When the news broke earlier this week that l0w-budget film legend George Kuchar had died, we were surprised at how many people we knew hadn’t heard of him. In case you’re not familiar, Kuchar and his twin brother Mike are known for campy, so-bad-they’re-good flicks with names like Hold Me While I’m Naked and I Was a Teenage Rumpot that have gained a vocal following among trash-cinema fans. Of course, it isn’t often that our greatest cult filmmakers get the recognition they deserve. Take, for instance, PopMatters’ recent list of “The 100 Essential Directors” — the staff’s picks are mostly solid, but they only deign to include a few directors who could legitimately be described as “cult.” In an attempt to remedy the oversight, we’ve compiled a list of 10 cult filmmakers everyone should know. They may not be the “best” (and that isn’t even a useful benchmark for a genre where the term would be so hard to define), but they’re among the most influential, and each serves as a great gateway to legions of lesser-known directors.
If you know only one cult filmmaker, it should be John Waters — and if you don’t know him, we don’t want to know you. For over 40 years, the Pope of Trash has been making films that combine gross-out humor, camp, sexual deviance, and mid-century nostalgia. Although some of his movies (Hairspray, Serial Mom) have ventured into the mainstream, we prefer Waters at his most twisted. NB: If you saw Pink Flamingos and didn’t like it, we beg you to give some of his other films a try. We’ve seen all of them and find that one kind of boring and scattered compared to the rest.
Suggested viewing: Female Trouble (trailer above), Desperate Living, Pecker