ByHolly Emmett, writer at
Film student and full time nerd
Holly Emmett

Ah, The Wonderful World Of Cult Films, Where To Begin?

If you're looking for a good classic cult film to watch, or you're unsure on what your next film night should consist of, look no further! I have compiled all of my personal favorites into this nice neat list.

10. Final Destination

OK, probably not what you'd expect to find on a Top Ten cult list. However, this was the first film I watched which really encouraged my murderous side (don't pretend like you don't have one), as I found myself watching in awe as James Wong came up with weird and wonderful ways in which a protagonist can meet their doom. Of course, it was Hitchcock which invented the idea of killing off a protagonist half way through the film (Psycho), however Wong creates a sense of fulfilment as the protagonists are killed off one by one by the mysterious force that is 'death'.

Synopsis; Alex (Devon Sawa) and a few of his classmates are escorted off a plane when Alex believes he had a premonition of the plane crashing. As they enter the airport, the plane does explode leaving Alex confused and as freaked out as his classmates when they discover he was correct. However, death has a plan and Alex and his classmates soon find out that death is coming for them, one by one. Will they be able to cheat death and survive?

9. The Rocky Horror Picture Show

As far as musicals go, Rocky Horror Picture Show is definitely one of my favourites. It left a lasting impression on me and has been parodied, celebrated and performed live all over the world. The musical celebrates the LGBT+ community whilst also offering amazing performances (especially Tim Curry) and is brilliant entertainment. You must have heard the Time Warp being blasted out loud at parties, and let's be fair it's an amazing crowd-pleaser (you all know the dance routine, don't lie). The cult status of this film lies with the empowerment of transvestite and transsexual Dr.Frank-N-Furter, and the positive message behind gender fluidity has helped members of the LGBT+ community feel equally as empowered.

Synopsis; Newly-weds Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) come across an eerie mansion, owned by transvestite Dr.Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), when breaking down in the middle of no where. As they enter the spooky house, their innocence is taken from them as they endure a night with crazy characters and catchy rock songs.

8. Inception

We all know the iconic Inception noise by now (BWAAAAAA), and we all know that Christopher Nolan did a tremendous job with the 2010 film. This was my first Leonardo DiCaprio film (which may or may not have triggered a small obsession) and the first thriller which really captivated me. I had heard many people discussing the film stating that they had to re watch it, they just had to. And this type of word-of-mouth really excited me, as I found films which create that kind of speculation were definitely worth watching. And indeed it was. From the stunning visual mise-en-scene to the incredible performances, Inception slowly became to be one of my favourite films.

Synopsis; Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a thief with a rare ability to infiltrate people's dreams in order to plant ideas or steal plans. When one of his clients offers him a chance to leave this life behind and be reunited with his children, Cobb reluctantly accepts. However, this job is like no other, and the team are challenged with going deeper than they've gone before. Can they make it out alive?

7. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

This film really challenged what I believed films to be. It didn't adhere to the Hollywood style of film-making, and it certainly opened my eyes to the world of post-modernism. Terry Gilliam really pushed the boat out, with wacky cinematography and unique soundtrack, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas left me wanting to explore more post-modern films, and whilst Tarantino is perhaps more renowned for post-modern films, Gilliam is definitely another director to look out for to gain your post-modern fix.

Synopsis; Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and his attorney Dr.Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) ride out across the Mojave desert to Las Vegas, where they intend to cover a story on a motorcycle race. However, pumped full of drugs (with plenty more drugs in their luggage) their attempt on covering the story goes array when they 'accidentally' trash their hotel room. With their consumption of drugs increasing rapidly, the duo attempt to flee the cops.

6. Pulp Fiction

A film which hardly needs introduction. Quentin Tarantino's finest work lies with this cult classic, and for me is another post-modern film which really set the standard for all new and upcoming directors out there. Is it an action film? Crime? Comedy? Gangster? Drama? By golly it's all of them, and Tarantino doesn't hold back with his non-linear narrative and brightly coloured mise-en-scene. Pulp Fiction is arguably the greatest cult film going, however it did only make number 6 on my list.

Synopsis; The film follows two hit-men, Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), through the struggles of the life of crime in America. Their story is interwoven with many others; gangster Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames); his wife, Mia (Uma Thurman); ex-boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis); Winston Wolfe (Harvey Keitel) and a pair of armed robbers, "Pumpkin" (Tim Roth) and "Honey Bunny" (Amanda Plummer).

5. Donnie Darko

Ah, half way through the list and we arrive at one of my all time favourite films. Similar to Inception, this thriller leaves you wanting to watch it again, and again, and perhaps one more time for good measure. Donnie Darko absolutely boggled my brain on the first viewing, I had so many questions but unfortunately I am not close chums with Richard Kelly therefore I could not be appeased with answers. So I watched and re-watched and remarkably I still have questions. This film will leave you questioning everything and craving more, and is definitely a great thriller to stick on your watch list!

Synopsis; Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is just a troubled teenager who wakes up in strange places. Or is he? After surviving a freak accident involving a plane engine, Donnie Darko sets off on a quest to explore what it means to be alive, and on his journey he discovers the secrets behind time and space.

4. A Clockwork Orange

Perhaps one of the most talked about films of the 20th Century, Stanley Kubrick dazzled us with his adaptation of Anthony Burgess' novel. Now, I was quite young when I watched this film (tut tut naughty me), and it was quite startling to see violence like this in movies when my world was supposed to be about princesses and unicorns. However, this film helped mould me into a film lover and I will never forget watching it for the first time. Kubrick's cinematography, as always, is remarkable and the performance of Malcolm McDowell helps sell this crime sci-fi classic.

Synopsis; Set in the future, Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his 'Droogs' set off on a milk-loving, ultra-violent crime fest. However, when Alex gets arrested for his crimes, he agrees to embark on a behaviour modifying experiment which results in making him repulsed by violence. As he returns to the normal world, he is left vulnerable to his past victims.

3. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

Everyone who knows me personally knows that Jack Nicholson is my favourite actor, and he doesn't fail to impress in this cult classic. I remember little me, probably around 10/11 years old, sobbing my eyes out watching One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest for the first time. This is definitely a feel-good film, which pulls you into its narrative and keeps you hooked on the scandalous life of Randal McMurphy within the walls of a mental institution.

Synopsis; Randal Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) fakes acting 'crazy' in order to be transferred to a mental institute and escape his cruel life in prison. However, when he discovers the life inside of the institute is less than to be desired for, he decides to make a change, creating chaos wherever he goes.

2. Fight Club

Ah yes, second on the list, and a film which absolutely shook my world. If you're looking for a thriller which explores contemporary issues such as; emasculation, anti-capitalism, consumerism, feminism, post-modernism, then look no further than David Fincher's Fight Club. The depth in which Fincher travels with this film adaptation is astonishing, whilst still keeping the cinematography, editing and sound track bang up to date with all sorts of post-modern goodies. I highly recommend placing this film on your must watch list!

Synopsis; When the doctors fail to cure the narrator's (Edward Norton) insomnia, he manages to create a new kind of therapy, Fight Club. With the help of Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), the narrator creates a club in which men go to release stress and beat each other up, but when Tyler introduces 'Project Mayhem' the narrator feels like it has gone too far.

1. The Shining

The moment you've hopefully been waiting for! My number one cult film is Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. I can recite the script word for word, I can hum all of the violin scores, I have watched, re-watched and re-re-watched this film countless times and it still leaves me in awe. You used to watch Winnie The Pooh to send you to sleep? I used to watch The Shining (I still do). From the exquisite cinematography to the outstanding performances of Jack (Jack Nicholson) and Danny (Danny Lloyd), The Shining is THE best psychological thriller cult film to watch.

Synopsis; When Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) lands a job as the winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, he's unaware of the spiritual happenings caused by the murder which took place the year before. When mixed with Danny's (Danny Lloyd) ability to shine, the seemingly innocent winter vacation turns into a ghostly survival trip.

To quote the great man himself, Kubrick said;

The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle.

So make sure you experience the magic of these cult films by adding them to your must watch list, and marvel in the excellence presented by these directors.

Holly Emmett, 05/07/2016


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