Category Archives: Top 10 Lists


We’ve now certified over 100 of an eventual 366 movies here, and it’s time to step back, take stock, and make a provisional list of the “Best of the Weird”—and a list of the “Weirdest of the Weird.”  We first took a stab at this list about two years ago, and my how things have changed since then (at least, at the bottom).  We’ve added new movies, and reshuffled our ratings for some of the others, and—well, you can read for yourself.

Recognizing that “weirdest” and “best” aren’t always the same thing, we’ve actually created two top ten lists here: one for the best movies that fall into the weird genre (these are the ones to start your timid friends off with), and one for the absolute weirdest movies we’ve seen (these are the ones to put on at a party when you want to clear the room).  Because we’re giving you two top ten lists for the price of one, you’re actually getting 20 recommended weird movies.  Well, actually 19, since one movie appears on both lists, but who’s counting?  Oh, wait, we are, that’s the entire point…

Feel free to agree with my choices, disagree, or hurl hurtful epithets at me in the comments.  But do remember that this list only covers movies we’ve already reviewed.  Your favorite movie we omitted may be coming down the line, and may make this list the next time we formulate it (in another two years or so).

With that said, let’s get to it!

# 10 Best Weird Movie: Kwaidan (1964). “Although on the surface it’s just a collection of bare-bones ghost stories, in telling these tales director Kobayashi wisely jettisons reality in favor of a stylized, expressionistic, visually poetic aesthetic that gently detaches the viewer from everyday life and floats him into an ancient spirit world that seems simultaneously to have never and always existed.”

#10 Weirdest Movie: House [Hausu] (1977). “Rife with images of flying heads, murderous painos, laughing watermelons, an invisible wind machine, and a truly demonic kitty, the film’s surrealist atmosphere and ever-shifting styles are as hilarious as they are inscrutable.  There is no way to get a handle on Hausu—the viewer is completely at the mercy of Obayashi’s bizarre whims.”

#9 Best Weird Movie: The Wicker Man (1973): “Hardy and Shaffer create an atmosphere like no other; it’s an encounter of civilized man with strange, primeval beliefs…. The viewer himself undergoes a dread confrontation with Old Gods who are at the same time familiar and terrifyingly strange.”



We’re such whiners.  Last year at this time, we were complaining that 2010 was “two or three weird movies shy of being a great year.”  We didn’t know how good we had it back then, frankly.  Movies like Black Swan, Inception and even Scott Pilgrim vs. the World all got major theatrical releases, while of this year’s nominees only The Tree of Life can claim the same level of exposure. Perhaps the great weird films of 2011 are still lurking in the shadows—we’ve found a few of them, but we expect more revelations as these unseen gems crawl their way out of the festival circuit and start getting belated DVD releases.  (Of course, that process can take a while: we’ve been waiting a year already for Jan Svankmajer‘s Surviving Life).

The truly deranged stuff just doesn’t make it into theaters, and 2011 continued the trend of re-releases and delayed DVD releases blowing away the theatrical releases in terms of weirdness.  We finally saw Bill Plympton’s worth-waiting for angelic black comedy Idiots and Angels (2008), Otto Preminger’s amazing psychedelic flop Skidoo (1968) surfaced after almost four decades, and the Criterion Collection resurrected ‘s two major forays into weirdness—Zazie dans le Metro (1960) and Black Moon (1975)—along with new editions of cult classics Shock Corridor and Solaris.  In terms of vintage oddities, 2011 was another banner year.

Though weirdness wasn’t omnipresent this year, the cinematically surreal did get a serious prestige boost from our top weird movie of the year.

  1. The Tree of Life: The year’s best weird movie is also the year’s best movie, period.Still from 2011's Best Weird Movie, TheTree of Life  Stunning cinematography, sacred music, the birth of the universe, graceful dinosaurs, childhood hallucinations and a glimpse of the afterlife all mixed together in the most ambitious movie of the past decade.  We dare the Academy to nominate this for Best Picture.
  2. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives: Technically a 2010 movie (it won the Continue reading TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES OF 2011


Tomorrow we will present our official Top 10 Weird Movies of the Year List.  This list covers all movies released in 2011, weird or not.

This year, for the first time, I will be voting for the Online Film Critics Society Awards.  Taking this commission seriously, I have watched perhaps a hundred of the most highly acclaimed 2011 movies, with a few nominees still left to see before my vote is due.  From the perspective of a weird movie specialist, this process has provided me two benefits.  First, it’s given me that baseline of movie normality that I need to be able to recognize the stuff that’s really out there to the average viewer.  Watching only the strangest of the strange week in and week out skews your perspectives.  Hopefully, I will never again fall into the trap of thinking The Tree of Life is too conventional, as I did in my initial review of the movie.

Secondly, gathering that “baseline of normality” has made me appreciate the weird all the more.  Conventional award-winning movies are all alike; but every weird movie is weird in its own way.  You can tick off the list of qualities that great movies should have: moving performances, arresting cinematography, sparkling dialogue.  A weird movie may have these qualities too, but it also has a spark of divine madness or folly that sets it apart from the herd.

You may notice that six of my top ten choices could be pigeonholed as children’s movies.  That’s not by design (last year my list would have contained only one, Toy Story 3).  But I did not feel the need to bump the children’s movies off the list to make room for more “adult” fare.  The truth is that children’s films are the most lucrative segment of the movie market right now, and studios are taking more time and care (not just more money) in making them.  They’re writing clever, multi-layered scripts to appeal to adults as well as kids; spending more time on storytelling basics and character development; and crafting more exciting and spectacular set-pieces.  If movies made for grown-ups are to increase their share of next year’s list, well, then, they’ll just have to make better movies.

We’ll start off this list with 10 Honorable Mentions.  I would have been comfortable including any of the films below on my year-end list, but by the narrowest of margins each came up a little short.

50/50; The Artist; Bridesmaids; Cave of Forgotten Dreams; Martha Marcy May Marlene; Melancholia; Tinker Tailor Solider Spy; Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives; Weekend; We Need to Talk About Kevin

And on to my Top 10 Movies of 2011:

10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2: I’ll be honest—although it’s a good film, Continue reading TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2011 – THE “MAINSTREAM” EDITION


We frequently get requests to review certain movies that are unavailable on DVD in the United States.  In this digital age when even cigarettes are electronic, it seems every movie ever made should be legally available to watch, somewhere. Surprisingly, that’s not the case.  Sometimes movies are hung up in rights disputes; often, the ones we’re most interested in are so weird and specialized they fall through the cracks.

But truly strange stuff is showing up on DVD and Blu-ray all the time.  Last Year at Marienbad (1961) is a surrealist classic and a film school favorite, but it didn’t debut on DVD until 2009.  The bizarre haunted house horror Hausu (1977) was ignored and forgotten on release, but was rescued from obscurity more than thirty years later by no lesser entity than the Criterion Collection.  Even something as odd, ignored, and seemingly uncommercial as 1977’s Death Bed: The Bed that Eats—a movie that critics are still unable to confidently classify as incompetent exploitation or self-aware joke—recently showed up in the DVD ranks.  Many fans of cinematic marginalia grew up assuming that Skidoo, Otto Preminger’s 1968 counterculture satire bomb featuring Groucho Marx as God, among other oddities, would exist forevermore only as a brief plot synopsis in dog-eared movie guides, with a turkey symbol eternally etched next to it.  Skidoo was buried, maybe out of deference to the embarrassed stars (besides Marx, it also featured Jackie Gleason, Carol Channing, Frankie Avalon, singer-songwriter Harry Nillson and a host of distinguished character actors); but in 2008, Skiddoo showed up on TV, and this July it will make its first appearance on DVD.

The point is, we’ll never give up on anything appearing anymore, so long as someone, somewhere thinks there’s a buck to be made off of it.  There are a number of movies we’re going to hold off on reviewing immediately because they may get a release in the future.  We’ve listed some of the rarest and most important ones below.  In keeping with the venerable Top 10 tradition, we’ve limited ourselves to a decemvirate of titles, but believe us, there are a lot more missing movies out there. We skipped over some high-interest titles which are still available on Region 1 DVD but are extremely rare, such as Institute Benjamenta and Survive Style 5+.

10. Arrebato [Rapture] (1980).  Made in the years after the demise of Franco and film censorship, Arrebato, a drug movie about a filmmaker who believes his camera has a mind of its own, has an enraptured cult following in Spain.  The ideas here are sometimes said to anticipate David Cronenberg‘s Videodrome.  Neil Young (the film critic, not the Canadian songwriter) is one of few English speakers who’s seen and reported on it; he was less than unimpressed, calling it “a mind-blowingly pretentious exploration of creativity, madness and the addictive world of cinema.”  We’d still like the opportunity to judge for ourselves, since mind-blowing pretension is frequently a virtue in the weird movie realm.  In November 2010 Arrebato was released in Region 2 edition by the respected German company Bildstörung, with English subtitles.  Whether there will ever be enough interest to get it released on these shores is another question.

Clip from Arrebato

9. Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (1968).  Japanese sci-fi with a plane crash, UFOs, and alien blobs that turn their victims into vampires.  The visuals are unreal and stylized but very striking, almost expressionistic; Quentin Tarantino paid homage to Goke with the airplane flying through the blood red/orange sky in Kill Bill.  This film occasionally shows up on Turner Classic Movies late at night; if TCM can get the television rights, they likely can clear the video rights too.  Don’t sit on this masterpiece of classically odd Japanese camp, Ted Turner!

Japanese trailer for Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell

8. Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets [Sho o suteyo machi e deyou] (1971).  A Continue reading WHERE’S THE WEIRDNESS?: TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES NOT (YET) AVAILABLE ON DVD (IN THE US)


Happy New Year!  Looking back on 2010, we have to say that it was about two or three weird movies shy of being a great year; a lot of films that may end up being 2010 standouts haven’t made it out of the festival circuit yet.  But we did see a bonanza of great weird Region 1 DVD debuts from years past, including Antichrist (2009), Bronson (2008), Dillinger is Dead (1969), Hausu (1977), Taxidermia (2006) and You, the Living (2007), not to mention a restored version of Metropolis (1927), with footage that had been missing for almost 100 years!  So, it would be hard to say 2010 was a total waste.  Here’s our New Year’s Eve rundown of the weirdest movies of 2010 (so far):

  1. Enter the Void, the Weirdest Movie of 2010?Enter the Void: We had to cheat a little to qualify Gaspar Noé‘s neon psychedelic death-trip about a hallucinating expat ghost in Tokyo who sees his sister and best friend making love with glowing genitalia by reclassifying the film from 2009 (copyright date) to 2010 (date the editing was completed and the final version released to theaters), but it was worth it to get the most extravagant Buddhism-on-LSD movie of the last 35 years the top spot.
  2. Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) [Prezít svuj zivot (teorie a praxe)]: We’re cheating even more by nominating Jan Svankmajer‘s latest (about a man who impregnates his own anima while undergoing psychoanalysis) because we haven’t even seen it yet.  But based on what we know about the crazy Czech, and what we see in the trailer below, we don’t think we’ll be eating any crow over this choice (unless it’s for not giving Surviving Life the top spot).
  3. Black Swan: Darren Aronofsky makes Natalie Portman go crazy for her art in a dance fable mixing backstage melodrama, sexual repression, and body horror.  Portman growing feathers onstage as she dances her little heart out for the audience rates as the most beautifully weird moment of the year. Continue reading TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES OF 2010


Here’s my personal picks for top ten weird movies of the decade (setting aside the fact that it may be more reasonable to consider the decade as ending in 2010, rather than 2009).  This list only covers movies we’ve actually reviewed, so if you read on you’ll also find the top 10 movies we didn’t get to, the top 10 weird movies of 2009, and my top 10 picks for 2009 (regardless of weirdness).


10. Elevator Movie (2004) – A loser is trapped inside an elevator with a former slut turned Jesus freak, for months on end, in a compelling low-budget surrealist drama mixing No Exit and The Exterminating Angel with a touch of Eraserhead.

9. Funky Forest: The First Contact (2005) – A jumbled up series of surreal short movies and music videos, linked by common characters and themes, but refusing to make sense; no one forgets the scene where the schoolgirl inserts a tube in her navel to give birth to a miniature sushi chef.

8. I Can See You (2008) -A neurotic, romantically frustrated loner goes on a camping trip with his advertising company buddies, and loses complete contact with reality.  Features a wonderfully bizarre musical sequence; an oily, omnipotent ad pitchman who talks to the protagonist inside his head; and a 20 minute psychedelic freakout at the climax.

7. Tideland (2005) – Terry Gilliam’s dark and controversial riff on Alice in Wonderland tells a bleak and frightening story of a young girl abandoned to the world of her imagination. There’s nothing explicit shown, but the nuanced and challenging scenes implying child abuse and molestation were too intense and downbeat for mainstream viewers.

6. Ink (2009) – Visually impressive low-budget fantasy about a mysterious figure who snatches a sleeping girl into a world of dreams. The nightmarish incubuses, with their smiley-faced facades displayed on malfunctioning LCD screens attached to their heads, are unforgettable, and the payoff is emotionally satisfying.


After officially inducting Time Bandits as the 37th entry on the List of the 366 Best Weird Movies of all time, it occurred to me—the project is now just over 10% of the way complete.  What better time to announce my personal (provisional) top 10 picks in two categories: the best weird movies ever made, and the weirdest movies ever made (without regard to quality).  Using only movies that have already been reviewed on these pages, this is what I came up with:


These are essential movies that should be viewed by any movie lover.  Even if they hate “weird” movies, watching these ten strong arguments for immortalizing weirdness on celluloid  will at least help them formulate the reason why.

10. El Topo (1970)Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s surreal spaghetti western, in which he casts himself as a Jesus figure, is undoubtedly one of the most narcissistic movies ever made; but it’s fascinating precisely because it’s full of passionate personal symbolism and mystical obsessions.

9. Adaptation (2002)Charlie Kaufman successfully translates metafiction into the film world with this satirical story of a depressed screenwriter writing the script of the film as we are watching it.

8. Oldboy (2003) – The cold hand of fate hangs over Chan-Wook Park‘s improbable, operatic and extreme fable of vengeance destroying the avenger.

7. Donnie Darko (2001) – The embodiment of teenage angst comes in the figure of Donnie, a teen suffering tormenting visions sent to him by a six foot tall demonic bunny rabbit; a lovable jumbled mess of a movie with a convoluted plot that packs an emotional wallop.

6. Carnival of Souls (1962) – The amateurism of the production paradoxically lends an aura of extreme creepiness to this story of a haunted church organist at odds with reality.


These are damn weird movies that you can put on at a party if you want to clear the room of squares.

10. Archangel (1990) – Amnesiac, nearly silent parable set in a eternally dark Russian city that keeps fighting World War I not knowing the conflict is over; features a coward strangling a Bolshevik with his own intestines.

9. Begotten (1991) – Visually inventive mystical parable that features God disemboweling himself; a parade of metaphorical, metaphysical tortures that is not soon forgotten.

8. Gummo (1997) – A fractured white trash nightmare about the lost denizens of an Ohio town; who can forget Solomon, the weirdest looking kid in the world, eating spaghetti in his filthy bathtub?

7. Dr. Caligari (1989) – A neon pink midnight movie made by an avant-garde porn director; look for the rack inspired by Salvador Dali.

6. Naked Lunch (1991)David Cronenberg wisely chose not to attempt to literally translate William S. Burroughs’ hallucinogenic novel to the screen; instead, he made a movie about Burroughs writing the novel, high on bug powder and taking dictation from typewriter that talks out of its anus.

Place your bets now on the top 5 entries in each category before continuing…



In this occasional feature where we ask established directors and critics to list what they feel are their top 10 “weird” movies.  There are no constraints on what the author can pick. This list comes from James Mannan, owner of Liberty or Death productions.  James has directed and produced Wannabe, To Haunt You and Hallow’s Dance with partner R. Panet.

  1. Un Chien Andalou (France 1929; dir. Luis Buñuel):  The keystone of surrealist cinema. In its short 18 minutes this film turned the cinematic conventions of its day on their ear. The disturbing, subversive aesthetics continue to challenge today’s audiences and filmmakers.
  2. Die Nackte und der Satan aka The Head (West Germany, 1959; dir. Victor Trivas): The ultimate summation of the mad scientist/transplant sub-genre, this is far more artistic and conceptually challenging than the better known knock-off The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (which was made in the US 3 years later).  Expressionist production design was by Hermann Warm (Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) and atmospheric cinematography by George Kraus (Kubrick’s Paths of Glory).  The most amazing (and later copied) image is, of course, the living severed head of Michel Simon as Dr Abel, but seemingly all of the characters are touched in some way by mad science, including the villainous Dr. Ood.
  3. Manos, the Hands of Fate (USA 1966; dir. Harold P. Warren):  This is a favorite of the “Mystery Science Theatre” crowd, but Manos needs no running commentary to point out its delicious oddities–chief among which is the performance of John Reynolds as the servant “Torgo.” Every element of this below-grade-Z production is sublimely dreadful in a way neither Ed Wood or Al Adamson could have achieved.
  4. Satánico Pandemonium (Mexico 1975; dir. Gilberto Martínez Solares):  A Mexican Nun is possessed by the devil and is soon corrupting the innocence of her fellow nuns and the nearby villagers. And you thought Linda Blair masturbating with a crucifix was shocking…
  5. Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (USA 1973; dir. Richard Blackburn):  Blackburn was fresh out of film school when he directed this gothic coming-of-age tale, inspired in parts by both H P Lovecraft and The Night of the Hunter.  Extraordinarily ambitious, considering the low budget, the film has a unique atmosphere of weird dread.  Lemora benefits enormously from the performance of Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith as the “singing angel” Lila Lee.  Smith marvelously projects the adolescent girl’s wariness at each new threat to her innocence, in what amounts to a kind of a demented version of “Alice in Wonderland.” Continue reading JAMES MANNAN’S TOP TEN WEIRD FILMS


Alfred Eaker’s Fringe Cinema will not appear this week.  In it’s place is Alfred’s list of his top 10 weird films in the genre he calls “naive surrealism.”

For 366 Weird Movies, the following is a list of “all the way under the radar” Weird Movies.

These are the films that would fall under the category of being either “Naturally Weird” or “Naive Surrealism.”  For instance, no film of David Lynch’s makes the list, mainly because Lynch is too self consciously aware and too clever to be called natural or naive.  Nothing against Lynch’s films, which are some of the most delightfully weird films ever made (well the earlier ones, at least).  The same could be said for the undeniably great Luis Buñuel, Ken Russell, David Cronenberg, Jan Svankmajer, and Guy Maddin, to name a few.  In the same vein, overtly “Experimental Films” (ie: Maya Deren, Jean Cocteau, Kenneth Anger, Daina Krummins) are excluded, regardless of the temptation.

* Also excluded is Donnie Darko which is good, but annoyingly overrated and oh so “trendy weird on the sleeve.”  The same goes for Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” which is not good at all and was 1980’s “trendy weird” (besides, that band really lost it’s genuine, honest to goodness weirdness with the departure of Syd Barrett).

  1. Ed Wood’s Glen or Glenda. Cinema’s most celebrated outsider artist; Ed Wood.  Wood defines the meaning of “natural auteur.”  One always recognizes an Ed Wood film, even when accidentally stumbling upon it.  Wood stamped his honest, eccentric personality onto everything he touched and this is what separates him from the rest of the Z grade amateurs of his time.  Indeed, Wood is far preferable to both his peers and the mere “assignment” directors.  Anything from Wood’s oeuvre could fit, but it is Glen or Glenda, rather than Plan 9 from Outer Space, that is Wood’s most zany, personal unintentional masterpiece.
  2. Tod Browning‘s The Unknown & Freaks.  Browning, could hardly be called naive, but his attraction to the outcast and misfit was sincere as he had spent many years making his living in the carnival circuit.  Browning knew and spoke the freak language, which is what made his bonding collaboration with Lon Chaney possibly the most unique Director/Actor collaboration in film history.  Both The Unknown and Freaks were among Browning’s most personal films (a third would be 1927’s The Show with John Gilbert), but The Unknown (his greatest achievement) slightly trumps Freaks with a genuinely startling plot development that is absurd, dramatic and without drawing attention to itself.  The accomplished acting of Chaney certainly helped Browning pull this off (and, no question, Chaney’s acting ranks with Chaplin and Coogan as the greatest of the silent era).  Lesser artists would have done this with bells and horns, but with Chaney and Browning, it goes way under the skin.  Browning certainly knew Freaks was going to generate reactions, but was undoubtedly taken back and unprepared for the level of intense negativity unleashed, which destroyed his career.  Tragedy aside, the ensuing drama perfectly capped his legend.
  3. Charlie Bower’s Egged On. Not enough is known of Charlie Bowers to determine whether or not his surrealistic, independent shorts were intentionally surreal or knowingly experimental.  It is known Bowers was (and remains) the perennial outsider, unfortunately inept in areas of self-promotion, marketing and perseverance.  His best films were the ones that mixed live action with animation and included his character, even if that character lacked the charismatic personality of Keaton, Chaplin, etc.  His later, strictly animated films that did not include the live action mix and character lack the overall unique whimsical quality of the earlier shorts (although some of that eccentric whimsy is present). A Wild Roomer, He Done His Best, Now You Tell One, and It’s a Bird are some of the most idiosyncratic shorts of any era (and evoke a spirit similar to the much later Dr. Seuss).   Andre Breton understandably adored him.  Egged On has to be seen to be believed and involves a basket of eggs which hatch, giving birth to a litter of miniature Model T Fords!  It is almost heartbreaking that only 15 of his films survive, but one has to be forever grateful that those 15 were finally discovered and restored.
  4. Jack Hill’s Spider BabySpider Baby has earned it’s cult status.  Nothing else Hill did (which is very little) has quite this flavor.  It’s not a surrealist film, as some have claimed, but it is an enjoyably demented one of a kind.  Lon Chaney, Jr. actually gives a good performance (reportedly he laid off the liquor as he liked the script) and the rest of the cast match him.  This low budget film seems very much like a happy accident.  It sat collecting dust for four years, was horribly distributed under numerous titles, but eventually found it’s cult audience, which is a lucky thing.
  5. John Parker’s Dementia: Daughter of Horror.  Speaking of mini budget obscurities: nothing is really known of director Parker, if he did any other films, if this a pseudonym, etc.  For several years this was believed to be a non-existent film, then a copy turned up.  Good thing, this gem of a film (which has no dialogue) is a bridge between z grade horror and arthouse; outsider art meets surrealism head on.  It first made the circuits as Dementia and later under the different title Daughter of Horror.  Both versions exist now (Daughter has narration by Ed McMahon). Continue reading ALFRED EAKER’S 10 WEIRD MOVIES LIST: NAIVE SURREALISM‏


In this occasional feature where we ask established directors and critics to list what they feel are their top 10 “weird” movies.  There are no constraints on what the author can pick. This list comes from R. Panet, half of the production team behind Liberty or Death Productions. With partner, James Mannan she directed Hallow’s Dance, and also directed Revenant, along with assisting on numerous other productions, including Blood Moon, Quench and Going All The Way.

It takes a lot to really unnerve or disturb me these days, but these 6 films were all viewed in the 80’s when I was barely legally able to intoxicate myself, when my mind was young and unmarred by such weirdness, despite the fact that I was myself deemed weird by most anyway, and I personally blame these films for my quest to seek out all things weird, bizarre, and of the illimitable creative artistic expression, and yes, to add to my own wonderful weirdness. Before I viewed these films I did not know such a world existed. My experimental film cherry was popped.

The 6 weird movies that left a lasting impression on my young mind- in order of disturbance;

1. Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo-120 Days of Sodom and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s La Montana Sagrada [The Holy Mountain] tie for first.

3. Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.

4. John Waters’ Pink Flamingos

5. Richard Kern’s Fingered

Continue reading R. PANET’S TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES