Weird Japanese Movies You Need to Watch

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2. Barton Fink (1991)

The Coen Brothers are geniuses at producing weird, quirky films. If you haven't seen their films, you should go watch this, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and The Man Who Wasn't There (among others) right now.

Barton Fink (played by John Turturo) is a writer who is struggling to write a wrestling picture. However, when he wakes up next to a dead girl, things begin to get weird…

Memorable Weird Scene: Barton's neighbor Charlie (John Goodman) barreling down the hall of the hotel as it is engulfed in flames.

9. Marebito (2004)

When I rented this movie I really wasn't expecting

When I rented this movie I really wasn’t expecting anything special. I just thought it would be another run-of-the-mill Japanese horror film. Well, I was wrong. Marebito is very well done and quite interesting.

The main character is a freelance cameraman obsessed with fear. In the movie he takes it upon himself to investigate an urban legend involving mysterious spirits that haunt the subways of Tokyo, but what he discovers is beyond anything he could have ever imagined.

Marebito is very different from most other Japanese horror films. The story is really cool and you actually care about what’s happening. It’s not one of those movies you’d watch just for the thrills and chills. The story is very well done and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • Weirdness: 3/5
  • Enjoyability: 4/5
  • Who to watch it with: Someone who thinks all Japanese horror movies are the same.

Honorable Mentions

If ten films just aren't enough, here are a few honorable mentions that you may also enjoy:

Floundering (1994) – Set in post-riot Los Angeles, this sardonic film follows John Boyz, an unemployed observer of the chaotic world around him. At turns, dark, funny, and insightful, don't miss this easily overlooked film.

Living in Oblivion (1995) is a metacognitive look at the film industry. This dark and amusing low-budget independent film depicts the making of a low-budget independent film.

Buffalo 66 (1998) In this sweet off-beat film, Billy Brown has just been released from jail. Searching desperately for a place to pee, Billy winds up kidnapping a dance student and subsequently passing her off as his wife to his apathetic parents.

District 9 (2009) – Inspired by events in District 6, Cape Town, South Africa during apartheid, District 9 is an allegorical science fiction film about a population of sick and malnourished aliens confined to the squalid District 9. Shot in mock-documentary style, this movie is clever, sad, and thought-provoking.

© 2014 Alisha Adkins

1. Tetsuo the Iron Man (1989)

This movie. Wow. I don't even know where to begin.

This movie. Wow. I don’t even know where to begin. This movie will make your jaw hit the floor, and before you can pick it back up, your jaw hits the floor again. How is that possible? I have no idea. This movie is insane. There’s absolutely no doubt that this movie should be at the top of anyone’s list of strange movies, Japanese or otherwise.

This is one of those movies that I simply can’t put into words. You don’t just watch Tetsuo, you experience Tetsuo. Just watch the trailer, okay? You’ll see what I mean.

  • Weirdness: 7/5
  • Enjoyability: ?/5
  • Who to watch it with: People whose brains you want to make explode.

And there you have it – ten of the strangest Japanese films I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. I am sure there are many other viable candidates for the list (Funky Forest, for example) but I didn’t want to include anything here that I hadn’t actually viewed myself.