My top five weirdest movies...
The most recent movie netflix delivered to me was John Waters' Pink Flamingos. I have wanted to see this movie for some years now but just haven't gotten around to it. Growing up, John Waters' Hairspray, Cry Baby and Serial Mom were some of my favorite movies. They were a tad quirky but I wouldn't go so far as to call them weird. I guess I was suspecting the same from Pink Flamingos, a movie I only knew from the famous picture of Divine in a hot pink dress in front of a pink trailer. Wow. Not the case. This movie is insanity. In life there are "Oh, no he didn't," moments and there are usually one or two in a controversial movie. This movie has at least fifty of these moments. I kid you not. It caused me to reflect on all the weird movies I have ever seen and limit them to a list of five. I happen to really like weird movies so I have a lot to draw from.
This is just my opinion. Oh, and there are SPOILERS in case people actually want to watch these movies.
Pink Flamingos depicts a parade of characters, one more abhorrent than the next. Transvestite Divine plays Divine/Babs Johnson who has gained local notoriety as "The Filthiest Person Alive". This is a title that a local couple, the Marbles, believes belongs to them because they kidnap hitchhikers, get their manservant to impregnate them and then sell the babies on the black market to lesbian couples. They use their profits to fund porn shops and heroin dealers who pander to elementary students. Divine is an incestuous shoplifter and murderer. She is the matriarch of a family of kooks. Her obese mother is clad in a girdle and bound to a crib. Her obsession is eggs, any way they come. She loves them so much that she marries the creepy eggman that comes around from time to time. Crackers, Divine's son, not only lives in a chicken coop but incorporates chickens into his sex life. Then there is Cotton, the attractive roommate who achieves sexual gratification through watching Crackers in the act. The Marbles try through several tricks and acts of sabotage to gain the title of "The Filthiest Person Alive" but constantly lose out to Divine and her clan. Some "Oh no he didn't" moments are when Divine gives her son a blow job, when she literally eats dog feces, when she shoplifts a steak and hides it between her legs, when Crackers has sex with a girl with a live chicken sandwiched between them and when the family kills and eats some policemen who come to break up a party.
Eraserhead is a movie I like to use as a litmus test to see how open minded to the strange a person is. I know that if a person likes it then I can probably recommend any movie to them. Eraserhead was David Lynch's first feature film. The story was inspired by him becoming a father at an early age and not being ready for it. The story is simple enough. Henry is a man living in a post industrial wasteland who finds out that his girlfriend has given birth to his child. She went into labor ridiculously early in her pregnancy so the baby is severely premature. Mary even says at one point, "We're not even sure it is a baby." The baby looks like a mangled animal fetus and is incased in bandages. It cries incessantly, forcing Mary to crack under the pressure and abandon Henry with the baby. There is an attractive woman across the hall who sleeps with Henry but is completely disturbed by the baby and is done with him quickly. Upon seeing her with another man, Henry cuts the baby's bandages and black liquid gushes from the baby. It's the imagery that makes the movie really weird. The movie begins with a man pushing a lever and then seeing Henry's face attached to a sperm like creature, signifying the impregnation. One of the film's principle characters is a blond woman who lives in Henry's radiator. Her cheeks are extremely distended. In one scene, she dances squishing fetus like creatures and sings that "In heaven everything is fine." There is also some weirdness in the scene where Henry comes to dinner at Mary's family's home. The mother is hostile and even comes on to Henry before telling him about the baby. Mary's father makes cornish game hens for dinner. As they are about to eat, the hens move and spurt out black liquid. The father laughs and the mother moans orgasmically. Henry has a dream where the baby's head replaces his head on his body and his head falls on the floor. A boy takes it to a pencil factory where they determine his brain is a material for erasers. It is a movie that confuses a lot of people probably because of the stark, grotesque imagery, and surrealism paired with an unusual story. I find that the movie represents the frustration of being a parent and the feelings of loss of self it can bring about.
Superstarlet A.D. isn't a B movie. It's more of a C or D movie. I read somewhere that the budget was something like $16,000. With that little budget, John Michael McCarthy created a believable surrealist world. In this world, towns and cities are abandoned. Armed women roam the land and are grouped socially based on their hair color. They also wear large film reels, containing their grandmother's burlesque films, on their backs. Men have regressed to neanderthal cavemen and are killed on site by the women. The protagonists, Rachel and Naomi, are free agents, preferring to live and love on their own, free from the confines of their respective hair color cults. There were the Tempests: redheads, the Phayrays: blondes, the Satanas: brunettes ...and then there are the Superstarlets. They alone believe all hair colors are created equally. The plot is, well, there isn't much of one. The redheads are the power players and are led by Jezabel. Jezabel is a campy Bette Davis-like villainess. She hates all women and wants domination. The redheads have access to makeup and clothing which are scarce, highly valued resources. The blondes roam the rural areas and have access to machines. The brunettes are just screwed because they have no resources and are ineptly run. (They also have the most unattractive women in the group. Kinda insulting...) Naomi and Rachel want to go to Femphis where there is a theater where they can play their grandmothers' reels. Naomi is able to find a projector and is appalled to see her grandmother's film is of her having sex with a man. Horrified by the thought of being with a man, she takes an overdose of pills. An interpretation is that the movie is a dream of Naomi's playing over and over as she dies.
Liquid Sky is a very stylish albeit low budget 80's flick. Liquid Sky has it all: drugs, rape, lesbianism, aliens, androgyny and some pretty classic bad acting. The story follows Margaret, a high fashion model who is rebelling against her upper class childhood in Connecticut by living the party life in New York City. She lives with her tough, abusive girlfriend, Adrian, who happens to be a heroin dealer. Thing is, there is this tiny alien that lives in a saucer the size of a dinner plate that has set up roost outside of their apartment. The alien is attracted to the chemical reaction in the brain the occurs after sex or while taking heroin. There is a German scientist who tracks the alien all over the world and he needs help viewing the alien. He goes to a man and has a long conversation about his research of the alien. When he finally asks for help, you realize his friend is a college theater professor who has absolutely no interest in helping him. The man turns out to be Margaret's ex-lover who comes to her apartment and forces sex on her. As he orgasms, the alien shoots a small glass spike into the base of his head killing him. Wracked with guilt, Margaret shows Adrian the body. Adrian is glad he is dead and proceeds to rape his corpse. A similar thing happens when one of Adrian's junkie clients rapes Margaret and dies. Margaret wonders aloud what to do with the body and it immediately disappears. This makes Margaret think that she has a special power that can kill every man who sleeps with her. However, she also believes that the alien is her protector and calls him "Indian." There is an impromptu fashion shoot at their apartment with makeup artists, fashion critics, a photographer and Jimmy, another hip male model. Here's the thing: the actress playing Margaret also plays Jimmy. Jimmy is a drugged out, nasty human being who berates Margaret constantly. Margaret gives him a blowjob, knowing it will make him disappear. Adrian also has sex with Margaret and disappears. All the while the German scientist is watching at an apartment across the way, oddly enough it is Jimmy's mom's apartment. Jimmy's mom randomly picks him up and is unhappy to see that he is more excited about looking out the window than getting down. He rushes to the apartment to help but is killed by Margaret, who is protecting "Indian". The alien starts to take off. Desperate to be with him, Margaret takes an overdose of heroin. I know.. This sounds strange and I am even leaving off some of the weirder stuff I can't put into words.
Heart of Glass is the only movie I can think of that is a true mystery to me. I saw it and had no idea what it meant. It's supposedly Werner Herzog's masterpiece. Hmph... I don't know. I saw Grizzly Man and Rescue Dawn and had no trouble following them whatsoever. From the best that I can tell, it takes place in Bavaria in the 18th century in a small village known for their glass production. They hand blow some of the most precious red glass that is heavily valued. The man mainly responsible for the blowing of the glass dies without telling how to make the glass and the townspeople fall apart. The owner of the factory spirals into madness and obsession to find the secret. There is a narrator who is a prophet of sorts named Hias. He sees the future and is weighed down by the burden. And it is just 94 minutes of incomprehensible weirdness. At one point a guy drags his dead friend to a pub and dances with the corpse. Why? I don't know! If there's a message, I'm not smart enough to pick up on it. I read on wikipedia that the actors were in a state of hypnosis while appearing in the film and the dialogue was ad libbed by them while under. Makes me want to be on the set to see hypnotized people coming up with lines and moving about freely. It would make an interesting study.
Well, those are they. They're the movies that made me wonder, made me cringe, engaged me or just plain confused me. Some honorable mentions are the other works of David Lynch as well as the works of Ken Russell, Charlie Kaufman and David Cronenberg.