Jodorowsky’s Doom

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The MSN stalker bots do their job well and today I was easily hooked with a well-baited article entitled The Greatest Cult Movie Classics of All Time.

All the usual suspects are on the list of course: The Big Lebowski, Plan 9 From Outer Space…

And of coure The Rocky Horror Picture Show tops the list. That’s a no brainer. I have fond memories from my wily teenage years of rounding up rolls of toilet paper and heading to the local theater for the midnight showing of it on many occasions. I’m sure my sister, who was said theater’s manager at the time, does not have quite as fond of memories of the show with all the mess and hoopla it inspired.

So yeah, I’ve seen many of the pictures on the cult classic list, pretty much all of the ones I wish to see. Typically when I hear cult classic I cringe inside because, let’s face it, one person’s cult classic treasure is another person’s cult classic trash.

I was surprised not to find Highlander and Weird Science on the list.

One movie I wish had a large enough cult around it to be even considered for the list is Henry Fool, which happens to be one of my all time favorite movies. Chances are you haven’t heard of it. I don’t know how I stumbled upon it so long ago… probably some obscure bin in some obscure long expired video store. I managed to snag a VHS copy of it somewhere, a copy of which I still have. Unfortuanly, I no longer have a working VHS player. You can imagine how happily surprised I was to see it popping up on Prime. I dare you to watch it. If you do, please report back.

What I was surprised to find on the list was Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo.

El Topo has been on my Mubi watchlist for a long time (It’s currently not showing on Mubi but if you speak Spanish, unlike yours truly, you can watch it over on the Internet Archive. Useless FYI: I am a watchlist=creator-aholic. And typically, even if I watch a movie from the list I will leave it on the list for historical reference purposes, a la this lengthy blather.)). I actually did start watching El Topo when it first popped up on Mubi; unfortunately, right away it begins with Jodorowsky’s son parading around naked in the desert so I decided to take a pass on it at the time. To me, exploiting a child in such a way is not cool, even if it is for outlandish foreign arthouse cinema of the early Seventies. So yeah, I was surprised to find the flick on the list.

But when I got to the end of the list, I understood why it was included. They had to showcase at least one of Jodorowsky’s movies just so they could justify giving him an honorable mention for a film he never even made… but almost did.

And that of course is Dune.

And we know this because of the amazing documentary about the failed project entitled Jodorowsky’s Dune, and which is currently available on Max.

I have been going through a Dune phase ever since the trailer for Dune 2 was released. I loved the first iteration and I can’t wait to see the second. Although, I’m not much of a theater goer these days because, you know, people, so I guess I can wait for it to hit one of the streamers.

Now I’m no science fiction fanboy, particularly of the literary pursuasion; but I am always willing to give a sci-fi flick the benefit of the doubt, especially for Dune. And especially for Star Wars when I was a twelve-year-old kid watching it with unmitigated amazement in the aforementioned theater, sans toilet paper.

Dune the movie made me do something I have never done before, and that is read Dune the sci-fi novel.

And yes, I now understand why it is the best selling sci-fi novel of all time.

And why the author Frank Herbert was so pissed off at George Lucas for ripping off so much of Dune for Star Wars.

And I also understand now why Jodorowsky was so inspired to make a movie about it.

Unfortunately, he was too inspired… and too weird for the Hollywood producers of the time, or any time probably.

Which is why David Lynch ended up with the project. While Lynch’s weird does not take a back seat to anyone’s, not even Jodorowsky’s, he had just proven that he could direct a serious film in The Elephant Man, which was nominated for eight Oscars.

Now I am a huge fanboy of Mr. David Lynch and I would never call any work of his bad, not even his attempt at Dune. Perhaps I would call his Dune a bit misunderstood though. Yeah, okay, it’s bad. But I think it’s bad in a good way, like most of the greatest cult films are.


Jodorowsky was so into making Dune, he was devastaed when it was taken away and given to Lynch. And watching the documentary, I felt crushed for him and feel it is a shame we never got to experience it. I really feel that had he been able to create his vision, there would never had been a need for a Denis Villenueve Dune, which also would be a shame had it not been created, but then we never would have known to miss it.

But the movie was taken away for Jodorowsky and as he tells it, it pretty much ruined his life…

And his son’s, you know, the naked tike from El Toro. He was slated to play Paul… hopefully clothed but we’ll never know.

Long story short, watch Jodorowsky’s Dune and see for yourself what the passion of a truely inspired artist looks and feels like.

And if all you know of David Lynch’s work is his Dune, then you really need to get out there and watch his entire ouevre. Start with his short film The Spider and the Bee. You won’t regret it.

Oh, and by the way, two of Lynch’s flicks were on the list* if anyone is keeping score. I’m sure you can guess at least one of them…

*having written the word “list” so many times in this endless blather, I’m reminded of this classic SNL skit

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