Weirdest Movies I’ve Seen…(M to Z)

This is a continuation of the “Weirdest Movies I’ve Seen” page. For part one click HERE.

Magic,” dir. Richard Attenborough (1978). Anthony Hopkins (“The Elephant Man”) stars as man slowly going insane from overexposure to his ventriloquist dummy. This has got to be the only romantic thriller that’s centered around a foul-mouthed murder puppet. It also stars Burgess Meredith (“Batman: the Movie”) and it’s directed by, yes, THAT Richard Attenborough. DECENT

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Malpertuis,” dir. Harry Kumel (1971). Don’t read any online synopsis about this movie as every single one of them ruins the twist ending. Just watch it. It’s a crazy and weird and atmospheric haunted house movie from the guy who did “Daughters of Darkness.” GREAT

The Man Who Fell to Earth,” dir. Nicholas Roeg (1976). Singer David Bowie (“Labyrinth”) stars as an unfortunate interplanetary being stranded on earth. In an effort to find a way home (and with water) he utilizes American industry…but he gets sidetracked with women. A wildly sexual and psychedelic 70s head trip of pseudo-science fiction mayhem. Also stars Rip Torn (“Men in Black”). DECENT

The Man Who Laughs,” dir. Paul Leni (1928).  Famous for being the inspiration behind Batman’s ”Joker,” this silent melodrama follows the life of a man who had his mouth carved into a garrish grin when he was a boy. People laugh at the grinning man for his deformity, but the audience roots for him through all his calamities. Conrad Veidt does a great job as the title character. GREAT

The Man With the Movie Camera,” dir. Dziga Vertov (1929).  The closest thing to this movie today might be Godfrey Reggio’s “Qatsi” trilogy. Vertov (extremely abhorrent of narrative film) sets out to put every type of camera technique invented before 1930 and mesh them together to form a fantastically spellbinding and energetic ballet that is a portrait of his contemporary Russia. He succeeds with gusto. AWESOME

Manos: The Hands of Fate,” dir. Harold P. Warren (1966). It’s as incomprehensibly bad as you can imagine and then some. Believe the hype and find the treasured MST3K riff of it. It’s weirdly bad. AWESOMELY BAD

Mary and Max,” dir. Adam Elliot (2009). A young awkward Australian girl becomes pen pals with the first random person she picks out of the phone book. She happens to pick an elderly, obese, autistic Jewish guy in New York City. Their odd relationship develops sweetly over the years. DECENT

Meet the Feebles,” dir. Peter Jackson (1989).  Before “Lord of the Rings,” Peter Jackson made gross-out comedies like “Bad Taste” and “Dead Alive,” but none so repugnant and objectionable as “Meet the Feebles” which is a pervertedly sick send up of “The Muppet Show” with every possible deplorably stomach-churning turn you can think of and then some. Grotesque but rewarding for a lucky deranged minority. GOOD

Men at Work,” dir. Mani Haghighi (2006). An Iranian satire about a group of middle-aged men who can’t seem to get past a rock on the shoulder of a highway. Once they get it in their heads that they’re going to push it over they just can’t give up. GOOD

Meshes of the Afternoon,” dir. Maya Deren (1943). Deren’s work is spellbinding. Where does dream end and reality begin? A wonderful, exploratory avant-garde piece. GOOD

Metropolitan,” dir. Whit Stillman (1990). A movie about preppies talking. GREAT

The Mill and the Cross,” dir. Lech Majewski (2011). Pieter Bruegel’s 1564 painting is brought to life in this captivatingly strange and hypnotic film. Rutger Hauer (“Blade Runner”) and Michael York (“Romeo and Juliet”) star in this truly one of a kind movie. Less bent on conveying a story with rich characters, Majewski immerses us into the world of the painting as we meticulously explore every nook and cranny. Sumptuous cinematography captures the era beautifully if a bit more ethereal and realistic. It won’t be for everybody, that’s for sure. GREAT

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MirrorMask,” dir. Dave McKean (2005). This is the sort of bold experimentation Jim Henson would have been proud of. It takes many cues from “Alice in Wonderland” and although the budget might not have been enough to fully realize this imaginative universe with greater detail, the images they conjure anyway are great. Not without its flaws, this is a fun and inventive film that can be enjoyed by the whole family. GOOD

Mondo Cane,” dir. Paolo Cavara, Franco Prosperi, and Gualtiero Jacopetti (1962). The documentary that started the whole shockumentary trend. The film takes us all over the world to observe the strange habits, beliefs, practices, customs, and traditions of many different people (some customs with dubious authenticity). All in all it’s more humorous than shocking today. “Mondo Cane” has a real knack for ironic juxtaposition. GOOD

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Moonwalker,” dir. Jerry Kramer, Jim Blashfield (1988). Michael Jackson stars in what can only be described as a cocaine binge wrapped around a music video. Joe Pesci (“Goodfellas”) co-stars in this perplexing film that will frighten you with how bizarre it manages to be. BAD

Mulholland Dr.,” dir. David Lynch (2001).  This bizarre nightmare mystery crafted by Lynch has a lot of really good moves. Naomi Watts (“King Kong”) stars. GREAT

My Dinner With Andre,” dir. Louis Malle (1981). Wallace Shawn stars in the film that is literally just one long conversation about different topics. Looks like someone beat Richard Linklater to the punch. GREAT

My Winnipeg,” dir. Guy Maddin (2007). A feverish yearning to depart one’s oppressive home pitted against the desire to dissect one’s childhood and understand it. A somber realization that one’s childhood is gone and the environment that one is attempting to leave is not even the same one that was experienced so long ago. No, time warps all landscapes. Nostalgia exists only as hyperbolic memories. Maddin paints a humorous and poignant saga of a city that touches on that tragic trope of “you cannot go home again”…made all the more chilling when one could never leave in the first place. A bold, beautiful, bizarre masterpiece. AWESOME

The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello,” dir. Anthony Lucas (2005). A shadow puppet short fraught with delicious elements of steampunk. Visually impeccable. GOOD

Night of the Lepus,” dir. William Claxton (1972).  Of all the giant animal/bug horror movies, this one might’ve had the least potential to begin with. Giant rabbits attack people. Move over “The Killer Shrews.” Stars Janet Leigh (“Psycho”) and DeForest Kelley (“Star Trek”). AWESOMELY BAD

The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz,” dir. Ben Hopkins (2000). A strange, surreal black comedy about the end of the world that no one could have predicted (way weirder than “Southland Tales”). GOOD

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Nothing But Trouble,” dir. Dan Aykroyd (1991). Chevy Chase, Demi Moore, John Candy, and Aykroyd himself star in this truly disgusting, unfunny, and wildly deranged comedy. You can’t help but wonder how it got made. Despite being a costly production with a decent cast, it is an abysmal failure yet so fascinatingly bad and odd, you can’t look away. It’s the kind of misfire that can only come from warped passion. BAD

On the Silver Globe,” dir. Andrzej Żuławski (1977/1987). Production was halted in 1977 when the movie was banned prior to completion. It was released unfinished in 1987. It is a visually arresting exploration into the world of philosophical and theological possibilities, based on a novel by Żuławski’s uncle. It is very complex and hard to follow after a certain point, but there is no denying it’s greatness and lavish, grotesque beauty. It’s one of the most incredible science fiction films never made. AWESOME

Onibaba,” dir. Kaneto Shindo (1964).  A quiet Japanese erotic horror flick. An old woman and her widowed daughter-in-law live in the tall grass, hunting samurai to kill and sell their armor in feudal Japan. When a young man steals the heart of the daughter-in-law, the older woman will do anything to keep the status quo, even don a demon-possessed mask. GREAT

The Ossuary,” dir. Jan Svankmajer (1970). So maybe all of Svankmajer’s shorts deserve to be on this list, but this one barely counts as a film so it’s extra weird. A manic ten minute tour of a temple constructed of the bones of the thousands of victims of the Black Death. GOOD

Paprika,” dir. Satoshi Kon (2006). What “Inception” should have been more like. This wild anime movie is literally chock-full of dream parades crammed with crazy. GOOD

Paris, Texas,” dir. Wim Wenders (1984). A man (“The Straight Story’s” Harry Dean Stanton) who has been wandering the desert for the past several years tries to remember his past and reconnect with his son and fix the mess he made with his ex-wife…if he can find her. Haunting and beautiful. GREAT

Persona,” dir. Ingmar Bergman (1966).  Many of Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman’s films are weird or puzzling, but this one might be one of the strangest. Two women, an actress and her nurse discover more about each other than they might have counted on. Stars Bibi Andersson (“Wild Strawberries”) and Liv Ullman (“Face to Face”). Also see “Face to Face,” “Fanny and Alexander,” “Silence,” and many other Bergman films. GOOD

The Phantom Tollbooth,” dir. Chuck Jones (1970). Based on Norton Juster’s  novel for children, Looney Tunes animator, Chuck Jones, brings the topsy turvy limerick-filled adventure to life by combining live-action with animation. DECENT

Phase IV,” dir. Saul Bass (1974). Ants! Ants are taking over! But it’s like their smart ants! It’s experimental and weird so maybe not a total loss. If more B-movies were filmed like this it would be cool. I feel like this movie might have been what Quatermass was talking about regarding that insipid pit. DECENT

Pi,” dir. Darren Aronofsky (1998). If you like you math gritty and Jewish then this is the movie for you. (I need to see it again). GOOD

The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes,” dir. The Brothers Quay (2005). The Brothers Quay paint a lyrical surreal fantasy with their own rules. This visually sumptuous  and original puzzle is both refreshing and delirious. Gottfried John (“Goldeneye”) plays a nefarious and mysterious doctor. GREAT

The Pied Piper of Hamelin,” dir. Jiri Barta (1986). The classic tale told with very dark expressionistic sensibilities. An incredible feast for the eyes. GREAT

Pink Flamingos,” dir. John Waters (1972).  John Waters (“Hairspray”) does everything he can to gross out the audience. If the grotesque, debaucherous or psychotically perverted act exists, then it’s in this movie. If it didn’t exist, then “Pink Flamingos” invented it. Not the most enjoyable way to lose an hour and half of your time, but you will lose it. BAD

Pink Floyd The Wall,” dir. Alan Parker (1982).  If you like the surreal imagery and you like Pink Floyd’s music you will probably enjoy this at some level. I did. GOOD

Popeye,” dir. Robert Altman (1980). A legendary director shifts gears wildly and dives into the world of children’s musical film by bringing Fleischer’s Popeye the Sailor to life on the big screen with Robin Williams (“Good Morning, Vietnam”) and Shelly Duvall (“The Shining”). Now, I love the old Popeye cartoons and enjoy Altman, Williams, and Duvall, and the movie has an interesting salty texture, but it just doesn’t seem to hold up for me. Best remembered as a strange childhood memory. MEH

PossessionPossession,” dir. Andrzej Żuławski (1981). Insanity brims to overflowing in this manic and maddening horror thriller that examines human relationships in rather unique ways. Slimy and over-the-top, this bizarre but unforgettable film features Sam Neill (“Jurassic Park”) and Isabelle Adjani (“Nosferatu”) as pathetically unhinged former lovers who both go through quite the metamorphosis. The style is very aggressive, but if you can get into it you won’t be disappointed. GREAT

Primer,” dir. Shane Carruth (2004). A very technical and very talkie take on the time-travel genre. Much to think about here. GOOD

Puss in Boots,” dir. Eugene Marner (1988). The famed cat of classic folktale comes to life…as Christopher Walken (“The Deer Hunter”) in a mustache. No makeup. Just Walken. The film is bad and hokey and the songs are obnoxious, but for the oddity of seeing a grown man (Christopher Walken no less) trying to keep it all together is worth it. Terrible film, but the Walken bits are fun. BAD

Putney Swope,” dir. Robert Downey (1969). A strange satire of corrupt corporations, black politics, and the advertising industry. MEH

The Rainbow Thief,” dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky (1990).  Although Jodorowsky disowned this project and it was minimally released and critically panned, it’s not all bad. Omar Sharif (“Doctor Zhivago”), Peter O’Toole (“The Ruling Class”), and Christopher Lee (“The Devil Rides Out”) come together for the peculiar tale of wealthy eccentrics and poor vagabonds in their journey to discover which is more important: riches or friendship? DECENT

The Return to Oz,” dir. Walter Murch (1985).  A dark and twisted yarn to be sure and although not nearly as good, magical, or consistent as “The Wizard of Oz” (the films have very little in common) it possesses its own unique charm and fun puppetry. GOOD

Rhinoceros,” dir. Tom O’Horgan (1974). Gene Wilder (“Silver Streak”) and Zero Mostel (“A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum”) star in a movie where everyone is inexplicably turning into rhinoceroses in this surreal satire on the state of society. All this and somehow it really, really sucks. This movie is so pokey, stagey, obvious, and ugly that what little there is left to like about doesn’t even begin to make up for the rest. It’s a weird curiosity that never feels like it’s working properly despite “The Producers” together again. BAD

Riki-Oh: the Story of Ricky,” dir. Ngai Kai Lam (1991).  Hong Kong prison super-gore never looked this ridiculous. Ricky (or is it Riki?) has been trained in a secret (and quite ludicrous) form of martial arts that makes him invincible. Once in prison for murder he takes on the evil and corrupt prison wardens to make the world safe once again (for murderers and rapists?). One crazy splatterfest and it really helps if you’re into the whole campy feel. A bit nostalgic for me. FUN

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Roar,” dir. Noel Marshall (1981). Watch in dumbfounded awe as Tippi Hedren (The Birds) endangers her whole family and a crew of innocent filmmakers in order to make what might actually be the CRAZIEST FILM EVER MADE. Hundreds of lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, panthers, and even a couple bull African elephants wandering freely through a house in the jungle while the family hides in cabinets. It’s all real. It’s all terrifying. And it’s all played for whimsical hijinks and to promote the preservation of African wildlife. While not a particularly good film in its own right, it is a fascinating and amazing experience that should not be missed. FUN

Robot Monster,” dir. Phil Tucker (1953). Everything you heard is true. A gorilla with a fish bowl for a head and antennas kidnaps people and tries to reason with the puny humans as to why he is the superior being. It’s awful. BAD

Rock and Rule,” dir. Clive Smith (1983). Stellar animation and 80s rock riffs  can’t save this creaking half-baked post-apocalyptic saga of mutant mouse folk and their band as they fight an evil rocker guy who wants to unleash demons from hell with their lead singer’s voice. BAD

Rocky Horror Picture Show,” dir. Jim Sharmon (1975). This legendary transgender rock opera comedy cult hit needs no explanation. Tim Curry (“Legend”), Susan Sarandon (“Thelma and Louise”), Barry Bostwick (“Spin City”), Charles Gray (“Diamonds are Forever”), and Meat Loaf star in this wacky, super sexual celebration musical. It’s an experience. FUN

Rollerball,” dir. Norman Jewison (1975). James Caan (“The Godfather”) stars in this murder-sport version of the future that’s just never quite as entertaining after you’ve seen “Death Race 2000.” MEH

Rubber,” dir. Quentin Dupieux (2010). A car tire roams around the desert and kills people by exploding their heads in the style of slasher revenge flicks. The concept and the trailer is hilarious. The actual execution of the feature is a little too preoccupied with telling you how clever it is rather than actually being clever. The stuff with the tire is funny, the stuff with the people wishes it was “Behind the Mask: the Rise of Leslie Vernon.” It could have been great. A tragic disappointment because a movie about a killer tire will probably never happen again. Sigh…missed opportunity. MEH.

Run, Lola, Run,” dir. Tom Tykwer (1998).  A very popular German film about a girl in a hurry. She must get money to save her boyfriend from the mob and everyone she interacts with along the way will live a completely different life depending on how she runs into them. The film will reach a conclusion and then stop, rewind, and play the same story again only if she had behaved a little differently. We get three shots at a happy ending and you get to pick which one actually happened. GREAT

The Saddest Music in the World,” dir. Guy Maddin (2003).  Guy Maddin is one of the weirdest directors. Styling all of his films to look like vintage silent features he blends the classic aura with his own absurd humor and surrealism. Isabella Rossallini stars as the beer queen who puts forth the international contest to see which country has the saddest music in the world in this unique and unforgettable Canadian comedy-drama…did I mention she has glass legs full of beer? AWESOME

Salo-120 Days of Sodom,” dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini (1975).  Shocking and repulsing (though if you watched all of the films before this you might be deadened to much of the horror). Pasolini’s last film, based on the writings of the Marquis de Sade, chronicles the miserable lives of individuals who have been captured by a four evil aristocrats at the end of World War II in Italy. The gruesome depravity and graphic dehumanization of the victims is profoundly arresting and will leave you queasy, but there is undeniable talent at work. You will most certainly have much to discuss after viewing this film. GOOD

Santa Claus,” dir. Rene Cardona (1959). Up there with “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” in yuletide derangement. Santa must outwit Satan and team up with Merlin before he can leave his space castle and deliver toys to the good girls and boys. BAD

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians,” dir. Nicholas Webster (1964).  A perennial classic of stinkdom. The Canadian channel used to put this on every year. It’s one of the most mind-bogglingly bad films you are likely to come across. There are scores of weird B movies and some of them I barely recall the titles of. Investigate this genre. Depending on your point of reference, it can be very rewarding. BAD

Santa Sangre,” dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky (1989).  One of Jodorowsky’s most accessible (though that’s not saying much) movies features a man with the ultimate mommy complex. His armless mother makes him stand behind her and be her arms…to either play the piano or kill young women who might be interested in the young man. A powerful and focused film loaded with surreal symbolism. A bizarre, disturbing spectacle. GREAT

The Saragossa Manuscript,” dir. Wojciech Has (1965).  Martin Scorsese (“Raging Bull”), Francis Ford Coppola (“The Godfather”), Luis Bunuel (“Belle de jour”), and Jerry Garcia (“The Grateful Dead”) loved this movie and it really is quite good. This movie, by Has, plays with narrative story telling in so many ways it defies description. A myriad of interlocking tales of humor, hauntings, and horror are spun round and round until we give up trying to understand it all from moment to moment and just let the film take us where we need to go. Beautiful, bold, bizarre, and unforgettable. AWESOME

Saturn 3,” dir. Stanley Donen (1980). Harvey Keitel (voice awkwardly dubbed) plays a mentally imbalanced guy in space who kinda sorta sometimes controls an 8 ft. tall rapist robot. The robot chases a naked Farrah Fawcett and Kirk Douglas around a spaceship thing. It’s terrible. BAD

Save the Green Planet,” dir. Joon-Hwan Jang (2003).  This Korean sci-fi-suspense-drama-torture-mystery-comedy is one for the books. A man suspects his old boss of being an alien so he kidnaps him and seeks to torture him until he admits it, but there is a lot more going on in this emotional and tonal roller coaster from Joon-Hwan Jang. GOOD

Schizopolis,” dir. Steven Soderbergh (1996).  Easily Soderbergh’s (“Sex, Lies and Videotape”) weirdest and most inventive film. I’d try to explain it, but you’ll just have to see it. In addition to directing, Soderbergh plays two of the main characters in this film. Some scenes are laugh out loud crazy funny. GREAT

Science is Fiction,” dir. Jean Painlevé. This exuberant collection of lyrically surreal science and biology shorts is a visual delight all around. From his early silent studies to his later color selection Painlevé’s technique is spellbinding. AWESOME

The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb,” dir. Dave Borthwick (1993).  Weird doesn’t begin to cover it. Using a process called pixelation (where they stop-motion animate human actors) and blending it with classic clay puppet stop-motion animation, Borthwick creates a film experience unlike any other. Fetus-like Tom Thumb wanders from the land of the bug-eating human giants to the evil science lab, to the toxic wilderness full of gnome-like people who are at war with the insensitive giants, and back again in this wildly imaginative and peculiar fable full of wit and thick with atmosphere. GREAT

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors,” dir. Sergei Parajanov (1965). The camera moves with such free abandon through this bizarre tale of the life and death of a simple Ukrainian in olden times. It’s a haunting and delirious cinematic work. Director Parajanov is really experimenting with what the camera can do. AWESOME

Shakma,” dir. Tom Logan and Hugh Parks (1990). A crazed baboon murders med students playing a nerdy role-playing game in a research facility. It also mauls Roddy McDowell (“Planet of the Apes”). Now maybe a murder baboon had more potential than killers shrews or giant rabbits, but this is just a strange set up. The bulk of the movie is people slamming doors and the baboon freaking out and trying to bust the doors open. I think what we can ultimately glean from “Shakma” is that man is the real baboon. BAD

Sita Sings the Blues,” dir. Nina Paley (2008). Director Paley parallels a personal chapter from her own life  with the great Indian epic “The Ramayana” and combines it all with 1920s recordings of Annette Hanshaw singing classic blues tunes. The best part is it’s funny, colorful, and she did it all herself. GREAT

Skritek,” dir. Tomas Vorel (2005).  A wordless Czech screwball comedy set to grunts of gibberish and an exuberant brassy score. A dysfunctional family learns to cope through all the monotony and absurdity of their humdrum lives…with the help of a ubiquitous magical gnome (“skritek” is Czech for gnome). Fun, funny, lively, and surreal. A real treat. Your toes will be tapping by the end. GREAT

Something Wicked This Way Comes,” dir. Jack Clayton (1983).  Ray Bradbury adapts his story wonderfully to the screen with a steady tempo and very classic-feeling moves. An evil carnival comes to a sleepy turn-of-the-century American town in October to tempt people with their longings and regrets. A chilling coming-of-age fantasy with great performances from Jonathan Pryce and especially Jason Robards. GOOD

Son of the White Mare,” dir. Marcell Jankovics (1982). Trippiest cartoon ever. A wild bunch of Hungarian folktales are brought to vivid life in this deliriously colorful and liquid movie. Treeshaker battles dragons with multiple heads and restores the kingdoms. GOOD

Spirited Away,” dir. Hayao Miyazaki (1999).  Miyazaki is one of those rare filmmakers whose talent and imagination seem to have no limit. All of his films are wonderful and many of them are very odd, but “Spirited Away” might be his best and oddest. A young girl winds up in a land of spirits and demons and must be sure to not forget her identity lest she succumb to the magic and be bound there forever. Superb animation. AWESOME

Spooky Encounters,” Sammo Hung (1980). It’s got some fun action scenes and your typical Hong Kong action comedy plot, but the ghost stuff is kinda fun and the battle at the end is crazy town in a hat! (“crazy town in a hat” is the intellectual property of BurrellSubmarine. Anyone wishing to use aforementioned phrase will owe the BurrellSubmarine estate 12 cents per use). FUN

Stalker,” dir. Andrei Tarkovsky (1979).  Ok, ok, ok, so Tarkovsky isn’t that weird (although “Andrei Rublev” was executed rather strangely), but how often do we get to throw this guy’s name around. I stretched to get Kurosawa and Bergman in hear and by thunder, Tarkovsky’s going to have his moment too. This slow-moving Soviet science fiction drama follows the lives of 3 men who venture out into the colorful wilderness in search of a wish-granting room located in the forbidden zone (no relation to the Elfman film). This haunting tale of human hope is both profound, enigmatic, poetic, and stirring. AWESOME

Stephen Tobolowsky’s Birthday Party,” dir. Robert Brinkmann (2005). Busy character actor who most people have never really noticed (he was in “Groundhog Day” and “Memento” and over 100 other films as minor characters) gets his time to shine by just being himself. The whole documentary is simply Tobolowsky telling stories and anecdotes about his life as he prepares for his birthday party. Simple set up, but the man tells a great yarn. GREAT

The Stolen Airship,” dir. Karel Zeman (1967). Once again Zeman dazzles with his imagination, sense of whimsy, and innovative special effects to craft another steampunk flavored adventure on land, air, and sea. GREAT

Street of Crocodiles,” dir. The Brothers Quay (1986). One of the Brothers Quay most famous pieces. This short will dazzle you with its rustic stop-motion charm that feels like it was pieced together from objects found in old suitcases and attics and cellars. Their influence from Svankmajer is quite apparent here, but the Quays devise their own unique style. Also watch “This Unnameable Little Broom,” “The Comb,” “Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer,” “Stille Nacht” and all their other shorts. A mighty collection is gathered on “Phantom Museums: The Short Films of the Brothers Quay.” GREAT

Super Mario Bros.,” dir. Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton (1993). Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo (“Ice Age”) star as the iconic Mario and Luigi video game characters. This was a weird idea for a movie to begin with, but that it is so strange and so far removed from its source material its a wonder no one tried to stop it. Also Dennis Hopper plays a dinosaur. BAD

Swimming to Cambodia,” dir. Jonathan Demme (1987). An engrossing and mostly true monologue performed by Spalding Gray (“True Stories”). GOOD

Symbol,” dir. Hitoshi Matsumoto (2009). Matsumoto (“Big Man Japan”) directs, writes, and stars in one of the weirdest and funniest movies about the universe. A Japanese guy wakes up in a doorless, windowless room upholstered in cherub phalluses that, when touched, make different musical notes and toss random objects into the room. As he becomes increasingly frustrated with his surreal prison he gradually learns the rules and unravels the mysteries of the universe. It’s “2001″ on shrooms. There is also a subplot about a Mexican luchador. AWESOME

Synecdoche, New York,” dir. Charlie Kaufman (2008).  Almost all of Kaufman’s films deserve to be on this list, but I limited myself to this and “Being John Malkovich.” Definitely check out “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Adaptation.” Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”) stars as a troubled director who, in an attempt to create the ultimate stage reality, winds up becoming the subject of possibly the most ‘meta’ story in the world: his own. Fascinating, dark, and twisted. Also stars Catherine Keener, Dianne Wiest, and Samantha Morton (“Minority Report”). GREAT

tampopo

Tampopo,” dir. Jûzô Itami (1985). A fantastic anthology of food and quirky cultural meal time etiquette. The main storyline follows a little noodle cook who is trained by a mysterious truck driver to become the greatest noodle cook in Japan. The stories are all slightly odd, warm, and humorous. It’ll make you crave some Japanese noodles too. AWESOME

Tarnation,” dir. Jonathan Couette (2003). No one ever made a documentary in this manner before and I doubt anyone else ever will. GOOD

Taxidermia,” dir. György Pálfi (2006). I actually must confess I did not make it through the whole thing. It was very artistically and competently done and I wanted to like it. The party I was with felt the same way. It’s quite grotesque. Maybe not my cup of tea. MEH

Tears of the Black Tiger,” dir. Wisit Sasanatieng (2000).  Sasanatieng’s cowboy-comedy-melodrama is a gaudily saturated with pyschedelic mismatches of color and genre, yet it’s still a pleasure to watch. GOOD

The Terror of Tiny Town,” dir. Sam Newfield (1938). An old-timey cowboy musical with an all little person cast. It’s fairly straightforward and some of the gags might be considered a trifle insensitive to some, but you know what? It’s pretty darn awesome. I just won’t say it’s not silly. GREAT

Testament of Orpheus,” dir. Jean Cocteau (1960).  Cocteau’s (“Beauty and the Beast”) last directorial film is perhaps a bit self-indulgent, but I’d step inside his imagination any day. “Orpheus” flows like a dream (and makes almost as much sense), but it holds our attention through Cocteau’s ever-expanding poetic  philosophies on life and art. Yul Brynner (“The Ten Commandments”), Pablo Picasso, and many others make random appearances. GREAT

Tetsuo,” dir. Shinya Tsukamoto (1989).  Another one of those Japanese Cronenberg meets Lynch type things. This cyberpunk body-horror movie will horrify you and exhilarate you with its rousing energetic finale. A very unique film indeed. GOOD

The Thief and the Cobbler” (re-cobbled), dir. Richard Williams (1993).  If given the opportunity find the “re-cobbled” version of this film (it’s unfinished and features the interspersing of pencil sketches where the animation is not completed). This film, by the great Richard Williams (most famous for “Roger Rabbit”), was over 25 years in the making and if it was completed the way Williams had intended it might have been one of the most impressive animated feats captured on film in history. It dazzles, it tantalizes, and it makes one guffaw unashamedly at its clever wit and spectacular ingenuity. AWESOME

The Thing With Two Heads,” dir. Lee Frost (1972). A wealthy racist played by Ray Milland (“Dial ‘M’ For Murder”) must graft his head onto a big black guy in order to stay alive. It’s like if “The Defiant Ones” was terrible and also wanted to be “Smokey and the Bandit.” Some really lame car chases and bad everything else make for a super ludicrous movie. BAD.

Tideland,” dir. Terry Gilliam (2005).  One of Gilliam’s most debated and misunderstood films. “Tideland” is about the resilence of children and how the imagination is sometimes a child’s only defense mechanism, but that it can ultimately be its savior or its downfall. Young Jeliza-Rose deals with her junkie parents, then her dead parents, and the strange inhabitants of the vast, lonely plains of her new home. Unsettling and complex. Features Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Tilly (“The Bride of Chucky”). MEH

Time Bandits,” dir. Terry Gilliam (1981).  One of my favorite children’s films for adults. A young boy joins a team of dwarves (played by former Oompa-Loompas, ewoks, and R2-D2!) to travel through time to steal the treasures out of historical figures’ hands, until Evil David Warner (“The Omen”) lures them to his lair for the final showdown. Monty Python alums Michael Palin and John Cleese also join Gilliam in spreading darkly weird mirth about the cinema. Also features Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, Katherine Helmond, and Sir Ralph Richardson (“Murder On the Orient Express”). AWESOME

Time Piece,” dir. Jim Henson (1965). Muppets aside, Mr. Henson was also a brilliant experimenter in the realm of film, storytelling, and special effects. This short abstract little film explores the frightening captivity we are all victim to. You see, we are all prisoners of time…but with occasionally very funny results. AWESOME

Tokyo Drifter,” dir. Seijun Suzuki (1966). Psychedelic Yakuza extravaganza. I don’t know how to tell you all this, but this is kind of the coolest movie ever made. It’s a pop-art super-saturated Japanese flick that explodes with color and action and is almost as incomprehensible as it is cool. This movie is absolutely bananas. The mise-en-scène is like some sort of hyperactive comic book and the plot, although meandering, is one of sly satire. This is James Bond on acid. AWESOME

Tommy,” dir. Ken Russell (1975). Roger Daltrey and The Who star alongside Oliver Reed (“The Devils”), Ann-Margret (“The Cincinnati Kid”), and a host of music legends (Tina Turner, Eric Clapton, and Elton John)…also Jack Nicholson. It’s a wild and zany rock opera about a boy who is traumatized and becomes deaf, dumb, and blind and then becomes the pinball champ and then the new Messiah. You might enjoy the music more than you immediately understand everything that’s happening, but who cares? It’s The Who! Only Ken Russell could have filmed this chaos. GREAT

Touki Bouki,” dir. Djibril Diop Manmbety (1973). It’s a really fascinating movie that combines the essence of French New Wave with the energy and anarchy of urban Senegal. A young couple schemes a way to run away to Paris.GREAT

A Town Called Panic,” dir. Stephane Aubier (2009). Based on the popular animated Belgian television show the film follows the exploits of a toy Cowboy, Indian, and Horse who are roommates as a birthday surprise goes awry and sets the trio on a very strange adventure. It’s a lot of fun if you can deal with how inane it all is. GREAT

Toys,” dir. Barry Levinson (1992). Robin Williams (“Hook”), Michael Gambon (“Gosford Park”), Joan Cusack (“Working Girl”), LL Cool J (“Deep Blue Sea”), and even Donald O’Connor (“Singin’ In the Rain”) appear in this incredibly visual but bizarrely nonsensical and pointless fantasy (?) comedy (?). The toy factory is under new management and is now more focused on weapons so the good guys have to put things right. It doesn’t all add up and it will probably leave you empty but there’s enough interesting visuals to make something less than a complete waste of time. Apparently this was a big passion project for Levinson, but much like Boorman with “Zardoz,” sometimes directors’ most personal ideas don’t always translate well for mass appeal. BAD

Tree of Life,” dir. Terence Malick (2011). A visionary epic that sprawls and reaches for meaning in the universe and searches as far back as it can and then moves forward to Sean Penn on a beach of memories. It may be hard to follow and perhaps unnecessarily cryptic but there is no denying the beauty captured in this peculiarly intimate tale from Terence Malick. GOOD

A Trip to the Moon,” dir. Georges Melies (1902).  Almost everyone has seen the iconic black and white image of the man in the moon with the bullet-like spaceship wedged in his eye. This classic silent film from effects pioneer, Georges Melies, based on Jules Verne’s classic tale is wonderful to behold. Some scientists shoot themselves out of a giant canon to explore the moon, but the aliens aren’t quite so friendly. By no means Melies’ weirdest film (his other stuff might even be too weird for this list), but definitely an important idiosyncratic film. This movie takes you back to a time when there still seemed to be mystery and wonder in outer space. AWESOME

The Triplets of Belleville,” dir. Sylvain Chomet (2003).  One of the most impeccably stylized animated films I have seen. Each cel is breathtakingly wonderful in its caricature and character design. An old woman trains her bike-enthusiast grandson, Champion, for the Tour-de-France, but when the French mafia abducts him for their own weird designs, the old woman and her dog must go on an adventure to America to find him and rescue him. Along the way she teams up with 3 old vaudevillian singers (the eponymous Triplets) who prove that they may be old, but they still have some spring in their step. A delightful caper comedy that’s sure to please anyone with a heart for cartoons. AWESOME

True Stories,” dir. David Byrne (1986).  That’s right, David Byrne of the “Talking Heads” directed and starred in this laid back movie that introduces us to the fictitious town of Virgil, Texas and some of the idiodyncratic residents and their even weirder habits. Gently, comically amusing. Features some good songs and a very young John Goodman. AWESOME

Turkish Star Wars” (aka “The Man Who Saves the World”), dir. Cetin Inanc (1982).  Easily the worst film ever made. In an effort to prove that Turkey could make a science fiction film as good as “Star Wars”, director Cetin Inanc made the worst film of any country, genre, decade, etc. It’s hard to believe that the people responsible for this debacle had seen a movie before. Not only is it bad and incomprehensible, but it steals so much footage from the original “Star Wars” and other films (as well as music from “Raiders of the Last Ark” and other movies and tv shows) it’s ridiculous. That being said, go out and watch it. It’s hilarious! AWESOMELY BAD

Twelve Monkeys,” dir. Terry Gilliam (1995).  One of Gilliam’s most successful and accessible, but it’s still pretty weird. Bruce Willis (“Die Hard”) comes from the future to stop a virus outbreak that will wipe out most of civilization, but psychiatrist Madeleine Stowe doesn’t believe him and psychopath Brad Pitt has other things on his mind. Some very bizarre turns from what might have been your average 90s sci fi flick, courtesy of Terry Gilliam.  GREAT

Twice Upon a Time,” dir. John Korty (1983). An impeccably clever and inventive animated surreal fantasy about the war between dreams and nightmares. Quite possibly the only cartoon as visually imaginative and as joke-filled as “Yellow Submarine”…the songs date the film a little harshly! But I really dig this one. GREAT

Un Chien Andalou,” dir. Luis Bunuel (1929).  One of the first surreal films (second only to “The Seashell and th Clergyman” I believe), Bunuel and Dali team up to bring us a film that was supposed to be little more than a series of scenes and weird imagery. Any similarity between scenes was purely coincidental. Pure Dada. After all these years this film still shocks, repulses, intrigues, and puzzles. GREAT

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” dir. Aoichatpong Weerasethakul (2010). A strangely structured and languidly paced tale of a man dying of kidney failure and several spirits from his past manifesting themselves perhaps to ease him into death. A very slow but beautiful and enigmatic, perplexing Thai film. Whatever you’ve been told about this movie and whatever you’re thinking, it’s not anything you could expect. AWESOME

5

Under the Skin,” dir. Jonathan Glazer (2013). The director of Sexy Beast returns for one of the most unique cinematic experiences this side of 2001. Scarlett Johansson is an alien sent to earth to kill humans, but that summary could never do service to the wondrous oddity this movie really is. This movie feels and moves like a lyrical dream as it delicately and surreally examines so many elements of our human nature. AWESOME

The Unholy Three,” dir. Tod Browning (1925). Lon Chaney, Sr. plays a circus ventriloquist who also dresses up like an old lady—along with his/her strongman “son” and dwarf (“Freaks” star Harry Earles) posing as a baby—to work out of a parrot store and together form an “unholy three” of jewel thieves. GREAT

The Unknown,” dir. Tod Browning (1927). Lon Chaney, Sr. plays a circus performer who is allegedly armless Alonzo. He’s really a fugitive with double-thumbs. He convinces a pretty bareback rider that hands and arms are disgusting and to be feared so that she will only love him. When Alonzo realizes that she would eventually discover the truth if they were married, he gets a doctor to remove his arms…but as he recovers from surgery the girl gets over her fear and falls in love with another man. Will revenge come swift? Watch and see. GREAT

The Valley of the Gwangi,” dir. Jim O’Connolly (1969). Ray Harryhausen gives us a cowboys versus dinosaurs movie. Finally! Maybe “Mysterious Island” is technically weirder (they fight a giant crab!), but this movie combines two genres that just never went together before. FUN

Videodrome,” dir. David Cronenberg (1983).  James Woods plays a tv executive who is getting confused about reality after watching the newest previews for an upcoming controversial snuff program. So confused, in fact, that he develops a huge vagina on his torso that he must feed beta max tapes, and that’s not even the weirdest of it. Cronenberg again utilizes his penchant for body distortion and mutilation to grimly imaginative effect in this odd thriller. I hear “Naked Lunch” totally has this beat though. James Woods (“Hercules”) stars.  GOOD

Visioneers,” dir. Jared Drake (2008). “The Hangover” star, Zach Galifianakis (who my friends and I have lovingly dubbed an avant-garde comedian), plays George Washington Winsterhammerman, an emotionally repressed man in an emotionally repressed society that resembles our own. When people start exploding at work his wife and he become worried that he is showing some bad symptoms. Despite some fine performances and a few humorous gags this film offers little new to the social satire/dystopia genre and ultimately leaves one feeling a little empty and wishing for Aldous Huxley to bust in the door of the movie and make some stuff really happen. This film lacks the hard bite it needed. Also stars Judy Greer (“The Village”) and Mia Maestro (“Frida”) MEH

Visions of Suffering,” dir. Andrey Iskanov (2006).  The title is an accurate description. This film goes beyond pretentious to the point where you feel as though you are watching the rape of the cinema. Pretty boring and uninspired, although you can tell the filmmakers were in love with it. BAD

Waking Life,” dir. Richard Linklater (2001). A rotoscoped dreamscape brimming with metaphysical and existential conversation. Linklater’s dazzling wonderland is all talk, but never boring. AWESOME

Walkabout,” dir. Nicolas Roeg (1971). Take a look at who the director is and look at the date. What might have been your average story of two dopey Australian kids lost in the outback, gets a huge dose of originality, peculiarity, and sexuality with Roeg at the helm. GOOD

Walker,” dir. Alex Cox (1987). It comes on slightly. You might notice something a bit off about the title character played by Ed Harris (“The Truman Show”), but it’ll take a little while for it to register that you are not watching a standard period biopic. The mounting purposeful anachronistic juxtapositions and hellish imagery make this a mildly hallucinatory experience. Manifest destiny, blood squibs, brimstone, and surreal anachronisms make this memorable to say the least. Blanca Guerra (“Santa Sangre”), Rene Auberjonois (“Brewster McCloud”), and Peter Boyle (“Young Frankenstein”) co-star and Alfonso Arau (“The Three Amigos!”) has a small cameo. It’s weird, but you gotta wait for it. DECENT

Warning From Space,” dir. Koji Shima (1956). Giant cyclopian starfish from outer space warn Japanese people about stuff! BAD

We Are the Strange,” dir. M dot Strange (2007). A visually psychedelic phantasmagoria that gets incredibly exhausting. I admire the complex artistry at work, but the tedious storyline, characters, and dialogue don’t exactly sing to me for its 90 minute run time. It’s weird alright, but setting it in the world of a video game kinda limits its scope and strips away some of the self-professed strangeness for me. BAD

Werkmeister Harmonies,” dir. Bela Tarr (2000). When a traveling exhibit of a dead whale comes to the small Hungarian town everyone seems to be reacting negatively toward it. Dreamlike, slow, and enchanting. This film will leave you with much to think about. Also interesting that there are very few cuts (like “Rope” only more impressive). GREAT

Westworld,” dir. Michael Crichton (1973). Yul Brynner plays a homicidal robot cowboy in an amusement park gone haywire. An interesting precursor to “Jurassic Park,” but the hokey outlandishness of this one might make it even more fun. FUN

Where the Toys Come From,” dir. Theodore Thomas (1984). A quaint yet somewhat eerie TV special wherein stop-motion wind-up toys go back in time to discover their origins. What might have been mildly informative then is a surreal history lesson today. Spoiler alert: they come from Japan. AMUSING

White Dog,” dir. Samuel Fuller (1982). Paul Winfield (“Wrath of Khan”) and Burl Ives (“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”) team up to retrain a vicious dog that was trained to attack black people. A fascinating commentary on ingrained racism and a good animal performance to boot. GOOD

Wild at Heart,” dir. David Lynch (1990). Nicholas Cage (“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans”) and Laura Dern star as 2 lovers on the run in what I have been informed is a comedy. This is one of the few David Lynch films that I just didn’t get, but it does have a pretty great ending. Also features Willem Dafoe (“Platoon”). BAD

The Wild Blue Yonder,” dir. Werner Herzog (2005). I must confess I have not seen the whole thing, but I have seen enough to assess its weirdness. This bizarre little movie juxtaposes strange rambling Brad Dourif monologues with NASA and underwater footage to tell the story of a space alien’s view of earth. MEH

Wild World of Batwoman,” dir. Jerry Warren (1966). Such a painful experience you had to wonder what they were on when they thought this up. MST3K ripped this one good too. BAD

The Wind in the Willows,” dir. Terry Jones (1996). Terry Jones, Eric Idle, and Steve Coogan (“The Trip”) pretend to be animals for this odd but charming live action adaptation of the British literary children’s classic. Michael Palin, John Cleese, and Stephen Fry also make brief appearances. GOOD

Wings of Desire,” dir. Wim Wenders (1987).  This beautiful poem of a film flows with the richness of a novel. Half black and white and half color, this unique film follows the life of an angel played by Bruno Ganz (“Downfall”) who desperately longs to feel what he cannot: human. It’s a beautifully thoughtful, pensive, and lush film that’s difficult to walk away from without a sense of awe and exuberance about being human. This German film also stars Peter Falk (“Columbo”). AWESOME

wise blood

Wise Blood,” dir. John Huston (1979). Brad Dourif (Two Towers) stars in this interesting character study and examination of American religious zeal. I really ought to watch this one again. GOOD

Wizards,” dir. Ralph Bakshi (1977). No one makes weird, ugly, alienating movies like Bakshi. Although I may not actually enjoy “Wizards” I do admire how untethered Bakshi is with his material. He always has a very specific and weird thing to say and his methods of execution are always a little off the wall too. You never thought you’d see Hitler in a fantasy movie. For my money his best works were still “American Pop” and “Coonskin.” BAD

Yellow Submarine,” dir. George Dunning (1968).  If you like the Beatles songs and always wanted to know what they would be like on acid, you can’t go wrong with this movie. When the Blue Meanies attack Pepperland, it’s up to John, Paul, George, and Ringo to save the day…but not before some great music and some truly trippy animation. This 60s flick begs unite the world and say, “why can’t we all just get along?”  AWESOME

You, the Living,” dir. Roy Andersson (2009). This film is a collection of 50 interconnected sketches about the tragically humorous lives of several people living in Sweden. This movie is a comedic treasure and a biting celebration of the ludicrousness of our silly, human lives. GREAT

Zardoz,” dir. John Boorman (1974). Sean Connery (007 himself) sports a smashing mustache and bandolier of bullets and a bright red diaper as he runs around in the asexual future. This movie wants to be so important so badly yet it fails so gloriously, collapsing into a chaotic uber-pretentious mess of bizarre imagery and half-baked philosophy, that it’s hard for me to hate. If you like your sci-fi cinema weird and incomprehensible then this is the movie for you. Weirder and more nonsensical than “Highlander” but perhaps more enjoyable. MEH

Zazie dans le metro,” dir. Louis Malle (1960). One of the most energetic and absurd comedies you likely to stumble across. A delightful portrait of childhood and the ridiculousness of adulthood. Features Philppe Noiret (“Cinema Paradiso”). AWESOME

zerotheorem

Zero Theorem,” dir. Terry Gilliam (2013). Only because all of Gilliam’s films deserve to be on here…even though I skipped a few. Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) stars as an extreme introvert desperate to find meaning while he passes up life opportunities and works tirelessly on a project that aims to prove life is ultimately meaningless. Sadly, I don’t think it all adds up to a great watch, in spite of the cast, some fun visuals, and a decent premise. MEH

The previous films were only but a few of many. Both good and bad, all are worth further investigation and should be celebrated (perhaps some more than others) and shared and discussed. God bless the power of story telling…especially at its most daring and, yes, idiosyncratic.

To see list: The Mirror, What Is It?, Emperor Tomato Ketchup, Blood Tea and Red String, Naked Lunch, Liquid Sky, The Apple, Themroc, Begotten, Nasty Rabbit, Arizona Dreams, Sayonara Jupiter,  Phantom of Liberty, Yeelen, Robot Carnival, Black Devil Doll from Hell, Raise Ravens, Air Doll, One Night in a City, Tales From the Gimli Hospital, Valeria and Her Week of Wonders, Autumn Spring, Idiots and Angels, Cassandra Cat, and so many more…

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7 thoughts on “Weirdest Movies I’ve Seen…(M to Z)

  1. Fabulous, what a web site it is! This web site presents useful information to us, keep it up.

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  4. Would have surprised me if Possession wouldn’t have made it onto the list. Haven’t heard about a lot of these yet, definitely need to check them out. No “Week-End” though?

    • Thanks. I’m only human. There are a lot of amazing weird films I have yet to see. Any recommendations are appreciated. I’ve not heard of “Week-end.” I shall investigate. Cheers.

  5. I’d seriously recommend the following very, very strange titles indeed! :
    PERFORMANCE ; TRACK 29 ; AMER ; WR – MYSTERIES OF THE ORGANISM ; SWEET MOVIE ; AMERICAN ASTRONAUT ; JULIET OF THE SPIRITS ; MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO ; PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK ; THE LAST WAVE ; PROSPERO’S BOOKS ; EQUINOX (1970) ; WHITE OF THE EYE ; THE VIY ; MISTER LONELY ; DR. CALIGARI (1989) ; NIGHTDREAMS ; BLISS ; IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES ; PUFFBALL ; and (just since I saw that you hadn’t mentioned it, noticed that you had cited COONSKIN as one of his very best and figured that it may just have passed right on by you completely unnoticed, but DEFINITELY) Bakshi’s HEAVY TRAFFIC (which I personally think is his greatest film, very much a companion piece to COONSKIN!) Hope my suggestions prove to be of interest to you and that you enjoy them whenever you get a chance to view them. Also, the guy above was quite right about Godard’s WEEKEND…. quite insane, really! Ciao!

    • Wow. What a list. I actually haven’t updated this in a long, long while. I have seen a few of these but thanks. In the Realm of the Senses, American Astronaut, Viy, American Astronaut, and Heavy Traffic I’ve seen. A few I haven’t heard of. Thanks for the recommendations. I may just have to watch them.

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