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FLM 149 — The Cult Film in America: You Won't Believe Your Eyes!

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jun 28—Aug 30
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jun 30
Units: 2
Tuition: $465
Instructor(s): Elliot Lavine
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Jun 28—Aug 30
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jun 30
2 Units
Elliot Lavine
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
In the extensive history of American motion pictures, there is likely no chapter more enigmatic and misunderstood than that of the so-called cult film. But just what is a cult film? What cosmic forces dictated that only certain films would attract a small but feverish following—often leading to permanent enshrinement? These and other questions will be addressed in this stimulating survey of 60 years’ worth of genuine cult film oddities. The course will analyze a combination of A-list Hollywood productions and esoteric "B and beyond" films, a mélange of mixed genres—from outlier horror and noir films to subversively sly comedies. Students will have the opportunity to view up to 20 cult films (some available via free internet links), at their own pace at home and then discuss them with the class each week via Zoom.

Generationally diverse filmmakers will be heavily represented in this course. We will watch and discuss: Tod Browning’s Freaks (1932), Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour (1945), Edward D. Wood Jr.’s Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), Joseph H. Lewis’s Gun Crazy (1950), Nicholas Ray’s Johnny Guitar (1954), Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter (1955), Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude (1971), Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets (1973), Philip Kaufman’s The Wanderers (1979), Abel Ferrara’s King of New York (1990), David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), and many others, some notoriously obscure. These works will expand our appreciation of films in new and unusual ways.

All films can be rented or streamed through Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, or other online platforms.

Filmmaker; Film Historian

Elliot Lavine has been an active participant in both film production and film exhibition since the late 1970s. He directed a pair of short films in the film noir tradition (early 1980s) and has been cited as among the nation’s leading film programmers, beginning his career at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco in 1990. In 2010, he received the Marlon Riggs Award from the San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle for his revival of rare archival titles and his role in the renewed popularity of film noir.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.