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Top 50 Wildest & Weirdest Cult Movies: PART 5
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!
#10: Re-Animator (1985)
Stuart Gordon's first true solo work, Re-Animator is a bloody good dark comedy about a couple of medical students at the Miskatonic Institute who experiment on reanimating dead tissue. Based on an H.P. Lovecraft novella, Gordon twists the horror tale into a silly slow build that leads into disturbing territory by the film's climax, in a way that is reminiscent of Return Of The Living dead (which was released the same year). Jeffrey Combs solidified his legacy as a b-movie legend with this film, and reprised his role in the sequels: Bride Of Re-Animater and Beyond Re-Animator. Be sure to not overlook Stuart Gordon's other phenomenal work, as the films From Beyond, Robot Jox, Fortress, Castle Freak, Space Truckers, King Of The Ants, and Edmond are all well worth your time!
#09: The Warriors (1979)
When a gathering of delegates from all the street gangs in New York City ends in the assassination of their most powerful leader, a member of The Warriors is framed and they must fight through the city to return to safe turf on Coney Island. On their way, they face off against a variety of quirky rival gangs, each modelled after various foils from The Odyssey. It's in this unique twist that director Walter Hill both establishes his name, and produces a 70's gang epic that is far superior to it's many rivals. David Patrick Kelly's clinking of the coke bottles at the film's climax as he repeats, "Warriors! Come out to play-ay!" has become a classically quotable moment from a film that is jam-packed with amazing dialogue and delivery. Walter Hill is a master of suspenseful action, as evidenced by the rest of his filmography, including Streets Of Fire, 48 Hrs., Last Man Standing, Undisputed, Bullet To The Head, and The Driver. He's made everyone from Bruce Willis to Arnold Schwarzenegger to Sylvester Stallone to Charles Bronson to Bill Paxton all look and seem cooler than anyone else was able to. An extremely talented director, who has never delivered a dud.
#08: Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)
I am going to be hanged for this selection, because almost all Godzilla aficionados agree that Godzilla vs Megalon is one of the worst of his 30+ films. I, however, got high as fuck and determined that it is the most fun of the Godzilla movies. While my favorite of the Godzilla spin-off characters remains Mothra, I have a special place in my heart for Godzilla's side-kick in this film, Jet Jaguar. This is among the fastest paced of the Godzilla series, featuring a giant beetle named Megalon and a cybernetic space monster named Gigan who are sent by the Seatopians to kill the humans, until Jet Jaguar awakens Godzilla to help him defeat the dastardly monsters. Godzilla is a unique franchise, in it's ability to be exceedingly wacky or seriously intense; to mock cultural idealogies or to challenge political ones; to stir a sense of faith in humanity or to instill a fear of impending doom for all of mankind. I, personally, love the wacky Godzilla; many prefer the threatening version. No matter what, if you want more kaiju action, watch Mothra vs. Godzilla, Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster, All Monsters Attack, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, The Return Of Godzilla, and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.
#07: Freaked (1993)
Remember Alex Winter, the "other guy" from Bill & Ted? Did you ever wonder why his career seemingly dried up, while Keanu Reeves went on to make tons of big budget blockbusters, despite having all the charisma of a potato? Well, Freaked is the answer. Alex Winter co-wrote, co-directed, and starred in this $11 million black comedy about fame and social responsibility, which ultimately earned a mere $29,000 at the box office. This tremendous failure has nothing to do with the quality of the film, however, as it is an absolutely fantastic 90's punk rock punch in the nuts of the status quo. When 20th Century Fox fired their studio head, the new leadership thought this movie was "too weird" and pulled it from wide distribution. With wild art and effects that are reminiscent of the skateboard culture and graffiti aesthetics of the time; music from the Butthole Surfers, Henry Rollins, Blind Idiot God, and others; and absolutely ludicrous performances by Randy Quaid, Mr. T, Bobcat Goldthwait, Keanu Reeves, William Sadler, and Brooke Shields; it's no wonder the suits didn't like it. But make no mistake, this movie is a classic that should have been given a chance under its original title of "Hideous Mutant Freekz".
#06: Meet The Feebles (1989)
Meet The Feebles is Peter Jackson's dirty little secret. After the success of Lord Of The Rings, he didn't seem to mind people revisiting his rough early work in New Zealand, where he shot a nasty alien invasion picture called Bad Taste, and the bloodiest zombie movie you've ever seen, Brain Dead (aka Dead Alive). They're both fine pictures and they put on a clinic for aspiring filmmakers who claim there's never enough money or time to make a proper genre flick. Sandwiched between these two cult masterpieces, however, is an odd little gem about a group of singing and dancing puppets who run a variety show for kids called Meet The Feebles. It is a sleazy take-down of show business cliches and pitfalls, showing these puppets engage in all forms of wicked and immoral behavior, including sex dungeon orgies, drug abuse, rape, murder, and any other taboo you can think of. If you thought Caligula just wasn't quite twisted enough, then Meet The Feebles may just satiate your lust for disturbing behavior.
#05: Pink Flamingos (1972)
In Pink Flamingos, drag queen Divine will stop at nothing to retain her tabloid-magazine-reputation as "The Filthiest Person Alive", especially as she's being challenged by a coupld as sick as she is. Director John Waters pulls out all the stops in this pre-punk era movie that takes on fame-whoring culture decades ahead of its time. Throughout every generation, this film has maintained its relevance as there has been a subculture of people who will do whatever it takes to gain notoriety. Be warned, though, the shit in this movie is pretty in-your-face. For more from the classy & civilized John Waters, check out Multiple Maniacs, Polyester, Mondo Trasho, Pecker, Cecil B. Demented, and my personal favorite: Serial Mom.
#04: The Toxic Avenger (1984)
I would hope that, by now, everyone has seen this immortal cult flick. The fine people of Tromaville get the hero they deserve when a nerdy mop boy is bullied and falls into a vat of toxic waste. The toxic waste deforms him into a giant, muscle-bound freak of nature who can now stand up for himself and anyone else who is put upon. The effects are appropriately disgusting in this high camp classic, which was followed by three sequels and a children's TV show, almost all of which are worth watching. For more from the fine, independent film-makers of Troma, be sure to check out Class of Nuke 'Em High, Father's Day, Combat Shock, Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead, Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD, Terror Firmer, Troma's War, and Tromeo and Juliet. They have 100's of other low-budget cheeseball classics and gorefests, but start with these and ensure they're to your taste before you dig too deep on the menu. Uncle Lloyd Kaufman is the lovable madman behind this great company.
#03: Karate Robo Zaborgar (2011)
Karate-Robo Zaborgar is a weird choice, because it is basically an homage to the "tokusatsu" superhero shows and films of the 1970's, being a remake of Denjin Zaborger; but it enhances and outshines almost all of the source material it emulates. A man and his transforming robotic motorcycle take to the streets to defeat an evil cyborg gang using their fists of fury. If you were a fan of Ultraman or Kamen Rider, then this will appeal to you. From it's ridiculous musical montage to introduce the character, through to its action-packed finale, this film moves at a break-neck pace that is best experienced with friends and alcohol. If you find yourself loving this movie, check out The Super Infra-Man, Warning From Space, The Green Slime, and The X From Outer Space.
#02: Zardoz (1974)
Nothing can quite prepare you for Zardoz. In the future of 2293, humans are split into two camps: the Eternals and the Brutals. The Eternals are immortals who rule the world from their decadent and secluded estate, while the Brutals act as serfs for them by growing food and living in squalor. The Eternals keep the Brutals in check through the use of Brutal Exterminators, who take their order to kill the Brutals from a giant flying stone head named Zardoz. Sean Connery plays one of these Brutal Exterminators, named Zed, who one day jumps aboard Zardoz and makes his way to the home of the Eternals. I did a pretty damn good job there, summing up the first 10 minutes of the movie. The rest of the film is an acid trip that is nearly indecipherable, and seeing Sean Connery wearing nothing but red underwear, fuck-me boots, and a couple of bandoliers is pretty disorienting as well. I hesitate to say I recommend this movie, but if you thought nothing else on this list was quite "weird enough", well, here you go.
Other than being a mouthful, The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The Eighth Dimension is a delightfully quirky ode to 50's culture, almost through a child's eyes. Peter Weller plays the titular hero, a scientist/rock star/superhero whose escapades are well-known and highly publicized. When invaders from the eighth dimension, in the form of John Lithgow and Christopher Lloyd, try to take over earth, it's up to Buckaroo to find a way to stop them. With his band, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, consisting of Jeff Goldblum, Clancy Brown, Ellen Barkin, and others; he'll find a way! This ridiculous Sci Fi / comedy holds a special place in my heart, not just because of its greatness, but because I once knew a completely insane conspiracy theorist that believed there really were lizard men from the eighth dimension all around us, and that we just couldn't see them. He would corner me and insist on emphatically delivering to me the theories about how our government secretly sends armed space marines to battle these lizard men on the moon. Larry was a special person, who frightened the ever-loving shit out of me. This movie, however, will merely entertain you.
The previous 10 cult films are HERE!
Or, if you're all done: read our other articles here!
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