10 Films Destined For Cult Status

“Beyond The Black Rainbow” is a trippy, retro horror that pays homage to body horror classics and the joys of the video store era.

Cult movies rose as a phenomenon in the 1970s, thanks to the likes of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “El Topo” (1970) and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975). A general cultural shift, too, in assessing the value of motion pictures ensured that certain movies picked up devout followers, and it didn’t matter if critics or the general audience did not appreciate them so much.

Cult films can be anything: from low-budget dramas to Hollywood blockbusters. They don’t have to be seen as critical or commercial failures first time round, either. Here’s a selection of ten recent movies you can bet your bottom dollar are destined for cult status.

Top: “Beyond The Black Rainbow” is a trippy, retro horror that pays homage to body horror classics and the joys of the video store era.
spaceship unit on land , spaceship flying in Prometheus movie
Fans wanted more xenomorph-action, but they got Prometheus instead

Prometheus

First things first: “Prometheus” made a lot of money and a sequel has been ordered for release in March 2016. But, unlike “Alien” (1979), it is not universally loved. Those that embraced Ridley Scott’s return to sci-fi adore it with a passion. The haters wanted to blast it out of an airlock and into deepest outer space where no one can hear it scream.

mads mikkelsen in Valhalla Rising
Mads Mikkelsen plays the mysterious One Eye in “Valhalla Rising.”

Valhalla Rising

The term “bone-crunching” is often used to express a movie’s uncompromising attitude to screen violence. However, in “Valhalla Rising,” you can actually hear bones crunching–and snapping! The vivid sound design used in Nicolas Winding Refn’s mystical Viking drama is spectacularly icky. Lovely stuff! Watch “Valhalla Rising” with your TV cranked up to full blast.

Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton in only lovers left alive
Jarmusch takes back vampires from the Twilight crowd.

Only Lovers Left Alive

Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton star as the hippest undead bloodsuckers ever to grace the big screen. That’s an atomic fact. “Only Lovers Left Alive” is so achingly cool (in a good way) you’ll quite possibly want to be a vampire after seeing the movie and start collecting vintage guitars and calling everything you hate “zombie shit.”

girl hugging actor niels schneider in you and the night
It’s a thin line between sexy and sleazy in “You and the Night.”

You and the Night

Starring former Man Utd legend Eric Cantona, as a melancholic poet “cursed” with a huge penis, the son of Alain Delon and the iconic Beatrice Dalle, in a truly demented cameo, plus a gorgeous score by electro dancesmiths M83, and “You and the Night” is a keeper. Inspired by 1970s erotic and trash cinema (think: Jean Rollin and Jess Franco), Yann Gonzalez’s debut is both sexy and sleazy.

jean-claude van damme in Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, face painted white and green
This film has no right to be so good.

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

How on earth did a direct-to-DVD entry in the “Universal Soldier” series end up being so damn good? Imagine if Gaspar Noé had directed “The Expendables.” Can you picture, in your mind, what that would look like? Cool, right? I renamed John Hyam’s sterling actioner “Enter the Droid.”

beyond the black rainbow
Panos Cosmatos’ Canadian sci-fi flick is a hidden gem. Seek it out.

Beyond The Black Rainbow

Panos Cosmatos’ “Beyond The Black Rainbow” already has a cultish following among film critics. So, it’s only right that we spread the word and help others appreciate this most excellent retro sci-fi horror flick about a mad doctor obsessed with a female psychic patient, who he keeps locked in a brightly-lit room and subjects to endless therapy sessions.

tonto with horse silver in the lone ranger
Paints a portrait of the romantic Old West for the sham it was.

The Lone Ranger

Here’s the thing about Gore Verbinski’s “The Lone Ranger”—it was totally awesome, but marketed all wrong. Subversive and surreal, with a breathtaking third act chase scene, “The Lone Ranger’s” reputation will grow in the years to come (a bit like that other mega-budget western that took a graceless belly dive at the global box-office—“Heaven’s Gate”). Trust me “The Lone Ranger” is fantastic picture.

three guys at a bar, with red light, cheap thrills
Imagine Michael Haneke hitting tequila slammers and smoking a bong. That’s what “Cheap Thrills” is like.

Cheap Thrills

Two schmucks (played by Pat Healy and Ethan Embry) are incentivised with a fistful of Benjamins to hurt themselves for rich folks’ pleasure via a series of ever-increasing practical jokes and challenges. Of course, it all turns sinister and increasingly shocking. “Cheap Thrills,” for the sake of an ironically clichéd sound bite, is Michael Haneke meets mumblegore.

mister john movie, man by lake
Like “Eyes Wide Shut,” but shorter and a better film.

Mister John

The term “Lynchian” has replaced “Kafkaesque” to describe the nightmarish and peculiar. “Mister John” sees Gerry (Aidan Gillen) venture to the Far East for his ex-pat brother’s funeral. Made to walk around in the dead man’s shoes (and clothes), it’s like he stepped off the plane and straight into a Freudian dream. Gillen is exceptional in the lead role.

Ryan Gosling by The Place Beyond The Pines
Ryan Gosling was the poster boy for the movie, but Bradley Cooper knocks it out the park.

The Place Beyond The Pines

Why are movies beat down by critics with the “too ambitious” stick? As if being ambitious with your second feature film is a bad thing?! Actually, the less you know about Derek Cianfrance’s remarkable “The Place Beyond The Pines” the better. A moving and gorgeously shot tale set in small-town America (that’s all I’ll say), the film marks what is easily Bradley Cooper’s finest screen performance to date.

Images © respective film studios
Martyn Conterio

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Martyn is based in London, England and writes about movies. He has had work published by Little White Lies, The Guardian, Total Film, Grolsch Film Works, Rue Morgue and other quality publications and websites. He is the author of a monograph on Mario Bava’s classic horror film, “Black Sunday.”

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April 29, 2014 Cinema Special Feature