(*homocinematically inclined)

Monday, April 20, 2020

Dearest Review: Late Night Double Feature Picture Shows

Have you nixed Netflix? Hurled Hulu? Dissed Disney+? Seeking inspiration for your next quarantine streaming binge? Searching for something off-the-wall in these increasingly off-the-wall times? Then look no further than Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All-Time. This new 3-part, monthly documentary series (available on demand and digital starting tomorrow) takes a deep dive into the history of films on the fringe, from Reefer Madness to The Rocky Horror Picture Show to The Room and beyond.

Each episode is divided into two sub-genres of cult films, beginning with Part 1's overview of midnight movies and "subversive cinema". Part 2 (available May 19th) shines the spotlight on horror and sci-fi faves, with Part 3 (available June 23rd) rounding up the comedy and camp classics. Each of the 47 movies selected is given a nice chunk of time, providing plenty of clips, interviews and behind-the-scenes tidbits to entice you to check them out, either for the first time or as a second (or fifty-second) viewing.

Of course, as with any list of the "greatest", there are bound to be some odd inclusions (Fast Times at Ridgemont High feels more like a mainstream hit to me) and egregious omissions (where for the love of god is Mommie Dearest?!?) And the "host" sections with directors Joe Dante and John Waters and actors Illeana Douglas and Kevin Pollak are superfluous but at least brief. Naturally, Waters (who has made a second career out of appearing in movie-themed documentaries like this for years now) injects some levity here, for example referring to The Human Centipede trilogy as "The Lord of the Rims".

Aside from footage from the films themselves, the meat of this series is provided by an impressive collection of filmmakers and cast members of said films, providing insightful commentary on their movies in particular and cult films in general. This all-star cast of "talking heads" includes: Barry Bostwick, Nell Campbell and Patricia Quinn (Rocky Horror's Brad, Columbia and Magenta, respectively), Jeff Bridges and John Turturro (The Big Lebowski's Dude and Jesus), Pam Grier (Coffy and Foxy Brown herself), David Patrick Kelly ("Warriors come out to play-ay"), director Rob Reiner, Fran Drescher and Michael McKean (co-stars of This Is Spinal Tap), Penelope Spheeris (director of The Decline of Western Civilization, the only documentary in this documentary), and a typically unhinged Gary Busey (pontificating on Point Break).

And that's just Part 1. Part 2 features The Evil Dead's Ash himself, Bruce Campbell, cult movie super producer Roger Corman (Death Race 2000), Jeff Goldblum (Buckaroo Banzai), Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange), Joe Morton (The Brother from Another Planet), monster makeup maven Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead), Sean Young (Blade Runner) and directors Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator), Tobe Hopper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) and Rob Zombie (The Devil's Rejects). Rounding out the cast in part 3 are comedy legend John Cleese (Monty Python and the Holy Grail), Gary Cole (Office Space), cult movie icons E.G. Daily (Valley Girl), P.J. Soles (Rock 'n' High School) and Mary Woronov (Eating Raoul), Showgirls goddess Gina Gershon, Jon Heder (a.k.a. Napoleon Dynamite), John Cameron Mitchell (director/star of Hedwig and the Angry Inch), The Room's Greg Sestero ("Oh hi Mark"), Best in Show scene-stealer Fred Willard and directors Peter Farrelly (Kingpin), Amy Heckerling (Fast Times) and Kevin Smith (Clerks).

For a full list of films featured in Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All-Time, click here (how many have you seen?) And if the makers of Time Warp ever do a Part 4, they better include Mommie Dearest! Not to mention The Apple, Barbarella, Better Off Dead, Brazil, Bubba Ho-Tep, A Christmas Story, The City of Lost Children, Delicatessen, Donnie Darko, El Topo, Forbidden Zone, Grey Gardens, The Harder They Come, Heathers, John Dies at the End, Johnny Guitar, Kung Fu Hustle, Little Shop of Horrors (both versions), Manos: The Hand of Fate, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Phantom of the Paradise, Polyester, Repo Man, The Return of the Living Dead, Run Lola Run, They Live, The Toxic Avenger, Troll 2, Road House, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Skidoo, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, Valley of the Dolls, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, The Women... okay, and maybe a part 5 and 6 too.

Dearest Rating: 7/10

Review by Kirby Holt, Movie Dearest creator, editor and head writer.

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