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Top Ten Cult Classic Movies

Updated on March 11, 2017

Cult classics or cult favorites are traditionally movies that initially don't do well at the box office, but end up with a large and/or faithful following. Some cult movies appeal to fans of certain genres, like horror or sci-fi, but some have widespread appeal and count all walks of life in their followers.

What really makes a cult movie is hard to say. Sometimes it's a really good movie that just didn't sell theater tickets. Occasionally it's a film that is so completely terrible that it's awfulness is what makes it appealing. Sometimes the content of the movie itself is what gives the flick it's following. Cut classics are different from mega-hits like the Star Wars franchise, which has millions of die-hard fans. These movies don't appeal to just anyone.

Whatever it is that makes a film a cult classic, there is no denying that some of these movies are truly awesome. This is my list of my top ten favorite cult classic movies. I am leaving off probably the two biggest cult movies of all time (Rocky Horror and Evil Dead) because I think they might be on just about everybody's list. I incuded, instead, a few that may be a little off the beaten path. They are in no particular order, and I highly encourage you to hit up NetFlix or your local DVD rental joint and watch them.

If I have offended your honor by not including your favorite cult classic, by all means comment away and let me know. As I'm fond of saying, we can settle it with or without light sabers!

10. V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta is a movie based on a ten issue comic book series of the same name written by Allan Moore, who also wrote Watchmen and From Hell. Moore had so many issues with the script that, when the movie was released, he refused to see or review it.

The movie, starring Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving got largely positive reviews, sold fairly well and was the number one film on it's opening weekend.

It's V for Vendetta's content that gives it the cult film status. Set in a dystopian future affected by nuclear war, V is determined to bring about revolution and end the totalitarian government. These themes are attrative to anarchists the world over, and the film definitely gave those who watched it a thing or two to think about.

Memorable quote:

V: A building is a symbol, as is the act of destroying it. Symbols are given power by people. Alone, a symbol is meaningless, but with enough people, blowing up a building can change the world.

(No movie trailer available on YouTube - sorry.)

9. Heathers

Heathers is a dark, dark comedy from 1988 starring Winona Rider, Christian Slater and Shannen Doherty among others. It's about a group of popular girls, all named Heather who pretty much run the school. The Heather in charge always wears a red scrunchie in her hair.

Winona Rider's character, Veronica, is tired of being a nerd and gets accepted into the Heathers as a new member. She soon realizes that life on that side of the fence isn't as awesome as she thought it was. Enter JD, played by Christian Slater. When Veronica expresses her displeasure with the lead Heather, JD kills her and together they make it look like a suicide. Chaos and hilarity ensue, the death count climbs and the ending is still memorable even to this day.

Heathers only made about $1.1 million dollars at the box office, with a production budget of about $2 million. Though it tanked with ticket buyers, Heathers has a large cult following and sold well on VHS and later DVD.

Memorable quote:

'I love my dead, gay son!'

8. Dogma

Dogma, released to theaters in 1999, had a huge all-star cast which includes George Carlin, Salma Hayek, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Alan Rickman, Chris Rock and, of course, Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, the infamous Jay and Silent Bob. Though some people thought that the plot of this movie was a direct attempt to incur controversy with it's religious themes and often outright parodied Catholic Dogma, it did well at the box office, earning over $30 million during it's run. It also gained Kevin Smith a handful of protesters and a couple of death threats.

The premise is that two angels have found a loophole in religious doctrine giving them a way to get back into heaven after being given the boot by the almighty. Jay and Silent Bob, with a lot of help from their new friends, have to stop these two angels. If they manage to get though the pearly gates the proverbial sh*t will hit the fan.

This movie is among my top ten favorites of all time. I can't find fault with any of it, and Buddy Christ and the sh*t demon just put the proverbial icing on the cake. Dogma gets big, big brownie points from me for having Alanis Morrissette in the role of God.

Memorable quote:

Loki: 'Hey, you know, f&#k you, man. Any moron with a pack of matches can set a fire. Raining down sulphur is like an endurance trial man. Mass genocide is the most exhausting activity one can engage in, next to soccer.'

7. Howard the Duck

Howard the Duck is another movie made from a classic comic book. Howard is a duck from another planet, but not your average, ordinary, everyday duck. He's a walking, talking, wisecracking, pervert waterfowl. And he is awesome.

This cast included Lea Thompson and Tim Robbins, among others, and had big names attached to the project, namely George Lucas who stepped down as president of Lucasfilm to work on Howard the Duck.

The film was released in 1986, and immediately tanked at the box office and is often listed as one of the worst films of all time. Critics slammed the shallow portrayal of Howard, and the opinion that Howard the Duck should have been animated and not live action was widespread. The movie cost over $37 million to make, and barely broke even at the box office.

The film has since garnered a small legion of fans, and is considered a cult classic because of the sheer massive scale of it's awfulness. Though some of the actors in the film found it hard to find work after the dismal failure of this movie, more than twenty years later some of them are still receiving fan mail for their performances.

Memorable quote:

Phil: 'Howard, in prehistoric times you flew. Fly, Howard! Find your instincts, trust your birdness, FLY!'

(No movie trailer available on YouTube, sorry.)

6. The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski is a 1998 flick by the Cohen brothers, who are also involved in what seems to be an endless list of cult classics, including Raising Arizona and Fargo.

In this movie, The Dude, played by Jeff Bridges, is a slacker, unemployed and living in Los Angeles. He is hired by a guy who has the same real name as he does to deliver a ransom to be paid for the release of his trophy wife.

The movie itself is hilarious. A case of mistaken identity, a plot to keep the ransom, more twists and turns than a backwoods road in West Virginia and The Dude just can't catch a break.

There are some other big names in this film, namely John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Turturo and Julianne Moore.

The Big Lebowski did moderately well at the box office, taking in over $46 million. Reviews for the film were mixed, not everyone apprecites the Cohen brothers sarcasm, sense of humor or satire.

The Big Lebowski has possibly one of the largest cult followings and has spawned yearly Lebowski festivals in the US and the UK.

Memorable quote:

The Dude: 'Nobody calls me Lebowski. You got the wrong guy. I'm the Dude, man.'

5. Blade Runner

Blade Runner was a classic case of a movie made before it's time. Though it's now considered groundbreaking, especially for its special effects, many critics thought that the movie was too slow in places, and that quality scripting took a backseat to the enormous amount of special effects. Blade Runner's production budget was about $28 million and it took in a little over $33 million at the box office.

The movie is another depiction of a dystopian future where some citizens are 'replicants' or robots who so closeley resemble humans that it is difficult to tell them apart. Harrison Ford plays Deckard in the movie, an ex-cop who gets hired to track down and 'retire' replicants, as they have now become illegal on Earth. The cast also includes Rutger Hauer, Darryl Hannah, Sean Young and Edward James Olmos and the film was directed by Ridley Scott, of Alien fame.

It is precisely because Blade Runner was so far ahead of it's time with it's special effects and it's tackling of major issues that Blade Runner has achieved cult status.

Since it's original release, the movie has been re-released in several different versions and there are multiple editions of the DVD. There have been three sequels, a television show, a comic book, novels and a video game based on Blade Runner.

Memorable quote:

Deckard: 'I'm from the, uh, Confidential Committee on Moral Abuses.'

4. Battlefield Earth

Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 was an epic futuristic novel written by L Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. The movie stars John Travolta, Forest Whitaker and Barry Pepper and was directed by Roger Christian who directed the original Underworld movie and had a hand in two of George Lucas's Star Wars movies as a second unit director. Travolta is also credited as one of the producers.

Battlefield Earth is a (surprise) dystopian sci-fi adventure. What is left of the human race on Earth is ruled by the evil Psychlos led by Zete (Travolta) and Terl (Whitaker), a race of aliens that forces any and all captured humans into slavery. There are a few pockets of resistance to the Psychlos, and they manage survival by avoiding capture in the wilderness. A captured slave, played by Barry Pepper, gains knowledge of the Psychlos language and encourages other humans to rebel.

To say this film flopped would be an understatement. Critics cited the terrible script, terrible acting and convenient plot devices in their reviewes. Travolta's performance was, in more than one case, deemed 'cheesy at best.' This film has a 2% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. With an estimated budget of $75 million, Battlefield Earth drew in only $29 million after it's box office release in 2000. This film was supposed to be the first of two and, in fact, only addresses the first half of the book. It's poor performance effectively cancelled the sequel.

This is one of those movies that has become a cult classic simply because it is so horrible. It is so bad that it was actually parodied on South Park. Some fans of this cult movie like it because, to them, it represents the massive failure of Scientology in it's quest for popularity.

Memorable quotes:

Zete: What is this species?
Terl: Well, according to the Clinko historians, the species is called dog.
Zete: Dog?
Terl: Yes.
Zete: Obviously the superior race, having the man-animal chauffeur it around.

3. From Dusk Till Dawn

From Dusk Till Dawn is a 1996 horror action flick directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Quentin Tarantino. It stars Tarantino, George Clooney, Juliette Lewis, Salma Hayek, Harvey Keitel, Danny Trejo and Cheech Marin, who has several roles in the film.

The Gecko brothers (Clooney and Tarantino) are fresh off of a bank robbery/murder spree and decide to hole up in Mexico at a bar called the Titty Twister while waiting for their contact who has arranged a safe place for them to stay until the heat dies down.

Unfortunately for the Gecko brothers and the people who inadvertently get mixed up in their troubles, the Titty Twister turns out to be a haven for vampires and, when Tarantino's character gets stabbed in his hand and starts bleeding, Santanico (Hayek) transforms into the vampire she really is and attacks him. All of the other mortals in the bar have to make a stand for survival, and it won't be pretty.

Released large scale in 1998, From Dusk Till Dawn only took in box office sales of $25 million after an estimated budget of $20 million. Reviews were mixed, ranging from 'brilliant' to 'boring and compltely repellent.' Though the film won a best movie Saturn award and Clooney also won for best actor, Tarantino got a Razzie for worst supporting actor.

Many people love this movie, though, because of it's gory sequences and cheesy special effects. From Dusk Till Dawn was popular enough with fans to spawn two sequels and it is rumored that there may be a third.

Memorable quote:

Seth: Yeah, those acts of God really stick it in and break it off, don't they?



2. The Lost Boys

The Lost Boys is a 1987 teen vampire flick that starred Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Jason Patrick, Jami Gertz, Dianne Wiest, Jamison Newlander and Edward Hermann.

Two brothers have just moved to Santa Carla, California from Arizona with their mother (Wiest). Older brother Michael (Patrick) meets and falls for a local woman named Star (Gertz) who happens to hang out with the leader of a gang of young adults, David (Sutherland). Only David isn't what he seems to be. In fact, nothing really is.

After being duped into drinking blood disguised as wine, Michael begins the transformation into a vampire. His younger brother, Sam (Haim), needs help from the Frog brothers (Feldman and Newlander) to bring down the ring of vampires. They have to kill the master to free Michael.

The Lost Boys made $32 million at the box office and a ton more when it was released on VHS and then DVD. It still stands the test of time, and has so many fans that it's sequels bombed on principle (and crappy acting, bad scripts, etc.).

Memorable quote:

Sam: 'Look at your reflection in the mirror. You're a creature of the night Michael, just like out of a comic book! You're a vampire Michael! My own brother, a godd*mn, sh*t-sucking vampire. You wait 'till mom finds out, buddy!'

1. Idiocracy

Idiocracy is a 2006 film by Mike Judge, the creator of Beavis and Butthead.

Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson) and Rita (Maya Rudolph) are cryogenically frozen by the US military and subsequently forgotten about. Five hundred years later, they are accidentally thawed out and find out that the world has gone to hell in a super-stupid handbasket. And Bauers realizes that he is the smartest person in the world. This is not a good thing.

With a budget of up to $4 million, Idiocracy raked in a measly $495,000 dollars at the box office upon it's first release, although it only opened on 160 screens, instead of the usual 600 or more.

Idiocracy did manage to find an audience both for it's hilarity and it's possible glimpse into the future of a society that is constantly dumbing itself down. And down. And down.

Memorable quote:

Bowers: 'There was a time when reading wasn't just for f*gs. And neither was writing. People wrote books and movies. Movies with stories, that made you care about whose a** it was and why it was farting.'

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    • solarcaptain profile image

      mike king 3 years ago from california

      These top films should be included in any list of the best films ever. All show great artistic accomplishment in acting, cinematography, direction , and overall viewability. Two of the most finely crafted films of all time are The Godfather I and The Godfather II. Don't forget The Loved One. Lawrence of Arabia.

      Once Upon A Time in the West. Once upon a Time in America. The Children's Hour. The Bostonians. How Green Was My Valley. Yankee Doodle Dandy. City Lights. Mad Wednesday. High Noon. Bullet. The French Connection. Remains of the Day. Room With a View. Ten O' Clock High. The Great escape. Mad Max. These movies were all over the top, giving far more than they promised. The Searchers? Didn't they use fake Indians? Any best list has to include Chaplin, Peck, Cooper, and O'Hara. the Brits, The Aussies, and take your pick of Jane Austin. Hepburn, Holden, and McQueen. The Caine Mutiny for Bogart. Mr. Roberts for Cagney and Lemon.

    • profile image

      Aldo 5 years ago

      No scarface?

    • Georgie Lowery profile image
      Author

      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      Derek,

      I do love that movie. And I'm afraid you may be right!

    • profile image

      Derek 5 years ago

      Idiocracy is amazing. Its just so true. The world will end up much lie this if we don't change some things.

    • Georgie Lowery profile image
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      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      Jhudah,

      I absolutely love Howard the Duck!

      Thank you for the comment! :)

    • profile image

      Jhudah 5 years ago

      haha! Howard the Duck is funny and weird.

    • Georgie Lowery profile image
      Author

      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      bluberrypossum,

      You really should. I know you would love most of them! :)

    • bluberrypossum profile image

      bluberrypossum 5 years ago from South Carolina

      Great Hub! I'm going to have to add these movies to my list of movies I need to watch!

    • Georgie Lowery profile image
      Author

      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      Thanks, maryhoneybee!

      I love Lost Boys, too!

    • maryhoneybee profile image

      maryhoneybee 5 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

      Yay, The Lost Boys and Heathers! I'm so glad you added those two. =) I can't get enough Lost Boys. Fun hub! Voted up!

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 5 years ago from The Garden State

      I've been meaning to catch "V" and Idiocracy for a while now, just haven't gotten around to'em yet. So many movies, so little time to watch'em...

    • Georgie Lowery profile image
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      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      FatFreddysCat,

      Idiocracy and V are worth the watch, I promise. And I'm glad to see another person who appreciates Howard. You rock! :D

      ps. Poor Battlefield Earth!

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 5 years ago from The Garden State

      Nice one, Georgie. I've seen almost all of the films on this list (except "Idiocracy" and "V For Vendetta") and I can't argue with any of these picks.

      Count me in as one of the Howard the Duck cultists. I love that damn thing. It's a big, loud, dumb candy colored capsule of everything that was wrong with the '80s all rolled up in one movie. I actually saw "Howard" in the theatre in '86. Since it tanked so quickly, I think I'm one of only a few dozen people who can make that claim.

      "Battlefield Earth" was a tough slog, even though I usually like crappy movies... I currently use my copy of the DVD as a coaster so my beer bottles don't leave marks on the end table.

    • Georgie Lowery profile image
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      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      detroitmare,

      I tried to do it in random order. It was just too hard to pick a favorite!

      Thanks for the comment and the votes! :)

    • profile image

      detroitmare 5 years ago

      Like the list overall, but I'd put V for Vendetta at the top! Voted up.

    • Georgie Lowery profile image
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      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      dustinweishaar,

      I really need a copy of that DVD! :D

    • dustinweishaar profile image

      dustinweishaar 5 years ago from Loveland, CO

      haha, let it get stuck in your head cuz then you'll have to watch spaceballs(may the schwartz be with you!) and that's never a bad idea and then you can still listen to Pantera because that's always an amazing idea!

    • Georgie Lowery profile image
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      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      dustinweishaar,

      I just got a mental image of Travolta in full on Psychlo get up singing and dancing to 'Hello my baby, hello my darlin', hello my ragtime gal...' Just like the alien in the diner in Spaceballs. That should have made my list, too!

      Thank you again! I just hope that song doesn't stick in my head all night, or I'll have to listen to some Pantera to get it out! :)

    • dustinweishaar profile image

      dustinweishaar 5 years ago from Loveland, CO

      There's movies that I love that are acquired tastes as well, but that just makes those movies more enjoyable for me. I'm one that actually enjoys pretty much every movie I watch, I can't deny that Battlefield is entertaining because of how cheesy and terribly funny-bad it is. I can't watch it though without at some point wishing Travolta would break out in song, I've always felt that some kind of villain theme song needed to be sung during that movie.

    • Georgie Lowery profile image
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      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      dustinweishaar,

      I know that Battlefield Earth is an acquired taste. I don't really know anyone besides me that likes it!

      The Dude = love!

      Thank you for commenting! :)

    • dustinweishaar profile image

      dustinweishaar 5 years ago from Loveland, CO

      The Big Lebowski and Heathers are awesome! Nice list, only I wouldn't include Battlefield Earth in mine. But besides that, all the movies in your list rock!

      "You are obviously not a golfer."

    • Georgie Lowery profile image
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      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      patrickrnoonan1,

      Howard the Duck is hilariously bad, and that's why I love it. I love to watch it and have a Mystery Science Theater type thing going on!

      Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it!

    • patrickrnoonan1 profile image

      patrickrnoonan1 5 years ago from ct

      Great list. Blade runner, lost boys are 50/50 for me. Never liked Howard the duck.