Saturday, June 2, 2012

Films 2

A sequel to this post.
So, I've been scouring the internet while bored at work, trying to find some unusual movies to watch and came to the realization that I've probably seen all of them. Yup. I can only find a handful of challenging, strange-sounding films I haven't seen, and this is disappointing. I mean, granted, some of my favorite films are pretty 'normal,' like 'Wonder Boys,' 'Chinatown' and 'Evil Dead,' but the majority of movies I really like are kind of out there, and that's what you come here for anyhow.
So, here's a brief list of some totally fucked up movies that are worth checking out:

'House' (aka 'Hausu') - 1977
Reportedly, the director of this film was asked to make a 'Jaws'-style movie for Japanese audiences, and somehow this is what came out. Director Nobuhiko Obayashi was involved in television commercials before this, and the movie has a LOT of commercial-type stuff...quick jump-cuts, purposely unrealistic special effects, and amateur actors.

Basically, it's about a girl who is pissed at her dad for wanting to bring his new girlfriend (her mother has been dead a while) on their summer vacation, so she goes to visit her mom's sister with her friends instead. Turns out her mom's sister is actually dead, and needs to eat all the unmarried girls in order to set her own soul free. Or something like that. Or it's her cat who's evil/dead. Yeah, it's nothing like 'Jaws.'

'What Is It?' and 'It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine.' - 2005 and 2007 respectively

Crispin Glover is fucking insane. I mean, he's also probably one of the best character actors in the world, and a brilliant filmmaker, but that's beside the point. These films don't appear on too many 'weirdest films' lists, probably because Glover refuses to release them on DVD, preferring instead to travel the country's small arthouse cinemas doing question-and-answer sessions. I managed to catch these in a double feature in Grand Rapids, and found Mr. Glover to be a really nice and intelligent fellow, if incredibly awkward. The films, on the other hand...

'What Is It?' is pretty's got lots of Nazi imagery, and the entire cast has Down's Syndrome except for Glover. It's also the only film I've ever seen to feature music from both racist country singer Johnny Rebel and cult leader Charles Manson. Yeah, it's completely offensive on every level, and bizarre to the point of alienating almost everyone. I loved it, though. I guess it helps if you've seen Glover in 'River's Edge' or heard his album from the late 80' me, what really made the film work was the contrast of a really nice, quiet guy casually putting unbelievable offensive shit out there.

'It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine.' is mayyyyybe a little more 'tame.' It's pretty much the film-equivalent of a Wesley Willis album or something. Glover somehow got hold of a script written by a creepy amateur guy with cerebral palsy. The script was all about a guy with cerebral palsy who the women can't get enough of, even though he gets really pissed off when his dick doesn't work and kills them. I think he intended it to be an afterschool-special type drama, but Glover turned it into something else entirely. Oh yeah, and he put the author of the script in the starring role. They actually just barely finished the film before the dude died.

The film does have elements of 70's television, but it's more like a sitcom. Well, the sets and the delivery of the actors anyhow. The film itself is more horror than anything. I dunno, I can't really even convey how fucking gone this one is. You'll just have to look it up on Netflix, er.....nevermind. Seriously though, see it if you can, and talk to Crispin afterwards. He's super cool.

'Easy Wheels' - 1989
Speaking of 70's television, here's Sam and Ivan Raimi's biker parody film. Obviously, this is kind of cheesy--I mean, it's coming from the bros who made the 'Evil Dead' trilogy, as well as 'Darkman.' I'd say this is a little more fucked than 'Evil Dead,' though. It's about two rival biker gangs, a girl gang and a guy gang. The girl gang are kidnapping babies in order to have wolves raise them, creating a super wolf-girl race. Why? Because the main biker girl was in fact raised by wolves. The guy bikers are trying to solve the baby-nappings, and find good light beer. Huh?

Yeah, it's silly, slapstick, and kinda low-budget, but it's also incredibly weird. I don't think I've laughed this hard at a movie in a long time. And the laughs are intentional, which is even better.
'Hair High' - 2004
First off, the Simpsons wouldn't exist without the work of Bill Plympton. It's well-publicized that Matt Groening was a huge fan of this dude's early work, and you might've even seen it on MTV back in the day. He did '10 Ways to Quit Smoking' and 'Your Face,' both pretty popular during the 'Liquid Television' era. His full-length films are all pretty messed up...lots of things morphing into other things, senseless violence, and scatological humor. But it's all so artistic that you never really notice how low-brow most of the topics are.

This one is like 'Grease' in hell. Popular girl falls for shy, nerdy guy...her football player boyfriend runs them off the road killing them right before prom, then tries to steal the prom-king crown. Girl and nerd dude come back to live and scare the shit out of everyone. It's kind of like 'Superjail,' 'South Park,' the work of Ralph Bakshi and 'Happy Days' all thrown in a blender together. If you're a fan of 'adult' animation like the previously mentioned stuff, you need to start watching Bill Plympton's films now. Matt Groening even does a character's voice in this one.

'Street Trash' - 1987
If you can't stand low-budget stuff, prolly stay away from this one...I don't think I've seen many lower-budget films....however, if you like trash cinema like John Waters' early works and the Troma library, you'll love the shit outta this. From melting hobos to blatantly racist comments to fat guys exploding, there isn't a second of this movie that doesn't make you feel dirty. Almost the whole thing is filmed in back-alleys and dumps, and there's not really a single likeable character. That's okay, though, because this is the ultimate work of 1980's VHS-haze. This stuff is probably the reason Harmony Korine made 'Trash Humpers.'
Oh yeah, the story...basically, a cheap Jew of a convenience store clerk (hey, THEY said it, not me) starts selling some gut-rot liquor he finds in his basement. Hobos love it because it's cheap, but turns out it melts them. While this is happening, a crazed Vietnam vet has declared himself king of the homeless, and is fucking shit up left and right. The two stories eventually come together violently. Lots of other offensive garbage happens along the way, and it's all great. An hour and a half of the sleaziest stuff you'll ever see on film.

'TerrorVision' - 1986

Okay, I'm trying to do a diverse list of films here, but I couldn't resist putting one more cheesy 80's horror-comedy. Granted, a lot of films that fall within this category are just shitty, but Full Moon Pictures has been known to put out some gems. Check out 'Trancers' or 'Puppet Master' if you want to see zero-budget done right. This one doesn't seem to have a much larger budget, but it's more colorful and humorous than either of those films. So, then. We've got a gun-crazed granddad who eats lizard tails because 'it's a self-regenerating food source,' an obnovious 80's girl and her punker boyfriend named O.D., an alien television signal terrorizing a yuppie-swinger family, and a goofy soundrack by Cali art-rockers The Fibonaccis.

If that doesn't do it for you, how about the fact that, while rated R (I think,) the movie goes WAY out of its way to not use any curse words. This makes for some downright ridiculous dialog, which doesn't even make sense because there's nudity and tons of violence. Charles Band is a fucker, for sure. The plot is just as silly--yuppies get a fancy satellite TV which accidentally pulls in a signal from outer space. I guess it's where some extraterrestrials trapped a criminal alien, because he shows up and starts killing the family one by one. Hilarity ensues.

'Forbidden Zone' - 1982
I love Oingo Boingo, and I grew up with Danny Elfman's soundtrack work, so I was floored when I first got to college and found out that Danny and his brother Richard made an Eraserhead-style musical comedy before forming their acting troupe into the Oingo Boingo band. This was especially true when I read that the only other film Richard made was a whacked-out horror-comedy called 'Shrunken Heads' (a Full Moon release, actually) that I had seen on VHS in grade school.

Like I said, it's a lot like 'Eraserhead'....AND 'Rocky Horror Picture Show.' Somehow. I'm sure these folks were all into the works of Luis Bunuel and David Lynch, but it's not just some surreal black-and-white knockoff. There is nothing else like this movie. Rapid-fire jokes, totally fucked characters, and obviously great musical numbers make this probably the coolest thing Danny Elfman ever did.

The plot, while not really important, involves a family disappearing into the 8th dimension, which is actually in their basement. They meet the king and queen of said dimension, piss them off, get incarcerated, and get involved in a number of scandals. Like I said, not really important. The plot is mostly an excuse to have all sorts of fucked up stuff going on. Trust me, if you are a fan of the surreal and can track down this film, you will not regret it.

'Kill the Moonlight' - 1994
This one isn't so much weird as it is quirky. The first feature film of Steve Hanft, who went on to direct some great music videos in the mid-90's, this film is the embodiment of 90's slackerdom. If you're a Beck fan, it's notable that this is where the 'I'm a driver, I'm a winner' line in 'Loser' comes from, and was also a big inspiration for the lyrics of that song. It's about a slacker guy who wants to be a famous stock car racer, but can't really get his shit together. We follow him around as he smokes dope with his friends, argues with his dad and cleans up toxic waste.

I's kinda slow, and reminds me of Linklater's 'Slacker' film, but it's got a vibe all its own. As an added bonus, Beck composed the majority of the soundtrack, along with Hanft's own band Loser. It's got a couple laugh-out-loud moments, but is mostly just a subdued piece of 90's weirdness. If you dig 'Slacker,' or Beck's early musical output, you'll get into this one for sure.

Alright...I think that's it for now...I'll probably post some more movies soon because I've got nothing to do at work and that seems to be the norm.


charles darwin said...

Yes, please do continue your list. I have been wondering what movies to look for and a few peaked my interest.

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