The 7 Greatest David Lynch Movies Not Directed By David



David Lynch is a director so distinctive that his style has been given his own term: “Lynchian.” Urban dictionary has the word defined as “having the same balance between the macabre and the mundane,” but it could also be used to describe a film that’s surreal or dreamlike. And while no one makes movies quite like Lynch, there are a few that bear a striking resemblance.

Audiences might feel a little Lynched out at the moment with Twin Peaks gleefully hitting our screens again every week, but when that’s over you know you’re going to need something bizarre to keep you sane. Below you’ll find seven films that all resemble a Lynch movie in different ways.

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The Holy Mountain (1973)



Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky

Stars: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Horacio Salinas, Zamira Saunders

Don’t watch whilst intoxicated

The only Alejandro Jodorowsky film I had seen prior to The Holy Mountain was El Topo. I thought El Topo was one of the weirdest films I’d ever seen with a gunslinger traipsing around the desert with a naked child on his back and encountering a corrupt town full of disabled people. Could things get much weirder than that? Yes they bloody could. You know a film is going to a little bit off the wall when it has the line, “Your sacrifice has completed my sanctuary of 1,000 testicles.” El Topo seems as deadly realistic as a Michael Haneke film compared to Alejandro’s The Holy Mountain. I made a list of weird movies a while ago and placed Eraserhead as my number one weirdest. If I were to revise that list, I’d definitely place The Holy Mountain directly behind Eraserhead. It’s that weird.


Casual moviegoers beware. This is a film funded by John Lenon and Yoko Ono so it isn’t your average Owen Wilson cosy romcom. Within in the first half hour we’re bombarded with bizarre imagery. A man who looks like Jesus walks around a dreamlike town full of frogs in clothes getting blown to smithereens, Jesus statues made out of sponge cake, armless dwarves, sex in the street and eyeless paedophiles. All of this section is told without dialogue bar a few screams and Baldy Man styled gibberish.

I was so taken back at the sheer amount of strangeness. Every single shot has severely strange imagery in it. It’s like a Salvador Dali painting coming to life and the pacing is so fast, especially in the first act. There’s no point trying to read the symbolism because too much happens, too quickly. The best thing to do is just let the film wash over you like some sort of fountain of oddness. Even after reading some ideas on the film I still have no idea what any of it means. However, my guess is that Alejandro isn’t a fan of religion or weapons, but he is a fan of nudity and animals. In fact, I’m pretty sure that they cleared out London zoo to make this film.


The second act takes a slower pace, but is no less bizarre. The production design in this section is pretty astonishing. I was particularly astounded by the rainbow room which seems like something from another world. A kind of plot does kick in with our Jesus hero meeting a ‘master’ (played by madman Alejandro Jodorowsky himself) who plans to take him and a bunch of increasingly bizarre misfits on a quest to meet the gods. We’re introduced to nine new characters in quick succession. All of them have a detailed backstory involving everything from orgasm machines to testicle collections. This section does get a little repetitive and lengthy but it’s entertaining nonetheless.

The rest of the film follows the oddballs on the quest to meet the gods. Compared to the weirdness overload we’ve been having, this section does feel a little less weird so it’s less memorable. I do have to say though that it acuminates into one of the best endings to a film I’ve ever seen. It’s incredibly jarring and the most postmodern thing I’ve seen since The Cabin in the Woods.


So what else can I say about The Holy Mountain? As its trailer states, it’s a film which defies conventional plot and criticism. It’s like a piece of art or music. It’s something you have to feel and depending on what you felt, you either like it or you don’t! As a connoisseur of the weird, I really liked it. It definitely leaves an impression and leaves you with an army of images you won’t forget in a hurry. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as hypnotic and dreamlike as it could’ve been thanks (or no thanks) to Alejandro’s directing style. The film feels quite detached and objective. I think the film would’ve been stronger if it was seen more through the eyes of the Jesus character. The reason I love David Lynch films so much is that he takes us on an experience with the characters. Alejandro shoots like we’re just spectators and so part of the experience is lost.

The Holy Mountain is still an extraordinary film though. It’s rich and full of surrealist imagery. It’s almost like the ultimate surreal film with so much impenetrable symbolism crammed in to make your brain melt. Most average moviegoers won’t make it pass the first ten minutes, but then again why would an average moviegoer attain a copy of The Holy Mountain? For the rest of us weirdos, this is unmissable!


2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) [The Yellow Kubrick Road]



Director: Stanley Kubrick

Stars: Kier Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester


Last night I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey for the very first time. I don’t know what has put me off seeking it out for all these years. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a big sci-fi fan, however I am a Stanley Kubrick fan. I particularly adore The Shining and love the way Stanley Kubrick soaks up a hypnotic atmosphere so that the film becomes an experience. After seeing some clips on the strange documentary, Room 237, I thought that the film looked right up my alley! I’ve also heard nothing but hype for years with people calling it one of the greatest films ever made, so I was extremely excited when I sat down to watch it.

Keir Dullea

Unfortunately watching it, for me, was a little bit like sex. You want the first time to be the best, but in honesty, the more you do it, the better it gets. I had a banging headache throughout the first half and so really could not appreciate the loud music and atonal sounds because it was just so painful! Halfway through, I had to leave and get myself a Tesco headache pill and towards the end of the film it did go away. I also left to go to the loo about three times, as I had a lot of coffee to drink so that I’d have the stamina to stay up and also to sober myself up.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I don’t know. I think to get the full 2001 effect, you need to completely immerse yourself in it, but I struggled to do this. However, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t appreciate what I saw. In fact, I’m pretty sure that what I saw was an absolute masterpiece. I was completely sucked in, right from the beginning where sinister music played for about five minutes over a blank screen. It’s such an unusual way to open, hinting that the film you’re about to see isn’t your usual rip-roaring science fiction adventure. We then get that glorious famous music with a beautiful image of a sun rising over the Earth. It’s an amazing title sequence which made the hairs on my neck stand on end.

I think it’s a stroke of genius having the first scene, in a film which is largely set in the future, be set at the beginning of time itself. It must have been so jarring for audiences in 1968, of course everyone knows that the film starts with the monkeys now because it’s so widely talked about. Speaking of the year in which it came out, I cannot believe that this film was made in the 60’s! I saw it in blu-ray and it looked like a film which had came out last week. It’s easy to see why it so disliked when it first came out, because it’s just so ahead of its time. Although, some of the monkey suits did look a bit naff!


We’re then thrown into the year 2001, where (apparently) space travel is an everyday thing and stewardesses wear bright pink clothes complete with a strange bubble hat. To be quite honest with you, the remainder of the film is very difficult to put into words. It’s pure art in the form of film. It’s a rarity these days, however people like David Lynch and Nicolas Winding Refn are striving to keep it alive. There are long sequences of spaceships flying overhead to classical music and people walking slowly upside down. It all creates a certain feeling and experience which you have to see for yourself.

2001: A Space Odyssey doesn’t really have much of a plot. Astronauts find a strange giant tablet on the moon, and then some more astronauts go on a mission which I don’t entirely understand the purpose of, with a creepy robot called, HAL, which is of course now an iconic character. It’s strange because a lot of the film is incredibly slow and, dare I say it, boring. But there’s something about it which keeps you interested and locked to the screen. Scenes which would last five minutes in an ordinary Hollywood film, last up to half an hour here and it does create a unique and immersive experience which stays on your subconscious for a while.


A lot of the film is very haunting. The choral chants whenever the strange black tablet appeared created a wonderful atmosphere of mystery and impending doom. I also found the scene where HAL sings, very creepy. Of course, the most talked about scene is the Lynchian finale where we’re plunged into a psychedelic and hypnotic fantasy world. The final scene makes absolutely no sense, but it most definitely haunts you. I couldn’t help but have chills all the way up my spine when the music plays and the baby looks right towards you. It’s scary and very powerful.

I think subsequent viewings are going to make 2001 a definite favourite of mine. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. After seeing this now, I find it strange how people are comparing it to Interstellar. Interstellar is a somewhat conventional and fast-paced sci-fi adventure, albeit an absolutely astounding one! Whereas, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a slow art film. They’re impossible to compare! Both of them are masterpieces in their own right though. It’s a film which will definitely stay with me, and I look forward to plunging myself into its world again.


Enter the Void (2009)



Director: Gaspar Noe

Stars: Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta, Cyril Roy

The greatest visual experience I have ever had

I saw this last night and I’m pretty sure that I’m still tripping! Enter the Void confirms Gaspar Noe as a true talent and artist. He does things here which I didn’t know were even possible in film. The camera-work is mesmerising, entrancing and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It has to be the greatest film I’ve ever seen on a visual level.


The title sequence was absolutely amazing and completely sets the tone for the film. We’re then plunged into the POV of an American man in Tokyo. It becomes dizzying (in a good way) and when he starts smoking those drugs I was completely under Noes spell. It’s intoxicating filmmaking at its most hypnotic.

The visuals only become more intense as the film goes on with Noe’s now signature stroboscopic effects which is enough to put anyone in a trance! The way the camera seamlessly floats is just extraordinary. Most of the scenes are done in one shot, like Irreversible, which adds an extra level of intensity. Towards the end, the camera casually soars through the clouds and we go inside an aeroplane, only to plummet back down to the grimy inner-city of Tokyo. It’s beautiful, fluid and doesn’t feel forced. It’s a film you just have to immerse yourself in (preferably on a big screen) and go with.


Gaspar’s film isn’t just about the visuals though. There is a compelling story there too which dominates the first half. The film tells the Oscar’s life story leading up to his death. It’s a fascinating watch and very absorbing. Unfortunately after we’ve covered all of this, we’re only halfway through the film which is an exhausting 2 hours and 40 minutes (I saw the directors cut) and so the story began to falter for me. It just wasn’t engaging enough to carry on for another 90 minutes, although the visuals were still spectacular.

Enter the Void reminded me very much of a David Lynch film. You have to immerse yourself in the world of the film and allow yourself to become suffocated by the truly extraordinary camera-work. If there was any justice then Gaspar Noe really should’ve won a best director academy award for this film, but alas this is far too edgy for the academy. Gaspar really pushes the boundaries of what can be done on screen. He knocks it way out of the ball park and hits the stratosphere! I found the pornographic scenes a little unnecessary, although the camera-work in the ‘Love’ hotel was so hypnotic it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t like it as much as Irreversible though, and I think it would’ve been better if the film had been edited down a considerable amount to create more impact. However, Enter the Void is an extraordinary experience and is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The only film I can compare it to is David Lynch’s masterpiece, Inland Empire, as it matches the dreamlike quality.


Enter the Void is a full on assault on the senses which has to be seen to be believed. I have no idea why no one talked about it when it was released because it feels so ahead of its time. The neon-soaked cinematography is as stunning as Only God Forgives. The film just needed a stronger story in order for it to justify its long running time. The acting was a little wooden too unfortunately. Still, this is a brilliant and seriously unique experience which confirms Noe as a true artist. We need more people as bold as him in the business!






Holy Motors (2012)



Director: Leos Carax

Stars: Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue

Holy sh**!

Holy Motors is a bizarre and fantastical ride which highlights the magic and creativity of cinema. Any film which ends with talking limousines deserves high praise in my book! The film follows a mysterious man called Oscar who travels around in a limo full of make-up and props. He travels to various ‘appointments’ and dresses up as a different character and unleashes himself on the street, or wherever he may be. These roles range from a hideously deranged and deformed monster who eats flowers to a motion capture suit. In typically Lynchian style, we find ourselves immersed in each role, becoming slowly sucked into each new world the film presents us with. It’s a truly magical experience, not too dissimilar to that of a dream.


You decide early on whether you’re in for the ride or not. You either hop into that limo with Oscar, or you stay stuck firmly to the pavement. To enjoy Holy Motors the most, just go along with it and ask questions later. I embraced it with open arms and lost myself in its surrealism. There may be a lot of deeper meanings here. I think it could represent film-making, or maybe how mainstream films lack imagination. Perhaps the motion capture sequence is to show us how watching people dance about in motion capture suits is more interesting than the actual CGI that dominates most mainstream movies. I don’t know, all I know is that this film is highly entertaining.

Denis Lavant is extraordinary in the lead as Oscar. He truly shows off his acting skills as he completely kills every role. He probably impressed me the most as the dying old man, a scene which turns a largely comic film into something more tragic and moving. Kylie Minogue also impressed in her acting role, although her singing left something to be desired. However, the song itself was brilliantly written and composed.


The directing is also pretty spectacular. It beautifully captures Paris and the film seamlessly jumps from genre to genre, whether it be horror, comedy, musical or gangster, Leos Carax clearly understands and enjoys each genre he explores. Holy Motors is a beautifully deranged love letter to cinema and all it has to offer. It’s a fantastic, creative film which begs to be interpreted in a variety of different ways. It’s easy to see why people would hate it, because it’s so unapologetically different to anything else, but this is exactly why I loved it.