An addendum to the hidden gems podcast

This last weekend I did a podcast of all the movies I felt needed a little extra publicity because they aren’t that well known. A point that I made, in the podcast, was that there are a list of movies that I didn’t mention because of the difficulties in obtaining them. But just because these wonderful little movies are a little harder to find doesn’t mean that I don’t want to share the love; I have a lot of love for these harder to find movies.

I keep my VCR, and have a laserdisc player, because I have movies that I have only been able to get in odd formats that I am not even truly sure what they are. But I know one of them plays in one of my dvd players but not the other, so your guess is as good as mine. On that note,

Jenga’s Hard to find hidden gems:

Wisconsin Death Trip


Taken from the book of the same name, this is a documentary of sorts with reenactments of the history of a little town in Wisconsin during the decade around 1890s. It’s almost entirely taken from news reports, with the occasional bits from the records of the nearby Mendota Asylum for the Insane. It tells many stories that seem almost too wacky to be true. It also disabuses those who think that violence, insanity, drug use, and crime are only modern day occurrences; kinder and gentler time, my ass.

I found this on a video shelf as a teen, and it advertised itself as something akin to Nightmare on Elm Street, but it’s so much more. A fever-ridden girl dreams herself another world, where she meets a young disabled boy. It is a quiet film, but not without its frights. It is more a coming of age movie than anything else, but it haunted me from my first viewing and I have never forgotten it.

Midnight Ballad For Ghost Theater
This is a Korean musical that is just an utter delight, in the flavor of Tim Burton before… what is the delicate way to put it… before his movies started being so much less entertaining.

Fright Night 2
I accept all this movies failings, and I still love it. It’s Charlie’s continued journeys where he meets the sister of the vampire he killed in the first outing. As a bonus, it also has Jon Gries (I can thank Real Genius for my adoration and continued crushing on) in his second appearance as a werewolf. (The first being Monster Squad, which you should also watch because it’s completely adorable and very easy to find; plus it contains the memorable line ‘Wolfman’s got nards!’)

A couple with a child, along with some others, become stranded at the remote house of elderly dollmakers during a storm, hijinx ensue.

Here come the problematic recommendations, quality and enjoyment of these are up for debate.

All I can say about this movie is that the writer/director is clearly working through his taxing and emotionally harrowing divorce. He takes you along for the ride with the couple. It is toxic, emotionally wrought, has some odd sex bits, and body horror. It’s just an odd ride in the vein of those arty films that you loved and appreciated at nineteen when you were in college, and when you watch it again in your later years are perhaps frustrated with it’s angst and oddness.

The Addiction
I have a soft spot for any movie that contains Christopher Walken and Lili Taylor. On top of that it’s filmed in black and white. Unfortunately, this movie is not a success for many reasons, but it’s an interesting and valiant effort.

St. John’s Wort aka Otogiriso
Now this is just a fun little bit of fluff that was interesting when it came out, for it’s effects, but the gloss has worn off with time and now it just looks dated. The main character has been creating art work for her video games based on her dreams. When she starts researching and finds a house that matches her dream visions, she finds more than she bargained for and a past she doesn’t remember.

I am saddened by the notion that the only movies worth seeing are the ones available on Netflix streaming. There is so much more out there. I don’t think a movie’s worth is based solely on whether or not it has basically free availability to the masses. Be willing to dig. I have found wonderful movies that I had to buy directly from the writers and directors, and with that type of financing they were able to find real distribution. Be willing to go off the beaten track for your entertainment and find that wonderful stuff out there just waiting for you, hidden just out of sight.

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