In an unassuming pop up gallery in New York City's meatpacking district, Gallery1988 -- the Southern California-based collective that has made a name for themselves by showcasing awesome art inspired by pop culture over the past couple of years -- has set up their first show on the east coast, Crazy 4 Cult: NYC. Running through September 1st, the exhibition features over 200 works that are inspired by cult film favorites. The mixed media pieces on display are from established and upcoming artists, and include many based on flicks like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, They Live, The Big Lebowski, Aliens, Little Shop of Horrors, and tons more of the type of movies that you find yourself watching again and again. The beauty of the show is that these works re-contextualize their source material to help you look at these movies in a new and offbeat way. So which of these pieces are the most memorable? Let's take a look, though remember that art criticism is extremely subjective. In other words, mention your favorites in the comments. And remember, while the entire show is available to view online, cult film fans should really try to make it to NYC's 64 Ganesvoort Street to check out the subtle nuances that jpeg images can't possibly recreate. Let's begin.
Artist: Dan Goodsell
Why it's so great: In each of his five submissions for the Crazy 4 Cult: NY show, cartoonist Dan Goodsell placed his Mr. Toast characters into iconic flicks. The best of the bunch featured the wonderful Shaky Bacon doing his best Ash impersonation. Even Bruce Campbell himself would agree that this is a groovy juxtaposition indeed.
19) NY Giants
Why it's so great: New York City frequently gets its ass kicked in movies. Realizing just how often the Big Apple comes under attack by huge monsters, Gallery1988 mainstay Tom Whalen decided to place all of the city that never sleeps gargantuan foes in one delightfully nerdy illustration that is just begging to be reproduced on T-shirts.
18) Whatever Happened to Fay Wray?
Why it's so great: The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the most successful and well-known cult film of all. (It is so mainstream in fact that an argument can be made about how it and other films that found a second life like The Big Lebowski have now become post-cult movies). That's a discussion for another day, so for now just know that Dustin Harbin's ink drawing is the perfect distillation of the gender-bending sci-fi/B-movie/musical spoof that still has crowds yearning to stop dreaming and start being it.
17) Sloth Love Chunk
Why it's so great: The most disturbing aspect of The Goonies is how nobody bats an eye at how the creepy and deformed Sloth is taken in by Chunk's family at the end of the film. There is simply no way that situation is going to end well. (I'm guessing Sloth eventually killed Chunk while they were both fighting over the last ice cream sandwich). Matt Kaufenberg instead chooses to focus on the positive side of this pairing with the above image that is so joyful it could be the cover of a children's book. Probably one where a Baby Ruth-obsessed monster doesn't get a murderous case of the munchies.
Artist: Cuyler Smith
Why it's so great: Highlighted by day-glo colors that reflect the goofy innocence of the 1980s, Smith's illustration is a celebration of Savage Steve Holland's immortal classic, Better Off Dead. Unfortunately though this one will set you back way more than two dollars.
15) The Dude Abides
Why it's so great: The bad news is that this one-of-a-kind plush doppelganger of the Dude sold for a reasonable $150. So what's the upshot of this? Someone out there has the coolest stuffed plaything that has ever been produced. Insert gag about how it really ties the room together here.
14) The Guy Sure Looks Like Plant Food to Me
Why it's so great: You know that crappy bead art stuff that unpopular kids sit in on Friday nights to create imaginary friends with? Well it turns out that can be used for awesome purposes as well, such as Kyle McCoy's recreation of Seymour feeding Audrey II -- one of a surprising number of Little Shop of Horrors works featured in the exhibition. Da Doo...
13) Hill Valley, CA 1984
Why it's so great: Bell's artistic recreation of the photo Marty used to chart the disappearance of his former life is an inspired piece of art...and a reminder of how the actual Back to the Future cartoon was one misfire after another.
12) The Talent Show
Why it's so great: Wet Hot American Summer is the perfect film, and this image from the pivotal talent show sequence is a reminder of some of the movie's best gags. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to cue up "Higher and Higher" and fondle my sweaters.
11) Come Out and Play!
Why it's so great: Coney Island is such an American landmark that it really shouldn't require an a tourism drive. In these troubled economic times, every potential vacation spot can use all the help it can get. Here's a tip for the Brooklyn tourism board -- use this image inspired by The Warriors in an official campaign and just watch the money roll in. Can you dig it? Damn right you can.
10) 100% Utah
Why it's so great: Because it is a mixed media sculpture thingy that features reproductions all of the key moments of Point Break, a film that I and other discerning cineastes love without a shred of irony.
9) The Duder of Thrones
Why it's so great: In the Game of Thrones either you win or you say fuck it and go bowling.
8) Pee-Wee's Headlight Glasses
Why it's so great: Personally I was hoping that the Crazy 4 Cult show would include a life-size replica of the giant head from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure's novelty store scene, but this is just fine as well.
Why it's so great: In this Monty Python and the Holy Grail piece, artist Dyna Moe takes a break from her usual illustration work to focus on another batch of Mad Men entirely.
6) They Live to Reproduce
Why it's so great: Admittedly I'm a bit biased as I already declared They Live to be cinema's finest achievement on this very site. Even if you hate the film, it's hard not to be charmed by this piece that features paint applied with toothpicks (a feat that blows my mind) and an actual pair of sunglasses. Mind control or not, I totally want to marry and reproduce with this one.
5) Wyld Stallyns: Be Excellent to Each Other
Why it's so great: Bill and Ted are experiencing a welcome comeback thanks to the announcement that Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter will be reprising the characters for a third film. The plot of the movie supposedly concerns Bill and Tedd being stricken by ennui because they still haven't written the song that will unite the world. Maybe they should just hop in the phone booth and head to NYC and rip this replica of the album sleeve/LP off the wall of Gallery1988. Problem solved.
Why it's so great: This painting was used in advertising materials for the Crazy 4 Cult: NYC show, and it's easy to see why. It beautifully reflects the reverence for pop culture that the Gallery1988 folks pour into every exhibition. It's also worth noting that the showing also featured another work by Edmiston in which the Alien Queen was enjoying a Rocket Pop. Because when you are giving birth to monsters all day you are clearly gonna want a treat.
3) Cel From John Carpenter's Animated Adventures: The Thing
Why it's so great: The Thing as a Disney-styled villain? It's the best example of animated irreverence since the golden age of T.V. Funhouse. Walker also created a mock-up of the killer pirates from John Carpenter's The Fog for the show, but the Norris thing head has a slight advantage thanks to a resemblance to The Little Mermaid's Sebastian.
2) Player 2 Has Entered the Game
Why it's so great: Did I say great? I meant to say frustrating as all hell. I mean why aren't I playing a 16-bit Shaun of the Dead game right now? Other than the fact if one existed I would begin to neglect my job, my friends, my family, my personal hygiene, etc. You see what I'm saying though.
1) I Escaped New York
Why it's so great: Five words: elegance and simplicity of design. This takes an established idea -- the I Love NY tourism campaign -- and gives it a cult twist by switching out the heart with Snake Plissken's noggin. Like all of the pieces featured in this exhibition it is inventive and fun, and the greatest illustration of Gallery1988's aesthetic at work.
Tags: Army of Darkness, Art, Back to the Future, Big Lebowski, Cult Classics, Cult Movies, John Carpenter