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Insane Films

After getting the objective greatest films ever list out of the way, we can get to some of my personal favorites. Here's my personal favorite Most Insane Underground / Cult Films. There are some obvious tradeoffs in choosing a film for this list of course - there are some extremely insane films that didn't make it (ie: Dandy Dust) because they don't quite stun the viewer overall. Really good really insane films...

Tetsuo - the classic insane underground film, against which all others must be compared. The first few times through, it's like a PKD novel: a white-knuckle ride just trying to keep track of the basic plot. A few more viewings and you realize it's an art film filled with references to Brakhage and the German Expressionists. (And on a more personal note: the film that made me want to make films myself, and still one of my top influences.) Previously

Pinocchio 964 - Tetsuo spawned lots of imitators, but more directly, there have been two filmmakers who worked on Tetsuo in some capacity before going off and directing on their own. This is the first such spawn - thematically almost a remake, but so drastically different in every detail & aesthetic, that it easily stands on its own. (Also drags in some major influences from Polish director Zulawski, which happily led me to my favorite movie of all time: On The Silver Globe.) Previously

Id - the other filmmaker to be spawned by the chaos of Tetsuo, Kei Fujiwara did costume design, camera work, and acted as the salaryman's girlfriend in Tetsuo before going off on her own. Her first movie was pretty crazy, but not quite to my taste. Her second film though, was an absolute masterpiece of unreasonable filmmaking. Manically surreal, no other film fuses absurdism with violence and pain to such a degree. Fujiwara also acts, and her character is covered in blood, crawling around on all fours and barking at the other characters by the end. I like to think that she directed while in character. It's hard to imagine how this film could come to be otherwise. The most idealistically & stubbornly underground Japanese director of the past few decades, Fujiwara has returned to her pre-Tetsuo roots of the theatre. I can't even imagine what the live version of this stuff would be like.

Visitor To A Museum - this is a stunning movie, not just for the crazyness of the plot, but for the influences it mixes, and its context within world cinema. Lopushansky was Tarkovsky's protege (he worked as a production assistant on Stalker), and everything he's done since bears that mark. But Visitor also mixes in healthy doses of... Jodorowsky. Specifically, El Topo. He used hundreds of patients from a mental hospital to shoot this post-apocalyptic surrealistically religious epic. Previously

El Topo - the old unassailable classic of the genre, and it does indeed deserve its reputation. Enough said. (Also: if you like Jodorowsky, his cameraman Rafael Corkidi also directed a bunch of amazing surrealist films.)

Spirits of The Air, Gremlins of the Clouds - also my pick for the most underrated film in underground cinema. This should have a huge cult following, but doesn't. Imagine an artsy Road Warrior, minus the cars and violence. Or a subtle Six String Samurai that isn't trying to be funny. And gorgeous, on top of everything else. My favorite Australian film. Previously

Car Cemetery - I still haven't gotten around to going through Fernando Arrabal's filmography, so it's odd that I stumbled across one of his most obscure productions and fell in love with it. Crazy post-apocalyptic theatric retelling of the old Christ thing. Imagine a group of survivors in a real post-apocalyptic world, staging a production of Godspell without realizing it was based on an actual religion. Previously

Cafe Flesh - the pinnacle of post-nuclear-holocaust pornography. Nothing else in the genre comes close.

Forbidden Zone - a masterpiece of new-wave dada.

Jubilee - England's greatest punk film. (And I mean that in terms of directing style and overall vision, not just in superficial plot elements, as in Repo Man.) Previously

Burst City - and Japan's greatest punk film, which inadvertently led to Japanese Cyberpunk by way of Death Powder... "This is not an explosive movie; it's a movie explosion."

Wax: The Discovery of Television Among The Bees - one of the very few movies that I consider to be a genuine work of "outsider art". Mesopotamian Bees indeed.

Stereo - Cronenberg's surreal masterpiece before he went mainstream with Shivers. (Yeah, alright, Videodrome was brilliant too. La la la.)