Tom Cruise's much ballyhooed movie musical, "Rock of Ages," underperformed in box office revenue, but that doesn't mean the celebrity-laden pop rock extravaganza can't find success as a cult classic. Many film flops and kitschy rock musicals found their niche through cult followings once distributed for home viewing.
Loyal fan bases made it possible for redeemed duds to outlast their mainstream competitors who won the box office battle but failed the test of time many distinctive and cherished cult films conquered.
Rock musical kitsch
One such rock musical film with poor initial box office numbers is "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Nearly four decades later, the B-movie send-up which immortalized Susan Sarandon and Tim Curry in a permanent '70s time warp is still in limited release for midnight showings. Audiences dress up as their favorite characters; bring props; belt out their favorite glam rock songs; and shout out dialogue in ritualistic, celebratory viewings.
"Rocky Horror" grew from a gender-bending, satirical horror musical to a religious experience that has fans the world over bopping along to such immortalized tunes as "Sweet Transvestite" and "Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me."
Although "Repo! The Genetic Opera" received endless comparisons to "Rocky Horror," its $146,750 gross earnings hardly compare to the $112.9 million "Rocky Horror," the original glammed up, gothic musical, grossed in its lifetime. While both are sexually charged and sinister, "Repo" is bloodier and less lackadaisical.
Also, the film's kitschy attributes, which meld the operatic talents of Sarah Brightman as Blind Mag and the pop culture pull of Paris Hilton as Amber Sweet were bound to garner a cult following. From coveted makeup looks and fashion to its treasured soundtrack, "Repo!" is just the fix goth, emo, and horror loving crowds crave.
"Sucker Punch" is one part reality, two parts dream world, and all sex appeal. Director and story creator Zack Snyder took a dash of "Chicago," one part "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and mixed it with "Band of Brothers" (the female version) but with a poorly written script and bland characters. Then, it went off to face the box office firing squad.
While the film's cast of scantily clad 20-somethings looked sufficiently sexy wielding deadly weapons and gyrating onscreen, audiences lost interest after opening weekend until DVD sales and overseas releases resurrected it.
No list of enduring flop films can be complete without mentioning the over-acted, under-clothed, pole-dancing disaster that is "Showgirls." Elizabeth Berkley tried to break out of her "Saved by the Bell" good girl image and fell face-first into a titivated, topless cesspool of awfulness.
Paradoxically, "Showgirls" tickled its cult following for the same reprehensible attributes which made it a box office bust. If nothing else, this film will help you find a new use for that old tube of pink lipstick and any ice cubes that lie dormant in your freezer.
"Rock 'n' Roll High School" is the punk rock film anthem of the late-'70s that partly strips the candy coating off the school musical genre. More importantly, it features the preeminent punk band of the time, The Ramones.
The soundtrack is a veritable who's who of rock, from Fleetwood Mac and Paul McCartney to The Velvet Underground and, of course, The Ramones. The film's many DVD and Blu-ray releases have far repaid its meager $300,000 budget. It is the ultimate teen rebellion flick with the music to back up its anti-establishment sentiment.
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