Belfast Film Festival has secured the blessing of cult movie aficionados Alex Cox and Mark Cousins for its Back to the Moviedrome series of screenings.
For many people of a certain age, the classic BBC2 series Moviedrome was their first introduction to the outer limits of cult cinema. Moviedrome first aired in 1988 with director Alex Cox hosting until 1994. In 1997 the show returned from the dead with movies chosen and introduced by Mark Cousins.
Alex Cox described the selection as “oddities and gems”; Mark Cousins described his choices as “movies you won’t forget”.
Over the next few months, Belfast Film Festival will pick one film from each season of Moviedrome, starting in 1988 and ending in 2000. Some of these screenings will feature the original introductions from Cox and Cousins, and they all take place in Belfast Film Festival’s very own cosy Beanbag Cinema in Donegall Street.
Jean-Jacques Beineix (Betty Blue, The Fifth Element) made a catchy debut as a director with Diva (25th May), a slick, defiantly superficial 1982 movie about a young mail carrier who illegally records a performance by an opera singer, then gets the tape mixed up with evidence that could incriminate gangsters.
X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes (1st June), Roger Corman’s 1963 science fiction thriller, was made for AIP, one of the all-time greatest exploitation houses, and described by Alex Cox as “a totally mad film with good ideas and cheesy special effects.”
Made by industrial filmmakers on a small budget, the eerily effective B-movie classic Carnival of Souls (8th June) was intended to have “the look of a Bergman and the feel of a Cocteau” – and, with its strikingly used locations and spooky organ score, it succeeds.
Wise Blood (15th June) was an unlikely late period triumph from legendary director John Huston. Set in the Deep South during the postwar era, Brad Dourif is an aimless veteran who decides to become a Bible-thumping preacher (for a questionable concern called “The Church Without Christ”) principally because he hasn’t anything better lined up.
On the enduring appeal of cult movies, director Alex Cox said:
“What is a cult film? A cult film is one that has a passionate following, but does not appeal to everyone. James Bond movies are not cult films, but chainsaw movies are. Just because a film has become a cult movie does not automatically guarantee quality. Some are very bad; others are very, very good. Some make an awful lot of money at the box office; others make no money at all. Some are considered quality films; others are exploitation movies.
“One thing cult movies do have in common is that they are all genre films – for example gangster films or westerns. They also have a tendency to slosh over from one genre into another, so that a science fiction film might also be a detective movie, or vice versa. They share common themes as well, themes that are found in all drama: love, murder and greed.”
Other titles in Belfast Film Festival’s Back to the Moviedrome season include Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Westworld, Highway Patrolman, and Walkabout.