I have a bit of a odd topic today, I want to write about the weird film. In literature there is (arguably) a sub genre of horror stories which are weird rather that scary, macabre rather than gory. I write arguably because in essence the weird story is not confined to horror, it is just more prevalent in that genre and most often contains a supernatural element to it.
H. P. Lovecraft wrote in his essay Supernatural Horror in Literature
"The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule. A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain--a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space."
I think a lot of writers from the 40's through to the 70's wrote what could be described as weird stories because they wanted to challenge and raise questions about society and the direction of humanity.
But what about movies? Has the weird tale made it's way onto the silver screen? I am not referring to films where art and expression have replaced a narrative plot, or films that are bizarre just for sake of it. No, more films that have carried on the tradition of the weird tale into a new medium. Here is a selection of a few films I think qualify.
2: Donnie Darko
The film that introduced the world to Jake Gyllenhaal, Donnie Darko is a tale of a teenage angst, somnambulism, paradoxes, and Frank the strange Rabbit from the future. Wonderfully dark and haunting, Donnie Darko is, at it's heart, a strange love story, albeit a very weird one.
3: The Stepford Wives
The 1975 version with the beautiful Katherine Ross not the terrible remake. The very weird story of a couple moving into a quaint neighborhood where all the women are the "perfect" suburban housewife. Based on a novel by Ira Levin. The Stepford Wives is still a very creepy film.
4: The City of Lost Children
One of my all time favorite films ever! A magnificent fairy tale of a sideshow strongman and a cynical sneak thief trying to rescue a little boy from a mad scientist who invades the dreams of stolen children to try and find his soul.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet directed this and my previous choice. Jeunet and Besson are two of my favorite French directors. Delicatessen is a strange tale of Love, murder and sausages in a dystopian future where food is scarce.
6: Pan's Labyrinth
Guillermo del Toro's fable set in Spain in 1944. Many people I know easily write off the fantastic elements of this story to the delusions of a young and lonely girl. However if that is true how did Ofelia escape from the locked room?
7: In the Mouth of Madness
8: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Gene Wilder's performance of this adaptation of Roald Dahls's book is wonderfully weird and creepy. It is rumored that Dahl loathed this film, however there is evidence that this is just a Hollywood myth
9: The 5,000 fingers of Dr T.
Dr Suess on the big screen, a wonderful tale of a boy who hates learning the Piano.
Obviously there are many more films which might or should be on this list. But these are the first ten I thought of. You might know of some others, let me know your favorites.