John Skipp’s Favourite Weird And Horror Short Films From Festivals

Hello hello my Christmas friends, let’s all dance and sing, with joy and stuff and stuff and things and all stuff in between.

While at Bizarrocon, horror author John Skipp had a showing of his favourite short films (or movies, if you want to be all American about it). However a more accurate title for this post should be ‘some of John Skipp’s favourites’ because the showing lasted two and a half hours and I’ve picked out the ones I liked best, and I couldn’t find the full movies of Einstein-Rosen by Olga Osorio or The Honeymoon by Ruth Pickett.

I’ll start with the silliest first. You might recognise the Lovecraftian rapper as Cody Goodfellow, one of the authors who sat with me on the Weird In A Post Weird World panel. Other bizarro authors pop up too, along with Rose O’Keefe, the owner of Eraserhead Press.

Baby Got Bass from Eli Dorsey

The next is a sci fi short most fans of Black Mirror would probably appreciate, SWELL from Bridget Savage Cole

THE BULB from calvin reeder is weird, fun and a little bit gross

And finally Death Metal from Chris McInroy had us howling. Contains daft violence

Merry Christmas and see you next week!

DADAkitten: If David Lynch Did Comedy Sketches

Merry birthday to me! I hope all my little bits of confetti littering the streets are OK?

I’ve been trying to settle on a creative project which is purely for fun for a while now, and finally my friend Steve and I have settled on DADAkitten. I can only explain it as ‘imagine if David Lynch did comedy sketches. Sort of. Not quite, but a bit. Also Welcome To Night Vale.’ Follow our channel for more delights and daftness.

Anyway here are a couple of mine, from a series called The Drama Farmer which relates YouTube drama on people who don’t exist:

And here’s my favourite one of Steve’s:

Art: The Creepy Grin Of Yue Minjun

The other day I went to use the computer only to be shocked by a terrifying, eternal grin repeated many times over. Bill had discovered Yue Minjun and saved his picture to the desktop. I thought immediately of Aphex Twin or Being John Malkovich.

Minjun is an artist from Beijing who uses his own face, frozen in a grin, in all his paintings and sculptures, which often replicate iconic imagery such as the Terracotta Army. There’s a kind of mischief and joy to his work, which has been shown in China, London, France, and Switzerland among others.

Ghost Cars, Paedophiles And Hitler: The Weirdest American Sitcoms

Sitcoms can be quite odd. Often a vacuum of humour, they’re mostly born of a Network’s desire to keep things inoffensive and entertain the whole family, dulling any creativity on the way (Big Bang Theory and Citizen Kahn, I’m looking at you). Sometimes they break free and become something great, for example Nathan Barley, Silicon Valley, Spaced, The League of Gentlemen, Fleabag, The Mighty Boosh and Atlanta (technically a comedy drama but I highly recommend it, particularly the BET episode. My stomach hurt during that).

Most of the time, though, sitcoms are just the same old thing in different settings, cobbling ideas together from already successful shows during a very desperate board meeting. Sometimes they have an original idea, but it’s so outlandish that you can’t quite believe was pitched let alone accepted.

Bosom Buddies

Tom Hanks’ first screen appearance seems to be inspired by Some Like It Hot only more stupid and less funny. Some Like It Hot had to be in black and white for audiences to accept Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon as women, but the Bosom Buddies creators thought nah, it’ll be fine.

Tom and his chum find a cheap apartment to rent but oh, curses, it’s a hotel for women. Did…did those exist in the 1980s?

My Mother, The Car

Wanting to capitalise on the success of fantasy sitcoms like Mr Ed and Bewitched, with a little oedipal complex thrown in, the reviews for the sitcom in which a man’s dead mother is reincarnated as a 1928 Porter were so bad that it wasn’t picked up for a second series. I suggest you watch The Simpsons parody Lovematic Grandpa instead.

Diff’rent Strokes – The Paedophile Episode

I had to include this. Generally a regular, unfunny situational comedy, it took a dark turn when the writers decided to highlight the dangers of paedophiles.

While I think it was well meaning and may have done some real good, the story slips down a rabbit hole of inappropriate laugh tracks and wise cracks while the action onscreen grows ever more disturbing. If you’ve ever watched the Butter’s Very Own Episode of South Park you’ll know what I mean, only this was unintentional.

The Flying Nun

“There’s this nun, see.”

“OK?”

“And she can fly.”

“What? Why?”

“She weighs just 90 pounds and…and…when the wind is strong it catches that funny hat they wear, and off she goes!”

“Tere, your mother and I are very worried about you.”

Mr Smith

The orangutan from Any Which Way But Loose landed a speaking role in this short-running sitcom. Apparently transformed into a genius after drinking an “experimental mixture” (pesky stuff) he becomes a political adviser (?) while his assistant and secretary try to keep his ape identity a secret. Yes, I’m sure it was hilarious.

Bonus! full episode of Heil Honey, I’m Home

Hitler and Eva Braun live in an apartment next to a Jewish couple in this British parody of American 50s sitcoms which aired for a single episode. I suggest you read this review of the shockingly unfunny programme here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

P.S. The writing at the start is fiction.

Disturbing And Creepy Early Cinema Vintage Clips

Quick announcement: Bill and I are having a holiday at home, so after this post I shall see you in two weeks’ time.

Before the motion picture industry solidified in the 20s, The tens and 1890s were a period of gleeful experimentation, much like the advancement of YouTube from dramatic gophers to defined communities and vloggers.

From the cinéma vérité of the Lumière Brothers, the fantastical whimsy of Georges Méliès, the glamour and fun of Alice Guy-Blaché  and the innovation of the world’s first animators, everyone had something they wanted to test. Vaudeville stars of the Belle Epoque and big events were a natural draw, but sometimes events don’t go according to plan, vaudeville acts seem alien to modern eyes and other things… are just odd.

The Balancing Bluebottle/The Acrobatic Fly (F. Percy Smith, 1910)

I honestly felt sick after watching this. It’s fascinating though and I couldn’t look away. But…yeah I still felt sick.

A fly is glued to a matchstick by the wings, it’s strength tested by placing objects onto it’s flailing legs, one of the objects being a dead fly. Yep, it spins around the corpse of it’s brethren on frantic arthropodic feet. You know that shudder Bart does in the Simpsons…

Fish (Bert Williams, 1916)

This next one isn’t creepy so much as sad. Bert Williams wrote and directed two films, unheard of for a person of colour back then. However this two reeler is very light on humour and audiences had a hard time accepting him, as a 42 year old man, playing a boy. Added to the mix are parents played by white people in black face with incredibly poor comic timing and pathos that leaves the viewer depressed.

Bert was never able to reach his full ambition, stuck as he was in ‘black’ roles often in blackface. Friend and fellow vaudevillian WC Fields said “Bert Williams was the funniest man I ever saw and the saddest man I ever knew.”

On stage and in his other short he was a more subtle comedian. After the disappointment of Fish he returned to live performances.

Death jump from the Eiffel Tower, 1912

On the 4th February, 1912, Franz Reichelt was scheduled to test his homemade parachute by jumping from a great height. Nobody in the watching crowd or French and British media thought to tell him it was a bad idea and off he went, falling from the tower to his unfortunate death.

The Dancing Pig (1907)

The internet is quite familiar with a small section of this vaudeville performance, namely the titular pig gurning grotesquely at the end. The rest is pretty darn odd too, involving public humiliation and torment. All in good fun though.

The Cameraman’s Revenge (Wladislaw Starewicz, 1912)

Perhaps it’s my phobia of dead bugs (live ones I’m fine with though, no idea why) that leads me to find this film so shudder inducing. It’s a shame because this satire by the Polish, Russian and French stop motion animator is really incredible.

The cast of deceased insects perform an operatic melodrama of betrayed love and revenge in a mischievous swipe at popular theatre.

Monkeyshines 1, 2 and 3 (Thomas Edison, 1889 – 1890)

These ghosts from the past were captured during Edison’s first attempts to record image on film.

The Consequences of Feminism (Alice Guy-Blaché, 1906)

Either this film is meant to show the absurdity of men who protested against the suffragette movement or it’s an indictment of what could happen if allowed to continue. Seeing as Alice was a filmmaker herself I’d prefer to believe the former, but we just don’t know.

The Inferno ( Francesco Bertolini, Adolfo Padovan and Giuseppe de Liguoro, 1911)

This ambitious project was one of the first feature length films ever made (the first being The Kelly Gang, 1906). It’s packed with disturbing imagery from cannibalism to tortured souls and remains hauntingly fascinating to this day.

Witch Trials, Hysterical Nuns And Not Haunted Houses: Horror Nonfiction Bizarre Book Club

Good morning my little cups of fiery chai, I’ve been reading some very interesting books lately.

I’m drawn to the myths of ghosts, black magic, the Devil and other spooky things, but what I really love is clearing the fog of legend and finding what’s really underneath. To me the truth behind a haunting is infinitely more interesting than the initial stories, though I respect believers of the paranormal and would never make fun of them. Each to their own.

All three of these books take incidents or places that have been imbued with supernatural meaning and show us the ‘truth.’

1. Witchfinders by Malcolm Gaskill

The story of Matthew Hopkins, the self-titled ‘Witchfinder General,’ is quite close to my heart as I live in Essex and his numerous victims were held in a castle not far from me. Witchfinders painstakingly recounts the journey he took through Essex and Suffolk, whipping the people into a frenzy of blame and fear, and on through the trials and executions themselves.

The concept of witch-hunting in the magical sense seems alien to us now but Malcolm Gaskill does a great job of explaining the world of magic people lived in and how the uncertainty of the Civil War affected them. The thorough research helped me to better understand what might have been going through the minds of each player, even Matthew Hopkins himself.

2. Ghostland by Colin Dickey

This is a fascinating tour through the most mythologised houses, hotels, hospitals and even cities of America. Drawn to the ghosts, he strips back the stories and locates the factual accounts. If it sounds like he’s made them boring, trust me, he hasn’t.

One example is the famous Winchester Mystery House, long believed to have been created by a widow half mad with loss and guilt over the deaths of her husband and the victims of the gun he created, building endlessly to confuse any spirits seeking revenge. But, fantastically, the tale everyone including myself assumed to be fact isn’t, and this is only one of the little surprises in its pages.

This quote sums it up very well: “More than just simple urban legends and campfire tales, ghost stories reveal the contours of our anxieties, the nature of our collective fears and desires, the things we can’t talk about in any other way. The past we’re most afraid to speak aloud of in the bright light of day is the same past that tends to linger in the ghost stories we whisper in the dark.”

3. The Devils Of Loudun by Aldous Huxley

You might recognise the story of Grandier, the French priest whom women loved, men hated and burned as a witch after nuns became hysterical, from the Ken Russell film The Devils (1971). You may also recognise it’s author as the infamous psychonaut and writer of The Doors of Perception.

Where the two previous books are distantly fascinated and relatively dispassionate, Aldous Huxley’s philosophy and personality runs strongly throughout. Normally I wouldn’t like this, but he’s so well read and intelligent that it doesn’t matter.

It gives the story an air of being told by someone who knew the people personally, who smelled the horrible smells of seventeenth century France and had befriended Grandier, in spite and because of his complexities and contradictions.
Mass hysteria is a fascination of mine and anything that can go some way towards explaining it or recreating it in my mind is a definite winner.

5 Bizarre, Freakish And Surreal Animation YouTube Channels (And One Trailer)

It’s probably no secret by now that I love YouTube, I watch it more than TV. So many artistic and weird things can be found that would never previously have seen the light of day outside of a few old tapes passed from hand to hand.

So I thought I’d share with you some channels entirely devoted to bizarre, freakish or otherwise surreal animations, the kind that shows you the real odd side of YouTube. I’m guessing most people know of Cyriak, David Firth and Rachel Maclean so I picked the smaller ones lurking below the surface.

Also, last night, my boyfriend Bill uploaded the trailer to an upcoming animation of his. It’s brilliantly absurdist and dark, I’m very proud of him, and I can’t wait for you to see the whole thing.

Door – Trailer by Bill Purnell.

OK, first up is Colin Raff. All his animations are roughly a minute long and they’re a little Max Ernst, a little Monty Python, and very peculiar.

Supercriminal Pregnant Pink Surprise Eggs Fun in Real Life by Colin Raff

Next up is someone whose blog I’ve been visiting on and off for a few months, and recently discovered their YouTube channel. They’re videos are mainly surreal landscapes with jolly music, or a clip of a road or beach with some kind of animated layer on the top.

Pestle Ham by Megaeggz

Gmcfosho hasn’t uploaded anything for a few years but his parody rap videos make me chuckle. With lyrics like “Fresh up out the water like a amphibian, I’m so fresh that I got a Aunt Vivian,” and rudimentary animations he’s entertainingly daft.

COMEUPOUTDAWAHTA by gmcfosho

ProudNothing sometimes likes to throw a bit of humour and social commentary into his mind melting weirdness.

Snapchat Simulator by ProudNothing

Wendy Vainity, or madcatlady, says “I am just a hobby animation software user using ready made content, just having fun on my computer and sharing.” Thanks, Wendy!

Viral Vacuum by madcatlady