Ok, so first of all, what is a cult classic? To little surprise, it is not films that are about cults, but more films that appreciate a certain culture and then gain a cult-like fanbase. These movies tend not to be popular with general audiences, due to their unconventional, potentially vulgar stories, so they gain a single, very dedicated fanbase.
This usually happens with specific directors like Quentin Tarantino and Danny Boyle, who develop a singular fanbase with the appreciation for the same culture and entertainment.
From this loose term, you can see how some movies, may not be considered a cult film to one group but may well be for another so it really isn’t set in stone.
So without any more delay, here’s what I believe to be 9 cult-classics that you cant go without missing!
1. Pulp Fiction – 1994
Possibly the most iconic in the industry, Pulp Fiction is directed by no other than Tarantino, who took many risks to create the perfect piece of work. The story follows multiple individuals, with varied, exaggerated characteristics, living different lives and shown in different time spheres yet it all boils down to one great connected story.
The film stretches to almost 3 hours, which seems lengthy (almost as long as Ben Hur) but it is filled non-stop with blood, drugs and body disposal…and somehow, incorporated comedy, so you really get lost in time.
The soundtrack and star-studded cast make it even better, including icons such as Uma Thurman, John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson Ving Rhames, the list goes on.
2. Donnie Darko – 2001
Donnie Darko is more of an emotional watch, about teenage life, mental health, and alternate universes.
The story follows the life of the teen ‘Donnie Darko’ (played by the young Jake Gyllenhaal) whose name, already depicts a dark and emotional character (almost Marvel hero sounding). However, he doesn’t begin his story as a superhero like character. His troubles at home and low profile at school give the audience insights into the darker, more troubled traits of his personality.
His skitsophrenic persona heavily juxtaposes the bland, traditional town in which he lives and ultimately creates a spine-chilling journey of self-discovery and meaning to his life, scored by Gary Jules‘ cover of the Tears for Fears classic ‘Mad World’, Donnie’s world is thrown into a blur, and the audience see him discover himself with the help of his imaginary, creepy rabbit friend Frank.
3. Leon the Professional – 1994
‘Is life always this hard, or is it just when you’re a kid?’ An iconic quote from the remarkable Mathilda.
Natalie Portman portrays the 12-year-old character Mathilda in the French thriller, daughter of a murderous drug dealer, who struggles with trelationships but has a hard exterior making her an iconic character to go down in history.
When she loses her family, including her beloved 4-year-old little brother, the mature young lady puts herself into the care of her assassin of a neighbor, Leon, who, at first is cold and disillusioned to the idea of living with a child but grows to care for her and teaches her the tricks of his trade as she plots to avenge her brothers killers.
The mix of gripping action, confusing emotions, and difficult relationships make this film a must watch.
4. Colombiana – 2011
Colombiana is very similar to Leon: the Professional, as it is directed by the same man, Luc Besson.
It follows a young girl, Cataleya, (played by Zoe Saldana) who seeks to avenge the death of her father, a gang member and drug user, who sent Cataleya away from home at a young age for her safety. She grows up with her relatives who aim to keep her safe but the strong witted young girl transforms herself into a stone-cold assassin, who wants nothing but revenge and will stop at nothing to get it.
The non-stop action and intelligence of the assassin Cataleya, who is always one step ahead of her enemy, makes this film an edge of your seat experience. And one I would highly recommend!
5. The Breakfast Club – 1985
A more lighthearted now very popular film is from the iconic John Hughes.
Set, primarily, all in one classroom, the dialog-heavy movie features 5 teenagers, who all belong to different school cliques, find friendship by looking at their many similarities over the socially evident highlighted differences.
They discuss social pressures placed upon them by society and is a great watch for those who want a contemplation of real life rather than unrealistic action and gore.
6. Heathers – 1988
Heathers is a tragic (quite literally) love story that takes a dark twist, staring the gothic sweetheart Winona Ryder as Veronica and Christian Slater as her new found boyfriend, J.D.
The edgy, youthful pair don’t fit feel like they fit in with the cliques and set out on a not so sweet plot to kill the kids in school.
But like any love story, the ending is more tragic than the beginning and heartbreak is inevitable. However, the way the heart breaks in Heathers is not your conventional finale. And it is definitely one worth watching.
7. Beetlejuice – 1988
Ah, Winona Ryder again. But much younger, she stars in Tim Burton’s gothic epic, Beetlejuice!
Played by no other than Michael Keaton, Betelgeuse is a malicious, comical ghoul whose profession is to scare the living. He is summoned by a deceased but simply lovely couple, Adam and Barbara (played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis), in order to help them scare away an obnoxious family who now occupy their home. which was never meant for sale.
The Deetz family have a daughter, Lydia Deetz (Winona Ryder), who teams up with the ghost couple Adam and Barbara to help them get their home back.
Relationships between man and ghost develop and the entrance of Betelgeuse only complicates situations further.
The film has a great Burton vibe and eerie tone yet there’s plenty of humor and wit that keep it a lighthearted enjoyable film.
8. Mystic River – 2003
Directed by Clint Eastwood, there is no doubt that this movie will pack grit and suspense like no other. And it’s true.
The all-star cast of Kevin Bacon, Sean Penn, and Lawrence Fishbone teamed up with Eastwood is one of the many reasons why this film is amazing.
The story follows three young boys living in Ireland. They get thrown straight into tragedy when one of the trio becomes captured by a child molester, never to be seen again. They don’t see each other for many years.
Until one day, they’re reacquainted over a disturbing murder case, eerily connected to their dark childhood. Investigations open, secrets are revealed and their friendship is put at stake.
9. True Grit – 2010
I am going to be honest. Movie remakes are usually no good. Especially the Western remakes, but the Cohen brothers manage to make an underrated hit with their 2010 remake of True Grit.
Staring a young Hailee Steinfeld, alongside the greats, Josh Brolin, Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon, this Western epic is a perfect salute to John Wayne in the 1969 original.
Steinfeld plays a young girl named Mattie who seeks to avenge her fathers’ death when no one else will. She sets out with a Texas Ranger (Damon) and a tough US Marshal (Bridges) to seek and kill the murderer Tom Chaney (Brolin). But the journey isn’t as easy as it seems as the unlikely trio undergo ups and downs, and unwanted visitors along the way.
This list is just 9 of my personal favorites, from a variety of genres: Crime Thrillers, Actions, Coming of Age, and Westerns. But there are many more. What are some of your favourites. If you have any recomendations feel free to drop them in the comments!