14. The Baby (Ted Post, 1973)
It’s still hard to believe that in 1973 alone, Ted Post had directed and released 3 films – the Dirty Harry sequel Magnum Force, The Harrad Experiment, and this absolutely strange little beast, The Baby. That is the kind of work rate that’s almost extinct nowadays, and probably even then.
A hoot of a 1970s time capsule, complete with all the ‘funky’ music and ‘stylish’ dresses that all of us associate with that decade, the film’s cosmetics may hint at it being an unintentional comedy, but what actually transpires is a film so outrageous, so disturbing, it’s almost a horror film. It doesn’t take its time to shock the viewer too, as straight away it begins with a social worker visiting the home of Mrs.
Wadsworth, who’s staying there with her two adult sexpot daughters, to take over the case of Baby, who turns out to be a fully grown man living like a baby. He sleeps in a crib like one, eats in a high-chair like one, cries and begs for attention like one, wears diapers and can only crawl around like one too.
A fascinating story of ‘sick love’ unfolds as a tug-of-war develops between the social worker and the family as she believes that Baby’s mental and motor responses imply that he is fully capable of being more than just a baby. Still squirm-inducing even today, this is a bizarre gem that is ripe for rediscovery.
13. Crank 2: High Voltage (Neveldine/Taylor, 2009)
Surely the most popular film on this list as it’s a Jason Statham action flick, but that same fact has probably prevented way too many people from actually seeing it because the first Crank was more or less your standard Jason Statham actioner, only with a slightly high concept premise, thereby depriving them of the wonderfully mad delights of this film.
It’s probably thanks to the success of the first film and the star power of Statham that directors Neveldine/Taylor were allowed to make a film this insane as a sequel. Grabbing that chance fully by the balls, they’ve really cranked everything up with this sequel.
If the original film required Statham’s character Chev Chelios to keep his adrenaline pumping as a result of a poison injected into him, this sequel goes several levels up as he wakes up to find that his heart has been switched with a battery powered artificial pump, his real one on its way being delivered to a Triad gang boss needing it for a transplant.
Because of the battery’s low power, he constantly has to electrocute himself to ‘recharge’ the artificial pump, all of this occurring as he battles everyone from Chinese and Mexican gangsters, angry gun-toting strippers, porn stars, the Police, and everything else in between as he tries to get his heart back to its rightful place. And let’s not even mention a fight scene that suddenly morphs into an animated Kaiju fight. This is totally wild and no holds barred filmmaking.
12. Mystics In Bali (H. Tjut Djalil, 1981)
There’s a whole world of weird Indonesian exploitation films out there that’s ripe for rediscovery and Mystics In Bali is only the tip of the iceberg. Even so, what a tip it is.
It’s about a black magic scholar called Cathy (Ilona Agathe Bastian, a German tourist who agreed to act in the film so she could stay in Bali longer!) who’s come to Bali to learn more about the dark arts of Leyak. With the help of her boyfriend Hendra, she gets to meet an old Leyak witch, who agrees to take make her a disciple.
From then on, be prepared for lots of astounding imagery, as people transform into pigs and snakes, Cathy’s head separates from her body but with her entrails attached as she becomes a ‘Penanggal’ (in short, a flying vampire head), people vomiting live mice, naked pig women and even a baby being eaten right out of a pregnant woman’s vagina!
However much the film suffers from its hilariously poor special effects and dubbing, not to mention the amateurish acting and filmmaking, you still won’t be able to take your eyes off this one.
11. The Day Of The Beast (Alex De La Iglesia, 1995)
You can put in almost any Spanish language film that Alex De La Iglesia has ever made into this list and chances are you wouldn’t be wrong. Dying Of Laughter, Accion Mutante, The Perfect Crime, A Sad Trumpet Ballad (aka The Last Circus), Iglesia seems to have made it his specialty making wild and weird films, at least when it comes to his Spanish language movies.
However wild and weird his other films are though, there’s something really special about The Day Of The Beast. A comic spoof of Armageddon horror movies, the film tells the story of Father Angel, a numerologist who’s finally cracked the code and discovered the exact date that the Antichrist will be born.
Sincerely believing that he needs to do bad deeds in order to be able to get close to Satan and stop the coming of the Antichrist, he robs a dead man (after reading him his last rites), listens to heavy metal on his walkman and even makes friends with a heavy metal fan, angling to attend a show at a club called Hell.
Things get even more ridiculous as he discovers an occult TV personality, who he holds hostage to help him ‘summon the Devil.’ Hilarious and scary in equal parts, The Day Of The Beast is simply one of the finest horror-comedies ever made, played with absolute conviction by the exemplary cast, no matter how comical or ridiculous the situations are.
10. Enthiran (Shankar, 2010)
By now, probably everyone in the world with an internet access has seen the soramimi (misheard lyrics) Youtube videos of “Indian Thriller” and “Crazy Indian Dance” (also sometimes known as “Benny Lava”). Add to these dozens of other hilariously crazy action scenes from Indian films (usually Tamil ones), and a general consensus can be formed that quite a fair amount of these supposedly serious and straight-faced films are weird, if not insane.
King of this insanity is B. Rajnikanth, also normally billed as Superstar Rajnikanth in his films, an Indian superstar even bigger than the world famous and more familiar to the West Amitabh Bachchan. Although a case can be made for a lot of his other films like Sivaji The Boss, Chandramukhi or Padaiyappa, the easy access to CGI has made Enthiran the king of all his films, at least when it comes to unhinged insanity.
It tells the story of a brilliant scientist (played by the Superstar of course) who’s created a robot (also played by the Superstar) who in turn falls in love with the scientist’s fiancé. Since the evil Chitti is a robot, he can understand and talk to mosquitoes (because he’s accessed and digested all sorts of books), create other robots and battle the Army by joining together, Voltron-style, to form a giant wall, a giant robot and a giant snake, amongst other things.
In fact, the evil Chitti is probably even more powerful than Neo, judging by the numerous Matrix-like battles that far outstrip even The Matrix in its logic-defying lunacy, which will definitely make the viewers think, “I want whatever the director and writer’s been smoking!”
9. Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby (Matthew Bright, 1999)
Freeway was a decent critical hit, and probably did very well on home video to become the minor cult classic that it is now, thanks to the presence of Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Bright’s very clever adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood to suit the milieu of the film and its characters.
Far less heralded is its sequel, an unashamed exploitation film that this time adapts Hansel And Gretel for a depraved world of thieves, serial killers, hookers and pedophiles. Natasha Lyonne plays Crystal, an bulimic underaged prostitute caught for robbing her tricks and sent to a juvenile girls’ correctional facility, where she meets her cellmate Cyclona, a psychotic serial killer who even murdered her own family.
After managing to escape, they leave a trail of bloodbath on their way to Mexico to see Sister Gomez (an awesome Vincent Gallo camping it up), who was an important spiritual figure during Cyclona’s childhood. A rollicking combination of the women’s prison film, lovers on the run film and Hansel And Gretel, this is the sort of sleazy grindhouse film that would’ve been perfect for grindhouses everywhere, if they still exist.
8. Attenberg (Athina Rachel Tsangari, 2010)
Now that the world has been aware of the wonders and delights of the Greek Weird Wave, thanks to the Oscar nomination for Yorgos Lanthimos’ international breakthrough Dogtooth and the Venice success of his follow-up Alps, a list of weird films wouldn’t be complete without a Greek Weird Wave film.
Opening with a spectacularly non-erotic scene of a girl, Bella, teaching another girl, Marina, how to French kiss, Attenberg grabs the viewer from the word go and never stops to fascinate with the endlessly eccentric behavior of its characters.
Filled with all sorts of inappropriate behavior and conversations, from Marina asking her father whether he’s ever imagined her naked (to which the father calmly answers, “There’s a reason why we mammals have taboos.”) to Marina’s unending enquiries to her first time lover whether she’s doing it right, during the process of ‘doing it’, to bizarre scenes of Marina and her father mimicking animals they’re watching on TV, watching Attenberg is like watching a Richard Attenborough nature documentary (which is where the film got its name from), but with humans as its subject.