Cult films are in danger of extinction

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Sep 3, 2019, 7:13 AM EDT (Updated)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Hobo With a Shotgun. Idiocracy. Repo Man. These campy cult sensations -- made by and for people who eschew mainstream cinema -- have big ideas without the big budget or even the mid-budget. And like the mid-budget movie, cult films are becoming an endangered species.

According to The Toronto Star, with the decline and fall of the video store, cult films no longer have the backing of its fiercest advocates: the video store clerk. If you’re old enough to remember, a chat with your video store guy provided enthusiastic suggestions for your new favorite film -- movies that never made it to DVD, let alone Nexflix. (Thanks, guy who recommended The Bride With White Hair and Split Second.)

The Star even suggests that lack of a physical copy of a film makes watching it a more solitary experience, one that you’re less likely to share with friends. After all, viewers no longer hand off videotape cassettes.

It’s not just the lack of curation that has put a stake in cult films. It’s the economics. Studios are less willing than ever to back small, quirky movies that can blossom into cult success.

As writer/director Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, John Dies at the End) told the Star, “When I think back about the VHS and early DVD days, anybody could make any movie and take it to one of the film markets and get $500,000 to $1 million back for any piece of junk. Nowadays it’s such a battle to break even.”

However, there’s hope for outré cinema and the fans who love it. Filmmakers have been gravitating away from film ... and toward television, says filmmaker Jared Hess (Masterminds).

And if nothing else, cult films have proven you don’t need a budget to make a movie. So get out there, future cult filmmakers. YouTube is calling.

(Via Toronto Star)

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