A&F Staff Writer
To prepare for the Halloween season, members of the Cult Classic Club listed suggestions of scary and unnerving movies on the whiteboard of Karpen 038 before settling in for the night’s feature presentation.
Forest Gamble, a senior new media and German student at UNC Asheville, joined the Cult Classic Club in January. He became the president this semester after the previous president, Matthew Crump, went to England on a study abroad trip. Crump started the club in August 2016 with his friends Conner Furr and Lindsay Taylor.
“Cult Classic Club spawned out of their collective love of movies and the desire to build a UNC Asheville-based community around the cult films that people enjoy,” Gamble said.
Gamble said he joined the club to meet other people passionate about film and share the movies he loves with others.
“The term ‘cult classic’ has many different connotations to it. Some people say that cult films are just films that have a cult following among a certain subset of individuals, while others only use the term for narrower interests,” Gamble said. “I’ve also heard the case be made that a cult film is any film that incites polarizing reactions.”
Gamble’s film interests revolve around North Korean cinema because of the unique aesthetic choices and storytelling styles. He has read several books on the subject, gaining more knowledge than most people have of this particular area.
“Does my favorite North Korean film, Urban Girl Comes to Get Married, count as a cult film? Absolutely. Does Jurassic Park count as a cult film to somebody else who really loves that movie? Absolutely,” Gamble said. “I see a cult film as something that really just gets people excited and generates discussion.”
The club decides which films to screen about a week or more before a given meeting. Gamble said he has a rough outline of films for the semester, but it can change depending on what members might want to watch.
Gamble uses polls to gauge what kinds of films members show interest in and determine how he can accommodate their interests. He said he also occasionally chooses films he enjoys and considers prominent in cult cinema to share with the club.
“The first film we watched this semester was The Holy Mountain,” Gamble said. “I had heard great things about this film and knew it was famous for subversive and often shocking content. Most people in the club had never heard of this film, but they really appreciated it after our screening.”
McKenna Jolly, a junior biology student, attended a club meeting for the first time in January after a friend asked her to go with him. At the meeting, she said she enjoyed watching and laughing at The Room with the members and decided to join the club.
“I like to say a cult classic is a movie that’s not for everyone for whatever reason, but if it is for you, then you’ll love it,” Jolly said. “The kind of weird movies that connect with weird people and bring them together.”
Among the many movies she has watched with the club, Jolly said one of her favorites is But I’m a Cheerleader. The film explores the reality of people who struggle with their sexual orientations when the world tells them they have to be straight, while also being silly and satirical.
“Movies can take me somewhere else for two hours and they can give me another way to look at the world. I’m just really interested in all the different stories that can be told using the medium, because there’s really no end to what can be done with film,” Jolly said.
Last Tuesday, the club chose to screen the ‘80s vampire comedy The Lost Boys based on a member’s suggestion. Gamble said he tries to curate film suggestions to ensure the club receives maximum exposure to weird and subversive content.
“Besides getting to see all these great, and some not-so-great but still very entertaining, movies that I might not have seen otherwise, I love being around people who love movies as much as I do,” Jolly said.
Simon Brooks, a sophomore literature student, joined the club last semester. After transferring to UNCA from Durham Technical Community College, he decided to branch out during his first semester.
“I love how tight-knit and social it is. We don’t just watch movies, we often end up staying afterward and end up discussing the movie and laughing together,” Brooks said. “We also have events outside of our weekly meetings where we go to Bad Movie Night at the Grail or go to the monthly Rocky Horror Picture Show productions at Asheville Pizza and Brewing.”
Movies provide an escape from everyday life through watching an entirely different story play out on a screen, Brooks said. Watching movies can be an intimate and emotional experience, but also a way to relax.
“I think my favorite movie we’ve watched has been The Room, directed by Tommy Wiseau. The Room is the definition of a cult film, no doubt,” Brooks said. “It’s so terribly tacky and it’s absolute garbage, and probably the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time.”
Gamble said the entire club cracked up last semester when watching The Room, one of his favorite films. He has made several friends he would not have met otherwise by joining the community the club has created.
“People love bonding over movies. That’s my favorite aspect of the club. Whether it’s bonding over the terrible quality of The Room or the outrageous imagery in The Holy Mountain, people always have something to talk about,” Gamble said.