I wanted to make a list of my favorite weird movies. Their ranking reflects how much I’ve enjoyed them but I would recommend all of them.
I also want to clarify what I mean by ‘Weird’. ‘Weird Movies’ are movies that use surreal imagery and convey the story through emotions, themes, imagery, and sounds rather than any plot devices. The term ‘weird’ in a certain sense means that it bends the narrative style, and the plot takes a back seat to other aspects of the film.
I would love to get your recommendations as well. I’ve included the links below in case you want to purchase these movies, it helps me out if you do, thanks.
In a year that we had Joker and Parasite, this movie was one of my favorites. ‘The Lighthouse’ is directed by Robert Eggers and stars Robert Pattinson (Ephraim Winslow) and Willem Dafoe (Thomas Wake) as its only characters.
The movie follows their isolation on a dreary island with the overbearing presence of the lighthouse and the anxiety-inducing fog-horn. The movie is shot in black and white and is filled with strange imagery and dense dialogue, and will need to be viewed multiple times to be understood.
The isolation of both men leads to a race to a ‘who-will-crack-first- dynamic’ but this movie is so much more than that– it transcends the ‘psychological horror’ genre as it still has moments of comedy, and you do feel for the characters as their downward spiral continues.
I highly recommend ‘The Lighthouse’ if you like surreal movies. I feel it does borrow some elements from ‘Eraserhead’ (more from David Lynch a bit later on) with how it’s shot; the weird imagery and the strange, unsettling sounds that bombard you with paranoia. It’s still different enough that it becomes its own thing. It’s also relevant since we’re all going crazy as we continue to self-isolate among ourselves.
Can you imagine being quarantined in someone else’s mansion? Except, it’s not because of your will, or someone else’s but because there’s a strange force that is stopping you from leaving?
Enter: ‘The Exterminating Angel‘ (El ángel exterminador) a Spanish movie directed by Luis Buñuel that explores the very idea of being trapped without any reason.
This movie is a surreal examination of the world of the elites. It follows a group of bourgeoisie, who after enjoying a dinner party at Señor Edmundo Nóbile’s mansion, are unable to– inexplicably– leave the living room of the mansion.
The movie is shot in black and white and it’s packed with a tense atmosphere, images, and motifs. It can be regarded as a criticism of Franco’s Spain and is a critique of the elites, who are relying on ‘order’ to enjoy life but, soon as that order is disrupted– the elites lose their power and their pretense of sophistication. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t say anything more. Watch the summary below after you’ve watched the movie if you would like to get more context. Once again, it’s a weird movie but, it’s good and very relevant in these times.
Alejandro Jodorowsky is one of the most enigmatic, creative minds of our time and he’s well known for his avant-garde movies. He was also, at one point, close to direct the movie ‘Dune’. It fell through but it sounded like it would have been amazing if he had made it –this was explored in the documentary ‘Jodorowsky’s Dune,’ which was also a very interesting watch.
El Topo (1970) is going to be the weirdest western you will ever see. It’s an exploration of the spiritual landscape with mystical implications. There isn’t necessarily a plot to follow through except with the main character El Topo finding meaning in the desert, and facing off against the four great gunmen, and his eventual physical and spiritual transformation.
If you want to watch a western without a typical plot, El topo is the movie for you. It’s weird and you don’t even need to be on any substances to enjoy it!
And now we come to The Holy Mountain (1973), which is purely a religious experience. It follows through on some of the themes explored in El Topo but also meditates on creativity, and asking us what it means to create and be a creator?
Jodorowsky explores religion, spirituality, and mysticism. He employs Tarot and other forms of occultism to magically deliver a strange movie. I’ve watched it multiple times and I find there’s always something new with each viewing. It’s just bonkers, and it’s just better if you don’t know anything about the plot. It’s much more fun that way.
I do have to warn you that both these films feature a lot of gratuitous scenes filled with violence, nudity, and sex– just in case you’re not comfortable with that stuff.
2. House (Hausu) (1977)
How can I make a list of weird movies and not include one made in Japan? Yeah, it’s not possible. House (1977) is just an otherwordly experience.
It will be one of the weirdest movies you will ever watch. There is a plot: a young girl, Gorgeous, and a group of her friends go on vacation to meet her Aunt. It turns out the Aunt’s house is haunted and then everything. Goes. Nuts!
This movie starts up slow and then turns into a blending of horror, comedy, and weirdness. The change of frame rates, the use of lights and special effects. If you watch it you can tell how some directors took inspiration from this film.
Some of the most memorable scenes include: A severed head biting a butt, a piano chomping on a girl, and a creepy cat spitting blood just to name a few. It’s just a very trippy experience, and I love it!
1. MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)
I love David Lynch’s work because he offers a very unique kind of surrealism. The weirdness for Lynch or the ‘Lynchian’ comes out of the blue and his surrealism is his own personal brand. I’ll let David Foster Wallace explain it:
In terms of the epiphany that DFW got with ‘Blue Velvet‘ (still a really good movie), I got that from ‘Mulholland Drive’. This film is a mystery based in LA about an aspiring actress Betty (Noami Watts) meeting a woman suffering from amnesia, Rita (Laura Elena Harring) in her aunt’s apartment and it just keeps getting weirder from there.
The movie follows different characters exploring themes like fame, identity, dreams, and control. More than that, it’s a movie with amazing acting, discursive dialogue, surreal imagery, and things happening without any explanations.
One of the best things about this movie is that there are so many different interpretations that it can generate. This movie demands to be seen multiple times just to take it all in and get a deeper understanding of the film.
Even though I really like ‘Blue Velvet’ a lot, I like ‘Mulholland Drive’ a bit more because it was my first experience with Lynch and if you haven’t seen a Lynch movie before this might be a great starting point.
I hope you enjoyed going through my list. Let me know if there are any movies you would like to recommend to me, and once again if you’re interested in watching any of these movies please use the links provided, It will help me greatly. Also please click on the follow button on all other social media platforms below, Thank you!