Friday Five: Criterion Collection Cult Movies

By Peter SM RSS Fri, May 17, 2013

The Criterion Collection is widely known as one of the most eclectic film collections ever assembled. For close to 30 years, they've specialized in showcasing and curating cult, foreign, and critically acclaimed films, from classics to contemporary cinema.

In a day and age where special features on a movie's DVD or Blu-ray release really aren't always so "special" anymore, Criterion was the original pioneer of presenting special editions of films with the correct aspect ratio for home video viewing (i.e. "letterbox" / widescreen format), theatrical trailers, documentaries, bonus materials (deleted scenes, alternate takes, production stills, and artwork), and commentary tracks endorsed by and involving the filmmakers themselves.

Here's a "Friday Five" of some of the weirdest, funniest, trashiest, most "out-there" films in the Criterion Collection:

Repo Man - Criterion Collection Repo Man (1984)

The very definition of a "cult classic," Alex Cox’s Repo Man ups the weird factor by mashing together sci-fi, comedy, action, Reagan-era politics, consumerism, nuclear war, punk rock, and... car repossession in desolate downtown L.A. Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez play off each other like the Odd Couple version of a buddy cop flick, both with enough quotable lines to last a lifetime ("The life of a Repo Man is always intense!"). Special features include a restored digital transfer of the film approved by the director, new audio commentaries and interviews with cast and crew, and a booklet featuring essays an amazingly illustrated production history by Cox. Lastly, this movie was produced by Mike Nesmith of The Monkees!

The Blob - Criterion Collection The Blob (1958)

One of the classic creatures of the '50s sci fi and horror movie boom, The Blob is a gooey, gelatinous being from another world that crash lands in a small town in Pennsylvania (Phoenixville, represent!) and basically runs... er, slimes amok. Only one man in town can stay cool enough to save everyone, the "King of Cool" himself, Steve McQueen! It should be noted that another cool character wrote the groovy theme song for this film, legendary composer Burt Bacharach. Special features include a high-def digital restoration of the film, audio commentary with director Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr., the theatrical trailer, and Blobabilia!, a gallery of stills, posters, and props from the movie. This movie is so loved, the town of Phoenixville holds a Blobfest every year to celebrate!

Videodrome - Criterion Collection Videodrome (1983)

David Cronenberg's Videodrome is a surreal sci-fi horror film about a cable access video feed showing extreme scenes of sex and violence that when watched not only takes over your mind, but also transforms your body (sometimes in grotesque fashion, a theme through most of Cronenberg's films). But is it real or is it all a hallucination? And who's behind the "Videodrome" signal? The mystery and madness draw Max Renn (James Woods) into a global conspiracy to find out. Years later, the film has become eerily prophetic with its social commentary on media. Special features include a high-def transfer of the unrated version of the film, audio commentaries with the director and stars James Woods and Deborah Harry, a documentary on Rick Baker's groundbreaking video and prosthetic makeup effects, and photo galleries featuring rare behind-the-scenes production photos. "Long Live The New Flesh!"

Slacker - Criterion Collection Slacker (1991)

The very essence of D.I.Y., no-budget filmmaking, Slacker takes the viewer on a weird trip through an underground scene of artists, musicians, poets, and all around bohemians in Austin, Texas during the alternative heyday of the early '90s. There's really no plot in this movie, per se, but more a bunch of quirky vignettes featuring crazy characters that weave a larger narrative. Director / writer / producer Richard Linklater shot the film on 16mm for a mere $3,000, helping to launch the prolific independent film movement of the time. Special features include audio commentaries with Linklater and members of the cast and crew, casting tape “auditions” from the over one-hundred-member cast, a copy of the "script", and information about the Austin Film Society.

Rushmore - Criterion Collection Rushmore (1998)

This highly entertaining and inventive film from Wes Anderson is a coming-of-age drama that plays like a slapstick comedy, and vice-versa. Private school student Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) is a legend in his own time--at least in his own mind. He's on the verge of getting expelled from school, until he meets a cantankerous millionaire (the hilarious Bill Murray), falls in love with a school teacher twice his age (Olivia Williams), and writes his magnum opus (yet completely and inappropriately over the top) play based on Vietnam, "Heaven and Hell". The soundtrack to the film, full of British Invasion-flavored garage rock, totally compliments the teenage loudness and adolescent awkwardness of its protagonist. Special features include a director’s cut of the film, audio commentary featuring the director, co-writer Owen Wilson, and actor Jason Schwartzman, a "making-of" documentary, audition footage, and Anderson’s hand-drawn storyboards for the film.

Search through over 500 Criterion Collection titles in our catalog and have yourself a movie marathon that would make a film school student jealous!

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