Great Odd Movies

Saturday, February 6, 2010 at 9:54 am

There are plenty of great odd movies out there, and most can either be rented through Netflix or purchased from an online movie retailer such as Amazon. Taking advantage of either of these services will help us to keep our doors open, and you’ll get to experience some of the most bizarre, twisted and downright oddball films currently available. Whether you’re looking for movies with drag queens on a cross-country adventure or those featuring a crazed Dennis Hopper sucking down Nitrous Oxide, you’ve arrived at your destination.

Delicatessen (1991) – This French film is set in a post-apocalyptic setting where basic necessities like food are difficult to come by. But a local butcher and landlord has come up with an interesting system: he kills any tenant who falls behind on the rent, then chops them up and sells them as meat. He also places ads for a handyman in a local paper, and they too become a source of nutrition for his tenants. When an out-of-work circus clown applies for the position, it leads to romance, murder, and the introduction of the Troglodistes, a bizarre group of underground vegetarians.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension! (1984) – In addition to being a comic book hero, leader of a rock band, experimental test car driver, samurai, neurosurgeon and particle physicist, Dr. Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) is also the savior of mankind when a plot by the evil Red Lectroids from Planet 10 is uncovered. With his trusty rock band, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, and civilian volunteers known as The Blue Blaze Irregulars, Banzai must defeat Dr. Emilio Lizardo (John Lithgow) and save Penny Priddy (Ellen Barkin), who just so happens to be the identical twin of our hero’s late wife.

The Young Poisoner’s Handbook (1995) – A dark comedy based on the exploits of the real-life Graham Young (“The Teacup Murderer”), a young man who delighted in poisoning British citizens during the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Being John Malkovich (1999) – Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze team up for this inventive and melancholy black comedy about Craig Schwartz (John Cusack), a puppeteer who finds a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich. Before long, people are lining up for the opportunity to explore the mind of the star, and Craig’s own sexually-confused wife (Cameron Diaz) begins to warm to the idea of using Malkovich’s body to live out her transgender fantasies. And it gets even weirder than that.

Ravenous (1999) – Set in 1840’s California, an army officer (Guy Pearce) is transferred to a remote military outpost after freezing in combat. While he prepares to endure the drudgery as best he can, the boredom of the fort is interrupted by a stranger named Colqhoun (Robert Carlyle), a manic fellow who speaks of a lost wagon train and a sinister cannibal named Colonel Ives. The soldiers head out to investigate, thus setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to murder, betrayal, and plenty of people gnawing on each other.

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Blue Velvet (1986) – Director David Lynch is the undisputed king of great odd movies, and Blue Velvet may well be his masterpiece. Mixing his usual eye for the weird with a more coherent narrative than later works, the film follows a young man coming of age in a small American town. But since this is a Lynch film, coming of age includes finding a severed ear, slapping around emotionally damaged nightclub singers, and matching wits with a Nitrous Oxide-loving criminal (Dennis Hopper).

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) – Guy Pearce, Terence Stamp and Hugo Weaving play drag queens heading across the desolate Australian Outback on the way to a gig in the remote Alice Springs. Along they way, they grow as individuals, cope with personal problems, deal with homophobic locals, and perform for a group of bewildered Aborigines. Filled with music ranging from ABBA to the Village People, Priscilla provides entertaining camp for open-minded moviegoers.

Naked Lunch (1991) – Based on the trippy novel by writer William S. Burroughs (who once killed his wife while trying to shoot a glass off of her head with a .45 pistol), this out-there film stars Peter Weller and is directed by weird-master David Cronenberg. It revolves around an exterminator who comes to believe that his wife his stealing his chemicals. Imagining himself as a secret agent, he’s given his next assignment by a giant bug: kill his wife.

My Dinner with Andre (1981) – This minimalist film stars Andre Gregory, Wallace Shawn, and nobody else. You see, the whole thing is a one-hour-and-fifty-minute conversation between two men in a restaurant. Praised by movie critics such as Rogert Ebert and Gene Siskel, the banter touches on subjects ranging from life to the nature of theatre. Expect to either love it or hate it.

Pontypool (2009) – Blending dark comedy with a semi-zombie premise, Pontypool follows former big-time radio DJ Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) as he begins work at a small Canadian station located in the basement of a church. When odd reports begin coming in, it slowly becomes evident that something is driving the locals to kill one another in horrific ways. The film often seems confused about what direction it wants to go in, but this jumbled narrative structure does make Pontypool one of the most unusual films in recent memory.

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