Weird Movie of the Week

Weird Movie of the Week: You Never Can Tell

Last time on Weird Movie of the Week, we got the greatest action movie never made. This time, we’ve got a touching tale of a reincarnated dog trying to solve his own murder called You Never Can Tell:

You Never Can Tell movie poster

An ex-army dog inherits a fortune from his eccentric millionaire owner, and which is poisoned, asks the leader in the heaven for animals to send him back to Earth, as a human private investigator, to solve his own murder.

And if that’s not enough for you, the humanimal PI also apparently falls in love with his former caretaker, the eccentric millionaire’s secretary. To allay any, er, qualms you may have with this, they reveal that her father was a reincarnated Scottish Terrier, so she’s part humanimal as well (humanimals, humanimals everywhere!)

I first learned of this when it showed up on the Criterion Channel and someone recommended it before it fell off the service. I didn’t see it in time, and it’s not available anywhere else, so I filed it away as a potential WMotW, pending actually watching it (I don’t always watch the WMotW, but it’s nice when I can and this seemed like the sort of thing I should watch). However, I did manage to track down a copy on the Internet Archive (It appears to be a VHS rip of a double feature from TNT – You Never Can Tell doesn’t start until minute 34 or so.)

Look, I’m not going to claim it’s classic cinema, but it’s a kooky premise and there’s some goofy jokes (the detective side-eying fire hydrants, his partner, a former Kentucky Racehorse, being able to run really fast, that sort of thing…) and it’s a brisk 78 minutes. Plus, doggies! It’s probably Dean Koontz’s favorite movie.

Weird Movie of the Week: Narco Shark

Last time on Weird Movie of the Week, we got stuck in a porta potty. This time, we’ve got the greatest action movie never made: Narco Shark

Narco Shark Poster

In 1989, mexican direct to video superstar Ricky Valente was in line to write and direct NARCO SHARK, a wild and ambitious film about a Detective/Saxophonist who battles the Mexican Yakuza and a cocaine fueled Killer Shark while trying to save his marriage from falling apart and helping his awkwardly shy but sexually depraved brother in law learn some breakdancing moves.

Sadly, the film was never made… until now.

Of course, this is all just made up. The effort is the brainchild of Gerardo Preciado, a musician who made a name for himself by making music soundtracks to imaginary movies (notable examples include Terrore! and My Little Slasher). This is the first time his little hobby has expanded to include actually making the film in question. Inspired by the likes of low-budget 80s/90s trash like Miami Connection and Samurai Cop, Narco Shark is shaping up to be a rather odd little Sharksploitation/Mexploitation flick. In an interview with Fangoria, he speaks more about his inspirations:

As I do with the soundtracks, I become what the film asks me to become. I’m not trying to be a great director (there will be time for that in the next project), I have to become a director that needs things fast and cheap! Turns out that if you want to make your film look like the filmmakers had no budget and no time, the best way to get that is to make your film with no money and no time!

Even though it’s a “sharksploitation” film, there are a lot of other influences and inspirations, from ’90s Spanish cinema (Alex de La Iglesia’s Accion Mutante, Santiago Segura’s Torrente) to art-house cinema (I want to make the Twin Peaks of sharksploitation films!) and even some Italian dream logic (à la Fulci).

The latest update indicates that production is nearing completion, but who knows when it will really see the light of day. The trailer looks pretty silly (even as these things go) and I’m usually skeptical of people self-consciously aping bad filmmaking aesthetics, but I’ll probably watch this thing.

Weird Movie of the Week: Holy Shit!

Last time on Weird Movie of the Week, we learned that smoking causes coughing. This time, we, uh, get stuck in a porta potty. So there’s this low-budget gimmick that some movies try where the grand majority of the action takes place in a single, confined location. Think movies like Buried, Locke, or Phone Booth. Well, Holy Shit! joins their ranks with a decidedly more scatalogical premise:

An architect regains consciousness in a locked portaloo – known in German vernacular by the ‘Dixi’ brand name – on a building site where a detonation is being prepared. As he desperately tries to find ways of escaping this ‘prison’ before potentially being blown to smithereens, he realizes who has put him into this predicament. Now he has to do everything in his power to get out alive…

I guess it’s a good thing smell-o-vision never caught on. Holy Shit! is currently an exclusive release on Screambox, a horror-themed streaming service that isn’t Shudder, so I probably won’t be able to get to this for a while… but it sounds gross and fun.

Weird Movie of the Week: Smoking Causes Coughing

Last time on Weird Movie of the Week, we met Brian and Charles. This time we learn that Smoking Causes Coughing:

After a devastating battle against a diabolical turtle, a team of five avengers – known as the “Tobacco Force” – is sent on a mandatory retreat to strengthen their decaying group cohesion. Their sojourn goes wonderfully well until Lézardin, Emperor of Evil, decides to annihilate planet Earth.

Alright, referencing a Quentin Dupieux movie for weird movie of the week is almost like cheating. After all, this is the guy who brought us the touching tale of a homicidal tire and a talking deerskin jacket, amongst other oddities. As these things go, a Power Rangers-style parody featuring anti-smoking vigilantes named Benzene, Methanol, Mercury, Ammonia, and Nicotine, along with a green rat mentor, is perhaps not as uniquely weird as the rest of Dupieux’s filmography, but it’s pretty damn weird for everyone else. Who’d have thunk that Smoking Causes Coughing?

Weird Movie of the Week: Brian and Charles

Last time on Weird Movie of the Week, Jesus showed us the way to the highway (whatever that means). This time around, we meet Brian and Charles:

Brian and Charles

Brian is a lonely inventor in rural Wales who spends his days building quirky, unconventional contraptions that seldom work. Undeterred by his lack of success, he soon attempts his biggest project yet. Using a washing machine and various spare parts, he invents Charles, an artificial intelligence robot that learns English from a dictionary and has an obsession with cabbages.

This was an audience favorite at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, and apparently represents something of a modern (seemingly more comedic) retelling of Frankenstein. It’s certainly a shoe-in for a Kaedrin Movie Award nomination for Best High Concept film, once I get around to actually watching the thing (it’s just hitting streaming now, but is still in the premium/purchase phase of release.) And who knows, maybe even the Hugo Awards would recognize it, if voters take a chance on indie stuff.

Weird Movie of the Week: Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway

Last time on Weird Movie of the Week, we engaged in a private-eye-led Witch Hunt. This time, um, well, I guess we’ll just say that Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway:

CIA agents Palmer and Gagano are tasked with the perilous mission of destroying “The Soviet Union!” As they enter the system using a VR simulation, their mission quickly turns into a delirious trap, far more complex than expected, as the fabric of reality starts unraveling around them.

Longtime readers know that this series of posts is somewhat inconsistent in that I don’t always watch the weird movie in question (usually due to availability), but this one was on Amazon Prime Streaming, so while the description above sounds a little funky, this was how I summed it up:

Imagine Adult Swim commissioning Alejandro Jodorowsky to make a Too Many Cooks style pastiche of a late-era Philip K. Dick fever dream inflected novel. I’m still not sure if that’s good or bad, but it’s certainly not boring.

Ah yes, that gets to the weirdness.

Stop motion characters from Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway

I’m just going to quickly list a few things that are in this movie, just to give you more of an idea:

  • A good portion of the film is stop-motion animation where our heroes run around wearing paper masks of famous people in a virtual reality world
  • There’s a cocain snorting black Batman who is referred to as “Batfro”. I think he’s the mayor or something?
  • Stalin is portrayed as Scottish?
  • There are 3 ninjas called Spaghetti, Ravioli and Baltazar
  • At one point a pair of fly monsters show up. One of them shoots laser beams from its eyes and accidentally immolates itself. The other fly creature pulls his hand off and candy comes pouring out like he’s some sort of piñata.
  • I know my description involves Philip K. Dick and a lot of people throw that out as a descriptor, but it’s very clearly an influence here – one of the characters is even named Palmer Eldrich.

And there’s lots more where that came from. As you might intuit from all of this, the film is a bit of a mess. It’s certainly not beginners fare, though I suspect there’s a very specific type of person who will get a lot out of this. Who those people are, I have no idea. I found it interesting from an almost anthropological observational standpoint, but that sort of detached reserve is obviously not what’s driving this whole thing. Anyway, if you’re a veteran of weird movies, this one might due the trick.

Weird Movie of the Week: Witch Hunt

Last time on Weird Movie of the Week, we noshed on Champagne and Bullets. This time, we engage in a private-eye-led Witch Hunt:

Detective Philip Lovecraft lives in Los Angeles in the 1950s when an ambitious Senator is holding hearings, on Magic. Magic is the new influence in Tinsel Town. Lovecraft is unique in that he is the only one who refuses to use magic in his work. Shortly after he is hired, he finds his client, Kim Hudson, accused of the murder of her husband, a film executive. Philip uses the talents of a local witch, Kropotkin, to explain what is happening only to see her accused of the murder and sentenced to be burnt at the stake. Reminiscent of Roger Rabbit, without the toons.

It’s a made-for-HBO movie from 1994 (i.e. before they kicked off the whole prestige cable drama thing) that is directed by Paul Schrader, stars Dennis Hopper as Detective Lovecraft, and Penelope Ann Miller as the femme fatale. With music by Angelo Badalamenti. It’s a sorta sequel to Cast a Deadly Spell (directed by Martin Campbell and starring Fred Ward as the detective), which was actually a pretty fantastic mashup of 40s gumshoe noir and Lovecraftian horror.

Witch Hunt

By all accounts this sequel is not as good, but the frustrating thing about it is that it doesn’t appear to be available to watch anywhere (there’s a VHS on Amazon for $54). I know that movie productions are complicated legal constructs and that rights can get messy, but it was made specifically for HBO, how is it not on HBO Max? Well, you can watch Cast a Deadly Spell on HBO Max, so there is that (and I’d recommend it if you’re in the mood for this sort of thing).

Weird Movie of the Week: Champagne and Bullets

Last time on Weird Movie of the Week, we covered the touching tale of a black devil doll from hell. This time, we’ve got a tasty meal of Champagne and Bullets. As per usual, the plot descriptions vary:

Two cops are fired after being setup by their corrupt boss, who gets appointed as judge, but secretly heads a satanic cult. After his wife is killed by the cult, one of the cops is determined to bring the cult down.

Alright, I can see some weirdness emerging there, let’s look at a different plot descripton:

The Corruption of The System is given a swift lopsided kick by Vigilante Justice as a Disgraced Former Cop emerges from exile, automatic weapons blazing and mediocre martial arts akimbo, to bring down a murderous satanic cult headed by his former partner. His only allies? A boatload of swagger and one leggy blonde.

Ah yes, now we’re getting weirder. Let’s explore some Letterboxd reviews:

truly no words, defies a rating, i’ve never winced more, the loser vanity project to end all loser vanity projects. alternates between john de hart giving himself very long and cringe softcore scenes with the female lead while his own terrible songs play in the background to scenes of wings hauser having a psychotic break.

That’s the stuff. The whole “loser vanity project” bit does remind me a bit of The Astrologer, which might be promising since that’s an almost accidental masterpiece. That being said, all accounts are that Champagne and Bullets (aka Get Even, aka Road to Revenge) is just plain bad. Unfortunately, it’s one of those movies that’s difficult to track down. Vinegar Syndrome did a quick run a while back, but it’s out of stock and selling on secondary for upwards of $100. I enjoy watching bad movies and all, but not that much.

Let’s look at some images:

Action Star
Nothing says action star like a mustache…
More action star
It’s a very menacing mustache…
Marriage attire
Typical marriage attire
Wings Hauser going full ham
Wings Hauser going full ham
Villainy also has a mustache
Villainy also has a mustache (at least, I’m assuming that’s also a villain)

So yes, I definitely want to catch up with this at some point. I’m sure I’ll be able to find a copy somewhere, through… methods. But I’d rather, you know, support artists and companies like Vinegar Syndrome.

Weird Movie of the Week: Black Devil Doll from Hell

Last time on Weird Movie of the Week, we found a tale of forbidden love between people named Obama and Osama. Alas, that turned out to be a bit of a dud. This time, we’ve got a Black Devil Doll from Hell:

A woman buys a doll at a magic shop. Unbeknownst to her, the doll is possessed by an evil spirit, and it proceeds to take her over.

I know, that doesn’t sound all that weird. Par for the killer dummy/doll genre course. It turns out that the basic description leaves out some things. A review from Tony the Terror on Letterboxd gives us the goods:

An incredibly religious woman buys a doll that proceeds to come alive and pleasure her (mmhmm yep that’s right). This causes her to have a total sexual awakening, forego the lord, become a skank, and then realize that only the doll excites her.

Ah, now there’s that weirdness that makes you wonder how a movie like this could ever get made. From all indications, it sounds more bonkers than it actually is, and many mention that the 90 minute runtime is far too long, which isn’t a good sign. And yet, it’s the sort of thing I could see myself catching up with during the forthcoming Six Weeks of Halloween horror movie marathon, so you never know…

Weird Movie of the Week: When Obama Loved Osama

Last time on Weird Movie of the Week, we watched the Citizen Kane of Astrology movies. This time, we’ve got a tale of forbidden love between people named Obama and Osama. Ultimately, it’s a tale of two internet-based movie databases.

Because streaming services are terrible at curation and discoverability, I peruse a number of other websites and tools to see what’s new and interesting. Because I’m a weirdo, it’s often the more obscure selections that catch my eye, like this one that I discovered on JustWatch (new on Amazon Prime, because of course it’s Prime material):

The subject of the film is exceptionally intriguing. It revolves around a man named Barrack Obama and a man named Osama bin Laden. To win the hand of the middle aged man, the hero, bin Laden needs to cross a few obstacles on his way as he is a Muslim and the man of his dreams is a Christian. The movie “When Obama loved Osama” and remember: Osama bin Stylin on all yall n*gs

Apologies for some minor censorship at the end there (honestly not sure what to make of that), but what the fuck is going on with this movie description? Was it written by a six-year-old who doesn’t quite speak English and was only told the title of the movie? As it turns out, the description on Amazon Prime itself isn’t nearly as weird (or as tantalizing, sadly):

Two youngsters, Maggi Obama and Aman Osama, who come from different communal backgrounds are in love with each other. Will their love overcome the religious differences and will they be united?

I mean, that sounds outright boring compared to the bananapants movie described by the six-year-old. What’s going on here? It turns out that there are two major internet movie databases. Everyone knows IMDB (Internet Movie Database), which is also owned by Amazon and unsurprisingly powers Amazon Prime (and thus it has the more prosaic description). But there’s also TMDB (The Movie Database), which has the more insane description and powers lots of websites, including JustWatch and Letterboxd.

Anyway, I didn’t end up watching the movie. It turns out that this is probably not actually a weird movie of the week, but I figured I’d capture the process of figuring out that it’s not. For posterity. Or something.