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. Your quote for Airplane is wrong. There is no ‘Timmy’ in the movie. The kids name is Joey and the quote is:

    Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?

  2. Ah,

    Someone noted DOG SOLDIERS… one of the best,


    Fright Night!

  3. @inmate

    Thanks, I hadn’t seen it in a long time and was going from memory. I’ve corrected the quote.


  4. I guess nearly all foreign films are cult movies to us.
    You can throw in Battle Royale, Versus, Boiling Point (or any Beat Takeshi movie) from Japan, R-Point and the Host from Korea, and La Haine and, agreed, Brotherhood of the Wolf was very good, both from France.

    I’d also have to add El Mariachi, and have to have the Man with Two Brains. Ah, the days when Steve Martin was really funny.


    Where’s my $2?
    Creeping green ooze for dinner!
    Fwench bread, fwench fwies!

    LOL.. NOW that is classic,

    How hard can it be?
    you go down hill. you see a tree… you turn.

    Total classic… wish I had remembered this when making my list!

    Oh, that crazy list!

  6. @greenknight

    Grosse Point Blank and Better Off Dead, another two of my faves that I had just forgotten.


  7. Now i’ve got to go rent office space…

    anyways, I agree dead on with Big Lebowski (favourite movie ever), Army of Darkness (Evil Dead 2 draws even in greatness). I’m a massive fan of quite alot of the rest actually.

    Only 1 I think was missing (imho) was Little Shop of Horrors, but that might just be me.

    Nice post guys, interesting.

  8. -Legend !

    Tim curry As Darkness !
    Wonderful film



  9. @ Bruce Simmons

    Cheque or money order?

    One of my favorite lines is after he jumps off the over pass trying to kill himself and lands in the garbage truck and the two tree trimmers see him lying in the back and one says to the other

    “Now that’s a real shame when folks be throwin’ away a perfectly good white boy like that.”

    Charles has some of the best lines…
    “I have been going to this high school for seven years. I’m no dummy.”

    or one of the conversations between Monique and Lane

    Monique: He keeps putting his testicles all over me.
    Lane: Excuse me?
    Monique: You know, like octopus?Testicles?
    Lane: Ohhhh. Tentacles. N-T. Big Difference.

    Great movie


  10. I echo the Blues Brothers love wholeheartedly. The only reason most people shy away from it is the absolutely soul-less sequels/iterations and the faint odor of ‘something my dad/grampa might’ve liked’.

    Those guys were badass: the sheer quantity of car destruction was insane (just try to count them all – it’s impossible) – the scenes and plot were inspired (Carrie Fischer blowing up Elroy’s apartment building, the country bar, the Hitler Brigade) and the music is possibly the best music you’ll ever see performed in a movie, never mind comedy.

    I’ll watch it any time at all.

  11. I am shocked and appalled that there has been nary a mention of……

    The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai

    Just for the singular moment of having John Lithgow bang out the line…

    “Laugh while you can Monkey Boy!” in an Italian accent.

    I most definately second (or third) those nominations for The Warriors and Big Trouble in Little China and Dark City.

    I have issues with so many blockbusters being on the list (Monty Python, Animal House, FBDO, yeah they’re old but they were big then, just means that they have stood the test of time imho). Cult would mean that they were barely a blip, one or two decent weeks and then cheap theatre city….

    Will start my own list here for those to pick apart or agree with in no particular order.

    The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai
    Real Genius
    Adventures in Babysitting
    The Warriors
    Big Trouble in Little China
    Dark City
    Heavy Metal
    While You Were Sleeping
    The Hidden
    Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

  12. Let’s all keep in mind that cult classics are a generational topic,,, :-)

    The Original Cult classic (imo) is hands down!, “Rocky Horror Picture Show”
    The term cult classic was cultivated out of the legend that was Rocky Horror,,,
    Here’s the other top whatever,,,
    1-Heavy Metal
    2-Dark Star
    3-Escape from NY.
    4-Damnation Alley
    5-Dr Strangelove
    7-Blazing Saddles
    9-Strange Brew
    10-Fast Times at Ridgemont High
    11-Easy Rider
    12-Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny
    13-Evil Dead 2
    14-The Toxic Avenger (uncut)
    15-2001 a Space Odyssey
    17-True Stories
    18-Omega Man
    19-Solient Green
    19-Marathon Man
    21-Death Race 2000
    22-Gone in 60 Seconds (Original)
    23-Blues Brothers
    24-Lost Boys
    25-Night of the Comet
    26-A Boy and his Dog
    27-Bubba Ho-Tep
    29-The Warriors
    30-Logans Run
    31-The Forbidden Zone (dark knights of the Oingo Boingo)
    33-Team America,,,
    34-The Hills Have Eyes (original)
    35-Weird Science
    36-To Live and Die in LA.
    37-Collosus, the Forbin project.
    39-The Time Machine (the original)
    40-Apocalypse Now.
    I’m sure I missed a few,,,,,

  13. Forbidden Planet!

    Totally cool movie that sets the trend for special effects. I will watch every time it comes on!

  14. Could this be the return of 790??? 😀

    It seems every other person who chimes in here adds great films that I’d completely forgotten about! I was thinking of “Death Race 2000″ AND “Gumball Rally” yesterday.


  15. Last Action Hero deserves to be mention as a cult classic! It is a classic in general!
    “you know, maybe you should have this”
    “I dont think I deserve it yet”
    “No, you see, you have just revolutionized police work. All those years of training, learning criminal psychology, understanding criminal behaviour, years in the academy, learning forensics are not needed when I could just drive around the neighborhood, point my fingers at a house and say ‘Look! The bad guys are in there!'”
    “you think you’re funny don’t you?”
    “I know I am, I’m Arnold Branschweiger.”

    HA, tell me that is not Classic, huh?

    The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Yes, I know, it is not like what Alan wrote but dudes, Connery as Quartermain? C’mon people!
    “Skinner, shut up!” HAHA, great!

    Yes, The Warriors is a perfect definition of a cult film.
    “Its still on and we’re going. Cyrus sent an emissary this afternoon to make sure. Now, Cyrus don’t want anybody packed or anyone flexing any muscle. I gave them my word the Warriors will uphold the truce. Now everybody says Cyrus is the one and only. I saw we better take a look for ourselves.”

  16. “Better Off Dead” is one of my favorite 80’s flicks. Going on that theme, how about “One Crazy Summer” with Bobcat Goldthwait? The Godzilla suit scene was hysterical!

  17. @piratedan: I wrote down “Buckaroo Banzai” so I wouldn’t forget while reading the rest of the responses and dang if you didn’t list it before I could 😀

    @Vic: I JUST SAW “Enemy Mine” last weekend on Encore!

    It does seem that a lot of these movies are not cult movies as much as they are ‘personal favorites’.

    Take ‘Brotherhood of the Wolf’ for example. I think that is a great movie not many people have heard of, but I’m not sure its a cult favorite.

    Lots of my personal favorites are on this page though: movies I stop to watch while clicking…

  18. My top 10 choices in no particular order:

    The Burbs
    Scorpio Rising
    Dr. Strangelove
    Johnny Guitar
    Groundhog Day
    Time Bandits
    Shock Corridor
    Young Frankenstein
    Shaolin Soccer
    King of Hearts

  19. OK gang, I don’t know if they qualify, but LoneWolf998 reminded me of it when they listed Santa vs. The Martians…

    Any Science Theater 3000 Riffed Movie!
    (Now known as Cinematic Titanic)

  20. I can’t believe no one has mentioned “Scanners”.

  21. Oh, and “Dragon Slayer”.