Remember the VHS tape that was passed around from locker to locker because it’s content was so groundbreaking to your teenage self? Not the ones you hid under your bed, pervs. What started out as the movies you couldn’t always find, but you just had to see have become the cult classics of today.
Being a child of the 80’s with older cousins and parents who didn’t exactly “monitor” my viewing, it is surprisingly difficult to choose the best cult classics currently available on Netflix. These are the movies many of us grew up on. These are the movies that make you a movie person and whether you’ve seen them 100 times or you’re just watching for the first time, you still have to watch it. I’m not mentally equipped to add more to The Big Lebowski conversation, but here are a few more to spark a flashback and to put to the top of your queue.
We should have known the bugs would eventually attack. Thankfully we have Paul Verhoeven’s strategy guide on how to “kill ’em all”. In the film, Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) signs up for the futuristic fight against an invading bug army. With the help of Denise Richards, N.P.H. and Blanche Devereaux herself Ms. Rue McClanahan playing “Biology Teacher”, he and the other Roughnecks take the battle to the bugs.
Leon: The Professional
The professional assassin with the heart of gold, Leon (Jean Reno) opens his door to Mathilda (Natalie Portman) as her family is being murdered by dirty cops. The relationship between Leon and Mathilda grows beyond the professional and protegee, to become a sweet story about two people who need someone to care for them and the Gary Oldman that threatens to tear them apart.
Veronica (Winona Ryder) is the odd girl out (the only one not named Heather) in the most popular clique in high school and she hates it. J.D. (Christian Slater) saunters in like a homicidal knight on a white horse to sweep her off her feet and even the playing field.
This 80’s sociopathic teen dark comedy spoke to everyone’s insecurity while being both a guilty pleasure and a really rewatchable movie. Everyone feels like the weirdo from time to time and Heathers made that okay in a really f*cked up way.
Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) became legendary slackers by showing up to their dead-end jobs to treat customers poorly, complain to each other about girls, and teach the world obscure sexual terms.
Kevin Smith maxed out a handful of credit cards to make a black and white tribute to mundane jobs, gen-x angst, Star Wars, and roller hockey. Whatever you think of Smith now, Clerks holds up as a nostalgic slice of the 90’s and introduced the world to Jay and Silent Bob.
Big Trouble in Little China
Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) is an all-American badass trucker roped into an ancient battle on the streets of Chinatown. John Carpenter ramps up the action and the campiness as Burton kicks ass to save Kim Cattrall’s damsel in distress.
Back in 1996 nobody knew who Danny Boyle was, or more importantly would become. Then came Trainspotting. Dark, gritty, funny, Scottish and somehow hopeful, it’s the story of Renton (Ewan McGregor) and the lengths he goes through to not only get his next fix, but how to live his life and get clean. No other movie has ever enjoyably made young people fear heroin, but also dance a little before hitting rewind to watch it again (Sorry Requiem For A Dream).
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Johnny Depp delivers a spot-on take on Hunter S. Thompson’s Raoul Duke character and his drug-fueled trips into the desert. Duke is supposed to be a journalist covering an event in Las Vegas, but thanks to his lawyer Dr. Gonzo’s (Benicio Del Toro) medical and legal advice, things get a little crazy. Ridiculously quotable with a poster made for every dorm room wall, Fear and Loathing also has some of the best cameos of the 90’s.
Wet Hot American Summer
David Wain brings together possibly the funniest, seemingly most random cast of future stars to depict how the last day of summer camp in the 80’s changed everyone’s life, forever. Thanks to our friends at Netflix, we’ll be able to visit everyone again this summer when the series premieres on July 17th.
Another movie working on a sequel, few comedies in the last fifteen years have been so quotable. Broken Lizards ne’er do well group of Vermont state troopers hilariously fight to keep their jobs while bumbling their way through life. Solid police work and typical law enforcement shenanigans ensue.
David Lynch is at his most David Lynch with the help of Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, and Dennis Hopper in this film that features a severed ear, a kidnapping, a lounge singer, and plenty of PBR. You really have to see it to try to understand and fall in love with its insanity.