Some of us are satisfied with the nerdery Hollywood provides us. Marvel movies are great, we’ve got another Star Wars saga to look forward to and the Wachowskis keep making crazy movies. For others, HBO’s Game of Thrones is as edgy as we need to get. A few, however, need to search the depths of the cinematic fringes for something we’ve never seen before. The problem is it takes a lot to top the previous 117 years of cinema; at this point we’re talking about the cinematic equivalent of autoerotic asphyxiation.
Proceed to the rest of this article at your own risk. Mildly NSFW images ahead.
With YouTube, VOD and other direct ways, it’s getting easier and easier for filmmakers to get their twisted vision in front of the right eyes. Still, a film festival is the best way to get a concentrated sampling of obscure and daring films. Pretty much any major film festival will have its share of WTF stuff. Sundance welcomes it, Cannes is European so you know they’re into it, but Fantastic Fest almost exclusively thrives on it.
Fantastic Fest celebrated its 10th year of showcasing horror, fantasy, sci-fi and action films last week. To give you a baseline, previous Fantastic Fests have screened Moebius (dick chopping, rock scraping, foot masturbation) and Enter the Void (out of body point of view incest). Fantastic Fest X still had an all new assortment of movies to make you go WTF, and here are just 10 of the most notable. Of course, these are all SPOILERS since they’re the craziest scenes from the films. But hey, if spoiling one scene gets you interested in the whole movie, then we’ve done our job.
10. That Time of The Month in Spring
Spring is a really cool romantic horror from sophomore directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. Lou Taylor Pucci plays a guy who goes to Italy after his mom dies, and hooks up with an Italian babe (Nadia Hilker). Since we get to see her when he’s not around, we already know she’s transforming into something. Also, because this isn’t a Diane Lane movie.
Spring is good at teasing exactly what this creature is, but even the hints it gives us along the way can’t prepare us for the scene when Pucci walks in on her mid-transformation. Here a guy thinks he’s gonna win back his girl and she’s turning into a snake creature. Or is the crazy part that he still tries to work things out with her?
9. Brando’s Dolphin Head in Lost Soul
|Richard Stanley in Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau|
You might only know the 1996 remake of The Island of Dr. Moreau as a bad movie. At this point, you probably don’t even know that it exists. The reason it turned out so badly was that it was a troubled production in which the original director, Richard Stanley (Hardware) was fired. The new documentary Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau chronicles every step of the disaster.
There are a ton of stories about Val Kilmer’s behavior, about Marlon Brando’s behavior and Rob Morrow gives an interview about walking off the set. Brando was just fucking with new director John Frankenheimer, demanding casting and wardrobe changes. That mini-animal sidekick guy? That was Brando’s idea. The one idea Brando didn’t get was he wanted to take off his hat and reveal that Dr. Moreau was part dolphin. In telling that story, New Line Cinema president Bob Shaye’s face was pure WTF.
8. The Crucifixion in Horsehead
Horsehead is a film full of crazy images, not the least of which is the heroine fighting a dude with a horse for a head. What do we call something with a horse head and human body? Is it still a minotaur if it’s not a bull? Minoequine? We may never know the answer to these mysteries.
So that’s not even the most WTF scene in Horsehead. The film is about a girl returning home for a funeral, having nightmares full of animalistic sexual imagery. In one, she is being crucified, full stigmata with nails in her hands and feet. But her mouth is also sewn shut. As if a female crucifixion wasn’t enough to make you go, “Jesus Christ!” they added a sixth holy wound.
7. Female Hentai Vagina in The ABCs of Death 2
|The ABCs of Death 2|
With 26 different horror directors making a short film based on a letter of the alphabet, you’ve gotta figure they’re all trying to out-weird each other. This being a sequel, they’re also trying to top the previous 26 shorts from The ABCs of Death. One of them surely did it, and I guess I can preserve some of the mystery by not telling you which letter features this WTF moment. You’ll just keep waiting for it. It’s not from the segment pictured.
Hentai is usually the domain of anime and manga, often featuring Japanese schoolgirls. In the ABCs short by American Mary directors Jen and Sylvia Soska, a victimized woman turns the tables on her attackers. They didn’t count on her vagina sprouting tentacles to rape the sleazy dudes. You know, for feminism.
6. Abortion Scene in Over Your Dead Body
|Over Your Dead Body|
Not surprisingly, this isn’t the only abortion scene on this list, or in a movie at Fantastic Fest. So as you read on, imagine what the other abortion scene had to do to top this. Director Takashi Miike has never been one to shy away from taboo subjects. He practically invented “torture porn” with Audition.
In Over Your Dead Body, Miike returns to horror. Actors in a stage play seem to cross over into the reality of the play. I don’t know why that leads the leading lady to stab her vaj with a fork until a fetus bleeds out. Maybe that part was lost in translation.
5. “Bram Stoker” Shows Up in Norway
This is kind of a fake spoiler, since it’s not really Bram Stoker, but who it actually turns out to be is even more WTF. It’s also the photo provided in the festival guide, so I’m not the one spoiling it. Norway is a dancing vampire movie from Greece. There you go, dancing vampires. It’s not quite Step Up Vamps but at least they’re not sparkling.
So Zano has to dance to keep his heart beating. He meets a couple in a dance club, bites the dude right away, and follows them around the shadows of Greece. The man they finally bring him to says he’s Bram Stoker and wants to be bitten so he can live forever like his famous creation. Of course, Bram Stoker couldn’t live to be 167. Well, Stoker would only be 137 because Norway is set in 1984, but it’s still not really him. I was digging the “vampire meets Bram Stoker” but they had something even more evil in store.
4. Human Cuisinart in Tokyo Tribe
Tokyo Tribe is a Japanese rap opera. That alone should be applauded just for being forged into existence. It’s a gang battle full of colorful costumed factions like The Warriors, with the sex and violence of a Yakuza movie and Japanese schoolgirls beatboxing.
There’s plenty of WTF throughout Tokyo Tribe but it ends with a Caligula level mass execution. In a climactic gang battle, a vertical razor fan begins sucking combatants into it, exploding them all into sprays of blood. Who will remain by the end? It doesn’t really matter as long as they keep rapping.
3. Dick Cutting in I Am Trash
|I Am Trash|
I don’t know where to start with the Korean drama I Am Trash. Maybe this isn’t even the most effed-up part of it, but it’s a drama about a convicted pedophile rapist returning home to live with his sons. One is a garbage collector who’s disgusted by his father, but the other brother is happy to have good old dad back and they bond over child porn and sex dolls.
So, between more kidnappings and rapes, there’s only one way to settle this once and for all. The thing is, there were so many shots of dicks being sliced at various points in the movie, I couldn’t quite tell who still had a dick and who didn’t. It’s all intercut so it may be out of order, like some sort of cock-chopping Memento. Whatever…it’s art, man.
2. Abortion Scene in The Tribe
So this is the other abortion scene, and this is the impressive one. And it’s in an artistic Ukranian film that won the Cannes Film Festival Critics Week sidebar. The Tribe is an extraordinary film starring all deaf actors, in sign language with no subtitles for the hearing to read. It plays out largely like a silent film, and tells the story of a new kid at school who gets involved with drugs and prostitution.
At one point, one of the prostitutes has an abortion and it is presented in an epic single take like an Alfonso Cuaron movie, but Children of Men Cuaron because it’s all on a real set, not digital like Gravity. The sequence is so harrowing, and yet it’s also amazing how they made it look real with no cuts. It seems only foreign cinema has the balls to present taboo subjects in such a frank and honest manner. Yeah, I said it.
1. All of I Am a Knife With Legs
|I Am A Knife With Legs|
Let’s end this on a happy note. I Am a Knife With Legs is a weirdo comedy that makes no sense but is the funniest movie I’ve seen all year. This guy Bennett Jones made a whole movie in his apartment with a standard definition camera. So it ain’t gonna look like much, but he used that for the joke. It’s not supposed to be a real movie. It’s making fun of the whole process of films.
Jones plays Bene, a European rock star who’s hiding from an assassin. Someone ordered a fatwa on him through a website. Bene tells his story in flashbacks with animation, musical numbers and a Harrison Ford dream sequence (also played by Jones). Jones doesn’t so much break the fourth wall as he adds a fifth.
The title tells you how much sense this movie makes. A knife with legs sounds like it should mean something but it really doesn’t. Bene is easily distracted by weird eclairs and some dude walking down the street. He wears T-shirts with the stomach cut out to show off his abs. He also accuses graphic novels of just being fat comic books, so it might be pretty controversial. Pants insurance, ninja throwing stars dipped in poop, and stunt juice are just some of the WTFs you’re in for in I Am A Knife With Legs.
Also by Fred Topel