“Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think.”
― Werner Heisenberg, Across the Frontiers
So… I was lounging around the house, as I am wont to do, feeling a strong lack of ambition and a strangely upset digestive system… so I decided to watch a couple of strange movies. The best scratch to an itch like that is to call up my streaming Criterion Channel. I coursed though the selections, looking for something that looked odd… and there were plenty. So I picked.
The first one was directed by Jon Moritsugu and called Terminal USA.
Here’s the description:
Shot in eyeball-scorching Panavision, TERMINAL USA is underground anarcho-punk auteur Jon Moritsugu’s freak-out magnum opus that shocked America—and prompted a conservative outcry against public funding for the arts—when it was broadcast on television in the midnineties. The director himself plays twins (one a drug-dealing badass, the other a closeted math nerd) in a radically dysfunctional family that completely obliterates the myth of the “model minority.”
I’m sorry, but it wasn’t very good. There is a thin line between weird and bad – but this one landed on the bad side. As I always say – the way to judge a weird film is to think if you care about the characters and care about what happens to them. In this one… I didn’t care. There is something to be said about simple and homemade – but this was beyond amateurish – it wasn’t sophomoric – it wasn’t even freshmanoric.
Since this was a couple hours of my life I won’t get back – I decided to try again – and found a film under an hour long.
This one was directed by Joel Potrykus and had the provocative title Thing from the Factory by the Field.
A band of teenage metalheads get more than they bargained for when they accidentally kill a demon during a satanic ritual.
This one I liked. I can’t say it was good – but it was worth an hour of television streaming. I did care about the kids in the movie – though I don’t really like them. It had an imaginative, unique plot that made up for the wooden acting and ultra-low production values.
When I was a kid, my friends all had these fiberglass bows (my father bought me a laminated wooden one – which was better – but I was jealous of the cool plastic bows) and we would shoot arrows straight up until they disappeared into the sky. Then we would stand as upright and thin as we could – to lessen the chances of getting hit by the invisible, unseen arrows, descending at insane speeds. It was as exciting as it was stupid. The Thing from the Factory by the Field reminded me of this… I hadn’t thought about it for decades.
And the movie had a surprise, jump-scare ending – which is always a good thing for a weird short film.