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Top 50 Wildest & Weirdest Cult Movies: PART 2
By: Mickael
What is a “cult” film? Well, simply put, it’s a movie that wasn’t originally considered a financial or critical success, but over time has gained a dedicated cabal of fans who passionately love it despite it’s flaws. By this definition, you’d be flabbergasted to learn that The Wizard Of Oz was initially a flop which took decades to turn into a cult classic. Upon its release in 1939, it was the most expensive film MGM had ever made (with a budget of $2.7 million) but lost $1.1 million when it was originally released. 10 years later, they re-released it into theaters and finally made their money back. In the decades since, TV broadcasts and home video releases have cemented this film as an iconic piece of cultural and cinema history.
Similarly, The Shawshank Redemption, despite being based on a novella by Stephen King and having an all-star cast, lost nearly $10 million at the box office and was considered a flop. It also didn’t win a single Academy Award, even though it was nominated in 7 categories. Being released on VHS and airing frequently on cable TV eventually secured it’s legacy as a top film of the decade. Neither of these films hemorrhaged as much money as Fight Club, however. This beloved modern tale of anti-consumerism and anti-social behavior originally lost $26 million in the theaters. It had a tremendous following among the angsty and insufferable wannabe teen philosophers of Generation X, who demonstrated their strict adherence to anti-consumerism by giving Rupert Murdoch another $100 million when the film was released on home video.
Regardless of the numbers, there is no larger cult around film than that of the Star Wars fanatics. Even though the original movie immediately broke box office records and was considered a tremendous success, the fact is that Star Wars fans act more like a cult than any other subset of pop culture fandom. Not only has their passion kept this Sci Fi property alive for nearly 40 years, but they’ve managed to support the entire expanded universe consisting of spin-off novels, cartoons, comic books, made-for-TV movies, and loads of video games. They have conventions dedicated solely to their favorite franchise and have (most recently) made Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens the highest grossing movie of all time. This just shows that even successful movies can have a nucleus of cult fans surrounded by its mass audience.
You didn’t come here to learn that Star Wars, Fight Club, and The Wizard Of Oz are all worth watching, though. You came here to learn about some flicks that you haven’t seen. To be dragged deeper down the rabbit hole and hopefully find 2 or 3 films, on this ridiculously long list of 50, that are worth your time. Every other list you’ve stumbled across has just been a jumbled up version of the same movies over and over again; a constant circle jerk of copy/paste bullshit that websites post as clickbait. They all just recommend the same things: Reservoir Dogs, Donnie Darko, and anything by David Lynch, thus abandoning you to fumble about in the darkness of film history. Well, here’s your guiding light. An absolutely unpopular, non-definitive list of zany B-movies and cult films that you should check out:
If the following movies are too popular or mainstream for you (you little nonconformist, you!), then be sure to check out our ongoing series of esoteric “Hidden Gems”: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, and #6 are available already!
#40: Maniac Cop (1988)
Arguably William Lustig's most famous film, Maniac Cop is an action horror flick with genuine suspense and thrills. Cult darling Bruce Campbell stars as a rookie cop who is trying to clear his name after being framed for a psychotic police officer's murder spree. It's rich with talent, featuring a cast that includes Richard Roundtree (Shaft), Laurene Landon (Hundra), Robert Z'Dar (Tango & Cash), veteran character actor Tom Atkins, & William Smith. Don't hesitate to see Lustig's other films; particularly Vigilante (1983), Maniac (1980), Uncle Sam (1996), or the two Maniac Cop sequels that were released in 1990 and 1993, respectively.
#39: No Holds Barred (1989)
No Holds Barred was the WWE's (then WWF) first insane attempt at breaking into the movie business. They took their biggest star of the day, Hulk Hogan, and challenged him artistically with the Herculean task of playing a professional wrestling champion named "Rip". Even this was beyond his range. Luckily for us, comedic regulars David Paymer, Kurt Fuller, and Tommy "Tiny" Lister are on hand to elevate this dumpster fire of a movie. The outlandish action, ridiculous dialogue, and ludicrous overacting are all clear evidence of the cocaine abuse that inspired this film. While I clearly do fewer drugs than this movie's creators, I do find myself addicted to Hulk Hogan's early-90's fare like Suburban Commando and Mr. Nanny.
#38: Super Mario Bros. (1993)
This film adaptation of the most popular video game ever is infamous for its troubled production, questionable artistic choices, and convoluted plot. This was a huge disappointment to millions of children eagerly rushing to the theaters in May of 1993. However, their mis-steps have inadvertantly created a cult masterpiece. With a memorable turn by Dennis Hopper as King Koopa opposite John Leguizamo and Bob Hoskins as the brothers Mario, this whacked-out Sci Fi adventure is as fun as it is surreal. If you're down with mutant dinosaurs from a parallel dimension trying to take over our world, then you're down with Super Mario Bros.
#37: Tank Girl (1995)
Lori Petty perfectly plays the manic Tank Girl, a heroine who breaks out of prison with her friend Jet Girl (Naomi Watts) and traverses a vast post-apocalyptic wasteland, seeking revenge against the mega-corporation that held her captive. With the help of a clan of mutant kangaroos, she just might pull it off. Based on a cult British comic strip, this live action adaptation features several animated scene transitions that are insanely trippy. Co-stars Malcolm McDowell, Ice-T, and Iggy Pop are all fun additions to this raucous Sci Fi action comedy.
#36: The Wizard Of Gore (1970)
The Wizard Of Gore is not false advertising. It's about a magician who performs an elaborate stage act involving hideous displays of disfigurement so disturbing that a talk show host begins to investigate. As with many Herschell Gordon Lewis films, the cinematography suffers while the splatter shines. Even though most H.G. Lewis fans rank this among his worst films, I've chosen it because I'm a contrarian son of a bitch. If you're a gorehound who wants more of his legendary directorial run, try Blood Feast (1963), The Gore Gore Girls (1972), Color Me Blood Red (1965), and Two Thousand Maniacs (1964).
#35: Forbidden Zone (1980)
A bizarre musical fantasy by Richard Elfman, featuring music by Danny Elfman and the Mystic Knights Of The Oingo Boingo. This peculiar exercise in "unrestrained creativity" is beloved by cult film fanatics and it's no mystery why: a movie this relentlessly eccentric and quirky is a rare find. Even if you hate musicals, have a few drinks and take a trip to the Forbidden Zone. If you want more films like this, then good fucking luck.
Fist Of The North Star is a live action adaptation of a popular manga series about a legendary warrior who brutally punches his way through opponents as he tries to fix his fractured apocalyptic world. An incredible assembly of B-movie regulars including Gary Daniels, Malcolm McDowell, Downtown Julie Brown, Clint Howard, Melvin Van Peebles, Chris Penn, and Dante Basco (Rufio!) help make this an enjoyable hidden gem of a flick. The rogue's gallery of villains, including Costas Mandylor and pro wrestler Big Van Vader keep the action intense and appropriately over-the-top. If you want a kung fu flick with fantasy/Sci Fi sensibilities, this will appeal to you.
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (and it's sequel) are two of Vincent Price's most underrated films. He plays a passionate, psychotic doctor who is seeking revenge on the nine other doctors that he blames for the death of his wife, through elaborate mechanisms meant to represent the plagues of Egypt. It is such a campy, farcical take on horror films that you'll find yourself alternating between questioning the filmmakers' sanity for making it and your own sanity for bothering to watch it. If Saw and Scream were able to make a crossover film, it would feel pretty similar to Dr. Phibes. For similar Vincent Price brilliance, watch The Masque Of The Red Death, Cry Of The Banshee, Theatre Of Blood, The Tingler, and the Dr. Goldfoot films!
If you want a brutal, bloody tale of survival in a prison filled with dangerous gangs, violent super-criminals, and a corrupt warden; look no further than Riki-Oh: The Story Of Ricky. Ricky is a superhuman kung fu master that the evil gangs and drug-dealing prison officials just can't seem to leave alone. There's disembowelings, plural, and so many hyperviolent battles that it becomes hard to pick your favorite. I found that the corny special effects lend to its charm instead of detract from its overall quality. At the end of the day, it's a well-told story with enough "WHAT THE FUCK?!" moments to become one of your all-time favorite action movies. If you're a fan of Dead Alive (1992), Evil Dead 2 (1987), and other similar blood-soaked films, you will love this.
#31: Bunraku (2010)
Bunraku cost an awful lot of money and starred a whole lot of interesting people for it to be so ignored. It has a 19% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, but a 6.2 on IMDb from people who actually like movies. That sort of split is indicative of one thing: this is not a pretentious, artsy-fartsy, deeply meaningful film. Instead, this is a stylish, slick action thriller that has some incredibly inventive action sequences and badass characters. Bunraku is a pulpy noir tale of revenge featuring Josh Hartnett, Woody Harrelson, Ron Perlman, and Demi Moore. The "side-scrolling beat 'em up" action scene, in particular, is one of my favorites. I highly recommend this film for fans of Sin City, A Better Tomorrow, Kill Bill, Suckerpunch and other extravagant action flicks.
The previous 10 cult films are HERE!
The next 10 cult films are HERE!
If you want more, read our other articles here!
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