SR Picks: Our Favorite Cult Movies

Published 6 years ago by , Updated January 23rd, 2013 at 6:55 am,

cult movies they live SR Picks: Our Favorite Cult MoviesThe other day, we Screen Rant writers were chatting online and the subject of cult movies came up.  Immediately I began thinking of all the cult movies I’ve seen and loved (or loathed) – so I thought it would be great to list some of our favorite cult movies individually, and as a group.

As we were compiling our lists, we debated what, exactly, constitutes a “cult movie.”  We talked about different criteria… for instance movies that fail at the box office (or do only modestly well), but then do terrific on home video.  Or maybe they tank overall, but have a small, passionate (and underground?) fan base.  Then there are movies that gain some popularity, but are really, really weird.  SR boss Vic Holtreman even posed the question on Twitter, and got some great answers.

To settle any debates about whether any of our picks were actual cult movies or not, we consulted Wikipedia, and found this definition:

“A cult film (or cult movie/picture) is a film that has acquired a highly devoted but relatively small group of fans.  Often, cult movies have failed to achieve fame outside of the small fanbases… “

They do have a list of exceptions… for example cases where a cult film became recognized by mainstream audiences. Films like Rocky Horror Picture Show, Blade Runner, Evil Dead, and others.  But we’ll still consider those cult films, just ones that are more widely known now.

I also think there are movies that start out as cult films, then become major hits and can’t be considered “well-known cult films” (like the aforementioned Evil Dead).  I’m talking about movies like Austin Powers, which became a cult flick for a very short time on VHS and DVD, before becoming so big, it spawned two major grossing sequels and possibly a fourth film.

And finally, don’t confuse a cult film with a “sleeper” film, which does well in theaters – but only after word of mouth spreads.  There’s Something About Mary can be considered a sleeper hit.

So with that criteria in mind, here are Screen Rant‘s favorite cult movies (most of these favorites lists are not in fave to least fave order):

Heath McKnight (in no particular order):

“For me, I saw a lot of these cult movies in the theater and I honestly thought they’d do at least pretty good at the box office.  I still fell in love with them, especially when I could watch them over and over again on DVD.  I know they’re cult films, but I’d name at least three or four as my all-time favorite movies.”

  • Blues Brothers “If this movie comes on, I’ll watch it no matter how many times I’ve already seen it.”
  • Office Space“My best friend and I went to see it when it opened 10 years ago–no one was there, so I thought that was the end of this movie.”
  • The Big LebowskiSaw it while in film school with some fellow students and we laughed it up in the empty theater”
  • This Is Spinal Tap“Another brilliant comedy. ‘Rock and roll!'”
  • Transformers (1986 original) – “My mom took me to see it in theaters when I was only 10 years old.  When Optimus died, I started crying and my Mom said, ‘He’s just a robot.’  When she cried thinking Johnny 5 died in Short Circuit 2, I said, ‘He’s just a robot!'”
  • The Three Amigos“I used to watch this with my friends in high school–lots of laughs.”
  • The Thing (1982)“For me, ‘The Thing’ made me want to become a filmmaker–I’ve seen it probably 50 times since I first saw it 20 years ago.”
  • Airplane!“One of the funniest films ever.”
  • Space Balls“I never get sick of this movie, just like ‘Blues Brothers;’ some of my oldest friends and I still quote this movie.  ‘Give me paw!'”
  • Nightmare Before ChristmasI was in high school and I took a girl to see it.  We were the only ones in the theater, just like with ‘Big Lebowski’ and ‘Office Space.'”
  • Mallrats“I saw this over and over again while working at a movie theater, then saw it a lot on DVD a few years later.”
  • Best in Show“Yet another movie that I thought would rock the box office and sat pretty much alone in the theater, laughing.”

blues brothers SR Picks: Our Favorite Cult Movies

Kofi Outlaw:

“My definition of a cult movie is a movie that I totally get when I see it, even though so many other people in the theater around me don’t seem to get it at all. Until the DVD drops, and then, finally, other people seem to get it too.”

  • Ghost Dog
  • The Big Lebowski
  • Office Space
  • Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
  • Belly
  • Memento
  • American Pimp

the big lebowski SR Picks: Our Favorite Cult Movies

Vic Holtreman:

“From the definition above, movies that I find I love watching over and over again are often the ones from which you can quote lines of dialog over and over and over again. I’ve included one favorite quote from each film (but there were many to choose from!)”

  • Plan 9 From Outer Space – “You humans are stupid, stupid, stupid!”
  • They Live – “I have come to chew bubblegum and kick ass.”
  • The Princess Bride – “Ah, look who’s so smart? He’s only MOSTLY dead.”
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail – “WHAT is your quest?”
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – “Four thousand restaurants in the downtown area, I pick the one my father goes to.”
  • Army of Darkness – “Come to daddy.”
  • Kentucky Fried Movie – “Nuclear missiles are headed towards the United States… film at 11.”
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – “Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.
  • Airplane – “Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?”
  • Animal House – “They took the bar! They took the whole f$$%ing bar!”
  • The Breakfast Club – “Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?”
  • The Usual Suspects – “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist.”
  • Raising Arizona – “I’ll be taking these Huggies and whatever cash ya got.”
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978 original) – “The only person who could miss with this gun is the sucker with the bread to buy it.”

plan 9 from outer space SR Picks: Our Favorite Cult Movies

Sabrina Cognata

“For me, cult movies are about special moments you can share with strangers.  Not long ago I was talking with a friend when I said, ‘I had the strangest dream,’ when some guy sitting near us leaned over and said, ‘Was it a dream where you see yourself standing in sort of sun-god robes on a pyramid with a thousand naked women screaming and throwing little pickles at you?’  And I knew that guy was awesome.  It’s about minutia and appreciation for things that were overlooked the first time around.  But most of all it’s about being an elitist over something that people, for the most part, do not get or understand.”

  • Dazed & Confused
  • Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  • Real Genius
  • Big Lebowski
  • They Live
  • Heathers
  • Rushmore
  • Roadhouse
  • Big Trouble In Little China
  • Three Amigos
  • A Fistful of Dollars
  • Bloodsport
  • Master of the Flying Guillotine

pee wees big adventure SR Picks: Our Favorite Cult Movies

Ross Miller:

“I would classify a movie described as ‘cult’ as one which you can watch over and over again, quote lines throughout your daily life (often at the extreme annoyance of family and friends!) and never get tired of them. Alongside my list, I have put just one of my favorite quotes from each of them.”

  • Donnie Darko“Do you believe in time…travel?…”
  • The Big Lebowski – “That rug really tied the room together.”
  • Office Space“Why does it say there is a paper jam, when there IS no paper jam?!”
  • A Clockwork Orange“There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening.”
  • Brick“Throw one at me if you want, hash head. I’ve got all five senses and I slept last night, that puts me six up on the lot of you.”
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind“Sand is overrated. It’s just tiny little rocks.”
  • Ichi the Killer“There’s no love in your violence.”

donnie darko SR Picks: Our Favorite Cult Movies

Rob Keyes:

“I define cult films as movies not made with a massive budget and not receiving a wide successful box office. Cult movies spread through word of mouth, earning their success through a highly devoted fanbase – They become more popular after their initial release. The movies I chose are all movies that I had to watch more than once and ones that are extremely memorable for me.”

  • Boondock Saints
  • Primer
  • Donnie Darko
  • Office Space
  • The Usual Suspects
  • Army of Darkness
  • Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
  • Equilibrium

office space SR Picks: Our Favorite Cult Movies

Bruce Simmons

  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show “Was just a classic weekend routine for several years.”
  • Harold and Maude“It makes depression be in vogue.”
  • The Shawshank Redemption –  “Just a classic tale of revenge.”
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978 original)“A creepy movie without millions being spent to make it creepy.”
  • Faces of Death, Vol. 1“There’s a reason my buds put the tape in, said check this out, and left the house!  This vid is scarred on my mind forever.  Wow!!!”

rocky horror cult movie SR Picks: Our Favorite Cult Movies

Carl Lee

“Most of my film collection is made of cult films. I originally had listed movies like ‘Boondock Saints’ and ‘Reservoir Dogs’ but the selected ten can be found somewhere near my desk or already in my players. Their subject matter, story arc, or overarching theme has become the unheard second opinion and guiding light against the grain of the mainstream. Yeah, I have blockbusters (who doesn’t) but the discs that bare scratches from being played too often are the following.”

  • Belly
  • Blood In, Blood Out
  • Closer
  • Cry Baby
  • Hard Candy
  • 12 Monkeys
  • Fight Club
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Scarface
  • The Shawshank Redemption

pulp fiction SR Picks: Our Favorite Cult Movies

Niall Browne:

“My cult favorites are films that I can watch over and over again without becoming bored. Sure they may not be loved by a lot of people – ‘Ishtar’ and ‘The Postman‘ are prime examples but they do have a special place in my heart. They are also films that should (must?) be watched by film fans to really celebrate the true spectrum of the medium.”

  • Ed Wood
  • Big Trouble in Little China
  • Hudson Hawk
  • The Postman (with Kevin Costner)
  • Ishtar
  • Blow Out
  • Flash Gordon
  • Time Bandits
  • Elvis The Movie

big trouble little china SR Picks: Our Favorite Cult Movies

Finally, here is our combined Top 10 Screen Rant list of favorite cult movies (in order):

  1. Office Space
  2. The Big Lebowski
  3. They Live
  4. The Usual Suspects
  5. Army of Darkness
  6. Donnie Darko
  7. Big Trouble in Little China
  8. The Shawshank Redemption
  9. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  10. Airplane

Now that you’ve seen our favorite cult hits, we want to see yours!  What are the cult movies you pop into the DVD player (or even the VCR)?  And if you don’t agree with our picks, we’d love to hear what you think.

Oh… and a post about cult movies just wouldn’t be complete without at least one image from Army of Darkness. 😛

army of darkness SR Picks: Our Favorite Cult Movies

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  1. love the list, but the best out of those would be pulp fiction and the thing(82)

  2. Big thanks to Vic for helping me with this, and the gang for their picks!


  3. what No C.H.U.D ?

  4. @Matt

    That’s the point of the closing paragraph – to get discussion going and find out what readers think of the list and what their faves are. :-)


  5. wow i really love these lists but i cannot believe no one shows any love for American Psycho!!!!

  6. The greatest cult movie ever is The Boondock Saints!

  7. logan,
    yeah i would put american psycho on my list and t2 and the original godzilla film

  8. Indeed, American Psycho! A classic management training tape! I also forgot the original Godzilla with Raymond Burr on my list. Godzilla, he’s ‘da bomb!

  9. Bruce,
    i was talking about original japanese version not the americanized version, the american version was good, but its nothing compared to the original unaltered japanese version

  10. what about

    Freaks (1932)

    Fight Club !

    The Warriors (1979)

    DEAD ALIVE (1992) -peter Jackson HORROR !

    Cube-(not the crappy sequal)

    Dirty Shame,CryBaby,PinkFlamingos,(Original_Hairspray 1988)

  11. How about Braindead (Dead Alive). Peter Jackson gore fest?

  12. here is my list(in no particular order)
    the thing
    pulp fiction
    original godzilla
    king kong(original)
    end of evangelion
    the rock
    star wars(original trilogy)

  13. and hesei gamera trilogy

  14. They Live
    Dark City
    Master of the Flying Gullotine
    Escape from NY


    Love alot of the other entries but are they really cult films?? Some are sort of mainstream blockbusters, no??

  15. American Psycho
    Fight Club
    They Live
    Lucky Number Slevin
    Thank You For Smoking

    I agree with the Wikipedia definition of a cult movie but I use people around me to compare if a lot of people have heard of the movie or not, so it might be popular among the general public but not so much to the people i know. Oh and I agree that if it’s gained in popularity by word of mouth so dvd sales are great and it didn’t make much in theatres.

  16. Oh my gosh, I knew I’d love this thread! You guys are mentioning movies I love that I had forgotten about…

    Freaks – “One of us, one of us.”

    Cube – I freaking LOVE that movie (yes, the original).

    Dead Alive – I’ve only seen it once, but I remember thinking it was the grossest film I’d ever seen. 😛

    The Warriors – Holy cow… I haven’t seen that movie in over 20 years. Remember loving it.

    And how did I not put Dark City on my list? I have the Blu-ray director’s cut version but I haven’t seen it yet.

    Fight Club is on the list as is Boondock Saints and believe it or not, I’ve never seen American Psycho.


  17. Personally if I had to choose an Evil Dead movie it would be 2.
    Also I wouldn’t question ED’s cult status. While us movie nuts might know and love them, most people I know have never seen them.

    As soon as I saw Plan 9, I thought Ed Wood. Niall beat me to it. I think that’s Depp best performance.

    Love the top ten, and certainly shows the sense of humour of the people here. 😉

    I’d have to include Dog Soldiers, Versus, Das Boot, Labyrinth, Miller’s Crossing, Raising Arizona, and totally agree on the Warriors.

    Must have Bubba Ho-Tep!
    Oh, and a John Carpenter movie not mentioned – Prince of Darkness.

    Can we have a top 100? 😀

  18. Vic you need to rent American Psycho and see the best performance of the best actor out there today, anger problems or not.

  19. Lord Garth, Formerly of Izar,

    i know i listed some hollywood blockbusters, but those are some of my favorites

  20. Friday is one that I haven’t seen on the list. Its the first movie I think of when I hear cult following. In addtion I would include American Psycho, Back to the Future, Blade Runner, Goonies, Pulp Fiction and last but not least Scarface.

  21. Fist full of dollars is one of the best movies ever, highly rated by critics also. I’m not sure I’d call it a cult movie.

  22. Some of my favorites are:

    The Sword and the Sorceror
    Big Trouble In Little CHina
    Weird Science
    Beetle Juice
    The Lost Boys
    An AMerican Werewolf In London
    28 Days Later
    Reign Of Fire
    The First Power
    Remo Williams
    Donnie Darko
    AMerican History X

    Some great films in the other threads too!!

  23. I’m having issues with what you guys are calling Cult movies, most of that stuff is pretty mainstream or well known, throw out something like, how about:

    Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone.

  24. One of my all-time favorite films is also one of the best cult classics: Spaceballs. I absolutely HAVE to watch this movie at least once a year. Along with Blazing Saddles (which is also a great cult film!), Spaceballs is one of Mel Brooks’ best and funniest films.

    Oh, and I absolutely LOVE the 80’s Flash Gordon movie. Talk about a Cult Classic!!

    I love alot of the films on Vic’s list, including The Princess Bride, Ferris Bueller and They Live. Heck, most people have NO idea when I say the bubblegum line. LOL.

  25. That’s more obscure than cult Richard IMO.

  26. American Werewolf in London… ANOTHER of my all time favorites.

    This is a great thread that’s going to have me adding lots of movies to my Netflix queue. :-)


    Just because a movie title is well known doesn’t mean a lot of people have seen it. I vaguely recall the movie you mentioned but don’t remember much about it other than I know I’ve seen it once.


  27. Great lists all – I’ll add:

    Sleepaway Camp (original)
    Silent Night Deadly Night
    Slumber Party Massacre
    Punisher (1989)
    Cabin Boy
    Soldier (Kurt Russel)
    The Howling

    I could go on, but I won’t.

  28. Vic Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone actually has a pretty recognizable cast and I saw it many years ago too..1984-85 I think..

    A few more I forgot to add

    Children of the Corn
    A Christmas Story
    War Games
    The Dead Zone (One of Cronenberg’s best)
    The Last Starfighter
    Fright Night
    Enemy Mine
    BLADE RUNNER (how that hasn’t come up yet)
    Lady Hawke
    Transylvania 6-5000
    The Beast Master
    The Dungeonmaster (has not aged well but I still enjoy it)
    Runaway Train

    I will stop there but I could go on and on.. :) as I’m sure everyone can..