During an age of blockbuster movies and multimillion-dollar movie budgets, it is often easy for the average filmgoer to forget that filmmaking still exists outside of Hollywood and big budget films.
Not to say that films should not have million-dollar budgets, some of the best movies ever made have had huge production costs. In case you are interested, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides holds the record for the most expensive film ever made with a budget of $378.5 million.
What we mean to say is that a movie’s budget does not necessarily presuppose how good it will be. Thanks in part to the internet, even low budget films with no cinema release still have the possibility of being widely watched online. Whilst long-forgotten films now have the chance to be rediscovered. And on that note, here is our pick of the 10 best cult movies of all time.
The Thing (1982)
“…I dunno what the hell’s in there, but it’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is.”
The Thing is a science fiction horror film starring Kurt Russell as R.J. MacReady. Directed by John Carpenter, the movie is set in Antarctica in a U.S. Outpost. The basic premise of the film tells the story of a group of researchers who encounter an extra-terrestrial life form ‘The Thing’ that can assimilate and imitate other organic life forms.
This is a film full of suspense leading up to the film’s climax, an ending which leaves many more questions than answers… Although The Thing was released to negative reviews, however, it was nominated for several awards from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film, for best horror films and best special effects. Kurt Russell’s portrayal of MacReady has been heavily praised too.
“…now you just got a little boy’s father killed, you almost got us killed, and now you’re lying to me.”
Ryan Gosling stars as an unnamed Driver working as a mechanic and stunt double in this gloriously aesthetic and gripping film from director Nicolas Winding Refn. Drive is unique in that it creates a multitude of emotions without dialogue, as Refn explains in an interview with Complex:
“A scene like the elevator sequence in Drive, for instance, has no dialogue, just a series of stunning visuals and graphic imagery – that’s a prime example of how the film conveys so many ideas and emotions through images rather than words.”
Since Drive was released, the film has become synonymous with its excellent and original soundtrack. Following Drives showing at the Cannes film festival, it received a 15-minute standing ovation from the audience in attendance.
Despite the title and the occupation of the protagonist, there is not an awful lot of driving in this film. The title is more centred around what Drives people to do certain things.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Still widely quoted to this day, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the definition of a cult classic. Released in 1975, this film brought comedy to a generation of nerds and geeks and is regarded by many as the greatest British comedy film performed by the greatest British comedy group.
“…It’s fierce, an’ it’s wild, an’ it’s not bothered about anybody, not even about me right. And that’s why it’s great.”
Another British film makes our list of the best cult movies of all time and that film is Kes. Directed by Ken Loach, Kes’ plot centres around a 15-year-old boy, Billy Casper.
Growing up in a poor Southern Yorkshire coal mining community, Billy’s life has little hope. Billy is bullied both at home and in school by his much older half-brother Jud and some of his teachers. Despite showing numerous signs of high emotional intelligence and street smarts, Billy is told by his teachers that when he leaves school, he has but two choices, to work down the mines or to work in an office. Uninterested in his formal education, Billy is fond of reading and he picks up a book on falconry after he is unable to borrow one from his local library.
Billy takes a kestrel from a nest on a farm and begins training it. As the relationship between the bird and Billy improves so does Billy’s outlook on life. Billy receives praise from his English teacher who asks him to tell the class about his pet Falcon.
We do not want to spoil the ending for you but an essay included in the Blue-Ray release of the film states:
“Funny, sad, and bitingly authentic, Kes resonates with Loach’s anger at the way so many kids grow up into narrow, option-free lives. … But Loach’s underdogs are never sad passive victims. There’s a defiant spirit about Billy, and a fierce joy in the scenes where he trains his kestrel.”
The Elephant Man (1980)
“…I am not an animal; I am a human being.”
Directed by David Lynch, The Elephant Man is based on the real-life story of Joseph Merrick, an English man known for having severe facial deformities. Starring John Hurt as Merric and Anthony Hopkns as Dr Frederick Treves, the film portrays the abuse Merrick suffers due to his abnormalities. Despite his suffering, Merrick, thanks to Dr Treves, can begin living a normal life away from the freak shows where Treaves found him.
The Elephant Man is a somewhat haunting but also deeply compassionate film that we highly recommend watching.
“…you are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank.”
Probably the film that appears in all cult classic film lists, Fight Club has been defined by The New York Times as the “defining cult movie of our time.” To be honest, there is not much to say on this film that has not already been said so instead we will leave you with a list of some of our favorite quotes from the film:
“This is your life and it’s ending one moment at a time.”
“The things you used to own, now they own you.”
“At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves.”
“If you don’t know what you want,” the doorman said, “you end up with a lot you don’t.”
“The girl is infectious human waste, and she’s confused and afraid to commit to the wrong thing and so she won’t commit to anything.”
Donnie Darko was filmed over the course of 28 days, matching the passage of time in the film. It is a psychological thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal which follows Donnie Darko in his attempt to seek the meaning behind his dreams which are telling him that the world will end in 28 days’ time.
Be prepared to be confused upon watching Donnie Darko for the first time but do not let this put you off from watching. The film received critical acclaim and has been labelled as one of the greatest independent films of all time.
Rounders is perhaps the only poker themed film that has achieved anything like success (barring Casino Royale). Released in 1999, Rounders was not a hit until the online poker boom occurred in the early 2000s.
The term ‘rounder’ refers to a person traveling from city-to-city searching for high stakes poker games. The aforementioned Casino Royale also looked to take advantage of the Poker boom too which is why the film’s director replaced Baccarat with Texas Hold em Poker.
Despite the films excellent cast which includes the likes of Matt Damon, Edward Norton and John Malkovich, Rounders earned only a modest box office. But speak to any poker fan now and they will let you know how much they love this film.
The poker boom has since died down significantly and has more or less been replaced by other forms of gambling, mainly casino games. It is unlikely we will see a film based on a Megaways Casino or a game of Pontoon but stranger things have happened.
“Gentlemen! you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”
Dr Strangelove is a black comedy that satirizes the Cold War and the fears of nuclear annihilation. Considered one of the best comedies ever made, Dr Strangelove is perhaps Stanley Kubricks’ raison d’etre.
Evolution is a comic science fiction film from 2001. Although you may not see Evolution on many of the greatest film lists, it is a unique film which has gained popularity over time.
We won’t spoil what happens for you, but it is a fun film full of color and excitement.