Written by: Christopher Llewellyn Reed | May 19th, 2020
Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All-Time – Vol. 2 Horror and Sci-Fi (Danny Wolf, 2020) 2½ out of 4 stars.
On April 21, Quiver Distribution released Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All-Time – Vol. 1 Midnight Madness, from director Danny Wolf. While that documentary, the first of three in a series dropping one installment a month (the final one comes out June 23), was hardly groundbreaking in its presentation of cult-film classics, it nevertheless offered an entertaining mix of clips and interviews, sure to hold the interest of any cinephile. Plagued by aesthetic inconsistencies and clumsiness though it may have been, it was still a good time. Sometimes, if the quality of the material holds enough entertainment value, the packaging matters only so much.
Now comes the second volume, this one on horror and science fiction. With a lot of the same talking-head interviews – including actors and directors of the films being discussed, who also comment on some of the other movies – as in Volume 1, this middle installment covers, on the horror side, the following movies: George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and its follow-up, Dawn of the Dead; Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead; Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects; Tom Six’s The Human Centipede; Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator; and Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Though Romero and Hooper are both no longer of this world, they are part of the conversation, as are many others, including critics Kyle Anderson, Owen Gleiberman, Amy Nicholson, Carrie Rickey and Tony Timpone, who provide solid cultural and historical context for the comments of the rest.
On the sci-fi side, Wolf brings in Death Race 2000, A Clockwork Orange, Blade Runner, The Brother from Another Planet, Liquid Sky and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (my personal favorite of the entire collection here), all of which are enjoyable choices, so surely not the be-all and end-all of the genre (nor are the horror picks, for that matter). Still, with the same types of commentators lending their insights, including folks like Brother director John Sayles and actor Joe Morton, Liquid Sky director Slava Tsukerman and Blade Runner actress Sean Young, it’s never dull. Indeed, as much as I find The Human Centipede to be one of the most disgusting movies ever made (I could only get through about a third of it), I loved the interviews with director Six and his star Ashlyn Yennie. They are delightful, adding to the appeal of the piece.
As with the last film, the initial setup of a Joe Dante-hosted roundtable of sorts with actors Illeana Douglas and Kevin Pollak, along with fellow director John Waters, adds absolutely nothing of value to the experience. Why include this, I wonder, unless there were some kind of contractual obligation to do so. Time Warp would be much richer, and less confused, without it. The assortment of selected genre examples often feels a bit random, too, rather than intentional. In spite of itself, however, the documentary is nonetheless a pleasant, diverting affair. As an added bonus, perhaps you’ll get some ideas of what to watch next while we all wait for June’s Volume 3 release.