By definition, cult movies are movies that have developed passionate fan bases, so much so that they are labeled as cult members. These fans are devoted to the movie or movies in the series and can often quote conversations between characters and watch the movie or movies repeatedly.
Cult movies aren't just reserved for those movies that do very well in Hollywood. In fact, most times, cult classics have been some of the biggest box office bombs in history.
The term came about during the '70s and was used to describe those movies that were kept afloat purely by fan love. These movies, at the time, were among some of the most controversial (they included too much profanity, sexuality, violence, gore or a combination of all), hence the reason why most of Hollywood did not deem them to be successes. They are known for being ironic and having bad taste and very often bordering on the absolutely and ridiculously impossible, despite the genre of the movie.
Fear not, not all cult movies and movie directors have had it bad. Quentin Tarantino is one of the cult directors who has had success with his productions. What with movies like Dawn of the Dead, The Girl From Star Ship Venus and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Tarantino has managed to prove that there are both money and well-won victories in the world of cult movies.
Are you certain that you're a big enough fan to identify all these cult classics?
The wedding scene that opens "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (Jim Sharman, 1975) could be seen as a take-off of "The Wizard of Oz"; actors who appear in the scene show up in more prominent parts later in the movie. The minister is played by Tim Curry (Dr. Frank N. Furter); the old couple next to him are Patricia Quinn and show creator Richard O'Brien (Magenta and Riff Raff); and the spinster who joins the church party is Little Nell (Columbia).
"Office Space" (1999) was the live-action feature filmmaking debut of Mike Judge, creator of TV's "King of the Hill" and "Beavis and Butthead." Judge got his start making the short animated cult film series featuring Beavis and Butthead. One of these shows viewers what happens when amphibians meet wooden bats. It's called "Frog Baseball."
If you look closely, you can see Tyler Durden pop up for a few frames at a time before his character is introduced in "Fight Club" (David Fincher, 1999).
Like 1980's "The Empire Strikes Back," 1974's "The Godfather: Part II," and 1982's "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," James Whale's "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935) is arguably a better film than its predecessor.
"Mothra" (Inoshiro Honda, 1962) is credited as being the first Japanese monster movie in which the monster lives at the end. The villain of the film is a greedy businessman from the nation of "Rolisica," which, with its capital being "New Kirk City," is a thinly-veiled stand-in for the U.S.A.
A lot of the humor in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (Terrys Gilliam and Jones, 1975) comes from the limited amount of money the group had to spend on the movie. For instance, the reason the knights "ride around" by skipping while clapping coconut shells together is because they couldn't afford actual horses.
In "Reservoir Dogs" (Quentin Tarantino, 1992), the word "f&!k" (without the punctuation) is used 272 times. Also, there was a paramedic on the set to make sure that Mr. Orange's blood loss matched that of real-life gunshot victims.
1969's "Easy Rider" was the feature film directorial debut of star Dennis Hopper. He and the other star of the film, Peter Fonda, co-wrote the film with writer Terry Southern (of "Barbarella" and "Dr. Strangelove" fame).
'80s new wave band Duran Duran took its name from Milo O'Shea's character in "Barbarella" (1968, Roger Vadim), Durand-Durand.
Director Tobe Hooper based the character of Leatherface in "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" on 1950s murderer/necrophiliac/grave-robber/human taxidermist/mama's boy Ed Gein. The movie spawned seven sequels/spin-offs/remakes.
"Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" (1985) marks the feature debut and first collaboration of filmmaker Tim Burton and composer Danny Elfman. Burton met Elfman and offered him the job after seeing Elfman's band, Oingo Boingo, perform at a Los Angeles club.
"The Brood" (1979), a film about a custody battle, paralleled filmmaker David Cronenberg's life, as he was going through a traumatic divorce and custody battle. Another film on the same subject, "Kramer vs. Kramer," won the Oscar that same year. Cronenberg called "The Brood" his "version of 'Kramer vs. Kramer,' but more realistic."
Stanley Kubrick, director of 1971's "A Clockwork Orange," said that without Malcolm McDowell, he wouldn't have made the movie.
Richard Kelly's "Donnie Darko" (2001) is one of several films to feature Echo & the Bunnymen's song, "The Killing Moon."
"Eraserhead" (1977) is David Lynch's first feature film. It took him many years to make -- it was his thesis film for his college -- and was his way of coping with being a first-time father.
"Freaks" (Tod Browning, 1932) might be most famous for its ending line, "One of us! One of us!" as the main character is transformed into a circus "freak."
Bud Cort, who played Harold in "Harold and Maude" (Hal Ashby, 1971) worried about being typecast, so he turned down a role of Billy Bibbit in Milos Forman's Oscar-winning "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975). It would be six years before Cort starred in another American feature film.
David Bowie's 2015 musical, "Lazarus," is a sequel to his narrative feature acting debut, "The Man Who Fell to Earth" (Nicholas Roeg, 1974).
Faye Dunaway, star of "Mommie Dearest" (Frank Perry, 1981), is said to have been more than unpleasant to work with. Irene Sharaff, the multiple-Oscar-winning costume designer who came out of retirement to work on this film, walked off the set for the first time in her forty-five-year career. Of the star, she said, "You can enter Faye Dunaway's dressing room, but first throw a raw steak in there to distract her."
One of the things "Night of the Living Dead" (George Romero, 1969) is known for is being one of the first films to feature an African-American lead hero in a mixed race cast.
1998's "Pi" is the feature film debut of filmmaker Darren Aronofsky. Thirteen years later, he became an Oscar Nominee for directing "Black Swan."
"Pink Flamingos" (John Waters, 1972) might be most known for a scene in which star Divine eats dog feces. There is no editing involved, leaving no doubt that the poop is real.
"Plan 9 from Outer Space" (1959) was portrayed as "filmmaker" Ed Wood's magnum opus in Tim Burton's 1994 movie, "Ed Wood."
There's a movie poster for the concert movie "Stop Making Sense" in Dan Cain's bedroom in "Re-Animator" (Stuart Gordon, 1985). The band in the movie featured in the poster: Talking Heads. The villain in the movie in which the poster is featured: Dr. Carl Hill, who, when anti-hero Herbert West "re-animates" Hill's severed noggin, becomes a literal "talking head."
"Repo Man" (1984) was based on writer-director Alex Cox's experience working as an assistant to a real-life repo man. The movie lines, "Only an a**hole gets killed for a car," and "Ordinary f***in' people, I hate 'em," were two things Cox heard on his ride alongs.
The leads of 1973's "Sisters," Margot Kidder and Jennifer Salt, were roommates in the early '70s. At one of their Christmas parties, director Brian De Palma put a special gift under their tree: a script of the movie. This was their offer to star in the film.
"Slacker" (1991) is Richard Linklater's first feature film. It consists of a series of moderately connected vignettes as the camera roams from scene to scene.
"Stop Making Sense" (1984) is Jonathan Demme's first concert film. It features art rock band, The Talking Heads -- and lead singer David Byrne in a big suit. It takes its name from their song, "Girlfriend Is Better." Demme moved into the online streaming space with another concert film: "Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids" (2016).
"Sweet Sweetback's B**d*sssss Song" (1971) director Melvin Van Peebles got gonorrhea after filming one of the sex scenes. He applied for worker's comp through the Directors Guild and used the money to buy more film -- which, in the days before digital, was one of the most expensive things independent filmmakers needed to buy.
Despite what you might think, 1982's "The Thing" was neither the first nor the second time actor Kurt Russell and director John Carpenter worked together. The "Escape from New York" series had begun the year before, but cult favorite "Big Trouble in Little China" was still four years away. The actual first time they worked together was in 1979, on a TV movie called "Elvis," with Russell in the title role.
"The Toxic Avenger" (1984) spawned three feature sequels and an animated TV series. Though the feature versions were strictly for adults, the cartoon was aimed at kids.
The car in "Two-Lane Blacktop" (Monte Hellman, 1971) was played by two 1955 Chevrolets built by Richard Ruth. The one with the twin carburetors showed up again two years later, in George Lucas' "American Graffiti," where it was driven by Harrison Ford.
Cult classic "The Warriors" (Walter Hill, 1979) was remade as a video game in 2005. Original cast members Michael Beck (Swan), Dorsey Wright (Cleon), David Harris (Cochise), Deborah Van Valkenburgh (Mercy), and James Remar (Ajax) reprised their roles from the movie for the game.
"Welcome to the Dollhouse" (1995) was Todd Solondz's first feature film. It starred Heather Matarazzo in her first feature film.
1987's "Withnail & I" was the feature film debut of writer-director Bruce Robinson and lead actors Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann. Robinson and Grant worked together again two years later, in "How to Get Ahead in Advertising," in which ad agency man Grant grows a second head.
Kevin Smith developed a sequel TV series to 1984's "The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai across the 8th Dimension" (directed by W.D. Richter) in the mid-2010s, but it ended up going nowhere. So much for Buckaroo Bonzai taking on the World Crime League.
"Breathless" (1960) was French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard's first film. Despite over one hundred directing credits since then, it was his only hit.
The Coen Brothers' "The Big Lebowski" (1998) is the feature film debut of an adult Tara Reid, along with singer-songwriter and 'Til Tuesday frontperson, Aimee Mann.
There was a battle over which version of Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" (1985) to release. The studio, MCA-Universal, recut the Gilliam's version to make the film more accessible. Gilliam's version won out when the Los Angeles Film Critics Association awarded the film best picture, director, and screenplay. Somehow, the critics had access to Gilliam's cut and not the studio's.
The radio show "Hot Probs" is a take-off of popular radio show "Loveline," which, before it went on to national radio syndication and to become a television show, started as a call-in show on Los Angeles radio station KROQ. Jim "Poorman" Trenton, co-creator and co-host of the original radio show, plays the host of "Hot Probs" in "Heathers" (Michael Lehmann, 1989).
Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker), the detective main character of "Kiss Me Deadly" (Robert Aldrich, 1955) has also been played on-screen by Biff Elliot, Brian Keith, Daren McGavin, Kevin Dobson, Armand Assante, Rob Estes, and Stacy Keach. Mickey Spillane, the character's creator, even played him once -- in 1963's "The Girl Hunters" (directed by Roy Rowland),
"Taxi Driver" (Martin Scorsese, 1976) features the first iteration of, "You talkin' to me?" It's been repeated and reinterpreted several times, including in "Goodfellas" (Scorsese, 1990) as, "You think I'm funny?"
"Down by Law" (Jim Jarmusch, 1986) is the English-language debut of Oscar winner Roberto Benigni.
Kevin Smith's droll comedy about life in working-class New Jersey, "Clerks," shared the Filmmakers Trophy at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival with Boaz Yakin's drama about life in working-class Brooklyn, "Fresh." Both films were picked up by Miramax.
1974's "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia" is the only film on which filmmaker Sam Peckinpah had final cut. His other films were cut by the "suits" Peckinpah railed against.
Sam Raimi's "The Evil Dead" (1981) spawned two feature film sequels, a remake, and a television series.
"The Harder They Come" (Perry Henzell, 1974) is the feature film debut of famed reggae musician Jimmy Cliff.
"Death Race 2000" (1975) is known for assigning points for running over pedestrians. Women are worth more points than men, and older and younger people are worth more than 20- to 39-year-olds. During the race, one of the hospitals wheels its elderly patients out to "participate" in the race on what is dubbed "Euthanasia Day."
The 1976 documentary about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' reclusive mother-daughter cousins spawned a 2006 sequel (using unused footage from the original), a 2009 television movie (with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange), and a 2015 television spoof (in Seth Myers', Fred Armisen's, Rhys Thomas', and Bill Hader's "Documentary Now!").
Russ Meyers' 1965 cult classic, "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" has three alternate titles: "The Leather Girls," "The Mankillers," and "Pussycat."