"But for an accident of birth, you might be as they are." Director Tod Browning delves into the depraved world of sideshow circus freaks to reveal that they have more humanity than the average asshole walking the streets. Favorite freak: Prince Randian, "the living torso" (pictured above). Runner-up: Johnny Eck, "the half-boy." Freaks was based on the short story "Spurs" by Tod Robbins. Believe it or not, this masterpiece only runs for a total of 64 minutes! Also released as Forbidden Love, The Monster Show and Nature's Mistakes. Sample Dialogue: "We accept you, one of us! Gooble gobble! Gooble gobble!" [READ THE FULL REVIEW]
I always thought Halloween or Friday the 13th started the trend of "slasher films" that polluted the box office throughout the late '70s and '80s—that is until I watched this extremely low-budget flick about a writer who travels to a cabin in the woods, gets brutally assaulted by a bunch of hillbillies and then exacts her revenge using a series of rather creative methods—including hanging and castration. Also known as Day of the Woman. Sample Dialogue: "You know, sometimes I look at these gorgeous-looking chicks, I mean the ones that look like real knockouts, sexy and all . . . and I wonder . . . I wonder if they gotta take a shit, too."
Alejandro Jodorowsky's totally bizarre, surrealistic masterpiece follows a gunfighter, El Topo (The Mole), as he makes his way through the desert and encounters one absurd situation after another in his search of enlightenment. One of the only films I'm aware of that has an armless, legless dwarf in the cast. Apparently, El Topo was one of John Lennon's favorite films. David Lynch was also a big fan (see Eraserhead entry below). Jodorowsky once claimed, "I ask of cinema what most North Americans ask of psychedelic drugs." Sample Dialogue: "Too much perfection is a mistake."
The friend of a lonely widower sets up a phony audition for a nonexistent film so the poor guy can find a new wife. He gets more than he bargained for - to say the least! Directed by Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike, the film starts out as a traditional romantic drama but gradually devolves into a disturbingly graphic horror flick - definitely not for all tastes! Sample Dialogue: "Words create lies. Pain can be trusted."
Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his "droogs" go out on the town to partake in a little of the old "ultra-violence." Director Stanley Kubrick brings Anthony Burgess' classic novel to life with this disturbing look at a future populated by teenage gangs. Look for McDowell's stirring rendition of "Singin' in the Rain." Here's what Kubrick said to counter the negative reaction voiced against the film's violence: "Sanitized violence in movies has been accepted for years. What seems to upset everybody now is the showing of the consequences of violence." Sample Dialogue: "What we were after now was the old surprise visit. That was a real kick and good for laughs and lashings of the old ultraviolence."
The Last House on the Left would make a great double feature with I Spit on Your Grave for the truly depraved movie fan of the over-the-top, sadistic, revenge-fantasy flick. Believe it or not, the film was reportedly inspired by Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring, which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1961! The Last House on the Left was directed by Wes Craven, who would go on to direct The Hills Have Eyes and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Sample Dialogue: "We don't wanna off someone first night out. I mean, it'd be a shame to get this floor all messed up with blood."
Based loosely on the life of convicted murderer Henry Lee Lucas, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer follows roaming serial killer, Henry, and his demented buddy Otis, as they go on a random killing spree. Not a good movie to rent on a first date! Sample Dialogue: "If you shoot someone in the head with a .45 every time you kill somebody, it becomes like your fingerprint, see? But if you strangle one, stab another, and one you cut up and one you don't, then the police don't know what to do."
Based on the infamous book, The 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade, Salo contains its fair share of disturbing imagery and graphic violence. For this reason, it is still banned in some countries even to this day - good luck finding a copy! Director Pier Paolo Pasolini was brutally murdered shortly after the film's release. Sample Dialogue: "We fascists are the only true anarchists."
"Time destroys everything . . ." Extremely disturbing French film directed by Gaspar Noé, Irreversible features a revenge plot told in reverse chronological order (similar to Memento) - punctuated by extreme violence and a brutally graphic rape scene that runs approximately nine minutes. Sample Dialogue: "Vengeance is a human right."
It took David Lynch, a former art student, five years to make Eraserhead, a curious blend of Kafkesque horror and Orwellian nightmare. Jack Nance portrays total loser Henry Spencer (a couple of years ago, I read that Nance was murdered during a fight at a donut shop). After viewing this film, you'll know who served as the inspiration for fight promoter Don King's unique hairstyle. Lynch once revealed in an interview that he had a chocolate shake at Bob's Big Boy at 2:30 PM every day for seven years: "Two-thirty is Bob's time . . . I can think there and draw on napkins and have my shake. Sometimes I have a cup of coffee and sometimes I have a small Coke. They both go great with shakes." Sample Dialogue: "In Heaven, everything is fine. In Heaven, everything is fine. You've got your good things. And I've got mine."