TIME WARP: THE GREATEST CULT FILMS OF ALL TIME -- A Trilogy of Film History Docs with Great Interviews
Review by Sean Boelman
Directed by Danny Wolf, Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All Time is a three-part documentary film series dealing with some of the most famous (and infamous) movies with cult followings. Although there isn’t a whole lot of information to be learned by cinephiles from this trip through obscure film history, the wealth of interesting interviews makes these docs worth watching.
Originally developed as a miniseries, Wolf’s documentary is instead being released as three features because of the abundance of material he had to use, each dealing with a different genre of cult films. From midnight movies, to horror and sci-fi, and comedy and camp films, the target audience will undoubtedly recognize or have seen many (if not all) of the movies being discussed.
However, since each of the three documentaries features as many as eighteen films, less than ten minutes is dedicated to exploring each one. Yes, fans will inevitably get caught up in the nostalgia of seeing their favorite movies heralded as one of “the greatest cult films of all time”, the documentary offers little more than a basic explanation of what makes these movies so iconic and how they achieved their unorthodox success.
The highlight of these documentaries is certainly the interviews that Wolf was able to score. Interviewees include filmmakers, actors, critics, and celebrity fans who talk about the films. There are definitely some very high-profile people interviewed, so fans will be excited to hear some firsthand behind-the-scenes anecdotes (though don’t expect the biggest of the big names, like Bill Murray or the Coen Brothers, to appear).
More than anything else, though, these documentaries serve as a love letter to the communal moviegoing experience, something of which cinephiles around the world have been deprived of due to recent events. Even if one isn’t a fan of some of the movies being discussed (some of them will definitely have their detractors), the love of the cinema will almost certainly unite them.
One of the more questionable elements of the documentary is its celebrity “hosts” who bridge the gaps between the interviews, providing their expert commentary on the matter, although they feel underused. Directors Joe Dante (Gremlins) and John Waters (the featured Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble) and actors Ileana Douglas (Stir of Echoes) and Kevin Pollak (The Usual Suspects) have a lot to add but aren’t given a chance to do it.
Admittedly, the documentaries look and feel somewhat cheap in nature (a majority of the budget seems to have been spent on compensating interviewees and securing rights for clips), but it isn’t too horribly distracting. It’s obvious that Wolf designed this for webseries consumption, and while it likely would have worked better that way, all three features are still interesting watches.
The three volumes of Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All Time offer an entertaining, if surface-level look into what makes a cult film. If nothing else, the documentary serves as a great reminder of what movies cinephiles need to revisit as part of their quarantine watchlist.
The first volume of Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All Time hits VOD on April 21 with subsequent entries landing on May 19 and June 23.