Wednesday, May 26, 2010

#10: The Warriors, or, what is a cult movie anyway?

I've fallen a good bit behind. Sorry to those who read this regularly, I didn't know this would be entertaining for anyone. Thanks for reading! Ooookay, time to catch up. It's not that I've been watching movies and forgetting to write about them, I just haven't been watching movies.

The Warriors. Where to begin.

Let's start by figuring out what a cult movie is, because The Warriors is definitely one of those. What connects this movie with the Evil Dead series, or Office Space, or Night of the Living Dead, or Eraserhead (or any David Lynch movie, really)? There's the devoted fanbase, yes, but why do cult movies affect their fans in ways that other movies don't? It's their eccentricity. These films are strange, they're weird, they do things other films wouldn't dare, and they enjoy their own version of success.Even films that gain a more mainstream popularity still aren't exactly normal. Office Space still has a character obsessed with his stapler to the point of burning down a building, it still has very anti-establishment themes, and if a movie like it came out today, like Extract, it still wouldn't enjoy the kind of box office revenue that comedies like Night at the Museum or Valentine's Day do.

So we know that cult films are weird and loved by a small but very loyal group of people. What we also know from watching The Warriors is that there is another camp of people that hate it as much as the first group love it. Cult films are polarizing, perhaps more so than any other film. I've seen bad movies, like Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel or John Tucker Must Die, but if given the choice between those and Donnie Darko or Napoleon Dynamite, it would not be an easy decision to make. The latter two are better movies, but I hate them in a different, more powerful way.

In The Warriors, a gang leader calls for peace among all the gangs in New York City, in an attempt to unite them all and take control of the city. But when one gang refuses and assassinates him, the Warriors are blamed and forced to fight their way across the city back to their turf. It's a cult movie on all fronts. All the gangs wear costumes, not just gang colors, so we have groups like the Baseball Furies, who put on baseball uniforms and paint their faces like they're in a circus rendition of Braveheart, or the Turnbull AC's, who all have matching denim outfits and shaved heads. Then there's the dialogue and music, which is trapped in the 70's, at times painfully so. The plot itself doesn't go anywhere we don't expect it to, but the strength of this movie, and on all cult movies when we get right down to it, is the characters. The Warriors are not like gang members in other movies, just the way that Peter Gibbons isn't like other office workers. They have their own charm to them, the kind of charm that makes people dress up like them for Halloween and get tattoos in honor of them.

I did like it for what it is. It's hard to recommend because of its cult nature, but it's worth a try. It doesn't demand much from its audience, and if they don't demand much of it, everything will go smoothly.

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