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. icon razz SR Picks: Our Favorite Cult Movies

army of darkness SR Picks: Our Favorite Cult Movies

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  1. @greenknight

    See? I knew there was a reason I liked you despite your socio-political views. :-P

    You list a few more of my all time faves:

    A Christmas Story
    Fright Night
    Blade Runner (non-voiceover version)
    Enemy Mine was great but I haven’t see it in years.
    And I used to LOVE Beastmaster – that dude was an inspiration to get in shape. :-)


  2. they live and dawn of the dead 1978 “ive come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass and im all out of bubblegum” they live “when theres no more room in hell the dead will walk the earth” dawn of the dead

  3. Love Krull. Very well known cast from a Brit point of view.

    Spacehunter was cool. Had Michael Ironside as Overdog, with his giant metal claws.

    Speaking of Beast Master and cult movies – the Phantasm series.
    They make little sense but I love ‘em!

  4. Great add with “A Christmas Story”, Vic. That is definitely a cult classic. Love the Christmas Eve marathon on TBS every year, too.

    GK, I still love “The Last Starfighter” even though I haven’t seen it in years, along with “War Games.”

    Can’t forget about “Weird Science”, either!

  5. I refuse to list a top five, much less top ten. But I’m happy to see mentions of Blade Runner , The Warriors, most of John Carpenter’s films, especially Escape From New York and They Live. Princess Bride? No question. I also loved Donnie Darko as well.

    Now, it’s time to really up the ante.

    I have always had an appreciation for another Walter Hill film, 1984′s Streets Of Fire with Michael Pare, Diane Lane , Willem Dafoe, Lee Ving and The Blasters. I got the DVD early before the folks at Universal re-issued it with a bad cover and not the original Sum-E contrast style art. Oddly, the re-issue is still the skin ‘ bones, no extras or music videos- half of ‘em you can find on Youtube! Ouch!

    Anyway, as for the rest…two Mike Nesmith productions:
    Alex Cox’s Repo Man and Bill Fishman’s Tapeheads;

    two Joe Dante films: Piranha and Innerspace;

    Near Dark.

    Blue Monkey.


    Enter The Dragon.

    Day Of The Triffids.

    Zero Effect.

    Hard Boiled

    Cutthroat Island.


  6. May I suggest: Cult films shouldn’t/don’t have sequels? Tie that into the current Hollywood remake craze…

    Take for instance: Tremors… it would have been better off without sequels. I always watch it when it comes on… :)

  7. Oh yeah, forgot to mention:

    The Seventh Seal — Igmar Bergman’s classic story of life and death and the questions posed by both. Seen as a movie within a movie in Last Action Hero and the basis of Bill and Ted’s bogus journey (the chess match with Death). Starred a very young Max Von Sydow…

  8. Wow, I’m loving these lists that are being compiled. Some of my favorites have been mentioned such as Boondock Saints, Animal House, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, The Goonies, Monty Python and the Holy Grail…. I could keep going.

    But I would like to add some others that haven’t been mentioned:

    The Never-Ending Story
    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I and II)
    History of the World Part One
    Top Gun (that movie never gets old)
    The Running Man

  9. Great list and suggestions guys, can’t believe we haven’t done this before. Here’s a couple of my favorites:
    The Dark Crystal
    Fight Club
    Blade Runner
    Conan the Barbarian
    Neverending Story
    Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels

  10. lol im probably gonna get chewed out for this one, but i always found ROBOT JOX to be a good one

  11. Many of my favorites have been listed but why no love for Scanners? Every time I see those heads explode I howl. Other too good to miss are:

    Killer Klowns From Outer Space
    Blue Velvet
    The Mack
    Bucket Of Blood

  12. I’d certainly throw in Battle Beyond the Stars (the space version of the Seven Samurai) if I knew how well it did and whether it was considered a cult movie.

  13. I may be the only one who thinks this was a good movie, but what about Johnny Dangerously? It is right up there with 3 Amigos and Spaceballs for me.

    @ Heath….
    Awesome call on the original animated Transformers movie. I put that on thye list of my favorite movies ever!

    I would have to say though the best “cult” movie is Boondock Saints.

  14. I like a lot of your picks and agree with them. For me and some movies I like, I want to add Airborne and Rad to them. For anyone who has seen either of these movies knows how awesome they are and how cult like their followers are.

  15. There’s so many movies being mentioned that I know I missed off my list…
    but the only logical way for me to do this was to narrow it down to the 10 “most-watched” cult movies.

  16. my favorites
    -Nightmare on Elm st(a true cult classic)

    -Army of Darkness(“Hail to the king baby!”best for one liners)

    -Evil Dead 2 Dead by Dawn (Can watch this for hours over and over)

    -Donnie Darko(this is just amazing in all ways)

    -WATCHMEN(soon to be cult film)

    -Terminator 2 (best in the series)

    -Predator(this is classic)

    -The Exorcist(what is there to say?)

  17. Wow, I love posts like this that generate such great discussion:)

    Some of those mentioned that I love, and some I just forget about, that I would add are:

    American Psycho
    Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
    American History X
    Mulholland Drive
    Blue Velvet
    Requiem for a Dream
    Being John Malkovich

  18. “Rad”

    I had seen that film. Dir. by Hal Needham and it had that redhead gal from Full House, Lori Loughin, BMX type bikers, right, Craig? For some reason, now I’m thinking about “Thrashin’” that had Josh Brolin as a skateborader, and a up and coming band called The Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

    Anyway, I can’t believe I forgot about Battle Beyond The Stars. How can young men NOT remember that starship?
    No, not the ones that looked like metal toads. The starship,,.

    But I’m also kicking myself because I forgot about Sword & The Sorcerer….and Soroity Babes In the Slime Bowl-Rama

  19. I’m with RICHARD on what folks call cult.

    It’s incredibly subjective in regards to what parameters one should use in defining what a cult movie is.

    I would think those movies that we’ve never heard of or barely remember because it performed abysmally at the box office, but had a life of its own afterwards in some regard, that holds a special spot in our heads / hearts.

    I had a tough time with my list just because of how I approached making it.

  20. Tremors…

  21. V from 1983 its a miniseries but its the best miniseries and V’s second miniseries is the second best miniseries not necessarily a cult movie but its a cult miniseries

  22. SUPER TROOPERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. For me not totally sure about cult classics, but for me here are my top 10. These are ones that I had to get the DVD of and watch them again and again. (Wife hates all but one.LOL) Here in no order.

    1. Office Space (just plain great)
    2. They Live (Rowdy Roddy Pipper kicking ass without bubble gum)
    3. Prince of Darkness (First movie I saw twice at the movies)
    4. Warriors (Warriors come out and play)
    5. Krull (Even the wife loves this movie)
    6. Animated Transformers (also love the soundtrack)
    7. Nightmare on Elm Street (one word: Freedy)

    The rest I did not see mentioned

    8. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Party on Dude)
    9. No Retreat, No Surrender (don’t know why, but love it very early JCVD in it)
    10. LAST DRAGON (you gotta love Bruce Leroy and Shonuff, the Shogon of Harlem. “Kiss my Converse”)

  24. Last Dragon & Prince of Darkness… another two long time faves I’d forgotten about!


  25. Great lists! Here’s mine-

    Day of the Triffids (original theatrical release) : To this day, the only movie that literally made me run screaming from the theater as a child…

    The Legend of Hell House : The final stand-off between Roddy MacDowel and Balasco’s ghost is insanely, horrifyingly tense, yet funny

    The Haunting (original theatrical release) Great cast, greater mind games

    The Crawling Eye : How could such a corny monster be so cool?

    The Fury : Pre X-men / Scanners mutant yarn with a terrific script and a knockout performance by Kirk Douglas

    Earth vs. the Flying Saucers : One of Harryhausen’s best efforts

    The Blob (Steve McQueen version) Teenagers Vs. Pissed off Jello…What’s not to love?

    Them: “Make me a Sergeant, Gimme the booze!”

    4-D Man : Quirky but captivating in concept

    A Crack in the World: One of the first global disaster yarn’s with pretty neat FX

  26. Repo Man
    Grosse Point Blank
    Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
    Monty Python’s Holy Grail

  27. Brotherhood of the Wolf (’01)
    Deathstalker 1,2,3,4
    Session 9 – Totally creepy!!
    Dog Soldiers (’02) Great Werewolf movie
    Hercules (’59) Stever Reeves
    13th Warrior
    Planet of the Apes

  28. I’m sad I don’t see Drop Dead Gorgeous on any of these lists. It’s one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. Whenever I rent it from the video store, the clerk (regardless of where, and I move around a lot)begins gushing about how unexpectedly funny it is, and how more people should know about it. I’d say that qualifies as a cult classic!

  29. @lorent,


    Love that movie. Lynch rules.