The backbone of this site is the project to create the List of the 366 Best Weird Movies of all time.
Why make a list of 366 movies? That’s one for every day of the year, with a spare for leap years. As every day is associated with a Catholic saint, we believe every day should have it’s own weird movie.
Most of the movies selected are both weird and good. Sometimes, if a movie is very weird, it will make the list ahead of a better movie. Sometimes, if a movie is very good, it does not have to be quite as weird. The key determinant is that each movie gives me that I-know-it-when-I-see-it feeling; a film that makes my skin crawl, my jaw drop, or just causes me to mutter to myself, “Now that’s weird….”
We are very cautious in certifying a movie as weird—we may consider and review 4 or 5 movies for every one we decide to put on the List. But just because a movie does not make the List on the first ballot doesn’t mean it’s forever out of contention. From time to time, we’ll reconsider and promote movies that we once thought borderline to the exalted ranks of the Weirdest Movies Ever Made.
A man tries to reach a woman, but finds himself suddenly chained to a piano with two dead donkeys on top and two priests clinging to the bottom. Weird.
A gas-sniffing maniac is about to teach a young man a lesson about snooping into his affairs, and before administering a vicious beating he insists a homosexual with a backlit microphone croon a Roy Orbison tune to put him in the mood. Weird.
An ex-Olympic gymnast turned secret agent is being chased by a village full of crazies, when he suddenly comes across a stone pommel horse in the middle of the village square, which he hops upon and starts doing his gold metal winning routine while his attackers kindly approach one at a time and step directly into his whirling feet. Weird.
If you recognize the movies those scenes are taken from, this may be the site for you. If you’re intrigued by the descriptions, this is definitely the site for you. If you own copies of all three DVDs, you may be qualified to write for this site.
Many people can’t stand weird movies, just like many people can’t stand rollercoasters. When you are in the grips of a truly bizarre film, it’s a lot like being on a rollercoaster: the narrative track is twisted and convoluted, it doesn’t run from point A to point B the way you’ve been taught to expect. You are hurtled about by it, you’re moving too fast to see where you’re going, sights flash by you; it’s frightening, confusing, and exhilarating.
I watched and enjoyed movies for years without realizing that the film experience that moved me the most was the encounter with the weird. When I was young, I was fascinated by supernatural horror movies like The Shining (1980) and The Howling (1981), without ever understanding quite what was giving me the thrill I enjoyed. In my late teens, when my family got our first VHS player, I instinctively sought out classics like A Clockwork Orange (1971), Taxi Driver (1976) and Apocalypse Now (1979). These movies seemed “important” and “artistic” to me, although I couldn’t put my finger quite on what it was about them that made them superior to the conventional Hollywood product my peers scarfed up with delight. I stumbled upon a few of the weirder releases like Eraserhead (1977), After Hours (1985) and Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982) (which, through my senior year of high school, I considered the single greatest work of Art ever created), and found something I recognized.
In college, I discovered the value of camp while watching an Ed Wood marathon on PBS, and for a long time I thought my cinematic calling was to explore the vast weird realm of “bad movies.” At the time I took this detour, I thought that what I enjoyed was purely the unintentional comedy to be savored in the substandard scripting, acting and the rubber-based special effects of movies like The Brain that Wouldn’t Die (1962), Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971), or Basket Case (1982). I continued exploring the classic artistic films in parallel with the “bad” movies, fitting films like Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) and La Belle et La Bête (1946) in alongside incredible schlock like Rat Pfink a Boo Boo (1966) and Orgy of the Dead (1965), making for some truly bizarre double features.
Eventually I realized that, although I enjoyed a good flubbed line of dialogue or a risible visible zipper in a monster suit, it was the weird surprises in the “bad” movies that I enjoyed the most: hearing a disembodied voice call out “watch out for snakes!” as our heroes trudged out into the desert to search for the caveman, or the sun mysteriously appearing and disappearing during the “thrilling” chase scene in They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1967). (The fact that I was getting a lot of my exploitation movie videos from a place called “Something Weird” video helped me quite a bit with this realization as well).
I recognized that there really wasn’t any polar opposition between the “art” movies I enjoyed, and the “crap” movies I considered guilty pleasure. There was a uniquely weird aesthetic that bridged the realms of the “high art” Surrealists (Buñuel, Cocteau, Fellini) and the wild, accidentally surreal movies of the hack auteurs (Wood, Wishman, Adamson). This epiphany opened up a whole new wide world of weird possibilities that encompassed everything from the obvious (David Lynch) to the unexpected (Pilipino all-midget spy adventures) under one umbrella.
The word “weird” derives from the Germanic word wyrd, meaning fate. It achieved its current meaning of “odd, surreal” through Shakespeare, whose “weird sisters” who foretell Macbeth’s fate are both weird in the modern sense and wyrd in the pagan sense.
Today, “weird” his two dictionary meanings: “1. Suggesting the operation of supernatural influences (synonyms: eerie, haunting, mysterious, uncanny, unearthly)” and “2. Strikingly odd or unusual (synonyms: bizarre, eccentric, grotesque, odd, preternatural, surreal).” These two ideas are interrelated; perhaps a more comprehensive definition of weird that combines the two ideas is “of a mysteriously strange and usually frightening nature.”
To sum up:
A 1950s documentary preaching tolerance towards heterosexual transvestites is a bit offbeat.
When that same documentary hires Bela Lugosi to narrate the tale, casting him as a seemingly omniscient, godlike character named “The Scientist” who tells the story of the oppressed cross-dresser from a living room decorated with battleaxes and skulls, we’re moving into the realm of definitely peculiar.
But when Lugosi’s obscure mutterings about “the big green dragon that sits on your doorstep” and “puppy dog tales and big fat snails” segue into a dream sequence featuring bondage fantasies and a sudden appearance by Old Nick assisting at a wedding, that’s WEIRD.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: The author enjoys watching weird movies, and then writing what he thinks about them.