A cult you'll want to join

Cult films aren't for losers anymore

 by Jacqueline Mazur
 published on Thursday, September 21, 2006

Katie E. Lehman / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE
Theater student Sara Guzman displays her underground cult classic films with great pride. Guzmansí favorite director is David Lynch.

The sayings "Say hello to my little friend" and "I've had it with all these motherfuckin' snakes on this motherfuckin' plane" may seem like they don't have a lot in common.
But what ties this well-known line from "Scarface" with the newer mantra from "Snakes on a Plane" isn't their cheesiness. It's the films' status as cult classics.
The simple definition of a cult film is any film that has a passionate following of people.
But some critics argue that for a film to reach true cult classic status, it has to undergo a series of tests.
Oscar Giner, ASU professor of film, performance and directing, says the film must be a complete failure in the box office. Then, the movie must have a following of people a few years after the film was released. If these criteria are met, the film can be considered a cult classic.
Theater sophomore Sara Guzman says some people have misconceptions about what makes a cult film.
"A majority of people like movies like 'Wedding Crashers' and all that junk," Guzman says. "Cult films bring in new ideas for movies, and most of the time people don't like new things."
Giner says true cult films aren't just new ideas; they are ideas that become part of everyday life.
"You know a film is a cult classic when films become part of everyday language," Giner says.
Even though cult-film followers were originally viewed as being weird or unhealthy, today people embrace cult films for their artistic value, Giner says.
"I guess when you think about it, cult films don't follow the norm," Guzman says.
We've all heard about "Snakes On A Plane" and are familiar with the large following it has amassed, but some believe it will never reach cult-classic status. Others say that "Snakes" transcends the usual cult-film genre.
"It's an interesting phenomenon," says English literature junior Kali VanNimwegen. "['Snakes'] was a cult before it was even released. That was the weird thing."
Music composition senior Lydia Eickstaedt disagrees.
"It can't be a cult because it's brand new. Cult films cannot have a following right off," she says.
Some cult classics like "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," "Eraserhead" and "The Living Dead" series appeal to some viewers and are considered horrible films by others.
But that doesn't stop some people from loving cult classics - and sharing their obsession with others.
Giner's obsession with "Scarface" is the subject of the novel he's currently writing, titled "Beyond Scarface." Next semester he will also teach a class devoted to analyzing the film. He anticipates a large following.
"I'm not going to demean anyone's cult," Giner says. "There's room for everyone, and that's what cult classics are for."

Reach the reporter at: jacqueline.mazur@gmail.com.



Top 10 cult classic films
Here are SPM's picks for flicks you should check out
10. Showgirls (1995) - Don't laugh. Elizabeth Berkley made the perfect transition from "Saved by the Bell"'s Jessie Spano to uber-crazy slut.
9. I Heart Huckabees (2004) - We laughed, we cried and we signed up for Philosophy 101.
8. Reservoir Dogs (1992) - From the twisted mind of Quentin Tarantino, this film follows five criminals on the not-so-perfect crime.
7. The Boondock Saints (1999) - The only thing better than a man with an Irish accent is a man with an Irish accent saying the Lord's Prayer over a pool of blood.
6. Reefer Madness (2005) - This musical is a play off the 1936 anti-marijuana film of the same name.
5. Donnie Darko (2001) - Giant bunnies, crime and time travel. No explanation necessary.
4. A Clockwork Orange (1971) - Stanley Kubrick's intricate film about a young punk in futuristic Britain who is conditioned to be a good boy is a must-see.
3. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) - Drag queens, transvestites and musical numbers... this film transcends time - through a time warp, maybe?
2. Dead Alive (1992) - Peter Jackson's best movie to date. The story of one woman who just won't die.
1. Army of Darkness (1992) - Sam Raimi's directive genius brought us Bruce Campbell's unforgettable character, Ash, and lines like, "Yo, she-bitch. Let's go!"

-- Tara Brite






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