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Cinema Strange

A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Stars: Malcolm McDowell, Warren Clarke, James Marcus, Michael Tarn, Patrick Magee

"There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening. The Korova milkbar sold milk-plus, milk plus vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom, which is what we were drinking. This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence."

This is my favorite movie of all time. Stanley Kubrick's visionary masterpiece is a stunning adaptation of the incredible Anthony Burgess novel. While many find this film uncomfortable and shocking, there is no denying the power of this extraordinary work of art.

In a bleak futuristic landscape, vicious teen Alex and his droogs spend their leisure time practing ultra-violence, extremely cruel beatings, robberies, and rape. Circumstances land Alex in prison, and when he learns of an experimental treatment that "cures" deviant behavior, he rashly volunteers in order to earn his freedom, unaware of the terrible personal cost.

It is a testament to the superior acting skills of Malcolm McDowell and Kubrick's strength as a director that the audience is able to sympathize with Alex's predicament. The transformation from an amoral degenerate into a brainwashed societal punching bag is a harrowing one that we share with Alex. We are forced to consider the issue at stake here- does not every man have the right (right-right) to live freely as an individual, even if he is not a law-abiding citizen? Is it fair to force someone to be "good", and what exactly is "good"? As human beings, is it not our choice to decide who we are and how we will behave, taking the consequences for our own actions?

I consider this the most frightening, gut-wrenching morality tale ever burned into my psyche. The provocative plot, wondrous score, remarkable sets and costumes, and the incredible language are all components that add up to the ultimate movie experience. No other film in existence compares. This flick will grab you by the yarbles, if you have any yarbles!

Blue Velvet

Blue Velvet

Blue Velvet (1986)

Directed by David Lynch

Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern, Dean Stockwell, Isabella Rossellini

"It's a strange world, isn't it?"

David Lynch scares me, and that is why I adore him. This film is another walk on the dark side by Lynch, an expose of the nastiness that hides just beneath the thin veneer of suburban normalcy.

Life as he knows it abruptly ends for young Jeffrey Beaumont when he finds a severed human ear. His attempt to solve this gruesome mystery only leads him into a series of bizarre encounters and dangerous situations. There's a lot more to sleepy Lumberton than Jeff can begin to imagine.

As expected, David Lynch lets his freak flag fly. Everyone is odd, twisted, or downright nuts. (What the hell is in Lumberton's water supply?) Even Jeffrey, who appears to be Joe College personified, is somewhat bent.

Two of the weirdest characters ever are in this flick. Dennis Hopper as sadistic maniac Frank Booth is stunning. And Dean Stockwell matches his intensity in the briefly seen, but never to be forgotten role of Ben. He is nothing short of astounding, in his satin jacket and pasty makeup. As Frank so elegantly puts it, he IS fucking suave.  When our hero is forced to go on a joyride with Frank and his cohorts, it is absolutely terrifying. Once you see this film, the song "In Dreams" will haunt you for the rest of your life. Good stuff!

Girly

Girly

Girly (1970)

Directed by Freddie Francis

Stars: Vanessa Howard, Ursula Howells, Michael Bryant, Howard Trevor

"Mumsy, do you think they'll bring anybody home?"

If you're searching for a weird film from the Brits, here is one that is sure to satisfy! Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny, and Girly live in a huge mansion, their lives dictated by a series of strange rituals they have developed in an isolated world they've created for themselves. The real action takes place when Sonny and Girly collect men they meet outside the boundaries of their estate, their victims forced to conform to the bizarre family rules or risk being sent to the angels.

This film grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. It's as relentless as a pit bull. Nobody is sane and you will feel like the New Friend, trying to create reason in an environment that doesn't support it. This one is a rarity, so start searching for a copy now!

Student Confidential

Student Confidential

Student Confidential (1987)

Directed by Richard Horian

Stars: Eric Douglas, Marlon Jackson, Ronee Blakley, Richard Horian, Susan Scott

"Yes I resent you, you're stupid!"

What the fuck?! How to begin to describe this shitstorm? Well, two of the "stars" have a talented brother named Michael. As a rule, movies that star the siblings of A-Listers are typically a train-wreck, and this is no exception. You know right away it's going to be awful, but you can't look away from the carnage. Eric and Marlon can hold their heads up though, their performances aren't any worse than anyone else's in this butt-smear on film. Seriously, the writer/director/actor wiped his ass and called it a movie.

Troma tackles the troubled teen genre? Yes they do, and the results are exactly what you'd expect...Tromatic. Skip this lunacy about a disturbed counselor who is hired to help teenagers with their personal problems unless you enjoy being Tromatized. In his entire career Ed Wood never created anything as shitty as this flick!

Female Trouble

Female Trouble

Female Trouble (1974)

Directed by John Waters

Stars: Divine, Mink Stole, Edith Massey, David Lochary, Michael Potter, Mary Vivian Pearce

"I wouldn't suck your lousy dick even if I was suffocating and there was oxygen in your balls!"

The erudite line above was shouted by a "child" in the film, who later dies by strangulation at the hands of her mother. Any sense of how sick this puppy is now? Just read on if you need further proof.

You know you're in for a wild ride when the opening titles start and you hear Divine's distinct voice warbling the theme song. Nothing can adequately prepare you for what you're about to see. The best  I can say is keep a barf bag handy, you'll need it!

Divine is Dawn Davenport, juvenile delinquent. Dawn and her friends are the big haired, tight skirted terrors of the school. Dawn's aspirations in life are to own a pair of cha-cha heels and to become famous. When the cha-cha heels don't appear under the Christmas tree, Dawn runs away from home and promptly has sex in the woods with a slob who picks her up. (Divine plays both characters!?!) This has to be one of the most disgusting sex scenes ever, but it's shot seamlessly. Of course, as a result of this nasty encounter, Dawn ends up pregnant.

Dawn gives birth to her child in a squalid hotel room, biting through the umbilical cord afterwards. Ugh! John Waters is not called the Prince of Puke for nothing!
Our hefty heroine works as a waitress, dancer, prostitute, and thief to support her daughter. Little Taffy is a terrible brat of course. After they tie Taffy to the bed, one of Dawn's friends remarks, "I'm glad I had an abortion!"

Next we meet Dawn's neighbor, Aunt ida. Nothing I can say will prepare you for her appearance. Ida argues with her nephew Gator because he isn't gay. She thinks gays are just better and worries that Gator will end up married to a hetero and working in an  office!

Dawn and Gator eventually marry. The wedding is one you won't forget, even though it's only shown briefly. That dress! Married life is rocky for our couple, to Aunt Ida's delight. Taffy hates both of her parents, but now at 14 is tough enough to deal with them. She simply threatens to call the police if they don't give in to her demands for money.

The Dashers, the eccentric owners of the Lipstick Beauty Salon, ask Dawn to take part in their beauty experiment.  They feel the more heinous a crime is, the more beautiful the criminal becomes. After Dawn's face is horribly disfigured by acid (courtesy of Aunt Ida) Dawn becomes their crime model (with a little help from the "liquid eyeliner" the Dashers inject into her!) It all culminates in a bizarre stage performance/bloodbath, and Dawn's execution in the 'lectric chair.

OMFG, this is truly one of the most insane movies I have ever seen. I loved every second of it. Certainly not to everyone's tastes, I only recommend the early John Waters films to the more daring film lover who has a cast iron stomach and an appreciation for the absurd. 

Female Trouble
$2.99
Starring Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole, Edith Massey

Terror of Tiny Town

Terror of Tiny Town

Terror of Tiny Town (1938)

Directed by Sam Newfield

Stars: Billy Curtis, Little Billy Rhodes, Yvonne Moray, Billy Platt, Charles Becker

"I'm the toughest hombre who ever drew lead, and I ain't afraid of the biggest one of you- I'm the terror of Tiny Town..."

A western/musical with all midget actors, this film is an entertaining and charming oddity. The budding romance between Buck Lawson and Nancy Preston is threatened by the feud between their families. It's all a scheme by rotten black hat Bat Haines to take over both ranches.

It's all so damn cute! Watching the performers walk underneath swinging saloon doors elicits a giggle every time, there are plenty of comedic scenes woven into the plot, and the songs are good too. And look at the tiny horses! Kids are sure to like this one as well. Innocent and fun.

Side note- Billy Curtis also appeared in the Clint Eastwood gothic western,  High Plains Drifter.

Pick-Up

Pick-Up

Pick Up (1975)

Directed by Bernard Hirschenson

Stars: Gini Eastwood, Jill Senter, Alan Long, Tom Quinn, John Winter

"Awaken to a new sense of consciousness, prepare to meet on this day one who will lead you to sacred ground."

WTF?? This is one trippy scene, man. Two free spirited chicks hitch a ride with a dude delivering a motor home from Miami to Tallahassee. The trio become lost in the Everglades and the film rockets into outer space with lots of sex and weird, hallucinatory sequences.

It's all beautifully shot, but I was confused throughout. My main reaction is "huh?"
The sex scenes are really well done, maybe a bit too artsy fartsy for some though.
If you ever wanted to see a couple do it in a tree, here's your chance! The girls are gorgeous, and the guy is cute in a hippie sort of way. Worth repeated viewings if you can get past the strangeness. 

Welcome to the Grindhouse - The Teacher and the Pick-Up
$11.26
Starring Angel Tompkins, Jay North, Anthony James, Marlene Schmidt, Barry Atwater

Alice's Restaurant

Alice's Restaurant

Alice's Restaurant (1969)

Stars: Arlo Guthrie, James Broderick, Pat Quinn, Tina Chen, Michael McClanathan

"For date of birth you put 'scorpion', I want the specific date!"

This movie is far out! Based on Guthrie's 18 minute (!!) song "The Alice's Restaurant Massacre", this is the story of Arlo's travels as he waits to hear from the draft board. His journey leads him to Ray and Alice, friends who have moved into a church with a group of hippie friends.

Hippies get no respect! Poor Arlo and his pals are antagonized and reviled by practically everyone. Their hair, clothes, music, and attitude towards life are all cause for criticism and sometimes outright acts of hatred.

Penn has fashioned a sweet portrait of Arlo Guthrie and captured the spirit of a generation intent on living outside the mainstream. The director shows a real affinity for outsiders and rebels (he also directed Bonnie and Clyde two years earlier) and  the film's loose style is as smooth as a magic carpet ride.

I don't like folk music. But I do like this movie and I can appreciate the appeal of folk and its balladeers. Keep an open mind and exercise patience, you might like this one. Others will find this as powerful as a roofie dipped in Nyquil.