Thursday, April 07, 2005


I recently rented and watched the first three DVDs in the series Lost and Found Video Night. Each DVD compiles a bunch of bizarre film and video clips, aimed at conoisseurs of "so bad they're good" films and the like. The first volume in particular puts the emphasis on the freakish, and according to the link just given, some of it is from videos that were actually found in dumpsters (there's complete listing of contents for any of the discs). Several of the clips you'd only want to watch once, if at all. In particular, a soft-core porn scene involving a bear (actually an actor in a bear costume, but playing a real bear, not a man in a bear costume, if you follow me) will make you want to claw your own eyes out. But there's also an amazing clip of animation beginning at about the 42-minute mark, and lasting for slightly under three minutes. It's a surrealistic combination of clay-, puppet- and "standard" animation and live action, and is apparently French. If anyone reading this should happen to know what this is or where it comes from, please let me know!

The second volume is pretty much a continuation of the first, though a lot less outrageous. Actually, I was disappointmented by this volume, although it does contain a clip of William Shatner giving a dramatic recitation of the lyrics to "Rocket Man."

The third volume, which is actually the one I rented and watched first, shifts the focus to strange cinema. As I was watching it, I realized that I had actually seen two of the films excerpted on it. The clip in which a topless woman attacks another woman with a shard of broken glass is taken from Female Prisoner #701 Scorpion, which I reviewed here; and the opening clip is the opening scene from Suicide Club, which I haven't written about yet but hope to someday. I don't know whether this says more about me or about the compilation. While some of the other clips on this disc made me want to hit fast forward, many of them were fascinating. The excerpts from William Klein's Mister Freedom, a goofy "pop-art" political satire, were good enough that I'd like to see the whole thing. And some of the clips I'd like to see more of out of perverse curiosity, as with "The Story of Srebrenica," which the disc aptly describes as "the most fucked-up children's video EVER" (from memory, as I seem to have misplaced the scrap of paper on which I'd written down the quote). "Srebrenica" here doesn't refer to the city, but to a baby, whom when a tornado blows her house away, is adopted by a wolf, who feeds her a dead rat. (No, that is not a typo.) And this is narrated and animated in the blandest, and most inept, style possible.

There are four other DVDs in the series, but my video store doesn't have them yet.


Another DVD I watched recently was Hellevator, a Japanese sci-fi-horror flick set mainly in an elevator, and directed by Hiroki Yamaguchi. (The title, which was appended to the English release, is awful, but the Japanese title, which is the English words "Gusher no binds me," isn't much better.) The first twenty minutes or so basically set out the steampunk-ish setting, and are an impressive piece of science fiction cinema: something like what Terry Gilliam's Brazil would have been if set entirely inside an elevator. (In an interview with Yamaguchi included on the DVD, we learn that Brazil was one of the films he told the art director to model the sets on.) Once the plot kicks in, the film becomes gory, confusing, and not very good. Still, if you can rent it cheaply, I'd do it for the opening twenty minutes alone.

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