The Movie: El Topo (1970)
What Is It?: The very first midnight movie is a surreal cowboy movie about a soulless gun slinger who evolves into a holy man played by filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky. Everything that would distinguish midnight movies, and many cult movies to follow, is present in El Topo—the violence, the sex, the bizarre imagery, the dreamlike pace, the mannered acting, and the shattering of genre. Although El Topo has all of the trappings of the classic western, it’s more of an avant garde film with a surplus of Buddhist and Sufi symbolism. El Topo is also tremendously pretentious, but charmingly so, and the fact that it started perhaps the most important cinematic movement of the 1970s helps it to transcend those pretensions.
Why Today?: It’s 8/4. 8 + 4 = 12, as in 12:00 midnight. Pretty clever rationale, eh?