The word “cult cinema” is thrown about quite liberally in film criticism, but it takes a dense history to firmly qualify a given film as “cult.” Nicholas Roeg’s sci-fi headtrip The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) is certainly a cult film, as its audience was never “found” in a traditional, straightforward way (i.e., in its original theatrical release). The spotty, complex reception history of The Man Who Fell to Earth has a great deal to do not only with what it was, but when it was. Based on the 1963 novel by Walter Tevis, the film secured financing mostly because of the bankability of its star, David Bowie, in his first starring film role, yet the final product was something of a mystery and an infuriation for initial audiences and critics: a psychedelic bad-trip ruminating on sexual frustration, identity crises, and alcoholism. It was hardly the piece of science-fiction entertainment audiences were used to, as the storytelling frequently cut away to impenetrable, chaotic imagery that was elusive in meaning in Roeg’s signature idiosyncratic visual style. A formal experimenter working with non-experimental material, Roeg made something that was, historically speaking, an anomaly. Just as Roeg’s semi-experiments belonged in neither the movie theater nor the Whitney Museum, The Man Who Fell to Earth sat in a curious liminal space between 1970s sci-fi and New Hollywood countercultural cinema while comfortably embodying neither.