Producer: Paul Fishbein Director: Danny Wolf Screenplay: Danny Wolf and Irv Slifkin Cast: Joe Dante, Ileana Douglas, Kevin Pollak, John Waters, Jeff Bridges, Pam Grier, Penelope Spheeris, Rob Reiner, Michael McKean, Fred Willard, Fran Drescher, Barry Bostwick, Nell Campbell, Patricia Quinn, Kevin Smith, David Cross, Malcolm McDowell, Gina Gershon, Peter Bogdanovich, Peter Farrelly, Gary Busey, Jeff Goldblum, John Turturro, Robert Davi, Sig Haig, Jack Hill, Michael Beck and David Patrick Distributor: Quiver Distribution
This documentary—the first of three volumes, the next two scheduled for release in May and June—is a love letter to movies that might have been dismissed on their original releases, but have since been embraced by enthusiastic, if sometimes modest, groups of fans. In form it’s completely conventional—a parade of clips, posters and excerpts from interviews strung together in pedestrian fashion by editor Steven L. Austin, with a modest amount of narration—but movie buffs will enjoy it anyway. And it could introduce you to some movies you haven’t seen but might be prompted to check out.
Even at feature length, coverage is selective, but the obvious choices are here. It begins, of course, with the ultimate midnight movie—“The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” with commentary on the shoot by star Barry Bostwick, among others (including theatre owners who profited enormously from its popularity over the years). That’s followed by “The Big Lebowski,” the Coen brothers flop that went on to be cherished by adoring fans. Here one gets to hear reminiscences from both Jeff Bridges and John Turturro. Pam Grier then shows up to talk about “Coffy” and “Foxy Brown,” among the definitive blaxploitation titles.
Various types of “midnight movies” are then treated—the reworked old cautionary tale “Reefer Madness,” the seminal rock doc “The Decline of Western Civilization,” Tod Browning’s deeply unsettling horror movie “Freaks,” John Waters’ deliberate provocation “Pink Flamingos,” David Lynch’s artsy, enigmatic “Eraserhead,” Hal Ashby’s oddly moving tale of intergenerational friendship “Harold and Maude,” the granddaddy of mockumentaries “This Is Spinal Tap,” Russ Meyer’s lesbian action flick “Faster Pussycat Kill Kill,” John Carpenter’s neo-Western “Assault on Precinct 13,” the brutal gang flick “The Warriors,” “The Naked Kiss” as emblematic of Samuel Fuller’s “B-movies.” The volume ends with “Point Break,” Kathryn Bigelow’s surfer-dude action movie with Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze, and a flurry of posters for other pictures that presumably will be dealt with in future installments.
There’s a connective link to the conversations in the form of a panel headed by director Joe Dante and including Ileana Douglas, Kevin Pollak and John Waters. But though Dante and Douglas get occasional comments in, it’s Waters who dominates things—and not only about his own contribution “Flamingos.” Pollak looks especially lost in this company.
But that doesn’t really matter, but the number of contributors for each movie is so large—the cast listing given above is a mere sampling—that the totality is infectiously engaging. Some of the remarks are inevitably generic what-it-meant-to-me stuff, but to hear Bridges on “Lebowski” is almost as hilarious as the movie, and when Rob Reiner recollects about the making of “Spinal Tap,” he offers observations that are genuinely funny. Then there’s Gary Busey, looking like a maddened bull; when he declares “Point Break” the greatest picture ever made, you might let out a whoop yourself. Benjamin Hoffman shoots this new interview material without fuss.
This first volume of “Time Warp” sets no new standards for inventiveness from a technical standpoint, but the material will be so engaging for fans that it hardly matters. Buffs will find it simple, uncomplicated fun.