The good, the weird and the not so profitable at the box office - these are the hallmarks of the genre known as "cult films." This week, '80s horror movie Fright Night is re-imagined as a big screen blockbuster starring Colin Farrell. In honor of its origins as a supremely awesome cult thriller, we compiled this list of 100 ultimate cult films, presented here from A to Z.
By Chuck Walton
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai (1984)
A few years before he became Robocop, Peter Weller starred as the universe's only
physicist, neuro surgeon and rock musician. Alongside a motley crew of unusual co-
horts, our hero Buckaroo Banzai fights for good against a dastardly group of inter-
dimensional aliens called the Red Lectroids. If you prefer your cult film cross every
genre available across the 8th Dimension, then this one's for you.
Aguirre, The Wrath of God (1972)
The most famed collaboration between crazy director Werner Herzog and intense
leading actor Klaus Kinski is an adventure shot on grueling location in the Amazon
about the journeys of Spanish soldier Lope de Aguirre (Kinski). Rumor has it that
Herzog threatened to kill Kinski and himself if the actor dropped out of the project.
Based on a 37-volume manga comic book, the esteemed anime Akira tells an
incredible, post-apocalyptic tale set in 2019 in Neo Tokyo, with warring factions
seeking control of the ultimate form of human being, called Akira. Recent attempts
have been made to film Akira as a live-action adventure with rumored leading men
including everyone from Zac Efron to Keanu Reeves.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
While Will Ferrell and company have had trouble getting studio support for a sequel,
the first Anchorman continues to line 'em up on the midnight circuit, with
lots of silly hijinx, and quotable Burgund-isms like "Great Odin's raven!" and "Stay
classy, Planet Earth."
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
John Landis' schlocky horror comedy features some great, classic rock and roll,
awesome werewolf transformations (which earned makeup effects man Rick Baker a well-
deserved Oscar) and - for fans of Logan's Run beauty Jenny Agutter - lots of
perfectly designed shots of the damsel in distress.
Better Off Dead (1985)
I want my $2! Sound familiar? If not, then rent/watch/download Better Off
Dead pronto. While star John Cusack has since disowned this teen comedy from
director Savage Steve Holland, it is still one of the most quotable, hilarious and
actually quite genial of the '80s teen movies. It's the story of Lane Meyer, who's
determined to off himself after being dumped by his preening girlfriend for the
captain of the ski team. Fate, though, has other plans for Lane.
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)
In theory a sequel to Valley of the Dolls, this heated melodrama about a trio of put
-upon female rock stars is really more notable for its uber-level of campiness
courtesy of cult legend director Russ Meyer and none other than Pulitzer Prize-
winning film critic Roger Ebert, who co-wrote the script with Meyer over a six week period.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
The Dude still abides. Thirteen years after slacker bowler Jeff Lebowski debuted in
theaters in a mock noir centered around the mystery, "Who kidnapped Bunny Lebowski?,"
the imminently quotable Coen brothers classic has spawned a legion of "achieving"
fans and an annual event called (what else?) Lebowski Fest.
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
If The Dude is one of Jeff Bridges' enduring creations, then Kurt Russell's spin on a
hapless John Wayne-sounding trucker/adventurer is equally admired by cinema neophytes
the world over. When Jack Burton arrives in San Francisco's Chinatown to help his
buddy find his kidnapped fiancee, all manner of metaphysical and martial arts
inspired shenanigans let loose, to which our intrepid hero simply responds..."what
Blade Runner (1982)
In the early '80s, Blade Runner (about a detective tracking down some
rogue replicants) was simply seen as the under-achieving, slow-burning sci-fi ponderer
released between Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi on
Harrison Ford's resume. Nearly three decades later, it's seen as one of the greatest
sci-fi films ever released.
Blue Velvet (1986)
Blue Velvet has a lot of strange things going for it. The ear that's found
in the perfectly manicured suburban town. The oxygen-mask sported by the film's super
scary villain (Dennis Hopper in full loon mode). And of course, the odd chicken
dance performed up and down the sidewalk by future Twin Peaks star Kyle
MacLachlan, here cast as an everyday teen who's about to become familiar with
filmmaker David Lynch's darker side.
The Boondock Saints (1999)
Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus star as crime-fighting, vigilante brothers
known as The Boondock Saints. Their mission: rid Boston of all scum and villainy, by
whatever extreme means necessary. While shunned by critics upon release, the film's
been embraced by a boisterous and large cult following, and in time for its 10th
anniversary, was followed by 2009's The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day.
Bottle Rocket (1996)
In 1996, unknown filmmaker Wes Anderson and his equally unknown stars Owen and Luke
Wilson arrived on the Hollywood scene with a crafty little tale of wannabe Austin,
Texas cons who rob their local bookstore before going on the lamb. It's not as
elaborate or ambitious as Anderson's future work, and the Wilson brothers wear a bit
more heart on their sleeves in this first offering, but all that just adds to the
Terry Gilliam, whose films all possess multiple layers of eccentricity, is
probably most admired in cult film circles for the sci-fi fantasy/dark comedy
Brazil, with its visions of future dystopia and a protagonist that longs to
fly away with a dream girl he hasn't met. Equally compelling is the drama offscreen,
with Gilliam clashing with studio bosses that released a version stateside which was
decidedly more optimistic.
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
Phantasm director Don Coscarelli casts cult film idol Bruce Campbell (Evil
Dead, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.) as Elvis Presley, now
hiding out in a nursing home, and determined to stop the fearsome Bubba Ho-Tep with
the help of his partner, a black patient named Jack (Ossie Davis) who claims to be
the real John F. Kennedy.
Buffalo '66 (1998)
Love him or hate him, the fiercely independent artist/musician/part-time Gap
model/actor/filmmaker Vincent Gallo (creator also of the love-it-or-hate-it The
Brown Bunny) made his 1998 debut Buffalo '66 into something truly
unique. It's the story of a painfully awkward loser
(Gallo) who kidnaps a small-town ballerina (Christina Ricci), and takes her home to family dinner.
The Changeling (1980)
A predecessor to ghost story hits like The Ring, this well-regarded gem in
the horror genre tells the story of a composer (George C. Scott) who relocates to
Seattle from New York after his wife and daughter are killed in a car accident. Set
up in a countryside estate, he begins to have disturbing visions of the estate's
A Christmas Story (1983)
In recent years, this cult classic has become something of a holiday staple with 24-
hour, round-the-clock airings on TBS, but in its initial box office outing, this
overlooked sleeper, based on the boyhood stories of Jean Shepherd, was appreciated by
only a limited audience. In the years since, the 'ol saying "you'll shoot your eye
out" has become as commonplace and familiar as holidays and apple pie.
Vulgar, profane, and still imminently quotable, Kevin Smith's first work is still
his best. Besides being one of the initial shotgun blasts to the thriving '90s indie
scene, the movie - about bickering, twentysomething storeclerks - announced the
arrival of writer/director Smith, and introduced one of his most loveable creations -
Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith himself).
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Stanley Kubrick's controversial 1971 sci-fi satire envisions a gang of youths, and
their leader Alex, who take on the future by participating in rape and other amoral
acts of "ultra-violence." The intervening decades have taken little off the edge of
Kubrick's stylized combination of music, violence and cinematography, or the fervor
of its passionate fanbase.
The Company of Wolves (1984)
Taking a time out from her prime-time friendly TV series "Murder She Wrote," actress
Angela Lansbury takes a hard left into gothic horror land with The Company of
Wolves, directed by The Crying Game's Neil Jordan. A re-working of the
"Little Red Riding Hood" tale, this dark and moody horror movie offers all of the
implicit terrors of that classic fairy tale, and none of "it's only a fairy tale"
lightness of being. Whether you're 4 or 54, this one is scary.
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Kudos to the well-made Zack Snyder re-telling, but the original George A. Romero
Dawn of the Dead, with its sly knock on rampant commercialism, is still the
version that's most treasured. Night of the Living Dead takes the credit as
the straight-up horror classic, but this late '70s entry still holds up as the fan
Dazed and Confused (1993)
Richard Linklater's classic ode to high school adolescence rings true for the '70s or
any era where kids like to drink, party and stay out all night. The
soundtrack of Foghat and Aerosmith rocks, and like American Graffiti before
it, the cast is an A to Z of future film stars, including Matthew McConaughey, Renee
Zellweger, and Ben Affleck - in his finest role to date as the class bully.
Death Race 2000 (1975)
On the cusp of megastardom as Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallone co-starred with "Kung
Fu's" David Carradine in this low-budget wonder about a TransContinental Road Race in
the year 2000, where drivers earn points for speed and pedestrian kills. Stallone's
bad guy, "Machine Gun" Joe Viterbo, takes on David Carradine's Frankenstein, who
plans to win the competition and detonate the leader of the current fascist state.
Donnie Darko (2001)
Jake Gyllenhaal in full brooding mode stars in this 2001 sci-fi thriller about a teen
who's plagued by visions of an impending apocalypse, made more disturbing by the
appearance of a demonic-looking rabbit named Frank. It's a chilling and fascinating
hybrid that crosses Tears for Fears, E.T. and a warped version of Harvey.
David Lynch's feature debut is still a cinematic nightmare like no other. Nominally,
the story's about a guy living in an industrial wasteland, who fathers a mutated baby
and is seduced by the girl across the hall. Really, though, it's a meditative,
ponderous and visceral manifestation of the director's own nightmares. It's a vision
to behold...but not necessarily to be viewed when trying to catch a catnap.
Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn (1987)
Sam Raimi's second in the Evil Dead franchise is less outright terrifying
and more outrageous than its predecessor. It's also more hilarious, with star Bruce
Campbell contorting his facial muscles and other limbs into seemingly impossible
postures to demonstrate the demon possession within. Once he's severed his own hand
and replaced it with a chainsaw, you know you're in cult cinema nirvana.
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)
Russ Meyer's '65 exploitation film stars cinema vixen Tura Santana as the leader of a
trio of thrill-seeking go-go dancers who roam the desert wastelands looking for
adventures and riches. Although there's no nudity, there's plenty of gratuitous
violence and provocative sexuality to round out this cult classic for the ages.
Fight Club (1999)
Edward Norton and Brad Pitt trade grit, grime and lots of bodyblows as the founders
of "fight club," where pedestrian yuppie dudes let loose from their everyday
civility to take part in something more primal and barbaric. David Fincher's film still makes sense to those who'd like to lay
flame to their IKEA catalogs.
Five Deadly Venoms (1978)
This midnight movie martial arts flick, a staple on local cable access during the
1980s, tells the story of the Venom mob: five fighters who take on different martial
arts specialties as The Centipede, The Snake, The Scorpion, The Lizard and The Toad.
Since its initial debut, artists as diverse as The Wu-Tang Clan and director Quentin
Tarantino have paid homage to the film's influence in their own work.
Chevy Chase earned more mainstream success in the Vacation series, but the
original Fletch, based on the detective novels centered around reporter
Irwin M. Fletcher (byline Jane Doe), continues to amass fans for its endless
quotables ("I'll take a steak sandwich...and a steak sandwich") and Chevy's
inimitable could-give-a-sh*t attitude. He's Axel Foley, with even more attitude.
Tod Browning's infamous Freaks, one of the earliest cult films, is a wonder
of filmmaking that uses real carnival performers (Siamese twins, midgets, legless and
armless artists, strong men, etc.) to tell the story of life at a soap-opera filled
circus. Abhorred upon release and shunned for years by distributors MGM, the film has
now been restored to its original release print.
The beloved urban comedy is the opposite side of Ice Cube's own Boyz in the
Hood, co-starring Cube and Chris Tucker as two friends spending their Friday on
the porch hanging out, smoking out and dealing with all of the other colorful folks
in the neighborhood. While Tucker went on to more mainstream fame with the Rush
Hour franchise, he's never been funnier than his performance here as the aptly
Fright Night (1985)
Back in the mid '80s, Fright Night was an original vampire horror movie
about a vampire who moves in next door to a horror-loving teenager who has the
darndest time convincing anyone that the stylish new gent really is a bloodsucker.
While not as high profile or sequel laden as the Friday the 13th and
Nightmare on Elm Street series, the film did respectable b.o., was well-
reviewed, and has now spawned an upgrade for the 21st century.
The Goonies (1985)
The Goonies actually was a big box office hit in 1985, but has earned even
more praise over the years from a cult audience that refuses to see it as a kids-only
adventure. A guaranteed midnight movie crowd pleaser, The Goonies calls on
adults and kids alike to give into their childhood wish to scavenge the underground
caverns of Astoria.
Before they made the move to western audiences, director John Woo and star Chow Yun-
Fat fashioned this action-packed epic that's brim full of gun battles, martial arts
and elaborately staged spectacle, culminating in a lengthy and awesome final action
sequence set inside a huge, civilian-filled hospital.
Harold and Maude (1971)
The 1971 comedy centers around the romance between Harold (Bud Cort), a young man
intrigued by death, and an old woman named Maude (Ruth Gordon). Far from conventional
or well-received upon its original release, the Hal Ashby flick has since been
embraced by a large cult audience, and was even transformed into a Broadway play.
Cementing the "it" status of Christian Slater and Winona Ryder, the cult hit
Heathers is still a scathing dark comedy about the backstabbing back-and-
forth of high school politics, with Ryder's Veronica getting the final word on both
the bitchy clique of Heathers and Slater's own sociopathic J.D.
Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986)
One of the funniest rock docs ever, Heavy Metal Parking Lot captures in full
leather-and-beer-intoxicated glory the phenomenon of '80s headbangers. Comprised
entirely of footage of heavy metal fans waiting outside a Maryland sports arena for
the impending Judas Priest / Dokken concert, getting wasted and waxing not-quite-
rhapsodic, it is a living testament to the joys and perils of spandex and
inebriation. All hail Zebra Man!
The Hidden (1987)
Before he signed on as the odd-seeming FBI agent Dale Cooper, Kyle MacLachlan was
cast as the odd-seeming FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher, assigned to Los Angeles to help
solve a rash of brutal crimes and murders committed by otherwise seemingly innocent
citizens. The reason: the killer's actually an alien who changes bodies, and
MacLachlan's actually an alien, too, albeit the good kind.
There can be only one. So sayeth the Highlander in this swords-and-sci-fi-actioner
about dueling warriors who fight through the centuries to be the last Immortal
standing. In reality, this modest hit from MTV music video auteur Russell Mulcahy
would not be the only one. Not nearly. A quarter century later, the first
Highlander has spanned a massive fanbase, countless sequels and a TV series
Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
While not nearly a box office behemoth on the level of, say, The Hangover,
this hilarious and profane "guy" comedy, which takes our time-traveling heroes back
to 1986, is a gem worthy of instant cult classic status. Fans of Poison, New Order,
Sixteen Candles and Red Dawn, take note.
Jacob's Ladder (1990)
As the years go by, Adrian Lynne's psychological horror film Jacob's Ladder
gains even more admirers amongst those who appreciate truly disturbing film fare. On
the surface, it's the tale of a Vietnam vet (Tim Robbins) who's haunted by macabre
visions of hell on earth. It's also a dream-like meditation on themes of life, death
and mortality. Sounds heavy and hard to shake? Absolutely.
Joe vs. the Volcano (1990)
Dismissed as too slight and whimsical upon its initial release (although reviewed
favorably by Roger Ebert), this collaboration between producer Steven Spielberg,
writer-director John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck) and star Tom Hanks is
actually a spirited, fun and meaningful comedy about a dying guy who agrees to jump
into a volcano.
King of the Hill (1993)
Steven Soderbergh's made many fine films, but underestimated - and unreleased on DVD
and Blu-ray - is this cult classic from 1993, which follows the adventures of a
junior high school kid growing up during the depression, who learns to fend for
himself as, one by one, his family is taken from him. Look for an early starmaking
turn from Adrian Brody as an older teen who looks after the kid.
Jim Henson, George Lucas, David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. What's not to love? In
this 1986 fantasy film, all of the elements come together in a story about a teen
girl who must venture to a faraway land and make her way through a labyrinth of
challenges to rescue her brother from goblins who've abducted him - after she
inadvertently wished for him to be taken away.
Last House on the Left (1972)
Wes Craven's made plenty of horror movies, but none more disturbing than the original
Last House on the Left. Inspired by Ingmar Bergman's 1960 Swedish film
The Virgin Spring and followed up by a 2009 remake, the film is definitely
not for the faint of heart. After torturing a girl to death, three evil killers find
the tables turned on them when they come across the girl's parents, who wreak
ultimate retribution. Viewers beware. The film pulls no punches.
The Machinist (2004)
Christian Bale's known for his intensity and extreme methods when it comes to
preparing for his roles. He admits, though, to nearly crossing the line when he lost
over 60 pounds to play a machinist in this nightmare thriller about a factory worker
with a severe case of insomnia, who begins to have strange visions at the work place
A Midnight Clear (1992)
Keith Gordon's World War II ensemble includes familiar faces Ethan Hawke, Gary Sinise
and Kevin Dillon, director Peter Berg, plus character actors Frank Whaley and Arye
Gross. Although critically acclaimed upon its limited 1992 release, the film - a
story about soldiers on both sides of the front attempting a truce - has grown in
stature over the last two decades, representing an artistic highpoint for the
filmmaker and many of its leads.
Midnight Run (1988)
Before Robert DeNiro's appearance in comedies became par for the course, he surprised
audiences with his deft turn as a bounty hunter opposite Charles Grodin's accountant
-turned-con-on-the-run in Martin Brest's follow-up to Beverly Hills Cop.
While the film's remained somewhat under the radar in the years since, it's still
appreciated by cult film lovers as a hilarious and f-bomb filled version of the '80s
Miller's Crossing (1990)
Gabriel Byrne, pre-Usual Suspects, smolders as the right-hand man of
gangster Albert Finney in this epic gangster film from the Coen brothers. Loyalties
are questioned, and lines are crossed, double-crossed and double-crossed again in this
critically acclaimed film that has risen over the years to make both AFI's top 10
gangster films, and Time magazine's 100 greatest films made since the magazine's
Miracle Mile (1988)
You've finally met the love of your life. Then you find out the world will be coming
to an end in 90 minutes. What do you do? That's the scenario for Anthony Edwards'
likeable jazz musician, who discovers equally likeable free spirit Mare Winningham at
an L.A. museum on the day and night before a nuclear bomb attack. Ultra-intense, and
must-see movie watching.
Never on Tuesday (1988)
The cast includes Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, Cary Elwes, Nicolas Cage and Judd
Nelson. It also features a starring role for newcomer at the time Peter Berg. Young
Guns 3, you say? Hardly. This is actually a low-budget, sweet-natured comedy about
pals Peter Berg and Andrew Lauer stranded in the desert with their dream girl Claudia
Christian. The only problem? She's a lesbian. Fun, comic complications and an all-
star cameo ensemble ensue.
Office Space (1999)
The term 'TPS report' is forever embedded in the brains of all who've witnessed and
become a part of the cult fan base for '99's Office Space, written and
directed by "Beavis and Butthead" / "King of the Hill" mastermind Mike Judge. We also
love seeing "Swinger" Ron Livingston in the lead role as an office employee who
decides he's "just not going to go anymore."
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
To some, Sergio Leone's final spaghetti western Once Upon a Time in the West
is the finest western ever made, and the final word in the genre. Surprisingly, it's
still not as known as Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name trilogy, and qualifies as more of a cult classic. Cult or no, this tale of good
(Charles Bronson), bad (Peter Fonda) and ugly (Jason Robards) gunslingers at the edge
of the frontier is must-see cinema.
Out for Justice (1991)
Hard-core action junkies cite Steven Seagal's Out for Justice as the apex of his early output. Chasing down
William Forsythe's out-of-control drug dealer Richie Madano, Seagal's detective Gino
Felino lays waste to everything and everyone in his path - in brutally explicit
Over the Edge (1979)
Matt Dillon's debut movie, made at the tender age of 14, is a darker version of
The Outsiders, with restless teens in a non-descript Colorado suburb lashing
out on their community and the authorities by trashing the neighborhood, and locking
the parental types in the school auditorium.
Paris, Texas (1984)
Winner of the Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Paris, Texas features
veteran actor Harry Dean Stanton's finest performance as modern cowboy Travis, who's
literally been lost in the wilderness for four years, only to be found and reunited
with his young son Hunter. Next on their agenda is a fateful reconciliation with
Hunter's mother Jane.
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)
Pee-Wee Herman, who's returned to full glory with recent stage performances,
arrived on the big screen in Tim Burton's wonderfully weird Big Adventure.
Ever since, cult audiences have flocked to screenings for the colorful and unique
Pink Flamingos (1972)
The notorious John Waters exploitation flick features Divine in pink drag, and eating
dog feces. Waters himself claimed Flamingos was "the most disgusting movie
ever made." Who are we to disagree?
Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
Ed Wood's infamous sci-fi disaster has been labeled "the worst movie ever made." While it might be that, it does also have
its pleasures, including the lame special effects and an admirable level of general filmmaking ineptitude.
Point Break (1991)
Surfing? Check. Bank robbing? Check. Skydiving? Check. Gun fights galore and one of
the coolest chases on foot in cinema history? Of course. While Patrick Swayze and
Keanu Reeves actually appeared together first in 1985's hockey flick
Youngblood, it is here where their relationship - as surf guru and FBI agent - came to complete fruition. Laugh as you might, it's still plenty entertaining,
even with the multiple endings.
The Rapture (1991)
Michael Tolkin's The Rapture is unlike anything ever made. Its
the story of a lost soul in Los Angeles (Mimi Rogers) who finds religion, only to
lose it again when she feels she's been asked to make one too many sacrifices. That's
exactly when the biblical Rapture actually occurs.
Real Genius (1985)
Back before he became the Ice Man, the Dark Knight, Doc Holliday and Jim Morrison,
Val Kilmer was perfectly cast as wiseguy and resident campus genius Chris Knight, who
watches over his young charge and the rest of the college smarties in this endlessly
entertaining and quote-worthy teen comedy ("I was thinking of the immortal words of
Socrates, who said...I drank what?")
Extreme gore, dollops of comedy, some H.P. Lovecraft style of horror, and a story
about a scientist who re-animates severed heads and body parts. If any of that sounds
appealing, then this cult classic from the '80s should be right up your alley. While
not everyone's cup of tea, the film and its sequels have earned a substantial fan
base who are able to find the ironic humor in it all.
Red Dawn (1984)
Wolverines! Who can forget the mantra of those teen rebels who took to the mountains
and fought the invading Russians in Red Dawn? Besides being the first PG-13
movie, the movie earned distinction for racking up the most violent acts on film when
it was released to theaters. Seen as outrageous propaganda by some, it actually works
fine as what-if action entertainment.
Reefer Madness (1936)
Originally shot in the '30s as a warning against the dangers of marijuana use, the
film was rediscovered in the 1970s as a cult film, depicting various actors being
"driven" to manslaughter, suicide, insanity and attempted rape due to the influence
of the drug. It later inspired a musical satire that debuted off-Broadway in 2001.
Repo Man (1984)
"I ain't going to be no repo man." So proclaims the young Emilio Estevez, but life
has other intentions for the punk-rocker-turned-car-thief, who saddles up alongside
Henry Dean Stanton in this ultra-bizarre tale of repo men, extraterrestrials and lots
of other cool, weird stuff.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Pulp Fiction gets all the glory, but Tarantino's previous film about six
cats on a heist job and the aftermath is just as flashy and potent. It also has a
hilarious and profane speech about Madonna's "Like a Virgin," and lots of cool
nicknames - except for Tarantino's own.
The Return to Oz (1985)
Dorothy returns to Oz in this darker sequel based on a couple of L. Frank Baum's
later Oz books. Auntie Em has sent Dorothy to the sanitarium to rid her mind of the
"Oz nonsense," but soon enough, Dorothy's back in Oz, except now her friends have
been turned to stone and the Nome King has taken over the land. Although it didn't do
well at the box office and reviews were mixed, the film's developed a loyal
River's Edge (1986)
Tim Hunter's dark teen drama sheds light on the other side of the high school
cafeteria, where a troubled youth kills his girlfriend in a remote location, brings his friends to see her
dead body, and none of them bothers to report it. In one of his earliest screen
roles, Keanu Reeves appears as a kid whose conscience does drive him to do the right
Rock and Roll High School (1979)
P.J. Soles, fresh off her appearance in John Carpenter's Halloween, stars as
the rock and roll-loving Riff Randle who's determined to meet The Ramones, and have
them rock her high school. A cult film from the get-go, it features a booming
soundtrack and appearances by the actual punk music legends.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Sporting the longest-running theatrical release in film history, The Rocky Horror
Picture Show may also be the most recognized cult film in existence. Based on
the British play, the combo parody of sci-fi and horor films, which introduced a
young Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon to the world, became legendary when midnight
screenings started to include active participation.
The Room (2003)
Giving new definition to the term "so bad it's good," this 2003 film written, directed
by and starring Tommy Wiseau, is a melodrama about a love triangle between a man, his
fiancee and his best friend. Similar to Rocky Horror, the film's become a
hit on the midnight circuit with audiences actively participating and even dressing
up as the main characters.
He's directed The Godfather movies and Apocalypse Now, but ask
Francis Ford Coppola which film that he's made is his favorite, and he's likely to answer Rumblefish, a movie starring Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke as brothers
trying to find their way in the world. Shot in atmospheric black and white, the film
features an amazing percussive score from Police drummer Stewart Copeland.
"Say hello to my little friend." A coked-up gangster played by Al Pacino made those
six words one of cinema's most oft-quoted catchphrases in this Miami gangland classic
directed for maximum impact by Brian DePalma. Also onhand for the fireworks are sexy
newcomer Michelle Pfeiffer, and a synthesizer-laden score by Giorgio Moroder.
Following up the cult sci-fi TV series "Firefly," the big screen Serenity
takes on the continuing adventures of a cargo ship captain and his crew. It quietly
passed from theaters to DVD, but future screenings - often held at the last minute -
of Serenity have sold out quickly, and director Joss Whedon will now take on
next summer's The Avengers.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)
It's admittedly a bad idea (The Bee Gees covering Beatles tunes onscreen?), but this
so-bad-it's-interesting film still compels due to the curiosity factor - is that
really George Burns mixing it up with the Bee Gees, Alice Cooper and Peter Frampton?
Yes it is.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Genius among many of the genius accomplishments of Edgar Wright's Shaun of the
Dead concept is the idea that the two slacker blokes at its center (Simon Pegg
and Nick Frost) are so out of it already that they fail to notice that the
rest of their London neighborhood has been transformed into zombies. When it finally
dons on them, the results are priceless.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
It earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for Morgan Freeman, but otherwise, this
Stephen King adaptation about the lifelong friendship between Freeman and Tim
Robbins' incarcerated characters failed to light up the box office. That's ok. It's
ranked #1 amongst all users of the Internet Movie Database.
Shedding her "Saved by the Bell" image, her clothes and her future film career,
Showgirl Elizabeth Berkley inadvertently tapped into a morass of ridiculousness directed with no trace of subtlety, restraint or
ounce of tastefulness by Basic Instinct creator Paul Verhoeven. The movie is
a point of shame for most involved, but it has provided endless entertainment to cult
Slap Shot (1977)
Butch Cassidy director George Roy Hill strikes sports comedy gold with this
irreverent hockey underdog tale starring Paul Newman, future "Twin Peaks" star Michael
Ontkean and a trio of loveable hockey goons known the Hanson
Re-tooled in the 2000s by Steven Soderbergh, James Cameron and George Clooney, the
original 3 hour plus, Russian version is a complex, metaphysical sci-fi journey about a scientist who discovers his long-dead wife alive again on a space station far
from Earth. This time, he's determined to save her from her ultimate fate.
So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993)
Austin Powers brought Mike Myers additional star wattage after the
Wayne's World movies, but in between those franchises, Myers starred in
multiple roles in the San Francisco murder comedy So I Married an Axe
Murderer, featuring our favorite version of his Scottish brogue - a superb
character named Stuart MacKenzie who espouses an interesting theory about the powers
of a certain Col. Sanders.
Strange Brew (1983)
Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas make life ok and funny for hosers everywhere playing Bob & Doug McKenzie, a couple of unemployed brothers determined to do very little in life other than horse around with each other and seek out some more cold brewskis.
Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
Director Jim Jarmusch, a master of the deadpan comedy, stirs up his most potent version of the form with this absurd project about two dimwits and one of the boy's cousins, who end up on a road trip to Cleveland and then Florida. Not much happens before they end up in three different situations at movie's end. But it's all a lot of fun in an extremely deadpan kind of way.
Straw Dogs (1971)
Another cult film headed for a remake this fall, this Sam Peckinpah movie tells of an American mathematician (Dustin Hoffman) who abhors violence, but is forced to resort to extreme measures after local thugs rape his wife and terrorize the couple at their remote home.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Tobe Hooper's ghoulish film introduces a family of Texas lunatics who prey on a group of young people caught in their surreal world of horrors. Chief amongst its carnival of terrors is Leatherface, a brute force who wears masks of flesh and wields a chainsaw for his victims.
They Live (1988)
John Carpenter's thoughts on blind government and corporate control take the form of
a sci-fi actioner where aliens have taken over America via subliminal messages.
Wrestler Roddy Piper is enlightened to the truth of things, and fights back with a
classic mantra to "kick ass and chew bubblegum." Film also features one of cult
cinemadom's coolest and longest-lasting fight scenes.
John Carpenter's The Thing (1982)
Besides They Live, John Carpenter's The Thing is a near-perfect
cult classic that has, since its initial disappointing box office in 1982, risen in the
ranks to be acknowledged as a true sci-fi horror movie classic. The film features strong effects, lean
storytelling, and a pitch perfect cast led by Kurt Russell as no-nonsense helicopter
pilot R.J. MacReady.
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
"These go to 11." Fictional heavy metal group Spinal Tap are the focus of this
mockumentary from director Rob Reiner. Every cliche you've ever heard about rock and
roll bands gets a proper skewering in this sharp and hilarious satire.
The Toxic Avenger (1984)
After being dumped in a vat of toxic waste, a scrawny janitor becomes the Toxic
Avenger, defender of the weak, and superhero for two more sequels that play up the
legend of Toxie and all like-minded heroic monsters. If evil's your thing, then
Toxie's on his way to maul you.
In a spoof of all the classic monster movies, Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward play good-
natured hicks who turn into heroes after their small town in the middle of the desert is
plagued by gigantic underground creatures. Aiding in the battle are "Family Ties"
star Michael Gross and singer Reba McEntire as shotgun-wielding survivalists.
While the cult fan base for the original Tron wasn't quite enough to break
blockbuster records with the sequel Tron: Legacy, those legions will still
swear by the retro-cool effects, and the awesome performance of Jeff Bridges in his
first onscreen appearance as computer programmer extraordinaire Flynn.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)
A couple years after the TV series, Kyle MacLachlan and Sheryl Lee returned to Twin
Peaks in this prequel tale about the last seven days in the life of Laura Palmer. A
bleak and dark tale from director David Lynch, the movie, as with the TV series, has
its share of fervent cult fans.
Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)
A cult classic road movie featuring minimal dialogue, lots of footage of Route 66 and stars James Taylor and Dennis Wilson from the music scene behind the wheel,
Two-Lane Blacktop is an existential journey that makes little effort to
reveal itself, yet still somehow sticks in your head.
The Warriors (1979)
Mention the Baseball Furies, the Lizzies or the catchphrase "Warriors, come out to
playyyy-ayyy!" and if you read any sign of recognition, you know you've run into
another Warriors cult movie acolyte. It's the story of a New York gang who have to
"bop" their way back to Coney Island through enemy gangs' territories over the course
of one-action filled night.
War Party (1988)
Kevin Dillon, nowhere near his Entourage character's Hollywood playground,
strikes out on a modern warpath alongside Lost Boys star Billy Wirth in this
actioner about a mock cowboy-and-indians demonstration gone awry.
Watership Down (1978)
It's animated and based on a children's book, but this dark cartoon is built more for
older audiences, relating the tale of a group of heroic rabbits who fight for
survival on their way to a safe haven known as Watership Down. Beloved by cult film
fans everywhere, and the producers of "Lost," who featured the cover of the book, and
its themes, in several early episodes.
Scorned by film critics when it was originally released, the film has become a guilty
pleasure for leagues of cult film fans, and a legitimate phenomenon, spawning a
successful Broadway stage interpretation, and a hit soundtrack with several top 40
hits for Olivia Newton-John and the Electric Light Orchestra.