31st Oct2017

Culture Dump #15: Has Streaming Killed the Cult Classic?

by Simon Bland


Halloween – That time of year where we celebrate our love of cult horror movies in place of whatever actual significance this spooky holiday originally held. Odds are most fancy dress parties this year will be populated by cobbled together outfits of genre icons. While it’s reassuring to see the films that terrified us all growing up get the attention they so deserve, the future of would-be-cult-classics could be in peril. It’s not an output issue – dodgy horror films are being made faster than ever these days but the way they reach us has changed dramatically.

Think back. The majority of movie-fans will no doubt have fond memories of spending countless hours perusing the shelves of pokey, family run video rental stores. Sure, they were filled with cigarette smoke and pretty much always out of copies of the video you came in to rent but they provided great exposure to titles you wouldn’t get a chance to see otherwise. Movies had a harder time grabbing your attention back then too. There was no internet on which to drip-feed promo clips of your low budget indie horror. Filmmakers had to pump all their efforts into crafting artwork worthy of catching your eye.

Today, audiences don’t seem to have the same patience or sense of discovery. For every Stranger Things-sized hit released on Netflix, there’s probably another ten or so just as inventive indie horrors dwelling in its dark streaming depths. Despite being faced with a seemingly neverending abundance of choice, it feels as though viewers are actually watching less these days. It’s a strange counterintuitive turn, perhaps brought on by people wanting to use the little free time they have wisely and in turn choosing a show everyone’s talking about instead of taking a chance on something new.

Nothing wrong with that on the surface, however with your desired content delivered straight to your eyeballs with minimal fuss the shows that go ignored, stay ignored. Chance encounters, just like those you experienced back in Blockbusters a decade or more ago, may now be a thing of the past. Remember when you picked up that cool looking VHS on the bottom row after an hour of searching and it became one of your so-bad-it’s-great all time faves? Savour it. It’s unlikely to happen again.

Do you miss the days of video rental stores? Let me know in the comments below!


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