Why "Clue" is a Cult Classic

A place to discuss all aspects of Clue/Cluedo.

Moderators: Michael, BBP, Tum

Post Reply
munitzer
Can Opener
Posts: 1644
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 10:07 pm

Why "Clue" is a Cult Classic

Post by munitzer » Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:49 pm

This being a Clue forum, personal feelings toward the film will lean to favorable, but I found this segment from an article interesting, so far as it offers an explanation as to why, beyond the movie's content and despite its paltry box office performance, Clue has such a wide and, at times, staunchly devoted fanbase.

From "From Famous Flops To Cult Hits: ‘Big Lebowski,’ ‘Clue’ and, Yes, ‘Citizen Kane’" by Will Leitch
"Clue." The wacky comedy based on the board game has the distinct advantage of actually becoming popular because it was a flop. It barely made back its budget when released in 1985, but because of that, it was discounted when sold for home video, one of the first movies that was sold on VHS for less than the ridiculous $99.99 retail price. (Remember when VHS movies used to cost that much?) But "Clue" was such a flop in theaters that it was discounted down to $19.99, which is why so many parents across the country owned it. This was still early on in the VCR process, and "Clue" became the "Hey, I have a VCR, I should own a movie!" movie. This, strangely, kind of made it do for the VCR what "The Matrix" did for DVDs: It became the movie that helped mainstream a new technology. Also, it's funny.
"It is my opinion that your detective stories are the normal recreation of snobbish, out-dated, life-hating, ignoble minds."

User avatar
Michael
Mastermind
Posts: 6127
Joined: Sat May 22, 2004 11:46 pm
Location: NYC & Atlanta

Post by Michael » Tue Aug 23, 2011 12:27 pm

Interesting perspective! I never thought about that.
How do you know what kind of pictures they are if you're such a lay-dee?

User avatar
Murder by Death
Forensics Supervisor
Posts: 2626
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:15 pm

Post by Murder by Death » Tue Aug 23, 2011 3:05 pm

Actually, I think this theory should be taken with a huge grain of salt. I am dating myself a bit when I admit that I was around in 1986 to witness the birth of affordable VHS. In particular, Paramount was on the bleeding-edge of home video sales, and was one of the first to cut prices across the board, making movies affordable. Case in point, Paramount released Star Trek II, in 1983 for the then unheard of price of $39.95 and made history by selling over 120,000 copies. By 1986, Paramount was aggressively selling most of their moves and TV series for $19.95 to $29.95. So, Clue would have been priced no differently than any other movie in Paramount's catalogue when it was released. It took other studios a little more tme to come around, but by and large, the competitive playing field found a high percentage of home video movie sales in this "golden" price range. While this might have helped Clue generally to find it's way into some people's libraries, I seriously doubt it makes any significant impact over renewed appreciation of this film over the long haul vs. any other film being sold around the same time. That being said, because so many new affordable movies were being released during this time, video dealers had to keep the shelves cleared, so the birth of the discount clearance tables happened. I recall routinely sifting through the bin of these unwanted surplus movies every time I went to the video store. So it's quite possible Clue was one of those films that ended up in the $9.95+ pile, and as such drove a mass adoption of this classic to home libraries. But the simplistic explanation as given by Will Leitch does not really hold water as presented.

If I had to guess, I would speculate that the availability of the three endings in one tape, two of which had never been seen by most original theater goers, who much to Paramount's chagrin did not buy into the marketing and only saw the movie once, which helped drive rentals, as well as good word of mouth, combined with a low purchase price. I know wanting to see the other two endings I had not seen in the theater is how I ended up seeing it on video for the first time, and falling in love with it again.

munitzer
Can Opener
Posts: 1644
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 10:07 pm

Post by munitzer » Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:35 pm

Having a single factor encapsulating and explaining the entirety of Clue's cultural endurance would be a ridiculous simplification. What I am curious about is all those contributing factors.

When was the last time anyone saw Clue on television? I want to say that the first time I saw it was that way, but that would have been years (and then some) ago and may not even be the case.
"It is my opinion that your detective stories are the normal recreation of snobbish, out-dated, life-hating, ignoble minds."

Kristev
Crime Writer
Posts: 2520
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2005 1:12 am
Location: Idaho

Post by Kristev » Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:13 pm

HBO played it for a while. Ten years ago.

User avatar
Murder by Death
Forensics Supervisor
Posts: 2626
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:15 pm

Post by Murder by Death » Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:05 pm

munitzer wrote:When was the last time anyone saw Clue on television?
Clue aired on ABC Family this past Halloween in HD. They may have been running it every year since 2008, based on an earlier post. Should look for it again this October. However, at least with the HD cut, it was chopped up so badly it was almost unbearable. Some of the funniest jokes and sequences were cut to reduce runtime for more commercials, and others presumably for the mild adult themes they imply - e.g. Mrs. White's entire confession. It had the net effect of screwing with the overall pacing, so the entire thing felt off-kilter. Looking for Paramount to re-issue in HD bluray soon!

Post Reply