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Strange cinema

Strange cinema

 

When movies take a turn for the weird.

 

Shakespeare done right.

I dare say that many of you, like myself, were made to study some play or other by the Immortal Bard (immortal bored more like) during your school days only to find yourself drifting off into a reverie about something more interesting (like watching paint dry, for instance). In the 1993 film Last Action Hero one young Arnold Schwarzenegger fan imagines what Hamlet would be like if his idol was in the leading role. It looks like a huge improvement to me.

 

Strange invention.

Many people seem to think that Germans are so obsessed with hard work and efficiency that they never find time for any sort of fun or frivolity. By way of countering that blinkered stereotype here is a clip from the 1985 film Gritta von Rattenzuhausbeiuns (Gritta of Rats in the House By Us) in which the young heroine of the title (played by Nadja Klier) lives in a ramshackle rat infested castle with her eccentric inventor father and faithful old family retainer Gebhardt. As the film unfolds she becomes embroiled in all manner of strange adventures such as being a test pilot for her dad's anti assassination ejector throne which he is hoping to present to the king and so make his fortune.

 

The Fourth Reich?

In the 1970s nothing was considered too tasteless to be made into a motion picture. To demonstrate, here is a clip from the 1975 blacksploitation Nazisploitation crossover The Black Gestapo in which loose cannon human rights activist Colonel Kojah sets up a private army to protect his community from some unsavoury Mafia types. Unfortunately he soon succumbs to megalomania and his troops turn from protectors to oppressors. Here he is addressing a rally of his loyal followers.

 

A witch's curse.

As rational 21st Century humans most of us would likely scoff at supernatural stuff and nonsense such as curses but as this clip from The Pit and the Pendulum makes plain a resourceful witch like Mistress Esmeralda (Frances Bay) can make her curses strike down those who irk her with dramatic effect.

 

A wizard has an awkward moment (NSFW).

The success of the original Conan the Barbarian movie in the early 1980s spawned a host of imitations, mostly of the cheap and cheesy variety. Red Sonja, made in 1985, at least didn't take itself too seriously as we can see in this clip where evil Queen Gedren calls upon her wizard to check out a potential threat by means of his magic mirror. Unfortunately the dirty old diabolist still has some saucy visions he was perusing earlier in mirror memory, giving rise to an awkward interlude. The moral of this clip is clear: even a master of spells and shadows should clear his magic mirror browsing history frequently to avoid embarrassment.

 

Brian takes a trip.

Here is another surreal cinematic moment from the Monty Python crew, this one from the 1979 movie The Life of Brian which caused much controversy at the time. It tells the tale of Brian of Nazareth (Graham Chapman) who, quite unintentionally, comes to be regarded as The Messiah. This leads him into all manner of perilous situations such as this one where he is being pursued by the Romans when he has what can only be described as a miraculous escape.

 

A trip to the zoo (NSFW).

While a visit to a zoo may not strike you as the most exciting day out this zoo, which features in the saucy '70s drama Swedish Wildcats, offers its patrons an altogether more interesting alternative to the usual succession of bored looking animals in their enclosures, for this is a menagerie of body painted babes role playing animals. Now that's what I call a fun day out.

 

An odd execution (NSFW).

The Monty Python team certainly produced many fine examples of strange cinema (and television) in their day. To illustrate the point here is a clip from the 1983 film Monty Python's Meaning of Life in which a condemned prisoner has been allowed to chose the method of his own execution. I think that there can be little doubt that he has made a truly inspired choice.

 

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