' ' Cinema Romantico: Definitely Not Cult Classics

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Definitely Not Cult Classics

If Danny Peary did not invent the term Cult Movies, he certainly popularized it with the publishing of his 1981 book employing the familiar term as its title and embodying the expression’s nebulous criteria with entries ranging from Orson Welles’s “Citizen Kane” (1941) to Monte Hellman’s “Two-Lane Blacktop” (1971) to and Cheech & Chong’s “Up in Smoke” (1978). Almost anything goes! “Special films,” Peary wrote of his subject, “which for one reason or another have been taken to heart by segments of the movie audience, cherished, protected, and most of all, enthusiastically championed.” Of course, back in 1981, and prior to that, before the full bloom of home video, never mind the future of digital streaming, when it was far more difficult to access movies, it naturally made things more conducive to smaller pockets of appreciators. When asked by Ben Lindbergh for The Ringer in 2021 about whether cult movies “can survive and flourish even when most movies are more easily accessible,” well, Peary gave a few answers, but did not seem to suggest that accessibility was in and of itself a bad thing. If cult movies were once cult movies partially because they had so few eyeballs on them, availability becomes something like a win for movies themselves.

That does have the effect, however, of not necessarily negating cult movies but turning everything into a cult movie, which is what Lindbergh’s Ringer colleague Bryan Curtis suggested on a recent episode of his Press Box podcast. “If you have something that stunk in the past, somebody will make a podcast about it,” Curtis said, “a web site…an amateur documentary.” Curtis said, broadly speaking, that if you go to the Wikipedia page of just about any movie, you will find it referenced as a cult classic. To anecdotally test his anecdotal theory, I immediately thought of a movie – “The Great Outdoors” – and went to its Wikipedia page and, hey now, there it was, right at the top, before the entry even got to the plot description, “The film was met with mixed reviews and has gained a cult following.” Everything really is a cult classic.

Except maybe not. I became less interested in becoming the forty-thousandth person to dissect the definition of Cult Classic and instead look through the looking glass the other way. Are there movies we can (un)officially determine are not cult classics? Oh, you bet we can.

Definitely Not Cult Classics

Wait a minute. Kilmer. Kilmer doing accents. Shue. Shue takes heart medication that she no longer needs once she falls in love with Kilmer. Moscow locations. No, you know what, I have to re-categorize “The Saint” as a Possible Cult Classic pending further investigation. 

Just a second. The only thing I know about boats is that they’ll get out of the way, which was the wisdom dispensed by Captain Ron (Kurt Russell) himself in briefly mentioning his time piloting the USS Saratoga. I think we need further time to evaluate. “Captain Ron” is rescinded from our list and re-categorized as a Possible Cult Classic. 

As chance would have it, this past weekend, Friend of the Blog Daryl mentioned “Kuffs” unprompted, seeming to suggest (Editor: plz insert name of “Kuffs” director here)’s-directed 1992 action comedy as a Possible Cult Classic. TBD 


Unknown said...

Solid list.

"In Love and War," that movie where Chris O'Donnell plays Ernest Hemingway, also comes to mind.

Nick Prigge said...

Oooooooh, good one! Definitely not a cult classic.