There are a lot of crazy movies out there. Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about John Dies at the End, 2012’s indie romp that attempted to cram the lunacy of its nearly 500-page source material into an hour and a half. People love the film and it’s already being called a cult classic.
Now, maybe I’m jaded because I was astounded by the insanity within the novel – or maybe I’m just a downer, but I thought the film was a monumental let-down. Those of you that have read the book will most likely agree with me (No Vegas/Elton John scene?! C’MON!!!) What I’m also reading, is that the film is the craziest movie people have ever seen.
I’m no encyclopedia of film, though I definitely have seen my fair share. I also appreciate strangeness, even if it doesn’t really make sense. So light up your cigarettes, Lynchians, put on your Jodorowsky boots and let’s get weird.
I have seen this movie way too many times. Right now you’re probably thinking, “What the hell, that movie isn’t that crazy, how did that make the list?” To understand how incredibly bizarre this film is, you really have to exhume everything that lies underneath the main character – The Overlook Hotel. It was well known that Stanley Kubrick enjoyed peppering his movies with sub-text that seemed incredibly far-fetched. To a lot of people, this film is just a ghost story that Kubrick took from Stephen King, then twisted and turned it into a stylized tale of insanity and claustrophobia. In truth, the movie is a frightening beast, but the story of what Kubrick was doing as he structured the film is incredible. Many film historians have examined subtle intricacies within the movie and to this day, are still discovering new easter eggs that Kubrick planted. Rob Ager, a film historian that features a lot of his videos on YouTube, has extensively studied the film and if you ever want to waste some time and scare the pants off yourself, check out his videos, such as the one I’ve featured below.
I could have put a lot of David Lynch films on this list. Each of his movies is a journey that needs to be taken over and over again to extract the subtlest meanings out of them. Lynch is probably best known for his short-lived, yet excellent, Twin Peaks, the early 1990’s sitcom that only ran for three seasons. (Those that haven’t seen it yet, you can watch the whole series on Netflix instant streaming.) His first feature film, though, is probably the strangest, yet most accessible in his canon. Eraserhead tells the story of Henry Spencer, a new father horrified by his new title and all that comes with it. Though the child is an absolute monstrosity, the dynamic between Henry and his child rings true for those unfamiliar with fatherhood. (Lynch was raising his first son as a baby as he wrote the script.) To this day, Lynch will not admit what the baby was made out of – or if it was even made at all. Nearly two hours of cornish game hen-dancing, giant sperm-smashing, singing radiator woman goodness.
Do you ever press stop on your remote control when the credits start rolling, and ask yourself, “How in the hell did that movie get made?” Well, in the case of Brain Candy, 1996’s Kids in the Hall film, you can answer the previous question with one name: Lorne Michaels. The SNL head, a Canadian himself, produced the brilliant sketch show for our neighbors up north for an incredibly odd five seasons. (For those that haven’t seen it, as I mentioned before, check it out on Netflix instant when you get the time.) When the show ended, the Kids wrote a movie – a rated R movie. It’s ridiculously hard to find this one. I own it on Laserdisc (format of a bygone era) but I had to pay a pretty penny for it. If you know anyone who might have it though, do yourself a favor and watch it. Whether approaching closet homosexuality, suicide, kids with cancer or Glenn Danzig, the film does it with the least amount of class possible. Critic Roger Ebert called the film, “awful, terrible, dreadful, stupid, idiotic, unfunny, labored, forced, painful, bad.” When a movie gets torn apart like it was a bucket of KFC by Roger Ebert, you know it has to have some redeeming qualities.
The Holy Mountain
Alejandro Jodorowsky is nuts. Like, out of his mind, what the hell is wrong with this guy? nuts. And I love it. El Topo could have made this list. Santa Sangre could have made this list. Hell, any of this guy’s movies could have made this list. But I’m giving it up to The Holy Mountain. Religion, sex, drugs, violence, thievery, alchemy – put all of this in a blender and throw it onto a wall and watch it run down slowly for a couple hours. Yoko Ono and John Lennon actually paid for a lot of this movie in 1973. I’ve seen it a couple times now, and each time I feel like I walked into a funhouse filled with deranged inmates. Just watch the trailer on YouTube (I’m pretty sure every one is NSFW) and remember, “Real life awaits us.”
Synecdoche, New York
In 2008, Charlie Kaufman decided to direct his own film after penning greats such as, Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Someone decided to let him off his leash and I am incredibly grateful. Kaufman doesn’t make happy movies. Anyone who has seen the two I just mentioned knows this. So when I popped this DVD in a few years ago, I was plenty prepared to be bummed. Instead, I was enthralled. Philip Seymour Hoffman is incredible as protagonist, Caden Cotard, a playwright bent on creating the most realistic, honest play that he can pour his whole life into. The remainder of the film is a nightmarish journey into and out of reality filled with loveless relationships and a dizzying array of doppelgangers. By the end it feels like your head has been unscrewed. Though it’s crazy, the film has some of the most beautiful scenes in cinematic history, such as the one I’ve posted below.
I know, I know. I only posted five. And I didn’t rank them. And I’m sure a lot of you are going to disagree. But if you haven’t seen any of these, you really should. You probably won’t find much meaning, at least the first time through, but they’ll make you think…and that’s a good thing.