/Answers: The Craziest Movie You've Ever Seen In A Theater

Every week in /Answers, we attempt to answer a new pop culture-related question. Tying in with the release of mother! (which is apparently even nuttier than the trailers suggest), this week's edition asks "What is the craziest movie you've ever seen in a theater?"

Jacob Hall: Night Train to Terror

How do you even begin to talk about Night Train to Terror, one of the most baffling movies I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing on the big screen? This 1985 horror anthology is something you have to see to believe, preferably when it's late enough that you start to doubt your senses.

The framing device finds God and Satan riding the (night) train (to terror), discussing the fate of various souls and using their magical window to transport us into a trilogy of terrifying tales. Okay, so terrifying isn't the right word. Bats*** and incomprehensible and dizzying are better words. It's all the more baffling because each segment of the anthology is edited down from an entire feature – I realized this while watching the movie for the first time because I had actually seen one of the features they had cut down and it was like watching the original (already bad) movie on fast-forward. Oh, and with added claymation sequences.

Yes. Night Train to Terror is a horror anthology built entire out of pieces of other movies but with newly shot claymation scenes to add more sequences of horror and gore. It's a trip. Did I mention the band? No? Well, the (night) train (to terror) that God and Satan are riding is also transporting a rock band with a seemingly infinite number of members, who dance and sing and rock out and act like they're in an early MTV music video at all times.

Yes. Night Train to Terror is a horror anthology built entire out of pieces of other movies but with newly shot claymation scenes to add more sequences of horror and gore as well as extended musical numbers where a rock band on the titular train perform to an audience of no one. Holy s***. Holy f***ing s***, you guys. This movie exists.

Night Train to Terror is available on Blu-ray (!) and streaming on Shudder and I dare you to ingest the mind-altering substance of your choice and watch the hell out of it. Unless you're lucky to find a repertory screening of it like I did. And in that case: you must drop everything you're doing and see it.

Hoai-Tran Bui: Swiss Army Man

I frequent one of my favorite Landmark theaters because it serves — somewhat pricey — drinks that I can take into my screenings. There are just some movies that call for a glass of wine in hand, or a shot of whiskey before you watch it: trashy rom-coms, pulpy B-movies, midnight screenings of The Room. But I was completely sober when I walked into Swiss Army Man, and I left feeling like I just had the most surreal trip of my life.

Swiss Army Man is the directorial debut of Daniels, the duo responsible for DJ Snake's infamous "Turn Down For What" music video in which partygoers wreak havoc with their object-breaking penises. So it's not a huge surprise that they went on to direct a feature film about Daniel Radcliffe's farting corpse.

The thing about Swiss Army Man is I went in expecting it to be completely absurd. The premise was ridiculous enough, with a shipwrecked Hank (Paul Dano) using Manny the corpse's farts to help him jet off the island, and the corpse providing a various set of tools  — the penis becomes a compass, Daniel Radcliffe vomits out drinking water, you get the gist — that aid in Hank's survival. But as the movie progressed, it somehow started to make sense. There was a deeper meaning behind this journey with the farting corpse, something about separating yourself from the clutter and burdens of society to understand what's truly important. The amazing thing about Swiss Army Man is that it got so close to a point — before descending into one last fart joke. The movie can be encapsulated in one scene: the ending, in which Hank takes the fall for all the damage that he and Manny have done, before Manny makes one last grasp at life and jets off to freedom as witnesses stare in wonder and Hank's father inexplicably gives a proud nod of approval. And Mary Elizabeth Winstead says what we were all thinking at that moment, "What the f***?"

Ben Pearson: The Clock

This entry isn't quite in the spirit of twisty, jaw-dropping movies like mother!, but instead is a chance for me to praise one of the most fascinating and insane art projects I've ever witnessed. Christian Marclay's The Clock is a staggering piece of cinema unlike anything you'll ever see. The premise: Marclay has edited together a film that runs for 24 straight hours, using footage from movies across all genres and cinematic eras – the catch is that a watch or a clock has to be visible on screen at practically all times, and the time in the movie is synced with the actual time in real life.

If you started it just before noon, you'd see Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Titanic win the hand of cards that gives him tickets to the ship, and he and Fabrizio race away toward it. Then there'd be an abrupt cut to Gary Cooper in High Noon, waiting for the clock to strike. Or if you watched it around 10:00pm, you may see a scene of bank robbers synchronizing their watches before a heist before the movie cut to the lightning strike on the clock tower in Back to the Future at 10:04pm.

It took Marclay and his team of assistants over a year of research to discover if creating this movie would even be possible, and then another two years of editing to put it all together. It's an unbelievable, spellbinding, totally crazy achievement, but because it contains clips from thousands of different films, it's impossible to screen in real theaters; your best bet is to keep an eye on your local museum scene to see if it might pop up in a brief installation near you.

Lindsey Romain: Phantom of the Paradise

I'll never forget the experience I had seeing Phantom of the Paradise on the big screen – totally by accident.

A friend and I had purchased tickets to a 70mm presentation of 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, something we were jazzed about for weeks. I was practically breathless with anticipation as we sat in our seats before the show, prepared to have my mind properly f***ed by the unique presentation of one of my favorite films, and in the company of a sold-out crowd – something I always dreamed about but never thought I'd experience.

So imagine my dread when the theater manager took the stage to tell us the projector wasn't working properly and the screening was postponed. Instead, he told us, they would air Brian de Palma's Phantom of the Paradise as an apology. I'd never heard of the film, but my friend and I decided to stay put and see if it was worth staying for. And thank god we did, because I instead had my mind f***ed in a way I could never have anticipated.

Paradise is a crazy movie, made crazier by my total ignorance of its existence. Imagine going cold into a glam rock opera starring Paul Williams, Jessica Harper, and William Finley as a bats***, black-lipped Phantom of the Opera-type character who is transformed from a lowly composer into the masked demon after falling into a record press. I've never been so immediately raptured by a movie – it remains a favorite to this day. It was a crazy introduction to a crazy movie, made crazier by the wild way the audience – primed for a steely Kubrick movie – let their guards down and embraced the whole thing with maniacal, delightful laughter and applause throughout.

Chris Evangelista: The Neon Demon

The Neon Demon is chock-full of WTF moments, all of them presented in that glorious self-pretentious sheen that only Nicolas Winding Refn can deliver. But there's one wild scene in particular that caused the audience of the screening I was attending to collectively lose their dang minds. If you haven't seen The Neon Demon, here's the basic set-up: Elle Fanning is a teen model living in Los Angeles, and literally everyone wants to posses her in some capacity. The entire town has Fanning fever. Including Ruby (Jena Malone), a makeup artists who befriends Fanning early in the film. Ruby is a make-up artist for both the dead as well as the living, and after Fanning's character rebuffs Ruby's romantic advances, Ruby heads to work at the city morgue. There, she finds herself alone in a room with a corpse of a woman, and proceeds to climb atop the body and have sex with it. In other words, The Neon Demon is fun for the whole family.Up until this scene, the audience I saw The Neon Demon with was mostly on board with what the film was selling. But the minute Jena Malone leaned in and passionately kissed a corpse, I could literally feel the discomfort sweeping across the theater. And when Malone began straddling the dead body, there was a mass exodus – people literally sprang up out of their seats and fled the theater as if it were on fire. This was, of course, exactly the type of reaction Refn was likely looking for. So mission accomplished, I'd say.

Matt Donato: Mad Max: Fury Road

In 2015, George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road dared to defy a cinematic climate that one might describe as stale and repetitive. Admittedly, it plays to the same nostalgia-sniffing audiences who shifted studio mindsets towards current trends – but that's merely a surface tease. Are there crazier movies out there by definition? Of course. Go watch 1990: The Bronx Warriors and try to figure out what's going on. But, for my money, Mad Max: Fury Road is my craziest theater watch based solely on what it represents. Human blood-bags and pimped out death-mobiles are an added bonus.

You can begin with the obvious – the very visual style and soundtrack of Miller's two-hour-long chase sequence (Junkie XL providing synth-rock battle cries). That's all Fury Road is, as per its more than apt title. Max, Furiosa and company fleeing from danger, Immortan Joe in hot pursuit. Minimal dialogue, maximum carmageddon carnage. The Fast and the Furiosa. Explain how THAT pitch meeting ended with a green light.

Yet, Miller's commitment to unconvention is fully backed by big-budget minds who allowed the filmmaker indulge in extreme minimalist pleasures. All the vehicles are real, practical "props" built for mass destruction. Hazy color scaling ranges from fiery auburn hues to nightscape blues. Miller is given full creative license and he goes for it – never a sense that interference may detract.

Fury Road also came at a time when moviegoers were thirsty for female heroes, and, once again, Miller bucked the trend by introducing Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa – the film's true badass. Tom Hardy gets his jollies kicked as Max Rockatansky, yet he needs Furiosa to survive. She might be missing an arm, but is more skilled in ways that he happily concedes to. When he lets her take the now infamous rifle shot, Furiosa using Max for balance – perfection in the form of such a simple admission, but so meaningful given its context.

In many ways, Mad Max: Fury Road was an answer to so many mainstream movies that weren't willing to take a risk. A time of comedy remakes, superhero franchises and redundancies that wanted nothing more than to make a "safe" buck. Then in steps a character known only as The Doof Warrior, who torched and rocked away any sense of theatrical malaise that began to set in. Harems overthrown, water divided amongst the people, and originality once again permitted in the most road-raging way. Our world an incendiary sandstorm of fire and blood.

I lived, I died, and I lived again thanks to Mad Max: Fury Road. A constant reminder of what's possible when you trust an artist (looking at you, SO MANY studios). Smacks of the right kind of crazy if you ask me...

Christopher Stipp: Borat

I've still got the cardboard ticket, too.

One of the best five minute preambles you'll ever get from going to zero to a 100 MPH with regard to wanting to see a movie was when Sacha Baron Cohen unleashed Borat onto an unsuspecting audience inside Comic-Con's Hall H 11 years ago. Looking back on it now, it's not Sacha's deceptively lewd/innocent Borat that left its mark because many were left wondering who in the hell this was that was talking to them but it was that no one knew just how big of a juggernaut this would become once people started to become decimated by the movie's comedic punch. It was at the sneak preview screening that was held later that night when the world was treated to something I have not experienced since seeing it in 1996. And that was seeing a movie like Borat in the company of other people who were dialed into what the movie was selling and who lost their minds as they tried to comprehend what in the world was being shown to them. It may be that I don't have as many communal cinematic experiences as I once did or that I haven't seen enough movies with a packed house but I just remember the high of laughing along with a crowd. It was exhilarating. Missing lines being spoken on screen because people couldn't stop giggling from what came before? This isn't a reason to be angry, it's more reason to embrace the joy of seeing a movie like this with, literally, a packed house. Be it movie premieres I've seen since or even comedies I've had a chance to see with others, nothing has come close to that night's revelry. Running of the Jew? "High-five!", "You will be my boyfriend?", and "Is nice!"? This was the social shorthand and verbal tics many of us carried around with us for months after the film was released and only helped cement in my mind that what I experienced months before the movie came out was something special and one of the better Comic-Con moments I've ever been a part of.


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