Last Updated: February 18th
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.
Blade Runner (1982)
Run Time: 117 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
Harrison Ford’s lived long enough to see quite a few of his sci-fi franchises get the reboot treatment but this futuristic 80s flick still ranks as one of his best genre outings. Ford plays Rick Deckard, a blade runner charged with terminating four replicants — synthetic humans — who have escaped captivity and are plotting rebellion. Deckard treks across a dystopian Los Angeles, confronting ideas about humanity and morality while fighting off bioengineered humanoids and his fellow man.
Sin City (2005)
Run Time: 124 min | IMDb: 8/10
Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez team up for this stylish crime thriller drowning in corruption, comic book references, and A-list actors playing varying degrees of anti-hero. Based on the first, third, and fourth books in Miller’s original series, the film jumps between three different stories all set in the seedy underworld of Basin City. Bruce Willis plays an aging police officer framed for crimes he didn’t commit who must protect a young woman he’s come to love. Clive Owen plays a vigilante protecting prostitutes from bad guys and preventing a war between the women and the police. And Mickey Rourke plays a man seeking revenge for the death of his lover. It’s a lot of action and bloodshed, all done in Miller’s signature tone and Rodriguez recognizable flair.
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: 107 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Christian Bale and Sean Bean star in this sci-fi drama set in an oppressive future where all forms of emotion are outlawed. Bale plays a man named John Preston, who’s charged with enforcing the law, but when he accidentally forgets to take a dose of the medicine that suppresses feelings and artistic expression, he begins to question the system he upholds and, eventually, leads an uprising.
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: 142 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
Robin Williams in anything is worth a watch but there’s something about this childhood 90s flick that screams cult classic. Maybe it’s Williams, who plays an adult Peter Pan forced to return to Neverland to save his kids or maybe it’s Dustin Hoffman playing the campiest Captain Hook we’ve ever seen. Either way, it’s a welcome dose of nostalgia with a surprisingly unique twist on the traditional fairy tale.
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).