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10 Weird Animated Films

Features
by The Playlist Staff
March 4, 2011 6:10 AM
12 Comments
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"Coonskin" (1975)
Abrasive, aggressive and banned, repackaged and, as of now, blocked from mass media consumption, Ralph Bakshi’s groundbreaking mix of animated and live action film concerns three African American animals who rise up the ranks of criminals in Harlem. As they take on the mob and crooked law enforcement officials, the trio float from live action to animation, as they move through African American history and iconography, exploiting the racist caricatures of the late twentieth century black man. It shows how deeply ingrained in our society the images lampooned in the film are when you watch “Coonskin” today and realize how little has actually changed, which speaks poorly to American society as much as it does to the lasting power of one of Bakshi’s best and most confrontational works.

“The Adventures of Mark Twain” (1986)
At some point not too long ago, a curious clip made rounds on the internet, one that involved three claymated kids and a creature speaking of death, the futility of mankind, and a few other disturbingly thoughtful topics in a creepy voice. Simply titled “Banned from TV,” seasoned vets were quick to point out that it was a sequence from Will Vinton's 1986 "The Adventures of Mark Twain," the first feature film to be entirely clay-animated. In this tale, Twain legends Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Becky Thatcher hitch a ride on the author’s airship as he rides on a collision course towards Haley's Comet, encountering different embodiments of his philosophy along the way. Nothing in the film is as disturbingly odd as the clip above (some TV airings even went so far as to cut it out of the broadcast), but make no mistake: it's very much an acid-trip, from the warping pet frog to the extended story of Adam & Eve, all culminating with Twain meeting his "dark" half. It's an old treasure worth revisiting, sober or not.

“The Tune” (1992)
Certainly any of Bill Plympton's animated features would fit comfortably on the list, but it's his bizarre musical debut that remains closest to the heart. Following songwriter Del on a quest to write the perfect song in hopes to impress both boss and main squeeze, the filmmaker takes every opportunity in this charming collection of vignettes to showcase pure weirdness, with some catchy songs thrown in for good mesaure. Plympton (aka the man who flipped off Disney) has often been derided (unfairly) for having a crude style, but those that are less quick to dismiss his lo-fi sensibility will find much to appreciate, particularly in his ability to illustrate transformations and the unique tone his style brings. "The Tune" is completely wild, driven by a youthful desire that still feels fresh and fun almost two decades later. Plus, how can you not love a film that displays this kind of comic genius?

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12 Comments

  • BEn | January 7, 2012 6:53 AMReply

    Add 'Cat Soup' if you like the other stuff mentioned here...

  • BEn | January 7, 2012 6:47 AMReply

    Wow, a list that doesn't totally suck.
    Of course, the list could go on for days and days listing every single awesomely weird and thought provoking, but mainly mind fucking, animation flick.

  • Paul D | March 7, 2011 4:37 AMReply

    No "Triplets of Belleville"?

  • Tim Boxell | March 6, 2011 3:57 AMReply

    Track down Aachi and Ssipak a Korean feature from 2006. When Peter Chung (Aeon Flux creator) showed me the script, I really didn't believe it could be made as a feature because the premise was so off the wall. The film existed as one of the best trailers ever and then not only was made--I saw it on the big screen at the Hole in the Head film festival--but it was gloriously insane, violent and funny. It's everything animation should be in the sense of its liberating power of imagination.

  • Stephen M | March 5, 2011 3:59 AMReply

    Spirited Away, as everyone knows by now, is a masterpiece. But not everyone knows that The Adventures of Mark Twain is also amazing, so thank you for helping to spread the word. Just the facial detail in the claymation is incredible, and the way it turns Mark Twain's life and words into a treatise on life, the world, and philosophy is brilliant. It's on YouTube, look it up.

    I would also like to second the other nominations from commetners: Allegro Non Troppo is one of the great animated films, and Jan Svankmajer is one of the great animators. Of course, much of the best work in world animation is in shorts, not features, so if you're interested in real animated art, check out Yuri Norstein, Frederick Back, Alexandre Petrov, Jiri Trnka, and Norman McLaren.
    This page has a good introduction to the great works: http://www.imdb.com/list/cS6nsI9PksQ/

  • ken | March 5, 2011 3:15 AMReply

    Inception ripped off Paprika and everybody knows it!

  • N | March 4, 2011 11:15 AMReply

    Also, let's not forget everything by Jan Švankmajer.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5wHMgTPF-s

  • WG | March 4, 2011 6:49 AMReply

    A Town Called Panic, definitely.

  • Christopher Bell | March 4, 2011 6:44 AMReply

    @Paul

    I thought about Eva but didn't want to write up something that wasn't stand-alone. Also haven't seen it in years and wanted to watch the entire series again, plus the reboot (if only because of the whole theory on whether the reboot is actually that or a sequel to "End")

  • Paul | March 4, 2011 6:32 AMReply

    End of Evangelion. Hands down. Only movie I can think of where the end of the universe is everyone orgasming into pools of liquid & having our souls sucked into giant vagina stigmatas on the hands of a large naked female Angel.

  • Marko | March 4, 2011 6:32 AMReply

    I think a few other films that would be good for this feature would be Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure, Allegro Non Troppo and Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters.

  • cirkusfolk | March 4, 2011 6:23 AMReply

    The Goon would be a perfect fit if it would ever freakin come out!

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