Neal Damiano of FilmWad takes a look at the best cult films of all time from Barbarella and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai to Repo Man and Blue Velvet.
The dictionary categorises the cult movie as one “of, for, or attracting a small group of devotees”, that has “acquired a highly devoted but specific group of fans.”
Cult films are often those which grow in popularity some time after release (often, many years after release). They are held in high regard by those that hold them dear to their hearts, and many of these films have become the poster-of-choice for pop culture-shunning students around the world. Some of these cult classics transcend the definition to become widely held favourites while others, in the so-bad-it’s-good category, remain destined for obscurity.
We take a look at some of our favourites.
10. Barbarella (Roger Vadim, France/Italy, 1968)
One of the quirkiest films in history. It made a sex symbol out of Jane Fonda. As a wandering and swinging 41st century girl in plastic thigh highs traveling the galaxy in a furlined starship it was hard to keep your eyes off her. Best line “I’d better adjust my tongue box”
9. The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension (W. D. Richter, USA, 1984)
The hero wore many hats in this zany film – a scientist, surgeon, and rockstar. The villain was named Dr. Lizardo. It was destined to be a cult classic. Coined the famous quote “Wherever you go, there you are.”
8. Rushmore (Wes Anderson, USA, 1998)
A very eccentric film about a strange schoolboy, a widowed teacher, and a sad tycoon. Very popular video rental.
7. Night of the Living Dead (George A. Romero, USA, 1968)
Made with only $20,000. George Romero packed up equipment, headed to northern Pennsylvania, and shot this frightening zombie classic that influenced every zombie movie to come.
6. The Warriors (Walter Hill, USA, 1979)
Walter Hill’s vision of urban paranoia. Street gangs in New York fight over territory. The Warriors try to get home to Coney Island in one piece. Filmed with a low budget, evidence of which is the unique gang costumes. Who could forget The Baseball Furies.
5. Blue Velvet (David Lynch, USA, 1986)
David Lynch set the bar of “quirky” with this 1986 gem. With references to Van Gogh, and Dennis Hopper as a drug dealing, kidnapping, sex-crazed sociopath, this movie could not get anymore bizarre.
4. Repo Man (Alex Cox, USA, 1984)
Alex Cox’s punk/sci-fi classic about two guys who repossess cars. Very dark undertones. Emilio Estevez’s character somehow finds higher meaning to life by repossessing cars.
3. Drugstore Cowboy (Gus Van Sant, USA, 1989)
Made on a small budget in Portland, Gus Van Sant made a surreal film about bad habits. A very offbeat story of four drifters that rob pharmacies to support their drug addiction. Memorable cameo by William S. Burroughs.
2. Heathers (Michael Lehmann, 1989, USA)
A sarcastic but truthful take on high school life. Heathers is one of the greatest dark comedies ever made. This anti-teen classic “blew up” (pun intended!) the genre like no other film. The witty one-liners are nonstop and the film features a great ending.
1. Night of the Comet (Thom Eberhardt, USA, 1984)
A story of life after the apocalypse. Two sisters and a truck driver find their way around Los Angeles battling off humans who got zombified after a comet hit. This one has it all – zombies, evil scientists, snarky valley girls, witty one-liners, and a happy ending. Best quote “Attention K-Mart shoppers.” It bombed at the box office but went on to be one of the most rented cult films on video.
Your turn – what are your favourite cult films?
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