Category Archives: surreal

Videodrome (1983)

Director:David Cronenberg .
Starring: James Woods, Debbie Harry, David Cronenberg, David Dvorsky, Leslie Carlson, Julie Khaner. Canada. 1h 29m.

Having watched Videodrome at quite a young age the film fascinated me for all the wrong reasons, pulsating VHS tapes, clips of dodgy torture rooms and people morphing into guns and machines really lit my young mind on fire, this was something that really carried on through my teens while lapping up underground comic books and really came to life when I discovered tales of the dark web and Tetsuo Iron Man (1989) which hit home this idea of bio mechanics along with my love of Giger’s artwork but nothing was quite on that level of bizarre as Videodrome, covering so many aspects of the darker side of the human psyche it’s science fiction body horror touches on some worrying habits and disgusting practices but all in such a way that it’s almost too clever for it’s own good.

James Woods takes centre stage as Max, as the CEO of a small UHF television station specialising in sensationalist programming he’s constantly displeased with his current line up which is mostly soft core, while looking  for ways to boost the station, he stumbles on a bizarre broadcast featuring extreme violence and torture which he believes is staged and wants the show known as Videodrome for his station as he perceives it as something that everyone wants to see. While searching for the source of the broadcast, he employs his cameraman Harlan,  to record the shows for him, eventually he deduces that the show is being transmitted from Malaysia, and soon Max orders that Harlan to broadcast the show unlicensed via his network. The more Max watches Videodrome the more he begins to hallucinates the world around him, mechanical items become soft and fluid, pulsating with life and breathing, but this is only the beginning. Continue reading Videodrome (1983)

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Piercing (2018)

Director: Nicolas Pesce Writer: Ryû Murakami
Starring: Christopher Abbott, Mia Wasikowska, Laia Costa. USA/Japan. 1h 21m

Piercing, a movie about a man who plans to kill a prostitute in his hotel room, was an instant for my to watch list, but after seeing it get run into the dirt by many reviewers I did start to question myself. A tiny bit of research renewed my passion when I realised that this thriller is based on a book by Ryû Murakami, yep, the twisted individual that wrote the novel Audition who’s film adaption comes highly rated with it’s dark surreal undertones and horrific gore scenes. Top this off with the director of The Eyes of my Mother (2016) I can’t see how this could really be so bad..

A young father, Reed (Abbott) struggles to restrain himself from stabbing his baby daughter with a skewer, the pressure forces him to find a way to get this deadly desire out of his system. He hatches an incredibly details plan to hire a hotel room, rent a hooker and play out his stabbing fantasy, once she’s dead he hopes to return to his happy normal life.Unfortunately the unhinged hooker he encounters, Jackie (Wasikowska) has her own demons to exorcise and the two of them play an destructive game of cat and mouse. Continue reading Piercing (2018)

Chi o sû nendo / Vampire Clay (2017)

Director: Sôichi Umezawa.
Starring. Kyôka Takeda , Momoka Sugimoto , Ena Fujita , Kanji Tsuda. Japan. 1h 21m.

I used to be blown away by Japanese horror, going through the Tartan Horror series with much glee as it was miles apart from the slowdown that was occurring with its Western counterpart. with the fresh of breath air that the creepy tales sprung upon me, eventually I started noticing a huge split between genuine Japanese Horror and that fringe area which incorporated their unique humor, gore, body horror and sprays of blood. After a while I let things run their course, on returning I was gobsmacked by the array of mundane items which the Japanese has found a way to make scary! Continue reading Chi o sû nendo / Vampire Clay (2017)

Sweet Movie (1974)

Director: Dušan Makavejev
Starring:Carole Laure, John Vernon, Anna Prucnal, Pierre Clémenti, Jane Mallett, Roy Callender, Sami Frey. France, Germany, Russia. 1h 38m

The film is like a psychedelic socio political nightmare orgy, with some kind of comedy added to cushion the blow.

Following the lives of two women, Miss Mode 1984 and Anna Planeta, both are figureheads for different movements, Miss Mode (Laure) represents modern commodity culture, while on the other hand Anna (Prucnal) is the spearhead of the failed communist revolutionary. The film opens with a glitzy show, where women around the world are aiming to win the Most Virgin competition, the winner is Miss Canada with her golden shiny vagina. Her prize is to marry Mr. Kapital, a milk industry tycoon played by the daring and often enigmatic John Vernon, losing her virginity doesn’t go to plan, despite a golden dick, she soon bribes a servant to smuggle out of the Milk Tycoons mansion after his mother tries to drown her. Miss Mode goes on to join a cult, she gets seduced by a glittery Latin singer called El Macho (Frey). Continue reading Sweet Movie (1974)

Eraserhead (1977)

Director: David Lynch
Starring: John Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Judith Anna Roberts. USA . 1h 49m

A cult classic surreal black and white masterpiece… to some.. But not for me! I’m not going to bullshit, I’ve never been really into Eraserhead, I adore black and white movies and I really love surreal art (something I paint myself) and films. I’ve never been heavily into Lynch and for me this film is creepy, unusual but nothing all that special. I feel that there are two types of surreal movies, the first is a movie which is all out surreal, no easy to follow story line and completely wacky, for argument sake Dali’s Un Chien Andalou (1929), and there are other films which have a pretty liner storyline but just go about it in random ways.. Much like this one. Continue reading Eraserhead (1977)

Possum (2018)

Director: Matthew Holness
Starring: Sean Harris, Alun Armstrong  .UK. 1h 25m

There’s a place that some dark artist like to go, it often involves gloomy and eerie aspects from a fuzzy past that are easily recognised but often pushed back to those obscure corners of our minds, like a suppressed memory Possum manages from slither its way out of the dank interior of an old English home, and hides itself in the brown bag carried by a disgraced children’s puppeteer as he embarks on a journey to confront his stepfather and his own inner demons.

The film opens with Philip (Harris) wandering aimlessly around a remote area of Norfolk with his bag clutched tightly to him, after some atmospheric art house scenes backed by a heavy Radiophonic Workshop soundtrack. He spys a few teenage boys on a train he tries to talk with one but he runs away from the creepy man, Philip returns to his home, a dank rundown home with a disheveled garden, here he opens his bag and chucks the contents into a metal barrel with the promise to destroy the leggy creature, eventually we are made aware of Maurice (Armstrong), a sly and controlling character who seems to want to encourage Philip to keep his puppet, while constantly keeps asking if he’s going to burn it, which Philip agrees to but then never does. Little by little Maurice exerts control over Philip and suggests different places for him to visit, while the puppet is slowly revealed  and each time the effects on Philip get more disastrous. As a news story about a missing school boy flourish in the news, questions are raised over Philips possible involvement. Continue reading Possum (2018)

El castillo de la pureza / Castle of Purity (1972)

Director: Arturo Ripstein.
Starring: Claudio Brook, Rita Macedo, Diana Bracho, Arturo Beristáin, Gladys Bermejo, David Silva, María Rojo. Mexico. 1h 41m

After seeing the epic Dogtooth (2009) by the cult director Lanthimos, I was mystified by the circumstances, the basis of the story is a man raising his family in such isolation,  their offbeat lifestyle seems so extraordinary to the eye of any outsider, the whys were never really answered the film just happens. But after a little digging i discovered that the film isn’t a remake but has a similar storyline to El castillo de la pureza, an excellent Mexican drama where a man isolates his family to protect them from “the evils of human beings”. While I thoroughly enjoy Dogtooth everytime I see it, there’s something deeper in this retro classic as it digs under the skin of the abnormal situation.

Gabriel Lima (Brook) and his gorgeous wife Beatriz (Macedo) have invented a brilliant homemade rat poison, their children all have roles in helping them manufacture this brilliant powder. Each day they get up and get to work, always in silence when working, then their father gets dressed in formal clothes and goes out to sell the rat poison to local shops and businesses, meanwhile the children have to exercise, learn and for a while they play.
Things start to breakdown, slowly at first, but as the movie builds pace it becomes a waves of crushing emotions for the disciplined and sexually driven father and more jail time for the children. Leaving their poor mother looking on at the madness. Continue reading El castillo de la pureza / Castle of Purity (1972)

A Zed & Two Noughts (1985)

Director: Peter Greenaway. Music: Michael Nyman
Starring. Brian Deacon, Eric Deacon, Andrea Ferreol, Frances Barber UK/Netherlands. 1h 51m.

It’s impossible to mention Greenaway without Nyman, the two work so well together (until their falling out.. ) but it’s noteworthy to mention that this is the first collaboration with cinematographer Sacha Vierny and who he referred to as the most important collaborator, Vierny passed in the 1990s.

The film has lots of subtexts; the first is loss and grieving. Twin zoologists, Oswald and Oliver Deuce are at work studying animal behaviour when their wives are killed in a car tragic accident involving a large white swan which crashes through the windscreen, the eccentric woman who was driving the car, Alba Bewick (Ferreol) survives but has to have her leg amputated. Continue reading A Zed & Two Noughts (1985)

Dr Tarr’s Torture Dungeon (1973)

AKA The Mansion of Madness

Director:Juan López Moctezuma .
Starring.Claudio Brook, Arthur Hansel, Ellen Sherman. Marin LaSalle. Susana Kamini. Mexico. 1h 39m.

The concept of this darkly macabre path into insanity is simple, the inmates have taken over the asylum. This  vision of madness come from the king of the unusual, the film is loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The System of Dr Tarr and the Professor Feather.  A reporter (Brook) and his entourage have been invited to 19th century asylum hidden deep in the woods, their guide promises easy access but they are confronted by two armed guards, eventually they are let in and split up, the reporter takes one route while his beloved is chased through the woods and abused. After meeting various groups of people acting out wildly in the forest he meets the megalomaniac who’s running the whole affair and soon realises that the inmates have taken over and the prisoners are the redundant staff. In the absence of medical care they are left to their own crazy devices and act out their basest fantasies and have incredibly surreal urges. Continue reading Dr Tarr’s Torture Dungeon (1973)