Monday, 21 February 2011

Top 10 WTF?! Films

Some films go out of their way to be a bit odd. To test the waters and see what they can get away with, you know? Sometimes it’s nonsense, sometimes it’s art. One thing that can be said is that the more bizarre a film is, the more interesting it can be. Some studios spend millions of dollars adjusting their films if an audience says they don’t understand something. This list is for the films that decided, ‘hey, screw sense’!


10. MEET THE FEEBLES (1989)
Before Lord of the Rings and other big studio fare, director Peter Jackson was known for being a goremeister with his tongue firmly in cheek. Meet The Feebles was his vision of the Muppets, if the Muppets went bat-shit insane, were carnal monsters and drug users. Originally in development for Japanese TV (oh those crazy Japanese), there are hippos with eating disorders, pornographic ant-eaters, paparazzi flies, and junkie frogs. Highlight of the madness? A Bugs Bunny-esque rabbit with HIV praying to Kermit The Frog on a cross.

9. ICHI THE KILLER (2001)
Quite big budget Japanese fare, the film is the most intense mob film you will ever see. The main WTF factors here are the sadomasochist mob boss who is looking for someone to challenge him and the sexually repressed titular Ichi, who confuses sexual arousal with murderous intent. The entire film is an insane, over the top, manga-esque piece that will leave you laughing hysterically, or yelling ‘down with this sort of thing’.

8. THE BEYOND (1981)
Now for Italy’s turn, horror legend/hack (depending on who you ask) Lucio Fulchi made a film about a woman who inherits a Louisiana hotel which sits on a portal to Hell. Plenty of confusing goings-on here, including, but not limited to, possessed kids, blind people being attacked by dogs, paintings transporting people to other dimensions and zombies. Apparently, Fulchi was interesting in putting random sequences together to make a scarier and more bizarre film. I think he succeeded. I think.

7. ANTICHRIST (2009)
Not for the faint-hearted, Lars Von Trier’s harrowing examination of a couple after the loss of their child is disturbing and sometimes straight up disgusting. Bashed by some as misogynistic for its portrayal of the wife, this film pushes your limits of taste, adds in grotesque images of animals and is unabashed with its portrayal of sex. This one is NOT a date movie!

6. VISITOR Q (2001)
Ugh, another messed up Japanese film… Directed by Takashi ‘Ichi The Killer‘ Miike, this is a more low budget, visceral experience of a dysfunctional family visited by a mysterious man who seems to be driving them to the brink of insanity and mayhem. The film starts out shocking (including scenes of a daughter selling sex to her pops, and charging him extra when he ‘arrives’ early) and moves to farcical with an interesting ‘milking’ scene. A bit peculiar, this one.

5. POSSESSION (1981)
Starring Jurassic Park’s Sam Neil, this film starts out normal enough, being a story about a couples discourse, but around the forty minute mark, it becomes a monster film, then becomes an art film, then a surreal film. Controversial on release, the performances are stellar and the story gripping (mainly because it is difficult enough to follow). Scene not to be missed but most to be avoided is the wife’s breakdown in the railway station tunnel. You have been warned.

4. NAKED LUNCH (1991)
Famous for having one of the most inaccurate titles in film history, David Cronenberg’s adaptation of William Burroughs’ ‘unfilmable’ novel is, well, one of a kind. There is something going on about drug use, and espionage, but one thing I know for sure, the typewriters turn into giant bugs. It’s wrong that a film this mental is as classy as it is.

3. SOUTHLAND TALES (2006)
What else would you expect from the director of Donnie Darko but something out there? Way out there. A film with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Rock set to the tunes of Moby has a lot going for it right off the bat. A lot of people didn’t like it, because it really isn’t for everyone. The best way I can describe it is a David Lynch film for an MTV audience. Just like Donnie Darko, this one is destined to be a cult hit, with people trying to get their heads around just what the hell is happening in their DVD player. Scene to scratch your head to: Justin Timberlake miming to All These Things I’ve Done by The Killers.

2. SUSPIRIA (1977)
One of the most beautiful films ever made, this Italian horror by Dario Argento is centred around murders and mysterious happenings at a dance school for teenagers. Off-putting, with colours being intense, sounds being disorientating, and subtleties like having door handles up too high to make the girls seem more child like make this film a masterpiece. There is nightmare imagery and witches too. Unsettling for all the right reasons, it’s no wonder there is a remake with Natalie Portman in the works.

1. MERMAID IN A MANHOLE (1988)
Part of the insane Guinea Pig film series (again, Japanese, WTF!?), this mindwarping film is about an artist finding a mermaid down in the sewers while looking for art supplies. After finding a boil growing on her, he takes her home to care for her in his bathtub (as you do). The boils spread, and some pop, leaking colours for the artist to use to paint her. Yup, it’s a bit odd. But if a film could ever do with a remake, it’s this one. It has a lot going for it, except for its cheap 80s feel (then again, maybe that adds to it). I dare you to watch this film and not ask, at least once, WTF?

I now have some articles being published with the good folks over at Best For Film.  Articles I post there will make their way here after a few days, but do check out their site. There are some decent articles by writers who are probably better than me!