Movies with a high WTF-to-running-time ratio?
April 2, 2012 12:37 PM   Subscribe

Movies with a high WTF-to-running-time ratio?

I had a showing of Japenese psychadelic horror classic, House last year and my audience ate it up. I'm hoping to repeat the experience this year.

So, I'm searching for a movie that consistently churns out the "WTF"?

  • Language does not matter, as long as non-English has subtitles.
  • Genre does not matter, but sci-fi/fantasy/horror is best.
  • Somewhat obscure is best. The general audience is ages 18-25 at an anime con-like setting and I'd prefer this be something they likely have not seen.
  • Exposition is fine, but once the movie ramps up, I'd like the WTF to be pretty constant. (For example, House is a bit slow the first 15 min or so, then it never really slows down with the crazy.)
  • I am looking for "WTF am I watching, lolol" not "WTF, I am going to have nightmares". So, nothing like Eraserhead or Tokyo Gore Police.
  • I'd like to keep things under an R rating.
  • Movie must be entertaining on its own and NOT require MST3K-like bolstering to keep it amusing.
  • Should be available on blue-ray/DVD via Amazon or another quick shipping source.
  • Running time is ideally 80min - 2 hrs, but not very important.
I'll be screening movies before I show them, FYI, so don't worry if your recollection of a reccomendation is imperfect.
posted by Wossname to Media & Arts (93 answers total) 97 users marked this as a favorite
I've always been particularly fond of Electric Dragon 80.000 V.
posted by griphus at 12:42 PM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Running on Karma. Hong Kong flick directed by Johnnie To starring Andy Lau in a super-muscle suit as a buddhist monk who's actually a cop? Or maybe a cop who's secretly a monk? Forced into exile by his ability to see peoples' past lives. Movie includes inexplicable multiple timelines and a yoga assassin who folds himself into a small box.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 12:43 PM on April 2, 2012

posted by empath at 12:44 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry, can't get it to link.

Definitely a WTF for me.
posted by saffronwoman at 12:45 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Machine Girl. Anything Jodorowsky.
posted by GilloD at 12:46 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Zazie dans le Metro. French with subtitles. Surreal, nonsensical comedy from 1960. Recently released by Criterion Collection.
posted by John Cohen at 12:46 PM on April 2, 2012

Your crowd may already be hip to this one, but Fantastic Planet?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:52 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tetsuo: The Iron Man.

(Note: In reading the Wikipedia plot description, it sounds a lot more gory than I remember it being, but it's been years since I've seen it and I may have mentally blocked a scene or two (or maybe I saw an edited version). You may want to screen it yourself for gore content.)
posted by erst at 12:53 PM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Or maybe Shaolin Soccer (though same caveat that your crowd may already know this one).

it sounds a lot more gory than I remember it being

I'm remembering Tetsuo being pretty gory, but it's been a while for me too.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:54 PM on April 2, 2012

Have you seen Versus?
posted by backseatpilot at 12:54 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Never mind, please ignore my suggestion of Tetsuo: The Iron Man. In reading more reviews of it, I absolutely must have seen an edited version. Huh.
posted by erst at 12:55 PM on April 2, 2012

The Cat Who Walked By Herself
posted by komara at 12:57 PM on April 2, 2012

(oops, sorry, I didn't see the part about available in a physical media)
posted by komara at 12:57 PM on April 2, 2012

Wild Zero - a genderbending rock 'n' roll zombie alien movie, starring Japan's answer to the Ramones.

Or Calamari Wrestler, starring a squid who is also a wrestler. The same director also did "Executive Koala" and "Crab Goalkeeper", but Calamari Wrestler is the best.
posted by Gortuk at 12:58 PM on April 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

Crank, and its possibly even more lunatic sequel, Crank: High Voltage, are both films that are pretty much wall-to-wall "WTF am I watching lolol." Pretty solidly "R" movies, though.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 12:58 PM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Fall (2006) does this pretty well, in a good way. It's visually amazing.
posted by bonehead at 1:00 PM on April 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

The Matador

My Sassy Girl
posted by mild deer at 1:01 PM on April 2, 2012

Splice was surprisingly fucked up. Might not exactly be what you're looking for but it was pretty good. I could never have predicted any of what happened.
posted by Strass at 1:02 PM on April 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

I was actually going to suggest Tetsuo until the gore warning. It isn't that it's just gory per se -- although it's plenty gory -- it's that it's when it isn't gory, it's just absolutely nightmarish.
posted by griphus at 1:04 PM on April 2, 2012

(Basically, if you're not interested in Eraserhead, you're definitely not interested in Tetsuo.)
posted by griphus at 1:06 PM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Vampyros Lesbos
posted by matildaben at 1:07 PM on April 2, 2012

How about Delicatessen?
posted by Mchelly at 1:07 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Note: This is probably going to be an annual event, so actually, it's ok if some movies take a little longer to ship physical media; I can just use the movie for future years.
posted by Wossname at 1:12 PM on April 2, 2012

I don't know what the rating is on El Topo, but it's definitely WTF worthy. Lots of nudity, IIRC.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:12 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Kentucky Fried Movie, but language is an issue.
posted by deezil at 1:15 PM on April 2, 2012

Big Man Japan is moderately weird (in a "Because Japan." way) for most of the film and then goes completely off the rails at the end.
posted by maryr at 1:15 PM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Along the lines of Big Man Japan ("WHY?!?" Because Japan.") is Survive Style 5 (please note: both movies are also a lot of fun).
posted by AmandaA at 1:18 PM on April 2, 2012

Also: The Happiness of the Katakuris, which IMDB says is rated R but their content advisory indicates "There are some comical violent images and images of zombies. This is not a gory film." It's fairly similar to Hausu in tone, but with more singing and claymation.
posted by Gortuk at 1:21 PM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Maybe Alluda Mazaaka, though since it's an Indian movie it's much longer than your ideal running time.
posted by RobotHero at 1:21 PM on April 2, 2012

Oh, and I don't know if anime is in the running but Dead Leaves is something else entirely. If you, like me, don't like anime, it's surprisingly (albeit not entirely) free of the obnoxious tropes of the medium. It's a lot closer to a goofy version of Aeon Flux than to any "wacky"-style anime.
posted by griphus at 1:24 PM on April 2, 2012

I can't think of Kentucky Fried Movie without thinking of The Groove Tube. Chevy Chase before Saturday Night Live and, as the first Amazon reviewer put it, "Gross, outdated, crude, disgusting, a little drawn out in spots, and one of the funniest films ever!"
posted by Sculthorpe at 1:24 PM on April 2, 2012

The Lair of the White Worm
posted by euphorb at 1:25 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Daisies (1966)
posted by perhapses at 1:29 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding Big Man Japan. Also, Death Kappa and Executive Koala.
posted by cog_nate at 1:32 PM on April 2, 2012

Also, Bunuel's The Exterminating Angel
posted by perhapses at 1:36 PM on April 2, 2012

I too came here to say Big Man Japan.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 1:38 PM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Funky Forest.
posted by xil at 1:41 PM on April 2, 2012

Oh, maybe a better suggestion than I had before: Tarkan vs. the Vikings.
posted by RobotHero at 1:55 PM on April 2, 2012

posted by Cuspidx at 2:12 PM on April 2, 2012

Santa Sangre
posted by Sebmojo at 2:31 PM on April 2, 2012

Seconding El Topo.

The Family Game is a normal movie in Japan, which means it makes no sense here. It's one of my favourites.
posted by spamguy at 2:40 PM on April 2, 2012

Turkish Star Wars.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:50 PM on April 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

You might find Richard Kelly's non-Donnie Darko oeuvre suitable. Southland Tales is what came to mind for me, but unfortunately it's 145 minutes long and somewhat slow-paced. The Box might work, too, judging from the linked essay — but I haven't seen that one myself.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:50 PM on April 2, 2012

Tampopo is one of my favorite films, though it does have some nudity in once scene.
posted by joshuaconner at 3:05 PM on April 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

Almost all the Korean movies I've seen fit this description. Old Boy, Our Lady of Vengeance, Time. Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, Dumplings (about anti-aging dumplings made out of fetuses-not sure real name) and so on.
posted by bquarters at 3:09 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Richard Elfman's Forbidden Zone is the movie you want.
posted by dgeiser13 at 3:10 PM on April 2, 2012

I <3 Big Man Japan.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 3:11 PM on April 2, 2012

Streets of Fire
posted by quatsch at 3:14 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sweet Movie (1974)
posted by matticulate at 3:27 PM on April 2, 2012

The Box might work, too, judging from the linked essay — but I haven't seen that one myself.

It does have some WTF moments, but it's super-duper boring in between them.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:43 PM on April 2, 2012

Nthing Funky Forest. Youtube for some examples.
posted by smoke at 3:46 PM on April 2, 2012

Boxer's Omen is full of WTF for me, even after seeing it several times.
posted by vansly at 3:48 PM on April 2, 2012

Jan Svankmajer's Little Otik (Otesanek) is an odd and amusing movie apparently based on a Czech folk tale about a childless couple who end up creating a baby from a log, who ends up with a voracious appetite. Surreal comic gore.
posted by 2N2222 at 4:13 PM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb

The Forest in Winter

Seconding Executive Koala, Survive Style 5+, Versus, and Funky Forest.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:30 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Speaking of Svankmajer, his Alice might fit the bill, although it's a little nightmare-ish, for reasons other than gore. It's streaming on Netflix, I think.

I liked Motorama. Such great cameos. Flea is awesome in it. Very WTF.

Attack the Gas Station is an interesting Korean flick. Not as good as, say, Oldboy, but that's not a wtf-lol movie as much as a straight up wtf movie.

Buckaroo Banzai might work, but it's an older movie and relatively well-known, but it's appeal today might be just due to its cultishness.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:33 PM on April 2, 2012

If you like Jodorowsky movies, you might like Fernando Arrabal's older movies like The Guernica Tree, I Will Walk Like a Crazy Horse, and Viva La Muerte might do.

A couple of older Ken Russell movies, The Devils, a historical drama/almost horror picture, and Lisztomania, a whacked musical (like Tommy, only moreso), are typically 70s era Ken Russell wtf movies. Unfortunately, they are not consistently available except by unconventional means. But if you can score copies, they will do.
posted by 2N2222 at 4:40 PM on April 2, 2012

I saw Endhiran (The Robot) at a sci-fi film festival earlier this year, and it's pretty nonstop WTF. And not just normal Bollywood wackiness, either. It's loooong, though--155 minutes, and there's even an intermission.
posted by rhiannonstone at 4:44 PM on April 2, 2012

Os Trapalhões Na Guerra Dos Planetas — Brazilian Star Wars!
Anything by Coffin Joe, but especially At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul
Joaquim Pedro de AndradeMacunaíma
Anything by Ivan Cardoso
posted by Tom-B at 5:29 PM on April 2, 2012

3rding Jodorowski, especially Holy Mountain — it features crucified dogs and the history of America reenacted by toads and lizards!
posted by Tom-B at 5:36 PM on April 2, 2012

So hard to get, but The Reflecting Skin by Philip Ridley had me saying WTF quite often.

As did the Japanese "Re-cyle" and "Strange Circus", although that would have too much weird sex in it, I believe.
posted by Vaike at 6:07 PM on April 2, 2012

Cabin Boy. Surreal.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:20 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Gymkata. Wonderfully dreadful.
Some serious WTF, including a villiage of the criminally insane ( "the village of the crazies"), plenty of mullet action, oh and did i mention it is all about a gymnast spy. The 3.8 rating on imdb does this masterpiece little justice.
posted by SueDenim at 6:28 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Dark Star? (May not be obscure enough for your target audience).
posted by radwolf76 at 6:32 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

El Milagro de P. Tinto
posted by scruss at 6:35 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Guy Maddin, The Saddest Music in the World. Isabella Rossellini plays a Great Depression beer baroness who hosts a contest to see which country can play the saddest music in the world. After each band is finished playing, they slide into a giant vat of beer. It is filmed in the style of a black and white movie musical from the 1930s, but occasionally features bursts of colour. Truly strange, but enjoyable.

Weird fact: The screenplay was written by Kazuo Ishiguro, who also wrote the novels The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go. It is an extreme understatement to say this movie is nothing like those novels.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:30 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know if it is obscure, or under R but a terrific movie AND WTF is Dogtooth.
posted by beccaj at 7:40 PM on April 2, 2012

Have you seen Versus?
posted by backseatpilot at 12:54 PM on April 2

Second for Versus. Tag from the movie trailer:

"Escaped prisoners, a hero who never loses, a woman without a memory, four gangsters, three assassins, two executioners, an imortal man who knows everything and everybody fights."

Versus IMDB page

Youtube trailer
posted by bionic.junkie at 8:36 PM on April 2, 2012

Also another vote for eXistenz and if your group hasn't seen They Live, that's got plenty of WTF and perhaps the greatest (and longest) fist fight in cinema.

(Sorry for the double post, but thought I'd get those in there.)
posted by bionic.junkie at 8:41 PM on April 2, 2012

Werner Herzog's Stroszek is one of the weirdest, most entertaining films I have seen.
posted by rahulrg at 8:58 PM on April 2, 2012

Oh man. I have been reminded.


I don't know how hard it would be to find but it's fundamentally a cross between a locked room mystery, an overly long pratfall sketch, some sort of mystical revelation, and masked Mexican wrestling.
posted by solarion at 9:04 PM on April 2, 2012

Okay so this is probably R and might not be the easiest movie to find, but Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky is single-handedly the most hilariously bizarre movie I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. It's a Chinese action film with an awesomely low special effects budget.

This video clip will explain it better than I ever could: Riki Oh, in a Nutshell
posted by soforth at 9:50 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

4 (2005), the first full-length Russian film by then-30-year-old Ilya Khrzhanovskiy. It's off-the-charts peculiar. Reviews from the Village Voice, the Guardian, Slant magazine, and the Onion AV Club should help illustrate exactly how /weird/ it is. It was absolutely the first movie I thought of when I saw this question -- I've seen it just once, and have never forgotten it. Here's the beginning of the film.

I'll second the mention of Guy Maddin films. CAREFUL (1992) has quite a few of those WTF moments, but like most of his pre HEART OF THE WORLD output, it's pretty sluggishly paced and edited. (HEART OF THE WORLD, though clocking in at just 6 minutes, will definitely provoke that "what the heck did I just watch" reaction.) Post HEART, I like COWARDS BEND THE KNEE and MY WINNIPEG a lot, personally.

I also like CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING, a Jacques Rivette film from 1974. It's 192 minutes, so the WTF per minute ratio is pretty low, probably. Additionally, most of the WTFs are subtle, and have to do with playing with film grammar and story structure and stuff like that, so it may not provoke the visceral LOLs you're looking for.
posted by orthicon halo at 10:10 PM on April 2, 2012

The Holy Mountain, and Zardoz are both classics of WTF, but I recall them both being quite long, and they may have already been seen by connoisseurs of the genre.

I am going to recommend Taxidermia.

But then on preview I see you are looking for under R rated.
None of these films qualify there.
Not at all.
posted by St. Sorryass at 10:16 PM on April 2, 2012

Cypher. Or Uzumaki!

I just saw House for the first time recently myself and loved it. Uzumaki has a touch of similar craziness. Might violate the "WTF nightmares" restriction. But Cypher is wonderfully mind-fucky in its own special way.
posted by tomboko at 1:41 AM on April 3, 2012

If anime is game then give Mind Game a look.

Saw it a while ago but I do recall it being one long stretch of WTF both in plot and aesthetics.

Disparate timelines/yakuza subplot/time spent eaten by a whale.

Very strange visual style too, its a mashup of different styles for different scenes.
posted by xqwzts at 5:53 AM on April 3, 2012

Plan 9 from Outer Space and Robot Monster are both pretty much all WTF all the time; mainly WTF was that director thinking? which may not be the kind of WTF you're after.
posted by flabdablet at 7:21 AM on April 3, 2012

Eraserhead, and Synecdoche. Both pretty mainstream compared to the rest of this list, but both are headtwisters.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 7:48 AM on April 3, 2012

This may be too widely seen, but it must be said: Troll 2.
posted by barjo at 9:10 AM on April 3, 2012

Seconding The American Astronaut. It's a rock 'n roll musical about a lonely space cowboy who tries to bring The Boy Who Actually Saw a Woman's Breast to the Planet Venus, while being pursued by Professor Hess, who is trying to both forgive him and kill him.
posted by puddleglum at 9:20 AM on April 3, 2012

YES. Seconding Enthiran, it is a nonstop carnival of awesome. Plus the soundtrack is kickass.
posted by elizardbits at 9:59 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Beaten on most of the ones that immediately sprang to mind (Old Boy, Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Delicatessen, Battle Royale).

So I'll suggest Cemetary Man, City of Lost Children (though Delicatessen is probably the better Jeunet pick), 8 Women (French murder musical that looks like a 50s technicolor film), or Office Killer. Also, UHF, which is very different from almost everything else in the thread but is indisputably WTF and is an awesome flick.
posted by devnall at 11:17 AM on April 3, 2012

Survive Style 5+
posted by Windigo at 11:39 AM on April 3, 2012

posted by doctord at 2:28 PM on April 3, 2012

Visitor Q. R rated, but the most WTF movie I've seen.
posted by ohforf at 9:19 AM on April 5, 2012

After Hours It's from the '80s, but has plenty of WTF moments.

2nding "4", "Big Man Japan" and "Little Otik"

"The Good, the Bad and the Weird" was strange too.
posted by I'm Brian and so's my wife! at 7:40 PM on April 6, 2012

Meet the Feebles
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:41 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Anything by Peter Greenaway.
posted by rjs at 3:05 PM on April 8, 2012

Fourthing Big Man Japan.
posted by papafrita at 10:59 PM on April 8, 2012

Warning.. Big Man Japan is incredibly boring (in a WTF kind of way) for the first 80% of the movie... but it kinda sets up the completely insane WTF ending.
posted by j03 at 2:26 AM on April 9, 2012

Response by poster: Well, a B-movie house just donated a stack of their movies to me, so I'm going to have to go with their selections this year (which still should not disappoint).

However, there are so many great selections here, I can't wait to go through them in the coming months!
posted by Wossname at 2:30 PM on April 11, 2012

Response by poster: Another update: Of all things, I also showed Theodore Rex. It is actually pretty up there on the WTF IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING scale, and you can easily make a drinking game of how many times there is tail-related mayhem.
posted by Wossname at 5:28 PM on May 6, 2012

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