The Best Classic Cult Films That Shaped The Movie Industry

Cult classic films are those that have gained a dedicated following over time, often despite being initially overlooked or panned by critics. These movies have shaped the movie industry, defying genre conventions and leaving an indelible mark on pop culture. 

From the iconic to the underrated, these influential films have become timeless classics that continue to resonate with fans today. In this article, we'll explore the top must-see cult films that everyone should watch, whether you're a die-hard movie buff or simply looking to expand your cinematic horizons.

1. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show Tim Curry, Nell Campbell, Patricia Quinn
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

A young couple stumbles upon a castle owned by a transvestite doctor who is hosting a convention of guests from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania.

2. Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner (1982)
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

In a dystopian future, a retired cop is hired to track down and eliminate four genetically engineered “replicants” who have hijacked a ship and returned to Earth seeking their creator.

3. The Big Lebowski (1998)

The Big Lebowski Jeff Bridges
Image Credit: Gramercy Pictures.

Jeff Lebowski, an unemployed slacker, becomes embroiled in a kidnapping plot after being mistaken for another man with the same name.

4. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Image Credit: EMI Films.

King Arthur and his knights embark on a quest to find the Holy Grail, encountering a series of absurd obstacles along the way.

5. The Princess Bride (1987)

The Princess Bride Cary Elwes, André René Roussimoff, Mandy Patinkin
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox and Interaccess Film Distribution.

A young woman is kidnapped by an evil prince, and her childhood sweetheart must rescue her with the help of a swashbuckling hero and a trio of eccentric allies.

6. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction
Image Credit: Miramax.

The lives of two hitmen, a gangster's wife, and a pair of armed robbers intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

7. The Room (2003)

The Room Juliette Danielle
Image Credit: Chloe Productions TPW Films.

A banker's fiancée betrays him with his best friend, leading to a downward spiral of jealousy, anger, and revenge.

8. The Evil Dead (1981)

Image from the movie Evil Dead
Image Credit: Renaissance Pictures.

Five college students unwittingly unleash a horde of demons while vacationing in a remote cabin in the woods.

9. Donnie Darko (2001)

Donnie Darko Jake Gyllenhaal
Image Credit: Newmarket Films.

A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a giant rabbit who tells him that the world will end in 28 days.

10. Clerks (1994)

Clerks Brian O'Halloran
Image Credit: Miramax Films.

A day in the life of two convenience store clerks who engage in various misadventures while trying to pass the time.

11. The Warriors (1979)

The Warriors
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

In a dystopian New York City, a gang leader is falsely accused of murder and must fight his way back to his home turf while being hunted by rival gangs and the police.

12. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

In a dystopian future, a violent young man undergoes an experimental therapy designed to “cure” him of his criminal tendencies.

13. Trainspotting (1996)

Image Credit: PolyGram Filmed Entertainment.

A group of heroin addicts navigates the seedy underworld of Edinburgh, Scotland, while grappling with addiction, withdrawal, and the consequences of their actions.

14. Harold and Maude (1971)

Harold and Maude Bud Cort, Ruth Gordon
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

A young man obsessed with death falls in love with an elderly woman who teaches him the value of life.

15. The Wicker Man (1973)

The Wicker Man
Image Credit: British Lion Films.

A devout Christian policeman travels to a remote Scottish island to investigate the disappearance of a young girl, only to discover a pagan cult with sinister intentions.

16. The Crow (1994)

The Crow
Image Credit: Miramax.

A musician is resurrected from the dead by a crow to seek vengeance against those who killed him and his fiancée.

17. Pink Flamingos (1972)

Pink Flamingos, David Lochary, Dreamland Productions
Image Credit: Dreamland Productions.

A notorious criminal and her family compete with a couple who pride themselves on being the “filthiest people alive” for the title of the most disgusting people in the world.

18. Repo Man (1984)

Repo Man Emilio Estevez, Zander Schloss
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

A young punk becomes a repo man and gets caught up in a wild adventure involving stolen cars, aliens, and a top-secret government conspiracy.

19. Escape from New York (1981)

Escape From New York Lionsgate 2
Image Credit: Lionsgate

In a dystopian future, Manhattan Island has been turned into a maximum-security prison, and a disgraced former soldier is sent in to rescue the President from the inmates.

20. The Rocky Saga (1976-2006)

Rocky IV, Sylvester Stallone, Tony Burton, Burt Young
Image Credit: MGM/UA Entertainment Co.

The Rocky Saga consists of six films that follow the journey of Rocky Balboa, an underdog boxer from Philadelphia, as he fights for his dreams and overcomes seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

21. Eraserhead (1977)

AFI Center for Advanced Studies.

A young man's life is turned upside down when he discovers that he has fathered a deformed, premature baby.

22. El Topo (1970)

El Topo
Image Credit: Douglas Music Films.

A mysterious gunslinger embarks on a surreal, spiritual journey through the desert, encountering a variety of strange characters along the way.

23. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Night of the Living Dead Judith O'Dea, Russell Streiner
Image Credit: Continental Distributing.

A group of people barricades themselves inside a farmhouse to fend off hordes of flesh-eating zombies.

24. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Image Credit: Bryanston Distributing Company.

A group of friends traveling through rural Texas fall victim to a family of cannibals and their chainsaw-wielding leader.

25. Halloween (1978)

Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis
Image Credit: Compass International Pictures and Aquarius Releasing.

A psychotic murderer escapes from a mental institution and returns to his hometown to stalk and kill teenage babysitters on Halloween night.

26. The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

When a young girl is possessed by a demonic entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to perform an exorcism and save her daughter's soul.

27. Taxi Driver (1976)

You Talking to Me- Taxi Driver (1976)
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

A mentally unstable Vietnam War veteran works as a taxi driver in New York City, and his encounters with the city's seedy underbelly push him to the brink of insanity.

28. Apocalypse Now (1979)

Apocalypse Now Martin Sheen
Image Credit: United Artists.

During the Vietnam War, a U.S. Army captain is sent on a mission to assassinate a rogue colonel who has gone insane and is leading his own army deep into the Cambodian jungle.

29. Nosferatu (1922)

Nosferatu (1922)
Image Credit: Film Arts Guild.

In this classic silent film, a vampire named Count Orlok attempts to establish a new residence in the town of Wisborg, but his presence proves deadly for the locals.

30. Metropolis (1927)

Image Credit: UFA GmbH.

In a dystopian future where society is divided into two classes, a privileged young man falls in love with a woman from the lower class, and together they uncover a dark conspiracy that threatens to destroy their world.

31. Freaks (1932)

Freaks (1932)
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

A group of sideshow performers seeks revenge against a trapeze artist who has betrayed one of their own.

32. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Image Credit: Goldwyn Distributing Company.

In this classic silent film, a hypnotist uses a somnambulist to commit a series of murders, leading to a shocking twist ending.

33. City of God (2002)

City of God
Image Credit: Miramax.

Based on true events, this Brazilian crime drama depicts the brutal gang warfare that ravaged the titular City of God favela in the 1970s.

34. Mulholland Drive (2001)

Mulholland Drive Laura Harring, Naomi Watts
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

A woman with amnesia teams up with a young actress to solve a series of bizarre and interconnected mysteries in Hollywood.

35. The Big Sleep (1946)

The Big Sleep
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a wealthy family to investigate a blackmail case that turns into a complex web of murder and deceit.

36. The Maltese Falcon (1941)

The Maltese Falcon Humphrey Bogart
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Private investigator Sam Spade gets entangled in a deadly hunt for a valuable statue known as the Maltese Falcon in this classic film noir.

37. The Third Man (1949)

The Third Man Orson Welles
Image Credit: Selznick Releasing Organization.

American writer Holly Martins travels to post-war Vienna to investigate the death of his friend Harry Lime and gets caught up in a dangerous conspiracy involving black marketeering and murder.

38. Casablanca (1942)

Here's Looking at You, Kid.- Casablanca (1942)
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Set in World War II-era Morocco, a cynical American expatriate encounters a former lover and becomes embroiled in a dangerous game of espionage and romance.

39. Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Sunset Boulevard
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

A struggling screenwriter becomes involved with a faded silent film star who dreams of a comeback in this Hollywood classic.

40. Citizen Kane (1941)

Citizen Kane
Image Credit: RKO Pictures.

The life and career of a wealthy newspaper magnate are explored in this innovative and influential drama, widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made.

41. Rear Window (1954)

rear window
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

Wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors and becomes convinced that one of them has committed murder in this iconic Hitchcock thriller.

42. Some Like It Hot (1959)

Some Like It Hot
Image Credit: United Artists.

Two musicians disguise themselves as women to join an all-female band in this classic comedy, but complications arise when they both fall for the band's lead singer, played by Marilyn Monroe.

43. The Graduate (1967)

The Graduate Dustin Hoffman
Image Credit: United Artists.

Recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson, and falls in love with her daughter in this iconic coming-of-age film.

44. Easy Rider (1969)

Easy Rider Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Two bikers travel from Los Angeles to New Orleans in search of freedom and encounter hostility and violence along the way in this landmark counterculture film.

45. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

Bonnie and Clyde Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway
Image Credit: Warner Bros.-Seven Arts Inc.

The infamous bank-robbing duo of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow become legendary criminals in Depression-era America in this groundbreaking film that helped redefine Hollywood storytelling.

46. The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather Marlon Brando, Salvatore Corsitto
Image Credit Paramount Pictures.

The patriarch of a powerful mafia family transfers control of his empire to his reluctant son in this epic crime drama, widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made.

47. Jaws (1975)

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

A police chief, a marine biologist, and a professional shark hunter team up to hunt down a great white shark that's terrorizing a New England beach community in this blockbuster hit that set the standard for modern summer blockbusters.

48. Star Wars (1977)

Alec Guinness in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
Image Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

A young farm boy named Luke Skywalker teams up with a rogue smuggler and a wise old Jedi knight to rescue a princess and save the galaxy from the evil Empire in this groundbreaking sci-fi epic that launched a global phenomenon.

49. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Harrison Ford
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Archaeologist Indiana Jones races against agents to find the mythical Ark of the Covenant in this iconic adventure film that combines thrilling action with classic Hollywood storytelling.

50. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Image Credit : Universal Pictures.

A young boy befriends an alien stranded on Earth and helps him return to his home planet in this heartwarming classic that has captured the imaginations of audiences for generations.