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From the elusive transcendental logic of Mulholland Drive, to Showgirls’ sly satirical embrace of exploitation and excess, to the assumption in Southland Tales that its audience has already read the six-volume source material, some films are simply more “cruel” on their audiences than others. So, please, lie back and let The Cultists be your guides through the paralyzing and perplexing void of arthouse, experimental, avant-garde, "cult,” and otherwise just generally weird WTF cinema. Because ...
 
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show series
 
On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Baz Luhrmann’s 90s frenetic teen angst extravaganza, Romeo + Juliet (1996). Known for his kinetic color-fueled explosions of images and sound, Luhrmann's second offering in his “red curtain trilogy” put him on the film world’s map as an Auteur with a distinct and immediately recognizable styl…
 
On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Bernardo Bertolucci’s 'The Dreamers' (2003). Known for his “hot house” cinema, in which characters are crammed into isolated intimate spaces until they burst, Bertolucci returns again to offer up a claustrophobic yet sprawling visual love letter to his own memories of the French New wave —alb…
 
On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Cameron Crowe’s “indie” millennial LowFi-SciFi flick ‘Vanilla Sky’ (2001). The self described American “pop song” remake of the 1997 Spanish film, Open Your Eyes, VS was and remains a film of lukewarm division. Part of that reception has to do with early expectations. Made on a budget of 68 m…
 
On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Bill Lustig’s controversial killer classic 'Maniac' (1980). Initially pitched as "Jaws but on land," Maniac tells the tale of Frank Zito, our man-about-town who can’t help but prowl the streets at night, scalping the women who remind him of dear old dead mom and thumbtacking his permed late-n…
 
On this week's annotated deep dive, The Cultists present 'Urban Legend' (1998). A classic tale of a disgruntled heartbroken serial killer who seeks vengeance by re-enacting even more classic tales of contemporary lore, UL is the kind of film that has a surprising amount of depth lurking beneath its colorful, campy surface. Taking inspiration from t…
 
On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists present David Lynch’s ‘Dune’ (1984). A byproduct of nearly two decades of active studio efforts to bring to the big screen, the 1984 highly anticipated “picture event” of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi classic was for some disappointing, for others baffling, and for a select special few the kind of slee…
 
On this week's annotated deep dive, The Cultists present the Universal Studios Hollywood Horror Classic, 'Frankenstein' (1931). Helmed by the great James Whale, this first installment of a legacy of undying gems tells the well-known tale of Dr. Victor (or in this case "Henry") Frankenstein and his "Creation" - a life composited from scrapped togeth…
 
This week on our annotated deep dive, The Cultists Present 'Tales from the Darkside - The Movie' (1990). The year was 1983 when George Romero, inspired by the EC comics of the 1950s such as "The Vault" and "Tales from the Crypt", pitched a humble horror TV anthology that would harken back to the golden age of pulp fiction. Seven years, four seasons…
 
On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Terrence Malick’s ‘Knight of Cups’ (2015). Often regarded as a particularly “tough watch” (even by those who enjoy the film), Cups is a slow and mangled feast of images that will delight some and utterly baffle others. Adding to the challenge is that grasping the more concrete structure of th…
 
On this week's annotated deep-dive, The Cultists present Catherine Hardwick's wondrously absurd adaptation of Twilight (2008). The tale of a self-loathing undead stalker who has been stuck repeating high school for one hundred years, and the clumsy death-welcoming teen of his dreams, Twilight is a wild trip. Known as the phenomenon that brought a r…
 
On this week's annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Panos Cosmatos's 'Mandy' (2018). The anticipated (mostly unrelated) follow-up to Cosmatos's first cult film, Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010), Mandy hit the scene marketed as a heavy metal, genre-bending, "cosmic opera" of the psyche. Set in a 1983 (that may or may not be *our* 1983), Mandy is…
 
On this week's annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Kenneth Branagh's 'Murder on the Orient Express' (2017). The technically ambitious 65 mm adaptation of Agatha Christie's murder mystery classic, MoOE tells the tale of the magnificently mustachioed Hercule Poirot -- the world's greatest detective (also known as the man who thinks and thus suf…
 
On this week's annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Mel Stuart's 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' (1971). Considered a flop during its initial release, ‘Wonka’ has grown overtime into a beloved classic of psychedelic sadomasochism of the childhood nostalgia variety. Ostensibly the tale of a poor, starving child with nightly dreams of co…
 
On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Roger Kumble’s iconic “teen” flick, 'Cruel Intentions' (1999). Based on the 18th century French novel, Dangerous Liaisons (1782), about a group of bored (and very adult) aristocratic power-players living in a morality-absent void of entitlement and sociopathic values, CI hit the late 1990s YA…
 
On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists present John Guillermin’s ‘King Kong’ (1976). A remake of the classic RKO production from 1933, Kong ‘76 retains many of the high adventure staples popular in the pulpy 30s: the treacherous island, the perilous climb, and the classic meet cute of blonde bimbo pawn meets giant monkey during a casual r…
 
In addition to our regular episodes, we are adding a new format into the mix! "Five-by-Five" eps will each be a Top Five list of films featuring different random topics, sub-genres, or objects. As we are often asked what our personal favorite episodes are, first up on the Five-by-Five front are each of our respective "top" favorite films/episodes w…
 
For our one year anniversary episode, The Cultists present David Lynch’s ‘Blue Velvet’ (1986). The premise is simple enough: Jeffery (Kyle MacLachlan) returns home from college to his small 1950s-tinged nostalgia town, finds a severed, moldy ear in a field, and embarks upon a self-guided odyssey into the darker parts of the town’s worn-down crevice…
 
****THIS IS PART 2 OF A TWO-PART EPISODE*** On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Stanley Kubrick’s final film 'Eyes Wide Shut' (1999). An incredibly faithful adaptation of Arthur Schniztler’s 1926 Austrian novella, Traumnovelle (“Dream Story”), (albeit set in a contemporary 1990s New York), Eyes Wide Shut remains a timeless drea…
 
On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Stanley Kubrick’s final film 'Eyes Wide Shut' (1999). An incredibly faithful adaptation of Arthur Schniztler’s 1926 Austrian novella, Traumnovelle (“Dream Story”), (albeit set in a contemporary 1990s New York), Eyes Wide Shut remains a timeless dreamlike odyssey of paranoia, jealousy, (in)fid…
 
The peculiar tale of a young Spiritualist medium listlessly going about her day job as a personal shopper for a Parisian model/actress while awaiting a sign from her recently departed twin, ‘Personal Shopper’ is an incredibly ambitious meditation on what it means to be alive in a contemporary haunted world. A languid ghost story interwoven through …
 
On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Steven Lisberger’s cult classic ‘TRON’ (1982). The story of a “scruffy” programmer (Jeff Bridges), who gets sucked into the glowing gridlocked world of The Computer, where avatars who remain devoted to their “users” are forced by the evil “master control program” to fight for their lives in g…
 
On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Agnieszka Smoczynska’s ‘The Lure’ (2015) (Córki Dancingu). In an alternative 1980s outside of Warsaw, Poland, two mermaids, “Silver” and “Golden,” wash up onto the shore. Soon taking up temporary refuge in a night club cabaret, the two sea-bound sisters do what any classic fairytale finned cr…
 
On this week’s deep dive, The Cultists present Eugene Kotlyarenko’s dark social media satire, ’Spree’ (2020). Loosely based on the 2014 Isla Vista spree killer, Elliot Rodgers, Spree twists the foundations of its tragic origins into something a little more universally tangible with Joe Keery’s “Kurt”—an Uber-style driver and aspiring internet strea…
 
On this week’s deep dive, The Cultists Present Quentin Dupieux’s ‘Rubber’ (2010). Notoriously known as that movie where a tire gains psychokinetic powers and just enough sentience to go on a killing spree, this film often gets tragically mis-labeled as your standard B-rated monster movie horror romp. And yet, Rubber is anything but. Once and best d…
 
This week, The Cultists present Craig Denny's The Astrologer (1976). In 1976 a man named Craig Denny completed a very special film. A film of significant grand importance to, well, only Craig Denny, really. Essentially your standard vanity project to showcase Denny’s range of “skills,” The Astrologer tells the abridged tale of the alleged autobiogr…
 
On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Tom Ford’s ‘Nocturnal Animals’ (2016). The sophomore film by fashion industry icon Tom Ford, on its surface, “Nocturnal” is a gorgeous technical showcase of Ford’s skills behind the camera. Which is why it comes as much more of a surprise that, for a film so beautiful, the core of Nocturnal A…
 
On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Richard Kelly’s sleeper cult epic, 'Southland Tales' (2006). In 2006, the writer and director of 'Donnie Darko' (2001), Richard Kelly, released a very special film into a world that was simply not yet ready for it. Sprawling in scope but jam packed with content, “Southland” is an anti-linear …
 
On this week’s deep dive, The Cultists present Excess Baggage (1997). An utterly perplexing and largely forgotten film, “Excess” tells the tale of a young sociopath with a penchant for pyromania whose impulsive plan to fake kidnap herself sets off a chain reaction of inconsequential events that will culminate in a sexual rendezvous with a mumbling …
 
This week The Cultists present the Daniels’ bizarre and beautiful film Swiss Army Man (2016). On the surface a WTF film about a lost man and a flatulent corpse, at its depths ‘Swiss’ is an introspective visual poem about life, love, and the devastating emptiness of loneliness and isolation. Yet again an indie flick that is completely divisive among…
 
On this this week’s deep dive, The Cultists Present Hercules in New York (1969). Known largely as the film that starred a 22 year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first ever film appearance, "Hercules" is everything it promises to be: A film in which the demi-god son of Zeus, Hercules, well...goes to New York. In prep for this one, Benji does the f…
 
On this week’s deep dive, The Cultists present The Blair Witch Project (1999). Marketed upon its release as a true story of real footage showcasing a group of lost filmmakers and their grisly demise, "Blair" quickly became a proto-viral obsession. And what started out as a simple, unassuming experiment in film-making-on-a-budget, quickly turned int…
 
On this week’s deep dive, The Cultists Present Harmony Korine's controversial cult flick ‘Spring Breakers’ (2012). Booze, bikinis, pissing in the streets, temporal existentialism, Disney-girls-gone-wild, flirtation with French New Wave, Brechtian theater... this movie has a little bit of everything. The one thing this film doesn’t have is an audien…
 
On this week’s deep dive, The Cultists Present The Blob (1958). It came from outer space— a red gelatinous goo of surprisingly hardy structural integrity with one thing on its mind: slow, meticulous, all-consuming hunger-based homicide. Starring an already very adult-looking Steve McQueen playing the haggard but charming 17-year-old boy who cried e…
 
On this week's deep dive, The Cultists Present Walter Murch’s Return to Oz (1985). The first and only directorial endeavor by the man who literally wrote The Book on film editing, Murch’s follow up “sequel” to the 1939 MGM classic, The Wizard of Oz, is a sequel like no other. Produced four decades after its predecessor, and taking the stance that O…
 
This week The Cultists Present Michael Lehmann’s ‘Heathers’ (1989). On the surface, Heathers seems like just another flick about mean girls in high school, but lurking not even all that deeply under the film’s pastel veneer is a downright savage satire of the teen experience. Initially written by a young Daniel Waters as a three hour long film in t…
 
This week, The Cultists Present Dominic Sena’s ‘Swordfish’ (2001). A film that on its surface is just another Hollywood bank job flick about cyber hacking and hostages, Swordfish still manages to stick out among the cache of big budget action films. But why? Is it the film’s notorious green and orange color pallet? Its heavy-handed hypocrisy? John …
 
This week The Cultists Present Nicolas Roeg’s ‘Don’t Look Now’ (1973). Heralded for decades as the inspiration for countless filmmakers that have come after, Don’t Look Now is a staple of nearly every seasoned director’s “Must See” list, and has inspired an almost baffling array of homages, from Schindler’s List to Pretty Little Liars. London and B…
 
Craig Schwartz is a puppeteer with a problem. He remains dedicated to The Craft, but the cold cruel world only cares about the gimmicky hacks that think that size matters. His only choice is to endure until one day he finds the key: a portal hidden behind the filing cabinets of his tedious day job, which directly allows him to slid into the cranial…
 
Meet Jesse. She can’t read, she can’t write, and she delusionally wishes the moon would just look at her already, BUT she’s pretty. And, well, that’s all that matters, really. From the neon-fueled mind that brought us the likes of ‘Drive’ and ‘Only God Forgives,’ Nicolas Winding Refn’s ‘Demon’ takes us on an alternate, but no less perilous and cand…
 
On this week's annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Rob Cohen's The Fast and the Furious (2001). This unassuming summer flick, filmed on a shockingly modest budget of only 40 million in the early days of 2001, was never supposed to be anything other than a one-off— a “lifestyle movie” examining the intimate network of the LA Street Racing scen…
 
This week The Cultists Present Robert Longo's Johnny Mnemonic (1995). The year is 2021. A mysterious virus has swept through the globe and one man holds the cure. The catch? That cure is embedded in the 160 GB neural cortex implant now seeping data all over his brain. It will kill him. Or, at least, it would, if that man wasn’t one Keanu Reeves. Wi…
 
This week The Cultists Present Walter Hill’s ‘Streets of Fire’ (1984). Following the success of '48 Hours' in 1982, Hill and co. were given carte blanche by Universal to do whatever their hearts desired. Hill’s greatest wish? A Rock and Roll fable set in an unknown time and place. A world filed with motorcycle chases, rockstars, gang wars, neon lit…
 
This week, The Cultists Present Stephen Herek's Critters (1986). Once upon a strange and otherworldly time—otherwise known as 1986—the cinematic landscape gave us a gift. Sporting the tag line “hangry hairballs from outer space,” the titular Critters have only two goals: fuck shit up and then eat it. Brought to us by the fever dream team who would …
 
This week The Cultists Present David Cronenberg‘s A Dangerous Method (2011). A not-so-intimate insider film about the foundational years of psychoanalysis and the Will They/Won’t They smoldering friendships of Carl Jung, Sabina Spielrein, and Sigmund Freud, A Dangerous Method is all about its source materials. From reproducing the personal letters …
 
This week The Cultists Present Peter Greenaway’s The Pillow Book (1996). This film was marketed as your standard mid-90s soft-core erotic tale, and yet, in typical Greenaway form, there is nothing standard about it. A deeply insider film about calligraphy fetishism, formalist objectification, and 10th century Japanese literary references—all culmin…
 
This week, The Cultists Present, John Waters’ Cry-Baby (1990). Inarguably the most mainstream and accessible of Waters’ oeuvre, Cry-Baby’s technicolor array of costumes, camp performances, and impeccably mixed sound still bears all the markings of John Waters’ loveably perverse and whacky soul. In a charming parody tale of 1950s cinema nostalgia, C…
 
This week The Cultists Present Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009). Technically (kind of, maybe) a remake/sequel/spin-off of Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film Bad Lieutenant, Herzog’s film remakes someone else’s the only way Herzog can: by openly never having heard of Ferrara’s film, nor caring. Instead, with a screenplay written…
 
This week The Cultists Present Joel Schumacher’s ‘The Lost Boys’ (1987). At once a pulpy comedy about teenage boardwalk-dwelling vampires on the California coast and a startlingly deep horror critique of Regan Era conservatism, Schumacher reworks what was initially a kid-flick studio pitch of “Peter Pan with Vampires” into an aged-up love letter to…
 
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