Strange Cinema: Top 10 Fave Weird Movies

And so another year has come and gone since I last updated this blog. I wish I had a legitimate excuse for the absence, but if I’m being honest, it’s a symptom of an ongoing depression that kills all my creative vibes. I won’t bore you with a sob story, so I’ll just skip to the point of the post.

Even though I’ve stopped reviewing films on here, I’ve kept watching them. And oh boy, have I stumbled across some gems. Through my four years of following 366 Weird Movies’ Certified Weird list, I have finally hit a milestone. That’s right, folks–I have officially watched 100 weird movies!

In celebration of this feat (and my obvious lack of a social life), I’ve compiled a list of 10 films that wormed their way into my heart and made me question my sanity so far. I’m only including films I discovered through 366 Weird Movies and not the ones I saw prior to finding the list (this means I have to exclude some all-time faves like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Wall). So if you see some obvious ones missing, just know they occupy another, broader list.

Without further ado, here’s the best of the weirdest!


tetsuo-the-iron-man-movie-poster-1989-102055211610. Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) dir. Shinya Tsukamoto

I was hooked on this film the second I heard that cacophonous industrial soundtrack. Made on a budget of next to nothing, Tetsuo boasts some of the coolest, most insane body horror creations I’ve ever seen. The film follows a man plagued by the curse of the “metal fetishist” he ran over, doomed to transform into a metal monster. Come for the drillbit penis, stay for the metal monster battle climax.

9. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension (1984) dir. W. D. Richterbuckaroo banzai

Arguably the most ’80s movie ever made, Buckaroo Banzai is just plain fun. The goofily stoic Peter Weller plays the titular character, a test pilot/neurosurgeon/physicist/rock star tasked with saving the world from inter-dimensional aliens. Co-starring John Lithgow as a reptilian overlord and (cowboy!) Jeff Goldblum as…well, Jeff Goldblum, this cheese-tastic product of its time is a must-see.

[Check out my full review here.]

daisies8. Daisies [Sedmikrásky] (1966) dir. Věra Chytilová

Two Czech girls spend the entire film tricking men into buying them things and eating a lot of food–a mood, tbh. But imagine a film with a premise like that getting you kicked out of your own country. Daisies was deemed so controversial for depicting “wanton” women it was banned in its country of origin. Reputation aside, this film is playful, politically-charged, and dripping with gorgeous kaleidoscopic visuals.

american astronaut7. The American Astronaut (2001) dir. Cory McAbee

A minimalist space western with some big ideas, The American Astronaut is one of the most original films I’ve seen. It depicts space as some grungy frontier (a visual achieved through 35mm black and white film) and all its inhabitants as even grungier characters. Featuring such lovable characters as The Boy Who Actually Saw a Woman’s Breast and the Blueberry Pirate, The American Astronaut is one of the weirder entries on the Weird Movies list. Oh, and did I mention it’s a musical?

[Check out my full review here.]

forbiddenzone6. Forbidden Zone (1980) dir. Richard Elfman

Yes, that Elfman. Richard Elfman and his brother Danny (frequent Tim Burton collaborator/singing voice behind a certain skeleton) took their Oingo Boingo antics to the big screen with this bizarre musical. Forbidden Zone is tough to recommend to some (it features some gross-out humor and a couple instances of blackface), but it’s definitely a visual treat. The musical numbers are outstanding (if you like cabaret and Oingo Boingo). Four years after watching this for the first time and I still have “Squeezit the Moocher” stuck in my head.

[Check out my full review here.]

belladonna5. Belladonna of Sadness (1973) dir. Eiichi Yamamoto

Perhaps the most beautifully animated film I’ve ever seen, Belladonna of Sadness juxtaposes serene watercolor paintings with graphic sexual violence to create a story so brutally haunting it will both amaze and disgust you. After being raped by the local baron, Jeanne makes a deal with the Devil to become a witch and seek revenge. As her powers grow, so does the adoration of the rest of the village. Viewer beware: the sexual violence in this film is not for the faint of heart (even if it is just still watercolor scenes).

altered states4. Altered States (1980) dir. Ken Russell

This was my first Ken Russell film, and after watching a certain musical of his starring a certain rock frontman, I have to say Altered States is definitely the more accessible of the two I’ve seen. Edward Jessup is a psychologist studying schizophrenia when he is possessed by the idea that humans are capable of reaching other states of consciousness. After experimenting with a hallucinogenic Mexican herb, he uses a sensory deprivation tank and begins to regress back to a caveman and eventually a primordial mass. Terrifying, thought-provoking, and just plain trippy, this film blew me away. The hallucination scenes alone make it worth a watch.

hausu3. House (1977) dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi

The grandaddy of all haunted house movies, House takes the familiar horror trope, puts it in a blender, and spews out a beautiful mess. The vast majority of the cast had no previous acting experience (you can tell) and the special effects are so laughably bizarre they’re almost good. The plot is pretty basic: schoolgirl Gorgeous (yes, they all have names like that) takes six of her classmates to visit her sick aunt only to come face to face with a host of supernatural entities. In a film filled to the brim with weird imagery, the most iconic scene has to be one of the girls getting devoured by a sentient piano. House is the original Evil Dead and I can’t decide which one did horror-comedy better.

holy mountain2. The Holy Mountain (1973) dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky

Though I did discover this film many years ago, I never had the courage to watch it until recently. Honestly, shame on me for waiting so long because The Holy Mountain is a bombastic, pretentious, surrealist nightmare (and I mean that in the best possible way). It took me a while to figure out if I actually did enjoy this film, but when that realization hit me, I felt it so intensely I had to tell everyone I knew about it. The unreal cinematography really makes this a fascinating viewing experience. Even if you can’t follow the plot, just watch it for the absolutely batshit crazy visuals.

[Check out my full review here.]

holy motors1. Holy Motors (2012) dir. Leos Carax

Wow, wow, wow. What can I say about Holy Motors that I haven’t already gushed about? It has a wildly original concept executed perfectly through exquisite costuming, makeup, and acting. Its seemingly unconnected scenes are so visually engaging I never once questioned what they had to do with the plot. Go into this film blind and you won’t be disappointed. Don’t ask too many questions because you’ll never really get any answers. I’m honestly surprised no one talks about this film with the same cult-like reverence as something like The Holy Mountain. There’s really nothing else like it.

[Check out my full review here.]

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