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David House [Celluloid 04.23.20] documentary

It has been my pleasure to get a sneak peak at this new documentary series about Cult Films.

Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All-Time, Volume One: Midnight Madness is the first of three parts and debuts for On Demand viewing, Tuesday April 21. The second and third episodes will be released May 19 and June 23. You are in for a treat in this exploration of a fun and fascinating area of Film history.

Cult movies include a broad range of material, but what they have in common is a rabid following by their extremely devoted and obsessed hardcore fans. Their passion for these films includes their feelings of being misunderstood by mainstream society but finding a home with fellow freaks in these little known cinema gems that they have "discovered" and turned one another on to. Many of the movies are underground or independent efforts that have struggled to be screened. When some of them finally get shown, it's usually "word of mouth wildfire" that turns them into cult favourites. And nowhere is this more true than with the Midnight movies crowd.

The Saturday Midnight movie is a real big deal for many independent theatres; often playing to full-house crowds. These are mostly young folk who have the energy to stay up and party through the wee hours when their elders are sawing logs. And not only are these late night attendees full of energy, but they're often in a chemically altered state. Getting high is a big part of the scene. Alcohol for many, but other mind altering and hallucinogenic substances may fuel their enthusiasm. Enthusiasm, yes, this is a hallmark of Midnight Madness movie crowds.

Audience participation, throwing rice, (or popcorn), wearing costumes, singing along, shouting at the actors on screen, or loudly reciting the dialogue in sync with them. This is a big part of what makes these late-night movies so special. Sadly, this is what makes watching this episode a bit of a bummer. During this current period of self-isolation and Covid lock-down, all our cinemas are shuttered and watching Vol.1 Midnight Madness makes one deeply nostalgic and anxious to get back inside the comforting darkness of the home of the silver screen with our brothers and sisters of Midnight Madness movie mayhem.

A unifying feature of cult films in general, and Midnight Madness especially, is that these are films that the crowd have seen many times. No where is that more true than with the first film explored in Vol.1 of this docuseries. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the king of the Midnight shows. Host Joe Dante and his panel of Illeana Douglas, John Waters, and Kevin Pollack provide us with great colour and background stories on all the films discussed. They are joined by the likes of Pam Grier, Jeff Goldblum, Sid Haig, Jeff Bridges, Gary Busey, Rob Zombie, Fran Drescher, and many, many more for further insight and tales from the sets of these memorable movies.

Along with Rocky Horror, we are treated with visits to The Big Lebowski, Coffy, Jackie Brown (and the Blacksploitation genre), Reefer Madness, Freaks, Eraserhead, Pink Flamingos, Harold & Maude, This is Spinal Tap, Faster Pussy Cat, Kill!, Kill!, The Decline of Western Civilization, Assault on Precinct 13, The Naked Kiss and Point Break. The scary, surreal, absurd, pornographic, hilarious, unpredictable, ridiculous, violent, subversive, shocking and dangerous nature of these movies is great to revisit. Watching this episode made me want to dig out the DVDs of a couple that I hadn't seen for a while, and it may turn some of you on to a title or two that you had overlooked.

Well now that we're spending all this time at home we can search out a few of these gems and make a note to bug our local movie house to bring some of them back, once this current crisis ends. What great therapy it will be to lineup at 11:30 on a Friday or Saturday night with other oddball crazies in anticipation of screaming our hearts out at one of these classic works of Midnight Madness.

Recommended Release: TIME WARP: The Greatest Cult Films of All-Time, Volume One: Midnight Madness

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