Things That Make You Go “Hmmm”: Top 10 WTF Movies
1. Big Fan
Big Fan‘s WTFness comes less from its subject matter—an obsessive New York Giants fan inadvertently gets his favorite player suspended from the team before a big game—than its star. Before Big Fan, Patton Oswalt was known primarily as a standup comedian, albeit an exceptional one. His surprisingly emotional performance in Big Fan as hapless parking lot security guard Paul Aufiero shocked viewers with its range and power, and started Oswalt on a new secondary career as a major actor in the world of independent movies.
2. Blue Velvet
David Lynch’s epic expose of America’s fascination with perversions, primal urges and Pabst Blue Ribbon contains one unforgettably crazy moment after another, most famously Dennis Hopper’s deranged Frank Booth’s gas-fueled assault on poor Isabella Rossellini. Perhaps the most jarring element of all is the fact that Lynch cross-cuts all the insanity with the placid normalcy of suburbia, suggesting the WTF waiting to erupt from beneath all of our perfectly maintained facades.
3. Dead Hooker in a Trunk
Arguably the most WTFy title in the 100-plus year history of movies, Dead Hooker in a Trunk is indeed about a bunch of characters who find a dead prostitute in the trunk of their car and need to figure out what the hell to do. So it sounds like a crazy title, but at it’s … accurate. The fact that the movie was written by, directed by and stars twin sisters (Jen and Sylvia Soska)—and that their characters’ names are The Geek and The Badass—is the F icing on the WT cake.
4. Enter the Void
Crazy point-of-view shots. Flights of hallucinogenic fantasy. Out of body experiences. Opening credits so frenetic they could kill an epileptic. But that’s just prologue for the, well, climax is the only word for the grand finale of Gaspar Noe’s oeuvre of WTF. It’s a series of sex scenes culminating with a shot from inside a woman’s vagina as a man, um, enters her, y’know, void. Next, we follow a sperm from conception through birth. Okay, then.
5. Ichi the Killer
Not every trailer can boast a disclaimer warning the viewer that what follows contains “scenes of extreme violence, self-mutilation, torture, sexual situations and rape. But Ichi the Killer does. As the story goes, when Takashi Miike’s ultra-gory war between rival Yakuza clans premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, vomit bags were handed out to the audience. And, as the story also goes, at least a couple of them were used, too. Watching a dude cut off his own tongue on camera will do that to a person.
6. In Their Sleep
This French home invasion thriller in the tradition of Funny Games follows a nurse who leaves work and accidentally hits a teen with her car. Exercising the sort of poor judgement you hate you see in health care professionals, she agrees to dress the kid’s wounds and shelter him from the man who’s chasing him. Bloody horror ensues. Um, we guess no good deed goes unpunished?
7. Love Crime
Admittedly, portraying corporate executives as a bunch of scheming, amoral, manipulators is not exactly the most stupefying premise. The big WTF twist in Love Crime comes later, when one of two competitive businesswomen at a French agro-industry company kills the other, then creates one hell of a crazy alibi. She makes herself look so guilty that people will begin to suspect she was framed for the (love) crime. Yikes. Next time you debate putting off those TPS reports, better think again.
Despite their best efforts, including locking him in an insane asylum and throwing away the key, and even taking away all his quills and paper, the French government can’t seem to silence the mad Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush) in Philip Kaufman’s Quills. More than a century and a half after his death, de Sade’s sexually explicit work continues to inspire controversy and outrage. “It’s nothing but an encyclopedia of perversions!” cries Joaquin Phoenix’s Abbé du Coulmier. Many people still agree.
9. The Wig
The Wig sets the cinematic standard for crazy spooky hair. A woman buys her cancer-ridden sister a wig to help boost her confidence, little realizing the thing is cursed, haunted, infected by unholy evil, etc. The Asian horror boom of the 2000s fuel-injected ghosts into any inanimate object writers could think of—scary cell phones, scary computers, scary unmarked VHS videotapes—but scary hair extensions? Who ya gonna call? Not Ghostbusters; what about Vidal Sassoon?
10. Wassup Rockers
Directorial provocateur Larry Clark is known for films like Kids and Ken Park, movies about teenage sexuality that push the boundaries of good taste (not to mention child pornography). His whole filmography is full of WTF, so maybe the biggest what the fuck about Clark’s 2005 film Wassup Rockers is the fact that it’s so relatively wholesome. True, it does have a character named Spermball; true, it’s still rated R for violence and sexual content. But a borderline wholesome coming-of-age story from Larry Clark? What the fuck?!?