Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hall of Strangeness Part IV

Battle Royale – (Kenji Fukasaku) In the not too distant future the worst high school class of the year in Japan is forced on a deadly fieldtrip. The students receive a map, some food and a random weapon and have three days to kill everyone else on the island or have the collar attached to their necks explode. Battle Royale manages trenchant commentary about delinquency, high school politics and cliques but succeeds best when aiming for campy, pitch-black comedy.
Artistry: ** Fun: ***** Strangeness: ***

Being John Malkovich – (Spike Jonze) Behind a cabinet in an office on the 7.5th story of an office building is a small passage that temporarily leads into the consciousness of actor John Malkovich. After assuming partial control of the celebrity, the usurper is expelled at a nearby turnpike. Puppeteer Craig Schwartz and his less than ethical friends quickly learn to exploit the possibilities of the unexplained phenomenon.
Artistry: **** Fun: **** Strangeness: *****

Big Trouble in Little China – (John Carpenter) Kurt Russel plays a truck-driver turned hero, after his friend’s fiancé is kidnapped by a 3000 year old Chinese sorcerer. Terrible special effects and an ancient-tome-load of witty one-liners make this outrageous film a cult classic.
Artistry: * Fun: ***** Strangeness: ***

Blood and Black Lace – (Mario Bava) Unavailable for 40 years, the Italian horror film that started it all is finally back in circulation. Models at a baroque fashion mansion are getting gruesomely murdered at a rate even beyond the norm and everybody’s a suspect. This stylish, colorful (we’re talking ample use of pink and purple) horror film deserves credit for starting the giallo, slasher and body count horror subgenres in one gruesome swoop.
Artistry: *** Fun: *** Strangeness: **

A Boy and His Dog – (L. Q. Jones) Harlan Ellison’s unlikely short story makes it to the big screen in this oft-overlooked 70’s cult film. Don Johnson (of Miami Vice fame) plays a roguish wanderer in the post-apocalyptic future who telepathically communicates with his wisecracking dog to smell out women to ravage. He finds himself falling in love with one of his victims and follows her into an underground colony of radiation survivors. Like all good sci-fi utopias, this one has a heavy price that must be paid and an evil robot. Hilarious ending ranks with the best of all time.
Artistry: * Fun: **** Strangeness: ****


Mad Dog said...

A premise like that and A Boy and his Dog only gets a three in strangeness?!

FilmWalrus said...

On further thought, you are probably right. The film starts off as strange and only progressively gets more uncomfortable and bizarre. It isn't particularly good in terms of acting, craft or pacing but it still manages to be worthwhile in my opinion. You can actually find it in the occasional video store that still carries VHS.

Unknown said...

What a great set from the Hall of Strangeness. Every one on here is great.

Also, how ahead of my time was I by obsessing over Big Trouble in Little China as a kid, and before I could legally rent it myself?

The-Iron-Inspector said...

Blood and Black Lace is one of those movies that I always meant to pick up,but I've never got around to it....great reviews in your 'Hall of Strangeness'

FilmWalrus said...

Definitely give B&B Lace a shot some time. It's irresistibly entertaining for Italian genre fans and in retrospect, it is highly iconic. I think it works as an aesthetic pleasure (the color, clothes and camerawork) foremost, but manages to be hilarious (semi-intentionally?) and thrilling too. The restoration is also a nice point.