Weird Horror Films That Are Mind-Bogglingly Disturbing
Here's something to keep in mind about weird horror movies: They don't have to make sense to be scary. In fact, the right dose of dream logic, surreal weirdness, or just outright nonsense can actually make for even more disturbing movies when deployed effectively.
From the eerie to the absurd, these unsettling or just outright weird horror flicks often polarize audiences and may be as likely to leave you puzzled as petrified, but when you get on their wavelength, they can get under your skin like nothing else.
Vote up the movies that left you shivering, even when you weren't exactly sure what the hell you just watched.
- 1133 VOTESPhoto: Universal Pictures
Very possibly Canadian auteur David Cronenberg's best-known film, Videodrome is as deeply weird as his filmography's present-day reputation.
Most other filmmakers would likely take this story - about a pirate-signal television show on which people torture and kill one another for the audience's entertainment - in a very different direction, but in Cronenberg's hands, it becomes a hallucinatory tale of political sectarianism, bodily transformation, and human evolution, complete with video tapes inserted into bodily orifices and televisions that talk directly to the viewer.
Long live the new flesh!
- 285 VOTESPhoto: World Artists
Begotten, E. Elias Mirhage's experimental feature film debut, is a jittery, nightmarish concoction filled with such indelible images as God disemboweling himself and a deformed figure (dubbed the Son of Earth in the film's credits) coughing up organs.
Sans dialogue and filmed in grainy black-and-white, this unsettling debut has polarized audiences since its release, with Susan Sontag calling it one of the “10 most important films of modern times," while others criticized its unusual structure and graphic violence. What few who have seen it do, however, is forget it.
- 3143 VOTESPhoto: Libra Films
David Lynch's feature-film debut established more or less what fans could expect from the rest of his oeuvre: darkly surreal and at times disturbing, filled with images as unforgettable as they are impossible to pin down.
In a bleak, industrial cityscape, a man named Henry Spencer and his girlfriend conceive what they initially think is a child, though once born, the infant has an inhuman face and refuses all food. What's more, its organs are held in simply by the bandages in which its parents swaddle it.
And that's just scratching the surface of the indelible, inscrutable, and at times genuinely unsettling images and ideas contained in Eraserhead.
- 4157 VOTESPhoto: Gaumont
Quite possibly the messiest breakup movie ever made, Andrzej Zulawski's Possession stars Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill as a couple living in West Berlin who are going through a divorce. Unpleasant, perhaps, but nothing too weird yet. Even when you factor in the fact that he's a spy, we're still in relatively normal territory.
Even so, there's nothing normal about Possession, a screaming storm of bizarre mental breakdowns that culminates in some of the gloppiest monster effects ever put on screen, courtesy of special effects maestro Carlo Rambaldi (Alien, E.T.). To say that things get weird is a massive understatement.
- 5148 VOTESPhoto: Magnet Releasing
Stop us if you've heard this one: Somewhere in the desert, a tire comes to life. Still with us? Okay, the tire has psychokinetic powers, which it uses to kill people and make animals explode. Such is the (partial) premise of Quentin Dupieux's absurdist horror comedy Rubber, starring the aforementioned psychokinetic tire.
There's a lot of weird stuff going on in Rubber (besides the homicidal tire), including an audience watching a film that may or may not be the film we're watching and characters who seemingly break the fourth wall to address the audience who may be them or may be us.
- 6163 VOTESPhoto: Shudder
Before Kyle Edward Ball went viral with his feature-film debut, he already had a popular YouTube channel where he curated filmed versions of user-submitted nightmares.
“A movie as difficult to penetrate as it is to forget,” according to Jeannette Catsoulis writing for the New York Times, Skinamarink is an experimental, lo-fi nightmare filmed in Ball's childhood home, in which two kids wake up in the middle of the night to find their father gone and their house slowly changing around them.
The film polarized audiences, even while its trailer left some reeling, with the viewers who were able to appreciate Ball's vision likening the experience of watching the film to a night terror.