What are your top 5 cult classics?
For nearly 30 years, a good friend and I have had an on-going debate on the greatest movie line of all time. Spoiler alert: not surprisingly, mine is Sharks related. This year, we decided to start a new tradition and began debating the best cult classics of all time.
We started with the rules. A cult classic needs a devoted fanbase who watch the movie repeatedly, frequently quote lines, and even dress up as the characters. Extra points if the movie was originally a box office bomb or shunned by the mainstream media. Cult classics become cool despite themselves.
After a marathon discussion, we agreed on a preliminary list. After all, the plan is to debate this for many years to come. Here’s our current Top 5 with a bonus entry:
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Official summary: A newly-engaged couple have a breakdown in an isolated area and must seek shelter at the bizarre residence of Dr. Frank-n-Furter.
Popular quote: “Dammit, Janet”
Possibly the prototypical example of a cult classic. Fans dress up and reenact the entire film at each showing; often at midnight. If it’s your first time, try to watch it in a theater for the full effect. As the trailer says, “You’ve seen all kinds of movies but you’ve never seen one like the Rocky Horror Picture Show. “
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Official summary: King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table embark on a surreal, low-budget search for the Holy Grail, encountering many, very silly obstacles.
Popular quote: “What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?”
If not for Rocky Horror, this would be the holy grail of cult films with an absurd number of memorable lines. You’ll laugh out loud watching it but, look closely, it’s a nuanced parody of history.
Official summary: A blade runner must pursue and terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space, and have returned to Earth to find their creator.
Popular quote: “More human than human is our motto.”
Blade Runner was a flop when released in 1982 but wildly popular by 2019, the year of its plot. The science fiction movie to rule them all. The remake — not so much.
The Big Lebowski
Official summary: Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, mistaken for a millionaire of the same name, seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies to help get it.
Popular quote: “The Dude abides.”
Put on your bowling shirt, make yourself a White Russian, and watch a comedy of epic proportions. The Big Lebowski is the Coen brothers’ funniest and most outlandish movie — and that’s saying something.
Official summary: The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster and his wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.
Popular quote: “I’m sorry. Did I break your concentration? Oh, you were finished. Well, allow me to retort.”
Three interwoven stories told out of order. The most violent film on this list but it’s really about the choices people make regarding life and death, honor and disgrace, and the vagaries of chance.
There you have it – our top 5 cult classics. I promised you a bonus film but the first rule of Fight Club is you can’t talk about it. It’s also the second rule.
Let me know your favorite cult movie in the comments.
That’s a good list, and it would be difficult to kick any one off, but I’d put Repo Man on that list in place of Pulp Fiction. Pulp Fiction was a mainstream, star-studded release that won media acclaim, the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and several Oscars. Repo Man was never going to be a mainstream movie, and earned its cult status by virtue of its outsider point-of-view. Repo Man was intense…
“The more you drive…the less intelligent you are.”
Great list, Jonathan! But one to add is Evil Dead! So fun, so campy, and great to attend the live shows honoring it. I could never buy seats in the blood zone! Can’t find a better cult fave than Bruce Campbell.
I wasn’t a fan of Pulp Fiction, so I’d suggest Office Space… and This is Spinal Tap…. Gosh, but that leaves out Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Airplane…. Can we make it Top 10??
Office Space, yes!