Cult Movie: Blade Runner 2049, It and Wonder Woman among year's highlights
2017 offered up more than its fair share of cult-friendly releases across the board. On the big screen it was wonderful to see Blade Runner finally get the gorgeous, neon glowing update that’s been talked about for so long, with Blade Runner 2049.
It may not have placed as many bums on multiplex seats as the money men in Hollywood would have liked but that hardly matters when such a beloved cult text is treated with such loving respect.
Stephen King, a writer perhaps unsurpassed when it comes to creating cult horror material ready made for adaptation, was out front and centre with his epic tale The Dark Tower getting the big budget tinsel town treatment and his much loved ode to childhood fear, It cleaning up at the box office.
Originally filmed as a TV special in 1995, It brought the small-horror of King’s work to a whole new audience and a part two is already lurking in the drains right now.
In a year bursting with the usual array of comic-book adaptations it was interesting to note that some fell flat on their long-gestating faces – Justice League, I’m looking at you – and others, like the Wonder Woman reboot revelled in the new, offering up a fresh, feminist agenda in a world largely anchored down by anorak-clad men children. Not before time, if you ask me.
On TV David Lynch magically revived Twin Peaks with much of its weirdo wonder still fully intact, while the traditional anthology story format with a twist in the tale was kept alive by Reece Sheersmith and Steve Pemberton in their Inside No9 series.
Back on the silver screen the brilliant Kingsman offered up a tackier but undeniably successful sequel in the form of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, a film so in love with its own concept it would have eaten itself if such a thing were possible.
Other much loved franchises proved less open to reinterpretation, however. Universal’s attempted kiss of life for The Mummy proved disastrous, with the whole army of classic monsters in the vaults being put back on ice as a result.
On the Blu-ray front, anniversaries were marked with deluxe box-sets of classic releases lining up to weigh down the shelves of habitual fanboys like me. There were extra heavy sets to mark the 40th anniversary of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, a brace of beautiful Ray Harryhausen stop-motion classics from Powerhouse and sprawling sets on everyone from Buster Keaton to Hammer horror.
Best of all was a definitive 50th birthday release for The Prisoner. Patrick McGoohan’s still perplexing and utterly fascinating fable of individuality kicking against the iron door of conformity remains a master class in oddball TV making and the beautifully remastered box set unleashed by Network DVD in October was the best way to enjoy one of British TV’s most surreal series ever.
There was even a revealing new documentary, In My Mind, from Chris Rodley that followed the film-maker on a difficult journey to track down McGoohan and get to the bottom of the show’s ever-growing enigma.
The real meat, though, is in the 17 original episodes. Rarely have issues from social rights to freedom of the press and full-blown mental illness been tackled by a mainstream TV show. It remains an utterly bizarre viewing experience to this day and my favourite release of 2017.