some Lynchian psychosexual scenes that end up nonsensicallly 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.

Stalker  
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.

Strangers With Candy  
After a pilot that is jaw-droppingly bizarre, this unfunny but cult TV show merely settles for the oddball and crass, mixing There's Something About Mary frat-boy toilet-humor with twisted teenagers in high-school Southparkian comedy and a dash of Zucker-Abrahams zaniness. Jerri is a 47 year old ex-drug addict that tries to pick up her life where she left it 32 years ago... in high-school. She has to deal with the usual teenage problems like popularity, homecoming queen jealousy, snitching, homework, parents, etc. only from the perspective of a trashy drug-abuser straight out of a John Waters movie. The teachers and parents are off-the-wall eccentric and even surreal, taking showers in their offices, sitting horribly frozen in their chairs like a corpse, and saying what their subconscious wants instead of what they are thinking. The plots are over-the-top silly involving things like informing on a fellow student for being a retard, the humor is extremely politically incorrect and offensive, joking about racism one second and uterus scraping the next. A show with a logic of its own that must be seen to be believed.

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 attemting to repeat the performance by manipulating or forcing her to make another baby. Shelly 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.

Svampe  
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, incestual 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.

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.

Taxandria  
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.

Tenement (AKA Game of Survival)  
From the maker 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.

30 Door Key AKA Ferdydurke  
An odd arthouse satire by Skolimowski on social roles, archteypes 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.

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 incestual 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.

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.

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.

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 rewatch 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 obssessed 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.

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.

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.

Trainspotting  
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.

Truffe  
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 refridgerators to sales-people's backs, and fur stoles that turn into bizarre robotic monsters. A visually stylish oddity.

Tuvalu  
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.

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.

Ulysses  
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.

Underground  
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 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.

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.

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.

Vinyan  
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 delirous. 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 deliria. 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.

Waltz with Bashir  
An Israeli arthouse animation that took the world by storm. The movie mixed dramatic re-enactment, a documentary approach with interviews, and surreal imagery, all exploring elusive memories of war to embark on an experimental personal journey of remembrance and trauma. A man's memories of the 1982 Lebanon War are triggered by his friend who has recurring nightmares about the dogs he had to shoot. He realizes his memories are all a blur or forgotten, and tries to piece together what happened there, especially on the day of the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Fear, trauma and the insane intensity of the experience infuses the re-enactment of war scenes with surreal scenes of emerging from an ocean naked into war, and seeking comfort on a giant naked woman that comes out of the sea. Other scenes include some nightmares, detached scenes of carnage mixed with party punk music, and a soldier performing a strange dance in the middle of a chaotic war. An interesting and valid personal and guilt-ridden exposure, but I'm sad over the fact that this will only fuel more anti-semitism. It's telling that all the outcries were aimed only at the Jews while the Phalangist/Christians who actually committed the massacre just walked away...

Weatherwoman  
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 fanboys 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.

Werckmeister Harmonies  
A very Tarkovsky-like arthouse 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 arthouse snobs, but I found it uninsightful and mostly a bore.

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 screnplay'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 stranger comedy from the 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 seduces 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 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.

Wishing Machine, The  
Freeform 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 millionare 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...

Woodenhead  
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'.

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.
Worthless

Action  
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  
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.

Alps  
Lanthimos takes another abstract aspect of society to absurd extremes after he explored separationism in Dogtooth. In this case, he is exploring the roles that people play for others, and whether people, when they die, can be replaced by actors. A group of people naming themselves after mountains in the Alps, provide such a service, replacing dead people by acting out a collection of quirks and mannerisms combined with specific phrases by which they are remembered. A nurse replaces a dead teenage girl and acts out a scene where her parents catch her with her boyfriend, or she replaces a wife and has to say something very cheesy during cunnilingus. A gymnast submits to a cruel coach and praises him even though he does nothing but threaten her, and they all pretend to be celebrities in their spare time. Except it is all delivered cold, deadpan and without emotion, making the whole thing even more absurd. Eventually though, a woman starts falling apart and matters break down when she fails to deliver her lines or does something 'wrong', whatever wong is in this context. Until the goals of the movie click you may wonder if you got the right subtitles seeing as they all talk in non-sequiturs. Then it is interesting for a while, but fails to develop or deliver anything beyond the initial idea, making it a rather cold and unrewarding, stretched-out, intellectual experiment (like a minor Haneke movie)

Alucarda  
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.

Amoklauf  
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.

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 manchild 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 manchild 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.

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.

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-incestual 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 arthouse 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 carwash 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 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 sees things, urinates blood, he 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 eye problems, 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 broke down and cried. The message is obvious, emotionally-based, terribly preachy and condescending without saying anything new. I may have spoiled the movie for you, but I see it more as saving you from it.

Blind Beast  
Japanese psychosexual 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 supernatual 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.

Boom  
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 promiscious, 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.

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.

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 transexual 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.

Container  
Extremely tiresome experiment by Moodysson that features random silent footage of a fat hairy tranvestite, 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.

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.

Deadgirl  
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.

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.

Decadence  
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.

Devil's Chair, The  
The setting for this horror movie is a cliched abandoned insane asylum with a dark past involving a mad scientist, and there is a chair which may or may not involve a hellish dimension involving Hellraiser-lite machinery. A man watches a girl be brutalized on the chair and is locked up, only to be freed by a professor who wants to study the chair. They go back to the asylum and the chair, where hell slowly takes over. The medium-level gore feels more graphic than it is thanks to the demented lead performance. There is an annoying self-aware narration that talks down to the audience and thinks its being clever by remarking about the horror cliches, and there are a few surreal twists that insult the audience by being completely nonsensical and manipulative. It doesn't take brains to lie to the audience and then change everything.

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.

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.

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.

Eréndira  
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.

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. Keeanu 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.

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 everwyhere, 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.

Faceless  
Jesus Franco usually makes scores of mind-numbingly dull horror, sleaze and erotic movies which are much tamer than they sound, but in this case the production values were higher and the gore gets nasty. A plastic surgeon's girlfriend gets acid thrown in her face by an irate ex-patient. The doctor kidnaps numerous girls with the aid of a sadistic lady and a psychotic with an unhealthy love for chainsaws and power drills, attempting to cut off and graft the girls' faces onto his girl.

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 diguise misogyny and sexploitation like some giallos and it contains some wicked humor, albeit delivered terribly flat. Worthless as movies but will appeal to the perverse. You know who you are.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Hallelujah the Hills  
Weird, free-wheeling, energetic comedy from the US undergroud 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 neverending 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.

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 arthouse 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 pretensious work feeling enlightened.

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 predestiny. 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 Know the Way to the Hofbrauhaus  
Stop me if you heard this one...an undead curator that polishes ancient statues, and a mummy, wander the streets of Munich in search of the Egyptian queen Osiris. It's another Achternbusch improvised oddity, this one very light hearted and utterly pointless. They interact with passers-by who are constantly asking for directions to Hofbrauhaus (a brewery?), people remark about his general deadness and his funeral, he seems existentially lost, they beg for money, they walk, the mummy complains about unraveling wraps, Osiris seems to have lost one of her boots, then there's a surprise ending and a lost pocketbook. A silent comedy with Eastern music and German intertitles. A very strange one, but utterly dull.

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.

Ilsa, the Wicked Warden  
Franco's take on the Ilsa series replaces the Nazi-camp background with a women-in-prison flick where nubile women are almost always in the nude and undergo various tortures, rapes and degradations. Yet again, a dumb woman volunteers to go into the institution to gather evidence and find her sister while putting herself in harm's way. Unusally twisted by Franco's standards and more of a sadistic sleaze-fest than a gruesome shocker, but still dull as always.

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 incestual 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 apparations 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.

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 cinematrography 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.

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...

Last Supper, The  
Japan does cannibalism in a surprisingly straightforward Hollywoodesque 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 think's 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 arthouse 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.

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.

Mammuth  
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.

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 incestual 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 Coporation 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.

Monsturd  
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.

Morbus  
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 protitutes, 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-weilding 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.

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 transexual 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.

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.

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.

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 aemi-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 artform 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 interpertation 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 handjobs 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.

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.

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.

Revolver  
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-arthouse 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 prompty 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.

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.

Seven Women for Satan  
Confusing messy sleaze featuring a mad descendent 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).

She  
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.

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 backstory 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.

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.

Sleepwalk  
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?

Snuff  
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 Horor 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 stuntment, and more.

Sombre  
With a shaky, blurry, dark camera that makes Dogma '95 look like a Disney production, this film tries to explore the dark and monstrous in humanity. A rapist-murderer who performs puppet shows for kids tours the country impulsively killing whores. When he meets a virginal beauty however, she threatens his darkness with a loving, blinding light so he tries to rape and murder her sister and make her lose control as well. There are the beginnings of an intense experience here (despite the fact that women are portrayed as either whores or virgins), and Grandrieux has the potential to become another Noé, but he definitely won't get there by not letting his audience see what's happening on-screen. He also suggested the audience should edit the movie in real-time. What's next, stare at a blank screen and imagine the whole movie ourselves?

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 plotline 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 scattershot 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.

Spermula  
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 transexuals 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.

Sublime  
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.

Succubus  
Although directed by Franco, this doesn't contain the dull sleaze and violence of his later years but is the apex of his earlier dabblings in erotic surrealism. A woman working in an S&M night-club gets confused (but not as much as we do) when fantasy and reality blend. Is she really committing those murders after seducing them in dream-logic? Who are all those people that seem to know her or want to manipulate her life? Is she really supernatural? What's with the drawf and sugar cubes, and the moving mannequins? Unfortunately, the occasional nudity isn't enough to distract from the bad story-telling.

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.

Teeth  
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.

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.

Things  
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.

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.

Tin Drum, The  
A strange and malevolent brat of a child decides he hates the adult world and 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 to adult behaviour, adultery, sex, WWII and Nazis. Heavy-handed in its symbolism but full of conflicting and confusing messages. He drums a Nazi marching band into confusion but then joins the Nazi entertainment army with some midgets, he shrieks at his slutty mother then lusts after a 16 year old (with whom he has foreplay involving Sherbert and underage sex), one woman is traumatized away from fish after pulling out the head of an animal from the sea, then gorges herself on raw fish, etc. Strange and unique but too confusing and empty.

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.

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 pyschopath 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.

Townies  
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 acquiantance, 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.

Trasharella  
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 superheroine 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 bloodlust, 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 bloodlust 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.

Turbulence  
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.

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 scattershot 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.

Venus in Furs (AKA Paroxismus)  
An early Franco movie bordering on the confusing and strange, and often claimed to be a surreal masterpiece but is mostly just a badly executed ghost story. A jazz trumpeter finds a murdered woman who was abused by three bizarrely sadistic people. When he sees her in a club, he abandons his current sympathetic girlfriend, obsessively trying to piece together who she is amidst a mess of flashbacks and visions of vengeful seductive women. Features trippy editing and warped cinematography (Franco's subtle way to make things dreamy), Klaus Kinski as a kinky Turk (say that three times fast), the usual dull Franco exploitative nudity, and a final twist ending.

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.

Virgin Among the Living Dead, A  
Another plodding Franco film, this one pretending to be erotic surrealism but is merely dull confusion. A girl that likes to take her clothes off goes to visit relatives only to find that they are not what they seem. Then again, with blind lesbians, blood-suckers, a symbolic dildo, a decapitated head as a vase and other strange behaviour, what exactly are they supposed to seem like?

Vortex  
Artsy navel-gazing at its worst. A moody puzzle that sometimes feels like it wants to a Robbe-Grillet mystery, with repeating takes, re-occuring 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.

Vulgar  
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.

Watched!  
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 imcomprehensible behaviour, body language and dialog all make this into an art film that is not as lurid as it sounds, but is pointless nevertheless.

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?

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.

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  
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.

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, bookended by people reading out biblical rhymes 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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