Back in the ’70s, Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky started production on what— in his ideal version— would be a 14-hour experience resembling an acid trip for the audience. His adaptation of Dune was to star Salvador Dali, Orson Wells, and Mick Jagger. The brilliant documentary about the Dune that never happened makes Jodorowsky look like a radical genius who can quite possibly bend all of reality to suit his wishes, and who definitely makes David Lynch— whose Dune did eventually get made— look like a studio’s straightlaced dream by comparison.
Lost In la Mancha
If you haven’t seen Lost In la Mancha yet, I really don’t know what you’re waiting for. Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was meant to be the story of a 21st Century man who time-and-fiction-travels to wind up alongside Don Quixote. But after enduring basically everything that could possibly go wrong on a film shoot— flash floods, airplanes, money troubles, injured actors, whatever gypsy curse Gilliam has on him— only this documentary was completed. It may not be Gilliam’s intended movie, but it is one of the greatest experiences in schadenfreude available for consumption.
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse
Not all movies that go horribly wrong end up abandoned. Apocalypse Now is another movie where everything that could have gone wrong did, but the final product was still not only finished, but ended up a masterpiece.
Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau
Again, not all unlucky movies are abandoned. But some of them probably should be. The amazing thing about Lost Soul is that it is about a billion times better that the 1996 The Island of Dr. Moreau, the movie whose scenes this doc explores behind. The movie reveals a TON of completely bonkers factoids about the making of Stanley’s Moreau, but the biggest takeaway may be that Val Kilmer is a HUGE dick.
Hurricane of Fun: The Making of Wet Hot American Summer
Wet Hot American Summer may not have had the multitude of severe impediments as other films on this list, but when you have a one month shooting schedule for a movie that is supposed to take place all in one beautiful, sunny summer day, and then it rains nearly every day of that month… well, that’s unlucky enough to be included here. Fortunately, the movie got finished, but even more fortunately, a whole bunch of behind the scenes footage of Amy Poehler, Baby Bradley Cooper, and a shit ton of other super charming people hanging out and waiting out the rain was recorded and then released as this documentary a decade and a half later. I know WHAS is divisive material around these parts, but I swear it does not matter if you’re a fan. You will be a fan of this documentary. You will also be desperate to know the rules to Snaps.