The Absolute Ultimate Cult Movies List

There’s no single way to recognise or label a cult movie. A cult movie can be an older picture, a misunderstood movie or perhaps one that underperformed when released – or it can be none of those things. Making it onto any cult movies list is never easy nor predictable.

For whatever reason, these otherwise unique movies end up enduring themselves to people; people who would just as soon bore you to death about the complex misunderstood love story in Sharknado 5: Global Swarming.

Cult Movies List

So, we’ve decided to put together the ultimate cult movies list – so you don’t have to – starting with an absolute classic.

Donnie Darko


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Director: Richard Kelly

Released: 2001

This indie cult classic initially flopped when released in 2001 – like so many pictures on our cult movies list. Almost impossible to pin down, the movies teenage protagonist is a paranoid-schizophrenic who is haunted by Frank, a bloodcurdling bunny rabbit who ominously appears throughout the film. Oh, and Donnie also discovers time travel.

Simple, right?

Donnie Darko deliberately invites you to interpret it in such a weird way so as the movie means something completely unique to you.

Cult Movie Status: Donnie’s chilling imaginary friend-bunny rabbit Frank is the reason Donnie Darko makes it onto our cult movies list.



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Director: Guy Ritchie

Released: 2000

The ultimate quotable classic, Snatch makes it onto our cult movies list with good reason. Arguably Guy Ritchie’s last good movie, Snatch explores the dark London underworld and its hilariously seedy characters.

Although Snatch was well received when realised in 2000, over the years it has snowballed into the memorable cult classic that teenagers and dads love to quote.

Cult Movie Status: What makes Snatch an instant cult classic is the numerous quotable lines. Our favourite? “I’m sorry, I couldn’t get the bi-noc-u-lars out in time.”

A Clockwork Orange


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Director: Stanley Kubrick

Released: 1971

A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 dystopia crime movie adapted, produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on Anthony Burgess’s novel.

Described as ‘the quintessential cult classic’ by commentator Emma Guinness, A Clockwork Orange was banned in American upon its release due to its violent and sexually explicit content. That said, despite its reputation, the movie is not centred on debase and debauchery.

A Clockwork Orange makes it onto our cult movies list largely due to its unusual content and, ultimately, the poignant comment it makes about human nature and rehabilitation.

Cult Movie Status: The concluding scene in this movie makes it an absolute cult classic.

Pulp Fiction


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Director: Quentin Tarantino

Released: 1994

The king of cult; a man who could have an entire cult movies list dedicated to his work; Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is a cinematic masterpiece.

Instead, some would argue that Pulp Fiction owes a debt to the genre. The movie is extremely violent, it uses recognisable actors whose careers had stalled, and it looks back at older genres such as romance – all characteristics of many cult classics.

Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be right not to include Pulp Fiction on our cult movies list.

Cult Movie Status: It has to be Samuel L. Jackson’s epic monologue. Oh, and his wallet.

Fight Club


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Director: David Fincher

Released: 1999

We know we’re breaking the first and second rule of Fight Club here, but we couldn’t resist.

What makes Fight Club a cult hit is that it is subversive and stylish. The suggestion that people can find release and escape through violence while simultaneously opposing capitalism, is cult at its best.

Mix that together with a noir setting, stylish clothes and a narrative structure that’s neither linear nor chronological, and what you have is the makings of a cult classic.

Cult Movie Status: The repetition and variations of: “I am Jack’s…”

The Big Lebowski


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Director: Joel Coen

Released: 1998

The Big Lebowski was a disappointment upon its release and received mixed reviews at the time.

The Big Lebowski is not alone as a cult movie that plays with genre conventions, however, unlike some movies that subvert themes only to make them more subversive, The Big Lebowski, on the other hand, draws upon weed, missing toes, bowling and nihilistic Germans in order to make the movie seem noir.

People love The Big Lebowski because they love its characters; while no doubt odd, they provide an insight into a world that can feel boring.

Cult Movie Status: We mean, any movie that spans its own religion (Dudeism) has to make our cult movies list.

Tank Girl


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Director: Rachel Talalay

Released: 1995

Released in 1995, Tank Girl is a post-apocalyptic movie set in drought-ravaged Australia and sees the female protagonist take on an oppressive corporation called Water and Power. Weird, we know.

Despite the negative critical reception and it only recouping £6m of its £25m budget, Tank Girl has been cited as a cult comic-book movie, whilst it has also been noted for its progressive feminist themes.

A cult movie like no other, Tank Girl has anti-establishment tropes and is considered the ‘real’ feminist cult film.

Cult Movie Status: Tank Girl makes our cult movies list for being so progressive.



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Director: Franc Roddam

Released: 1979

Set against the backdrop of a burgeoning youth culture, Quadrophenia is a cult movie because it literally examines the idea of cult itself.

Quadrophenia stars phil Daniels as Jimmy, a young Mod who escapes his dead-end-job by dancing, partying, taking amphetamines and riding his scooter – pretty standard really.

A cult movie about a type of cult, Quadrophenia is a coming of age film with a dark twist.

Cult Movie Status: “I don’t wanna be the same as everybody else.”

The Rocky Horror Picture Show


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Director: Jim Sharman

Released: 1975

This absolutely absurd movie epitomises everything a cult movie should be.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show was too ridiculous and shocking to even be labelled as a cult movie – it became known as a midnight movie and it was, in every sense of the term.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show just had to be on our cult movies list.

And now, at Arthouse Hotel, you can book a stay in The Rocky Horror Show room here. This extravagant room echoes the movie in every way and is ideal for a weekend stay in Liverpool.



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Director: Anthony C. Ferrante

Released: 2013

Depending on how you look at it, Sharknado is either the best movie ever to grace the big screen or the worst.

2013’s Sharknado introduced the world to the nominal threat; a waterspout that sucks murderous man-eating sharks from the ocean and dumps them in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Times’ Mary McNamara recommended pairing the movie with “the consumption of many alcoholic beverages.”

What more could you want from a cult movie?

Cult Movie Status: Our cult movies list wouldn’t be complete without a movie that features a shark-versus-chainsaw scene now, would it.

Reservoir Dogs


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Director: Quentin Tarantino

Released: 1992

Here he is again with another cult movie hit, Quentin Tarantino and Reservoir Dogs.

A classic independent movie, Reservoir Dogs incorporates many tropes that have become Tarantino’s hallmarks, namely violent crime, pop culture references, profanity and nonlinear storytelling.

Featuring a myriad of alternative movie stars such as Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi and even Quentin Tarantino himself, Reservoir Dogs is deserving of a place on our cult movies list.

Cult Movie Status: The most famous opening credit sequence of all time.



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Director: Michael Mann

Released: 1996

Like Tarantino, Michael Mann features twice on our cult movies list – and for good reason.

Mann is a genre specialist and one whose eye, paired to a keen sense of theatre, has made his contributions to the cult scene somewhat vibrant. Described as a ‘masterpiece of modern cinema,’ Heat, staring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Val Kilmer, is just that – a masterpiece.

The explicit nature and minute detail of several of the film’s robbery scenes was cited as the model of a spate of robberies since its release.

Now how’s that for making an impact, albeit a negative one.

Cult Movie Status: It has to be the meeting between Pacino and De Niro: “Brother, you are going down.”

Blade Runner


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Director: Ridley Scott

Released: 1982

Employing the conventions of film noir, Blade Runner is the ultimate cult movie.

Blade Runner Portrays a dystopian future in which Los Angeles is an overcrowded city where rain constantly falls from the sky, skyscrapers reach the stratosphere and rich people are ensconced in pyramid-like buildings.

The biggest showpiece of the movie is the dark and mysterious universe created by the director, cinematographers and set designers – all of which make Blade Runner a cult classic.

Cult Movie Status: The fact that Blade Runner was set in 2019 says it all.

Napoleon Dynamite


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Director: Jared Hess

Released: 2004

This indie movie/comedy has been used to describe a whole phenomenon in which researchers fail to predict whether or not a particular viewer will like the film based on their tastes.

Basically, Napoleon Dynamite is an anomaly, making it the archetypal cult movie.

Cult Movie Status: Napoleon’s iconic dance routine to Jamiroquai’s ‘Canned Heart’ earns Napoleon Dynamite a place on our cult movie list.



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Director: Michael Mann

Released: 1986

Manhunter is better than Silence of the Lambs – fact.

Opening to mixed reviews, Manhunter fared poorly upon release, however, it has been reappraised in more recent years and now enjoys a more favourable reputation due to both the acting and stylised visuals and cinematography.

Any film which is supposedly driven by strong colour cues and the use of tints is an instant cult hit.

Cult Movie Status: Those colour cues and exotic settings – cult cinematography at its finest.

And so, that completes our cult movies list.

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