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The Best No Wave Movies Ever Made

“What are the best No Wave Movies?” We looked at 122 of the top No Wave films, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

The top 30 films, all appearing on 2 or more “Best No Wave” movie lists, are ranked below by how many times they appear. The remaining 75+ movies, as well as the sources we used, are in alphabetical order on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 30 Best No Wave Movies Ever Made



30 .) Beauty Becomes the Beast directed by Vivienne Dick

Beauty Becomes the Beast

Lists It Appears On:

  • Rate Your Music
  • Sense Of Cinema

Directed by Vivienne Dick.



29 .) Born in Flames directed by Lizzie Borden

Born in Flames

Lists It Appears On:

  • Mad Museum
  • Rate Your Music

In a future where a socialist government gains power, a group of women decides to organize and rebel.



28 .) Buffalo ’66 (1998) directed by Vincent Gallo

Buffalo '66 (1998)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB 2
  • Indie Pix Films

Billy is released after five years in prison. In the next moment, he kidnaps teenage student Layla and visits his parents with her, pretending she is his girlfriend and they will soon marry.



27 .) Cornella: The Story of a Burning Bush directed by Kembra Pfahler

Cornella: The Story of a Burning Bush

Lists It Appears On:

  • Mad Museum
  • Rate Your Music

Kembra Pfahler’s contribution to the 1980s downtown performance art movement



26 .) Downtown ’81 directed by Edo Bertoglio

Downtown '81

Lists It Appears On:

  • Mad Museum
  • Rate Your Music

The film is a day in the life of a young artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat, who needs to raise money to reclaim the apartment from which he has been evicted. He wanders the downtown streets carrying a painting he hopes to sell, encountering friends, whose lives (and performances) we peek into.



25 .) G-Man directed by Beth B

G-Man

Lists It Appears On:

  • Rate Your Music
  • Sense Of Cinema

An exploration of social schizophrenia in which terrorists consult their mothers before planting bombs, and the head of the New York City bomb squad succumbs to his dominatrix.



24 .) Geek Maggot Bingo or The Freak from Suckweasel Mountain (1983) directed by Nick Zedd

Geek Maggot Bingo or The Freak from Suckweasel Mountain (1983)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Rate Your Music

From the warped mind of underground auteur Nick Zedd comes this campy horrorfest that follows screwy scientist Dr. Frankenberry as he attempts to resurrect the dead, aided by his hunchbacked minion. Adding to the twisted fun are Donna Death as bloodsucking temptress Scumbalina, Richard Hell as punk-rock cowboy crooner the Rawhide Kid and Tyler Smith as Frankenberry’s monstrous two-headed creation, Formaldehyde Man.



23 .) Goodbye 42nd Street (1986) directed by Richard Kern

Goodbye 42nd Street (1986)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Mad Museum

Shots of walking down 42nd Street showing storefronts including everything from Texas Fried Chicken to 25cent porn arcades.



22 .) Guérillière Talks directed by Vivienne Dick

Guérillière Talks

Lists It Appears On:

  • Rate Your Music
  • Westword



21 .) I Hate You Now (1985) directed by Richard Kern

I Hate You Now (1985)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Rate Your Music

About a deformed guy and his girlfriend.



20 .) Mommy Mommy Where’s My Brain (1986) directed by Jon Moritsugu

Mommy Mommy Where's My Brain (1986)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Rate Your Music

Part AC/DC, part Jacques Derrida. An experimental film made as a response to the critical theory aspects of the filmmakers degree and academic film criticism.



19 .) Permanent Vacation directed by Jim Jarmusch

Permanent Vacation

Lists It Appears On:

  • Rate Your Music
  • Westword

In downtown Manhattan, a twenty-something boy whose Father is not around and whose Mother is institutionalized, is a big Charlie Parker fan. He almost subconsciously searches for more meaning in his life and meets a few characters along the way.



18 .) Police State (1987) directed by Nick Zedd

Police State (1987)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Rate Your Music

Zedd is minding his business, when he is stopped by a cop who accuses him of being a junkie. After a short argument he is beaten and dragged to the police station. At the station he is interrogated by a detective (Rockets Redglare) and the police chief. After being beaten and tortured several more times, Nick Zedd’s character mutilates himself with some hedge cutters.



17 .) She Had Her Gun All Ready directed by Vivienne Dick

She Had Her Gun All Ready

Lists It Appears On:

  • Rate Your Music
  • Sense Of Cinema

Vivienne Dick’s second film has at its centre two of the ‘subjects’ of her first film Guerillere Talks. Moving from a kitchen on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the film explores the dynamic between a complacent, almost catatonic Pat Place and the demonic, aggressive Lydia Lunch, ending with a showdown at the rollercoaster on Coney Island. The film utilises a linear narrative which is counterbalanced by an impressionistic view of New York



16 .) Stray Dogs (1985) directed by Richard Kern

Stray Dogs (1985)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Rate Your Music

A fan tries to get an artist’s attention by literally coming apart.



15 .) The Blank Generation directed by Amos Poe, Ivan Král

The Blank Generation

Lists It Appears On:

  • Mad Museum
  • Rate Your Music

The cream of New York new wave/punk filmed live at CBGB’s when the scene was just beginning. Includes performances by Patti Smith, Blondie, Television, the Ramones, Talking Heads, the Heartbreakers, the Shirts, Wayne County, the Marbles, the Dolls, Miamis, Harry Toledo, and the Tuff Darts (w/Robert Gordon).



14 .) The Bogus Man (1980) directed by Nick Zedd

The Bogus Man (1980)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Rate Your Music

A look at a conspiracy involving the United States president.



13 .) The Foreigner directed by Amos Poe

The Foreigner

Lists It Appears On:

  • Rate Your Music
  • Westword

A French special op suffers an existential crisis as he wanders New York City in search of a mission and the requisite connections.



12 .) The Offenders (1980) directed by Beth B

The Offenders (1980)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Rate Your Music

A punk savage satire about a kidnapping.



11 .) The Right Side of My Brain (1985) directed by Richard Kern

The Right Side of My Brain (1985)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Rate Your Music

The sexual misadventures of a sexually insane girl.



10 .) The Wild World of Lydia Lunch (1983) directed by Nick Zedd

The Wild World of Lydia Lunch (1983)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Rate Your Music

A filmmaker follows his girlfriend around London with a camera featuring narration from a cassette tape she made for him to break-up the relationship.



9 .) Underground USA directed by Eric Mitchell

Underground USA

Lists It Appears On:

  • Mad Museum
  • Rate Your Music

The Sunset Blvd. of underground cinema, and a suitably ambivalent retrospect on the star-game casualties of New York’s upper depths, with Patti Astor statuesquely hysterical as a 20-year-old Norma Desmond, made up to recall Edie Sedgwick and surrounded by Warhol’s lost children. We’ve been here before, but without the hindsight: a camera cruise along a hustler’s meat-rack, kitchen-talk over cold canned spaghetti, Taylor Mead grimacing in a spastic dance, the silent stud a sullenly passive observer. Mitchell’s ear for campy native wit and eye for figures in a loft-scape happily keep at bay the otherwise contagious NY ennui. ×



8 .) Variety directed by Bette Gordon

Variety

Lists It Appears On:

  • Rate Your Music
  • Sense Of Cinema

A repressed young woman develops a fascination for pornography and voyeurism while selling tickets to adult movies.



7 .) Vortex (1982) directed by Beth B

Vortex (1982)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Rate Your Music

A film noirish atmosphere is created to show detective Lunch (a popular underground musician and poet) plow her way through the plans of a corporate businessman who seeks government defense contracts through real “corporate wars” and the manipulation of politicians.



6 .) War Is Menstrual Envy (1992) directed by Nick Zedd

War Is Menstrual Envy (1992)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Rate Your Music

Set in a post-apocalyptic future, the story finds a handful of ragged survivors attempting to communicate with dolphins, while another cadre of survivors have made it their crusade to destroy all the world’s religions.



5 .) Worm Movie (1985) directed by Lung Leg

Worm Movie (1985)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Rate Your Music

Experimental short film starring Lung Leg and a worm.



4 .) Zombie Hunger (1984) directed by Richard Kern

Zombie Hunger (1984)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Rate Your Music

Zombie Hunger is an experimental short film depicting a group of people shooting up and then vomiting.



3 .) Black Box (1979) directed by Beth B

Black Box (1979)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Mad Museum
  • Rate Your Music

A man is tortured by his girlfriend and then locked inside a black box.



2 .) Stranger Than Paradise (1984) directed by Jim Jarmusch

Stranger Than Paradise (1984)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB 2
  • Indie Pix Films
  • Mad Museum
  • Rate Your Music

Rootless Hungarian émigré Willie, his pal Eddie, and visiting sixteen-year-old cousin Eva always manage to make the least of any situation, whether aimlessly traversing the drab interiors and environs of New York City, Cleveland, or an anonymous Florida suburb.



1 .) They Eat Scum (1979) directed by Nick Zedd

They Eat Scum (1979)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Mad Museum
  • Rate Your Music
  • Westword

The rise, fall and rise of a teen death-rock idol.



 


The 75+ Additional Best No Wave Films



 

# Movies Directors Lists
31 Acid Is Groovy Kill the Pigs (1993) Joe Christ IMDB
32 Alien Portrait   Rate Your Music
33 Amy Strangled a Small Child (1998) Joe Christ IMDB
34 Animal Factory (2000) Steve Buscemi IMDB 2
35 Anybody’s Woman Bette Gordon Sense Of Cinema
36 Baby Doll   Rate Your Music
37 Barbie (1977) Tina L’Hotsky IMDB
38 Belladonna (1989) Beth B IMDB
39 Black Hearts Bleed Red (1992) Jeri Cain Rossi IMDB
40 Blue Pleasure   Rate Your Music
41 Broken Flowers (2005) Jim Jarmusch IMDB 2
42 Catholic (1991) Richard Kern IMDB
43 Cave Girls   Rate Your Music
44 Coffee and Cigarettes (2003) Jim Jarmusch IMDB 2
45 Communion in Room 410 (1988) Joe Christ IMDB
46 Contortions   Rate Your Music
47 Dead Man (1995) Jim Jarmusch IMDB 2
48 Doomed Love   Rate Your Music
49 Down by Law (1986) Jim Jarmusch IMDB 2
50 Ecstasy in Entropy (1999) Nick Zedd IMDB
51 Ecstatic Stigmatic   Rate Your Music
52 Empty Suitcases   Rate Your Music
53 Fingered (1988) Richard Kern IMDB
54 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999) Jim Jarmusch IMDB 2
55 Go to Hell (1986) David Rutsala IMDB
56 Hell Is You   Rate Your Music
57 Heroin   Rate Your Music
58 Horoscope (1991) Richard Kern IMDB
59
Incontinence: A Diarrhetic Flow of Mismatches
  Rate Your Music
60 Interview (I) (2007) Steve Buscemi IMDB 2
61 It Took Guts   Rate Your Music
62 Judgement Day   Rate Your Music
63 Kidnapped   Rate Your Music
64 King Blank   Rate Your Music
65 King of Sex (1986) Richard Kern IMDB
66 Letters to Dad   Rate Your Music
67 Liberty’s Booty   Rate Your Music
68 Llik Your Idols   Rate Your Music
69 Long Island Four   Rate Your Music
70 Manhattan Love Suicides (1985) Richard Kern IMDB
71 Mass Homicide   Rate Your Music
72 Men in Orbit   Rate Your Music
73 Minus Zero   Rate Your Music
74 Money   Rate Your Music
75 Motel L   Rate Your Music
76 Motive   Rate Your Music
77 Mutable Fire!   Rate Your Music
78 My Nightmare (1993) Richard Kern IMDB
79 Mystery Train (1989) Jim Jarmusch IMDB 2
80 Nazi (1991) Richard Kern IMDB
81 Night on Earth (1991) Jim Jarmusch IMDB 2
82 No Picnic   Rate Your Music
83 Nymphomania (1994) Tessa Hughes-Freeland IMDB
84 Pierce (1990) Richard Kern IMDB
85 Pompeii New York   Rate Your Music
86 Punking Out   Rate Your Music
87 Raw Nerves: A Lacanian Thriller   Rate Your Music
88 Red Italy   Rate Your Music
89 Rome ’78   Rate Your Music
90 School of Shame (1984) Nick Zedd IMDB
91 Sewing Circle (1992) Richard Kern IMDB
92 Sex, Blood and Mutilation (1995) Joe Christ IMDB
93 Sleepless Nights   Rate Your Music
94 Sonic Youth Feat. Lydia Lunch: Death Valley 69 (1986 Video) Judith Barry IMDB
95 Sonic Youth: Scooter + Jinx (Moneylove) (1990 Video) Richard Kern IMDB
96 Spidarlings (2016) Salem Kapsaski IMDB
97 Staten Island   Rate Your Music
98 Submit to Me (1985) Richard Kern IMDB
99 Subway Riders   Rate Your Music
100 The Bitches (1992) Richard Kern IMDB
101 The Brown Bunny (2003) Vincent Gallo IMDB 2
102 The Deadly Art of Survival   Rate Your Music
103 The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight Beth B Sense Of Cinema
104 The Driller Killer   Rate Your Music
105 The Evil Cameraman (1990) Richard Kern IMDB
106 The Limits of Control (2009) Jim Jarmusch IMDB 2
107 The Trap Door (1980) Beth B IMDB
108 The Way It Is   Rate Your Music
109 Thrust in Me (1985) Richard Kern IMDB
110 Tom Thumb in the Land of the Giants (1999) Nick Zedd IMDB
111 Totem of the Depraved (1983) Ela Troyano IMDB
112 Trees Lounge (1996) Steve Buscemi IMDB 2
113 Tumble (1991) Richard Kern IMDB
114 Unmade Beds   Rate Your Music
115 We Are Not to Blame (1989) Casandra Stark IMDB
116 What Is It, Zach?   Rate Your Music
117 Where Evil Dwells (1985) Tommy Turner IMDB
118 Woman at the Wheel (1985) Richard Kern IMDB
119 Wrecked on Cannibal Island (1986) Casandra Stark IMDB
120 X Is Y (1990) Richard Kern IMDB
121 You Are Not I   Rate Your Music
122 Zombie Hunger 2 (1984) Richard Kern IMDB

 


 


7 Best No Wave Film Sources/Lists



Source Article
IMDB Cinema of Transgression/ No Wave
IMDB 2 No Wave Cinema
Indie Pix Films No Wave Cinema
Mad Museum No Wave Cinema
Rate Your Music No Wave Cinema films
Sense Of Cinema No Wave • Feminist Cinemas
Westword Four weird no-wave films

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