Strange and Disturbing

Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 by coffeecritic

                                scene from Svankmajer's Alice


I can't say I'm a fan of the typical horror movie. I never watched A Nightmare on Elm Street or the Saw movies. And although I do enjoy a good scare from classic horror films like Rosemary's Baby and Psycho, there's nothing quite like the uneasy feeling I get from these eerily disturbing movies.They're not exactly horror movies, but they create a creepy atmosphere and seem to take place in the surreal world of nightmares. Definitely strange and disturbing!



An unforgettable collection of four traditional Japanese ghost stories from director Masaki Kobayashi (Hara-kiri).Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival, it has been called one of the most meticulously crafted supernatural fantasy films ever made. It is a visually stunning world in which beauty and horror coexist, and for me, his dramatic use of sound (and sometimes the lack of sound) is part of what creates the feeling of unease. The unusual use of bold color and music creates an effect of nightmarish terror that is purely Japanese.

Little OtikLittle Otik


Little Otik

In this feature by Czech director Jan Svankmajer, an infertile couple desperately want a baby. The husband finds a tree root that resembles a baby and presents it to his wife, who proceeds to dress, feed and care for it like a real baby. Her maternal longings transform the stump into a real baby with a monstrous appetite that isn't satisfied with baby formula. This wicked and humorous take on parenting and consumerism has been compared to Eraserhead, Little Shop of Horrors and Rosemary's Baby. Good sick fun.

Alice - Svankmajer



Another feature by Jan Svankmajer, the surrealist Czech director and animator.  What can I say? Any version of Alice (except maybe Disney) is always slightly disturbing and odd to me, but this is the strangest Alice you are ever going to see. There is bizarre imagery: a slab of meat that squirms into a pot, tiny rat skulls breaking out of eggshells. There are strange sound effects: grating metal, splintering wood. We're not quite sure what we're hearing. It's a surreal nightmare.

Pan's labyrinth

Pan's labyrinth

In this adult fairy tale, director Guillermo del Toro (Devil's Backbone, Mama) takes us into a world where, as in all myths and fairytales, strange, wondrous and chilling creatures represent facets of the subconscious.In this case, that of an innocent young girl facing evil in the form of her fascist general stepfather in Franco's Spain. Grotesque and beautiful, sad, agonizing and haunting, this film took my breath away.

The Night of the Hunter Night of the Hunter


The Night of the Hunter

For me, this is probably the creepiest of the bunch. According to movie critic Roger Ebert, "Critics were baffled by it, the public rejected it. But nobody who has seen The Night of the Hunter has forgotten it, or Robert Mitchum's voice coiling down those basement stairs: 'Chilll...dren?' ... One of the most frightening of movies, with one of the most unforgettable villains."  The only movie directed by Charles Laughton is an expressionistic oddity, telling its chilling story through visual fantasy. The riverboat scene is one of the greatest in black and white cinematography, famous for its surreal, dreamlike quality and haunting lullaby.

The Company of Wolves  the Company of Wolves


The Company of Wolves

A violent nightmare transports young Rosaleen back in time to a world of primeval forests and werewolves. In this netherworld she learns her only sister has been killed by a wolf. Her Granny (Angela Lansbury) weaves vivid tales of folklore and fantasy with warnings of fantastic beasts that lurk within men and foretelling the fate of all young girls who stray from the path. The film is based on a story by Angela Carter, which in turn is a gothic fantasy take on Little Red Riding Hood. With its dark, menacing and sexual imagery, it's not a pretty picture of puberty.

The uninvited guest


The uninvited guest

One night a mysterious visitor asks to use Felix's phone and quickly vanishes in the house without a trace. As