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500 Essential Cult Movies Book Review

500 Essential Cult Movies Book

“500 Essential Cult Movies” is an invaluable film book.

In “500 Essential Cult Movies,” one of the most underrated film genres gets a much deserved spotlight- cult movies. For those that aren’t familiar with the cult film classification, these types of movies tend to be non-mainstream works that find a devoted audience (ala “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” or “Pink Flamingos”). Some of the films listed here may be successful, some of these films may be obscure, and others may be box office bombs that later found an audience. Regardless of how a cult film becomes a cult films, many of these films are special and important works of cinema that deserve to be seen as author Jennifer Eiss’ book so clearly shows.

Throughout the book’s 384 pages, readers are treated to a list of 500 cult films divided into genre categories that include dramas, thrillers, action, sci-fi, crime, horror, comedy, westerns and documentary/experimental/avant-garde/not easily categorized/everything else films like “Crumb” and “Eraserhead.” Each film is accompanied by credits, a plot summary, a mini review and similar films that are recommended. Many of the films suggested are not part of the 500 so in reality there are much more than 500 films listed in this book. There are also three handy indexes to search for films by title, director, or picture.

While some film buffs out there are more partial to world cinema or old Hollywood classics, I’ve always had a soft spot for cult classics. To me, cult cinema personifies what I look for in great cinematic art- daring originality and unique storytelling. Whether it’s a tried and true cult classic like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” or “The Evil Dead” or something that doesn’t get the full attention it deserves like “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?” or “Dead Man,” cult films tend to have the type of stories and characters that you’ve never seen before which is always refreshing (especially in an age where remakes, sequels, and knock offs reign supreme). Of course, if you’re expecting this book to merely list the obvious titles like “The Big Lebowski” or “Harold and Maude,” you’d be mistaken. This softcover book is filled with lesser known flicks like Takeshi Kitano’s “Sonatine,” “Carny” (starring Gary Busey), “The Long Hair of Death,” George Romero’s “Knightriders,” “Funny Ha Ha” (no relation to “Frances Ha”), “The Loveless,” and much more.

Despite the book’s fantastic content, I do have one minor quibble. While this is obviously up for debate, I do believe that some of the picks here do not qualify as cult classics. To me, films like “Singin’ In The Rain,” and “The Searchers” are simply Hollywood classics. They are established greats that have been given high honors over the years. They are not overlooked and found an audience at the time of their release.

Overall Thoughts: “500 Essential Cult Movies” is an absolute bargain for anyone who wants to expand their cinematic horizons. Not only will you find some great rental or buy suggestions here, but you’ll also get a bit of film education as well. Pick it up and be prepared to pour over it for hours.

March 30, 2014 - Posted by | Book review | , , , , , ,

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