Movies usually don’t set out to confuse. Indeed, their concept by committee designs and carefully constructed marketing plans don’t leave much room for oddity or the unusual. True, every once in a while, a studio can get caught up in an otherwise pointless trend and turn something with measureable potential into a talent-free turkey shoot (case in point, this week’s major home video release, the redolent Red Riding Hood), but for the most part, commercial cinema struggles to avoid the “WTF?”... cyber-hipster speak for “What the F*ck?” No, in order to find these outward examples of oddball vision, one has to tip toe outside the mainstream and shift through the indulgent and arrogant back alleys of independents… or their equally elusive foreign paths.
Even then, “WTF?” can remain hard to truly define. It’s not just a badly miscast actor or actress embarrassing themselves onscreen or a script that substitutes logic and rationality for a determined dream logic. No, in order to qualify in this particular category, you have to think far outside the normative box, breaking the mold that no one wanted you to make in the first place. We’re talking jaw-droppers here, ideas and the expression of same that hurt your head and scorch your eyeballs with their brazen bewilderment. While there are potentially hundreds of examples to discuss, movies made to clean your cerebral clocks via some manner of celluloid sulfuric acid, we’ve decided to celebrate these ten as the most unusual and off-putting ever, starting with a big budget work from the ‘70s that still inspires stares of creative disbelief…
In this demented sci-fi mess, marine biologist George C. Scott has made a breakthrough. He can actually talk to these aquatic animals, and they listen to (and in turn, love) him. Even more improbably, the friendly mammals can talk back, albeit in a rudimentary, ridiculous fashion. Once the government finds out, they want to make Flipper into a weapon. Its mission would be simple: assassinate world leaders as they lounge by the sea or in their expensive yachts. While preposterous and insane, the sight of the artist formerly known as Patton in scuba gear is perhaps the film’s biggest “WTF?” moment.
Do you want to know what makes even less sense than revamping the hoary old children’s fairy tale into a 90-minute thriller horror movie? Turning the whole thing into a creepy coming of age psycho-sexual drama in which our title heroine must “satisfy” a local lupine to quell its killer instincts. At least in Twilight, Edward Cullen and his like are promising everlasting life. Here’s the best this beast can offer is rabies. Oh yeah, there’s also a weird Spanish Inquisition-esque subplot which sees Gary Oldman playing the Witchfinder General, all while Amada Seyfried and some soon to be werewolf make “WTF?” eyes at each other.
Dirk Benedict is a poor college kid who needs a job… bad! Strother Martin is a secretive ophiologist (read: snake specialist) in need of a new assistant… bad! You see, his previous helper has mysteriously disappeared for some soon-to-be-a-major-plot-twist reason. So, our hero undergoes a series of injections to keep him safe from all the venom around him. Little does he know he is really being used as a subject in this mad scientist man-into-serpent experiment. A trip to a carnival freak show, and an oddity that looks like the previous employee, is all the “WTF?” you need here.
A lonely surgeon becomes obsessed with a good looking young girl. When she is involved in a horrible car accident, he decides to kidnap her disfigured body and amputate her legs so she can’t run away. Later, he lops off her perfectly healthy arms, as well. Why? Well… Then he demands she love him… and she does, at least for a while. Since it was made by David Lynch’s daughter Jennifer, some could forgive the carnal creepshow elements and the weird narrative turns. But few could forget the film’s biggest “WTF?” moment; it turns out, it was all a dream.
Mae West’s last film is so filled with “WTF?” aspects that it’s impossible to focus on a single one. First, we have an enfeebled octogenarian playing a hot-to-trot sex kitten. Next, there’s several doped up rock stars in significant supporting roles. Then, a group of zombified muscle men show up and try to seduce our grand dame grandma. And all of this happens during a major international summit where world peace hinges on… you guessed it, our elderly good time gal getting frisky with the Russian ambassador. Oh, and did we mention it’s a musical???
// Notes from the Road
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