Websters dictionary defines cult films as…joke no I’m not gonna do a whole introduction for this one. The fact that you’ve bothered to click the link means that you already acquire the cult-like fan status.
The movie list I’m about to go through are just a selection of my favourites and are, to my belief, cult level movies- they have the memorable quotes, iconic stills and elaborate subcultures that I think such a picture must possess. (They are not in order of preference).
1. Colombiana – 2011
Directed by Luc Besson, (Leon: The Professional), Colombiana already has a somewhat cult like status. The story begins in Colombia with a young Cataleya witnessing the murder of her parents, and feeling the (very predicable) need to avenge their deaths. The young girl flees her home to stay with her Criminal uncle in Chicago. Fast forward 15 years, grown up Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) is an acclaimed assassin. But, of course, she still has one goal and one goal only – to kill the murderer of her parents. There are mixed reviews for this film but Saldana’s portrayal of a deadly but disturbed killer is unmatched. She may have been in Avengers and Avatar but this is, by far, my favourite work of hers.
2. Leon: The Proffesional – 1994
Jene Reno stars alongside a 12 year old Natalie Portman in another Luc Besson classic. Similar to Colombiana, the young girl teams up with Hitman, Leon, to avenge the death of her parents. The film has classic lines, iconic stills and violence. However it also had a very dark and uncomfortable response. Portman, turned 13 when the film came out in the US, as a new actress she was undoubtedly excited about the release, as any teen in that position would be. But after she received her first fan mail, things started to take an unnatural turn. Her character in the film is a coming of age young woman and her fan-base consisted of many unwanted members… men. Men sent the 13 year old girl revolting letters, radio stations counted down to her 18th birthday and ultimately pushed her to turn down many future roles. Whilst The Professional remains a globally renowned movie, critics have spoken out about the horror movie itself that followed Portman. Here’s the actresses own take on what happened:
3. Pulp Fiction – 1994
Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, and many others star in the Quentin Tarantino classic. The film’s unconventional structure and screenwriting has been praised by critics for years. It’s made it onto many ‘best films ever made’ lists which, in my opinion hasn’t done it justice. I mean, of course, to be featured on those kinds of lists, will be of benefit to a film but when something has been praised to such an extent, it risks being a let down. Growing up, various family members have told me how amazing this film was, then upon reaching my teens the torch must have been passed down because older friends were suddenly incessantly endorsing it, building up that hype up even more. When I finally watched the film, it ultimately wasn’t what I thought it’d be. Don’t get me wrong I loved it (and have the dancing scene t-shirt lying around somewhere), but it definitely wasn’t what I’d expected at all. Nevertheless, is it one to keep on the list? Yes.
4. Donnie Darko – 2001
I remember first watching this when I was around 12 years old and being perplexed by the ending – the film consists of troubled teenagers, raw relationships, high school issues, mental health, the subconscious, plane accidents and…time travel. So when you reach the ending without feeling that end-of-movie sense of relief (which is what happened to me) you can feel a bit weird about the whole thing. I think this is the only film where I actually found myself on YouTube afterwards searching for ‘end of movie explanations’. Fast-forward to a few years later, to when I developed a little world understanding, I found it to be less of a time travel movie and focused more on the mental health elements, which not only made it easier to understand but it felt like a more meaningful watch. Jake Gyllenhaal’s angst-y acting attracted many young (emo) fans and to top it all off, his on screen sister was actually played by his real- life sibling Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight).
5. True Grit – 2010
This 2010 remake of the John Wayne ’69 Western really does adaptations justice. Every element of this movie is stunning. From the set design, to the script. It’s directed by The Coen Brothers, Produced by Spielberg, and features Jeff Bridges, Hailee Stienfeld, Josh Brolin and Matt Damon. The plot follows (again) a young girl, Mattie (Stienfeld) seeking the help of a retired US Marshel to avenge her fathers death. (I’ve only just noticed this pattern of avenging parental deaths which is a bit weird but cult cinema’s always been a bit weird.) Anyway, this is possibly one of my favourite of the selection- so good that not only did I do a whole EPQ AS level project on it, but it took me from a Western Movie hater to a fully fledged Clint Eastwood stan. So if you’re looking at this thinking ‘nah, not into cowboy western waffle’ maybe give it a go. It’s a bit ‘cowboy’ but revamped and modern – there’s humour, emotion and action – it’s a must watch.
6. Mystic River -2003
Speaking of Clint Eastwood, This American neo-noir mystery drama was directed and scored by no other. Eastwood has been making headlines in the past year concerning his views on PC and politicians – and though he has claimed to be a libertarian, his 2016 endorsement of Donald Trump wasn’t a surprise to some. It definitely does not mirror his historically heroic and charming movie characters. Anyway, Mystic River stars Kevin Bacon (Footloose and more notoriously the EE adverts) and Sean Penn (The Gunman or Ursla’s boyfriend in Friends) and follows the story of a murder investigation that leads to four friends reflecting on a crime that took place twenty-five years ago. If you like disturbance and mystery, I’d recommend this one.
7. Heathers – 1988
Woah just took a serious genre shift. Don’t be fooled though, Heathers is no teen chick flick. This American dark comedy staring Winona Ryder (too many iconic roles to name one) and on screen boyfriend J.D played Christian Slater (Interview with the Vampire), is like Mean Girls if it followed the rabbit to wonderland (The Tim Burton version). It’s less ‘fetch’ and more ‘off with her head’- its everything Riverdale wants to be. The movie essentially follows a clique of what I can only describe as – and I don’t think this is too harsh – nauseatingly narcissistic teenage girls. Or ‘the popular girls’ as they’re commonly known. Veronica (Ryder) despises their demeanor and turns to her bizarre boyfriend. Yet the girls get a little more than they deserve as it turns out J.D’S methods for dealing with infuriating students is rather displeasing to watch.
8. The Breakfast Club – 1985
Directed by John Hughs and featuring Emelio Estevez (The Outsiders), Molly Ringwald (Sixteen Candles) and Judd Nelson (Blue City), the film follows five students, all from different highschool cliques, learning to understand one another whilst in a Saturday morning detention. It’s one of those movies everyone’s heard of, or been told to watch so it definitely deserves a spot on your movie list. Critics, including Ringwald, have looked back on the movie (and other 80’s pictures) and criticised the way in which it perpetuated and normalised sexual objectification but nearer the end, the movie also highlights issues of sexual misogyny and the double-edged sworded dialogues that it imposes on women.
The film kicks off with a breathtaking Bowie lyric ‘and these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations, they are quite aware of what they are going through’ and concludes with Simple Minds’ hit track ‘Don’t You (Forget about Me)’. The song was originally offered to Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol and whilst Idol would have been iconic – it’s without a doubt that he would have brought a significantly different tone to the song and maybe it was meant for Simple Minds after all.
9. The Shawshank Redemption – 1994
I am only just finding out that this was based on the 1982 Steven King novella which makes it all that more endearing. The plot entails a young man named Andy Dufresne played by Tim Robbins (Mystic River), a successful banker who’s wrongly jailed, for life, for the murder of his wife & her lover. The broken Dufresne winds up in Shawshank Prison where he meets Red (Morgan Freeman, Invictus) and begins experiencing the harsh realities of prison life. He experiences new friendships, solitary confinement, abuse and everything in-between. The story is authentic, poignant and thought- provoking. I lied when I said this list wasn’t in order of preference. Shawshank’s the best one.
That’s it, 9 cult classics that I think you should watch. Drop a comment if you watch any, if you’ve got any others to add, or even if you wholeheartedly disagree with my list – film is all about discussion and I’d love to hear every opinion!
actor actress Alice inn Wonderland Billy Idol Bruce Willis Bryan Ferry Christian Slater Cinema Clint Eastwood Colombiana cult classics Cult Film David Bowie director Donald Trump Donnie Darko EE Emelio Estevez film Films friends Haliee Steinfeld Heathers hollywood Jake Gyllenhaal Jeff Bridges Jene Reno John Hughs John Travolta John Wayne Josh Brolin Judd Nelson Kevin Bacon Leon The Professional Luc Besson Maggie Gyllenhaal Matt Damon Mean Girls Molly Ringwald Morgan freeman Mystic River Natalie Portman Pulp Fiction Quentin Tarantino Riverdale Samuel L Jackson Sean Penn Simple Minds Sixteen Candles Steven King Steven Spielberg The breakfast club The Coen Brothers The Dark Knight The Outsiders The shawshank redemption Tim Burton Tim Robbins True Grit Uma Thurman Winona Ryder Zoe Saldana
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