5. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is another utterly insane film created by Terry Gilliam, the director of numerous surreal tales such as “Brazil” or “12 Monkeys”. The film is a marvellous adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s imaginative story.
Set in 1971, this twisted dark comedy tells the story of Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp), a reporter who embarks on a crazy adventure along with his psychopathic attorney Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) to Las Vegas in order to cover a motorcycle race. Raoul has spent all of their money to purchase a variety of psychedelic drugs, such as Marijuana and LSD. What follows is a surreal dive into the unconscious mind with plenty of dream-like scenes, psychedelic visions and fearsome nightmares.
Although the film looks like a psychedelic drug, a mixture of lucid dreams and illusions, it is a satirical depiction of a deranged society. The film portrays not only the dark side of the American Dream, but also the tragic effects of drug abuse.
On the other hand, David Cronenberg has also created a drug fueled adventure “Naked Lunch”, which is the film adaptation of William S. Burroughs’ novel. This is another case of a bizarre and twisted comedy. In addition, Johnny Depp delivers a great performance as a paranoid junkie contributing to the tense atmosphere.
Although “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” has received mixed reviews upon its release, it is one of the most weird and absurd films of all time. A perfect match for Cronenberg’s “Naked Lunch”.
4. The Hidden (1987)
Jack Sholder’s “The Hidden” isn’t just a b-rated sci-fi movie, but also a compelling story with unexpected plot twists and marvellous performances. Although “The Hidden” is one of the most underrated films of the 1980s, it is a weirdly entertaining and fascinating hidden gem of cult cinema.
The film is about an evil extraterrestrial creature that invades the bodies of seemingly ordinary people of Los Angeles forcing them to commit a series of brutal murders. This alien not only parasite transforms citizens to violent murderers, but also threats to destroy the whole humanity.
Police detective Tom Beck (Michael Nouri) along with a mysterious FBI agent Gallagher (Kyle MacLachlan) have to find this alien in order to stop his vicious crimes and save the world. What follows is one of the most thrilling pursuits of all time with cool guns, car chases and extreme violence.
Despite the fact that “The Hidden” is criminally underrated and overlooked, it is one of the most rewatchable sci-fi flicks of the 1980s. The script is well written with funny dialogues and there are plenty of action scenes with excessive use of violence, explosions and shootouts. In addition, the excellent selection of songs, the noteworthy performance by Kyle MacLachlan and the touching ending create a genuinely original cult masterpiece.
It goes without saying that this underappreciated gem is quite similar to David Cronenberg’s thrilling horror movies such “eXistenZ” and “Videodrome”.
To sum up, “The Hidden” is a buried treasure of cult cinema that needs to be rediscovered.
3. Hunger (1966)
Directed by Henning Carlsen, “Hunger” (or “Sult”) is a dark existential drama about the tragic life of a starving writer named Pontus (Per Oscarsson). It is a bleak depiction of a deranged character who is unable to live a normal life.
He not only can’t find any job, but also prefers to die of starvation rather than to accept help from others. He is a completely mad character who is fighting against his own devilish thoughts and illusions. Moreover, he is unable to come up with any good writing ideas since he has an utterly insane personality and he suffers from a chronic psychotic and catatonic disorder.
This magnificent portrait of mentally unstable character is quite similar to David Cronenberg’s existential film “Spider”. This film features also Ralph Fiennes as a mentally disturbed man who is fighting against his own memories. It goes without saying that is underrated masterpiece by the great Canadian director is an atmospheric study of a troubled mind. It is one of the most personal films of Cronenberg’s critically lauded filmography as well as a great philosophical examination of psychosis.
On the other hand “Hunger” is undoubtedly one of the best Danish films of all time, since it has a gorgeous black and white photography, a spellbinding performance by Per Oscarsson and some genuinely disturbing scenes with images of delusional dreams. A true masterpiece of Danish art-house cinema that can be compared to Carl Th. Dreyer’s work.
2. Eraserhead (1977)
“Eraserhead” is the cinematic debut of the legendary filmmaker and auteur David Lynch. It is a dark, twisted and surreal horror film that follows the unsettling story of Henry Spencer (Jack Nance).
Set in a post-apocalyptic industrial world, Henry is a young factory worker who lives in an abandoned building. When his girlfriend Mary (Charlotte Stewart) gets pregnant, she moves to his small apartment. Unfortunately, Mary, who suffers from a severe form of spasticity, delivers a mutant child that cries all the time. Henry has to deal with not only his transfigured child, but also the nightmarish thoughts that he is having.
The master of dreams David Lynch has managed to create a dark and disturbing world that looks like a harrowing nightmare. The disturbing, but beautiful, black and white photography and the unbearable sounds of industrial music enhance this bleak atmosphere. It is undeniably one of the quirkiest movies of all time, that inspired many prolific directors.
This realistic depiction of a bizarre world can only be compared with the cinematic vision of Cronenberg. The Canadian director has also created a terrifying universe with strong sexual themes in his masterpiece “Videodrome”.
“Eraserhead” is not only one of the best surrealist movies of art-house cinema, but also a visually stunning cult classic that every cinephile should watch.
1. They Live (1988)
John Carpenter’s “They Live” is a masterpiece of the American cult cinema. It is not only a cool exploitation thriller of the subculture of the working class society, but also a great sci-fi movie quite similar to George Orwell’s “1984”.
The film follows the story of John Nada (Roddy Piper), an unemployed construction worker who discovers a special pair of black sunglasses. Wearing them, he is able to see the true face of the people as well as the subliminal messages that are hidden in mass media. Nada embarks on a dangerous journey to uncover this conspiracy. Thus, Nada along with other spiritually awake people has to fight a battle against the ruling class.
Being one of the best cult films of the 1980s, “They Live” is a bleak depiction of a dystopian future where average citizens are under the control of the high class society. Although it is a thought provoking sci-fi flick, it is also quite entertaining with numerous fighting scenes and funny dialogues.
This hidden jewel of cult cinema bears a strong resemblance to David Cronenberg’s mind bending thriller “Videodrome”. In addition, Carpenter’s cinematic vision is quite similar to Cronenberg’s.
Taking everything into consideration, “They Live” is a suspenseful sci-fi thriller as well as an unforgettable experience that will stay with you for a long time.