My Top 5 Influential Cult Films

Celebs and Media, Distractions, Personal Bits 2 Replies

Before I start, I have to delineate the difference between B-List and Cult – this is my own interpretation, so take it as you will. B-List is a movie that has been utterly shunned by the general populace as being bad. I’d pay no more than $5 to see a B-List movie at a repertory theatre but there’s a 50/50 chance said movie is not in my collection at home. Meanwhile, a Cult movie would be a B-List movie that more than 75% of the populace has seen and hate, yet somehow lives on in the hearts of the socially inept.

5. Akira. I struggled with this one. Akira is as popular in Japan as Goin’ Down The Road is in Canada. My animation history class was shown a 20 min clip of this movie as an example of how Japan dominates the world in cartoons. If you’ve any appreciation for hand drawn cartoons, there’s a good chance you’ve seen it and the sequence (Hand drawn! No computers!) of the psychic bubble blast racing through Neo-Tokyo is iconic*. You may know that there’s a remake being made right now in the US which is getting fanboys up in a tizzy. With Geekcred so high and steering the almighty Hollywood dollar nowadays, I’m pretty sure it is destined to fall upon it’s sword.

4. Blue Velvet. As Stock, Aitken and Waterman were telling me that they were never going to give me up, I wandered into a theatre in London to witness this David Lynch movie. Britons went mental for Blue Velvet, purely because of it’s campy undertones of US society rotting from the inside. To everyone else it was just a melodramatic freakshow that was signature Lynch – three times a charm! I wanted to include Dune in with this entry (Dino De sets! Costumes!) as that they both seem to be so obviously riling against the Hollywood studio machine yet still have uber-symbolic moments of “uh…what the fuck?” See: Dean Stockwell singing like a half mounted drag queen into a light. Blue Velvet has the distinction of having a scene so uncomfortable for me, that I nearly… nearly… left the theater: Where Jeffery is slowly taken around the underbelly of his hometown and eventually beaten to a pulp. We know Frank is going to pummel him but not before taking him for a joy ride in his world. Yes. It freaked me out.

3. Flash Gordon. Yet another Dino De Laurentiis boilerplate, trying to compete with Star Wars and Buck Rogers (??) bandwagons. Like Barbarella, but a hell of a lot less sexy/campy, we’re treated to a plethora of characters in various states of undress. Max Von Sydow’s over the top Ming will always be burned into my memory as being the prime example of my “British Make the Best Villains Theory”. Why do I find this movie “influential”? I think I’ve written about this before. It has more hairy men per frame than a lot of movies out there. Plus it has one of my top 5 favorite lines: “Dispatch War Rocket AJAX, to bring back his body!”

2. Blade Runner. “But Dead Robot,” I hear you whine, “This movie made millions! It was pivotal in it’s design and story! It ushered us into a new wave of Science Fiction that was taken seriously and even respected!” Oh shut it. No, I include this in the cult list purely because like when Lucas started to hack and cut his masterpieces, Ridley did the same to his one really good film… SEVEN TIMES. But unlike Star Wars, the cuts/re-edits are seamless and in every iteration of the movie, create something better, if not equal to each other. These many versions don’t sit well with many for whatever reason – “Dekker was a Replicant, his dream proved it! I hated the Unicorn, it was ass fake! The Voiceover was the only thing that made sense! Raspberries!” – yet there is a small group of fans who like them all! So I say “Cult” and here it sits! Now. Let me tell you about my mother…

1. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. I’ve never seen a more polarizing movie. Those who don’t get it, can’t watch more than 20 minutes before their brains fry. Those who get it, swallow up every detail and revel in discovering something new with every viewing. The IMDB trivia page is of average content, but to me, each item there is a little starburst of fun. You have to love a sci fi movie that rifts on Thomas Pynchon novels in a fun way. I love how the whole movie was set up as if a franchise had been in place for years, much like Cloverfield had all those external clues to augment it’s story. If you pay attention to ABBA8D, you get much more appreciation for the movie.

*yes I used that word. Sorry.

2 thoughts on “My Top 5 Influential Cult Films

  1. Cb

    How did I not know that you were a Flash Gordon devotee like myself??

    It is in my top 10 favorite all time movie list, I have an original foil promo poster from 1980 for it, and I also have the playgirl with Sam Jones in it. (he’s a brunette!)

    I love everything about the movie (particularly the costuming!)

    Oh, and I like your whole top 3 list. And I use “John BigBootay” as an alias sometimes.

  2. postbear

    buckaroo banzai all alone is terrific, but if you stop to analyse it, it really just gets better, which is something so stupidly rare out of hollywood. you can actually make a solid week out of watching good films that starred peter weller and/or jeff goldblum, particularly from that same short time period: robocop, naked lunch, the fly, into the night – and i’ll stand by screamers as going without the respect it deserves, as well as a few others and some huge chunks out of some otherwise junk movies.

    the people who don’t like bb? evil red lectroids, the whole lot of them. oh, and since we’re on this topic, how’s that john lithgow item i loaned you?

    you ought to do a list of important moments that were terrific despite being crammed into otherwise terrible or forgettable films. grace jones in conan the destroyer deserves a place in the sun.

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