If you saw me open this feature with The Warriors, then you’ll know that I’m trying to tackle at least one cult film from this list a month:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cult_films
I managed two in one go the other day. I’m a little bit of a tattoo lover and on Wednesday, I got my fourteenth. This a castle with a dragon in front of it. It’s a little red still but it so far looks like this…
Anyway, while getting tattooed, my tattooist (Ricky at Emerald Ink in Coventry) thought it a good idea that we hit up Netflix for some entertainment. I chose Scream (I’m blaming great podcast Skip to the End for discussing the opening), then his apprentice chose Scary Movie 2 as a result and then Ricky chose Zombieland. I didn’t get through much of the latter, so I made my boyfriend and Mum watch it the following day instead. Two cult films in one day, and a spoof comedy, was definitely a good idea.
Scream (1996 – Wes Craven)
I was unfortunately too young to have seen this at the cinema when it was first released but I bet it was great. Without wanting to spoil it, should any of you have still not seen it, to kill off your seemingly top-billed cast member in the opening sequence is a bit statement. It’s an interesting opening too, starting off quite innocent and raising your curiosity enough so that when the twist/s come, and rather suddenly, you’re quite shocked. You imagine a film trying to do a similar thing now and somebody on Twitter would have spoiled it before it even premiered. Or they’d have just shown you the twist in the trailer. But that’s for another post in the near future.
Ok, so much as this is self-aware and knowing of the usual horror tropes, it’s still kinda annoying to watch characters make such daft decisions and upon a re-watch, some of the plot holes were glaringly obvious. Still, this is the pinnacle of American teen horrors. Many tried, and failed, to copy Craven’s efforts and it was a fine effort from him.
It’s worth saying that Scream makes itself work with a blend of knowing comedy mixed in amongst the horror. The slasher genre was well established thanks to the likes of Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street, so Craven came along with Scream and did something different. Something to shake up the slasher genre and perhaps even horror overall. The final sequence is one of the most memorable, offering and equally dispelling horror cliches like there’s no tomorrow. It’s about as meta as you can get and still continues to influence film-makers today. Quite something for a 20 year old horror film!
It was fun to step back into this world and to watch it with other people. I do so much of my movie watching alone, or so often you’re viewing things for the first time so talking through them is a crime. With films like this, you can dissect, laugh and discuss as you go. It maybe didn’t hold up as much as I had hoped, but it’s still certainly a key feature in its genre.
Zombieland(2009- Ruben Fleischer)
Ok, so Zombieland isn’t on the above list so this is kind of cheating, but I do feel that this should be a cult film. There are still some who haven’t seen it and I’ll continue to recommend it to anybody who hasn’t. For those who are already converted, it’s a joy to revisit.
From the opening section, I was sold. The on-screen text for Jesse Eisenberg’s Columbus’ rules are great. Then there’s the use of Metallica and slo-mo grossout zombies for the opening credits. This might be one of my favourite uses of music, it’s a storming way to introduce us to the expected tone. A road movie with some funny, slightly dysfunctional individuals is my kind of thing it seems. You also get the fun little asides such as Zombie kill of the week.
I’m happy to have the story narrated to my by Eisenberg’s Columbus who I can sort of relate to in some ways. His approach to Zombieland still carries a certain naivety, as demonstrated when he meets Wichita. Coincidentally this is the first feature film that highlighted the goddess that is Emma Stone to me. She elevates any scene she’s in. There were also early signs that Woody Harrleson was made to do more roles like this as he acts the brilliant Tallahassee here.
There’s a great, notable cameo from Bill Murray which opens the door for some excellent Ghostbusters nods and fun and is just one in a flurry of great, individual scenes that this film houses. It’s largely funny, but gory and occasionally deep.
It also has scenes in a theme park, I’m a sucker for those. Seriously though, I thought they looked great and the nods to westerns and one-man heroes go down nicely when Tallahassee locks himself in one of the huts to take on a zombie horde. It sets things up nicely for a sequel, though seven years on, it’s still not in production so you have to wonder if the boat has somewhat sailed.