I’ve been thinking a lot about cult cinema recently. It all started when I was thinking about the Greatest Movie Ever Made, “Josie And The Pussycats” and I came across this video essay by John Field all about it. In the essay, he talks a little about what he calls the “cult canon” and how “manly” genres like horror, action and superhero movies control the conversation. You can argue about the gendering of those genres if you want, but what he raises a good point. The idea of a cult canon seems oxymoronic – Why has “cult” cinema because synonymous with movies that were beloved by little boys in the 1980’s such as ET and The Goonies when there’s so much more to see? Shouldn’t cult film fans keep searching for the weird and wonderful out there that has yet to have be given this level of exposure?
Glasgow’s “Weird Weekend” film festival, hosted by Matchbox Cineclub, endeavours to do just that. Opening on the 30th of August at the Centre for Contemporary Arts with a sold out screening of Tom Schiller’s never-released “Nothing Lasts Forever” (1984), the festivities continue over the weekend with 12 more screenings and events focussed on cinema’s “orphans, outliers and outcasts”. Avoiding the cliches of the “cult” label, the film programme is imaginative and well researched; the films are almost entirely unavailable on DVD or VOD, and 50% of the line-up features the work of women directors (which is a breath of fresh air when compared to this masculine so-called “cult canon”). On top of all this, every screening is close-captioned and tickets are available both as weekend/day passes and on a sliding scale for individual tickets, showing Matchbox’s commitment to making these inaccessible corners of cinema accessible to as many people as possible.
Having previewed a handful of the film selection, my favourite had to be Sarah Jacobson’s “Mary Jane’s Not A Virgin Anymore”, which is showing alongside her earlier short “I Was A Teenage Serial Killer”, both in 2k restorations. The self proclaimed “Queen of Underground Film”, Sarah Jacobson was a pioneering filmmaker working within the riot grrrl movement who sadly died way too young back in 2004. Both films showing here centre on womens experience of sex and relationships in different ways. “Serial Killer” plays with and subverts the crime genre as our heroine goes on a killing spree of the sexist men she encounters, whilst “Mary Jane” is a coming of age film which is a little more sympathetic to all genders, touching on the awkwardness of early sexual encounters with honesty and tenderness. These cult status of these two comes from their low budget but their quality and heart shines through despite it all.
Compared to the rest of the programme, Jacobson’s films look tame; they get a lot weirder from there. In “Vibrations”, a man who loses his hands through a random digger attack finds hope again through techno music, and in “Teknolust” Tilda Swinton creates her own cyborg clones who are kept alive by semen. There’s also a lesser-known horror film (“Wolf’s Hole”) by “Daisies” director Věra Chytilová, a premiere of the “Neon Slime Mixtape” of direct-to-video monstrosities, and a screening of “The ‘Burbs” followed by a Skype Q&A with director Joe Dante. Alongside these, there’s 5 more obscure films, plus a cult film quiz with prizes from Arrow Video, and a panel discussion on the strange and spooky future of “Deepfakes”. Something for all the family!*
This unique selection is unlikely to be shown on the big screen again anytime soon, so if you’re in Glasgow next weekend and fancy doing something completely different to your average cinema trip, then check out their website for the programme, tickets, and more information.
*I’m joking, obviously, please don’t bring ur children