Movies So Horribly Good They Gained Massive Cult Followings
If we’re going to be honest, there’s no way to pinpoint a cult movie other than the fact that it has an extremely devoted fan base who are willing to watch it over and over again. No matter how good or bad the movie is, these folks will praise it until the end of time.
From The Room to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, fans will line the streets in order to see midnight viewings along with “their people.” We mean the people who can recite the film word for word and know all of the inside jokes. Keep reading; you might just find a movie cult to follow!
Arguably one of the most legendary cult movies of all time is Tommy Wiseau’s messy masterpiece The Room. With its stock photos of spoons randomly placed throughout his apartment to a cancer diagnosis that is never brought up again, Wiseau always believed his movie was going to be huge.
The thing is, we doubt the midnight viewings with people playing rugby-style football in theater aisles is exactly what he had in mind. This film goes from bad to worse in a matter of seconds, but that doesn’t stop die-hard fans from rewatching it over and over while screaming, “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa,” at the top of their lungs.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Arguably one of the films with the largest cult following is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. We’re talking about people who go all out to see this 1975 horror musical when it’s re-released in theaters, from dressing up in elaborate costumes to singing along to each of the many songs throughout the film.
Led by president Sal Piro, The Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club has been in existence since 1977, with Fox endorsing the club after its 10th anniversary for its importance to the Rocky Horror community. Brad, Janet, and the rest of the characters thank the cult for their loyalty.
In 2004, writers Jared and Jerusha Hess brought to the world the slogan “Vote for Pedro,” the “Napoleon Dynamite dance,” and iconic deadpan phrases such as, “I like your sleeves.” If there were ever a definition of a cult movie, Napoleon Dynamite fits the bill.
Starring Jon Heder in the title role, the film is known for its awkward social interactions that border on the line of cringy, lines that most middle schoolers of the time, unfortunately, now know by heart, and ligers. Oh, and let’s not forget the creepy character that is the former high school football star, Uncle Rico.
The supernatural witch flick The Craft gained a cult following not too long after its initial release in 1996. “Light as a feather, stiff as a board,” became the mantra of many teen girls wishing they had powers but, of course, not wanting to turn evil like Fairuza Balk’s character Nancy.
This Halloween classic shows what happens when people dabble in things too powerful for them to control, ending with a nightmarish display of uncontrollable power. The film literally illustrates what happens when mean teen girls are struck by lightning and gain powers.
The Breakfast Club
While the ’80s hit The Breakfast Club was wildly popular upon its first release, the film has since gained a cult following made up of people who weren’t even born in the decade. If you’re not one of those people, let us educate you on the five students who wound up serving Saturday detention together.
Think of your high school stereotypes: the joke, the popular girl, the quiet girl, the bad boy, and the nerd. Now, throw them in a library together, dancing, having heart to hearts, and becoming unlikely friends. The only issue is they don’t know how they’ll act toward one another come Monday. If you haven’t, watch it.
Almost released straight to video in 2001, Donnie Darko has since become a cult classic to many who love to ponder the unanswered questions the film presents. Well, that, and the spirit of a guy named Frank dressed in a creepy bunny costume and telling Donnie that the world is going to end leaves a lot to be desired.
While the film didn’t do too well at the box office upon its initial theatrical release, the psychological thriller found surprising success once on the home market, grossing over half a million in sales.
Monty Python And The Holy Grail
Developed by the British comedy group Monty Python, the movie Monty Python And The Holy Grail is as ridiculous as it is brilliant. The film is a complete spoof on the Arthurian legend of King Authur and his search for the Holy Grail. And when it comes to this film’s cult standing, it’s one of the classics.
From killer guard bunnies to knights who lose all of their limbs while fighting and proceed to talk a big game to their opponent, this is one of those films where mega-fans know each scene word for word and take the special effects with a grain of salt.
Pink Floyd: The Wall
Upon its release in 1982, the musical Pink Floyd: The Wall received pretty negative reviews, with people not overly thrilled with the end result (including the creators). Of course, the story of a rockstar, Pink, who is distraught over his father’s passing and builds a physical and metaphorical wall around himself, has since gained a cult following.
With a moody rockstar, a literal wall, and Pink Floyd music being played throughout the picture, it’s not hard to see why a specific group of people fell in love with this crazy film.
2001: A Space Odyssey
The sci-fi film 2001: A Space Odyssey brings viewers into a very unrealistic version of 2001, complete with laser eyes, time travel technology, and teleportation. Of course, it was made in 1968, so we can give director Stanley Kubrick a bit of breathing room when it comes to authenticity.
Even though most people assume older space movies have dwindled off people’s radar through the years, the same can’t be said about 2001: A Space Odyssey. With the stellar ’60s visual effects and philosophical questions about the meaning of life, this film has become one of the leading cult movies.
James Cameron’s Terminator franchise took off running in 1984 with the release of the first film, The Terminator. Starring the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger, the film transports the audience from 2029 to 1984, where a cyborg is tasked with going after and terminating Sarah Conner.
While the original might not have done as well as hoped upon its theatrical release, it became a cult classic for home video owners, sparking one of the largest franchises in cinematic history. Not too bad for a film that has cheesy lines, such as “I’ll be back.” Okay, we’ll admit it, the line is memorable.
Few sci-fi movies have had an impact on cinema quite like the Alien franchise, starting with the 1979 original. Alien was a box office success upon its initial release, winning the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and introducing the world to a new class of protagonist: a female as the heroine.
This movie gained a cult following for a very specific reason, Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley. The character is wildly regarded as the first true female heroine in modern-age cinema. It’s also said that the world created around Ripley is a pseudo blueprint for each sci-fi space film that’s come after it.
The Wicker Man
No, we’re not talking about the 2005 Nicolas Cage film The Wicker Man; we’re talking about the 1973 British movie of the same name. You know, the film that kind of goes from A to Z in no apparent order since it likes its plot twists so much. Of course, it’s the absurdity and randomness that makes this film so good.
Originally shunned by theater-goers and critics, the film came out of its own pagan ashes and found a cult following that adores The Wicker Man for what it is: a disturbing mess with no real hero to look up to.
Imprisoned in the 2030s, it’s up to James Cole to travel back in time to 1996 to stop a nasty plague from taking out a majority of the world’s population. Too bad time travel isn’t that simple, and he winds up in a psychiatric ward in 1990 with no one really to help him aside from a crazy Brad Pitt.
Unlike many cult movies, 12 Monkeys was wildly praised upon its release in 1996, earning Pitt an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The movie paved the way for a spin-off series on the SyFy network, much to mega-fans’ delight.
The original Blade Runner hit theaters in 1982, earning cult-issued fans years later. Interestingly, when compared to other cult films of the sci-fi genre, Blade Runner is a bit more bleak, mysterious, and dystopian-feeling, showing a 2019 landscape of a deteriorating Los Angeles.
But there are specific reasons why this film became wildly popular among a group of fans years after its initial release, including the production and art direction, the film’s portrayal of the future, themes on the meta-level, and the absurd story of people hunting illegal replicants on earth.
Kill Bill: Volume 1
There is no doubt in our mind that one of the ultimate cult classic films is Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Volume 1. The film follows the story of “The Bride,” a former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad who is hunted down on the day of her wedding rehearsal. After waking up from a coma, The Bride seeks her revenge on the squad and their leader, Bill.
Inspired by “grindhouse cinema,” the film is overexaggerated, violent, and uses Japanese -style animation to break up some of the narratives. Yeah, it’s not exactly your typical martial arts movie, that’s for sure.
In 1979, the world was introduced to the dystopian future of Australia in Mad Max, starring a young Mel Gibson. Centering around the collapse of normal society, murder, and revenge, the film didn’t receive the best critical response upon its release, though it made quite the stir in the box office.
Even so, in the years following the film’s release, Mad Max garnered a loyal cult following. So much so that the original film helped open the Australian film market and paved the way for three more films in the series.
When it comes to Christopher Nolan’s movie Momento, you either love it or you hate it, and we’ll tell you why. The movie is based on one overarching theme: memory. And Nolan takes that one theme and completely runs with it to the point of shooting the film in two sequences, a normal one and a backward one.
While this nonlinear filming might be a bit annoying to normal folks, the cult surrounding this movie praises the complexity and genius of the director’s vision. And maybe they’re on to something, considering the film did earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Film Editing.
Honestly, it doesn’t surprise us that the Jane Fonda 1968 sci-fi film Barbarella has since gained a cult following. We mean, look at the costume selection, for one, and the Austin Powers-like plotline, for another! The film follows Barbarella, a United earth government representative sent to space.
What is she doing in space, you might ask? Well, obviously, she is sent there to find Durand Durand, an evil scientist who created a weapon able to destroy humanity. With its campy nature, cheesy effects, and incongruent storyline, Barbarella is the epitome of a cult classic.
The Princess Bride
The 1987 film The Princess Bride is so quotable we wouldn’t be surprised if it had a cult following upon its first week in theaters. Lines like “as you wish,” “inconceivable,” and “you killed my father, prepare to die,” are some of the best known in cinema, all because of how often fans of the film repeated the phrases.
Due to its deadpan and niche humor, the film didn’t do too well at the box office, gaining popularity only after it was released to home video. Even today, stars of the film say fans come up to them and quote lines!
The Big Lebowski
The 1998 crime comedy The Big Lebowski is a lot, and it’s one of those movies you have to see to believe. Following the story of Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, the film explores how the slacker’s life is turned upside down when he gets roped into ransoming the wife of a millionaire, who just so happens to share the same name as him. Of course, nothing goes as planned.
Originally, the film did not do so hot at the box office, getting mixed reviews for its outlandish story. Now, it’s considered a cult favorite, being recognized for its ridiculous dream sequences, eccentric characters, and quirky dialogue.