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Film Genres

This guide highlights library resources for some of the more popular film genres.

A quick definition for cult films

A term denoting an eclectic group of films defined post hoc in terms of their consumption by dedicated and devoted groups of filmgoers who engage in repeat viewing, celebratory enthusiasm, and performative interaction (memorizing dialogue, practising gestures, wearing costumes etc.). Films subject to cult followings are extremely varied, but among the best known is the Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman, US, 1975).

The emergence of a cult film audience is related to the rise of niche exhibition markets in the US and elsewhere in the postwar period, especially an increase in repertory cinemas in large cities, and also to the introduction of the ‘midnight movie’, a phenomenon popular with young audiences that subsequently spread to cinemas in suburban shopping malls in the early 1970s. From the 1980s the introduction of video and DVD, as well as streaming, has further enabled cult audiences to appropriate a wide variety of films from around the world, while the internet facilitates communication between cult film enthusiasts. It is also common for cult film fans to travel to conventions or film festivals focused on particular films or groups of films.

Cult films are usually regarded as transgressive and/or oppositional to mainstream taste. This challenge to conventional filmmaking and viewing practices comes in the form of celebration of poor craftsmanship, as in the films of US director Ed Wood, and the connoisseurship of ‘trash’ genres such as horror, pornography, extreme cinema, spaghetti westerns, peplum films, martial arts films, Japanese monster movies, and Mexican wrestling films (see latsploitation).  ...

Kuhn, A. and Westwell, G. (2012). "Cult film." In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2 Nov. 2021

Finding library resources for cult films

To find what we have in the Library's collection, you can do a subject search for "cult films" in the online catalog. That search will show you what film titles are classified as these films as well as books and other items about them. As you look at the list under cult films, the subject headings which include "history and criticism" critically talk about the genre itself.

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book titles

Finding articles & using SUMMON

Articles and other writings about movies can be found in many publications. Our collection does not include a journal or magazine which looks exclusively at cult films. Other film journals within our collection will cover cult films. You can use Film & Television Literature Index to find relevant articles.

Selected movie titles

To find more cult films, search the library's online catalog.