The Cult Film Archive

Director: Xavier Mendik


The Cult Film Archive is the first research-based resource of its kind to be housed at a British University. The Archive was established in 2000 to provide a research resource for both institutions and individuals interested in cinematic research outside of the conventions of the mainstream. Since then, the Cult Film Archive has grown to become an established research centre with an international reputation. 

In January 2005, the Cult Film Archive relocated to the Screen Media Research Centre at Brunel University from University College Northampton. It forms the basis of a new MA in Cult Film and TV, which will be launched in October 2006. The MA in Cult Film and TV is the first academic programme of its kind and will draw centrally on the audio-visual resources, staff expertise and industry links contained within the Cult Film Archive. Staff in the Screen Media Research Centre are all internationally recognised researchers with specialisms across a wide range of cult film/TV genres and traditions including American independent cinema, Hong Kong Film, European exploitation cinema, global traditions of the horror film, traditions of fantasy TV, censorship, animation, alternative film practices, videogames and related cult tie ins. Alongside the MA in Cult Film and TV, the Screen Media Research Centre also offers supervision in MPhil and PhD topics related to cult film and television. For more information about any of our postgraduate opportunities in this area please contact or 

Mission statement

The Cult Film Archive’s mission statement is to promote and develop a critical understanding of cult, underground and marginal film for both academic and broadcast industry audiences. The Archive’s remit covers a diverse, global cross-section of film genres and national traditions from American Independent and European popular cinema to include a variety of film formats from horror, science fiction and blaxploitation, to madcap musicals, kung fu films and 'weird' world cinema. Alongside a consideration of cult and underground film from a number of differing theoretical perspectives, the archive also consider the crucial role that fandom and film audiences play in constructing meaning within the cult film text. A special research project on cult film audiences is currently being established between the Cult Film Archive and audience research specialists based at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth which explore the international reception of gender/character identification patterns within a variety of contemporary cult and horror titles.

The collection

The Archive’s stock currently consists of around 3,000 audio and visual resources including DVDs, videos, broadcast master tapes and offline material in a range of formats (from standard VHS and Mini DV to DV Cam and Digi Beta). Beyond this extensive resource we also house scripts, movie related books slides, stills, soundtracks and posters. The majority of the items contained within the Cult Film Archive have been directly donated by broadcasters or cult filmmakers themselves in recognition of The Cult Film Archive’s status as a unique research venue in this field. Currently plans allow for the expansion of the collection to several times its current size in the coming years.

See a list of the current holdings of the archive: 

International links

As the only academic resource of its kind, the Cult Film Archive enjoys good working relations with number of national and international academic departments and cinema bodies. Archive staff regularly act as invited guests, speakers and panel members at a number of key European film festivals such as the Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Films and the Fantastisk Film Festival held in Sweden. 

The growing reputation of the Archive has meant that it has been able to attract a number of interviews with key cult filmmakers from across the world. Recent interviewees have included Paul Verhoeven, Nic Roeg, David Cronenberg, Dario Argento, Brian Yuzna, Alex Cox, John Fawcett, Lloyd Kaufman, Grant Harvey, Eli Roth, Jesus Franco, Jean Rollin, Paula Devonshire, H.G. Lewis, Kim Henkel, Takishi Miike, Sergio Stivaletti, Bob Gale, Gunnar Hansen, David Hess, Robert Englund and Michael Winner. The Archive also has exclusive access to an extensive library of broadcast interviews with leading cult film figures from the fields of European, American independent and Hong Kong cult film.

Publications: The AlterImage book series

The Cult Film Archive has its own book series entitled AlterImage which is published by Wallflower Press. The Alter-Image book series is edited from the Cult Film Archive in conjunction with leading European and American researchers working in the fields of cult and underground film. The AlterImage series reiterates the Archive’s objectives of integrating theoretical with production and exhibition based accounts of cult film and its audiences. Each edition is themed around a specific strand of global cult film culture and contains 12-16 key academic articles along with shorter production/exhibition accounts and interviews with cult filmmakers. 

The first edition of AlterImage, Underground USA: Filmmaking Beyond the Hollywood Canon, was published in 2002 and considered the links between experimental and exploitation traditions of American cinema. The second of the AlterImage series, Alternative Europe: Eurotrash and Exploitation Cinema Since 1945, was published in 2004 and considered previously marginal strands of popular European film culture. Further details of the AlterImage series can be found at Wallflower Press:

Alternative Europe Underground USA

Consultancy, knowledge transfer and broadcast documentary production

The Cult Film Archive has an established reputation for consultancy and knowledge transfer, and staff frequently act as consultants or provide expertise for national and international film and television organisations. Over the last three years, the Cult Film Archive and its staff have assisted with a variety of broadcast TV and DVD documentaries. These include consultancy/research roles on the Channel 5 documentary The Joy of Cleavage (September 2003), as well as to the Channel 4 documentary 100 Greatest Scary Moments (October 2003) and a variety of DVD releases including Tenebrae (Anchor Bay UK) and the Director’s Cut of Donnie Darko (Metrodome). 

Since 2004 The Cult Film Archive has also been producing broadcast documentaries that examine the social and cultural issues that underpin cult and horror cinema. These documentaries are produced in conjunction with Hem Productions, creators of the Channel 5 TV cult film Show OutTHERE and Bravo TV’s series Shock Movie Massacre. To date, three documentaries have been produced through the collaboration between the Archive and Hem Productions: 

Cabin Fever: Fear Today, Horror Tomorrow (2004) 

This documentary explores the success of Eli Roth’s recent film, arguing that Cabin Fever not only references some of the social concerns demonstrated by 1970s American horror cinema, but also more recent fears such as post 9/11 concerns around bio-terrorism.

Cabin Fever

Resurrecting Horror: Inside the Mind of Brian Yuzna (2004) 

This documentary profiles the political and literary influences of this leading horror film director and producer. The documentary also explores how themes of repressed sexual desire and political oppression impact on Brian Yuzna’s recent film Rottweiler (2004).

Menstrual Monsters: The Ginger Snaps Trilogy (2004) 

This documentary examines representations of female sexual identity in this popular horror film franchise. The documentary combines director interviews with an innovative all-female horror film research project to argue that the Ginger Snaps series contain feminist and lesbian subtexts absent from other Hollywood productions.


To find out more about the Cult Film Archive’s activities or the new MA in Cult Film and TV please contact: 

Xavier Mendik
Director of the Cult Film Archive
Brunel University
Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH
+44 (0)1895 274000

Page last updated: Wednesday 07 September 2011