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Certain films which today are regarded as classics of American cinema -- John Fords The Searchers 1956 Orson Welles Citizen Kane 1941 the Judy Garland musical The Wizard Of Oz 1939 Frank Capras Its A Wonderful Life 1946 Walt Disneys Fantasia 1940 -- are or at least used to be cult films Box-office disappointments when they were released these films were kept alive over the decades not by reviewers or studios or theaters but by filmgoers who loved them This devotion eventually attracted the critical re-evaluations revival-house screenings video and laserdisc releases and so on which have brought these films the success that eluded them in their day and moved them beyond their cult audiences and into the mainstream of film history The true cult film however never entirely loses its outsider status something about it remains too weird or disturbing or juvenile or absurd or specialized or otherwise indigestible to enable the film to be embraced by the masses One way or another a cult film transgresses against the model of the conventional Hollywood movie Excepting the horror films made by Universal most of them are not the products of major studios the more a film transgresses the further it marginalizes itself not just from Hollywoods aesthetic but also from its avenues of promotion and distribution -- and thus from its market which is why few people get rich making cult films Then again most of these films are low-budget affairs which dont need to make a lot of money in order to be profitable Nevertheless the foundation for cult films is the devoted audience for American horror movies especially those made from the 1920s through the 60s Critics mostly derided or ignored these films leaving their devotees free to share information and nourish their enthusiasms among themselves By the 90s these generations of fans have bestowed iconic status upon the genres greatest stars Lon Chaney Sr Bela Lugosi Boris Karloff Peter Lorre Lon
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