On January 1st, 2016, I made a New Years resolution to watch 200 movies that year. The catch was that they had to be new to me, and that in order to be counted as a movie, it had to be more than 60 minutes long. What started as a simple hobby soon turned into a passion as I learned more and more about the movies that I chose to watch.
Hang on for a moment. I haven’t introduced myself to you readers yet. My name is Matt Floyd, and I’m a cinephile who is diagnosed on the autism spectrum. When I was two, I lost all my gross motor skills; this meant that I couldn’t talk, walk, or any of the basic skills that we as human beings usually take for granted. My parents, especially my mother, immediately started upon my therapy. They consulted doctors, teachers and therapists who immediately helped me out through physical and emotional therapy. I learned how to read thanks to my mom posting words upon physical objects so I could condition myself into linking the word with the visual cue.
I tend to think in images, so naturally I fell in love with mediums that relied on visual storytelling. My mom got ahold of videos that would teach me how to redo basic activities, such as brushing my teeth; hence, I grow up with films being an educational tool designed to help me adapt to my world rather than exclude me from it. At the same time, she also encouraged me to read and explore the world around me. She never bought into the idiom that curiosity killed the cat; instead, she saw to it that I always remained hungry for learning.
I fell in love with our VCR player, a magical tool for me to play with and also be entertained by at the same time. Once a video started, I would race around the room three times in order to fully dance with the wonders going on up on that fuzzy screen. All these videos were educational in nature as they helped me gain the emotional cues necessary to survive in an illogical world. I learned religion from watching VeggieTales, learned my ABCs from watching Blue’s Clues, learned my love of pursuing knowledge from watching Wallace and Gromit, and learned how to be imaginative from watching Wishbone. When the movie was over, I would hit the rewind button as fast as I could. I wanted to relive the moment all over again; it was a transcendent experience for me.
My first moviegoing experience was seeing Shrek on the big screen- I didn’t understand what was going on at the time, but I was quickly entranced with the bright images and joyous motion going on around me. Once my mom knew I was capable of enduring loud noises, she would take me over to Blockbuster- back when it was still a thing, and allow me to rent a video from the store. This turned into a weekly experience for me as I would recheck old favorites from the shelves and hide my face away from the scary VHS covers. Back home, I would pop in the tapes and get sucked into them; they seemed magical to me. I repeatedly fell in love with these images, always flowing together to create motion and stories for my character enhancement. To me, watching movies were akin to stepping into another world and experiencing life from another creature’s eyes.
Flash forward to 2016: by this point, I already gained my speech back, and was trying to be a functioning member of society. Yet, things had changed. I had moved from my childhood home into a cramped condo, all my siblings had moved on with their lives, and I was barely surviving high school, easily the hardest years in my academic life. I had gotten addicted to YouTube videos, especially the critics. I should really flash back to 2011- the year of my elbow surgeries.
When I was 13 years old, I had broken my elbow at a crucial point. I nearly missed half of my 7th grade year, and had to endure three elbow surgeries along with a year of physical therapy just to gain motion back. To console me, I turned to my computer; there, I discovered a video of Roger and Chaz Ebert on a news website. Here was this person who had also lost his voice and yet managed to communicate again, thanks to his magnificent words. I was hooked upon criticism, especially Ebert’s. Another resource of comfort came in the form of his review show, which sadly lasted for a single season. Each week, I would learn more about the cinematic world just by watching his show online. There, I found out about films I hadn’t heard of before and of filmmakers I never knew actually existed. I learned my basics just from reading Roger’s reviews. When he passed away two years later, I was emotionally devastated. I didn’t just lose a source of inspiration, but I had lost a true friend.
I also referred to other critics for their own reviews. Online criticism was/is a big resource of entertainment for me. I was entranced not only by the Nostalgia Critic’s humor, but also by Lindsay Ellis’s professionalism as well as by Kyle Kalgreen’s esoteric selections. Now, I have found more sources of inspirations and have also lost some respect for some of them. [Looking at you, Channel Awesome.] One of these inspirations was a show called Welcome to the Basement, whose gimmick was that its host, Matt Sloane, would check off his bucket list by watching a film that was new to him. He also managed to convince a friend, Craig Johnson, to come along for the ride. Watching those guys have sincere yet educated conversations about films only made me want to become a cinephile. It made me want to become part of the film community.
In fact, I actually started two blogs of my own on WordPress’s secret archrival, Blogspot. They were Matt’s Musings and Classic Cinema Reviews For Kids. Unfortunately, I was a middle school student then. As a result, I don’t look upon them with fond memories. Worse of all, some troll commented a career-destroying remark on one of my reviews. I was devastated when that happened. I forswore never to blog again.
That all changed when I knew I had to find a new meaning in life, and watching movies off my bucket list gave me a renewed sense of hope in my dysfunctional world. However, as the years went on, I noticed that my journals were overflowing with notes that no one else would ever see in public. To resolve this dilemma, I decided to finally face my social anxieties and post them up on the Internet for all to see. I’d rather have my voice momentarily heard than to be silenced forever.
This website is dedicated to exploring the vast world of cult movies. Cult movies actually don’t have anything to do with cults; they’re just offbeat/weird/disturbing/thought-provoking/transgressive/subversive/transcendent movies that have a particular fan base that figuratively worships at their presence. I chose to focus upon cult films as an overwhelming majority of my favorite films happen to be cult films. In fact, The Wizard of Oz, my favorite film of all time, is in fact a cult film! So what better topic to explore more in-depth than cult films?
I hope to enlighten your day with my reviews of these bizarre yet [hopefully] amazing classics. See ya at the movies!