Friday, July 10, 2009

turning this blog into a cult classic

Hang out in the video store long enough and you'll be seduced by the sales term "cult classic". Cult classic is a term so over-used and misunderstood that it invites you to make mistakes about how you might like to spend an hour and 45 minutes of your time.

Even films like Night of the Living Dead, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, are frequently cited as falling into the genre but nothing could be farther from the truth. Considering that there are five films in the Night of the Living Dead sequence calling it a cult classic is only slightly less insulting that calling the 13 Halloween movies, cult classics. The Rocky Horror Picture Show spawned a generation of suburban cross-dressers and eventually found its way to the Broadway stage so it's more like a stop at Quick Trip rather than joining a cult. Although, Quick Trip does seem to instill a certain cultist loyalty in its regular customers. There's something a little creepy about standing in line at the QT only hear the counter person say to the person in front of you- the one holding a 32 oz. soft drink refill and a microwaved burrito - "usual for you today Joe?"


Recently, after mining the new releases at the vidiot store and looking for something, how does the network put it? 'worth watching' I stumbled upon, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, a movie described, right on the cover, as a cult classic. Richard Corliss is quoted on the jacket as calling this "one of the 10 best films of the 1970s" which sounds exciting until you realize that some of the other films from that era were The Poseidon Adventure. Roger Ebert, yes that one, wrote the screenplay for the movie and its as campy and dated as an episode of Dragnet.

For Richard Corliss to place Beyond the Valley of the Dolls in the same category as films such as Annie Hall, Chinatown, Taxidriver, Badlands, Mean Streets, Midnight Cowboy, and Rosemary's Baby to name but a few is more than a little disconcerting. One thing that seems to draw people into describing a film as a cult classic seems to be that the plots and/or characters should be incredibly confused.

Remember, Billy Jack, who simultaneously managed to champion Native American spiritualism, the Green Berets, hippies, martial arts, and vigilante gunslinging? If one forgets the film grossed $40 million (about $200 million in 2009 dollars) you might call it a cult film, but you'd be better calling it a violent, mediocre rant that went on to inform even more violent, mediocre rants. Sly Stallone would later copy much of this muddled world view to great effect in the Rambo movies.

3 comments:

tbv@trustbut.com said...

For the record, The Rocky Horror Show preceded The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but perhaps not on Broadway.

TBV

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