You’ve got to admit it: sometimes you do want your brain messed with and watch some bizarre and inexplicable movie. Lucky you, there are countless such movies: surreal to the point of insanity. From iconic directors like David Lynch and Harmony Korine to underground indie filmmakers, it seems as if, at one point or another, almost everyone has put the work into creating something frightening and strange.
Some of these are pretty thought provoking in their weirdness, and others are straight up gory and gross, thus eating popcorn becomes optional.
Brace yourselves for the ten weirdest movies of all time.
David Lynch is arguably the father of what we’d call modern weird cinema and has several films on this list, starting with the 1977 Eraserhead.
This movies starts off with The Man in The Planet pulling some levers in space while the head of a Henry Spencer (played by Jack Nance) floats above the clouds. A sperm monster escapes his mouth and floats away. Can’t get any weirder than that.
Of course, there are many more scenes that are considered quite disturbing– most famous is the appearance of Henry Spencer’s baby.
Art should disturb the comfortable, for Eraserhead offers no comfort at all to any of the disturbed.
From Harmony Korine, the director of Spring Breakers and Mister Lonely, Gummo, a 1997 art drama film set in the slum town of Xenia, Ohio after it was hit by a tornado. The theme is loose in nature and follows the lives of several characters. Their destructive and strange ways of dealing with their boredom is the main plot point. The film features vignettes of other citizens of the town as well.
The characters range from bizarre to straight up terrible. Bunny Boy is a mute child who wears pink bunny ears and no shirt. Tummler is a horrible teen boy who kills cats for fun and huffs glue. There’s also a man who pimps out his sister, a child molester, a tennis player with ADD, and skinheads.
Gummo explores a wide range of issues: drug abuse, mental illness, poverty, and racism.
3. NAKED LUNCH
This 1991 science fiction drama is an adaptation of the much more bizarre novel by William S. Burroughs of the same name, as well as parts of his other works. The project was a co-production between filmmakers in America, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Japan. The result was an utterly surreal, ugly, and somewhat humorous film.
Directed by David Cronenberg, Naked Lunch follows William Lee, a pest control worker whose wife uses his insecticide as a recreational drug. He hallucinates various alien-like and roach-like creatures and accidentally murders his wife after a game of William Tell. He flees to a place called Interzone, where he encounters doppelgängers, horrific mutations, and other strange things. The story is loosely based on real events that Burroughs experienced as a drug addict and many characters are based on other beat writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.
This 2010 independent dark comedy horror film won’t ever be included in a “greatest movies” list, but it does have an original plot– the movie is about a tire by the name of Robert that gains consciousness and goes on a killing spree across a desert in California. There are some interesting characters in Rubber, including a sheriff who breaks the fourth wall and a murderous accountant.
The film made it all the way to Cannes and is notorious for being a “love it or hate it” kind of film, with half of critics expressing distaste for the film while the other half expresses admiration for the film…
Another one from master David Lynch.
Mulholland Drive is a 2001 neo-noir mystery thriller, starring Justin Theroux and Naomi Watts. It was originally meant to be a television pilot, but when executives rejected it, Lynch went ahead and produced it as a standalone film.
In Mulholland Drive, an aspiring actress (Watts) arrives at her aunt’s home in Los Angeles. She meets a woman with amnesia who has been hiding in the apartment and helps her figure out her identity. There are lots of dark and disturbing moments, and, to this day, Lynch refuses to explain the cryptic ending or talk about his intention for the narrative, claiming that audiences should speculate for themselves what actually happened. The movie feels like utter nonsense yet it gives the impression of being very intentional, and it will definitely make you think.
This 1989 gory American horror film is a trip from beginning to end.
Society follows a wealthy high school student by the name of Bill, who after listening to a tape of what sounds like a violent orgy between his family members, goes to a therapist. The therapist plays the tape, but what plays are totally normal sounds and voices of his family. A friend of Bill’s confirms that the first tape was real, and the boy who gave it to Bill has been found dead. What ensues seems to be some kind of conspiracy that quickly descends into a surreal nightmare with shocking gore and mutating orgies.
Society has been praised for being idiotic but in a somehow brilliant manner.
7. HOLY MOTORS
This 2012 French-German fantasy drama is one of the most thought-provoking movies of this list. Holy Motors stars Denis Lavant and features Eva Mendes and Kyle Minogue in bizarre roles.
The plot follows a man named Oscar. The nature of his job is mysterious and difficult to understand– throughout the day, he changes into various costumes and assumes different identities, which range from a disturbed red-haired kidnapper to a supportive father to a Chinese gangster. It is revealed that there are other people with this “job”.
The film gained positive reviews for being mesmerizing and strange as well as difficult to analyze. It also won Best Foreign Language Film at a number of international film festivals.
Sandor Stern’s Pin is about a doctor who uses a “talking,” life-size, anatomically correct medical dummy to teach his children about the birds and the bees. The doctor’s nurse secretly uses Pin as a sex toy, and he becomes the fractured alter ego (and disturbed sexual id) of the family’s son.
Un Chien Andalou is a 1929 silent surrealist short film by the Spanish director Luis Buñuel and artist Salvador Dalí. Enough said.
Fetishistic eye violence, stomach-churning special effects, and a twisting mystery, the 1982 The New York Ripper
is the perfect match for its seedy backdrop — the bowels of the city before its sleazy strip was vanquished, when New York was a much darker and meaner place.
This list could go on and on. I feel I have omitted plenty of titles. Some, deliberately, for they have become cult classics or have been embraced by the mainstream media.
In any case, which is the weirdest movie you ever watched?