Movies That Don’t Suck: Strange-Fi

Looking into the future typically takes one of two turns; things get better or things get worse. Then there’s a third option where things just get strange.

Here’s a lovely mix of Strange-Fi that runs from kitsch to classic, with a few stops in between. Enjoy!

Alphaville (1965)

Director Jean-Luc Godard’s noir-tinged look into the future does not present a happy picture (are you surprised?). Starring Eddie Constantine, Anna Karina, Howard Vernon, and Akim Tamiroff, “Alphaville” is run by a dictator that happens to be a computer, Alpha 60, who has outlawed free thought, love, poetry, and emotion. Constantine as secret agent Lemmy Caution travels to the city from the “Outlands” in his Ford Galaxie (Godard the wise guy strikes again) to terminate Alpha 60’s command with extreme prejudice. People should not ask ‘why’, but only say ‘because’ – Alpha 60.

Zardoz (1974)

Sean Connery sports one of the most cringe-worthy costumes in all of movie history as Zed, a Brutal, who is not happy being a slave in post apocalyptic Earth so he hops aboard the giant flying stone head that is “Zardoz” hitching a ride into the Vortex, land of the Eternals (and Charlotte Rampling), where a life of luxury and extreme boredom are on offer in the year 2293. Directed by John Boorman, Zardoz is strangely compelling.

Stalker (1979)

One of director Andrei Tarkovsky’s masterpieces, Stalker is among the most intense movie experiences in existence. Clocking in at 162 minutes, a Stalker leads two clients, the Writer and the Professor, into a restricted area called the “Zone” where there’s a place called the “Room” that is rumored to grant one’s wishes once inside. Tarkovsky shot Stalker 3 times, using over 16,000 feet of film. Be careful what you wish for.

Kamikaze 89 (1982)

Rainer Werner Fassbinder is Police Lieutenant Jansen wrapped in one of the coolest leopard print suits in all of movie history (his gun has a leopard fur covered handle too). Co-written and directed by Wolf Gremm after the novel by Per Wahlöö, Kamikaze 89 presents a dystopian totalitarian future where the government controls the media, people watch lousy TV all day, while Lieutenant Jansen investigates a bomb threat, a murder, and the mysterious subversive group Krysmopompas! Also featuring a friendly appearance by Franco Nero and a soundtrack by Edgar Froese of Tangerine Dream, Kamikaze 89 is some seriously strange-fi. [footnote 1]

1. I own the poster for Kamikaze 89, pictured up top, which I bought back in the early 1990s from a poster dealer in Boston. We spoke over the phone, this was before we lived in the internet, and when the friendly proprietor finally found this poster buried in his stock, he exclaimed, “That’s the ugliest goddamn poster I’ve ever seen. Who the hell would want to buy this?” The answer was obvious.