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Top 5 Movies That Make My Brain Hurt

by Eric Melin on June 4, 2013

in Top 10s

Today’s trippy Top 5 list comes from Chris Kavan, chief critic and blogger for, where he only occasionally loses his mind.

Sometimes you come across a film so bizarre, that, while providing a wholly unique experience, often leaves what’s inside your skull a muddled puddle of goo. I like to think I have a handle on many films – even if I don’t get every reference or deeper symbolism. Yet every so often, I’m left a bit slack-jawed and dazed.

Something that has happened twice in the course of a month and giving me the opportunity to reflect back on the numerous number of movies I have managed to watch. Luckily, helping run the movie social-networking site gives me ample opportunity to view no end of unique films and these are some of my favorite head-scratchers.

5. Naked Lunch (1991)

Naked Lunch is often mentioned when talking about “unfilmable” novels. Yet David Cronenberg (known for his own brand of bizarre – horror and otherwise), wasn’t going to let that stop him. In 1991, he released Naked Lunch, which was recently re-issued on Criterion Blu-ray. While the film isn’t exactly an adaptation of the novel – it doesn’t have to be – it’s just as strange on its own. Is it about drug addiction? Or the process of writing while on drugs? Giant cockroaches? In the end, maybe it’s about nothing at all, but I still struggle to grasp the meaning.

4. Eraserhead (1977)

I could pretty much pick and choose from the many films of David Lynch, but I’ll take his original full-length film, Eraserhead. Five years in the making, with some of the most surreal imagery put on film, the theories surrounding the film abound but I honestly think this is one film that defies all attempts at analysis. It’s just incredibly strange all around – from a mutant baby a singing lady in the radiator – and that’s all there is to it.

3. Holy Motors (2012)

On of the more recent films that will join this list is Holy Motors from Leos Carax. Essentially we follow actor Denis Lavant as he takes on a variety of roles based on a series of contracts he is handed while being driven around in a limo. Also, there is an accordion interlude and he is apparently married to a baboon (in the literal sense). Is there some deeper meaning here? I have no idea – all I know is that Levant is amazing, the film is insane and I hope Carax keeps on making them.

2. El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973)

For quite awhile the only way to see the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky was to catch a midnight show as some indie theater. But when his films were finally released for home viewing, I wasn’t about to pass them up. This entire list could be boiled down to El Topo and The Holy Mountain. Apparently I would need to take a class in symbolism to get into the meat of this issue – but as it stands, a double bill of these films is enough to make anyone’s brain leak precariously out of their ears.

 1. John Does at the End (2013)

Finally, I’ll end on a lighter not with another film I recently watched that is as amusing as it is crazy. That is John Dies at the End, which, for some reason, reminded me of Naked Lunch (on the surface). Based on the book by David Wong, who must have some serious issues, because the movie is completely crazy (but in a good way). Once again drugs play a major part, as do a heroic dog, a man speaking to the dead on a bratwurst and alternate dimensions. But out of all the movies on this list, it’s the only one in which you will find Paul Giamatti playing a black man.

I had a lot of fun remembering some of the more… interesting film I have come across. And now, if you excuse me, I have to reassemble the pieces of my mind.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of and writes for The Pitch. He’s former President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls, Ultimate Fakebook, and Truck Stop Love . He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Matt Brown June 4, 2013 at 8:15 am

The Jodorowski mention reminds me of when I tried to watch Dušan Makavejev’s Sweet Movie. Did you see that? I guess I don’t know enough about Eastern European history…or something…


2 Candice Frederick June 4, 2013 at 12:00 pm

yes, Holy Motors!


3 Xavier June 4, 2013 at 4:53 pm

I thought John Dies At the End was really average, the main actor I thought was terrible and the constant narration was trying way too hard to be clever and pithy to the point it was grating. I really love Holy Motors though, for me it was about the absurdity of the life of an actor, jumping from life to life, each of which serves as a meta parody of each genre that Denis Levant acts within. The tonal shifts are amazingly well done, each “appointment” being better than most actual films in that genre. The ending is also reminiscent of an episode of Brum which is awesome.


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