What makes a cult film?

Discussion in 'Entertainment' started by Improvolone, Mar 23, 2005.

  1. Improvolone

    Improvolone New Member

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    I'm going to be doing a research paper on cult films, and have already painted myself into a corner. How would you guys define cult films? Could you list some?
    I've got Rocky Horror, Evil Dead series, Kentucky Fried Movie, Eraserhead. I mean, where is the difference between a classic film and an honest to God cult flick? Where to Exoricst and Texas Chainsaw Massacre fit in? They don't have a cult following (*at least not to my knowledge), but they are indeed timeless pieces that are always looked at.
    Now that I think about it, Kentucky Fried Movie seems more like an underground film, rather than a cult flick. Which unfortunatly, provides another level of difficulty...
     
  2. edrox

    edrox A good man, and thorough

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    To me - a cult film has the following characteristics:

    Low to moderate initial box office success
    Huge 'underground' support for the film
    Fans of the film are rabid about it - memorize lines, scenes, trivia, even going so far as to act it out (RHPS)
    Typically the subject of the film is not our mainstream drama or comedy. Think Napolean Dynamite - Office Space
    People who enjoy the film will watch it over and over again

    To me, a cult film takes on a life outside of itself. For example, people go to the RHPS not so much to see the movie, but to interract with other fans. When you see a "Vote for Pedro" shirt, you know exactly what that refers to. Swingline started making red staplers after the cult-like success of Office Space.

    The cult movie outlives most other films, because of its supporters. How long ago did the Monty Python troup make "The Holy Grail"?

    Exorcist is not so much a cult film, because it was so successful, and even got nominated for Oscars (I think...?)
    Texas Chainsaw Massacre is closer.
     
  3. Improvolone

    Improvolone New Member

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    Wouldn't you associate Vote For Pedro with pop-culture more than cult film?
    Also, considering Python films to be cult classics on their own is a no go. That's like saying that Star Trek movies are cult followings. I'm limiting this paper to films that on their own ground gather a cult following. Monthy Python's Flying Circus was out years before their first film. They already had a following.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2005
  4. The Dread Pirate

    The Dread Pirate New Member

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    First off, let me say Napoleon Dynomite is NOT a cult film. I hate that movie with a passion. There. I said, it. It sucks - its pop culture and a fad. In 5 years nobody will even remember it.

    Anyway, Wes, I'd say a cult film is a movie with very special but limited appeal. Normally it would have wierd characters and unconventional humor or plot. While the movie may not have initial box office success, it becomes somewhat popular months, or more likely years after its release. It also will stand the test of time. The movie will retain the same values to fans no matter how much time passes. I'd say a good example would be It's a Wonderful Life, a movie that is now considered a classic, but when released had very, very little success.

    Other cult movies could be:
    Evil Dead
    Dead Alive (or any of PJ's early works)
    RHPS
    Raising Arizona
    Mallrats
     
  5. Improvolone

    Improvolone New Member

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    So Dread, would you rate Star Wars a cult classic despite it being a box office explosion?
     
  6. Chrissy

    Chrissy dnb doll

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    little shop of horrors

    those are cult classics :)
     
  7. The Dread Pirate

    The Dread Pirate New Member

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    Absolutely. Although it has become a pop culture phenomeon (a benchmark almost) it is still a cult movie at heart. Even Lucas has said he originally meant for Star Wars to be a cheesy b-movie.
     
  8. SS109

    SS109 3100 FPS OT Supporter

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    I would say Star Wars isn't a cult classic.
    Just too famous and too mainstream.

    Movies that celebrate certain sub cultures and are loved by certain groups are cult films in my opinion.

    Examples:
    1) Pink Flamingos
    2) Super Troopers
    3) And Office Space is getting so famous that it is no longer a cult film. I have even been told it is required viewing in a management course I took.
     
  9. edrox

    edrox A good man, and thorough

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    Dread
    Because you think a movie "sucks" has nothing to do with it. As a piece of cinema alone, RHPS is awful stuff, as are many 'cult' movies. OK, maybe its too early to put Napolean Dynamite in that category, time will have to tell

    Improvolone
    Interesting point on Python. But so few Americans had seen MPFS and the movie still gathered a lot of post-box office steam and following.
     
  10. lionsgraphics

    lionsgraphics OT Supporter

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    edrox covered it pretty much so i won't repeat him.

    But there're lots and lots of cult films and there're too many of them to start listing, therefore i think you can get away by mentioning big ones like Reservoir Dogs, Brazil and those Sam Raimi flicks and by mentioning recent ones like Napoleon D even tho' i don't like it.

    Btw, whoever mentioned the Pink Flamingos, damn there're couple of scenes there which are permanently burnt into my memory.

    Heavenly Creatures' culmination scene > * everything else was meh, except some cool angles.
     
  11. Improvolone

    Improvolone New Member

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    Napolean Dynomite is rooted in pop-culture and has yet to prove itself to be a cult film. Of course, I will make mention to films of this sort, but by no means (to me) does it garner the title of a "cult flick".
     
  12. mr jenzie

    mr jenzie New Member

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  13. pixie

    pixie on one wild ride :naughty:

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    Star Wars isn't a cult film-when it hit everyone went to see it... Okay, I exagerate a little, but still. It was the most mainstream movie in 1977. It was the biggest grossing movie untill E.T. I think. Everyone knew who Luke, Han & Leia were. It was to huge a success, no matter what Lucas might have meant for it to be.
     
  14. Improvolone

    Improvolone New Member

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    However, it's a cult film due to it's cult like following. Star Wars happens to be probably the biggest cult film.
     
  15. The Dread Pirate

    The Dread Pirate New Member

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    Exactly. It has all the elements of a cult film, just on a MASSIVE scale (prequels are NOT cult films, however). I'd also group Star Trek as a cult hit.
     
  16. Improvolone

    Improvolone New Member

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    What's more cult-ish than the Jedi religion?

    The show? Totally agreed.
     
  17. SmokeTheFly

    SmokeTheFly New Member

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    Limited correct interpretation.
     
  18. Improvolone

    Improvolone New Member

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    Then explain Eraserhead. Lynch himself has never said what it means.
     
  19. angel_fiire

    angel_fiire ******

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    How about Donnie Darko?
     

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