“Cult” films, also sometimes known as “midnight movies,” may or may not have achieved mainstream box-office or critical success, but they certainly do have their following. Midnight movies were played as inexpensive programming on network television, sometimes with hosts providing commentary, and in theaters after the main features. Cult films generally have relatively small but passionate fan bases who keep them alive and bring in new fans.
Some of the best-loved cult classics include:
Night of the Living Dead: This pushed the boundaries when it was released in 1968, and therefore it did not receive the recognition that fans and critics alike now acknowledge that it deserves. Loyal fans made sure that it was not forgotten, and today it has earned its place in film history (which some would argue makes it no longer a cult film).
Reefer Madness: This “educational” film is completely awful (and inaccurate) in a very compelling way. It’s become a cult classic because of this.
The Big Lebowski: Sometimes it’s hard to tell what will garner a loyal following. This movie didn’t make it big at the box office, but thanks to DVDs and digital streaming, it’s reached unprecedented popularity, including an annual Lebowski Fest and even a non-theistic religion, Dudeism, which bills itself as the world’s most laid-back religion.
Plan 9 From Outer Space: Critics and movie buffs agree that this just may be the worst movie ever made, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s become a cult classic that people love to hate.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: This movie shattered taboos of its time, which relegated it to midnight movie status; however, it’s become probably the cultiest of cult films. Audiences dress up as the characters, sing the songs and recite the dialogue along with the actors, and even throw toast at the screen.
The Toxic Avenger: This low-budget, poorly produced horror film developed such a loyal cult following that the studio switched from sex comedies to horror comedies in an attempt to recreate its success.