Last Updated: December 7th
In the world of film, a cult classic is that rarest of unicorns. It’s a film that eschews mainstream popularity and blockbuster ticket sales, a film that’s misunderstood, under-appreciated by the masses, intended only for true cinephiles that can enjoy its elevated artistry. A cult movie is one that’s ahead of its time. It pushes the envelope, deals in raunchy humor, grotesque violence, thought-provoking comedy, or campy horror. Most people won’t get it, but that’s okay. For the fans of cult films, the fun comes in being part of a select few who truly understand the nuance of dick jokes, stoner comedies, and over-acted crime thrillers. And like fine wine, cult films only get better with age.
Here are some of the best cult classics currently streaming on Netflix.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Run Time: 91 min | IMDb: 8.3/10
Even if you’ve never seen any of the Monty Python films, you most certainly know of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It’s been quoted, memed, gif-ed, and idolized by comedy fans for generations. At its core, it’s a parody of the legends of King Arthur and his knights. It’s stocked with an impressive cast — John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, etc — and it’s full of eccentric characters, bizarre adventures, and gut-bustingly funny jokes. Think failed Trojan Rabbits, modern-day murder investigations, animated monsters, and musical numbers. Intellectual midgets everywhere will love it.
American Psycho (2000)
Run Time: 101 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Christian Bale stars in this horror thriller from director Mary Harron that focuses on a wealthy New York businessman with bloody habits. Bale plays Patrick Bateman, an investment banker seemingly dissatisfied with his life of excess and envious of his successful colleagues. To cope, he entertains psychotic fantasies that see him hacking prostitutes up with chainsaws and torturing his co-workers. It’s an edge-of-your-seat gore fest that leaves you questioning any sense of reality you may have in the end.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Run Time: 83 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Probably the most influential horror film in the slasher genre, this ’70s era nightmare has spawned a franchise that continues to thrill movie audiences, but the original film from Tobe Hooper is a cult classic. The film follows a group of friends who attract the attention of cannibals on their way to visit an old homestead and must try to survive the torture of Leatherface, a terrifying villain with an even scarier get-up. There’s plenty of gore if that’s your thing and some sly political commentary if you can look past it.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Run Time: 112 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Edgar Wright’s 2010 action comedy about a hapless boy who must defeat evil ex-boyfriends in order to win the hand of the girl he loves is a fast-paced ride that bombards the senses. Michael Cera plays a loveable goof in the titular hero, a young man enamored with a woman named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). In order to be with his lady love, Scott must fight her evil exes, six guys, one girl, who challenge him to truly strange contests. The film is a cinematic mash-up of Japanese anime and gamer culture, intended for the crowd who grew up on Nintendo and comic books, but it brings plenty of laughs all the same.
Run Time: 93 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
Danny Boyle’s black comedy crime film has become a cult classic and made it on plenty “best movies” lists over the years. Ewan McGregor plays Mark Renton, an unemployed heroin addict who shares a flat with his equally unimpressive friends, Spud, Sick Boy, Franco, and Tommy. The group parties together constantly, doing drugs, getting into fights, and committing petty crimes before Renton attempts to get clean only to return home to make a drug deal that could set him up with a clean slate. It’s darkly comedic, with some ridiculous twists thrown in, but the core of the story is surprisingly emotional.
Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
Run Time: 99 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
The early aughts action-comedy borrows elements from famous Kung Fu films of the ’70s and pairs them with a completely ridiculous plot and some impressive cartoon-style fight sequences to produce a wholly original flick that we guarantee you’ll marvel at. The film follows the exploits of two friends, Sing and Bone, who impersonate gang members in the hopes of joining a gang themselves and inadvertently strike up a gang war that nearly destroys the slums of the city. Of course, the real draw here is the absurdist, over-the-top comedy that takes place during some of the film’s biggest action sequences. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, but only if you check your brain at the door.
Run Time: 100 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
A stone-faced Ryan Gosling steers us through the criminal underworld created by director Nicolas Winding Refn in this high-speed thriller. Gosling plays a near-silent stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway man. When he gets involved with his next-door neighbor and her young son, his carefully cultivated life is thrown into chaos, forcing him to align with criminals and take on risky jobs to protect the pair and keep a firm grip on the wheel.
Run Time: 122 min | IMDb: 6.9/10
Look, we were just as excited about Stranger Things star David Harbour picking up the mantle of this fantasy hero as the next nerd, but before we enjoy a new iteration of the comic book character, we need to appreciate the brilliance of Ron Perlman as the devilish beast destined to save the world. Guillermo del Toro directs this epic, which means that even the convoluted and ridiculous plot — a story about a demon spawn brought to Earth through a portal opened by Nazis, who must fight an evil Russian mystic that unleashes monsters on the world — is somehow still riveting and beautifully shot.
Run Time: 126 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Chris Evans stars in this sci-fi thriller from auteur Bong Joon-ho. The film, set years into the future following a devastating ice age caused by mankind, follows Evans’ Curtis who lives in poverty on a train that continuously circles the Earth and contains all that remains of human life. Curtis is part of the “scum” the people relegated to the back of the train while the “elite” enjoy the privilege of wealth and status that comes with living in the front. Curtis sparks a rebellion that ends in bloodshed and a devastating reveal when he makes it to the train’s engine room and discovers just how the elite have been fueling their operation. It’s a dark, grimy action piece that should give fans a new appreciation for Evans’ talent.
The Evil Dead (1981)
Run Time: 85 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Another ’80s flick, this Sam Raimi creation launched the director’s career and has since become a cult classic. The story follows a group of college students vacationing in an isolated cabin in a remote wooded area when they find an audio tape that somehow releases a legion of demons and spirits. Most of the group suffer varying degrees of possession which leads to gory mayhem (hence the film’s NC-17 rating).