This is the fifth in a recurring series I will be doing highlighting obscure, unknown, forgotten and underrated horror movies. The goal is to bring to light great horror of yesterday and today that just is not on most people’s radar. Just assume spoilers will be included. Enjoy.
Once upon a time, during the infancy of Netflix it was a much wilder and crazier place. Well before the days of curation via suggestions, algorithms, what’s popular and well before a release schedule where things would come on and off the service, Netflix was free and open for exploration. Their video library was vast, it essentially included everything to stream possible. Millions and millions of titles from big blockbusters to small indie films. This was a time I loved and preferred, instead of Netflix telling me, “Hey because you watched The Conjuring you might like Insidious” like no shit algorithm, how’d you figure that one out? Therefore, I have no fear of the technological apocalypse, Netflix in the modern age suggests Insidious from The Conjuring but refuses to tell me about scummy, low budget, indie horror from some arthouse horror director. Is it too much to ask? But I digress…
Old Netflix was like walking through the video store, everything was there, and it was on you the viewer to pick what you wanted to watch. Not some weak excuse for a robotic overlord in the form of a suggestion algorithm. With this huge library of choices, you had the ability to find something bizarre, something weird and something abnormal. One film that I have a clear memory of discovering is the insane film from 2010 Rubber which is about a psychotic car tire that falls in love with a girl and kills people by making their head explode with its telekinetic powers.
Have you ever watched Rubber? No? OMG, let me tell you about it.
This absolutely insane movie starts in the most insane way possible. It opens with a guy standing in the middle of a desert road holding onto tons of binoculars, the road has a whole bunch of chairs on it. Suddenly, a car turns onto the road and swerves around hitting all of the chairs. When the car stops, a cop climbs out of the trunk and delivers an insane monologue directly to the camera.
In the Steven Spielberg movie E.T., why is the alien brown? No reason. In Love Story, why do the two characters fall madly in love with each other? No reason. In Oliver Stone's JFK, why is the President suddenly assassinated by some stranger? No reason. In the excellent Chain Saw Massacre by Tobe Hooper, why don't we ever see the characters go to the bathroom or wash their hands like people do in real life? Absolutely no reason. Worse, in The Pianist by Polanski, how come this guy has to hide and live like a bum when he plays the piano so well? Once again, the answer is, no reason. I could go on for hours with more examples. The list is endless. You probably never gave it a thought, but all great films, without exception, contain an important element of no reason. And you know why? Because life itself is filled with no reason. Why can't we see the air all around us? No reason. Why are we always thinking? No reason. Why do some people love sausages and other people hate sausages? No fucking reason.
Ladies, gentlemen, the film you're about to see today is an homage to the "no reason"--that most powerful element...of style.
Yes! No Reason, none. Nothing can explain this movie because there is no explanation, there is no reason for any of it.
We find out that the binoculars are for a bunch of people who are here to watch the movie, which means watching what happens from a distance via their binoculars. After scouring the desert for a while, they finally see a junkyard and the infamous tire coming to life. As it rolls about the desert getting its bearing like a child learning to walk, suddenly it comes upon a rabbit and explodes it.
You may ask why, but the answer is “no reason.”
The movie rolls along (pun intended) as the tire leaves the desert and makes its way into town, blowing up birds and random stranger’s heads along the way until it finally finds its way to a motel. It’s at this motel where it first sees Sheila getting into the shower and falls in love. It tries to go into her room, but she throws it? Out the door and into the parking lot? It tries again, this time ending up in the shower, but she again throws it out into the parking lot. It then explodes the head of one of the house keepers and then gets depressed? Or something? The tire throws itself into the pool, drowning itself.
You may ask why, but the answer is, No reason.
While all of this goes on we continually cut back to the people viewing the movie. Over the course of a few days the are continually pointed in the direction of the action by a man only known as “The Accountant” who communicates with a mysterious Master on the phone. Each morning he wakes them up, points them in the tires direction and they complain about and discuss the movie, asking many of the questions you may be asking. One day, after a few of not eating, The Accountant comes to the campsite with a roast turkey in a garbage bag that he throws on the ground. The hungry movie goers devour the turkey like a group of rabid zombies, but soon, all of their stomach start hurting, and they die a painful death.
As the movie goers start dying, the cop from the opening monologue is interviewing people about the dead housekeeper. A timer goes off on his phone, he announces that the viewers are all dead and that everyone can go back home. The other cops are confused but he assures this that nothing is real, even getting one of the cops to shoot him to prove its fake. After taking a few gun shots, the Accountant appears and tells him that one of the viewers didn’t eat the turkey and is still watching. The tire awakens and starts rolling around again.
I’ve watched this movie a few times but, it was not until I typed out the premise that I realized how insane it truly is. Look, I know, it sounds like an absurd shit show of a movie but trust me when I say it’s absolutely amazing. It’s a beautiful looking and sounding, while the premise is insane the director does a fantastic job of making it work. Sure, there are obvious glaring question of why and what the fuck but in some strange way it makes sense.
When we find out one of the viewers didn’t eat the turkey and that the film must continue is when this movie really takes it to a strange place, but let’s be honest, we were already there. The tire shrugs off death and starts rolling around. The cop, now having to commit to the role goes back to questioning suspects but the tire explodes their heads. The tire has a conversation with a little boy who tells it that killing is bad and it needs to turn itself in but the tire refuses and goes on the run from the cops.
The cops, sirens blaring, chase the tire down the road only for the tire to turn around and explode their heads with its telekinesis. The Accountant brings a ton of food to the lone viewer, a curmudgeonly old man in a wheelchair, who denies the food knowing it’s poison and only wants to watch the rest of the movie. For some reason, probably no reason, the Accountant eats all the food himself and tells the story of killing his own brother with a rock. Soon, he dies and the tire encounters a man burning tires in the desert. In a moment of rage the tire goes on a killing spree. We fast forward 3 days later, exploded heads are everywhere and the tire is seen watching NASCAR in a hotel.
The more and more I write, the more and more insane it gets. I promise though, it gets weirder.
The cop from the beginning and Sheila the love interest attempts to kill the tire. They dress up a mannequin like Sheila and attached explosives to it. From the back of a surveillance van Sheila calls to the tire from a speaker on the mannequin, “Come and blow my head off you little jerk.” She reads from the script, “Don’t you think I’m sexy? I’ve been a bad girl, blow my head off you big slut”
Suddenly the viewer in the wheelchair bangs on the back door and complains how the ending of the movie is too slow. They should flamethrower the tire or blow it up with a bazooka, frustrated, the cop goes in the house with a shotgun, shoots the tire multiple times and brings out its carcass and gives it to the man in the wheelchair.
The tire then resurrects as a tri-cycle, explodes the viewers head and then rolls away, animating tons of other tires along the way amassing an army of tires.
Yeah. That’s a thing…
Overall, Rubber is probably the most unique and bizarre film you will ever see in your life. True insanity. The tag line of the movie is, “Are you TIRED of the expected?” If you are, then Rubber is the film to watch. Horror in the sense that it has tons of head exploding gore, comedy in the sense that you can’t help but laugh at the crazy twists and turns the films takes along its wild ride. Writer director Quentin Dupieux certainly makes a bizarre film that is a must see for all fans of horror and the absurd. Just like the cop says in the opening monologue, “All great films, without exception, contain an important element of no reason.” Rubber is certainly one of those great films
Want more from this series? Just search below: