2. AUDITION (1999)

With Audition, Miike pulled off one of film’s greatest fast-ones on the lucky, yet unsuspecting, folks who saw it back in ’99, before the movie became the stuff of infamy. For almost an hour, Audition feels like a romantic comedy. The set-up alone is like something out of a high-concept date movie starring an Ashton Kutcher type: To rectify his dating woes, a widower holds auditions for women to win the role of his next wife, though the “auditions” are disguised as ones for a movie.

But once the protagonist falls for one girl in particular, Miike’s inner sadist comes out to play. We first realize that the chick is nutso in a brilliant shocker of a sequence—as Miike holds on a shot of the woman sitting in a grungy apartment, waiting for the phone to ring, a sack on the floor next to her suddenly convulses.

From there, her insanity materializes through acupuncture needles and piano wire, and we’re not about to describe how she uses those tools here. Audition’s final act is what single men’s nightmares are made of, and demands a previously uninformed audience. Just don’t expect to voluntarily date new girls for some time after.