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
reminds me of what is lacking in the film world today
I watched this film the other night on TV- it's based on a book of the same name (the authors appear in the film as well)- and it did its job perfectly. It kept me interested by films I've seen and loved, heard of, or got introduced to during the program. And, the history itself behind the actual movie-going experience of the 'midnight movies' of the late 60's and 70's makes for fascinated viewing. We get interviews from filmmakers (John Waters, George Romero, Alejandro Jodorowsky, David Lynch, among several others) who go over the legends of their big 'cult' films, which either were made specifically for it, or just happened that way.
One of the things I love about documentaries about movies, like the Martin Scorsese documentaries on American and Italian movies or Decade Under the Influence, is that there's a new awareness to material that I've never seen before. Most of the films selected here I have seen, but the ones that I didn't not only were impressive on their own, but gave me the feeling "I have to check these out, if I can find them." The most prominent one for me, which served as the sort of birthplace of the "midnight movie", is El Topo, Jodorowsky's madness of a film, that goes all out to do everything in its power to offend and act violent, nutty, obscene, while still maintaining a deranged sense of humor. It became a huge success as the first "midnight movie" that attracted a mass (or cult) of young people (almost all pot smokers, even in the theaters). Other films like Pink Flamingos and The Harder They Come looked equally interesting (and funny) to see. And getting some more back-stories on Night of the Living Dead, Eraserhead, and even The Rocky Horror Picture Show (which I was never much a fan of) kept me glued to the TV even in the later hours of night.
For a movie buff this is a must-see to catch, another of the "good old days" kind of documentaries where one feels as much excitement and historical interest as slight sadness. There are still theaters around the country that have midnight showings of movies, almost by demand 'cultish', but the whole mystique and pandemonium around it- the kind of excitement that in its own realm was stronger as for the big Hollywood films- is gone.
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