Incredibly strange…but not by Jan Svankmajer’s standards
by Martin Hafer
Jan Svankmajer is certainly one of the strangest filmmakers in history….and I am not talking about strange but mega-strange…and often very creepy. This Czech filmmaker has been working on mostly stop-motion films for decades and the movies are almost impossible to describe….you just have to see them to believe the weirdness of Svankmajer’s imagination! His version of Alice in Wonderland (Alice, 1988) is about his most bizarre films. But tonight I finally got to see his Greedy Guts (also called Little Otik) and it’s more than strange enough to be a worth addition to my ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet‘ film series–a collection of incredibly unique and mind-bending films from around the globe.
Greedy Guts is unusual for Svankmajer in that it’s mostly a live action film…with some stop-motion here and there. In this bizarre fairy tale-like story, a young couple want to have children but cannot. One day, the husband pulls up a tree stump and fashions it into a crude version of a child. While it obviously looks almost nothing like a child and he apparently intended it as a joke, his deranged wife believes it’s her new baby and goes to amazing lengths to convince her neighbors she’s pregnant. Ultimately, she pretends to go into labor and soon comes home from the hospital with this tree stump baby! But the couple hide the fact that it’s a stump and pretend as if the child is real…and the neighbors are fooled.
Now I know this sounds strange….but soon the film will go off the deep end in strangeness! Soon the woman begins to feed this ‘baby’ cabbage soup. However, the baby soon magically becomes a living creature…and it doesn’t want soup…it wants meat! First, it eats a few pets…which is annoying enough. But then it eats a neighbor…and then another neighbor…and then another! But the foster parents of this abomination cannot bring themselves to kill the monster and so they keep it hidden in the basement. During this time, the little girl you’ve seen throughout the film finds Little Otik and befriends it…and begins bringing it food as well! What’s next in this super-bizarro but well made film? Well, get the DVD from Netflix and find out for yourself. And, if you think of it, try Alice as well. There are also collections of his many wonderful shorts there as well. I would like to say you won’t be sorry…but you might! The films are not for normal folks but offer a twisted version of stop-motion that is hard to fathom until you see it for yourself!