The UHF of the film world.
Latest news

David House [Celluloid 06.24.20] documentary

Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All-Time- Vol. 3 Comedy and Camp, the third and final part of the delightful documentary series Time Warp is available to stream on June 23, and you shouldn't miss it. This is the most fun part of the three volumes; a look at Comedy and Camp cult classics. Not everyone can watch some of the more violent and gory cult classics but all of us love a good laugh, and they're here aplenty.

We start with a look at the "randy teenager films." Fast Times At Ridgemont High and Valley Girl (both directed by women) lead off with stories about trying to get laid or falling in love. They're full of energy and succeed for many reasons, not least of all the compelling breakout performances of young Sean Penn's perpetually stoned surfer dude, and Nicolas Cage's city punk. Another important reason for our love of these films is that they're packed with high energy music throughout. The Plimsouls perform in Valley Girl and the Ramones are a big part of Rock 'n' Roll High School.

Some cult films featured no big stars, but still found a rabidly devoted following. Napoleon Dynamite is an example of this. It's the story of an underdog, a nerd, a real geek, the essence of a loser, who is just trying to fit into the world. This film was very much "its own thing," but it became a piece of pop culture because lots of misfits and weirdos could relate to it. It's very much a love it or hate it film, but it has lots of fans.

In 1994 Kevin Smith took the world of cinema by complete surprise with his little black and white portrait of a day in the life someone with a shitty job. Clerks is a story that is relatable to a lot of us, toiling away at something we hate to do, but have to, in order to pay the rent. Kevin had no money to make his first film but managed it by maxing out several credit cards. This is one of several great little "insider" behind-the-scenes stories that we are treated to in this documentary series.

Office Space is another comedy cult classic about "jobs that suck." A tale of being stuck in the dreaded brain-numbing office cubicle, with that obnoxious, passive-aggressive, prick boss who you can't avoid. This is just the film to laugh your head off at and help you feel better after an annoying day at your own job that you just abhor.

The mockumentary is a wonderful comedy sub-genre that hits the spotlight here with Best In Show. It's a unique combination of satire with the serious, that results in a wildly entertaining "insanity of the ordinary." This film is especially popular with dog lovers. Apparently, much of the dialogue was ad-libbed and improvised. (Yet another trivia gem that I learned from watching this Time Warp series.)

Kingpin with Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid and Bill Murray was a theatrical box office flop when it was released. It didn't achieve its cult status until it enjoyed a video release. Bill Murray took a quick look at the script, and then went on to ad-lib virtually every line that he spoke! The movie is set in a bowling alley. Apparently Woody was a horrible bowler, so he was given lots of professional instruction. It was fruitless though; he didn't improve one bit. Bill Murray on the other hand, in the climactic scene where he needs to finish with three strikes in a row to win the tournament, actually threw 3 strikes, and the cast and crew all went wild.

Super Troopers is another much-loved comedy that's full of energy. You will love the "behind-the-scenes" story here about the scene where the troopers chug a whole bottle of maple syrup Monty Python and the Holy Grail was a smash hit with cult fans. Here we have a surreal blend of slapstick and gore; a sublime mixture of the silly and the serious. John Cleese tells us - "we had no idea what we were doing," and "the plot was almost non-existent." Something else that I learned in this documentary is that the film was mainly funded by the bands Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd and Genesis.

Time Warp: Volume Three also looks at Campy cult classics. Beyond The Valley Of the Dolls and Show Girls were both big studio misfires. These X-rated films pushed the envelope and boundaries of good taste. They're both artefacts of an era that found their devoted following with their VHS and DVD success.

Bad taste cinema also gets a look at here in the documentary. The panel talk about the "so bad it's good" phenomena of Ed Wood's career with films like Glen Or Glenda and Plan 9 From Outer Space. The transgender punk-rock Hedwig And The Angry Inch and John Water's Female Trouble, with the transvestite Divine, also get featured and discussed. The bizarre, Eating Raoul, with its swinging sex parties, murders and cannibalism, close out this part of our journey.

The finale of our trip down Comedy/Camp Cult Classic Lane brings us to a look at cult today, with the unavoidable, The Room, from legend-in-his-own-warped-mind Tommy Wiseau. Despite a 3.7 rating on IMDb and a spot on the top of many folks "worst of all-time film list," this movie has endured and enjoyed a strong cult following in spite of the ridiculous dialogue and continuity mistakes. Years ago, a video clerk told me "You've got to watch this film. It's so bad it's good." Well, I listened to her and rented it. After watching it I felt compelled to write my first ever IMDb user review, where I said that the video clerk who recommended it was half right, and I wondered where I could go to get that 100 minutes of my life back? I'm sorry, but NO, you won't find me at a midnight screening of The Room at the Rio theatre here in Vancouver, with a big bag of popcorn, a large beer and a pocket full of plastic spoons, giddy and gleeful at the guest appearance of Tommy Wiseau or Greg Suestro. But I am glad that it gets some of you out of the house to gather with other avid cult cinephiles, to share your love of quirky films, and enjoy them on the silver screen, in the magic of the midnight darkness. I hope to see you all there soon for some of our other Cult Classic faves. Meanwhile, take care and stay safe.

Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All-Time- Vol. 3 Comedy and Camp is available on VOD and streaming on June 23.

Recommended Release: The Disaster Artist

You might also like

Leave a comment