The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Scene presents top cult classics

Caitlin Listro | Monday, October 15, 2007

The words “cult classic” have an irresistibly eerie allure.

These are the movies directed by such warped minds as Stanley Kubrick and Quentin Tarantino. They feature such bizarre elements as time travel and ultra-violence. In classes and crowded rooms, even a whisper of the title of one of these films results in a flurry of excited quotes and knowing laughter from the elect.

At Notre Dame, cult classics don’t enjoy the same pop culture popularity as at other schools. I cannot even count the number of times I have mentioned Donnie Darko or Requiem for a Dream and received blank stares in response

Yet, these are the movies that I continue to pop into my DVD player on quiet Saturday afternoons. They may never reach as many eyes as Oscar-winning films, (though some of them have received critical acclaim,) but some have been deeply pervasive nonetheless.

Why do these movies engender such fierce loyalty from their fan base? Why do movies like “Fight Club” have the power to make me stay awake into the wee hours of the night discussing their brilliance?

The plots are typically disturbing and convoluted, and sometimes ridiculous, but they exist for more than just entertainment or shock value. Yes, they are entertaining, and of course, they are shocking. Who would not be shocked and horrified to see the eyes of Alex DeLarge forced open by metal clamps in “A Clockwork Orange?”

Yet, beneath the thematic elements, there are philosophical commentaries on every subject from religion to life. For a few hours, they horrify you and urge you to peals of laughter. Then, they leave you feeling disturbed, moved, contemplative, and ready to watch them again.

Interested in delving into one of these bizarre unions of the horrific and the profound? Sample one of these classic films. Then you, too, can giggle conspiratorially next time someone mentions droogs or six-foot-tall bunny rabbits.

‘A Clockwork Orange’

The fall of night in this futuristic society brings with it gangs of vicious criminals who battle for dominance over a fearful nation. Alex DeLarge, a teenager who delights in violence, rape, and Beethoven, finds his criminal career cut short when the government catches him and subjects him to aversion therapy to destroy his sadistic tendencies. His treatment raises questions about the ethics of forcing people to do good.

‘Donnie Darko’

Teenager Donnie Darko is quiet, awkward, and plagued by hallucinations of six-foot-tall bunny rabbits named Frank. As if high school was not complicated enough, Darko finds himself immersed in a nightmarish Apocalypse as the world comes crashing down. His journey to understand the collapse of the universe is a profound discussion of reality and sacrifice.

‘Requiem for a Dream’

Four different people struggle to reach their own visions of personal happiness through the use of drugs, and, in the process, are tossed into separate hells as their addictions consume them. The graphic portrayal of their individual implosions comments on the nature of human happiness, the severity of the pressures of everyday life, and the complete degradation and self-mutilation inherent in the drug subculture.

‘Boondock Saints’

Two devoutly Catholic brothers, disgusted with the injustice of the legal system, arbitrate divine justice by killing the most corrupt criminals of South Boston’s underbelly. Their mission throws the F.B.I. agent covering their case into a personal moral struggle over the nature of good and evil.

‘Fight Club’

Almost a philosophy text in the form of movie, “Fight Club” covers nearly every topic – from religion to human nature to love. The film follows the path of an ordinary man from mundane white-collar businessman to co-founder of an underground network of boxing rings to participant in a nationwide anti-establishment conspiracy -all starting with just a few innocent bars of soap.