Category Archives: Top 10 Lists – Guest Experts

SCOTT DWYER’S TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

Scott Dwyer is a writer and filmmaker living in upstate NY with his black cat Haxan. His weird short film “Stillborn” is available to view on Youtube. He also runs the weird horror in film and literature website The Plutonian.

I have been a fan of weird films pretty much my whole life. I remember wandering around video stores in the 1990’s looking for strange thrills, surreal dreams, bleak zombie apocalypses, and poetic perversions. The thrill of finding a strange film on the rack that you have never heard of is a pleasure lost in this modern era of Wikipedia and YouTube.

The true connoisseur of the weird is the hardest to please. Most films that try to be weird fall flat. Usually the best weird films are made by people who are just so weird that they don’t realize how weird their visions are, like , or who are held back by budget or other factors and their film just ends up this strange offspring they did not intend, like Manos: The Hands of Fate. I classify the best weird movies as films that you can throw on late at night, fire up your hallucinogenic of choice, and see which of your friends gets freaked out and bounce, and which ones stay, lost in the infectious signals emanating from your television. Weird films tend to have a nonlinear logic to them, a kind of alien ambience. Sometimes you can’t tell if you are still watching a film, or have fallen asleep and are dreaming. Weird films are transgressive to those not into them, and objects of obsession to those who love being lost in a nightmare. So here is a list of my top ten, in no particular order, weird films that have somehow injected themselves into my psyche and force me to re-watch them repeatedly.

  1. The Black Cat (1934) – A couple traveling find themselves somehow caught in a tragic revenge story that seems to have emerged from some fevered horror fan’s wet dream. A revenge obsessed and a satanic square off against each other in a art deco complex built over an old battlefield, eventually sending the whole film diving headfirst into a self-annihilating abyss. The plot and the acting are so over the top that it goes way beyond the Gothic horror that the director may have been going for and heads straight into bad drug territory.
  1. Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) – Racing camera, exploding transformations, a pounding industrial soundtrack, never has a weird film been so in your face. This film was my first exposure to the very strange field of Japanese cult films. If Eraserhead is a slow burn weird film, Tetsuo is a hyperkinetic burst of corrupted bodies, cold steel, and black blood.
  1. Still from Mystics in Bali (1981)Mystics in Bali (1981) – The image of a witch’s head flying around, dragging its spinal cord, looking for fetuses to suck out of pregnant women’s wombs, is the zenith of Continue reading SCOTT DWYER’S TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

NICO B’S TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

Nico B. has directed the underground shorts Pig (1998) and 1334 (2012) and the feature Bettie Page: Dark Angel (2004). He has been running Cult Epics, a distribution company with a deep catalog of obscure, extreme, and downright weird movies, for the past 25 years.

TWO FILMS BY ONE DIRECTOR

1. & 2. I Was a Teenage Zabbadoing AKA I Was a Teenage Zabbadoing and the Incredible Lusty Dust-Whip from Outer Space Conquers the Earth Versus the 3 Psychedelic Stooges of Dr. Fun Helsing and Fighting Against Surf-Vampres and Sex-Nazis and Have Troubles with This Endless Titillation Title AKA Vampiros Sexos (1988), and Mondo Weirdo: A Trip to Paranoia Paradise AKA Jungfrau im Abgrund (1990), dir. Carl Andersen

I Was a Teenage Zabbadoing‘s long title alone says this must be the weirdest movie ever, but it’s nothing you expect. In 1989 we invited the director Carl Andersen to the Cult Club in Amsterdam to show this movie, but instead he gave us the premiere of his next film, Mondo Weirdo. Teenage Zabbadoing, shot on 16mm, is in part the Austrian answer to the of Richard Kern and , but even more it’s a European punk rock hardcore sex vampire film, stylistic and trashy at the same time, with an excellent no-wave score by Model D’oo.

Mondo Weirdo, Carl Andersen’s second film, is in the same style as his debut, with a script like meets It surpasses the first one in obscenity: straight, lesbian and hardcore gay sex in a world of vampires, punk rockers, and surrealism, again with the electro music of Model D’oo. Carl sadly died a few years ago, nearly forgotten.

3. & 4. El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973), dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky

Still from El Topo
El Topo

Advertised in Europe as a Western, El Topo, Jodorowksy’s trippy masterpiece, is my favorite surreal esoteric film, along with Holy Mountain. I met Jodorowsky in the early 1990s at his home in Paris and asked him if the rights for these two films were available and if we could make a deal. He closed his eyes and meditated for 10 minutes while I stood there, and then said “yes.” Little did I know he did not own the rights, nor did he have any 35mm materials, so nothing ever came of it. Years later he finally settled his dispute with Allen Klein (manager of the Beatles) and the films became available for the first time officially on video.

5. & 6. Viva la Muerte (1970) and I Will Walk Like a Crazy Horse (1973), dir. Fernando Arrabal

I was a fan of Arrabal at once after someone brought me a VHS tape Continue reading NICO B’S TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

JAMIN WINANS’ TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

 is an independent filmmaker working out of Denver, Colorado. His second feature film, the allegorical dream fable Ink, is certified by this site as one of the 366 Best Weird Movies of all time. Ink currently holds a 100% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and critics compared the style to works of and . His latest feature is the mind-bender The Frame. Together with his wife and collaborator Kiowa, Winans founded Double Edge Films to release his movies on his own terms without studio interference. DVD or digital versions of Ink and The Frame, and related merchandise, can be purchased directly from Double Edge films.

As it turns out, most of my favorite movies would be classified as “weird movies” so really I just need to list some of those.  These films aren’t wildly obscure or crude films, but they’re films that weren’t easy to get made just because they were doing something different.  A majority of them are from the 90’s, which was an amazing period for unique voices.

12 Monkeys (1995 – Terry Gilliam)

What I love about this movie is that Gilliam somehow sneaked a very weird film past Hollywood and into a wide release by disguising it as a and  blockbuster.  I had never been so confused and simultaneously so moved by a movie as 12 Monkeys.  I turned right around and immediately went to see it again.  It was even better and weirder the more I saw it.

The Blues Brothers (1980 – John Landis)

Still from Blues Brothers (1980)This was one of the very first movies I saw as a kid and I just loved it.  I wanted to be Elwood.  It’s not commonly seen as a “weird movie”, but when you look at it, it’s insane!  A couple of ex-con blues musicians go on a mission from God across the country to save an orphanage where they’re chased by Nazis, hicks, and the entire city of Chicago.  Oh, and it’s a musical.  Only John Landis…

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004 – )

 is one of the greatest writers of our time.  Michel Gondry is one of the most creative filmmakers of our time.  The two working together on a very sweet, yet profoundly deep film about love and pain turned out to be something magical.  An incredible cast (my favorite  performance) and a beautiful style.

The Double Life Of Veronique (1991 – Kryzystof Kieslowski)

I admire Kieslowski more than almost any other filmmaker because he was able to reach such depth in his work while having such a gentle touch in style.  Nothing was forced or too broad, yet everything he did had such spiritual depth and tension.  Veronique is my favorite Continue reading JAMIN WINANS’ TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

GB HAJIM’S TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

GB Hajim is the director, co-writer and chief animator of the Certified Weird Strange Frame: Love and Sax. We described that film’s visuals thusly: “Imagine dropping a hefty dose of LSD on the set of Blade Runner, and you walk through a door and suddenly you’re in the Star Wars cantina. Now, imagine that experience animated by the team behind Fantastic Planet working under the direction of , take that result and square the weirdness quotient…”

Strange Frame is available on iTunes, Xbox, Playstation, Netflix, and most everything else, but if you really want to support the filmmaker and get all the features, the director recommends picking up the DVD from Amazon.

Strange Frame was GB’s first feature film. He makes his home in Hawaii. GBʻs current project is the fan convention HawaiiCon 2014, featuring a reunion of the cast of “Stargate Atlantis” and Walter Koenig’s 78th birthday!

Some of the very best of weird movies vanish into obscurity as soon as the actual print of the film wears out. I am thinking of the 1991 half hour film by Aussie filmmaker Shane McNeil called the Apocryphal History of Meat Part IV – The Brotherhood of Meat. Witty and weird, this movie is an excellent treatise on vegetarianism with lots of exploding meat to keep its tongue in cheek. A list of weird documentaries could be forthcoming—it would definitely include another Australian gem Cane Toads: An Unnatural History and Chris Smithʻs American Movie.

To me, the hallmark of a weird movie is a moment so unique that it can only be brilliant in the context of the certain refined bizarreness a filmmaker has created. Shu Lea Cheangʻs cyberpunk porno I.K.U. (which literally means “cum” in Japanese) has such a great moment, when two of the leads are singing karaoke into rotating throbbing dildos. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie drags, so it doesn’t make my cut for top ten. I also left off some gems that have just become too familiar, and therefore less weird, like The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

1. Bliss (1985), Dir. Ray Lawrence

The movie is a surreal journey of a man who, at the moment of death, has an epiphany so strong that when he wakes he cannot tell the real lies of his life from the lies his brain is telling him. Youʻd think that cockroaches erupting from his chest would be enough to tip the guy off, but youʻd be wrong.

The moment: Harry is having a bad day. His friend offers him a joint. His day only gets worse, beginning with rain. In the downpour, an elephant sits down for a rest, crushing Harryʻs car. Harry, unfazed and very stoned, tries to drive the now roofless car home and is surprised when the police pull him over.

The other reason I love this film is the way it points out the craziness of modern society in contrast to the more sane but difficult life on an anarchist commune. Another film to watch in this vein is How to Get Ahead in Advertising.

2. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), Dir.

If the fact that this trip fest was made in 1943 doesn’t blow your mind, you donʻt have perspective. The sound track is eerie, but stripped of any pretension. Each element in the movie is used for maximum impact—a knife, a key, camera movement, a mirrormask. Yes, decades before Neil Gaiman, Maya made an image of a mirrormask that will be etched on my mindplane for life. Continue reading GB HAJIM’S TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

ADAM COOLEY’S 10 WEIRDEST MOVIES EVER

Adam Cooley (IMDB entry) is a microbudget film director and an experimental musician with the band Scissor Shock. All of his movies are available for free download from his personal site. You can also watch his output and see his favorites from others on his YouTube channel. We invited Adam to submit a “top 10 weird movies” list in 2011; here it is…

This list was really hard to compile, since I mainly watch what a lot of people would describe as ‘weird’ films—experimental, underground, off-beat, subversive cinema is what I’m primarily interested in—so I basically had to think about hundreds, if not thousands, of films for possible inclusion here. So, when asked to do this list, it took me a couple of years (!) to compile it and be happy with the end result, as I constantly felt the need to change it up. As such, many great little weird gems (Elevator Movie, Daisies, Frownland, Back Against the Wall, Small White House, Beaver Trilogy, SpaceDiscoOne, Pastoral: To Die in the Country, Liquid Sky) had to go.

To make this list a bit easier on myself, I decided to completely get rid of any hand-drawn/computer-drawn animated entries, which really could be a whole other list (if you’re curious, look into “Xavier: Renegade Angel,” “Popee the Performer,” and especially look into the works of Yoji Kuri), which obviously includes anime (the truly disturbing and strange Midori, Kuchu Buranko: Trapeze—the weirdest anime I’ve ever seen—and the more obvious but still surprisingly offbeat stuff like “Paranoia Agent,” “Serial Experiments Lain,” “Boogiepop Phantom,” and the last two episodes of “Neon Genesis Evangelion”).

I also decided to get rid of shorts which means I had to get rid of titles by Toshio Matsumoto (Phantom) (Emotion-–and, yes, I know not having Hausu is a big hole in my list), or Shuji Terayama (nearly his entire experimental film works series made drafts of this list at various points).

Finally, I got rid of any “collection” DVD’s here (though my top choice is disputable, note that all 30 shorts for it were made specifically for the DVD; it wasn’t a bunch of little shorts made at different times thrown into a collection). As such, I deleted such gems as “Phantom Museums” by Brothers Quay, “The Complete Short Films of Jan Svankmajer”, and Jeff Keen’s amazing set “GAZWRX” (which would be my # 1 choice for this list if I included collections here — watch this set immediately!).  So, basically, I tried to mostly include actual “movies” here — 90-ish minutes, with actual distribution, mostly available on DVD, some by established directors, though I would love to compile separate lists of some of the stuff I excluded here.

Anyway, sorry for the long-winded explanation, but without further ado, here’s ten of the weirdest movies ever…

Still from Surviving Life (2012)10. Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) [Prezít Svuj Zivot] (2010):  needs no introduction; he is quite the influential and brilliant experimental filmmaker. Really, many of his full length features—and almost all of his shorts (if I’d allowed them)—could have fit into this list. However, I chose this film, his most recent, which is almost a compilation of all his bizarre techniques, though he also invented lots of new weird devices specific to this film. The backgrounds the characters interact with are odd, mixing computer-generated elements with handmade sets. A lot of the film is still pictures of the characters, although there is plenty of stop-motion animation too. Beyond the presentation, there are also plenty of weird characters, like the pet man with a bulldog head. Visually, this film is even stranger to look at than most of the films on this list, but the storyline is a bit more coherent and conventional than upcoming entries—not to mention that several of the weirdest sequences take place inside of a dream, whereas most of the aforementioned films place their stranger moments in reality—hence why this is down here at # 10. Atill, I highly recommend this film. Top notch editing, acting, and artistry are on display here.

9. Death Powder (1986): The first draft of this list was dominated by Japanese films—Labyrinth of Dreams, Pinocchio 964, Rampo Noir, Hausu, Continue reading ADAM COOLEY’S 10 WEIRDEST MOVIES EVER

DENNIS SCHWARTZ’ TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

Dennis Schwartz is editor of the Vermont based film magazine “Ozus’s World Movie Reviews.” He has been a prolific online movie reviewer since 1998, also contributing to publications all over the globe and maintaining an active website–where it’s not uncommon for him to review 365 films a year. In his other life he was a poet, teacher, restaurant owner, wanderer and follower of Tibetan Buddhism (where he studied with Lama Govinda and lived in Kasa Devi, India).The first film he saw as a child, Bob Hope’s Paleface, left a hunger for films that has not been sated with all the passing years. The critic who influenced him the most was Walter Benjamin, not a film critic but one of the truly great literary critics of the 20th century. The lesson to be learned from him and other serious critics is that all true art is subversive and unsettling.

Dennis has kindly supplied 366 Weird Movies with his personal Top 10 Weird Movies list.

1. The Dybbuk (1937, d. Michal Waszynski). One of the most interesting Yiddish films ever made. It was made at the time the Nazis were going into their ‘Final Solution’ plans and were publicly blaming the Jews for all their troubles. Sholem Anskil’s folk tale of a disembodied spirit who possesses the body of the woman he is about to wed serves as the theme. What is eerie, even as the irrational is presented onscreen, is the evil that lurks for the actors and audience, as the incomprehensible is soon to descend on them in the form of a Holocaust. Also, the film’s “Dance of Death” scene has become a legendary one. [full review].

2. The Killing Kind (1973, d. Curtis Harrington). The sullen 21-year-old Terry (John Savage) is released from the slammer after serving a two year sentence for raping a teen named Tina (Sue Bernard) under the pier and moves back in with his former dancer mom, Thelma (Ann Sothern), who suffocates him with overprotective love. What’s there not to like about this perverse cult horror pic helmed with a tongue-in-cheek black humor by Curtis Harrington (Ruby/Night Tide/The Dead Don’t Die)? This obscure pic is one of those treasures that few have seen due to the studio’s unwillingness to promote a film it didn’t understand, as it had only a short theatrical run and for many years was unavailable on DVD. It’s one of Harrington’s best films. Writers Tony Chechales and George Edwards keep it a wacko mix of psychological suspense with large dabs of sleaziness, in a script that strays dangerously close to going overboard on camp. [full review]

3. The Last Bolshevik (1993, d. ): Noted French filmmaker and essayist Chris Continue reading DENNIS SCHWARTZ’ TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

DANIEL FAWCETT AND CLARA PAIS’ TOP TEN WEIRD MOVIES

This article originally appeared on the One + One Filmmakers Journal blog.

Daniel Fawcett and Clara Pais are underground filmmakers (the upcoming Savage Witches, which will premiere at the Cambridge Film Festival in September) and publishers of the One + One Filmmakers Journal. The following list of ten movies was originally composed as an alternative film response to the 2012 Sight and Sound “Greatest Films of All Time” poll, but when we saw the thoroughly weird selections we realized it would make for a perfect Top 10 Weird Movies list. The authors agreed, and graciously permitted us to re-purpose and republish the article.

Without further ado:

10 films we love! A Response to Sight and Sound’s Top 50 films.

By Daniel Fawcett and Clara Pais

There has been a lot of top 10 film lists popping up on the internet over the last couple of days in response to the release of Sight and Sound’s Top 50 Films of All Time. Everyone has an opinion about the validity of the list and the discussion has mostly centered around whether Vertigo is the best film ever made. Personally we think Vertigo is a great film but it certainly wouldn’t be on the top of our list.

The Sight and Sound list is pretty much the same as every other top 50 list, it doesn’t particularly matter if Citizen Kane or Vertigo is number 1 or number 2, chances are that if you are interested in cinema then you’ve seen them both. While we recognise the importance of these films they are not the films that have had a significant impact on us. So last night we made a list, not necessarily a list of the best films ever made, maybe not even a list of our favourite films but a list of the first 10 films that came to mind that have excited and inspired us. They are certainly not films that you would see on the Sight and Sound list but they are all unique and important works of cinema.

Hold Me While I’m Naked (1966) George Kuchar

Still from Hold Me While I'm Naked (1966)Hold Me While I’m Naked is one of the things in life worth living for! In fact, we could say that about a lot of Kuchar films, which are amateur concoctions of melodrama, sci-fi and other Hollywood genres and archetypes with a great sensibility for cinematic spectacle. Hold Me While I Am Naked is an example of unstoppable creativity, the film started with a somewhat more conventional narrative but, after leading lady Donna Kerness pulled out, it became a film about a director who is trying to get his Continue reading DANIEL FAWCETT AND CLARA PAIS’ TOP TEN WEIRD MOVIES

CARLOS ATANES: THE INTERVIEW & TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIE LIST

Carlos Atanes Weird FilmmakerCarlos Atanes is a Spanish filmmaker who proudly describes his life’s work as “weird” (and was using the term before this site came into existence).  He’s the creator of the bizarre feature films FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions (2004), Proxima (2007), and Maximum Shame (2010), all of which are reviewed here, as well as dozens of short subjects.   His official website describes his ideal fan as one who likes “fantasy, weirdness and oddity” and is “part of that public who has a good time with risky and different things and with the cinema that recreates alternative and personal universes.”  Since that description fits 366 Weird Movies readers perfectly, we figured we would play matchmaker between Carlos Atanes and our fans—and get a top 10 Weird Films list to add to our collection in the process.

This interview was conducted by Gregory J. Smalley with Mr. Atanes via email in October and November of 2011.  His “Top 10 Weird Movie List” appears at the bottom of the interview.

366:  You’ve announced a new project, Gallino, which you describe as a”pornophilosophical film.”  What can you tell our readers about the movie?

Gallino promoAtanes: It is a step forward in my rise to weirdness. Gallino is related to my last movie Maximum Shame in many of its subjects. There are different actors and characters, other aesthetics and other conflicts, but in fact it is like a next part, a complement to Maximum Shame. Both are like a “double feature.”  Gallino goes deep into parallel realities, meta-narrative and blurred borders between the pornographic and and the non-pornographic.  Why do we consider one thing pornographic and not another, exactly?  Why some things are visible/presentable and other things are not?  So, Gallino is an strange trip along the cracks, halfway between dream and wakelfulness, porn and no porn, skin Continue reading CARLOS ATANES: THE INTERVIEW & TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIE LIST

PAT TREMBLAY’S TOP 10 (+) WEIRD MOVIES

Pat Tremblay is the director of the bizarre and sadly unreleased psychedelic experiment Heads of Control: The Gorul Baheu Brain Expedition (2006).  His second feature film, the post-apocalyptic Hellacious Acres: The Case of John Glass, is currently on the festival circuit: it will be  screening at the Oldenburg Film Festival in Oldenburg, Germany Sep. 14-18, followed by an appearance the Sitges Film Festival (in Spain) in October.

OK, I got asked by Greg (the mastermind behind this AMAZING website, from which I’ve discovered many gems I had never heard of) to do this top 10 weird movies and thought, yeah, I’d love to contribute, ’cause I like weird stuff, and I even like to do weird movies myself!  But I realized that my memory often doesn’t serve me too well, and my choices might not be weird enough…  Anyhow, this is what it came down too, and it could easily change, but this now and so is this list!

In no particular order:

1. I really like Harmony Korine and I couldn’t put down my finger on which movie I prefer between Gummo, Julien Donkey Boy and Trash Humpers… So I’m already breaking the rules already by assembling down those three into one whole bizarre package…

Still from Xavier: Renegade Angel2. Although it’s a TV series and not a film, I really dig “Xavier Renegade Angel”, completely mental material that’s extremely funny.  Trippy, surreal, 2-cent philosophy striking down your brain with a hammer of  retarded genius.  A must.  From the guys who brought you the conceptual porn experiment Final Flesh and the extra-funny series “Wonder Showzen”.

3.  Jodorowsky is up the ladder with The Holy Mountain and Santa Sangre, which I watched again just recently.  It still holds up as a masterpiece, just as the former does.

4.  A few weeks ago I saw Things (1989), recently re-released by Intervision. Wow, this is mind blowing z-grade amateurism that destroys and defies so many cinematic “rules” that it becomes this a total weird-ass entity of the 5th dimension, or something close to that! You can’t fake that. It winds up being a beautiful piece of outsider art in its uniqueness.

5.  The ” : The Triggers Compilation” DVD collection.  Redundant madness, Continue reading PAT TREMBLAY’S TOP 10 (+) WEIRD MOVIES

ZEB HARADON’S REVISED TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

EDITOR’S NOTE: Zeb Haradon, writer/director/star of the Certified Weird Elevator Movie, has asked us to submit a revisedTop 10 Weird Movies” list.  Of course we complied without hesitation. (Here’s his [more conventional] original list).

A while ago I was asked to put together a list of 10 weird movies.  I did this pretty quickly without thinking much about it.  It was, I think, too hastily written, as if I was just writing an email.  Also the movies, while all excellent, were not all particularly “weird” enough.  I decided to put together this better list.

1. The Room – The plot of this movie sounds fairly straightforward and is hardly worth mentioning. It’s a domestic drama about a couple where the woman has an affair and the man becomes jealous and then finds out. The strangeness is in the tone and execution. This cult movie is widely known as an unintentional comedy “so bad it’s good”, but I think there’s something else going on. Notice how the dialog seems to come out of nowhere, how characters seem to say their lines with no particular motivation, or have motivations that change from moment to moment. I think what we’re seeing here is what a movie looks like to an autistic person who is not aware of the inner lives of other people. I think the filmmaker is making a movie of what society looks like to him, where everyone is made of cardboard and another human’s personality is unfathomable.

Still from Happy Days Reunion Special2. “Happy Days Reunion Special” – This “Happy Days” reunion special, made just a few years after the series ended, never saw the light of day, but a copy was leaked (bad quality with time codes), and you can find it if you know where to look. This was made in 1989, and also set in 1989, so it’s supposed to take place 30 or so years after the original. 90% of this hour long reunion is just dopey sitcom B.S., but there’s a jaw-droppingly incongruous subplot involving Fonzie discovering that he has become infected with the AIDS virus. This was probably due to a well intentioned effort to talk about the disease, but “Happy Days Reunion” was not the place to do it, which is probably why this ill conceived special never saw the light of day.

3. Silhouette – This movie consists of a series of explicit sex scenes, and the sounds and dialog are right out of hard core pornography, but the only images you ever see are shadows of the Continue reading ZEB HARADON’S REVISED TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES