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100 Greatest Cult Films Book Review

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“100 Greatest Cult Films” is a quality film list book.

If you’ve been a reader of DVDCorner for awhile, you’ve likely noticed I’m a sucker for film books. More specifically, film list books. Thankfully, there seems to be no shortage of them as of late as publisher Rowan and Littlefield have recently released a new one titled “100 Greatest Cult Films.”

Written by film critic/author Christopher J. Olson, “100 Greatest Cult Films” begins with an intro by the author in which he discusses what a cult film is, what the book is about, and the various types and genres of cult films. After that, he dives right in to the 100 films. Each film is accompanied by credits and home video availability (a nice touch), plot description, background on the film (release date, box office, production stories and so on), as well as his own personal commentary on the film. There is also a “see also” section which essentially gives recommendations to similar titles and or other titles by the filmmaker. Throughout the book, there are also spotlights on writers, directors, production outfits, and actors like Kevin Smith, David Lynch, Pam Grier, John Waters, Troma, John Carpenter, George A. Romero, Russ Meyer, you get the gist.

The book concludes with 5 appendixes of different top 10 cult film lists (international, exploitation, midnight, camp, and so bad they’re good) as well as notes and an index (which is strangely lacking).

If you’re well versed in cult films, there’s not many surprises (in terms of the films included) within these pages as many of the expected cult films like “Clerks,” “A Clockwork Orange,” “Eraserhead,” “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!,” “Harold and Maude,” “Night of the Living Dead,” “Pink Flamingos,” “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” “Road House,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and “The Big Lebowski” (which graces the cover of this book). The bad movie cult classics ala “The Room,” “Manos: The Hands of Fate” and “Miami Connection” also earn spots here. What is surprising is the background content. It’s clear that Olson has done a wealth of research here as he mentions a plethora of insightful and little known factoids about each film whether it’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” once being approached as a comedy by Don Siegel, the origins of “Reefer Madness,” or “Stranger In Paradise” starting out as a short film.

Credit also has to be given for some welcome inclusions here that don’t always get the love they deserve. It was particularly satisfying to see “Fateful Finding” (from bad movie filmmaker Neil Breen), “The Rocketeer” (my personal favorite comic book movie), the underrated “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,” the Jim Carrey gem “The Cable Guy,” and “Targets” (which gets name dropped in the appendix). Additionally, the “see also” section provides some great mentions to films like “I Am Thor,” “Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow,” and “Samurai Cop.”

If I had to critique this book at all, I would say that there are a few notable exclusions here both in terms of films and genres. It was a little odd not to see movies like “Showgirls,” “Monty Python And The Holy Grail,” “The King of Kong,” and a lack of kung-fu, kaiju, anime/animated films. There’s a lot of major cult films within those genres. Yes, I understand there’s only so much room here, but their absence stood out to me.

Also, this may be a bit nitpicky, but there are a few odd random things here such as the baffling inclusion of “The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford” (I don’t believe this is a cult movie) and the lack of mentions of the Pee Wee sequels in the “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” entry.

Overall: Whether you’re a cult movie film fanatic or a casual fan of cult films, there’s something here for everyone be it an unknown movie that sparks your interest or film history you never knew about. Recommended.

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July 13, 2018 - Posted by | Book review | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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