The Austin Chronicle

Weird Times Five

By Marc Savlov, February 17, 2011, 1:07pm, Picture in Picture

If, as Sailor Ripley mused, this whole world is indeed wild at heart and weird on top, then Alamo Drafthouse programmer and Weird Wednesday founder Lars Nilsen is the king of the world. (Sorry, James Cameron.) In an effort to advance our own filmic freakiness we asked Nilsen to list his top five WW titles and guess what: That there's some serious weird.

1) Snakes

"Directed by Art Names, this is unlike any movie ever made. It would appear to be a movie about a guy, Snakey Bender, who raises snakes in this small town where everyone is prejudiced towards snakes. And, as usual, outrage after outrage is followed by revenge on the townspeople, via snakes. That's the core of the film. But what makes it such a special movie are all the bizarre little touches, like when he goes to get his vengeance, it's accompanied by John Phillips Souza marches. And then there are the shocking intimations about the town's intimate relations to snakes. And furthermore, Snakey Bender's favorite day is Wednesday! This guy is mad, mad, mad about Wednesday. If it's Wednesday, it's Snakey Bender Day. It's almost too bizarre to explain, but it's also perfect."

2) Teen Lust

"Directed by James Hong, the actor who plays Lo Pan in John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China, one of my favorite things about this is that the title is so misleading. It's actually a lot like some of Buñuel's early 70's movies like The Phantom of Liberty or The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. It's a comedy of manners in the guise of a titty comedy. It's all so skillfully done and so unexpected that it's just brilliant. And, of course, I love the fact that it's called Teen Lust."

3) Confessions of a Young American Housewife

"Joe Sarno, the director, sometimes finds a certain magic in his films, it's very pure with a great sense of character and the psychological underpinnings and manipulations of the characters are really what it's all about. He's sort of like the Arthur Schnitzler of his milieu. Not only do the clothes come off but the character armor comes off too. This particular Sarno shows real ambition and there are real sparks in the performances. If fact there are no performances in this movie -- except possibly that of the 'Horny Grocery Boy' -- that don't ring true, psychologically, spiritually, and in terms of taboo-breaking confrontation. It's a great, great movie to watch with an audience."

4) Gator Bait

"Directed by husband and wife team Ferd and Beverly Sebastian, it's a pursuit through the swamp, basically, that ends up having this tragic overtone. It's fast moving, there's nudity, violence, and great performances by Sam Gilman, who had been one of Brando's best friends, and Claudia Jennings, who possessed just this incandescent star quality in these 70s movies. She burns right through the screen."

5) Mr. Scarface

"Fernando Di Leo directs Jack Palance in a mob movie that is a comedy as well. It's a very, very dark comedy where all the funniest part of the movie are just absurd violence and death. It also has the great Vittorio Caprioli, the legendary Italian comedian, and it's really just a great master's work that's full of subtle shadings. Also, usually in these kinds of films we're let down by the dubbing. Not this time. In this movie, the dubbing so brilliant there should be an Academy Award for that kind of thing."

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