Monday 14 March 2016

Top Ten Cult Movies

Certain films achieve cult status, the kind of status that acquires a passionate fan base, in a similar way to franchises such as Star Trek where people love them despite their flaws or however dated they seem to be. That doesn’t mean that cult films are bad – on the contrary – most of them are fabulous and whenever my favourites appear on my tellybox, I make an effort to watch them.

Such was the case on Friday night. I promised myself that I would go to bed relatively early but decided to have one last channel hop. And there, just starting was one of the movies you will see in the list below. I couldn’t resist. It was 11:30 pm and this film would keep me up until after 1 am. I didn’t hesitate – I made myself comfortable and watched the whole thing with my helllcat snuggled up beside me. As I lay in bed later, partially regretting my decision to stay up late, I decided that it would be a good idea to post my favourite so-called cult films. So here they are:

10. Escape from New York

The year is 1997 and New York is walled prison with the worst criminals in America housed within. Sadly Air Force One crashed within the city and there is only one man who can penetrate the city and save him; the amazing one-eyed ex-soldier with the fantastic name, Snake Plissken, played by a brooding Kurt Russell. To make matters worse, poor Snake is injected with tiny explosives that will kill him if he fails.

The plot is utterly incredible and the villains are totally over the top. Yet this strange action movie really works. Nowadays, the film looks really dated and a little bit daft. Nevertheless, if you switch off your brain to protect yourself from the incredulous plot, it really is quite enjoyable. Just count the names that people say “Snake Plissken – I thought you were dead!”

9. Airplane!

Airplane! is one of the daftest films I have ever seen and is crammed to bursting point with humour. Every scene is funny with the joke being obvious or subtle to the point where you don’t spot it immediately. It is extremely silly and the humour borders sometimes on extremely bad taste. Basically Airplane! is a parody of one of the numerous air disaster movies that we had to endure in the 1970’s but it also parodies other movies such as Saturday Night Fever.

8. The Blues Brothers

I mentioned this film in my top comedy films. When I went to the cinema to see this, I wasn’t expecting it to be a comedy film – I don’t know what I was expecting really. What struck me was the amazing musical talent who took part as mayhem ensued with our two hapless heroes, played by the brilliant John Belushi and Dan Akroyd, declare that “We are on a Mission from God!” and end up causing absolute mayhem and chaos in the pursuit of that mission. There are amazing songs performed by some true legends – like this from Aretha Franklin:

7.  Enter the Dragon

In the early 1970’s Bruce Lee made Kung Foo really cool. Kids I knew actually made their own nunchooks, a rather dangerous weapon, in an attempt to emulate their hero. Enter the Dragon was like a Chinese version of a James Bond film, complete with over-the-top villain, seemingly unbeatable hero and, once again, an incredible plot. Add to this Bruce Lee’s amazing skills, we have a recipe for a superb cult film. This movie inspired a lot of people to take up martial arts and although it looks dated today, you can’t help but marvel at Bruce Lee’s talent. It’s such a shame that he died so young.

Here is Bruce Lee demonstrating how to use nunchuks (amongst other things).

6. Pulp Fiction

Quentin Tarantino has made some amazing films which feature in my all-time favourites. However, Pulp Fiction, in my opinion has acquired cult status simply because it features so many amazing stories and incredible quotes. I saw this movie at the cinema and laughed out loud on more than one occasion while my brain told me “Hey – you simply SHOULD NOT be laughing at this!”  

The film is graphic and full of dark humour and Samuel L Jackson’s character is wonderful as shown in the scene below. Watch out – the language is rather fruity.

5. This is Spinal Tap

I love heavy metal (regular readers may have noticed) and I love a great comedy. Combine these and you get This is Spinal Tap, a mockumentary about an English rock band in America, which lampoons every aspect of the cult of heavy metal, including creative differences, the need to shock and the pitfalls of creating a tour and performing in front of a crowd. It is hilarious and has some wonderful moments of pure genius. Incredibly the band have released music outside the movie, which is funny and, bizarrely, quite good.

4. Watchmen

Watchmen is not a conventional superhero film because the heroes are flawed and the scenes of violence are quite graphic. I dragged Mrs PM to see Watchmen at the cinema and while she can tolerate most movies of this genre, she truly despise this particular one because, in her words, it is too long and too violent. “That’s what makes it brilliant!” 

If you are expecting something similar to Spiderman, think again. Rorschach in particular is a wonderful creation. He may be a hero but he achieves his goals with violence and a psychopathic dark heart; he deserves a movie of his own though I’m sure that Mrs PM would never come to see it with me.

3. 28 Days Later

Zombies are slow. You can almost outrun a hoard of marauding zombies by walking away from their decaying hungry shuffling bodies. Unless, of course, you find yourself in the world portrayed by 28 Days Later. The zombies in this horror film run – and they run very quickly. So if you are old, unfit, fat or just not quick enough, you will find yourself being eaten before you can say “Look – a zombie!”. This is a genuinely scary British horror movie and I loved it. I also felt a pang of dismay when I saw Manchester burning in the distance.

2. The Warriors

This is the movie I mentioned at the start of this post. Up until recently it was my favourite cult movie. It tells the story of a New York gang who have to make it back from the Bronx to Coney Island having been blamed for the murder of the leader of the biggest gang in New York. And every gang is out to get them as well as the police. It’s violent and a thrill ride from the moment the Warriors set off back to their “turf”.

One of the best things about the film is the soundtrack; the Theme from the Warriors is fantastic.

“Warriors – come out to plaaaayyyyyy!”

1. 300

My new favourite cult film is the story of 300 Spartans who took on the might of the Persian army at the battle of Thermpylae. Led by the charismatic King Leonidas, played impeccably by Gerard Butler, the army of pure soldiers, noble and built to fight, defend themselves against a vast army led by the man-God Xerxes.

This is a pure boy flick and when it is on, I switch off my brain and allow myself to become fully immersed in the story. There are so many wonderful scenes in the film that it is a joy to behold.

“This is SPARTA!!”

And Finally ...

Over to you, dear reader.

Do you agree with my choices?

Do you have a favourite “cult” movie?


joeh said...

OMG, I am such a slug. I only saw a couple of these and didn't really like any of them very much. I will say "Airplane" was very funny, but it is hard to watch it all the way through, I tire of the laughing. I do like to watch it in pieces.

I did like 300 a lot.

I guess action movies are not my favorites, but I can identify with certain movies that when they are on I must watch them.

JahTeh said...

I do have two new ones, RED and RED2. I will sit up forever to see Helen Mirren in evening gown, combat boots and a sniper rifle. The rest of the cast is great, scipt is good but please leave it at two movies.

You left out Die Hard, all of them except the last one and I still sit up til the wee hours for any Terminator film.

Put in Conan the Barbarian with Arnie not that new twit. I've just watched that again and it's the background music that pulls it all together. Love the scene where James Earl Jones turns into the giant snake.

Airplane was released here as Flying High and the first time I watched it, I couldn't stop laughing. Some of the comedies today are just crude and while I swear like a trooper, I prefer not to have too much of that in a film.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Joeh,

I am a sucker for action movies, hence the list. You should give them a go.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi JT,

I've seen RED but not RED2. RED was a great romp! I regard Die Hard as more of a mainstream movie (I guess you could argue that Pulp Fiction is too). Die Hard would make it into a list of action movies for sure.

Conan the Barabarian is a fun film.




Jackie K said...

I like or love about half of those, a couple I've never seen (including This is Spinal Tap, though I almost feel as if I've seen it), and I regret to say, I didn't really like 300. Too macho for me. It was a very memorable film though, and sometimes I have to grudgingly give a film points for having a powerful story or scenes that stay with me, even if I didn't enjoy them that much while watching.

I would add Shawn of the Dead, Donnie Darko and Fight Club as among my favourite cult movies. Maybe also Fargo and Natural Born Killers for the kind that leave a nasty aftertaste.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Jackie,

Yes - Donnie Darko in particular. Shawn of the Dead is a great laugh and Fight Club is quite brutal. I've only seen Natural Born Killers once - and although it was good it was a little too disturbing for my taste.