Cult movie can be code for “This movie is awful and is only enjoyed by the sorts of people who are so desperate to appear original that they pretend to like things that nobody else likes”. We all know at least one person like that surely? They listen to wilfully obtuse and obscure music with no hint of melody and say things like “This is really amazing, they’re totally pushing boundaries” and then in an attempt to be all post-post modern they whip out their “Greatest Hits of Kylie Minogue” CD and tell you all about how “dark” something like “Better the Devil you Know” really is.
The collective term for these people is “cocks”.
Thankfully “cult” movie can also mean the sort of film that can’t find a mainstream audience but is all the better for it. Films like “Withnail and I” or “Quadrophenia” are good examples of that sort of cult movie. They are films that are well made, beautifully observed and have genuine meaning to the people who watch them. They are not bad movies or even b-movies, they are good films made by people who knew what they were doing and who also knew how important film can be.
Where the work of Italian directors like Fulci who made “City of the Living Dead” along with other genuinely unsettling, shocking and sickening horror films in the 1980’s fits into these two categories depends on your feelings about horror cinema in general. If you like horror films then his work will thrill you and allow you to see where contemporary horror directors have magpied some of their ideas from.
“City of the Living Dead” is typical of the genre that it comes from. It is soaked in fake blood, unpleasant deaths and bizarre performances and dialogue. The plot sees a Catholic priest hang himself in a cemetery and by doing so he unlocks the gates of Hell...normal! This isn’t a style of film (despite my love of horror) that I know much about but what I can say is that it was never anything less than entertaining...especially when Giovanni Lombardo Radice (google him!) meets a particularly grizzly end.