Monthly Archives: August 2005

MIDNIGHT MOVIES: FROM THE MARGIN TO THE MAINSTREAM

Stuart Samuels’ documentary is a kind-of fascinating examination of a unique segment of cinema history, how it has affected pop culture, and the impact it has had on movies today. In 1970, Alexandro Jodorowsky (“Santa Sangre”) made a bloody, violent, controversial, surrealistic, visually stunning Mexican Spaghetti Western called “El Topo.” When it arrived in America, “El Topo” (we learn) first played in midnight shows only. Soon, it was a cult hit, drawing in lines around the block. John Lennon and Yoko Ono loved it. Then, a man named Allen Klein (the Beatles manager) bought it at Lennon’s urging and attempted to release it in a mainstream theater at all times of day before giving up – it flopped outside the midnight circuit. This first watershed success of a “midnight movie” became the cornerstone of cult cinema and a tradition that lives on today. In his documentary, writer-director Samuels investigates this phenomenon, and how it has affected the successful longevity of once-deplored and/or confusion-ridden passion projects such as George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” (1968), John Waters’ “Pink Flamingos” (1972), Perry Henzell’s “The Harder They Come” (1972), Jim Sharman and Richard O’Brien’s “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975) and, ultimately, David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” (1977). Through archival news footage, new interviews with the filmmakers, interviews with critics like Roger Ebert, J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum, as well as the various figures who affected (both positively and negatively) the impact these films had in their initial inceptions, Samuels’ documentary gives an alternatingly fascinating and previously unseen look at a worldwide cinematic phenomena.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under 2005