Whatever one’s age may be, it’s the same for everyone that an endless stream of films are waiting to be discovered. Considering the age of cinema, the number of masterpieces that have been created and forgotten because of the transitory nature of time is unanticipated, by even the greatest fortune teller.
There is a pile of cinematic treasures to be unearthed; some are silently waiting for appraisal, many archived copies are in the way of reincarnation by reprinting. Even for the contemporary films of our time, it is a humongous challenge to screen the good films out of the base lot. They face a greater challenge in the new, ever-expanding film business, in between the frequent franchise offerings.
It’s not possible to watch every good movie out there because of the meddled marketing and corporate robotic algorithm of search engines. Who will be the savior then, the equivalent to John the Apostle? The cine-buffs come to rescue, especially the ones who have refined taste and vision due to their expertise in the art of filmmaking. We are talking about the Scorseses, the Tarantinos; the people who will light our path with their meticulous discovery of great underseen films that needed a bigger audience; the cult films that could become a classic, years later. Without further ado, here are 10 cult films favoured by Tarantino:
1. Rolling Thunder
The tag of a cult film, unfortunately, rhymes with the violent, sexed-up B-grade exploitation flicks, which is curated for a special audience group. While this is true for many cult films, there is also an ample number of quality exploitation films that need your undivided attention, and this list, in fact, mentions some of the best entries of that genre.
But “Rolling Thunder” is not one of them, albeit the cheesy title that hints of a similar outcome. Written by Paul Schrader, one of the stalwarts of the “dark” cinema, this 1977 film has a great “Taxi Driver” feel and enough bleakness to rival the best of film noir and neo-noir films. ”Rolling Thunder” was contentious at its time of release due to the bloody, violent climax, but in retrospect, it doesn’t arouse discomfort as so much as entertain the audience.
John Flynn nicely directed the sexual tension leading to the resolution of the plot, and the leads gave great performances. The profound examination of the tortured mind again warns us about the worst personal outcomes of war and it resonates more with today’s autocratic political atmosphere. Quentin Tarantino liked the film so much that he named his distribution company after it: “Rolling Thunder Pictures” and called it one of his favorite films of all time.
2. The Bad News Bears
The sheer love that Tarantino has for cinema can be witnessed by the scope of his film selection. From comedy to drama, thriller to horror, Tarantino has a suggestion for everyone. “The Bad News Bears” is one of the rarest comedy films where the laughs are spontaneous and never seem forced.
In doing so, the film by Michael Ritchie often offends its audience, because it presents the Little League team rivalry without pretension and full of vulgarity and slang. The unhealthy American competition is subtly mocked in the film and it is highly entertaining, coming from a genre of sports drama that can easily generate boredom for the viewers.
It is not easy to make an entertaining baseball film for people who are not a fan of the game, and “The Bad News Bears” can succeed because of the hilarious comedy it brings forth from the situations. This is one of the rare gems to be watched soon by international spectators of quality cinema.
3. Pretty Maids All in a Row
This is an example of a morally offensive but highly entertaining cult film of the much-romanticized 1970s, which is pretty controversial in its subject matter even today. Released at the end of April of 1971, this Roger Vadim film deals with a high school student who seeks sexual liberation in the wake of the sexual revolution in America, and comes in contact with his school football teacher and guidance counselor for guidance in matters of pleasure. But this teacher is a sexual exploiter of the beautiful, provocative school girls and there is a serial killer in the town who kills these girls. This is a taboo subject to deal with irrespective of the time where a father figure of sorts consciously engages with girls this young and nubile, and “Pretty Maids All in a Row” leaves no chance to show its erotic inclination to the viewers.
A more popular “Heathers” may come to mind; still, this film shocks and surprises the audience with its politically incorrect satire of American youth. The young actors give fine, distinctive performances and Rock Hudson is especially alluring in the role of this extra progressive football coach. Tarantino included “Pretty Maids All in a Row” in the list of his all-time favorite films in the Sight and Sound poll of 2012.
4. King Boxer
“King Boxer” has another name that is more popular to the wuxia loving Chinese audiences – “Five Fingers of Death.” This title is likely more transparent in indicating the treatment of what these kinds of films have to offer. Released before the Bruce Lee phenomenon grew strong with international audiences, this Shaw Brothers offering is greatly choreographed and bloodily violent, which is the trait that attracted Tarantino in all possibilities. Before the great success of “Enter the Dragon” in American theatres, “King Boxer” enjoyed a great run in the United States.
The film has a prominent dubbing problem, but it is the action sequences that matter in this film genre, and Jeong Chang-hwa knew that. The plot elements are just an excuse to bring in more action, more grotesque and assassination to the picture, and the film greatly succeeds in that. When we see the bloody and tragic finale, the forever impact of this chopsocky film has been ingrained in the mind of the audience.
5. The Pom Pom Girls
The tagline of “The Pom Pom Girls” was, “How can anyone ever forget the girls who really turned us on?” This indicates a teensploitation film, which the film obviously is, but it works on multiple levels. In its spirit and treatment, “The Pom Pom Girls” has more in common with the coming-of-age films than the exploitation flicks. This is a cultural precedent to Richard Linklater’s excellent coming-of-age drama “Dazed and Confused,” which the filmmaker himself confirmed multiple times.
“The Pom Pom Girls” was created to ride on the success of “The Cheerleaders,” but other than featuring cheerleaders in the film it has nothing in common with those B-grade flicks, and who knew that one of America’s great future filmmakers will be greatly influenced by these. Football, booze, party, cheerleading, girls – the film was highly spirited in its treatment. Hollywood simply doesn’t make films like that anymore. The value of freedom is a prominent theme of the film, which also greatly influenced the writing of “Easy Rider.”