Here are some recommendations for the artsy, punk rock, ghoulish and trippy people in your life. I have tried to avoid the obvious, like Eraserhead, and chosen movies according to their watchability. There are way weirder experimental films out there, but they can sometimes be a chore to watch.
John Dies in the End. This is the least arty of my film choices, but what it lacks in cinematography, it more than makes up for in weirdness. The narrator, David, tries to keep things under control when he and his more adventurous friend John stumble upon a drug that allows you to see things other people can’t see — and it allows those things to see you. Come along for the ride of your life as John and David try to save the world. Paul Giamatti does a nice job with his small part. Directed by John Doscarelli, who also directed Bubba Ho Tep, another nice gift, especially for fans of Evil Dead.
Santa Sangre. Although it is not Jodorowski’s most well-known film (That honor would go to El Topo), this film has the clearest storyline, and a real sense of humor. Sometimes it is unclear what is real and what is a hallucination, but then it wouldn’t be Jodorowski if everything were clear. As he tells the story of Phoenix, a young boy raised in the circus in Mexico whose life is changed forever by witnessing and act of violence, Jodorowski strives to show the beauty in the grotesque and the grotesque in the beautiful. There is a good amount of gore, so it is not for the kids.
Alice. This Jan Svankmeyer film uses stop-motion animation to tell the tale of Alice Through the Looking Glass. Using live actors, dolls, nuts and bolts, and all manner of bones and taxidermy, the tale is told with little dialogue. What dialogue there is, is surreal and amusing. Like the Jodorwski film, I feel like this is Svankmeyer’s most accessible film.
Enter the Void A brother and sister living in Japan get caught up in drugs and stripping. After the brother’s demise, the rest of the movie is shown from his spirit’s point of view, using inventive camera work to give the viewer a sense of disconnection. (Thanks, Bob for the recommendation)
Allegro non Troppo Italy’s spoof of Fantasia, along with live action clips imagining the Disney studios as a labor camp for the orchestra and animator. It’s a little more risque than Fantasia, but what do you expect from Italian animation? The beginnings of evolution march from a discarded bottle of Coca-Cola to the beat of Bolero and Claude Debussy’s Prelude a l’Apres-midi d’un faune sets the background for an aging, lonely satyr trying to chase women and relive his prime.
Dolls The standard car breaks down in the rain near an isolated house plot is elevated by the addition of murderous dolls. Who doesn’t love a good scary doll movie? Better than average stop motion animation, attention to the dolls’ facial expressions, and the variety of tiny weaponry make these the scariest dolls of all scary dolls. Horror mixed with comedy is Director Stuart Gordon’s trademark, and he does it as well here as in his better known films, The Reanimator and From Beyond.
One of the most surreal foreign films I have ever seen. The backgrounds in this film are a tip off that this is no ordinary movie. They appear to be watercolor, oil paint, collages, and even created from the bargain bin at Michael’s Craft Store. A group of Japanese schoolgirls stay at one of their aunt’s creepy haunted country house for summer break. Soon a magic cat is causing trouble, a flying severed head attacks a girl and bites her ass, and the aunt appears to be a cannibal. Then things start getting weird. Attacked by mattresses, or devoured by a piano with lots of added animation, there is nowhere safe for these girls. Watch it with a friend so you have someone to laugh with you over the craziness. (Thanks, Dukey for the recommendation)
A found tape of outtakes from a 1988 shoot for a Winnebago commercial featuring an unbelievably angry spokesman inspires this filmmaker to hunt down the star of the commercial. What begins as a chronicle of anger and frustration develops into a deeper understanding of the human condition. And you laugh yourself stupid along the way.