Archive for guy maddin

Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair – Guy Maddin Short Film

Posted in Canada, movies with tags , , , , on September 26, 2013 by goregirl

I think this superb 2009 short featuring Isabella Rossellini is a delicious taste of the awesomeness that is Guy Maddin. If you dig this, you should do the following…seek out every single Guy Maddin film and watch it. The Vancouver International Film Festival started today; September 26. I am on vacation for two weeks beginning October 1 AND I will be moving back to downtown Vancouver’s West Side that day! I will be sharing my own personal VIFF experience beginning October 2. Have a goretastic weekend my friends!

THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD (2003) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Canada, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2013 by goregirl


Guy Maddin is a true original; not just in Canada but in the world of cinema period. Maddin’s unclassifiable, imaginative and beautiful films are presented in a non-linear format that harnesses a by gone era of filmmaking. Provocative, strange, sexy, thoughtful, violent, audacious, melodramatic and always humorous; no one makes films quite like my man Maddin. Maddin is a director, cinematographer, writer and artist. In fact some of his films and many of his ideas come from his art installation projects. Maddin definitely has a unique style but each one of his films stands as its own distinct entity. Maddin is a native of Winnipeg Manitoba. During Winnipeg’s long winters there are days you can not be outside for more than a few minutes due to fear of frostbite. There is no amount of money one could offer me to live in Winnipeg; I hate the winter. Maddin embraces his hometown and sets his films there. He includes countless amounts of Canadiana, especially hockey. In The Saddest Music in the World he uses a hockey buzzer to represent the beginning of each match in the saddest music competition. When I think of Canadian filmmakers there are no two that are nearer or dearer to my heart than David Cronenberg and Guy Maddin. I was torn as to which Maddin film I wanted to write about; I’ve seen all of his feature-length films and have enjoyed them all. Cowards Bend the Knee was my first choice as I have seen it multiple times and it remains my number one favourite from Maddin. I was anxious however to re-watch one of the Maddin films I had not seen multiple times so I chose The Saddest Music in the World. It had slipped my mind that The Kid’s in the Hall’s Mark McKinney was featured in The Saddest Music in the World until I looked at his IMDB credits while I was working on last week’s Brain Candy review. I had not seen The Saddest Music in the World since my theatre viewing; but I watched it three times from beginning to end over the last few days and this thing is a tasty treat! A contest to determine which nation’s music deserves to be called the saddest in the world that features a dysfunctional family, a glamorous, legless beer baroness, multiple love triangles and a giant tub of beer. What’s not to like? Oh Guy Maddin, I stand on guard for thee!


The Saddest Music in the World takes place in Winnipeg in 1933 in the depths of the great depression.

“We at Muskeg beer are proud that Winnipeg has been chosen four years in a row by the London Times as the world capital of sorrow in the great depression. In recognition of this honor we will be hosting a world-wide contest to determine which nation’s music truly deserves to be called The saddest in the world. Aspiring virtuosos of tearful melody are welcome to travel here and lay claim to the jewel-studded crown of frozen tears and twenty-five thousand dollars in prize money. That’s right. Twenty-five thousand depression era dollars.”


The saddest music contest is at the sudsy center of the story’s brewing melodrama. The film opens with Chester Kent visiting a fortune-teller with his girl Narcissa. We get a blue-tinted flashback to Chester’s childhood; the day his mother died. The grown up Chester is stuck in Winnipeg with no return ticket to New York. After learning of Lady Helen Port-Huntley’s contest he decides to pay her a visit. Helen and Chester have history; the two were formerly lovers. Chester’s father Fyodor Kent was in love with Helen but Helen was in love with Chester. Chester and Helen were having an affair much to Fyodor’s chagrin and the man took to drinking. One drunken night Fyodor wandered out into the road as Chester and Helen were driving by. Chester swerved to miss his father and in the process Helen was left badly injured with one of her legs pinned. Drunk and in no condition to be performing impromptu surgeries; Fyodor removed the wrong leg leaving Helen crippled for life. Present day Fyodor is still madly in love with Helen and has shown up in hopes of winning the saddest music contest. Canada Vs. U.S.A. Father against son. To complicate things further Roderick Kent has just returned from war in Serbia. Roderick is a hypochondriac who lost his son and is estranged from his wife. He despises his brother Chester and everything he stands for. Although born and raised in Canada Roderick is representing Serbia under the guise of Gravillo the Great who stays covered with a large black veil at all times. The dramatic Roderick carries his son’s heart in a jar preserved with his own tears. Roderick normally a quiet and reserved man looks forward to burying his brother with his sad cello music. What Roderick does not yet know is that Chester’s girl Narcissa is his estranged wife. The drama unfolds as the contest continues and countries are eliminated. Who will be left standing?


One image from The Saddest Music in the World that has stuck with me since that original viewing were those beer-filled glass legs. Fyodor spent years making a set of prosthetic legs for his lady-love Helen. She is allergic to the normal materials used in prosthetics and breaks out in welts and rashes. Helen loves glass and collects glass figurines and glass dolls that she keeps in a stained-glass room. It occurred to Fyodor as he sat among all the bottles he emptied that glass would be the perfect material for her legs. He even filled them with golden Muskeg beer! Oh how they sparkle and bubble! How did we become known as a beer loving nation? Certainly we love our beer, but I doubt we are any more enthusiastic about our beer than Germany or the UK. On the other hand, when we have a contest to celebrate the saddest music in the world we do provide a massive tub of beer for the winners to slide into! Beer clearly plays a major role in The Saddest Music in the World thanks to Beer Baroness Lady Port-Huntley’s Muskeg Beer (however Lady P prefers champagne and milk when bathing).


Esthetically Maddin seems to use every technique he has ever experimented with in The Saddest Music in the World. Maddin’s film is mainly black and white but also includes scenes using color filters as well as full spectrum color, The flashback scenes utilize the filtering while he chooses to use vibrant color when highlighting two funerals and the contest finale. Overlapping, quick cuts and grainy photography adorn the art deco esthetics with their bold geometric shapes. Visually The Saddest Music in the World is a real stunner.


If you are not familiar with Maddin’s work, his film style mimics those of the silent era and early talkies. In the case of The Saddest Music in the World there is spoken dialog. The subject matter however is considerably racier than those made in the 20s and 30s. There is sex in one form or another in every last one of Maddin’s films. In the opening scene Narcissa gives Chester a hand job while he is having his fortune told. Narcissa is also a nymphomaniac. Lady Port-Huntley has a man-servant named Teddy who satisfies her every need from bathing her to fucking her. Apparently that is one way to square up your debts with Lady P as Chester soon finds out. Despite the sex there is no nudity in the film.


I have never seen Mark McKinney in a serious role and to be honest he is not exactly a character you take seriously in The Saddest Music in the World. He is as genuine as a Snake Oil Salesmen and is as slippery as his hair. Chester is an arrogant, unemotional and failed Broadway producer looking for a train ticket back to New York. Chester always has an angle. Chester Kent is told by the fortune-teller at the beginning of the film that his story will end tragically. Chester Kent is not exactly a likable character and despite anticipating his fall you never really root for him. I enjoyed McKinney and thought he was well suited for the role. Isabella Rossellini is absolutely magnificent in The Saddest Music in the World. Besides Blue Velvet I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a performance from Rossellini more. She also looks fantastic in that 30s era costuming! Lady Helen Port-Huntley is a powerful, shrewd and intelligent business woman. Her exterior is glamorous and elegant but she is full of self-loathing and anger on account of her missing legs and inability to find a prosthetic that doesn’t cause her to break out in a rash. She is also a touch eccentric and kinky. Rossellini steals every scene she is in. Roderick Kent is a hypochondriac with particularly sensitive skin. When his father sees him again for the first time he hugs him and Roderick shouts in pain. There is no love loss between Roderick and his brother Chester, the two could not possibly be more unalike. When it comes to Chester, Roderick lacks pity completely. Roderick is as honest as the day is long and wears his sadness like a medal of honor. He carries with him his young son’s heart preserved in a jar of his tears. His sadness is so over the top that it is actually humorous at times. Ross McMillan is great as the humorless Roderick and never strays from the serious as cancer vibe of the character for a second. Fyodor Kent is a new man since giving up alcohol in order to obsess over legs. For years, Fyodor has been working on a pair of legs for Helen. He is a proud Canadian who dons the uniform he wore during the great war. His finale is one of the film’s finest moments. David Fox has a strong face and a great presence as Fyodor Kent. Last but not least is the quirky Narcissa; girlfriend to Chester and former wife of Roderick. Narcissa is a nymphomaniac who is suffering from amnesia. She has no recollection of her marriage to Roderick or their dead child. She does however have a tape worm that tells her what to do. Her tape worm is allegedly never wrong. She is a likable, sweet character and definitely the most empathetic of the lot. Big old Doe-eyed Maria de Medeiros is delightful in the role of Narcissa.


The Saddest Music in the World is a treasure. I think this is Maddin’s most consistently humorous effort. I chuckled regularly throughout. An outrageous premise, great characters, strong performances, inventively filmed and melodrama that kept me invested and entertained. It also features some magnificent music. The contest that motivates our story features music from around the world and some of it is really breath-taking! Each time I re-watch a Guy Maddin film I hunger for another. I loved The Saddest Music in the World and give it my highest of recommendations; a perfect score.


Contest commentators Duncan Elksworth (Claude Dorge) and Mary (Talia Pura).


Contestants in The Saddest Music in the World contest.


Roderick Kent played by Ross McMillan.



Colored funeral shots.




Fyodor shows Roderick the project he has been working on; a pair of legs for Lady Helen Port-Huntley. Previous to the unveiling of the beautiful glass legs is a cool gallery of leg imagery.



Canada Vs. Africa. Fyodor Kent sings Red Maple Leaves on his knees and has his ass handed to him by Africa.


Narcissa sings Swing Low Sweet Chariot while swinging above the enthusiastic beer-drinking audience.

“Maybe you should keep it simple.”

“America goes simple? That’s a hot one. No. It’s gotta be vulgar, obvious, full of gimmicks. You know, sadness but with sass and pizzazz. They’ll eat it up.”


Lady Helen Port-Huntley played by Isabella Rossellini; enjoying her new legs.


Narcissa played by Maria de Medeiros.


Another funeral “in color”.


Chester and Narcissa.



The U.S.A.’s spectacular finale featuring Lady Port-Huntley.


Roderick performing for Serbia as Gravillo the Great.


David Fox as Fyodor Kent.


Narcissa and Roderick reunited.


Mark McKinney as Chester Kent.


The film ends where it started with a fortune-teller.

Dungeon Review: 5/5

Directed By: Guy Maddin

Starring: Isabella Rossellini, Mark McKinney, Maria de Medeiros, David Fox, Ross McMillan, Louis Negin, Darcy Fehr, Claude Dorge, Talia Pura

Mad About Maddin Poster Gallery!

Posted in Canada, movies with tags , , , , , , on September 19, 2013 by goregirl

Guy Maddin

The imagery in Guy Maddin’s films is incredibly beautiful and imaginative. I could take a still from any of Maddin’s films, put a frame on it and call it a masterpiece. Sadly the poster selection for Mr. Maddin’s brilliant films is a little on the sparse side. In fact, I could not find posters for all of his feature-length films. I had to include some video and DVD covers; they are quite appealing just the same.


Tales from the Gimli Hospital

Tales from the Gimli Hospital1

Tales from the Gimli Hospital (1989)


Archangel (1991)


Careful (1992)

Twilight of the Ice Nymphs

Twilight of the Ice Nymphs (1997)

Dracula Poster-3 color

Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (2002)


Cowards Bend the Knee or The Blue Hands (2003)

The Saddest Music in the World

The Saddest Music in the World (2003)

Brand Upon the Brain! A Remembrance in 12 Chapters1

Brand Upon the Brain! A Remembrance in 12 Chapters

Brand Upon the Brain! A Remembrance in 12 Chapters



Keyhole (2011)


Posted in Canada, Fun with GIFs, movies with tags , , , on September 18, 2013 by goregirl

I will have a review for Guy Maddin’s 2003 film The Saddest Music in the World on Monday and to tide you over, a trio of GIFs from the film.

Lady Helen

Isabella Rossellini as Beer Baroness Lady Helen Port-Huntley. “If you’re sad and like beer, I’m your lady.”

Let the Contest Begin!

High above the musicians and audience, Lady Helen Port-Huntley signifies the beginning of The Saddest Music in the World competition.


Maria de Medeiros as Narcissa.

BRAND UPON THE BRAIN (2006) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Canada, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2013 by goregirl

I can not believe after four years of having this blog I have yet to review a single film from Canadian director extraordinaire Guy Maddin. Maddin’s Cowards Bend the Knee is without a doubt one of my favourite films from the past decade (or any decade for that matter!). After what was probably my tenth viewing of Cowards Bend the Knee I decided it was way past due to revisit his second auto-biographical effort; Brand Upon the Brain. Why this is only my second viewing of Brand Upon the Brain is a complete mystery; this film is nothing short of brilliant.

brand upon the brain3

Brand Upon the Brain is a remembrance is twelve chapters.

Chapter One: Going Home
Chapter Two: Black Notch Memories
Chapter Three: Dark Schedule
Chapter Four: Wendy’s Chance
Chapter Five: To find Another Wendy
Chapter Six: The Undressing Gloves
Chapter Seven: Butter on the Wall
Chapter Eight: A Morning Heap of Flesh
Chapter Nine: An Un-Funeral
Chapter Ten: A Secret Grove
Chapter Eleven: A new Regime
Chapter Twelve: The Return of Spring

brand upon the brain2

After thirty years away, Guy Maddin is returning home on the request of his dying mother to give the place a fresh coat of paint. Home is a lighthouse on a remote island where his parents once ran an orphanage. The balance of the film is Guy Maddin’s childhood recollections.

Remembering. Remembering. Remembering. The memories come flooding back overwhelming Guy. Memories of his mother and father. Memories of his sister. Memories of Wendy and Chance; the harp playing brother and sister detective team. Memories of the orphans; Savage Tom and Nervous Neddie with his terrible twitch.

brand upon the brain5

Mother hugs Guy tight and kisses him all over in a way that is motherly and yet…not. She threatens her own children and the orphans with suicide to get them to behave; sometimes with props and dramatizations. Guy’s mother watches over the grounds with a giant spotlight; one does not want to be caught in her crosshairs. Mother’s birth into the world was a strange and daunting one. The mother of Guy’s mother was bald and pregnant and her sister with a luxurious head of hair was barren; the two had a horrible fight one evening and hair was chopped and the baby ripped from the womb. Guy’s father is a silent man who works day and night in his laboratory. What does he do in there all day and all night? Little feet in the night! The procession to father! Little holes in the back of children’s heads. Nectar harvest?! Oh sweet, sweet nectar and its magic! Guy’s older sister is known only as “sis”. She falls madly in love with Chance the harp playing teen detective; but Chance has a secret. Sis makes her mother crazy and also possesses a little hole in the back of her head like the orphans. Chance and Wendy Hale are the infamous harp playing brother and sister teen detectives. Wendy has come to the island to investigate Guy’s parents. Adopted orphans have been turning up on the mainland with strange holes in the back of their heads. Guy meets Wendy and falls in love with her instantly. Guy’s first crush! Wendy believes she will be better received if she poses as her brother Chance. Wendy transforms into her brother. Guy is heartbroken that Wendy has left so suddenly and without saying goodbye; but it is difficult not to like and admire Chance. Guy’s first boy crush! The orphans, the poor unfortunate little orphans and their march to see Guy’s father. Savage Tom holding a black mass and terrorizing Neddie. And dear poor Neddie! Neddie threw his baby brother’s teddy on to an electrical box and his wee brother was electrocuted to death retrieving it. Things do not end well for Neddie! Secrets! Secrets! Secrets!

All things happen twice.”

The past! The past! The Future! The Future!”

brand upon the brain4

I could not possibly do Brand Upon the Brain justice with my words! Brand Upon the Brain’s silent and feverish black and white images mix the melodramatic with the macabre. Excessively voyeuristic and full of sexuality, guilt, tragedy, comedy, self deprecation and secrets! So many secrets! The use of music and sound is utterly superb. Guy’s father invented this crazy contraption called an arrow phone. A big clunky ass thing that Guy is forced by his mother to carry around with him when he leaves the lighthouse. The sharp sound it makes as a voice comes through its speaker is haunting. If you believed in hell and someone could make a call from such a place it would no doubt sound much like this. The performances by all are an absolute delight.

The awesome Criterion version I rented had a top notch interview with Guy Maddin who claims the auto-biographical Brand Upon the Brain is 97% accurate?! Among other topics; Maddin speaks on some of the aspects of his life incorporated into the film, his film making influences and the spectacular Brand Upon the Brain tour which played in theatres and featured a live singer and score, foley artists and a celebrity narrator. One of the coolest special features on the disc was the optional narrators! Among the narrators you could choose from were Isabella Rossellini, Laurie Anderson, John Ashbery, Eli Wallach and Crispin Glover. Apparently Udo Kier also narrated for the live show but sadly you did not get him as an option. Wow!! I really wish I had seen the film on that tour!

brand upon the brain1

I really can not recommend Brand Upon the Brain more highly; it is unique, funny, beautiful, perverse, poetic, macabre, sexy, strange, haunting and immense. As I mentioned this is the second film in Maddin’s auto-biographical trilogy and I certainly would advise you to check out Cowards Bend the Knee. The third film in the trilogy is My Winnipeg, which I will be revisiting again soon. Mr. Guy Maddin you rock my freaking world!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Guy Maddin

Starring: Gretchen Krich, Sullivan Brown, Maya Lawson, Katherine E. Scharhon, Todd Moore, Andrew Loviska, Kellan Larson, Erik Steffen Maahs, Cathleen O’Malley, Clayton Corzatte, Susan Corzatte, Megan Murphy, Annette Toutonghi, David Lobo, Eric Lobo