Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream

May 18, 2006

Why are there no more Midnight Movies?

Okay, technically, I know it’s pretty darn easy to find a movie playing at midnight. Practically all theaters now offer midnight showings of mainstream movies. But what happened to those fucked up movies that could only be shown at midnight? Movies that make no sense in the daylight – movies that need the dark.

Midnight Movies covers the six movies released between 1970 and 1977 that defined midnight movies as we know them. Three of them I’ve seen (Night of the Living Dead, Pink Flamingos, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and three of them I haven’t (El Topo, The Harder They Come and Eraserhead). I’ve never even heard of the first two!

There are interviews with the directors of each of the films, as well as stars, producers and those involved in the film in any way. Unlike most film documentaries, actual theater owners and distributors are also interviewed for their takes on the phenomenon.

My absolute number one goal is to see El Topo, which is unfortunately not available on DVD. That looks like the most fucked up movie ever made. It looked like a spaghetti western (or would that be a enchilada western?) but with WAY more violence and WAY more philosophy. I like violence and philosophy, so it’s right up my alley.

As for my Eraserhead procrastination – I can’t explain it. I’ve been putting it off and off…and now I wonder if I will ever sit down and watch it. I think I’m a little bit afraid that I won’t understand it and a lot afraid that I won’t like it. I’m just deathly afraid of losing goodwill towards David Lynch, although Nadja certainly did not help in the goodwill department.

All in all, Midnight Movies provides a good background for those just getting into cult films or a walk down memory lane for those firmly entrenched in the subculture.


Year – 2005
Rating –
Runtime – 88 minutes
Genre – Documentary
Director(s) – Stuart Samuels
Writer(s) – Stuart Samuels
Actor(s) – George A. Romero, Alejandro Jodorowsky, John Waters, David Lynch, Richard O'Brien
BOB Rating – Three BOBs
Favorite Quote –