We love movies, particularly the strange and unusual kind. The idea of “cult films” is fascinating, because they appeal to all sorts of people. For me, film is about bringing people of all kinds together in one area to enjoy some kind of experience. Below are just a few of the hundreds of films to don the “cult” mantle. Enjoy!
In 1979, a film premiered chronicling the journey of a street gang known as The Warriors who are unjustly blamed for murder by a rival gang. As they wind and weave through the Bronx in an attempt to get back to their turf on Coney Island they encounter a colorful group of gangs occupying various parts of the city.
When it first premiered, Roger Ebert claimed it was stiff and sterile, but it soon gained an avid following. The idea of the film reflected the real life gang violence that was rampant during the 1970s in New York and took it to a level of camp that audiences couldn’t help but enjoy. Since then it has amassed an even bigger following, and just this month the cast reunited in Coney Island for one last time.
Full disclosure: this writer loves David Bowie and could have put every movie he’s ever been in on this list, but we limited ourselves to his best. “The Man Who Fell to Earth” tells the tale of an alien humanoid (Bowie) who crash lands on Earth and begins to study the way humans interact and thrive. The more “human” he becomes, the deeper he slips into a catatonic state of glowing screens and sounds.
“The Man Who Fell to Earth” is an exquisitely filmed piece of art that remains entirely relevant today. Nicholas Roeg, who also directed another one of our favorite films, “Don’t Look Now,” dared to use Science-Fiction as a medium with which to create a somewhat satirical vision of American life. Bowie, in his acting debut, embodies his character fully and is unflinching in his less than charming portrayal of an alien turned affluent human. Unfortunately, the American theatrical release cut out 20 minutes of crucial scenes and detail, making the film a tad confusing. Thankfully, the Criterion Collection remastered the film on a gorgeous transfer that includes the missing pieces to this puzzle.
Oh, and evidently Bowie is writing a stage musical version!
Stuart Gordon’s “Re-Animator” is 30 years old and still sits at 94 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes—not bad for an 80’s horror flick. “Re-Animator” debuted at Cannes (so much for all you genre haters) and was met with great praise from critics and audiences alike. The tagline goes: “Herbert West has a good head on his shoulders…and another on his desk.” West, brought to life by the impeccable genre favorite Jeffery Combs is determined to find a “cure” for death. When he finally does, his corrupt colleague steals it from him and that’s when sh*t really hits the fan.
Gordon is perhaps the only director I’ve come across who can capture the strange world of H.P. Lovecraft while also managing to make his films lively and fun. The use of vibrant practical effects in “Re-Animator” are what sets Gordon’s film apart from most other 80’s horror flicks.
David Lynch’s avant-garde student film is a great way to tell if you’re into the experimental side of movies. The story is fairly simple: a man who is recently married finds himself surrounded by unbearable in-laws and an unexpected pregnancy. As he becomes increasingly overwhelmed by his life, the environment and sounds of the film evolve into a swirling cavalcade of sensory over-stimulation.
“Eraserhead” is probably the most successful of any student film by a major director; it’s certainly gathered a following that still makes it a favorite for the midnight movie crowd. We’ll admit it can get very overpowering at times and can hit you in a different way each time you watch it, in a good or bad sense. If you can watch and appreciate “Eraserhead,” you are well-equipped to handle others in the experimental genre.
Starting as a stage show in England, Richard O’Brien’s “The Rocky Horror Show” gained a theatre following for it’s strange content and elaborate musical pieces. In 1975, O’Brien’s film adaptation of his stage show hit movie theaters and was an enormous flop—until it was revived by the midnight crowd, who found solace in its outrageous songs, its 50’s sci-fi references, and its varied and dramatic characters.
For me, “Rocky Horror” was an escape, and my first experience with finding a group of like-minded people who knew what it was to be different and like strange things. If you haven’t seen this crazy movie, Google a midnight showing around you and I promise you that no other midnight movie experience will be like this one.