Film-Makers - Honorable Mention

Listed here are film-makers that merely dabble in the extreme, strange and twisted but aren't extreme enough to be included. Note that some of their films may be reviewed on the site in the miscellaneous sections, but since they aren't consistent as far as these areas go, they don't get their own pages.

At the other end of the spectrum, I also draw the line at porn where it's all about the sex, kinks and perversions that get top billing, or 'gornography' where it's just a compilation of gore for its own sake without bothering with characters, plot or ideas. This includes:

1. Scores of the more extreme Japanese Pinku Eiga or Nikkatsu Roman-Porn genre featuring creative plot-lines and explorations of rape/S&M/humiliation, prime and more extreme examples being: The 'Eccentric Psycho Cinema' series, Yasuharu Hasebe (Rape! Assault! Jack The Ripper), Takashi Ishii (Angel Guts, Beautiful Teacher), Masaru Konuma (Woman in a Box, Wife to be Sacrificed), Koyu Ohara (Wet & Rope)

2. The underground Japanese 'noisecore' cinema where girls simply mutilate or disembowel themselves for the camera: Masami 'Merzbow' Akita, Fuji Kikaku, Yuuri Sunohara, Tamakichi Anaru

3. The Japanese Hentai genre, often featuring animated girls with demons and tentacles, live-action versions of these, or just plain twisted cartoon porn.

4. Splatter films that have neither characters nor plot, like some of Lucifer Valentine's movies, and movies like 'A Fucking Cruel Nightmare'.

5. Compilations of real gore footage that have no theme or point to make. Note that the Shockumentaries section does include many of these, but reviews for these have been discontinued.

Dario Argento  
A popular Italian director of horror and mystery (giallo) who has a strong sense of style and atmosphere, but often neglects the acting and plot departments to the point that some of his movies feel surreal. He makes use of saturated colors, slow creepy atmospheres, some cinematography tricks, and a medium amount of gore. Like all of Italian horror however, you either love this somewhat crude, gory, misogynistic, but stylish horror or you hate it. The typical dubbing jobs don't improve things either. Dario also likes to use his own hands in murder scenes where women get sliced by an unseen murderer.

Ralph Bakshi  
Cult animator, most famous in the 70s after the x-rated Fritz the Cat, who helped pave the way for artists like Bill Plympton. His trademarks include rotoscoping, mixing animation with live action in different ways, and in addition to the expected cartoonish and exaggerated antics of his characters, he also dives into filth, raunch, an assortment of gritty characters including street punks, criminals, transvestites, and whores, plenty of unexpected, brutal violence, and occasional bizarre sequences of near-surreal visuals. After some adult-oriented animations, he also had a period of fantasy creations during which he adapted Lord of the Rings.

Jirí Barta  
Czech stop-motion animator usually compared to Svankmajer but with a style and approach of his own. In general, his approach is to anthropomorphize any objects he can find, including drawings, derelict mannequins, gloves, pieces of wood or any round object. Some of his shorts are fables or fantasies, others are social statements, and he has a superbly dark 50 minute version of The Pied Piper, but the only truly bizarre creation is The Last Theft, a horror story with incredible use of colors and cinematography about a thief that finds a den of vampires.

Marco Bellocchio  
Provocative and rebellious art-house movie-maker, often examining, exposing or attacking society, family, religion, or politics, and usually employing a cynical, disillusioned, unruly or eccentric protagonist. At times a very subtly surreal director, pushing realism just a notch into strangeness without losing a grounding in reality.

Catherine Breillat  
French director whose focused (some would say limited or narrow) subject for the past few decades has been female sexuality. She explores every aspect of this topic using any cinematic tool that is deemed necessary including comedy, XXX porn, surrealism, shock-tactics, and philosophical musings. She is fascinated by the concept that love, sexual power and allure are somehow conceived from seemingly repulsive biological functions, and sticks mostly to the woman's feelings and thoughts regarding her own body and powers instead of attacking masculinity directly. Her movies always flirt with, and frequently cross the border between interesting and provocative feminist musings/art, and gratuitous shock.

Júlio Bressane  
Brazilian experimental director, and one of the main figures in the Brazilian 'Marginal Cinema' movement which consisted of underground cinema and b-movies. He is constantly experimenting and most of his movies are quite different from each other, but he frequently likes to explore a story or theme via a lyrical, stylized, operatic, choreographed, staged, artificial, abstract or poetic manner. His actors often express the scene physically, explore around the theme intellectually, recite poetic dialogue, and move in stylized fashion. He also heavily uses visual symbolism. In other words, firmly in the art-house genre, and at times pretentious or obtuse, but he also directed a few very silly and playful spoofs in the 70s such as Brás Cubas, or Barăo Olavo, a comedy about horror movies and insanity. His most popular examples include the earlier 'Killed the Family and Went to the Movies' that features several disconnected stories about truly meaningless and senseless, rebellious violence, and the more recent 'Cleopatra', a stylized and eroticized version of the story.

Wolfgang Büld  
A wicked German director currently working in England who made a splash in the underground with Penetration Angst. He makes blackly humorous, wickedly sleazy and violent movies with an edge, often mixing sleazy characters and violent plots with the sexy Fiona Horsey. Seems to be losing this edge and going for more run-of-the-mill horror and violence with every movie.

Leos Carax  
Imagine a loosely experimental but confident French New Wave director coupled with extravagant and self-indulgent romance, poetry and melodrama. Carax is an undisciplined but talented French film-maker who explores themes of love, crime and drama through showy, improvisational but artificial characters and a rhythmic vision, discarding logical plots and riding waves of romantic and whimsically creative imagery and mood. A unique art-house film-maker but his extreme self-indulgence is not for most tastes.

Marc Caro  
The darker film-making partner of Jeunet who, it seems, was behind the bizarreness and darkness of Delicatessen and City of Lost Children. Here's hoping this talented man finds his own career like Jeunet did, or that they get back together for more masterpieces. Also worked with Jan Kounen.

Alberto Cavallone  
A provocative rebel who had a turbulent career in film-making, shifting from controversial, political drama, to erotica, to giving up on mainstream movies and directing in-your-face, hateful, shock movies like Blue Movie, Man The Woman And The Beast, and the unfinished Maldoror, then made some twisted porn with midgets and strange nuns for some cash, and various other experiments including a primal caveman movie with some cannibalism. Sometimes uses unconventional editing techniques, sex, and sudden twisted or violent scenes.

Larry Cohen  
A unique cult film-maker that manages to mix high concepts, inventive ideas, and even a touch of artsy film-making with terrible b-quality cheese and camp, usually in the horror or thriller genres. The results are often offbeat.

Alex Cox  
Famous for Sid and Nancy and Repo Man but has been criticized often since then. His movies are often marked by a punk attitude, with an unruly gang usually throwing in anachronisms, attitude, wry humor, and nihilistic behaviour, even in period movies. His movies are often sloppy, whimsical, and self-indulgent but with jarring absurdities. For example, Straight to Hell was a quirky Western with punks, and Walker a 19th century historical biopic with helicopters and chaotically rebellious mercenaries. His Three Businessmen is a homage to Bunuel with similar absurd humor. Searchers 2.0 has an odd, silly ending that is almost surreal, but not quite. In short, his movies are highly eccentric, often absurd, with an odd sense of humor, but not as bizarre as they sound. A unique, cult film-maker.

André Delvaux  
Belgian director who specialized in surreal movies of a special kind: Suggestive surrealism of the most subtle kind possible. His movies can be taken as straightforward artsy dramas or slightly strange adventures, but the events are just one step removed from reality with suggestive symbolism, or with scenes that may or may not be taking place in the protagonist's head, allowing an audience to interpret what they will if they choose to dig into possible meanings and character studies. As such, his movies are not visually or categorically surreal, but some audiences may beg to differ.

Marco Ferreri  
Unusual Italian film-maker mostly known for his 'La Grande Bouffe' which is reviewed on this site along with a couple of other oddities. Many of his movies deal with subversive or disturbing explorations of sexuality, gender roles and single-idea attacks on conventional families, combined with unusual, extreme and eccentric characters: There are laid-back incestuous parents that encourage their young daughter to try sexual experiences in Story of Piera, procreation and cannibalism in a post-apocalyptic world in Seed of Man, a feminist-stereotypical patriarchal-violent-horny man castrates himself for a woman in the horribly PC The Last Woman, a woman is a replacement for a pet dog in Liza, sex for old people in House of Smiles, obsession and cannibalism in Flesh, fatal exploitative sex in Conjugal Bed, etc.

David Fincher  
One of the most intense and intelligent modern Hollywood directors. He has an obvious dark side and doesn't pull any punches, yet at the same time doesn't get lost in sickness but wraps it up in a gripping package. One to always look out for.

André Forcier  
French-Canadian cult director. He often makes very quirky comedies with highly-eccentric and childlike characters, quirky and colorful adventures, with elements of magical realism that sometimes involve magical powers, strange beliefs or ghosts. At times, this overdose of quirk crosses the border into the surreal.

Philippe Garrel  
A voice of the French New Wave that focused on the most personal aspect of the movement: That of expressing inner passions and personal life experiences through cinema, using cinema to explore the director's interests and whims, marking movies with indelible personal touches rather than constructing entertainment for the masses. But whereas the other directors explored mostly intellectual interests or whimsical cinematic deconstruction, Garrel explored his inner and family life. Until the 80s, this was coupled with a life of drugs and indulgence, working with Nico of Velvet Underground and the Zanzibar collective film group, and this period resulted in several abstract, symbolic, art-house or strange pieces that experiment with various artistic poetic expressions of his personal life. After a breakdown, Garrel moved towards more conventional cinema, still exploring aspects of his personal life with art-house dramas. Art-house poetic cinema for some, pretentious boredom for the rest.

Kiyoshi Kurosawa  
Japanese director of brooding, atmospheric art movies that often get obscure, bizarre or incoherent with characters that usually remain enigmatic until the end. Has a choppy editing style all his own and uses artsy or allegorical characters and events that don't always work or offer as much depth as he'd like. But sometimes it all comes together superbly, the best example being Kaďro, a masterpiece, and possibly the creepiest horror movie ever made.

Emir Kusturica  
A Bosnian mix of the manic comedic energy of Benigni and the fantastical, grotesque deliriousness of Fellini. Most of the actors in his movies seem to be on cocaine and all have quirks and eccentricities, including the animals. His trademarks are lots of music, Gypsy bands, delirious partying, absurd comedy, slapstick, animal actors, slight touches of surreal dreams and short flights of fancy. The results are entertaining, sometimes magical, but the slapstick and airy approach along with one-dimensional characters doesn't allow any drama to come alive.

José Mojica Marins (AKA Coffin Joe)  
A pioneer in Brazilian horror, a popular and controversial figure in his home country and a cult character everywhere else. He took a dangerous (for Brazil) anti-Christian stance, and uses film as a soapbox for his musings, moral preachings and crude iconoclastic ideas and philosophies. His horror is offbeat and even borders on the surreal at times, the supernatural events depicted with a somewhat odd imagination. Sports very long fingernails, acted and directed scores of movies, most of which are obscure. Often over-praised by rabid fans, his ideas and imagination delivered in a crude and obvious package rather than anything artsy or truly deranged.

Julio Medem  
Fascinating Spanish film-maker that constantly straddles the border between art-house cinema and magical realism with very light touches of surrealism. He frequently employs symbolic objects, dream sequences, the supernatural, strange behaviour, coincidences, and new age mysticism, yet remains quite grounded. Flaws include the heavy use of female worship, and claptrap new-age mysticism. Also makes heavy use of sex, and even taboos at times (see the shockingly crude and new agey 'Caotica Anna'). His films are always interesting to watch though.

Russ Meyer  
Buddy of H.G Lewis. Makes outrageous, energetic sex romps with violence, and is famous for his admiration (fetish?) for huge breasts. What makes him stand out however, is that, with a couple of exceptions, he knows the difference between sleaze and naughtiness, and you don't walk away from his perversely entertaining films feeling dirty (unless you're overly sensitive to misogyny). Perversions, violence, rape, touches of gore, endless sex and nudity all parade their stuff in outrageous, fast-moving scenes of giggling, lusty naughtiness that simply don't let anyone take anything seriously. Always a pioneer in sexploitation and still unbeatable.

Satoshi Miki  
Makes cartoonish, whimsical comedies with fantastical elements that feel like they are made by a 12 year old girl with a great imagination. His movies exist in their own world where anything goes, made bizarre mostly due to very eccentric, colorful, and quirky characters that are much more whimsical than real. These movies don't really have depth, insight or wit, but are just quirky family-friendly fun with plenty of color and cuteness, occasional and light emotional content, and no hard edges in sight. This can be good or bad depending on what you are looking for. Either way, it's refreshing to see something different, entertaining and original from Japan that isn't warped in a dark way.

Andy Milligan  
Notoriously bad b-movie maker of some 60s sexploitation, campy sleaze and gore using very small budgets and acting/directing that rivals Ed Wood in its earnest but horrible delivery. Similar to Doris Wishman but has a Freudian and misogynistic chip on his shoulder. His movies are punctuated with slight touches of scattered splatter but it's as bad as his movies and doesn't even reach H.G. Lewis levels.

Kira Muratova  
A cult Russian film-maker who is even called difficult by fans. A lack of narrative in her movies is only the beginning. She meanders whimsically, following scenes, ideas or people wherever they take her. She is also reminiscent of Andrzej Zulawski in the sense that her characters are instructed to over-act whims and normally hidden thoughts with melodramatic airs, artificiality, punishing repetition and poetically artsy dialogue. People in her movies don't talk to each other, they rhapsodize, rant, soliloquize, repeat to emphasize, express what their characters are all about, and verbalize Kira's stream of consciousness. As compared to Zulawski however, there is not much in the sense of development, insightful intellectual themes, or structure, but she does attempt sweeping portraits of ideas, social phenomenons or passions through a hodgepodge of characters and scenes.

Nagisa Ôshima  
Rebellious, experimental Japanese director who made a splash in the 60s and early 70s with a series of avant-garde films, then later with the shocking In the Realm of the Senses. Often seen as the Japanese counterpart to Godard and part of the new wave of Japanese cinema creating loose, improvised, jazzy and deconstructive experiments, but I see most of his films as emphasizing artistic allegories, creating free-form abstractions to explore an aspect of Japanese society: In Japanese Summer, young people are reduced to absurd stereotypes, men wanting guns, revolution, war and violence for unknown reasons, and a girl wanting men and sex, leading to a violent jazzy piece of unsatisfied urges and violence. Death by Hanging is mostly an absurd farce about racial tensions and punishment as executioners figure out what to do with a Korean who survives his hanging. Diary of a Shinjuku Thief is his most experimental and is reviewed on site. He Died After the War is a cinematic meta-film exploring how we see or make of the world through film. The Ceremony explores Japanese generations, history, politics and traditions via an allegorical family suffering from complex relationships, incest, ceremonies, suicides and a bride-less wedding. Etc.

Chan-wook Park  
Known mostly for his vengeance trilogy, featuring extreme cruelty and harshness with disturbed characters driven by dark thoughts to commit disgusting acts of violence and psychological abuse. Offers creative and beautiful cinematography and style but his plots tend to get lazy and unrealistic, subservient to his conceptual visions of humanity.

Renato Polselli  
Italian exploitation horror and sleaze, but a whimsical and unfocused director, making messy movies that slap together a lot of incongruous elements and scenes, mixed with some dream, hallucination or fantasy sequences, sometimes resulting in odd and bizarre movies. The most extreme example is The Reincarnation of Isabel (reviewed here), and the most scandalously pornographic and depraved is Oscenita.

András Rajnai  
Hungarian director of half-length, TV fantasy and sci-fi movies, all heavily loaded with cheap but wild and imaginative effects, most of them involving blue-screen superimpositions, combining colorful and often psychedelic sets or textures enlarged to create alien terrains while his actors are superimposed on them. Creatures insects and humans are also very often enlarged into monsters, gods and giants this way. But it's the psychedelic sets and props, the strange dance routines, the imagination, as well as the avant-garde soundtrack that make these movies psychedelic and visual marvels, despite the painfully cheap and cheesy effects and the simple approach of telling myths, fairy-tales and sci-fi purely through childish but enthusiastic effects. It's like avant-garde theater and old-school cheesy children's fantasy TV had merged together.

Tim Ritter  
Low-budget home-movie maker that flirts with the gore-n-sleaze genre but nevertheless seems to be holding back. Made a series of cheesy serial killer movies (where the killer is always cheated on by his wife), sprinkled a few doses of sleaze, transgressive and creative killings, but nothing really stands out.

Jean Rollin  
In a way, a subtler French version of Dario Argento as he focuses on atmosphere, beautiful women and cinematography style but doesn't do much for the actors and plot. What gave him a cult following however, is how he takes the usual horror staples like vampires and zombies and wraps them in a strangely atmospheric experience with beautiful scenery, gothic horror and lots of naked women. It's hard to put your finger on how he weaves his unique magical touches that make things dream-like. Most find him boring and too slow-moving however, despite his obvious potential.

Tom Savini  
The rightful king of gore effects who became popular thanks to his work in Romero's zombie movies. Has a strong personality and talent for special effects, and a love for the extreme and the gruesome. Almost any movie he is involved in is guaranteed to have striking gore effects even if they aren't gore movies.

Todd Solondz  
A unique, somewhat overrated film-maker loved by critics that makes very uncomfortable movies dealing with various subjects (often children or teenagers) with brutally honest portrayals of abuse, raw emotions and twisted impulses and behaviour.

Gonzalo Suárez  
Spanish director of mostly either supernatural/horror movies or comedies, most of which boast an approach that is half artsy and poetic, half incoherent nonsense, especially his 70s output. The result is that many of his movies leave you with a what-the-hell-was-that-that-all-about confusion, even though the movie may not sound as bizarre when you try to describe it. General but mild strangeness, usually with unique stories and plot developments, and often full of eccentric characters and odd behaviour. A couple of his most surreal movies are reviewed on this site.

Andrei Tarkovsky  
Considered a master of cinema with a unique Russian style that inspired many. Most of his movies are the equivalent of cinematic monasteries: Ascetic, meditative, slow-moving, introverted, gloomy, guilt-ridden, culpatory, philosophical, metaphysical, religious, symbolic, and metaphorical with slight touches of dream-sequences, magical realism and the supernatural. In a sense, he is like a slower paced Godard, using film as an outlet for his random meditative, provocative or didactic thoughts, often marked by his Christian beliefs and existential fears, as if Kierkegaard became a movie maker. He also has a knack for creating strong, beautiful, visually meditative and dream-like scenes. This general approach can be both interesting and punishingly boring, depending on your state of mind and what you look for in movies. His movies contain challenging depth, but his ultimate flaw is his overpowering melancholy, self-punishing outlook, and pessimism.

Alex van Warmerdam  
Dutch auteur that uses colorful bizarre characters and absurd touches in all his movies, spiced with horny behaviour and some perversions, resulting in highly eccentric but not surreal black comedies and dramas. Always entertaining, a colorful and visually elegant movie-maker, but lacking in depth and satisfying conclusions or developments.

Tony Watt  
Canadian film-maker of extremely low-budget exploitation movies that go on forever, and ever and ever. These are supposedly homages to 70s grindhouse, horror and exploitation, but the movies are more like 3-hour collages of youtube mix-tapes that make use of random bad quality deleted scenes from the 70s. The plots are nonsensical and just wander from one silly comedic scene, to lame action, to a scene involving yet another cheesy horror/sci-fi monster, and back again, all spliced together with a slew of editing tricks, superimpositions, filters, random stolen musical snippets and silly sound effects. The dialogue is even less interesting than a Chris Seaver movie, and that's saying a lot. If you manage to make it through one of his endlessly nonsensical and A.D.D-infected movies, you will feel you wasted a whole week of your life.

Cosmotropia de Xam  
Prolific maker of art-horror collages that can't really be described as films per se. Inspired mostly by 70s-90s euro-horror like Franco, Rollin, Zulawski, Argento as well as Lynch and Kubrick, he makes films that feel very improvised, without any cohesive narrative, theme or plot. Some scenes contain references to horror plot elements but these never develop. Goth, psychedelic and industrial sounds fill the atmospheric score, and heavy editing is employed to create thick psychedelic atmosphere and imagery. Rollins comes to mind very often with his films, forgetting the plot to focus on erotica and atmospherics for long stretches, only exclusively so in his case. Actresses are dressed up in elaborate art-horror outfits and often improvise a whimsical horror scene of the day, sometimes in one-take, giggles and all, without regard to plot. A movie about a supernatural beast can suddenly veer into vampire-nun erotica or an extended psychedelic exorcism. Most scenes in his movies are simply improvised whims in the street and then edited to look psychedelic. Locations are often picked merely because they were featured in films by directors mentioned above. And esoteric/occult imagery is used often inspired by Kenneth Anger. In short, his pretentious creations feel like someone who overdosed on euro-horror but couldn't be bothered to write a screenplay and just wants to film the various horror imagery in his head. As such, I can't call them surreal movies since there are no themes, symbolism, dream-logic, or even mystery, but art-horror experimental visual collages. Compared to this guy, even Matthew Barney used describable themes. It's so random that it's not even spooky and it's not structured nor crafted carefully enough to be oneiric. And earlier movies are even more purely visual than later ones. To review his collages would be a description of a random sequence of images and scenes. In his own words: "I don't plan".

Ivan Zuccon  
Italian director of unusual horror movies that eschew cliches, and that are often based on Lovecraft. He has a penchant for shifting between times, places, stories or realities, blending several stories together, and this mixed with his approach of using unexplained supernatural phenomena and nonsensical oddities often create either a muddled confusion, or a nightmarishly strange experience depending on the story.

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