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Film Genres: Cult films

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).

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, 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 23 Dec. 2015

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. You can also use the SUMMON box below.

About?

Dartmouth Users: Using Summon from off-campus? You'll need VPN for access to full-text.

Selected movie titles

For more "cult film" titles, click here.