Before visiting any of these cult classic sets, behind-the-scenes, it must first be noted that there are so many cult classic films out there. And surely there is going to be one that readers wanted featured in this article that simply is not here. Apologies, but the ones on this list are still great cult classics all the same.
From A Nightmare On Elm St., to A Clockwork Orange, and from Spaceballs to Labyrinth…and some frightening, and hilarious ones in between, this list is packed with some pretty classic images.
There’s something about going backstage, off set, or even just beside the camera man that really gives fans a different perspective on the reality of the classics they love so much. These fictional worlds are wonderful, of course, but it’s very interesting to be able to get a glimpse of life off screen, during the process. So let’s take a look behind-the-scenes.
15. Action On Elm Street
Somehow one thinks it would have been much better if the marker had scene 666 on it, when this photo was taken, but things don’t always work out so perfectly. That and if either the scene number or take number ever got that high…well then it would truly have been a nightmare to work on this shoot. Regardless, there perhaps isn’t anything overwhelmingly exciting about this photo, but let’s be honest…any shot with Freddy Krueger in it, is pretty exciting. To some, he is still terrifying. Which is saying a lot considering that the first film debuted in 1984, and not much from that era can be said to still be scary. But Robert Englund, even as the eventual buffoonish version of Freddy through all the sequels, carries the character out to the nth degree. Even in the very first instalment of the franchise, it’s clear that Englund took every opportunity to just have a really good time being bad. Any why not? The villains are always the more interesting characters to play. There’s more conflict, and depth, and ultimately more freedom. So he could have all the fun he wanted, because he was, and will remain Freddy Krueger!
14. Ferris Bueller’s Send Off
The above shots were taken at the final wrap party of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It was uncanny, John Hughes’ affinity for creating cult classics. Included in that bunch, aside from The Breakfast Club, and of course Ferris Bueller’s Day Off are such films as Weird Science, and Sixteen Candles. And that is certainly not the end of that list. Regardless, back to the photo, Matthew Broderick and Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller, and Cameron Frye) stand by, drinks in hand, to watch the show. What exactly is the show? Co-star Mia Sara (Sloane Peterson) getting pied in the face. Why? Well, one supposes that the reason is…why not? It’s amazing just how terrifying she looks when covered the way she is. Very nice of her though, to feed Mathew Broderick a bit of pie after the fact. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off came out only one year after The Breakfast Club, and both have reached incredible cult status, and often by way of totally different groups of people. Some people just don’t seem to like Matthew Broderick, and other don’t seem to like high school drama…either way, they are both great films, and will remain with us for decades to come.
13. Barf’s Motorized Back
The dearly loved John Candy. Though he died in 1994, many of his film roles have permeated into popular culture, even today. Surely everyone loves Planes, Trains, And Automobiles, Uncle Buck, and even his hilarious cameo in Home Alone. But separate from all of those films, sits one of the greatest… Spaceballs. The above shot is of John Candy getting his Barf makeup done (for those who don’t know, Barf is the name of the character Candy played). What’s most interesting about the shot is the incredible amount of little wires and motors strapped to Candy’s back. Why so much gadgetry for this beloved character? Well he can’t very well make his tail dance to Bon Jovi on his own, can he? Both his tail, and his seemingly sentient ears, are wired in through the contraption on his back, in order to give the effect of creature movement. Readers are free to have an opinion on just how effective said movement really was…but given that the entire movie was an intentionally low-budget, parody of Star Wars, it seems to make perfect sense that such movement would be made to look ridiculous.
12. Say Hello To My Director Friend
Scarface is probably one of the greatest gang movies of time. And some readers may not know that it is a remake. And more than that, the original film is based on a book. It might be worth noting that the book, as well as the previous film, do not quite share the same story as Brian De Palma‘s 1983 rendition of the harrowing story. Filled with love, betrayal, sex, drugs, immigrants, and murder (Trump’s idea of a wet dream), Al Pacino brings to life the cocaine-laden character of Tony Montana. Along with Michelle Pfeiffer, his sexy and severe trophy wife, Pacino basically runs the entire show, from open to close. In the above photo, director De Palma listens in on some character work Pacino is brewing for the scene they are shooting. One might notice the white under Pacino’s nose, and across the chest of his pinstripe suit. That’s just cocaine. If the camera were pulled a little further out, one would find a mountain of cocaine, from which Pacino’s character Montana just took a massive hit.
11. The Breakfast Crew
That’s right. Here’s the cast and crew of The Breakfast Club, hanging around the library in which the film is set. The actual school that the film was shot in was not, in fact, Shermer High (a fictional school, in a fictional town in Illinois). No, the film was shot in the then recently closed Maine North high school. In the above photo, one can see John Hughes lounging on the floor, seemingly working out some details with Anthony Michael Hall (the nerd Brian in the film). Perhaps the most wonderful thing about this film is that a great swath of it as completely improvised. Of course Hughes had a story arc that he wanted to follow, but the way in which the actors did this, was largely up to interpretation, and improvisation. How wonderful that is, to know that such a cult classic can become so real in its drama, simply because the actors were allowed to make it real (relatively). With some guiding words from John Hughes, pointing the cast in the right direction, and some work from the crew, making sure they capture the shots that Hughes really wanted, this team hammered out one of the greatest cult classics to have ever come out of the eighties.
10. Hey You Guys!
If this isn’t a cult classic film…then this writer does not quite know the definition of cult classic. Directed by Richard Donner, and written by the legendary Steven Spielberg, The Goonies is one of those great films of the eighties that will resonate in one way or another, for years, whether or not people realize it. What a perfect way to end this article also. As Freddy Krueger called action at the top of this piece, now Sean Astin gets to call cut (realistically if he were calling cut, he wouldn’t be using the marker, but that’s besides the point). The two kids in the above photo are, as already said, Sean Astin, as well as Corey Feldman. People may know Sean Astin best now from his work in The Lord of The Rings trilogy, playing the role of Samwise Gamgee. And Corey Feldman may be best known for his work in such additional cult classics as Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, and the original, and fantastic The Lost Boys. Both these films are of an age with The Goonies, but Feldman’s best, or at least best known work comes from his youth.
9. Back To The Blue Screen
Fans of the Back To The Future franchise will at least somewhat recognize this iconic shot from the very first film (and indeed from the cover art for the first film). What’s the big difference though? Well, for starters, they’re not in the parking lot of the Twin Pines Mall in this above photo. Nor is there a streak of fire under each of them, licking at the bottoms of their pants. Why is this? Well, they’re in front of a blue screen. Everything else, was added in post production, during editing. In the bottom right corner, one can even see the fan used to give the illusion of speed for the DeLorean time machine, as it peaks at eighty eight miles per hour, to travel through time. This is back before Michael J. Fox knew he had Parkinson’s. Thankfully, since extensive medical work, and an incredible will to overcome the odds, Michael J. Fox has since done work the world over, and even worked a new show of his own. Sure, his health is still taking hits, and he’s still the butt of jokes from shows like Family Guy, but he’s really made an impact as an iconic actor in his youth, and a motivational speaker through his adulthood.
8. What’s That THING?
Oh, and speaking of John Carpenter (who seems to have a knack for making cult classic films – which also include They Live, and In The Mouth Of Madness) what better way to transition over to The Thing? Yet another Kurt Russell film, as well (a favourite actor of Carpenter for a time). One would not believe the trouble it was to find a behind-the-scenes shot, of decent quality, from this film. Most were very exciting shots from the work done on the 2011 prequel…a film that probably shouldn’t exist, but at least it was created from a place of love. But above, one can see Kurt Russell laughing at the edge of the block of ice from which the “Thing” was released. That’s not part of the actual scene, of course, but at least it goes to show they were having some fun on the set. This is from fairly early on in the story of the film (given that they have only encountered corpses at this point, and no real creature). How interesting to look at the camera they were using on the shoot. Given that so many films are done digitally these days, this camera, circa 1982, is a bit of a relic.
7. Zombie Ash
In Evil Dead 2 (which is almost exactly a copy of Evil Dead), Ash (Bruce Campbell) manages to find himself as a zombie…or ghoul…or some sort of horrifying creature. Of course he recovered, else he would not have been able to star in Army of Darkness, or Ash vs. Evil Dead (which is a priceless throwback). The greatest, or perhaps funniest thing (maybe even the saddest thing at the same time) about the above photo, is that there are countless times, through all of the Evil Dead films where pieces of set, or mechanics, or crew are visible to the viewer. This is actually a common occurrence in these films. So much so that one wonders if there was just not the budget to go back and fix it, or if it was done completely intentionally, just to poke fun at the horror genre in general…or to make people less scared, by showing that it’s all fake. Either way, the entire Evil Dead collection belong to some sort of cult somewhere, and they are each surely classics.
6. Who Thought Alec Baldwin Would Get A Head?
Well this must make it hard for Alec Baldwin to get ahead in life. He should’ve been a little more headstrong, maybe…either way though, this is a great scene from the classic film Beetlejuice. The interesting thing about this scene is the very fact that Alec Baldwin’s severed head speaks perfectly normally to Geena Davis. The whole idea for the scene is that they scare the new family that has moved in. Of course that family can’t see them (save for Lydia – played wonderfully by Winona Ryder). The technicalities of this scene require a bit of post production work, of course, because it’s not like they could simply remove Baldwin’s head. This could be done in several ways. By working the scene on a green screen, and covering Baldwin’s body (save for his head) in green. Or by using a dummy head (made to look like Baldwin), that would then have his separately filmed performance superimposed onto the dummy after the fact. Regardless, the scene works to hilarious effect. In this photo one can see legendary actor Tim Burton giving some direction to the camera crew, before continuing on with the scene.
5. Ludo And The Puppet Master Himself
So before even digging into either Ludo, or Jim Henson, one must mention one of this writer’s favourite leading ladies, Jennifer Connelly. One of the sweetest of hearts, with a surprising range, considering how few films people may know her from. But take her role as Sarah from Labyrinth, and then compare it to her roles in A Beautiful Mind, and Requiem For A Dream. A very surprising, and incredible difference between all three. Now, in addition to Connelly being in the photo above, Ludo stands, gazing at Sarah. Ludo is one of the many puppet creations from Muppet-maker, Jim Henson. Also the director of the film Henson was an artistic genius when it came to television and film. Released in 1986, Labyrinth came out only four years before the death of the legendary Jim Henson. And speaking of death regarding cast and crew of this film, it is a shame that this shot does not also include David Bowie, the villain of the film, who passed away only just last year.
4. Bloodied Buddies
Of course Quentin Tarantino had to make the list in one way or another. And a number of films could be chosen for sure. It’s almost a certainty that the Kill Bill series will hit cult classic status in the years to come, among other violent, sharp-witted films of Tarantino’s. Much like Pulp Fiction already has. Above, are seen actors Tim Roth and Harvey Keitel who play Mr. Orange, and Mr. White, respectively. Theirs is a story of camaraderie, and almost a father and son sort of vibe…at least until the end of the film. Spending his whole time comforting the injured Mr. Orange, Mr. White even kills his two friends, Joe and Eddy, in order to save his partner. Though when Orange reveals that he is in fact the undercover cop that the other two men said he was…well things don’t work out for anyone in this film. Either way though, it’s nice to know that, in spite of all the bloody murder, and the torture going on around them, Roth and Keitel still get along just swell.
3. Just Like Clockwork
Well now here’s a rare image. Alex isn’t raping or murdering, or beating on anyone here. He’s not even enjoying the sound of his own voice. To be fair, Alex’s real name is Malcolm McDowell, and he is essentially the guy who is in every show people have ever seen, at one point or another. Given his acting chops, it truly is amazing that he has not landed greater, starring roles, but this writer would not give up any of the roles he has done to date; whether in film, television, or even in video games. Next to McDowell is director and producer of A Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick is the creator of a great many classic films, and several of them likely are of cult status. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Eyes Wide Shut, The Shining, Dr. Strangelove… these all are eligible for cult status, for sure. But the one that has the biggest following in that regard, and is perhaps the most disturbing for that fact, is A Clockwork Orange.
2. Party Time! Excellent!
“It’s Wayne’s World! Wayne’s World! Party time! Excellent!” Mike Myers and Dana Carvey are an incredibly wacky pair when it comes to hosting a public access cable show as Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar. Working out of his mom’s basement, Myers’ character Wayne gets approached to run his show professionally. Things don’t quite work out the way things were back in the basement, but they learn a whole lot along the way. They even find love. At least Wayne does anyway. He falls for a smoking hot singer/bass player played by the terrific Tia Carrere. Let’s just put it this way “if she were president, she’d be Babe-erham Lincoln.” Of course shenanigans ensue when Rob Lowe, playing a sketchy marketing man, tries to screw Wayne over, and take Cassandra (Tia Carrere) for himself. But all that drama has come to a halt in the above photo, while the titular characters take a bit of a break, and get some touch ups for makeup.
1. What A “Sweet Transvestite”
Here is a shot of Tim Curry getting his makeup done for arguably one of the greatest cult classic films of all time: The Rocky Horror Picture Show. No, he’s not really dead. There was, however, an April Fools joke played by some troll online who led many to believe that he was in fact dead. This isn’t the first death hoax that Curry has had to endure, and who knows if it will be his last, now that he’s seventy-six. Either way, Rocky Horror is perhaps one of the best known cult classics, for reasons that this writer will never quite understand. But go to a screening of this film at any cinema “cool enough” to do it, and it is one hell of an experience. Tim Curry also happens to star in yet another cult classic by the title of Clue.