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Holiday Shopping Guide 2009

2009 was a killer year for underground films coming out on DVD. While compiling this year’s Holiday Shopping Guide, the sheer amount of great and unusual movies that are available to thrill and terrify audiences in their home simply astounded me.

So, this year, I’ve broken up the Guide into sections to make it easier to browse, kind of like you’re in a video store. (You remember what a video store is, don’t you?) Got a horror obsessed sibling? A weird cousin into oddball conspiracy theories? An aunt or uncle who loves a good documentary? This year there’s an underground film for every kind of film lover, it seems.

Click each film title for ordering information. Many of these titles are available from Amazon, so there’s lots of links to that great site. But many are sold exclusively by the filmmakers, so if you’re buying something as a gift, just make sure to order plenty of time ahead since many of these terrific folks are only doing this part-time.

Anyway, ho ho ho, and check out the goodies in this year’s guide:

The Strange:

  1. Mock Up on MuMock Up on Mu, dir. Craig Baldwin
    Craig Baldwin’s latest “collage narrative” masterpiece is actually like getting 50 films in one since its so jam-packed with outrageous conspiracy theories, old sci-fi and spy films and the wacky love triangle between L. Ron Hubbard, Jack Parsons and Marjorie Cameron. This film is essential viewing.
  2. In Our GardenIn Our Garden, dir. Giuseppe Andrews
    At last! The Underground Film Journal’s first ever “Movie of the Year” is finally available from the genius responsible for it: Giuseppe Andrews. This is the most foul-mouthed movie ever made, about the improbable romance between an elderly woman who wears an elf ear and an amoral homeless man.
  3. SpaceDisco OneSpaceDisco One, dir. Damon Packard
    It’s ray guns and rollerskating with a disco beat you can dance to in this sequel to Logan’s Run mixed with a remake of 1984 with bits of Battlestar Galactica, Blade Runner, The Never-Ending Story and Dateline NBC‘s “To Catch a Predator” tossed in for good measure.
  4. Scars of YouthScars of Youth, dir. John R. Hand.
    The future isn’t such a bad place. You get to camp out in the woods and drink a disgusting black paste that lets you live forever. The only drawback is that your never-aging, hot, young mother wants to keep exposing her naked body to you.

The Horror:

  1. EvilutionEvilution, dir. Chris Conlee
    Know somebody who’s still scared about H1N1? Then send them this flick about an alien virus that turns the residents of an apartment complex into raging, flesh eating zombies. They’ll think the Swine Flu isn’t such a big deal after watching this gore-soaked thrill ride.
  2. Basement JackBasement Jack, dir. Michael Shelton
    Jack Riley is kind of like Santa Claus. Except, he doesn’t come down the chimney. He breaks in through your basement window. And he doesn’t leave presents. Instead, he slaughters everybody in your house while you’re sleeping. Talk about “you better watch out!”
  3. No Through RoadNo Through Road, dir. Sam Barrett
    A reclusive photographer finds a surprising present hiding in his home: A terrified girl who claims three guys outside have raped her. And now those guys want to finish the job. Will they get inside? Depends on who can reach new lows in depraved brutality: The victims or the thugs.
  4. CirculationCirculation, dir. Ryan Harper
    Road trips are fun, right? Maybe not if they involve getting brutally assaulted by your ex-husband, then driving around in circles around the desert avoiding people who want to spew flesh-dissolving bile all over your body and chow down on your decomposing corpse.
  5. Festival of HorrorsFestival of Horrors: Volume One and Volume Two
    Horror fans can be a picky bunch, so give the ones on your Christmas list this two volume set of a diverse range of spooky short films that they’ll be sure to like some or all. Demonic hamsters, torture artists, flesh-carving spouses, punk rock skeletons, zombies and more terrors lurk within these DVDs.

The Short Film Compilations:

  1. Cinemad Almanac 2009Cinemad Almanac 2009
    Mike Plante knows short films and he’s curated some of the best work from the best filmmakers for this amazing compendium of wondrous and astounding visions. Animal Charm, Cam Archer, James Fotopoulos, Sam Green, the late Bruce Conner and more are represented in the year’s essential cinema collection.
  2. A ReboursA Rebours
    Has somebody on your Christmas list been extra naughty this year? In a good way, if you know what I mean? Then give them this punishing collection of extreme short films from all over the world. S&M, sexy Nazis, Asian fetish videos, devilish gropers and other visions of debauchery abound on this disc.
  3. Solar Anus CinemaSolar Anus Cinema, dir. Usama Alshaibi
    If you send this as a Christmas present through the mail, make sure you wrap it up in plain, brown wrapping paper. It’s the best of Usama Alshaibi’s sexy short films featuring naked and scantily-clad women prancing, dancing, writhing and gyrating in front of his camera. Plus, the epic and hilarious short The Amateurs.

The Short Films:

  1. Clowns vs. NinjasClowns vs. Ninjas, dir. David Brocca
    If a friend or a relative ever posed the question to you: “Who would win in a fight, clowns or ninjas?” now you can at last definitively provide an answer by giving him this hard-charging, blood-spewing, limb-ripping short film. Plus, the DVD comes bundled with a bonus EP of the indie rock band The Other Side of Morning.
  2. AnatomiaAnatomia, dir. Steven Jacobs
    For the lover of fine poetry on your list, give them this modern-day update of the life of the most erotic poet of all time: Sappho. Ok, Steven Jacobs sexy short film is completely silent, so there’s not much actual poetry in it, but that hardly matters since there’s plenty of lesbian lovemaking and jealous intrigue.

The Documentaries:

  1. Nice BombsNice Bombs, dir. Usama Alshaibi
    It’s Christmas 2009 and the Iraq War continues to wage despite virtually disappearing from TV screens back home. So, give friends and relatives a friendly reminder about what’s going on overseas with Usama Alshaibi’s intensely personal documentary that shows the war in a unique light: From the perspective of the Iraqis.
  2. The Rock-afire ExplosionThe Rock-afire Explosion, dir. Brett Whitcomb
    The perfect Christmas gift can make any adult feel like a kid and believe in Santa Claus all over again. Want to inspire that feeling in somebody? Then give them this charming and inspiring profile of several adults obsessed with their childhood love of the ultimate anthropomorphic, animatronic rock band.

The Foreign:

  1. Silence, Ca TueSilence, Ca Tue!, dir. Christophe Lamot
    Have an aspiring filmmaker on your list? Then give them this object lesson in how not to make a film from Belgium. Tyrannical director Christophe Lamot documents the process he goes through to film his ultimate masterpiece. Step One: Hire a crew. Step Two: Buy a gun.