VERSUS THE SCARECROW EPISODE 2: ATTACK OF THE CULTS! I decided to challenge myself and really open the doors of my film knowledge and take on “The Scarecrow Video Movie Guide”. It’s 808 pages of movies and movie reviews from some of the most knowledgeable movie people you don’t know. It’s a book put together by a staff that praises, and destroys, some of our favorites and not so favorites. You can read part one of my series here.
Just a quick refresher: each episode, I’m going to tackle three films from three different categories. Two films will be films I’ve never seen before and one will be one I’ve seen before or own. For the new films, well, new to me, I’m going to review them like a typical FTS review using the TOAST Rating system. But, for the films I’ve seen, I’m going give a quick paragraph or two about why I like or don’t like the film. We’ll try to include the poster and trailer for each film. “….and here. We. Go!”
This week I’ll be taking a look at films that have developed a cult following over the years. We’ll be looking at Mad Max, The Harder They Come, and a favorite of mine, the Rocky Horror Picture Show! I’ll also be giving a sentence or two on why these films have become such Cult Classics.
The Harder They Come (1973) Directed by Perry Henzell. Written by: Perry Henzell & Trevor D. Rhone. Starring: Jimmy Cliff, Janet Bartley and Carl Bradshaw. IMDB says: ”Wishing to become a successful Reggae singer, a young Jamaican man finds himself tied to corrupt record producers and drug pushers..”
Found in the Foreign Films section of the Scarecrow Video Movie Guide (SVMG), and oddly enough the only listing under Jamaica, this rise and fall story plays out like a blacksploitation film only with better music and more feeling. The film tells the story of Ivan (Jimmy Cliff) trying to break into the music business but fast discovers he’s gaining more fame in his new found life of crime. The film takes breaks in the action every few scenes and just shows characters riding around the beautiful landscape of Jamaica or walking through the not so beautiful slums. It does drag at times when the story delves into subplots involving a preacher’s daughter and crime, and it all seems like it really isn’t sure how this should fit, but you’re too distracted by the heavy accents (you might want to watch this film with subtitles on) to notice it. The acting is solid for this type of film but coupled with the acting, it can be a turn off for some. The film looks gritty, as it should, and while it looks tacky, it’s the substance and story that counts which is what this film is loaded with. What helps to take some of the edge off the acting is the soundtrack. It’s some of the best reggae you’ll hear and not only does it add to the beautiful landscapes of Jamaica and the characters, but it stands on its own as a solid album. (I personally own it on vinyl and it’s great to listen to when relaxing around the house) I recommend this to anyone whos a fan of music or blacksploitation-type films.
As far as it’s cult status, when released, the film had some recognition and did well but found a home when it hit the “Midnite Movie” circuit. What truly defines it as a cult-classic is its introduction of reggae into American mainstream. Many look at Bob Marley, but true reggae fans will look to Jimmy Cliff and this film.
Check back tomorrow for my review of Mad Max and then again on Friday for the conclusion of episode two with my thoughts on The Rocky Horror Picture Show.