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Eestikeelsed artiklid

EDITORIAL

EPIFANIO RECOMMENDS

CULT MOVIES AND ME
Benedict Chapman

INTERVIEW WITH HELGA NÕU
August Künnapu

THE FAKE HORSE
Helga Nõu

INTERVIEW WITH FREDRIK LAVIK, A SPECIALIST IN EAST AFRICAN MUSIC
Martin Jõela

8 QUESTIONS TO MR JOHN PETER ASKEW
Harry Pye

SPATIAL POETRY IN 2019
Vilem Künnapu

PANHUMANISM MANIFESTO
Alexey Levchuk

PAINTINGS OF ANU MUISTE

TEAM

Cult movies and me

One of my favorite ways to spend an evening is to sit back with a group of friends and enjoy a movie evening. It’s always fun and sometimes a challenge to decide what to watch but we often settle on a cult movie of one form or another. When August asked me to write this piece though it triggered me to reflect on what exactly is a “cult movie”? What is it about them that people are drawn to? And what would I like to share about them?

Trying to define what exactly is a cult movie reminds me of a famous comment from a US obscenity trial in 1964 where the judge, talking about pornographic films vs art movies, said “I shall not attempt to further define it but I know it when I see it”. To some extent it is the same with cult movies to me though there are “grey areas”. For example, is “Pulp Fiction” a cult movie? Or is it not due to the box office success it had and Hollywood roots? Rather than focus on well-known movies which might be considered “cult” I thought I would rather talk here about the kind of cult films I am drawn to, dive into one in more depth, and share some recommendations for further exploration.

In my opinion, in order to be considered a cult movie, a film must have passionate fans who are happy to watch it multiple times, some elements open to various interpretations or ongoing discussions, to not have had any substantial initial box office success and probably to have been made on a relatively low budget. Certainly not modern Hollywood releases marketed as “instant cult classic” which, to me, is a contradiction in terms! Beyond that, they often either inhabit or mix genres such as sci-fi, westerns, Kung fu, horror or musicals and may often explore counterculture elements such as sex, drugs, music etc.

The first cult movie which I really fell in love with and which is one of my favorites to this day is “Repo Man” by Alex Cox from 1984. Alex went on to make some turkeys like “Sid and Nancy”, but also some other cult classics, such as “Highway Patrolman”, which is another favourite.

“Repo Man” manages to throw into the mix punk sub culture, aliens and ufo spotters, tv evangelists, car repossessors and mid 80’s consumer culture into a massively entertaining movie with many memorable and hilarious lines and characters. I won’t give the whole plot away, but it starts with a mad scientist dying of radiation poisoning moves on to a young punk (Emilio Estevez) being tricked into becoming a Repo Man before moving into a turf war between the main set of Repo men and a rival gang led by the Rodrigues brothers. Harry Dean Stanton also gives a stand out performance, but the whole cast is excellent in my opinion.

A couple of other favorites of mine both originate from George Harrison’s “Handmade films” Company. Those are “Withnail and I” and “The Wicker Man”. In common with “Repo Man” these both appear on the IMDB list of top 100 cult movies, which is probably a good starting point for your own exploration. “Withnail” follows two semi-alcoholic young out of work actors over a long weekend of drinking in late 60’s UK. It’s a film peppered with hilarious lines, black humor and cringe inducing feelings for any viewer who has ever gone on a drink fueled bender themselves only to wake up and recall what they have done.

In contrast, “The Wicker Man” (which suffered an awful Hollywood remake), is a kind of folk musical mixed with a pagan worship suspense, horror movie. I find it especially interesting to watch in Estonia as it is set on a remote island off the coast of Scotland and one can easily imagine transporting the events to a local island, such as
Kihnu, though the locals there
may disagree with me on that! Benedict Chapman

Anyway, grab a bowl of popcorn, kick back, pull up a seat and enjoy your own dive into the world of cult films!

 

BENEDICT CHAPMAN
is a Tallinn-based British gentleman, admirer of marvellous movies.

Photo: Fred-Erik Kerner