The 7 Greatest David Lynch Movies Not Directed By David

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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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https://moviepilot.com/p/greatest-david-lynch-movies-not-directed-by-david-lynch/4319510

Twin Peaks Just Gave Us The Weirdest And Most Astonishing Hour Of TV Ever!

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It’s official! Showtime are the coolest network on television. They gave David Lynch a load of dollars and said, ‘go ahead and make whatever you want’ and he did. We’re eight episodes in to Twin Peaks now and it has promised to be just as ground-breaking as the original series back in 1991. We’ve had: talking electrical blob trees, charred tramps with floating heads, stab-happy dwarf hitmen and a haunted box amongst other demented things. There has been a narrative drive but the pace is so unapologetically glacial and ambitious that it has almost been impossible to follow. The show has been incredibly experimental and an absolute delight for Lynch fans so far.

However, with the latest episode David Lynch has broken the test tube. Just when you thought that this season couldn’t possibly get any weirder, Lynch brings us something which has never been done on film or TV before. It’s essentially a 50 minute acid trip designed to utterly assault your senses and it succeeds in the most mesmerising way. The episode starts off normal enough (normal for this show anyway) with evil Coop and his crony talking in the car on a Lost Highway-inspired night drive. Things go wrong though and evil Coop gets shot which results in the weird stuff happening. Lights flash in typical Lynchian fashion and ghostly tramps covered in black tar appear and tear apart Coop’s body for what feels like an eternity.

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We’re then left to contemplate this horrifying image whilst Nine Inch Nails play a full song at the Double R Club. It’s an interval which would feel distractingly out of place in any other show, but we’ve become so accustomed to the unpredictability of Twin Peaks now that the scene somehow works entirely and feels somewhat ordinary compared to what happens next. Bad Coop jolts up and all hell breaks loose.

Suddenly we flash back to New Mexico in the 50’s and move painstakingly slowly into an atomic bomb. Once the camera enters the cloud we’re treated to what can only be described as pure cinema. It’s something which cannot be described with words akin to the final moments of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and segments of Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void. Bizarre images and a frightening score combine to create a hypnotic and alarming experience which feels like you’re taking a dreamlike journey into hell. It’s a scene which has to be seen to be believed and is reminiscent of the earliest short films by Lynch which used paintings and drawings as animation.

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Once we’re done with having a seizure, we move onto a slower and more soothing Eraserhead-type scene which sees the giant and a strange woman wondering slowly around a ball room of some sorts. It’s visually arresting and the black and white monochrome is startlingly beautiful. The giant floats into the air and a golden ball with Laura Palmer’s face rises out of his chest and melts into a projector screen which displays the world. It makes little sense, but I think we’re witnessing the birth of BOB in the atomic bomb and the birth of Laura’s soul in the red room. Perhaps Laura was created to lure BOB into the red room?

Moving forward a few years a pair of young sweethearts take a stroll home, an ugly bug hatches out of an egg and the blackened tramps are back terrorising people. In the previous episode, Jerry Horne stood outside looking terrified and shouted ‘I think I’m high!’ which is probably what most viewers felt like during this episode. You can theorise about what it all means, but it’s much better to just go along with the ride and feel what you’re watching. It’s pure art and it’s astonishing. People thought that we had reached the peak golden age of TV but David Lynch has proved just how powerful television can be and how it can be used as a medium for art. Drama conventions were torn apart in 1991 and Mr. Lynch has reinvented TV again in 2017. Damn fine.

The Witch (2016)

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Director: Robert Eggers

Stars: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie

A future horror classic

This ain’t no Hocus Pocus kids! Witches aren’t usually the first port of call when coming up with horror film ideas. They work well with family film’s like Nicholas Roeg’s surreal adaptation of Roald Dhal’s The Witches but can cackling old women with pointy hats and broomsticks scare grown adults? After seeing Robert Egger’s striking debut, the answer would seem to be a resounding yes. The Witch is the best horror film since Kill List and is sure to become a future horror classic. I like to think of myself as a hardened horror movie nut but The Witch did actually manage to scare me, more so than the recent It Follows and The Babadook.

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It’s a fairytale for adults and Robert Egger goes down alleys as dark as a film can get. Within the first five or ten minutes, I could tell that I’d be in for a stunning ride as we’re treated to some seriously nightmarish imagery involving a naked old woman smothering herself in the blood of a baby, accompanied by a screeching score which is sure to give you the shivers. Terrifying sequences like this appear sporadically through the film so it never feels overdone, it just adds to the mounting tension in each scene until it explodes into the most wonderfully indulgent finale.

A lot of films set in medieval times can be a bit trying. A Field in England and Black Death both felt like the setting let the film down by getting bogged down in confusing olde worlde Shakespearean-esque language. However, The Witch is never anything more than compelling throughout. The sole focus of the film is the family and all the parts are acted beautifully by the relatively unknown cast. The audience becomes incredibly involved and invested in the characters so you care about what’s going to happen to them. There’s a sense of dread in every scene but you’re never quite sure about what’s going to happen next which makes for unpredictable and absorbing viewing.

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I can’t talk about The Witch without mentioning just how gorgeous the film looks. You could pretty much take any shot and hang it up for display in a gallery because it’s just beautiful to look at. The eerie shots of the deep wood reminded me of Lars Von Trier’s equally unsettling, Antichrist, however The Witch has a more fantastical quality to the images which adds to the Brothers Grimm fairytale kind of vibe. There isn’t a second in the film’s tight 90 minute running time where a shot doesn’t ooze atmosphere. It’s so refreshing to get a horror film which doesn’t rely on a few seconds of gore to shock the audience, but actually takes it time to conjure up genuinely frightening images. There’s stuff in this film which won’t leave my head for a long time after viewing it.

Equally as atmospheric as the imagery is the sound. I can’t think of a more striking score or sound design since The Shining and it helps a lot to generate such an unsettling atmosphere. The exceedingly creepy dissonant violins and loud chants build scenes up to a shattering intensity where I found myself holding my breath. In fact, the whole film has such a strange and unnerving quality to it. It feels like you’re watching something you shouldn’t. It’s no wonder that the film’s even been endorsed by the Satanic Temple itself with the Temple’s spokesperson calling it “a trans-formative Satanic experience.”

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The Witch has to be my favourite film of the year and one of my favourite horror films full stop. I found it absolutely captivating and full of tension from beginning to end. It’s pretty much as perfect as horror can get and exudes the quality of a classic chiller from the 60’s. Robert Eggers is definitely going to be a director to look out for in the future. He’s proven to critics that the horror genre is alive and well and can still genuinely scare the hell out of people. The Witch is a sensational experience for the eyes and ears, it’s cinema at its finest and is a masterpiece.

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Ranking David Lynch’s Films

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Just last week I managed to tick off the final Lynchy feature film I had left to see, Lost Highway. I was saving it and saving it until I finally gave in so that I can finally say that I have seen every feature film from my favourite ever filmmaker, David Lynch. The man is a god! He understands that film can be as artistic and powerful as any other piece of art. No other director creates worlds like David Lynch. You know that if you stick on one of his films that you’ll be transported into another place for a few hours and it’s quite an extraordinary feeling. The very best David Lynch films are more like an experience than an average film so it’s important not to think about what’s going, but to feel it instead. Even his short films like The Alphabet and The Grandmother offer more ingenuity than the majority of Hollywood’s churnings.

I would normally be feeling mournful at the fact that there’s no more David Lynch output to look forward to, however that simply isn’t true! Laura Palmer promised that she’d see us again in 25 years and here we are with David directing a Twin Peaks revival. With the renaissance TV is going through at the moment with brilliance such as, Breaking Bad and Fargo, there’s every chance that David could blow every series that’s gone out of the window! But for now, here are my rankings of David’s ten film canon complete with my weirdness rating and overall film rating.

10) Dune

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Let’s begin with the elephant (man) in the room. Dune was a self-confessed disaster which even the most hardcore David Lynch fan finds impossible to excuse. There are a few sci-fi weirdos who love it, but I’m not one of them. Everything about this film is just plain bad, from the clunky dialogue to the inexplicable plot. David had absolutely no control over this beast and was lost amidst a gigantic behind-the-scenes crew and controlling production company. David wanted to create a strange three hour plus epic, but those pesky studio execs grabbed hold of it and butchered the film to its very bare bones. The scene which sums the film up is the part where David Lynch himself plays a muddied miner whose trying to harvest all the good spice he can until a giant sandworm (which he couldn’t possibly control) gobbles him up. So as David didn’t really have any power over Dune at all, let’s just pretend it didn’t happen okay?

Best bit: Probably the line, “Bring in that floating fat man!”
Weirdness rating: 6/10
Movie rating: 3/10

9) The Straight Story

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David Lynch surprised the world when he released a genuinely sweet film for all the family to enjoy. Younger viewers might get a little restless at its snail pacing, but for those who appreciate great acting and warmth will find a lot to like. It follows the (mostly) true story of Alvin Straight, a man who rode for miles on his lawnmower to meet his estranged brother. Honestly, it really is that simple! Not a lot happens but somehow it isn’t boring at all. Perhaps it’s because of how involving it feels. You feel as though you’re going through the long and strenuous journey with Alvin, and the end scene really is beautiful and moving. However, us Lynch fanatics see it as one of his lesser films due to the lack of dancing dwarves and general dreamlike weirdness.

Best bit: The cockles-warming end scene.
Weirdness rating: 1/10
Movie rating: 8/10

8) Wild At Heart

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This Palme D’or-winning road trip boasts plenty of Lynchy weirdness, including a squealing peg-legged Grace Zabriskie and an appearance from the fairy godmother herself (played by Laura Palmer). In fact, Wild at Heart features some of the most memorable characters and performances David has ever mustered. Diane Ladd (Laura Dern’s real Mum!) possibly steals the show as Lula’s nightmarish, psychotic mother. Her wildly hammy performance quite rightly garnered an Oscar nomination as she gives Bette Davis a run for her money! Equally impressive is Willem Dafoe as the terrifying Bobby Peru. Willem has never been easy on the eye but Lynch turns him into the stuff of true nightmares. The only thing that stops Wild at Heart propelling to the top is Barry Gifford’s linear and less interesting plot. It’s still a fantastic journey full of fun, frights and lunacy!

Best bit: When Diane Ladd turns to reveal her entire face smothered in lipstick.
Weirdness rating: 7/10
Movie rating: 8/10

7) The Elephant Man

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The other ‘normal’ David Lynch film (along with The Straight Story) which catapulted him into the big time. After the super low-budget Eraserhead found its way into the hearts of Midnight Movie fans, Mel Brooks gave David the chance to direct the true story of Joseph Merrick. The story goes that Lynch accepted the job as soon as he heard the title of the film! Considering how young and inexperienced he was at the time, The Elephant Man is a truly miraculous piece of work and a timeless film by anyone’s standards. It’s impossible not to feel moved and involved in Joseph’s tragic life as he’s taken into care by a kindly Anthony Hopkins. Seeing him transform from a terrified mute into a compassionate and confident character is a pretty life-affirming experience. It also features one of the most powerful and upsetting endings of all time. Despite the scenes which bookend the film, The Elephant Man features virtually no signature strangeness which is why it falls slightly shorter for me. However, it’s still a fantastic piece of work.

Best bit: The soul-crushing ending
Weirdness rating: 1/10
Movie rating: 9/10

6) Lost Highway

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Another Barry Gifford collaboration, although it’s clear who’s in the driving seat here! After a terrific title sequence over David Bowie’s haunting I’m Deranged song our polarising non-linear narrative begins. The first Fred Maddison story features some of the best stuff David has ever done as we’re transported into a frightfully eerie dream world in which a saxophone player and his missus are plagued by mysterious videotapes. The suffocating atmosphere disappears slightly when a perplexing second story begins involving a young mechanic called Pete Dayton. Lost Highway is a gripping and thought provoking psycho-sexual-horror-neo-noir which offers no easy answers. It also features one of the David’s scariest creations in the Mystery Man who’s probably the key to entire mystery but who doesn’t fit into the story at all (seemingly). It perhaps doesn’t feature his strongest protagonists’, but it is unfairly overlooked when discussing David. It’s also masterfully directed.

Best bit: Fred’s first meeting with the Mystery Man is probably the moment which sticks out the most. After his dream!
Weirdness rating: 8/10
Movie rating: 9/10

5) Eraserhead

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This is where it all began! A five year labour of love where a cash-strapped young Dave even lived on the set for a short while to save money. Those five years resulted in 90 minutes of pure genius. It’s quite possibly the weirdest film ever made and transports the viewer into a strange and terrifying land where a funny-haired young man copes with the struggles of caring for a mutant baby. No, it’s weirder than it sounds! It’s exactly like watching a dream and every scene is filled with an inexplicable sense of dread. Eraserhead is the quintessential Lynch film with a polarising narrative, strange characters and dreamlike sequences which end up everywhere and nowhere. Whilst there is no real explanation to it all, David has claimed that he’s still yet to read an interpretation which matches his.

Best bit: The Lady in the Radiator’s haunting singing solo
Weirdness rating: 10/10
Movie rating: 10/10

4) INLAND EMPIRE

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Another film where David gave himself complete control to let his dangerous creative juices flow. Unsurprisingly, it’s also tied with Eraserhead as one of the very weirdest films of all time (IMO). It’s the ultimate test to see how much of Lynch fan you really are. Most people despise INLAND EMPIRE with pure venom due to its hefty 180 minute runtime and incomprehensible plot which is clear as mud. I’ll never forget when I first watched it though (one of my first David Lynch films) and feeling utterly transported. I watched it alone, in the middle of the night with no distractions (the only way to watch a David Lynch film) and I felt as though I was actually having a nightmare. It didn’t feel like I was watching screen, it felt as though I was asleep and having a nightmare I couldn’t escape. Once the film is over you feel as though you’ve spent you’re whole life watching it, yet you can only bits and pieces which is exactly like waking from a dream. At the centre of it all is a stunning performance from Laura Dern, a woman transported into total madness. INLAND EMPIRE is by far David Lynch’s scariest film, and also his most magical.

Best bit: When the prostitutes dance to the locomotion
Weirdness rating: 10/10
Movie rating: 10/10

3) Blue Velvet

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The velvet of blue is often cited as the best film in the Lynchian canon (along with my number one) and it’s easy to see why. Whilst the film has its moments of bizarreness, for the most part it’s an audience-friendly mystery thriller although it’s far from conventional. Kyle Maclachlan is a Dale Cooper in training as he becomes obsessed with finding out where a severed ear came from. The first thirty minutes are like a straightforward albeit gripping, mystery film. Things get dark and subversive when Kyle hides in Isabella Rossellini’s closet and watches her get horrifically raped by Dennis Hopper. Somehow Dennis Hopper didn’t get Oscar nominated for his electrifying performance as Frank Booth. Every scene with Frank is filled with intensity and jet-black comedy. Luckily, David Lynch got himself nominated again as best director to make up for things! Blue Velvet is a masterpiece by anyone’s standards and features scene after scene of classic Lynchian moments.

Best bit: Ben’s strange lip-synch to In Dreams
Weirdness rating: 7/10
Movie rating: 10/10

2) Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

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Ooh would you look at me being controversial! It was booed at Cannes and reviled by fans of the series yet somehow it’s crept its way up to second place in my list. I love the original Twin Peaks series but the darker elements have always interested me more than the comedic side and with Fire Walk with Me, David goes full into full horror mode as we explore Laura Palmer’s final week of life. She was an enigma in the series, but here she’s thrown into the spotlight and becomes one of the most compelling characters David Lynch has ever created. After a bizarre opening in which we’re transported into a parallel Twin Peaks universe with Fat Trout trailer parks and reappearing David Bowie’s we suddenly focus on Laura’s final days. Sheryl Lee’s performance is outstanding and the moments of horror are frighteningly intense. The final sequence where Laura is killed is particularly horrifying and ultimately moving. Fire Walk with Me is, in my opinion, one of David’s most harrowing films.

Best bit: The powerful final scene which manages to be tragic and uplifting at the same time.
Weirdness rating: 8/10
Movie rating: 10/10

1) Mulholland Dr

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Ah yes, Mulholland Drive is possibly my favourite film of all time. It wasn’t always that way though! When I first saw it I gave it a 9/10 and wasn’t totally spellbound, but then I read all the explanations and realised just how rich and detailed every single scene was. Mulholland is all the magic of the movies rolled into one. It’s set in Hollywood and features the archetypal Hollywood noir plot of an amnesiac, a mysterious key and a bag of cash. It’s so much more than that though. In fact, Mulholland Drive is so layered and ingenious that it hurts your head just thinking about it. On the surface it’s just a series of random and meaningless scenes which shouldn’t work, but it just does. There’s an intense signature dreamlike atmosphere which dominates every scene right up until the final thirty minutes where the rug is pulled from our feet and the film spirals into total lunacy. Mulholland Drive is an extraordinary achievement which will never be topped.

Best scene: The entire sequence in the Club Silencio is the probably the best thing David Lynch has ever created.
Weirdness rating: 9/10
Movie rating: 10/10

Well there’s my ranking of my favourite filmmaker. Agree or disagree? Let me know below please!

Lost Highway (1997)

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Director: David Lynch

Stars: Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Balthazar Getty, Robert Blake

Dick Laurent may be dead, but long live David Lynch!

I make no secret about David Lynch being my favourite ever director. He makes films like no other by building dark worlds which draw you in by putting you in some sort of spell. I love him so much that I put off seeing Lost Highway for over a year because it was the only David Lynch film I was yet to see. I was even considering not seeing it at all just so I could always have that one new David Lynch film, but then I thought that would just be ridiculous. Also, the revival of Twin Peaks was enough to pique my David Lynch anticipation meter to breaking point so I finally gave in and stuck in Lost Highway.

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Firstly, I don’t think it’s as grossly strange as some people make out. Yes, it has all the trademark bizarreness you come to expect from David but the majority of the film is surprisingly linear. I was expecting some next level INLAND EMPIRE stuff the way some folk bang on about it! The first 40 minutes are like Michael Haneke’s Hidden in dream form. It’s probably some of the best stuff our David has ever done due to the inexplicably tense and hellish atmosphere. A lot of the scariness is down to the terrifying music which ranges to ominous drones to extremely loud strings. There’s one seriously nightmarish image near the start (which I’ve never heard anyone talk about, surprisingly) which sent chills up my spine. It’s a full-on Lynchian assault on the senses which takes you down some dark and enthralling corners. The atmosphere is chock-a-block full of mystery.

There are endlessly beautiful scenes including Fred playing the saxophone, the unsettling meeting with the Mystery Man and extremely frightening dream sequences. I think it’s also important to note the expert positions David places the camera. There always seems to be too much space surrounding the characters and it makes for seriously eerie viewing. There’s also that fantastic Francis Bacon inspired colour scheme of dark purples/pinks and shadows. He really does direct the hell out of the first forty minutes of this film.

Suddenly the film changes into something entirely different as soon as Fred Madison randomly transforms into a young mechanic called Pete Dayton and takes on an entirely new life. No one seems to bat an eyelid about Fred Madison disappearing and the sudden change is quite jarring. In my opinion, this is when the film goes down a gear. I think because the first story is so strong, this second one pales slightly in comparison as the suffocating atmosphere somewhat dissipates and the overall strangeness ceases. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot to love it just feels less Lynchy and more straightforward, and the Pete Dayton story is the biggest chunk of the film.

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There are still some spectacular sequences though, including a mysterious gangster getting road rage and Patricia Arquette’s intriguing Alice character. There’s also a strong feeling of everything not quite being what it seems and it gives you time to ponder over exactly what the heck you’re watching. Thankfully for us weirdos things do start to get extremely strange towards the final half hour of the film before breaking down into total chaos until your mind finally explodes.

Lost Highway is extremely puzzling in a similar way to Mulholland Dive. All of the clues seem to be there as well as a few abstractions to throw lots of spanners into the works (what does this Mystery Man have to do with it all!?) but there is a complex and very intelligent story buried underneath all the bizarreness. It feels like a warm-up exercise before Dave finally broke the mould of film with Mulholland Drive. Everything in Mulholland feels like a perfected version of Lost Highway from the more passionate love story to the unrelenting dreamlike atmosphere.

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Lost Highway is still a film to cherish on the Lynchian canon though. It’s very much its own thing and I felt a strong urge to see it all again once it had all finished. Unlike Mulholland Drive there doesn’t seem to be a universal theory to Lost Highway which makes it all the more interesting to watch again and again to dig for clues. However, as with all Lynchy films the best thing to do is just sit back and let your intuition drive you rather than your brain. It’s not an IQ test but a piece of art which is designed to take you on a journey. No one makes films that make you feel quite like David Lynch does. Let’s hope that the Twin Peaks revival encourages our Dave to get back into more regular filmmaking again. I couldn’t bear to wait another ten years!

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Escape From Tomorrow (2013)

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Director: Randy Moore

Stars: Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber, Katelynn Rodriguez

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Disney World really is one of the best places on the planet. I spent the happiest days of my life there as a kiddy, at the tender age of ten and I’m desperate to get back there. Randy Moore’s disturbing vision is unlikely to convince Disney World virgins to go though! In this film, Disney World is more reminiscent of Banksy’s Dismaland. Whenever you read a review of Escape From Tomorrow you always get an essay on how the film was made rather than the film itself. The extreme guerrilla tactics are important to the raw and intimate atmosphere of the film (and are extremely impressive) but there’s much more to Escape From Tomorrow than ‘that film that was shot illegally in Disneyland.’

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It’s the American Beauty-esque tale of a man going through a midlife crisis, except it also sparks a total mental breakdown and it happens in the middle of Disney World. It begins with a ride on the Rocky Mountain rollercoaster which is sledgehammer foreshadowing of the rollercoaster ride we’re about to go on in our hero’s haunted head. What struck me was how funny most of the film was. The trailer would lead you to believe that it’s a full-on Lynchian horror nightmare, but in truth the majority of it is pretty hilarious.

That isn’t to criticise it because the humour worked very well. Roy Abramsohn is so amusing as Jim, the typical twat Dad. His acting is a little questionable but it did add to the humour of the whole film. The first hour is basically like watching a family’s home video of a trip to Disney with splashes of sinister surrealism (get a load of that sibilance!) but I mean that in the best possible way. It isn’t boring because there’s a strong dark humour layered throughout. It also feels extremely intimate and involving with a strong focus on characters to keep you interested.

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The film hits its stride once the gang enter Epcot and Jim starts to drink lots and lots. This triggers his descent into complete surrealism and the film abandons linear narrative. It’s loud, chaotic and absorbing but I was hoping for a little more Inland Empire styled directing, but perhaps I was hoping for too much. It could’ve been more surreal and dreamlike, but it was still suitably disorientating and inventive. There’s also very intelligent themes and symbolism buried underneath if you’re willing to dig hard enough. I like how a lot of it is open to interpretation.

Escape From Tomorrow might look a bit shoddy with its rough camerawork and dodgy acting, but that’s also part of its charm. I did find the black and white photography quite stylish and the searing Disney golden-era score is pretty brilliant. The low rating on Netflix and IMDb might suggest that I’m in the minority when I say that I enjoyed it, but I am definitely biased when it comes to these weird kind of films. Normal cinemagoers will see it as a curiosity piece, but us weirdos will be dazzled by the surrealist imagery, comedy and overall strangeness. It’s not as good as it could’ve been, but I still found a lot to like.

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The Holy Mountain (1973)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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