By Brian Saur, co-host of Pure Cinema Podcast
We all watch films for different reasons—to kill time, to be entertained, and to see artists express their art. But there are those, myself included, that sometimes watch movies to make themselves go, "Huuhhh???"
Sometimes, you just want to watch a weird one! Sometimes, a misguided idea ends up being far more entertaining than a focused, well-thought-out one. That's (partially) what this list is about. To be fair, I can't always specifically criticize what the filmmakers meant to achieve—and perhaps they were quite well-intentioned—but regardless, they can make for a good time. This list of kooky movies includes interesting, thoroughly good genre mashups as well as cult oddities for your perusal and enjoyment.
From Ivan Reitman, the director of Ghostbusters and Twins, comes this crazy movie about a male scientist (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who gets pregnant as part of a research project. It's as ridiculous as it sounds and still needs to be seen to be believed. Danny DeVito and Emma Thompson also star.
This one is a favorite of my daughter, and I hadn't even seen it before when I first introduced her to it. Seinfeld fans will be amused to see Jason Alexander playing a befuddled manager of a luxury hotel in this one. His befuddlement mostly comes from frustration with his kids, who are with him at the hotel and who can't seem to stay out of trouble.
Things get taken up a notch when one of the boys befriends an orangutan who is staying with one of the guests and is being used to steal the expensive possessions of the other patrons. My favorite part of this one is Paul "Pee-Wee Herman" Rubens as an exterminator. The cast also includes Faye Dunaway, Rupert Everett, and Glenn Shadix (Beetlejuice, Heathers).
Eighteen years before Johnny Depp took a stab at doing Hunter S. Thompson, Bill Murray did a fascinating job of it in this strange cult comedy. I find that this film is an interesting companion piece to watch with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and despite the two performances by Depp and Murray being quite different, both are certainly interesting (and I know Depp himself is a fan of what Murray did here).
So you're a breakdancing movie fanatic and you've seen both the Breakin' movies and Beat Street already? Well, I have just the thing for you! Body Rock stars Lorenzo Lamas as "Chilly D," an enterprising young breakdancer from the streets who suddenly finds that his dreams of being a star are coming true—but at what cost? Very silly, but incredibly entertaining for fans of '80s nostalgia and cheesy dance moves.
My favorite roller disco movie. I am a shameless defender of this one. It is seen in many circles as terrible, but I just can't see it that way. There is too much good music, dancing, and strange fantasy for this not to always be something special for me. It features music by The Electric Light Orchestra, Olivia Newton John (who stars in the movie), as well as "Swan" from The Warriors (Michael Beck).
Now, I love me some Kurt Russell. And I mean that going way back to his Disney stuff like The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and whatnot, but I think he is most beloved for his collaborations with the previously mentioned John Carpenter. I think his 80s oeuvre gets a good deal of love... with a few exceptions.
Captain Ron is one of those exceptions. Sometimes, I like to think of Kurt Russell's Captain Ron character as a distant drunken sailor cousin to Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China. Basically, the movie is about a family (headed up by Martin Short) that inherits a boat and decides to go on a Caribbean cruise with it. Captain Ron kinda comes with the boat, and he and Martin Short don't mix well—to humorous effect. This is definitely one to watch for Kurt Russell fans looking to branch out.
Holy smokes, this movie is weird. Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club) plays an aspiring standup comic with a third arm growing out of his back, and his best buddy (who encourages him to take to the stage) is played by the late great Bill Paxton. Truly, this is a strange and unique film that exists in some sort of dank and dirty alternate dimension. From the director of Detroit Rock City, this is a cult movie in every sense of the word and a special entry in Paxton's filmography.
In the wake of the success of the Police Academy films, there seemed to be a push for more wacky comedies and this is one that has always held a special place for me. It was written and directed by Neal Israel (who scripted the first Police Academy) and stars John Murray (Bill Murray's brother), Jennifer Tilly, Wendie Joe Sperber (Back to the Future) and Brian Backer (Fast Times at Ridgemont High).
Basically, it's like Police Academy: The Traffic School Years. A couple of overly zealous patrol officers are busted down to instructing a bunch of misfits and weirdos who have lost their licenses or had them suspended for reasons of stupidity and negligence. Some find John Murray annoying, but I think he's pretty funny in this and helps propel the whole picture forward.
It's Evil Dead 2 meets Abbott & Costello. Goofy and over-the-top, this movie is based on miscommunications and features fun, fantastic performances from both Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine.
Another seafaring flick, this one features the comedic genius of Chris Elliot as he plays an obnoxious aristocratic jerk who ends up on the wrong boat and finds himself up to his neck in vile, disgusting fishermen. The fishermen loathe him, and he loathes them in return. Slowly, their mutual hatred for one other softens to a small raging blaze, but the way that they torture each other and sort of become friends is not only heartwarming (kind of), but also hilarious. And weird and gross. A true classic.
Brian Saur is a podcaster and blogger from Los Angeles that specializes in cult and classic films. He is co-host of the Pure Cinema Podcast and also produces and hosts another show called Just the Discs, which focuses on Blu-rays. He has run the Rupert Pupkin Speaks website since its inception in 2009 and continues to highlight obscure cinematic gems there on a regular basis. Follow him on Twitter (@bobfreelander, @justthediscspod, @purecinemapod), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RupertPupkinSpeaks) or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/rupertpupkinspeaks) for more film recommendations.