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"The Mansion of Madness" is a long forgotten surreal horror comedy from directer Juan Lopez Moctezuma. Most notorious for "Alucarda". "Mansion of Madness" contains a couple cast members from "El Topo" including cinematographer Rafiel Corkidi. The movie is loosely based on a short story from Edgar Allan Poe. The plot concerns a weird and deranged insane asylum where the patients take over and make up their own rules. Doctors out of the way! There's rooms full of crazy lunatics including people who act like chickens. Actor Claudio Brook is in charge of the madness. Fans of Jodorosky, Arrabal, Fellini and Ken Russel will definitely find this film enjoyable. It's also known as "Dr. Tarr's Torture Dungeon". Not to worry, there's more surreal art than torture in this flick. So why not check in, to the mansion of madness?
"Underground" starts off in World War II and ends in the early nineties Bosnian conflict. In World War II, Marko and Blackey are best friends. They form a resistance against the Germans and manufacture and smuggle weapons underground. Blackey and friends want to stay in the underground cellar until the war is over. Knowing this, Marco never tells any of them that the war has ended. He decides to profit off their labor. Eventually, years later Blackey finds out that they've all been lied to. He wants to get back at Marco and this leads to future chaos in Yugoslavia. Director Emir Kusturica takes a serious plot and turns it into a surreal and hilarious slapstick tragicomedy. With its beautiful images, drinking, music, laughter and tears; "Underground" is one of the most unique war films I've ever seen. It not only will make you laugh but also cry. Its images and music stay with you long after its over. No wonder why Kusturica won the Palm D Or at the 1995 Cannes film festival. "Underground" is powerful, stunning and unforgettable!!!
"I Will Walk like a Crazy Horse" is quite an interesting film. Many will find the images repulsive and disgusting; but at the same time you can't help but to be memorized by its beauty. The story concerns Aden, a young man who kills his rich abusive incestuous mother. He flees to the desert to hide. Although Aden is a wealthy aristocrat he is unhappy and almost despises women. (mainly cause of his mom) He meets a dwarf named Marvel with miraculous powers; he can talk to animals, fly and turn night into day. Aden instantly falls in love with Marvel. Marvel has never been to the city and has never seen electronics or any part of western civilization. Aden takes Marvel to the city and this leads them on some funny and disturbing misadventures. The film is basically a rejection of the institutions created by western society. The film contains many bizarre daydream sequences. Some in which are disgusting. This film contains incest, excrement, a child execution, really strange sex and cannibalism. It might make many viewers cringe. The films most memorable and haunting seen is the people in white robes and gas masks dancing, all the while a kid drags a skeleton. If you liked both "El Topo" and "Pink Flamingos" you'll definitely enjoy Arrabal's disturbing and surreal masterpiece. Some parts are really funny, and you wonder if you're supposed to be laughing. It's quite a cinematic experience.
"Wild at Heart" was originally a novel by Barry Gifford. Although "Perdita Durango is not directed by David Lynch and has Rosie Perez instead of Isabella Rosselini as Perdita; it's still one awesome road trip. The screenplay was written by Gifford and the film is directed by Alex de le Inglesia, the guy who gave you "Accion Mutante". Rosie Perez gives the performance of her career as ruthless bad girl "Perdita Durango". Her boyfriend Romeo (Javier Bardem) is a criminal and bank robber who's into black magic. He has to deliver a truck of baby fetus' to Las Vegas for his mob boss Santos. Both Perdita and Romeo are so deranged that they make Mickey and Mallory Knox of "Natural Born Killers" look like something out of a Disney movie. Perdita and Romeo kidnap a white virgin couple for his ritualistic sacrifice; the annoying but lovable couple Duane and Estelle. The film is very disturbing with its dark tone. You'll either be laughing one minute or cringing the next. Also look for James Gandalfini as Willie Dumas, a down on his luck sheriff. Perdita Durango is one crazy chaotic road trip of sex and violence. The US version is called "Dance with the Devil" and is trimmed by a couple minutes. Do yourself a favor and track down a copy of the uncut international version.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Santa Sangre" is one of Jodorowsky's most accessible films. Although not as strange as "El Topo" and "the Holy Mountain", it is still very bizarre ..... A colorful, horrifying and hallucinatory masterpiece. Many have compared it to "Psycho", "Freaks" and "Fellini". In my opinion, you can't compare it to anything because it's in its own category. Produced by Claudio Argento, brother of Dario Argento; the film does have a similar color style to "Suspiria". "Santa Sangre" is the story of Fenix, a man in a mental institution at the films beginning. A flashback shows Fenix as a child, growing up in the circus. His mother, Concha is a trapeze artist and religious fanatic who worships an armless god. His father Olgo is a knife thrower, who is constantly having flirtatious encounters with the ugly, cruel tattooed women. Fenix's closest friends are a mute mime, a dwarf and of course clowns. After a circus performance, Fenix's mother catches Olgo having an affair with the tattooed lady. In a fit of jealous rage, she dumps acid on their genital regions. Then Olgo cuts off Concha's arms like the goddess, and then cuts his own throat. Poor Fenix witnesses the death of his father, and the Tattooed women drives away with his mute friend Alma. Years later Fenix is reunited with his armless mother, she's out for revenge. In order for her to throw knives, he has to stand behind her and put his arms through her sleeves. It's as if she controls his arms with her mind. "Santa Sangre" is very bloody, disturbing and surreal, but at the same time beautiful and dreamlike. It contains bizarre images such as an elephant funeral, chickens falling from the sky, and mentally handicapped kids tricked into snorting cocaine. (the last being a metaphor for societies corruption of the innocent) Because the film is psychologically disturbing, it makes me confront my deepest subconscious fears; loss of arms, genitals or sanity. I have watched the film more than several times, and it is one of my favorite movies. Every time I watch it, I cringe as I'm challenged by both its beauty and disturbing intensity. So it's not really a horror film, but a surreal masterpiece with horrifying images. It will haunt you long after it's over.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Baby of Macon" is a very bizarre film. Part play, part period piece and part religious satire. As usual director Peter Greenaway creates a stunning masterpiece, that looks like a painting come to life. Of course the film has disturbing elements and is probably Greenaway's most violent and brutal film. Julia Ormond plays the daughter, a beautiful young women. Her mother who's extremely ugly gives birth to the most beautiful baby. The daughter lies and says the baby is hers and that it was a virgin birth. She profits from the child and has him bless the whole town, even the cow. Both Ray Fiennes and Julia Ormand have very tough roles in this film; including a manger scene seduction. When the town finds out that the daughter is lying and the baby is not hers, they sentence her to be raped by over 100 men. Poor Julia Ormond. Avoid this film if religious or easily shocked. The film does have a dark sense of humor and makes a powerful statement about greed and religion. Although brutal, "The Baby of Macon" is a surreal masterpiece in which reality and stage performance collide. You'll wonder what parts a play and what events are actually happening in the story. This film also includes an amazing film score by Micheal Nyman. If only it would get a DVD release in the US?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's almost virtually impossible tracking down a copy of this film since both the Facets VHS went out of print and the Brazilian DVD release too. Finally after months of being on an amazon.com waiting list, I checked Ebay and 1 copy was available. "Sweet Movie" is very bizarre, surreal, funny and at times disgusting. It's like Alejandro Jodorowky and John Waters teamed up to make a film. There are so many strange images in this film, I can't even remember everything I witnessed. The story concerns a girl who enters a virginity pageant and wins. She marries a rich oil tycoon with a golden penis. She doesn't want to stay with him, so he has a muscular man pack her in a suitcase and ship her to Paris. There she meets a Spanish singer, and they have sex in public and get stuck together. At the same time another lady by the name of Anna Planet is on a Marxist ship, she gets kinky with a sailor and kills him while having sex in a pile of sugar. She also uses candy to seduce children. Although she strips in front of the kids, and this scene is extremely uncomfortable to watch; Makavejev leaves the sex off screen as the kid goes behind a curtain. Miss Virginity (Carol Laure) is not so virgin like now, as she joins the strange anarchist sex antics of The Vienna Aktionists. This is when the film starts to become repulsive. They urinate on each other, smear feces on one another, vomit, dance naked and many other depraved acts. Then later we see actress Carol Laure masturbating in a vat of chocolate. Although "Sweet Movie" sounds disgusting, it's actually pretty funny. In the first part I was laughing, in the second part gasping. To top it all off it's somewhat a musical! I can't get the theme song out of my head. "Is there life on the earth?, Is there life after birth?" (sing it with me) "Sweet Movie" is a very important work of world cinema. It is a revolutionary Marxist sex comedy, so to speak. It's also "finger licking good"!
"Desecration" is a creepy psychological horror film from Dante Tomaselli; a New Jersey director whose influences include Dario Argento, Mario Bava and Salvador Dali. This film feels hallucinatory in some parts, and it becomes hard to tell what's actually happening or what's fantasy. The plot concerns a boy at a catholic school, who accidentally kills a nun. When his remote control airplane malfunctions, the blade hits the nun. Because of this incident and his long deceased mother, the gates of hell open up. Creepy, bizarre and unexplained things start to happen. Repeated viewings might help as the ending leaves it's viewers confused and in awe. This film is amazing, it shows what you can do on a low budget with creativity and imagination.
"Female Trouble" is another one of my favorite John Water's films. Devine stars as Dawn Davenport, a rebellious teen with a bad attitude. when her parents forget to buy her a pair of Cha-Cha heals for Christmas she flips out, beats them up and runs away. After getting pregnant and having a daughter named Taffy (Mink Stole), she resorts to a life of crime. She lives a dysfunctional life with her abusive husband Skooter. Who can forget crazy his Aunt Ida (Edith Massey), who disfigures Dawn's face with acid. Dawn meets a couple who run a beauty salon. They are interested in photographing her doing crimes. After a time Dawn even resorts to murder. She wants to be a celebrity criminal. She'll do anything for publicity, even if negative. Long before "Natural Born Killers" and "Man Bites Dog", "Female Trouble" took on the topic of celebrity criminals. Somewhat gross at times, but not nearly disgusting as "Pink Flamingos". "Female Trouble" is colorful, over the top camp at its best. Who can forget a comedy with such politically correct one liners like, "Taffy, a doctor examined you when you were young, and you are most definitely retarded." Now that's what I call mother and daughter bonding!
"The Cook, The Thief his Wife & her Lover", is probably Peter Greenaway's most well known film; mainly do to its controversy and NC-17 rating. Many viewers find the film disturbing due to its dark subject matter. It's somewhat like "Blue Velvet" gone to dinner. People missed the point that the film was a satire on totalitarianism in a Margaret Thatcher controlled England. The story concerns the wealthy and brutal thief Albert Spicca (Micheal Gambon), who presides over the four star La Holland restaurant. Mr. Spicca doesn't even own the restaurant, but him and his thugs including Mitchell (Tim Roth) make all the rules. The cook is the one who is really in charge of the restaurant, he looks out for Albert's wife Georgina Spicca. Georgina is bravely played by Helen Mirren. Her character is symbolic of the oppressed. Georgina has a tough life. Her husband is a bigot who's cruel, abusive and brutal. He beats and rapes her just for disagreeing with him. Then Georgina meets the quiet bookworm Micheal (Alan Howard). He's almost like a liberator for Georgina; a man of passion who gives her love that she never had. They have sex in various parts of the restaurant including the bathroom and freezer. Albert thinks that Georgina is going to the bathroom to smoke every time she leaves the table. Little does he know about the affair. When he finds out, he vows for vengeance. The film is chock full of surreal imagery and symbolism. The most noticeable is the little boy who washes dishes while singing. Another amazing aspect of the film is its costumes and use of color. The character's outfits change color along with the setting. Outside is in blue color tones, the kitchen is green, the bathroom white and the dining area red. I didn't realize this until my second viewing. The film is very beautiful even though it is somewhat disturbing and decadent with its themes of lust, greed and gluttony. It's not a film for everyone, but if you like bizarre art-house films that challenge you; you should definitely see it.
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