Devil Story (1985)

Devil Story (1985) movie poster

director Bernard Launois
viewed: 03/04/2018

For those who traffic in the weird and odd, obscure and awful, bizarre and sublime of dreck cinema, Devil Story is a dream come true. Or at least a dream somehow assembled into movie form.

It is indeed as if a Jean Rollin movie crash landed and all the mangled elements that survived somehow reconstituted itself in the least coherent manner.

I say this lovingly.

It can be described. As it has by many and well so. But it must be experienced to be comprehended, if comprehension is even possible.

It’s the most disorienting movie I’ve ever seen. Which way did that horse go? Bang! And bang again.

Highly recommended to weird lovers everywhere.

Zaat (1971)

Zaat (1971) movie poster

director Don Barton
viewed: 03/04/2018

Was ist Zaat?

“Filmed enitrely on location in Florida.” Florida trash is the best trash.

It takes a truly mad Nazi scientist to transform himself into a half-human half-walking catfish creature that doesn’t look a bit like a catfish. And then to look in the mirror and recognize that he doesn’t really look how he thought he would but to be still okay with it and then go and try to mutate all aquatic life into something new with his formula.

Of course, it’s a lonely life for the world’s only walking catfish-man, so he needs to abduct pretty girls to try to mutate into a mate for himself. And kill people at random as well.

Zaat is a notoriously bad movie, a “best worst” movie truly among the pantheon of bad. From concept to execution, it’s super silly and strange, in an utterly Floridian sort of way.

Myra Breckinridge (1970)

Myra Breckinridge (1970) movie poster

director Michael Sarne
viewed: 03/04/2018

Myra Breckinridge is a hot mess, maybe the original hot mess.  Hot, however,  like an unevenly microwaved potash might be.

In its day, it was a spectacular car wreck of a movie, a big budget adaptation of a touted novel by Gore Vidal, called at the time a novel that could never be filmed. This no doubt had more to do with its story about a man who undergoes a sex change operation and then comes back to Hollywood to upend the traditional male identity in as many ways possible.

In the film, Rex Reed becomes Raquel Welch (a scenario that if medicine to actually perform, a lot more folks would be up for sex changes). It plays out as knowing modernist comedy, arch, though not really camp, or maybe it’s more of an imitation of camp?

More than anything, it’s a mess. I don’t know how the novel plays out but in the film, Myra’s politicized and erudite criticism of the movie industry, patriarchy, sexism, a whole spectrum of topics, culminates in her raping a bland, good-looking actor with a strap-on. That scene is pretty horrific and played for laughs?

Most people wound up blaming director/co-writer Michael Sarne for the box office bomb. Sarne was thrown into the deep end on the picture, a cavalcade of drama and craziness on set. But he manages some interesting stuff as well, using classic movie images and sequences to comment comically on the story.

To my mind, Myra Breckinridge is indeed a mess, but an interesting one. For one, I thought Raquel Welch was great. Mae West’s rendition of “Hard to Handle” might be second place in the nadir race next to the rape scene.

An interesting spectacle and a hot mess.

Alien Beasts (1991)

Alien Beasts (1991) VHS cover

director Carl J. Sukenick
viewed: 02/18/2018

Okay, so this is Carl J. Sukenick.

Alien Beasts is possibly the most inept film I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what else to say that hasn’t been said by others. Nonsensical sequences narrated over, juxtaposed almost at random, long shots of bad fight sequences and a jabbering Sukenick fill most of the 70 or so minutes. And then suddenly it bursts into an engaging amateur animation sequence that is hundreds of times more interesting and vivid.

Sukenick himself is more interesting than the film. Obscure and legendary both at once, an outsider artist supreme, maybe mentally ill, still ranting a raving, cobbling things together, reshuffling footage and apparently very weird. Here, he seems young and at least enjoying himself, directing the film even when on camera himself.

It may be that one Sukenick is enough for me.


Blood Beach (1981)

Blood Beach (1981) movie poster

director Jeffrey Bloom
viewed: 02/11/2018

That poster. That tagline. Blood Beach promises so much.

Sadly, Blood Beach does not deliver on those promises too well. What it lacks in deliverables (i.e., monsters, gore, thrills…), it lacks in general.

Shot around Santa Monica and Venice Beach, the film coyly is set in generic Beach Town, California, where the beaches are so bitchin’ that people getting sucked under the sand right next to you isn’t enough to scare off the youth.

So, it’s a (very) modest horror thriller, featuring an artichoke monster that is only seen ever so briefly toward the end. The monster is so open-ended that it’s been compared to a Venus flytrap or a worm, despite it’s hunting strategy is that of an ant lion.

Still the poster rocks. Good marketing job, guys!

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987)

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987)

director Todd Haynes
viewed: 02/10/2018

Utterly brilliant.

AM radio in the 1970s, the Carpenters were ubiquitous. A constant of my childhood music awareness.

I remember Karen Carpenter’s death. I had never heard of anorexia nervosa, probably a lot of the world had not heard of it til then. As ubiquitous as it is in the world.

Todd Haynes’ Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story is transcendent. And the legacy of this film, its legal limbo that presses it into its weird cult existence is somehow also poetical, and yet still redeeming, as it exists and is and can be found, seen, and experienced.

The Video Dead (1987)

The Video Dead (1987) movie poster

director  Robert Scott
viewed: 02/10/2018

I quite enjoyed this.

Low-budget and direct-to-video in its day, The Video Dead today is a groovy and different slant on the zombie movie. These zombies come from an old television set, accidentally delivered to a home in good old Somewhere, USA. These zombies aren’t typical by general zombie movie standards and the television and the backstory of how this whole thing came into being,…well, it’s just as well that there is no explanation. It’s better that way.

It’s sort of the lack of explanation that winds up being evocative. Like the “Garbageman” and the sexy zombie girl he kills. I mean, how do you introduce the “Garbageman” and then never see him again? Where some might see plot holes, I felt intrigued by what wasn’t there.

The make-up and design of the creatures is really pretty awesome for such a low-budget affair. And I also liked how the dead have personalities, curiosity, and even senses of humor rather than just some endless longing for brains.

Fun stuff.

A Night to Dismember (1983)

A Night to Dismember (1983) title

director Doris Wishman
viewed: 02/05/2018

I don’t know how this movie was put together but A Night to Dismember is absolutely the ultimate outsider art cinematic masterpiece.

Doris Wishman already had two decades of Exploitation filmmaking under her belt, but maybe her style was always some form of Naïvist art. Taking her post-sync audio aesthetic into the 1980’s is as bold a move as I can imagine. Were any other movies made in the 1980’s with non-sync sound?

Whatever the intent, whatever the story behind it, A Night to Dismember is a surreal experience, a cinematic psychotic break, in which the lulling narration is almost as disjointed as the images.


Mars Needs Women (1967)


Mars Needs Women (1967) DVD cover

director  Larry Buchanan
viewed: 02/01/2018

Mars Needs Women is a very 1950’s sci fi concept for a 1967 movie. But if you’re schlockmeister Larry Buchanan, that’s kind of what you do: take 1950’s era concepts and shoot them cheap as hell for television release. Varying degrees of corn ensue.

“The exotic dancer is secured.”

And a top notch Charro-like exotic dancer she is. Beyond some other random ladies, TV’s own Batgirl, Yvonne Craig shows up as an astrophysicist, definitely the cream of the female crop selected by these goofy Martians. One of them even questions if she is a good test case for insemination.

Some movies have a hard time living up to their posters. Mars Needs Women has a hard time living up to its catchy, declarative name.

Still, one more off the old bucket list.

Spaceman (1997)

Spaceman (1997) DVD cover

director Scott Dikkers
viewed: 01/29/2018

I first heard of Spaceman from Ira Brooker in his “Spaceman: The Onion Co-Founder’s Cult Classic That Never Was” on Crooked Marquee. Always hungering for the obscure in cinema, this was an oddity that must be seen.

Spaceman is indeed a strange film. Strange because its strangeness is such a different stripe than most. It’s a comedy about a guy who was abducted by aliens as a child and raised to be a devoted follower and master fighter, who finds himself back on Earth, working in a grocery store.

What’s most odd about it is that it’s low budget doesn’t show in the most obvious ways. It has polish in parts and awkwardness all over. I was struck that it’s the kind of script that probably could have gotten perked up in the hands of a more experienced Hollywood outing, made funnier perhaps. But ultimately Spaceman‘s charms lie in its weird DIY aesthetics, acting, editing, and everything.

Technically, it’s not quite like anything else I can think of.