For as long as I can remember I have been a massive film fan. While I can appreciate the big blockbuster franchises like Star Wars and Harry Potter, my heart really belongs to the cult classic films that aren’t always everyone’s cup of tea.
‘What is a cult classic film?’ you ask. Well, a cult classic film is a film that has developed a small following… One could say a cult. They often use less well-known actors and they usually touch on grittier and more controversial topics because with less mainstream exposure it’s easier to get away with certain subjects.
My friends often have to deal with me rambling on about films that they haven’t even heard of, let alone seen. A few have said, “I don’t even know where to start with cult films”, or “which ones are even worth watching?”, to which I always reply, “Well, let me tell you”.
To all of you out there in a similar situation as my friends, you’ve never seen a cult classic, you don’t know what they are, or you’re just in the mood to watch a few, please read on!
I tried to choose films that would be ideal for beginners to the genre. You may have heard of some of these, or even might recognize some scenes or dialogue, but these are definitely the place to start a cult classic binge!
Fight Club (1999)
“The first rule about Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club.” This is one of the more well-known cult films and has a large following so you may recognise that famous line. Chances are, you have at least heard a little bit about this one!
The film begins with an office worker, played by Edward Norton, who suffers from insomnia. He meets another man, the gorgeous Brad Pitt, who seems to be his complete opposite. The two hit it off and create an underground fight club, which leads to something way bigger and way worse.
If you enjoy plot twists, topless men fighting and just an incredibly well put together film, you’ll love this. As with most cult films, you have to keep your attention on every little detail. Blink and you might miss something!
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Three words: JAMES FREAKIN’ DEAN. What an incredible human being, captured in immortal youth. This is a golden-age cinema classic at its finest. Now nearly 63 years old, Rebel Without a Cause is an oldie but a 112% goldie. I can’t recommend this film enough. In fact, if you watch anything at all from this list – watch this!
James Dean plays a rebellious teen who has just moved to a new town. He has a troubled past which begins to resurface throughout the film as he creates both friends and enemies. Dean is clad in his signature red jacket, white t-shirt, and jeans – a staple for any Dean stan!
In the unbelievably short time we were blessed to have James Dean, he definitely made a mark with this classic. I remember watching this as a teen and my rebellious tendencies were through the roof. Imagine running around breaking the law with James Dean. Who could possibly turn that down?
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
This film is based on Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel, but Stanley Kubrick really made it his own. With any Kubrick film, you have to be ready for anything – and I mean anything! I don’t think a short synopsis of this film will do it justice, purely because so much goes on. If you think you can handle the insanity that ensues in this film, go ahead and watch!
This classic story, set in the future, begins with the arrest of the leader of a sadistic gang who eventually volunteers for a conduct-aversion experiment to try and iron out his criminal behavior. But when do experiments ever go to plan? You can tell a certain something (that rhymes with Brad Pitt) is about to hit the fan!
As with most films of this genre, it isn’t one to watch with children. There is a lot of nudity and bad language, which is necessary to really put across how mad this gang is. There are some tough subjects portrayed throughout, including an infamous rape scene, so be warned. Overall, it’s an incredible film and nothing like it had hit our screens before!
Pulp Fiction (1994)
“Ain’t that the one with that geezer from Grease?” as many of my friends would say and they would be correct! I think this may be the face of cult classics, most people know the name and who is in it, but whether they’ve actually watched it is a different story.
Everyone’s teenage crush, Danny Zuko, is gone and in his place is gangster Vincent Vega. John Travolta now plays a ruthless hitman alongside the great Samuel L. Jackson. Their employer, a mob boss, has sent them out to retrieve his stolen suitcase. The four tales we see in this film are woven together, comprising of a series of funny, bizarre and uncalled-for incidents, and we even get to see Travolta in his dancing shoes again.
This film had me in stitches when I first watched it. Jackson’s one-liners alone could make the film. But with the rest of the carnage that goes on, you can’t help but binge this absolute classic. I definitely recommend it for a first cult film experience.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
If you know me, you know this film was bound to be on the list. I can hardly figure out where to begin with this one. It has been widely claimed that this legendary psychological thriller has the greatest villain of all time, Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
Sir Anthony Hopkins portrays Lecter, the incarcerated and manipulative cannibal. Fledgling FBI cadet, played by Jodie Foster, visits him in prison and asks for his help in solving a case about a man, known as Buffalo Bill, who skins his victims.
The amount of chaos this man causes while confined to a tiny glass prison cell is unreal. He doesn’t move an inch, yet the whole nation is in an uproar. I adore this film because every aspect is perfectly executed. From the acting to the cinematography – it’s perfect! You can never go wrong with this must-see film!
If you’re a cult classic fan, what films would you suggest to newcomers to the genre?
I tried to cater to both sides of the scale: those who have watched a few cult classics and those who have never even heard of the genre. I would love to hear from you about what you think of these suggestions.
If you decide to watch these films and maybe even venture into the dark depths of cult films, you may even become a cult classics fan too! If you do watch these, let me know what you think!