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How Do You Define a Cult Film? Repo Man and Rockula
October 15, 2010

The article is a bit academic, but here’s a cult checklist of eight qualities that helps determine a cult movie.

Repo Man cover
Repo Man
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I’m sympathetic to the idea that the term “cult film” is overused, a favorite of marketers who don’t have a popular hit on their hands, and that designation has to come from a ground up, a group of outsiders who sieze upon it. That’s point 5, “cult following”, that a film “generates devoted minority audience”.

I found this piece via an article on MovieMorlocks.com, the official TCM blog. There, the programmer of the Friday night feature TCM Underground talks about the definition and explains his love for tonight’s showing, Repo Man. It marks the cult movie showcase’s fifth year. Congrats! It’s neat to see such a regular showcase of the unusual and weird.

Cults aren’t what they used to be, what with widespread availability through DVD ordering online or bootleg YouTube copies, but it’s fun to see what was once considered transgressive or a community marker of outsider status. My favorite cult film is probably Rockula, a bizarre horror comedy musical (the best cults are multi-genre!) in which Dean Cameron is a vampire teen reincarnated every so often to face a pirate wielding a hambone. Played by Thomas Dolby, facing off against vampire mom Toni Basil. Bo Diddley guest stars!

I’m not sure it qualifies, though, since I’ve never met anyone else who’s even heard of it, which makes it too obscure to be cult. What’s your cult film favorite?

6 Responses  
Jamie Coville writes:  

They Live.

 
Johanna writes:  

Was that the one that gave us the deathless line “I’ve come here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I’m all out of gum”?

 
Jamie Coville writes:  

Yuppers! Many other great lines too. Another one of my favorites is “The Golden Rule: He who has the gold, makes the rules.”

 
Joshua writes:  

I remember Rockula fondly, but I’ve been afraid to revisit it. I could have sworn I saw it on DVD or Netflix recently… something brought it to mind anyway, and I concluded better not spoil it.

 
GL writes:  

I own the Laserdisc of “Rockula”

 
Johanna writes:  

Now THAT’s a collectible! I have the VHS myself.

 

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