Top 10 Cult Classic Sci-Fi Movies

Written by Joe Jatcko The weirder the better. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 cult classics – category: science fiction. For this list, we’re focusing on sci-fi films that were mostly under-appreciated by audiences or critics upon their initial release but have since gained a large and dedicated following. Special thanks to our users Scotty Arbour, Brian Fenton, mezipe64, Max Holland and Jared Czitron for submitting the idea through our Suggestions Tool at WatchMojo.comSuggest
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Written by Joe Jatcko

Top 10 Cult Classic Sci-Fi Movies


The weirder the better. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 cult classics – category: science fiction.

For this list, we’re focusing on sci-fi films that were mostly under-appreciated by audiences or critics upon their initial release but have since gained a large and dedicated following.

#10: “Flash Gordon” (1980)

While it’s worthy of recognition for its epic Queen soundtrack alone, this adaptation of the classic comic book hero has everything: mad scientists, tyrannical galactic emperors, Robin Hood-esque woodsmen, bird people, helmets with built-in sideburn protectors, sexy pillow fights, and really much more weird stuff than we could fit in this list.

#9: “12 Monkeys” (1995)

This Terry Gilliam film finds Bruce Willis traveling back in time—leading those he runs into to think he’s a mental patient—and along the way he meets an actual mental patient, played by Brad Pitt, who just may be the man who kills off the majority of the human race…in the future. Make sense? Don’t worry; it all comes together in one of the more thrilling and beautiful endings in any film.

#8: “Dark Star” (1974)

From deflatable aliens to a talking bomb contemplating its own existence, the crew of the Dark Star has a lot on their plates. Fortunately, crewmembers Doolittle, Boiler, Pinback and Talby are…almost…up to the task. Essentially an ambitious student film from future sci-fi titans John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon, this movie was expanded and released to the public. While its zany antics may have left audiences confused, they also defined it as a true trailblazer, inspiring the likes of Red Dwarf.

#7: “Repo Man” (1984)

Think your job is weird? Stuck in a state of early 20s malaise, Emilio Estevez’s Otto finds his life changed forever when he realizes his true calling: to become a repo man. We follow Otto and his mentor Bud—played by a top-of-his-game Harry Dean Stanton—as they navigate the dark underbelly of a present-day dystopia. Filled with some of the most original characters of all time, ultra-quotable dialogue, and mesmerizing effects, Repo Man is a low-budget, anti-establishment masterwork.

#6: “Plan 9 from Outer Space” (1959)

From the set of a cockpit, which is clearly just a room with a curtain hung over the door, to UFOs suspended by visible string, B-movie icon Ed Wood’s tale of alien-controlled zombies is widely considered one of—if not the—worst movie ever made. But, perhaps it is the sheer confidence with which Wood directs his nonsensical script that gives it its charm – and a cult legacy that’s lasted to this day.

#5: “Brazil” (1985)

The great thing about science fiction is that it gives us brief glimpses into the future. While these glimpses usually focus on the laser gun and jet pack side of things, this Terry Gilliam masterpiece asks us to consider something entirely different: the paperwork. In a future where bureaucracy reigns, even getting your furnace fixed is an act of treason. The film’s endless detail, staggering sets and surreal storyline have all made it a timeless treasure.

#4: “Donnie Darko” (2001)

High school is a confusing time for everyone. Particularly when your closest friend is a seven-foot-tall maniacal bunny…who…uh…tells you to burn things [to the ground]. However, this is the least of Donnie’s problems when he realizes he’s become part of an alternate reality that is more than likely caving in on itself. And you thought high school was rough on you.

#3: “A Clockwork Orange” (1971)

Based on the chilling Anthony Burgess novel, Stanley Kubrick’s twisted vision of a future society run amok is still as shocking today as it was upon its release. After a milk-fueled crime-spree and betrayal at the hands of his fellow Droogs, Alex DeLarge is rehabilitated to the point where he becomes viciously ill in the face of violence and sex, begging the question: which version of Alex is more disturbing?

#2: “Dark City” (1998)

Released to quiet praise in 1998, Alex Proyas’ nightmarish neo-noir has grown steadily in popularity ever since. A mix of classic film motifs, the movie finds a man, John Murdoch, at the center of a murder conspiracy—and that’s not even the worst of it. Turns out he’s only part of a huge alien experiment carried out by trench-coated visitors from another planet. Its striking visuals and timeless feel have made it particularly popular with film buffs.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Barbarella” (1968)
- “Death Race 2000” (1975)
- “The Toxic Avenger” (1984)
- “Time Bandits” (1981)
- “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” (1984)

#1: “Blade Runner” (1982)

Though now widely considered one of the greatest science fiction movies of all time, this iconic Ridley Scott film was initially a box office bomb. But, from a difficult, soggy production, and several re-releases rose a subtly beautiful vision of a future where conscious androids—known as replicants—walk among us. Tasked with identifying and capturing them, Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard falls in love with one, causing him to re-evaluate his conception of what it is to be human.

Do you agree with our list? What under-appreciated sci-fi flicks do you hold dear? For more entertaining top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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