The 10 Weirdest Movies That Made The 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die List


Most movie buffs have probably heard of the “1001 movies you must see before you die‘ list. It’s pretty self-explanatory, really, when it comes to lists. There are 1001 movies released throughout the history of the medium – the first film dating from 1902 and the most recent from 2020 – that the list editor, Steven Jay Schneiderbelieves it is essential that all moviegoers can see them in their lifetime.

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It’s a very diverse list overall, and that’s highlighted by the weirdness of some of the choices. It’s understandable that some movies among the 1001 titles get a little weird, but there are some really wild and very experimental movies that make for tough watches. To highlight some of the most offbeat, unexpected, or even downright bizarre movies on the list, here are 10 of the weirdest movies included among the 1001 movies you must see before you die listing.


‘Prelude: Dog Star Man’ (1962)

Prelude: Dog Star Man is the introductory part of a four-part experimental film entitled Dog Star Mandirected by an avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage. It’s the kind of movie where it’s nearly impossible to figure out what’s going on without reading some sort of plot summary first.

Maybe that’s not important, though. There seems to be a journey depicted within Prelude and Dog Star Man as a whole that involves a man and his dog, but it’s interspersed with eerie and visually striking imagery, and takes place eerily without music, dialogue, or even sound effects. It’s confusing but interesting, and as confusing as it may be, it’s one of the best experimental films (although why Prelude is included among the Movies to watch before you die list and not Dog Star Man the whole is not clear).

‘Blonde Cobra’ (1963)

A horrible experience, in all honesty, blonde cobra might be the worst type of experimental film (reflected by its 3.0/10 average rating on IMDb). It’s thankfully short, at just 33 minutes, but feels about four times longer, with intentionally obnoxious and messy filming making it an almost constant assault on the senses.

Perhaps it makes the list because it pushed boundaries and represented a new height of “weirdness” for cinema as a whole. If he paved the way for accomplished “strange” directors like David Lynch Where Alejandro Jodorowsky to establish themselves as filmmakers, perhaps that has value. However, it’s not fun to watch or experience, and unlike the list blonde cobra appears, you can certainly live a fulfilling life – and even die peacefully – without ever having seen it.

“The Kingdom” (1994)

Arguably one of the weirdest things about The kingdom being on a list of movies to watch before you is the fact that it’s technically a miniseries. Specifically, it’s one that’s been edited into two movies (themselves around four and a half hours each), with the first of those “movies” included in the list.

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Of course, even if we have to call it a movie, it’s weird in other ways. It comes from the spirit of Lars Von Treves, who is a controversial filmmaker known for making bizarre and/or heartbreaking films, with the film’s plot concerning a hospital plagued by strange phenomena, sometimes of supernatural variety. The length and bizarre premise might be a turn off for some, but otherwise it’s easier to tackle than many of the weirdest experimental movies that otherwise make up some of the weirdest movies in the 1001.

‘Nope. 12: Magic of Heaven and Earth’ (1962)

Harry Everett Smith was a prolific and eccentric artist who made many experimental films throughout his life. These tended to be surreal animations that didn’t have many discernable storylines, instead tackling mythological, mystical, or supernatural ideas, often leaving it up to the viewer to figure out exactly what was going on.

Notably, No. 12: Magic of Heaven and Earth is longer than most of Smith’s works, being just over an hour long. The animation style seems to have influenced by Terry Gilliam entertainment for Monty Pythonand an image from the film was also used as the band’s album cover Slow divein 2017. It may be a confusing film, but it should prove somewhat interesting for fans of experimental cinema, and its influence on pop culture can also be understood quite clearly.

“Hold Me While I’m Naked” (1966)

Arguably one of the earliest examples of a comedy film about filmmaking, Hold me while I’m naked is only 17 minutes long and is loosely about an independent filmmaker trying to make a film that will be seen as important and artistic.

Due to its inclusion among the 1001 movies you must see before you die list, the director, George Kuchar, arguably managed to do just that, with his film about trying to be relevant. As for the movie itself? It’s not the worst, but it’s a difficult watch in points, despite its brevity. The crude and messy style of humor would become popular in the late 1960s and 1970s – thanks to directors like John Waters – so at least Hold me while I’m naked has a place in the history of cinema in this respect.

‘Vinyl’ (1965)

Everyone knows by Stanley Kubrick 1971 classic, A clockwork orange, but not everyone knows that it was not the first feature film adaptation of the famous novel of the same name. This honor goes to by Andy Warhol film, Vinylwhich loosely adapts the sci-fi/crime story into a movie.

Emphasis should, however, be placed on the word “vaguely”, for even those who know A clockwork orange may have trouble seeing how Vinyl tells it. Andy Warhol really does his own singular thing, and the uncompromising – and chaotic – style here probably makes Vinyl a kind of film that you love or hate. Obviously, those behind the 1001 Movies list are in the first camp, but don’t be surprised if you look at it and find yourself in the second.

“Ariel” (1988)

Arielle represents a nice change of pace from other weird movies among the 1001 Movies list, as this is decidedly a narrative film, rather than an experimental one. Sure, the story is oddly paced and certainly has an unusual energy, but it’s there and generally easy to follow.

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It mixes drama with very dark comedy, while being a detective film, and tells the story of a man wrongly convicted of a crime and what happens to him after he escapes from prison. It’s a sad, oddly lonely – and quiet – film, but it’s one that definitely sticks with you.

“Blazing Creatures” (1963)

Flaming Creatures probably do it 1001 Movies list because of its extreme and boundary-pushing character. Even by today’s standards, some of its images are quite graphic, and it’s surprising to think that a film like this was released in the 1960s.

Still, whether this comedic horror film’s shock value makes it entertaining or well done depends on the viewer. Granted, some may find it easier to respect and admire pushing the boundaries of taste and acceptable content in movies than actually enjoying a movie-watching experience.

“Wavelength” (1967)

It’s safe to say that Wave length is about as experimental as movies can get, and it’s a movie that happily breaks just about every rule of cinema. The film simply shows one piece for its 45 minute runtime. The camera slowly zooms into an office and sometimes people enter the room and do strange things inside.

There is a chance Wave length will be entirely hypnotic for some, and the most tedious thing in the world for others. Alternatively, there’s a middle ground: Sure, the film is a bit boring, but its commitment to being so boring and static is admirably bold.

‘Scorpion Rising’ (1963)

Kenneth Anger is a hugely influential and important independent filmmaker. He started making short films at the end of the 1940s and dealt with radical themes that were ahead of their time. This was mainly because he was one of the first openly gay filmmakers in America and explored gay themes and characters in his films at a time when such ideas were not widely discussed.

Of all his films, Scorpio Rise might be his best, earning his place in the 1001 Movies listing. It has a great soundtrack and centers around a man getting ready for some kind of bizarre, nightmarish, cult-like motorcycle rally. It’s eerie, dark and, above all, surprisingly hypnotic.

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