Every Wednesday night in May, SBS VICELAND is playing double features of cult movies that have taken on a life of their own long after their release. Become one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us…
By
Cameron Williams

3 May 2017 - 11:54 AM  UPDATED 9 May 2017 - 1:50 PM

Wednesday 3 May

The World According to Garp

8:30pm, SBS VICELAND

M
USA, 1982
Genre: Comedy/drama
Language: English
Director: George Roy Hill
Starring: Robin Williams, Glenn Close, John Lithgow
What's it about?
Based on the John Irving novel, the film chronicles the life of T S Garp (Williams), and his mother, Jenny (Close), both writers. Garp becomes a successful fiction writer and Jenny writes a book that turns her into a feminist icon. It’s a film that balances the endless series of misfortunes that befall one man without languishing in tragedy. Garp is one of the films that marked Williams’ transition from television (Mork and Mindy made him a household name) to film. Williams’ dramatic edge as a performer is on show for the first time after establishing himself as a force of nature in comedy. It’s a crucial film in Williams’ filmography (often cited as one of his best performances) that would go on to inform his career beyond just being a clown. It’s directed by Hollywood royalty, George Roy Hill (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Slaughterhouse Five, The Sting) and it netted Close and Lithgow Oscar nominations.

Swingers

11:00pm, SBS VICELAND

M
USA, 1996
Genre: Comedy
Language: English
Director: Doug Liman
Starring: Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Ron Livingstone, Heather Graham
What’s it about?
Mike Peters (Favreau) is a struggling comedian who left New York City to find success in Los Angeles, and is still upset over his girlfriend of six years, Michelle, breaking up with him six months prior. To help Mike with his depression, his womanising friend, Trent (Vaughn), and some other aspiring actor friends try and get Mike back into the social scene. Swingers launched the careers of Favreau and Vaughn, but the biggest impression it left on pop culture was its quotable script (written by Favreau in two weeks!) “Vegas, baby!” became one of the most popular quotes as well as “you’re so money, and you don’t even know it”. It’s also one of the first films to reference the concept of a ‘wingman’, which made its way into social scenes around the world. Swingers invented a fast-talking fan base off the back its dynamic script and vision of the LA nightlife.

Swingers review: A sweet and funny indie comedy

 

Wednesday 10 May

Donnie Darko

9:00pm, SBS VICELAND
Available after broadcast at SBS On Demand

MA15+
USA, 2001
Genre: Science fiction
Language: English
Director: Richard Kelly
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Patrick Swayze
What’s it about?
Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a troubled teenager living in suburban Virginia, who is awakened in the middle of the night and led outside by a figure in a monstrous rabbit costume, who introduces himself as "Frank" and tells him the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds. At dawn, Donnie returns home to find a jet engine has crashed into his bedroom, but the authorities have no idea where it came from. Donnie Darko had a troubled history after almost going straight-to-DVD, but it was rescued with a screening at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival where it generated enough acclaim to get picked up by Drew Barrymore’s company, Flower Films, for a cinema release in America. The film failed to make an impression at the box office despite positive reviews, but it found a second life on VHS and DVD where it made over $10 million in sales (compared to $7 million at the box office). Fans obsessed over every detail of Kelly’s trippy sci-fi tale and the ability to re-watch the film at home enabled people to decipher its enigmas. In turn, those in on the secret bonded over their knowledge, and a cult was born.

Donnie Darko review: A shot at small-town repression
Revisiting the ending of 'Donnie Darko' 16 years later

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

11:05pm, SBS VICELAND
Available after broadcast at SBS On Demand

M
USA, 2014
Genre: Science-fiction/comedy/drama
Language: English
Director: Michel Gondry
Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson
What’s it about?
When a relationship turns sour, a couple (Carey and Winslet) undergo a procedure to have each other erased from their memories. But through the process of loss, they discover what they had to begin with. Carrey flirted with being taken seriously as a dramatic actor in the late '90s/early '00s, and his taste in roles, although varied (hello: The Majestic), yielded greatness like The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. There’s no doubting Carey’s star power enabled these films to get made, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a miracle. In the years following its release, the film would win an Oscar for best original screenplay and continue to grow in stature as one of the definitive films of the decade (2000–2009). When the BBC polled 177 film critics for the 21st century’s 100 greatest filmsEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ranked sixth.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind review: Love story told beautifully and backwards

 

Wednesday 17 May

Fearless Vampire Killers

9:00pm, SBS VICELAND

MA15+
UK, 1967
Genre: Horror, comedy
Language: English
Director: Roman Polanski
Starring: Sharon Tate, Jack MacGowran, Alfie Bass, Ferdy Mayne
What’s it about?
The elderly bat researcher (MacGowran) and his assistant (Polanski) go to a remote Transylvanian village looking for vampires. One of them falls in love with the inn-keeper's young daughter, Sarah (Tate). However, she has been spotted by the mysterious, Count Krolock, who lives in a dark and creepy castle outside the village. One of the most visually dazzling and entertaining horror parodies in in the comedy/horror stakes.

 

An American Werewolf in London

10:40pm, SBS VICELAND

MA15+
UK/USA, 1981
Genre: Horror, comedy
Language: English
Director: John Landis
Starring: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, John Woodvine
What’s it about?
Stay on the road. Keep clear to the Moors. Beware the moon, lads. Backpacking through the United Kingdom would never be the same after Landis’ An American Werewolf in London. The story focuses on two American backpackers who are attacked by a werewolf while walking around Yorkshire after dark. Landis’ film edges out its hairy rivals by capitalising on its ‘strangers in a strange land’ themed plot and American anxieties towards Europe. It also features groundbreaking special-effects work by Rick Baker, whose werewolf transformation scenes would revolutionise how make-up was done for effects-driven films in the '80s. Baker won the first ever Oscar for best makeup and hairstyling, and set a benchmark for the entire industry that is still held in high regard today.

Why You Should Watch: An American Werewolf In London

 

Wednesday 24 May

Excalibur

9:00pm, SBS VICELAND 

M
UK, 1981
Genre: Fantasy
Language: English
Director: John Boorman
Starring: Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren, Nicolas Clay
What’s it about?
The myth of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is brought to the screen with the might of early '80s filmmaking. It’s so bright; you’re going to need shades. Once you get past the shine of this film and its hypnotic visuals, the curiosity comes from seeing so many big name actors early in their careers. Excalibur is noted for helping to launch the careers of Helen Mirren, Liam Neeson, Patrick Stewart, Gabriel Byrne, Ciaran Hinds and Neil Jordan.

Sharknado

11:40pm, SBS VICELAND

MA15+
USA, 2013
Genre: Action
Language: English
Director: Anthony C. Ferrante
Starring: Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, John Heard, Jason Simmons
What’s it about?
Sharks get sucked into a tornado creating a ‘sharknado’ that attacks a small town – it’s that simple. The tagline for this intentionally bad and self-aware film is: “enough said”. So, that’s all you need to know.

 

Wednesday 31 May

Altered States

8:30pm, SBS VICELAND
Available after broadcast at SBS On Demand

M
USA, 1980
Genre: Science fiction, horror
Language: English
Director: Ken Russell
Starring: William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban
What’s it about?
A Harvard scientist (Hurt) conducts experiments on himself with a hallucinatory drug and an isolation chamber that may be causing him to regress genetically. Directed by cult master, Ken Russell (The Devils, Tommy), and scripted by Paddy Chayefsky (credited as Sidney Aaron), Altered States is an inventive, sci-fi horror trip that revels in wild moods and mutations.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

11:00pm, SBS VICELAND

MA15+
USA, 1974
Genre: Horror
Language: English
Director: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen, Teri McMinn
What’s it about?
Siblings go to visit their grandfather's grave in Texas along with three of their friends and are attacked by a family of cannibalistic psychopaths. Banned outright in several countries when it was released and greeted with mixed reviews from critics, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has lived a life of infamy. Over time it has received a positive reappraisal and gained a reputation as one of the best horror films in cinema history thanks to its cult following.

Why 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' is the best horror movie ever made

 

Follow the author here: @MrCamW

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