Cult movies represent real film-making. Created outside the Hollywood machine, with little or no regard to standard narrative and technical conventions, as decreed by the studio system, this is where the real excitement lies in filmmaking.
Cult films are where you find the real kicks, yucks and blood. Would the gore-fest Hostel and the Saw franchise exist if it weren’t for visionary video nasties such as ‘I Spit on your Grave’ or ‘Driller Killer’? Would Jackass and its derivatives be on TV without the trailblazing, retch-inducing early films of John Waters? Would Quentin Tarantino have a job? The answer to all these questions is probably not.#
…these films were unfairly destined to languish in the two-for-five-pounds bin at your local post office…
In honour of these brave, disgusting and often deeply disturbing films we have compiled a list of the most underrated cult flicks from the Nineties to the present day, the dream cinema bill, the ushers have taken the cinema by force.
Some of these films were unfairly destined to languish in the two-for-five-pounds bin at your local post office, those films that the Daily Mail warned you about, banished to internet forums and pretentious list articles (ahem) others were ahead of their time or just too plain out-there for the multiplexes. The only criteria here is bad-ass-ness.
And on that note I would formally like to introduce this list with a quote from Entertainment Weekly, who produced a must-read Cult Movie list a few years back that began with this prophetic and quite beautiful quote:
…a subliminal vocabulary of vaguely subversive images…
“Most died at the box office, some of them horribly. Mangled and despised, they were re-animated on video. And now they compose our cultural Esperanto, a subliminal vocabulary of vaguely subversive images, ideas, and phrases that we continue to obsess over and dissect at parties, around watercoolers, in bars, over the blaring banalities of the mainstream media din. They are Cult Movies…So if you take your dead evil and your buckaroos banzai-ed, pour yourself a tall glass of Kool-Aid and peruse this list complete with signature lines and a near Talmudic trove of trivia.”
The God of Cookery
Before Stephen Chow hit HK and global box-office gold with ‘Shaolin Soccer’ and ‘Kung-Fu Hustle’ he made his name making utterly bonkers films like this little beauty. Chow stars as the eponymous ‘God of Cookery’, a corrupt celebrity chef who rules over a rotten (pun definitely intended) food empire which involves being a celebrity judge in a delicious (sorry) parody of The Iron Chef, predating Masterchef by over a decade although I doubt you’d ever hear a culinary put-down like: “I can’t eat this Pig’s colon, it still has faeces in it” from John Torode.
…Cue redemption and eventual victory at a hilarious final Iron Chef showdown…
Chow is eventually exposed and presumed dead after an assassination attempt. He inevitably eats humble pie, learning humility from a Shaolin monk named Wet Dream who awakens in him the knowledge that in a past life he was the God of Cookery, expelled from heaven for teaching his culinary skills to humans. Cue redemption and eventual victory at a hilarious final Iron Chef showdown where both chefs attempt to derail each others attempts with a variety of kitchen-based weaponry. I didn’t think food could ever get more exciting, I was wrong.
Leningrad Cowboys Go America
This gem from Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki is in my humble opinion the best Finnish Rock ‘N’ Roll road movie out there! It chronicles the journey of the Leningrad Cowboys, who sport mountainous quiffs and foot-long winklepickers and are Siberia’s worst Rock ‘N’ Roll band. They are persuaded to travel to Mexico via America, as ‘they’ll listen to anything there’ so they pack up their dead frozen bassist and megalomaniac manager and travel across the US with a coffin full of beer tied to the top of their Cadillac. Fans of road movies and Finnish humour will absolutely lap this up.
…from college Basketball star to murderous heroin dealer and fulltime baller.
This is one of those films that was initially put in the ‘so bad it’s good’ pile upon release, a term that makes no sense, if you think a film is good then production values and dodgy dialogue are deemed irrelevant, no?
Anyway, this is legendary Diplomats rapper Cam’Ron first foray into filmmaking, an autobiographical piece that charts Cam’s street progression from college Basketball star to murderous heroin dealer and fulltime baller.
What I love about this film is there is no redemption at the end, there is no pretension to end the criminality, Cam’s job as a dealer is actually made easier as he murders all his rivals. Morally dubious but great fun, plus an album was released with the film, you think James Cameron would release an Avatar mixtape? I’d watch it if he did.
Re-Animator meets Prostitutes. According to Bill Murray this was the best film of 1990, I agree wholeheartedly.
This is an utterly charming musical comedy has the king of cult John Waters in the directing chair plus a breakout early lead role for Johnny Depp who plays the eponymous anti-hero Cry Baby, a juvenile delinquent who sets 50’s Baltimore alight, quite literally. This is the film Grease wishes it was.
In this writers humble opinion the best zombie movie ever created. Starring real-life Japanese ‘Jet Rock ‘N’ Roll’ band Guitar Wolf, this film has it all; more explosions than you can shake a stick of TNT at, souped-up motorbikes and cars with fire coming out of the exhausts, ladyboy romance subplot, gratuitous zombie nudity, need I go on? This movie is so cult it even has its own drinking game!
Sukiyaki Western Django
An interesting prospect this one, renowned Japanese director Takashi Miike merges influences from Serigo Corbucci’s classic Spaghetti Western and counterculture classic Django with an interpretation of Shakespeare’s war of the roses saga Richard III. Chock-full of pop-cultural references a la Quentin Tarantino, who makes an appearance both as an actor and producer, fans of both directors will lap this up.
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead
From the world’s leading name in mindless filth Troma Studios comes this terrific gore-fest, with tongue firmly in cheek (or bloodied on the floor) this film crosses the line in bad taste, I mean the line is a dot in the distance…
Trying to explain the story is pointless, with razor-sharp satire and more bodily fluids than the last night at Glastonbury this is Troma at its finest; just don’t view if you have a weak stomach, or you’re a vegetarian, in fact no-one should really watch this movie.
Image courtesy of Kevin Dooley