Film

Review: Classic Comedy and Camp Films Revisited in Time Warp Volume 3

The final chapter in a three-part documentary series on the history of some of the most famous cult films in history, Time Warp, Vol. 3–Comedy & Camp focuses on works designed to make audiences laugh with either finely tuned writing or broad strokes that are so over the top you can’t help but maintain a healthy giggle throughout. Many of these movies gained a certain notoriety after their initial (usually disappointing) releases. As with the first two parts, the film selections are quite good and fairly obvious, but the series is meant to highlight “The Greatest Cult Films of All-Time” and not necessarily the more obscure (but no less incredible) options.

Time Warp Vol 3

Image courtesy of Quiver Distribution

As with the first two volumes (Volume 1 is reviewed here; Volume 2 is here), this chapter is hosted by Joe Dante, with a panel including director John Waters and actors Illeana Douglas and Kevin Pollak. In the first two films, I thought the group’s discussions were a bit pointless, but in Volume 3, the filmmakers spend a bit more time allowing the panel to talk in more detail about the importance of each film and what makes them work. As a result, this chapter runs considerably longer than the first two (a bit over two hours). Each film selected gets its own mini-Making Of documentary, featuring discussions by those who made or starred in it, as well as film critics, historians, and other filmmakers who are fans of these enormously entertaining works.

The list kicks off with Amy Heckerling’s adaptation of Cameron Crowe’s book/screenplay Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the teen comedy that understood that high school wasn’t just something for kids to get through; it is their entire world in that moment. Time Warp moves on to another view of high school, the one presented in Rock ’N’ Roll High School, a movie that sees school as a place to light up while the music of The Ramones blasts in the foreground. The film’s villain, Mary Woronov (who played the school’s principal), is also featured in the discussion of another title featured in Volume 3, Paul Bartel’s cannibal comedy Eating Raoul.

Other notable titles features in this chapter include Monty Python and the Holy Grail; Martha Coolidge’s Valley Girl; Kevin Smith’s Clerks; Jared Hess’ Napoleon Dynamite; Mike Judge’s Office Space; Christopher Guest’s Best In Show (which features a nice interview with the late Fred Willard); Broken Lizard’s Super Troopers; the Farrelly Brothers’ Kingpin; Russ Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls; Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space and Glen or Glenda; John Waters’ Female Trouble; and John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Of special interest is the section highlighting Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls, which is also the subject of its own documentary, You Don’t Nomi (available on VOD and streaming now; reviewed here). While the Time Warp discussion isn’t nearly as detailed, it does feature an interview with star Gina Gershon, who provides some intriguing details about creating her character and just how serious or campy Verhoeven wanted the film to be while shooting. Volume 3 also looks at so-called “modern” cult classics, as exemplified by Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, which everyone seems to agree is a clear work of passion even if the end result is terrible by conventional cinematic standards.

There are some titles covered in the first volume of this series (which covered midnight movie hits) that could have easily been included in this film and vice versa, but it’s the more grab-bag nature of Volume 3 that makes it perhaps the most fun and varied of the bunch. That being said, the deciding factor in whether a film was included in these three documentaries or not seems to be whether the filmmakers could get a few talking heads involved in the production for interviews. For movie lovers and those who like their entertainment a bit on the weird side, the Time Warp series is a real treat, and one that can hopefully be expanded upon or updated in years to come.

The film is available beginning today On Demand and on most digital platforms.

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