Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Malcolm McDowell in 'A Clockwork Orange'

Have you ever seen a cult movie?

Which is your favorite?

What kinds of movies do you like?

It can be a little difficult to explain just exactly what a cult movie is. And there are a couple different opinions. Cult films can be almost of any genre ( 部類 burui): Horror, Action, Drama, Comedy, Sci-Fi etc.) ...
One of the best horror films, 'The Shining' is often quoted and imitated and "spoofed" by other shows and movies; but does that make it a Cult Film?

but some Cult Films often fall outside, or between, these genre themes as well. And if a Cult Horror movie is not really terrifying there is certainly plenty of strangeness.

'Naked Lunch', is not exactly what you may think it means
A VERY Strange movie...

According to Wikipedia a cult film is

a film that has acquired a cult following. 
(Fans of a certain movie are seen as a group, like a cult).

Cult films are known for their dedicated fanbase (devoted "Hardcore" fans),
an elaborate subculture that engage in repeated viewings (watch the movie many times, as a group or alone),
quoting dialogue = 台詞を真似する, and audience participation=観客が役者の身なりや動作、台詞などを真似する. 

In the past these movies were not big Hollywood productions. They were smaller budget (low cost, with new or untrained actors), obscure 無名の映画 or difficult to see films often with transgressive  度が超えた映画  themes.

Like Divine in 'Pink Flamingos'...
'Pink Flamingos' 1972
Divine struggles to become "The Filthiest Person Alive"

Or some films that were not popular when they first premiered but gained a huge cult following with late night midnight movie shows... like 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show'...
'The Rocky Horror Picture Show'.  The Queen Mother of Cult Movies
features cross dressing space aliens.
Rocky Horror has the longest-running theatrical release in film history. It gained notoriety as a midnight movie in 1977 when audiences began participating with the film in theaters. 
Audience participating at a midnight showing of 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show'

Hardcore fans at a midnight showing of 'Rocky Horror'. Many dress like characters from the film.

Rocky Horror is the first film from a major Hollywood studio to be in the midnight movie market. The motion picture musical has a large international cult following and is one of the most well-known and financially successful midnight movies of all time. Even almost 40 years later it is still shown in theaters worldwide as a midnight movie! 

Audiences are encouraged to participate in the 'Rocky' experience by dressing up as characters, yelling dialogue at the characters on the screen, dancing, singing and even using props like newspapers, noisemakers, rice or tissue paper (at appropriate times during the movie).

I first saw 'Rocky Horror' in 1989 in Madison, Wisconsin. A year or so later I joined the 'Rocky' cult in Daytona Beach and Orlando Florida. 'Rocky Horror' is a guaranteed weekend party. It is really remarkable how the mutual love of a single film can bring people together and form friendships that can last a lifetime. 

Japan has some of it's own Cult films of Horror, New Wave, and Crime - Drama. Akira Kurosawa's films are known all over the world and are known in the West as "Samurai Cinema". So, there is a Kurosawa Film Cult, a Japanese Horror Film Cult, Japanese Big Monster Film Cult etc.
Some examples of Japanese Cult Movies (of the Horror genre) would be 

Godzilla (1954)

Onibaba (1964)

Jigoku ("HELL") (1960)

House ("Hausu") (1977)

Kwaidan (1964) THIS ONE IS A MUST SEE!! Very ghostly traditional Japanese atmosphere

At the risk of dating myself... here is a list of some of my favorite Cult Films, (of course I really enjoy Horror films), in no particular order.

#1. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
"Don't Dream It.... Be It"

Horror - Sci-Fi - Rock-n-Roll Musical - Comedy.

#2. Suspiria (1977)
Italian Horror with marvelous color, music, sound and atmosphere. Spectacular murder scenes.

#3. Harold and Maude (1971)
Black Comedy - Drama - Romance (?) and 70's touchstone. Great music by Cat Stevens.

#4. Any Horror Film starring Vincent Price (usually based on an Edgar Allan Poe story)
Masque of the Red Death (1964)

The Raven (1963) with Boris Karloff (Frankenstein, The Mummy), Peter Lorre and a very young Jack Nicholson

The Abominable Doctor Phibes (1971)

Cult Horror - Overacting, overkilling, overdressing (in a really great way!) etc... etc... etc...

#5. The Boondock Saints (1999)
Action - Black Comedy - Crime Drama.

#6. Female Trouble (1974)

A new high in low taste... Cult Comedy based on the idea that "Crime = Beauty".

#7. The Company of Wolves (1984)

Dark Fantasy - Horror - Subtle erotic symbolism played on the Little Red Riding Hood theme.

#8. The Hunger (1983)

Stylish Horror starring Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon. A vampire film that never mentions the word "vampire".

#9. Flash Gordon (1980)

Sci-Fi - Fantasy - Action - Adventure with a rocking soundtrack by QUEEN !

#10. FREAKS (1932)

Human Drama - Horror. A deeply moving and disturbing film that features real people with various deformities as circus sideshow performers. The film was banned for years and received limited showings. It is now a classic of Cinema. The ending where the "freaks" get their revenge on the malicious couple is one of the most disturbing scenes in cinema. Here is a trailer:

I must also give honorable mention to ...
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Horror - Suspense - Mystery -Thriller that smells of brimstone.

Technically Rosemary's Baby is not a "Cult Film" because it is a very widely known and popular major studio release with an all star cast and crew. But that doesn't stop me from being a devoted fan of the movie. I sometimes imagine acting it out 'Rocky Horror' style in a theater; I even imagine casting people I meet in daily life in various roles LOL.

Of course there are many other films I haven't mentioned (Island of Lost Souls, Carnival of Souls, Daughters of Darkness, any film directed by David Cronenberg or David Lynch etc...just to name a few) but I hope this gives a small introduction to Cult Movies to my Japanese friends. Watching foreign language films are an excellent supplement to foreign language study. It improves listening ability and pronunciation with repeated viewings.

You can check out other Cult Films by copying and pasting these links here into your browser:



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