Starring Joe Dante, John Waters, Patricia Quinn, Pam Grier
Written by Paul Fishbein, Irv Slifkin, Danny Wolf
Directed by Danny Wolf
The kickoff to an expansive, three part documentary spanning nearly five hours, Volume 1 of Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All-Time focuses its ray gun on the Midnight Madness craze, when lesser known experimental films were given a spotlight, destined to be discovered and revered by stoner cinephiles that unknowingly had the power to turn a movie into a movement. Hosted by Joe Dante, Ileana Douglas, Kevin Pollack and John Waters (the Fantastic Four of cult fandom), this first edition runs through all of the films you’d expect to be covered from 1975’s RKO Radio Picture The Rocky Horror Picture Show to the glam filth masterpiece Pink Flamingos to … Johnny Utah in Point Break? In a who’s who of legendary talking heads, a staggering collection of actors is on display including Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell, Jeff Bridges, Pam Grier, Sid Haig (RIP), Penelope Spheeris, and yes, Gary Busey.
What is the definition of cult? Is it exploitation and art colliding and then finding a dedicated, vocal minority that fans the flames of devotion? Can you set out to intentionally make a cult film or is there a purity lost when that accidental magic dust isn’t sprinkled over some anointed celluloid to pluck it out of obscurity? These questions are asked and answered in Time Warp without being pseudo intellectual. This isn’t film criticism necessarily; it’s a retelling of the phenomenal rise of films like Coffy, Reefer Madness, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and The Decline of Western Civilization told by the people that were there.
The granddaddy of all Midnight Madness movies is also discussed in length: David Lynch’s Eraserhead, Initially overlooked and deemed too perplexing to market (certainly check marked criteria for cult status), Lynch’s twisted black & white family film had a modest budget and took years to complete. In the late ‘70’s, the father of the midnight movie, Ben Barenholtz succeeded in getting Eraserhead exhibited as a midnight feature at Cinema Village in NYC’s Greenwich Village. It played every night for a year, eventually making its way to San Francisco’s Roxie Theater where it continued it’s incredible run for another year. Although Rocky Horror is also discussed at length (to my great delight), horror fans will undoubtedly be more interested in the details overturned and examined surrounding Lynch’s first and, arguably, most enduring creation.
Volume 1 will be available On Demand and On Digital April 21, one day after stoner Christmas, so maybe watch Reefer Madness then jump right in to philosophical musings by Jeff Bridges about The Big Lebowski. Volume 2 will cover Horror and Sci-Fi, covering fan faves like Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead, Devil’s Rejects, Human Centipede, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Death Race 2000. Volume 2 special guests will include the infamous Bruce Campbell, Rob Zombie, Edwin Neal, Malcolm McDowell, PJ Soles, and the immutable Kevin Smith.
Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All -Time Volume 1 Midnight Madness is available April 21 On Demand and On Digital; Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All-Time Volume 2 Horror and SciFi will be available May 19, 2020; Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All-TIme Volume 3 Comedy and Camp will be available June 23, 2020.
Look for reviews of Volume 2 and Volume 3 closer to release!
This surface level documentary still delves deep enough to entertain with endless interviews, but some fans looking for more obscure, drive-in discoveries may not find enough new info.