Cult Comedies Come In All Colors

The identifying of a cult film is a very unique thing in the film industry. Cult films are not unique to any one genre and can not be identified upon immediate release, it takes time and a sense of how an audience reacts to the film. There is no set of guidelines as to what makes a film a cult classic or just a cult film in general. Cult film can be highly critically acclaimed and can be some of the worst movies ever released. They can be quite popular and extremely rare and even not available for viewing except rarely on minor television stations and strange hours. It seems to be that the only common thread  amongst cult films is that viewers either absolutely revere the film in high esteem or simply don’t understand it and therefore do not enjoy it.

With all this in mind, while looking through a book of the 500 best cult films I discovered that cult films or films that are sometimes labeled as cult films will always get film enthusiast talking and debating. It is with these thoughts and “guidelines” of sorts that we decided to create the list below and a few more to come of different fields of film and the ones that are considered cult films and how we rank them as best movies, not necessarily most popular of cult films.

To begin this series of lists, we will strictly focus on cult comedies and will rank the best this genre produced in the area of cult films. This is likely to be highly debatable and we welcome all thoughts good and bad. One thing is certain of cult films we have noticed, everyone has at least one they love.

10. Slap Shot

Director George Roy Hill is often credited with creating one of the most memorable and most enjoyed acting duos ever when he cast Paul Newman and Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. He brought them together again in the Oscar winning movie, The Sting. Four years after The Sting Hill would team up with Newman again, this time without Redford. The result was not only the greatest hockey movie ever, but one of the greatest sports movies ever.

Newman plays Reggie Dunlop, an aging player/coach on a failing team in a town that is about to go under with it. Dunlop begins turning the team and it’s attendance around with some unusual players and style that not only translates to wins on the ice but quite a few teeth as well.

With Newman displaying his extremely underrated comedic skills, Slap Shot delivers memorable scenes and lines that will leave you in tears with laughter. So why is it a cult comedy classic? There are a few reasons one of which is the fact that it’s about hockey. Hockey is the least popular of the major sports therefore some people just don’t get the humor.

9. Pink Flamingos

It’s not a coincidence that some directors, writers and producers, make several cult films. Their styles tend to find a very small niche audience, but their fans can be the most loyal in cinema. King of all these is John Waters. Waters has long since been revered as the ultimate cult filmmaker.

Pink Flamingos is the film that made Waters the director he is while using his muse, the original famous drag queen, Divine. In Pink Flamingos, Divine declares herself the filthiest person alive. Divine escapes to the suburbs while the ones wanting to take her spot as the filthiest person alive, go on a criminal war path that includes dealing heroin to school children.

One of the darkest comedies of all time and truly bizarre plot lines make Pink Flamingos to strangest and possibly the most vile film on our list. One thing is certain, John Waters fan’s swear by what could be called the original cult comedy.

8. Heathers

Despite being a cult comedy and one not as many people have seen as should see it, Heathers made a star out of Winona Ryder. With a common theme in cult comedies is that they tend to be on the dark to even black side. Heathers is no different. The story of a girl who wants to be part of the popular clique until she meets a fellow outcast in Christian Slater, who was at the peak of his teen idol days. The two team up and eventually end up killing off the popular students.

With several wannabe films to follow of the years like, Jawbreaker and Mean Girls,  Heathers proves to be the original and some say the anti-Hughes teen movie. It doesn’t wrap up neatly at the end or bring everyone together. It is dark slant on high school cruelty and life but it’s not something every outcast hasn’t wanted to do to at least one classmate.

7. Clerks

Clerks is the ultimate low budget comedy. Shot in black and white with great dialogue that truly has an authentic feel as to what most friends talk like in language and pace. While it’s a movie with flaws it made Kevin Smith an indie film icon. Smith has since seemed to fall from that status but clerks remains the feather in his cap.

The story of a convenient store clerk and his best friend it follows there night at the store one night with different conversations and different visitors including the infamous characters, Jay and Silent Bob. It has become a calling card film for several generation Xer’s. It is a movie with dialogue that will offend some and others will feel like they are watching themselves.

6. Bottle Rocket

Three huge careers were launched with Bottle Rocket. Wes Anderson made his debut as director and it’s two lead actors Luke and Owen Wilson made a near perfect film. Wes Anderson laid down the blueprint for the style of all his future films and won over critics widely while many audiences didn’t get the film (a definition of a cult film). It has it’s loyal following.

The story of a man whose dreams are to be revered by the criminal underworld and enlists his friend to help him become a master criminal. A series of events make him out to be nothing more than a bumbling small time crook.

With his signature dialogue and subtleness, Wes Anderson crafted one of the best debut features of the last 35 years. Luke and Owen Wilson played off each other perfectly to give the film the dynamic it needed.

5. Little Shop Of Horrors

Roger Corman is indisputably the king of all B movies and Little Shop is arguably his most popular or at least most notorious film. Probably most known for having an extremely fresh faced Jack Nicholson in 1960 make a small appearance.

The story of a flower shop worker who breads a deadly combination of plants that desire the taste of human flesh. A series of terror and comedy takes place under the unbelievable thought of attacking plants being so unstoppable.

It’s more well known for the 1986 remake starring Rick Moranis which is a bit of a cult film itself, we chose the original based on Corman as director and the fact that without the original there is no remake.

4. Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb

Once again we come across a director who defines cult film with his entire library of films. Stanley Kubrick may be the most respected and critical favorite among not only cult films and film makers but among directors in general.

One of the best satiric movies ever made, Kubrick’s biting humor along side the best performance in Peter Sellers brilliant comedic career. It has all the elements of not just a cult comedy but a cult classic. With great one liners and an absolutely insane plot lines. Taking a huge risk to release it during the time in American history when it was just part of what made Kubrick a maverick in the film making community. A film that has stood the test of time and can prove to be relevant at any time in the future.

This film could be talked about for pages and hours but one thing remains, that is it is a comedic and film classic that is a flat out brilliant movie.

3. This Is Spinal Tap

Creating a new style of film making with the faux documentary, Rob Reiner managed to fool audiences into thinking Spinal Tap was a real band.

The story of a film maker following around the “legendary” heavy metal group, Spinal Tap to find they have fallen into oblivion. Expertly written by Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Rob Reiner, Spinal Tap has truly fallen into the annals of legendary films with some of the most memorable scenes in comedy period.

When it comes to Spinal Tap every fan has a favorite scene and every movie goers know that you always “turn it up to 11”.

2. Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror is recognized as the cult film that first had a rabid following of hardcore fans. Dressing up as characters and acting out scenes at the now legendary, late night screenings. It’s mixture of sci-fi, horror, musical and comedy it may be the strangest film on the list and people really either worship this movie or would just as soon never be reminded of it again.

The story is that of young straight laced couple who comes across a castle in the middle of a rain storm after the breakdown in their car. There they discover a most unusual group of people lead by a transvestite played by Tim Curry.

The only way to really view the film and attempt to understand it is to attend a midnight viewing and see the obsession that has over taken its fans. Only there can people really begin to understand Rocky Horror and cult film in general.

1. The Big Lebowski

For every one Rocky Horror obsessed fan you can find 5 who live by The Big Lebowski. The Coen brothers follow up to their breakout Fargo, Lebowski brought them right back to their roots of off beat comedy. With absolutely perfect performances from Jeff Bridges and John Goodman, Lebowski has plethora of quotable lines.

The story is one of mistaken identity that drags an easy going stoner into a world of kidnapping and extortion. Assisted by his best friend Walter, The Dude embarks on a series of misadventures stressing him out beyond his comfort zone.

Lebowski has as loyal a following as any film or political party you will find. To understand peoples love of the film you only need attend Lebowski Fest. A traveling festival that is a 3 night event where actors from the film show up to greet fans and watch the movie on opening night and the highlight is the costume bowling night complete with oat sodas and white russians.

Lebowski’s a near perfect script that people either love or loath and fans of the Coen brothers consider their crown jewel.

Thats our list let the debating begin. Marc it Dude!

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35 thoughts on “Cult Comedies Come In All Colors”

  1. I suppose we aren’t counting unintentional comedies? Heh…

    Remember, audiences create cults, not the filmmakers or book writers.
    Defining it seems to be hard to do… Star Wars is one of the most popular films out there, but can you consider it a cult film, too? It’s got a highly-devoted and specific fan base… People that dress up and go to conventions and shit… Or how about Star Trek? Same deal? I dunno. It’s a long debate.

    The thing that always gets me about cult comedies that they’re never straight up comedies. They’re always mashed in with something else…

    Like…

    Harold and Maude (1971)
    Office Space (1999) (might be the only straight up comedy on this list)
    Idiocracy (2006)
    Big Trouble in Little China (1986) (most of Carpenter’s films ended up with huge cult followings)
    Spaceballs (1987)
    Brazil (1985)
    Repo Man (1984)
    Withnail and I (1987)
    Down by Law (1986)
    Death Race 2000 (1975)
    Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) / Life of Brian (1979)
    Re-Animator (1985)

    1. I did mention how the audience reaction is what helps make a cult film and didn’t suggest that anyone sets out to make a cult film just that certain fil makers tend to have a cult following therefore having several cult films in their career

      1. I know that. I was making a point: that we use the term “cult film” freely, but when you think about it, it’s pretty hard to define what actually constitutes as a cult film. If audiences create the cult, how do we define “who” or “what” the audience is? Number of fan sites? Do they meet up every year? Are there conventions? Etc.

      2. Thats very true. I tend to pick the films on both ends of the audience, those that love it and those that either hate it or just don’t get it.

  2. Rocky Horror – watch it every year at Halloween. Great choice.

    You could have also put Clue in there as well.

    Nice post.

  3. Great list! While walking through the village a couple summers ago I was surprise to find there was (and possibly still is) a store dedicated to selling Lebowski merchandise. T-shirts, toys, photos, magnets, etc etc. Everything Lebowski! It was truly awesome.

  4. nice picks figured rocky horror and pink flamigos would be on the list for those two are really what cult classic is really about and corman kind of hard to pick just one of his films. since he is the king of cult.. plus the fact that most of these films did not do box office gold.

  5. Now thats a good top ten. Not sure if I would go with that exact order other than Lebowski at #1 🙂

    I have yet to see pink flamingos :-/

  6. Exceptional List, Fo SHO!
    I Have The Oddly Proud Statement To Make Of… “I Own Most Of Those!” hehehe
    Dr. Strangelove AND The Big Lebowski Would Be #1 and #2 On My List, Without Hesitation.
    =)
    -BRAD

    1. A lot of unusual pop culture phenomenons started in the ’60’s in fact it may be the birth of pop culture. It was the start of when going against the grain was interesting and accepted. It was ok to try to be different but people weren’t into you because u were avant-garde they were into things because they just liked them. Today trying to be against the grain is main stream.

  7. Proving your point, I’ve only seen about half these. (But the list sounds great). Loved Spinal Tap (and much of Christopher Guest’s work). Rocky Horror is fun and Clerks funny (and, yeah, I worked in a convenience store and my husband’s from Jersey :-)). I’ll have to give Heathers another try. I can barely remember it. Loved your other commenter’s suggestion to include Office Space. Hilarious movie! I can’t say how many times I watched it (or parts of it).

  8. I have seen your ten choices and somehow I love five of them and hate the other five. Here are my ten:
    10. Heathers
    9. Taxi Driver
    8. Bottle Rocket
    7. Office Space
    6. Brazil
    5. Clerks
    4. Dr. Strangelove
    3. Fight Club
    2. The Big Lebowski
    1. Reservoir Dogs
    But hey, what do I know!

    1. That’s a great list except taxi driver fight club and reservoir dogs aren’t really comedies at all.

      1. I realize that these aren’t the typical comedies but somehow it’s these dark movies with disturbing characters that tends to make me laugh the most.

      2. Not to be argumentative but there is nothing comical about taxi driver and a few humorous moments in the other two do not a comedy make. Reservoir dogs is also more of just n indie icon rather than a cult comedy as in there is nothing avant-garde about it. It’s a cops n robbers movie nothing more

  9. Nice list. The BL maybe the best comedy of all time in my opinion. I would also throw in AnchorMan/Step Brothers, before FX played them every night. Or you keep it old school with Dead Man On Campus perhaps. All the comments are solid and strong movies to be sure. The Dude Abides;)

  10. Hi! I’m the writer of The Buzz About Movies (the blog u check out)! U have a great blog! Keep it up!

    My Top 10 Comedies:

    1. The Artist
    2. Cars 2
    3. Men in Black 3
    4. The Spy Next Door
    5. Kung Fu Panda 2
    6. We Bought a Zoo
    7. Rio
    8. Men in Black
    9. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
    10. The Princess Diaries

    ALSO LIKE:

    While You Were Sleeping
    Spy Kids
    Megamind
    Princess Diaries 2
    Home Alone 2
    Bringing Up Baby
    Christmas in Connecticut
    The Circus
    Ever After
    Tangled
    Princess and the Frog
    Madagascar
    Dolphin Tale

    1. Thanks for the compliment! Not sure you followed what my article was about but thank you for your list. I hope you keep reading and enjoying our content

  11. I`m a big Wes Anderson fan, but I haven`t had access to Bottle Rocket. My Coen bros. cult film is most definitely Raising Arizona, it works on so many levels and resonates in my life in reasons that only through therapy I managed to understand. A great cult comedy that I recommend: The Sandlot. Before I sign off: I saw Hesher last night, a dark comedy with very tender moments, that I suspect will have a cult following in the future.

  12. Fastidious answer back in return of this matter with
    firm arguments and telling all about that.

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