Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream tells the hidden history of these landmark films, El Topo (1970), Night of the Living Dead (1968), The Harder They Come (1973), Pink Flamingos (1972), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), and Eraserhead (1977). The documentary includes in-depth interviews with the directors, producers, writers and actors who were part of these low-budget, yet monumental productions, the exhibitors and distributors who played them, and the audiences who viewed them. Written by
Stuart Samuels brilliant documentary puts in its proper perspective how going to the films was changed forever with the arrival of the classic Alejandro Jodorowsky's film "El Topo" at the famous Elgin Theater in Chelsea. Mr. Samuels proves to have an insight into the counter culture that came into being in those golden days when people embraced a new expression in the movies, as championed by Mr. Jodorowsky and others of that era.
The Elgin Theater was located in what we now know as the Joyce Theater, a mecca for the modern dance, on Eight Avenue, between 19th and 20th streets. Back then, the Elgin had a great programming and all kinds of films were shown, as it operated as a semi repertory cinema with its emphasis in the outrageous, which was presented at midnight. The place had seen better days by the time it became a refuge for the new film makers that wanted to change the way they made films.
Alejandro Jodorowsky was perhaps the most influential one of that generation with his film "El Topo". It was the film that gave way to that trend to present unconventional films that wouldn't otherwise be shown a new venue for people looking for new things.
John Waters was an admirer of what he encounter at the Elgin, and it gave him the push to go ahead with his outrageous films that wouldn't have a distribution, had the Elgin not welcomed him. George Romero is also part of that generation as is David Lynch, who is much younger, but one can see the influence of those outrageous films he saw early in his youth.
The comments by Roger Ebert, J. Hoberman, Jonathan Rosenbaum and others in the documentary put things in the right perspective for us, as we learn the history of this phenomenon.
Stuart Samuels has to be congratulated for putting things in their right place in order for everyone to understand how the change began.
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