Something Weird: The Strangest Movies Ever Made
“Why is Steven Spielberg’s ET brown?” asks the cop who steps out of the car boot in the middle of the desert at the beginning of Rubber. “In Love Story, why do the two strangers fall in love? In Polanski’s The Pianist, why does the character have to hide and live like a bum, when he is so excellent at playing the piano?”
“No reason.” He says. “And the film you are about to see is a hommage to no reason.”
You have been warned. Rubber – being the adventures of a killer tyre – does not make sense. In fact, that’s it's main selling point. But can we still be weirded out when Natalie Portman can win the best actress Oscar for playing a self-abusive schizo ballerina in Black Swan, Jake Gyllenhaal can pack the multiplex by tapping into a dead man’s memory banks in Source Code, and Warner Bros continues to bankroll Zack Snyder to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars? How does Rubber stack up against these examples of the Cinema of Strange?
The Strangest Movies
The Devil Doll (1936)
Lionel Barrymore (Drew’s great uncle) escapes from Devil’s Island and twists a scientist’s philanthropic plan to shrink humanity (and thus solve world hunger) by exerting mind control over the miniature people.
Mindboggling anime from the late great anime director Satoshi Kon. The radical dream theft here anticipates Inception, but Kon’s vision is richer and stranger than Christopher Nolan’s.
In this disturbing Greek allegory, three teen siblings have been brought up in complete isolation by their middle class parents, who have taught them to fear vicious cats, that flowers are called “zombies”, and that planes routinely drop out of the sky into their garden.
It’s Alive (1974)
You might think that a new born baby is an unlikely villain, but the ingeniously shlock merchant Larry Cohen will have you reconsidering. In fact this toothy low budget horror flick spawned two sequels.
The Four Times (2010)
A prize winner at Cannes last year, the Italian film Le Quattro Volte was inspired by Pythagoras’s belief in the four-fold transmigration of the soul, from human, to animal, to vegetable, to mineral. The scene with a rabble of goats running amok is one of the funniest you’ll see all year.
Lost Highway (1997)
In which David Lynch cast future convicted killer Robert Blake as the sinister Mystery Man, and pulled a switch on his leading man (from Bill Pullman to Balthazar Getty) half way through the story. Possibly not as truly weird as the same director’s Inland Empire, but well on its way there.
The Unknown (1927)
The young Joan Crawford coseys up to the circus knife thrower Alonzo because she’s afraid of a man’s touch (did we mention he doesn’t have arms? He throws with his feet.) Only he’s actually a serial killer… Masterly weirdness from Tod Browning, the director of Freaks and The Devil Doll.
The Holy Mountain (1971)
The ultimate acid test is a spiritual odyssey from Mexican surrealist Alejandro Jodorowski. It’s dazzling to look at, and dizzying to think about.
A talking fish, a friendly ghost, and monkey men are just some of the elements at play in this Buddhist art film from Thailand – think of it as a kind of mature, Eastern Donnie Darko.
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