There are some movies that everyone has seen and generally agrees are fantastic pieces of cinema. However, sometimes movies don’t take off right away and get their footing in a niche. Other times these films are weird and offbeat in a way that gets them in with a small crowd. For these films we reserve a special term that we hold near and dear; these are our cult classics.
This masterpiece brought to us by Edward Norton and Brad Pitt didn’t do too well upon its release in 1999 – receiving both low box office income and negative reviews from critics. However, since then, it has become one of the gems of the 1990s.
This popularity cam rather suddenly with the release of the film on DVD where, despite its initial failure on the big screen, it took off. Another misconception is that due to the movies macho tone, midnight screenings are all-male affairs. However, there are a number of women who find interest in the movie’s violence and anarchy.
The Big Lebowski
Another movie that initially flopped upon its release was The Big Lebowski. Critics made a number of claims at the time, including that Jeff Bridges’ character “had no heart in him” and that he “wasn’t worth my time.” However, much like Fight Club, this film has since found its own fame and fans often quote “The Dude” in every relevant situation.
To prove it’s impact, in 2014 this movie was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. It was noted then to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
It was in 2001 that we saw actors like Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze and more in the dark and unique piece that is Donnie Darko. The movie was never set to have a big, theatrical release and it didn’t. This was in large part due to the advertisements – which featured a crashing plane – for the movie being pulled in the aftermath of 9/11.
Most of the time when we think of cult classics, we think of hidden gems. Sometimes, though, as in the case of The Room, the movies we love are laughably bad. The Room is criticized endlessly for its poor acting, poor dialogue, and go-nowhere plot lines. This hasn’t stopped die-hard fans from showing up to midnight showing with spoons galore, though.
Recently, a book by one Tommy Wiseau’s co-stars spawned a movie, The Disaster Artist, which took a comedic look at the creation of the film that now lives in infamy.
The Evil Dead
Almost anyone can tie Bruce Campbell to The Evil Dead series. This horror movie has resulted in a series, video games, comic books, and even an off-Broadway musical but nothing quite stands up to the original.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
When talking about cult classics and midnight showings, few movies have the fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show beat. This quirky film was made on a rather low budget and when it was released in 1975, it was a total failure. It only took a few years for fans to see the beauty in this eccentric piece, though, and it has lived on with a cult following since.
A Clockwork Orange
In 1971, A Clockwork Orange shocked audiences. It wasn’t afraid to show enfettered violence and even scenes of rape and the impact of these scenes hasn’t been lost to time. It was, admittedly, very different from Stanley Kubrick’s other films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and many of his fans were shocked upon entering the theatre. Since then, though, many have found the artistic side of Kubrick’s creation and the movie has earned a cult following.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Everyone has heard the story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table but it took the special eye of Graham Chapman and John Cleese to rewrite history like this. This comedic and low-budget search for the Holy Grail has become one of the most quoted movies of all time and even brought us the musical comedy, Spamalot.
Pulp Fiction is a little different than most cult movies because when it came out it was successful and critics loved it. However, this hasn’t stopped it from entering the world of midnight showings like its cult classic brethren.
Fans of this movie go beyond having seen it countless times. They analyze it and quote it to the point that those around them who haven’t seen it can probably recite the plot for you!
Any movie can spawn discussion. However, if that discussion lasts for decades, you might be onto something special. This is another cult classic that prompted its own series but nothing quite stands up to the 1982 original starring Harrison Ford under the hand of Ridley Scott.