A cult film is any movie that has garnered a persistent cult following. The best cult movies go on to become highly influential within and around their respective genres, which can be anything from rom-com and drama to fantasy, action, and science fiction. If you’re looking for something fresh to watch this weekend, here are some of the best cult films you’ve probably never heard of.
Things To Come (1936)
The cult appeal of 1936’s Things To Come can be summed up in two major factors: dated special effects and eerily accurate predictions about the future of society. In a nutshell, the film passionately advocates for scientific progress – mainly as a way of putting a permanent end to war.
Following a 30-year war that begins in 1940, a group of pacifistic scientists called Wings Over the World works to unseat society’s last unjust tyrant in their goal to build utopia. Not surprisingly, this prescient examination of war and peace was penned by none other than sci-fi legend H.G. Wells. It’s a must-see for fans of Black Mirror, Outer Limits, or Twilight Zone.
Affectionately known in some circles as the Citizen Kane of predictable feel-good sports/gaming films, Rounders is an unapologetically over-the-top Hollywood movie about the highs and lows of underground poker in the ‘90s. Set prior to the early 2000s poker boom, the film’s events are a glimpse into the gaming world before the rise of real-money online poker rooms.
In this way, Rounders captures a bygone era of gaming, before high-stakes players could play online and go fully legit. It’s also arguably the best use of A-list character actors in any Hollywood movie. Inadvertently responsible for influencing tons of other films about vulnerable geniuses overcoming impossible odds, 1998’s Rounders definitely deserves cult status.
California Split (1974)
Although it’s the second poker-related film on this list, 1974’s California Split is often the top film mentioned in best-of lists for gaming and poker movies. This is simply because it’s the perfect dark comedy.
Helmed by director Robert Altman whose style pave the way for the “New Hollywood” era of filmmaking, California Split is a compelling, satirical, and brutally honest examination of the psychological and social plight of the modern poker and casino gaming enthusiast. At the same time, it’s also one of the funnest buddy films ever made.
Being John Malkovich (1999)
While exploring his unusual workplace, an office worker discovers a cave that allows him to enter the mind and experience the life of actor John Malkovich. Alongside this surreal premise, the world of Being John Malkovich is populated by equally weird characters and events.
This film speaks to the hopes and dreams of the “everyman,” punctuated by realistically hilarious interactions within impossible scenarios. Even today, 1999’s Being John Malkovich is hailed as one of the most compelling surrealist comedies of all time.
Pump Up The Volume (1990)
Before Empire Records, Dazed and Confused, and Almost Famous, there was 1990’s Pump Up The Volume. In this coming-of-age tale, a rebellious teenage misfit starts a pirate radio show in a small, conservative Arizona suburb.
As you might expect, the result is entertaining chaos. True to its rock-infused Gen X roots, Pump Up The Volume is also a deeply romantic flick, with a punk and alternative rock soundtrack that cements the film’s impossible coolness.
This is just a peek into the world of cult cinema. If you’re looking for worthwhile ways to pass the time this weekend, give these movies a try.