Top 10 Cult Classics: Horror

Script written by Max Lett. Like to be scared, but don’t want to be too mainstream about it? In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 cult classics – category: horror. For this list, we’ve picked our favorite horror flicks that were not necessarily successful at the box-office, but which gathered sizeable followings over the years. That means movies that made a respectable amount of money in theatres do not qualify. Special thanks to our users JakeMaringoni, Mattyhull1, Aidan Poliwrath Mason, Draco9904, Rune Maxwell, Norris Vaughn, sarahjessicaparkerth, dragonson04, Aidan McVan, tom dray, MichaelMaikeru64, Matias Herajärvi and Joe Hall for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Max Lett.

Top 10 Cult Classics: Horror


Like to be scared, but don’t want to be too mainstream about it? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 cult classics – category: horror.

For this list, we’ve picked our favorite horror flicks that were not necessarily successful at the box-office, but which gathered sizeable followings over the years. That means movies that made a respectable amount of money in theatres do not qualify.

#10: “Videodrome” (1983)

David Cronenberg films often find their way into cult culture, but this ‘80s sci-fi thriller is one of his weirdest. Max Renn is a TV exec who starts airing a show that depicts horrible acts of torture. What follows is a series of increasingly weird scenarios in which Max develops a brain tumor, grows a VCR in his abdomen and shoots cancer from a gun. If that’s not enough to ensure “Videodrome”’s cult status, actors like James Woods and Blondie singer Debbie Harry seal the deal.

#9: “Cube” (1997)

A cult classic so popular it led to sequel and a prequel, this perplexing film about strangers trapped in a giant booby-trapped cube split critics. As with most cult films, the acting and script weren’t its strongest assets, but director Vincenzo Natali creates a hypnotizing thriller that never breaks tension. But let’s face it, cult audiences ain’t watching this one for the turmoil between the characters; they’re more interested in pure, unadulterated gore – and “Cube” doesn’t disappoint.

#8: “Scanners” (1981)

Drawing from the period-specific obsession with psychic phenomena, “Scanners” has all the hallmarks of a b-movie romp, and director David Cronenberg ramps up the gore with above-average effects and head-splitting scenes. Yes, mainstream audiences may know it best as “that movie where the guy’s head explodes,” but cult fans appreciate it as a thrilling film with enough meat to spawn sequels and spinoffs. Also, gotta love that gore.

#7: “The Hills Have Eyes” (1977)

Incestuous cannibals strike a chord of fear in the human psyche, even though they rarely get their time to shine as horror movie villains. Following the traditional horror flick setup, the Carter family is vacationing across America. One night they stop in the midst of a barren desert and are ambushed by a freakishly disfigured clan of hillbillies. Classic terror ensues. With its imaginative and funny elements making it stand out among its horror peers, “The Hills Have Eyes” is a cult classic.

#6: “They Live” (1988)

Whether chewing bubblegum or kicking ass, this ‘80s sci-fi horror comedy delivers all-out action and alien invasion goodness – with a wrestler thrown in for good measure. Produced on a low budget like many John Carpenter films, “They Live” has garnered a healthy cult following for its engaging story and perfect blend of horror and comedy. Made when the fear of government intrusion was at an all-time high, this movie doubles as an interesting commentary on American politics – even today.

#5: “Dead Alive” (1992)

Peter Jackson’s directing career was catapulted by this feature-length tribute to blood, guts and ghastly gore – yes, “The Lord of the Rings”’ Peter Jackson. Known as “Braindead” in its native New Zealand, and produced for a comparatively low sum in contrast to other contemporary horror flicks, this cult classic offers impressive production values and satisfying b-movie gore. It’s also notable for its genuine comedic performances and no-holds barred action scenes – it’s tasteless, messy and awesome.

#4: “Re-Animator” (1985)

Loosely based on the work of cult horror author H.P. Lovecraft, “Re-Animator” tells the story of Herbert West and his trusty companion as they go about finding a cure for death. Wackier and somewhat more comedic in tone than its source material, this horror classic delves into Lovecraftian lore with ghoulish glee. The film’s impressive practical effects and hammy performances put it in the same category as the films we are about to list.

#3: “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974)

Produced on a shoestring budget, this cult classic became relatively successful at the box-office. Word-of-mouth got around and soon everyone was rushing to see the antics of Leather Face and his hillbilly family. Exploring the concepts of isolation, primal instincts and murder by power tools, Tobe Hooper’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” sets a precedent for the senseless slaying of sexy teens, and broke new ground much like George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” did before it.

#2: “The Thing” (1982)

Dark, brooding and tensely apocalyptic, this John Carpenter film about a murderous alien entity didn’t fare extremely well at the box-office when it was first released. That’s probably because it opened at roughly the same time as “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” and it offered a completely opposing and antagonistic portrayal of possible alien life. While that might have put off audiences, over time its following grew like a slow contagion thanks to home video, and it’s now considered a classic of horror cinema.

Before we let our top pick scare the bejesus out of us, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror” (1922)
- “House on Haunted Hill” (1959)
- “The Wicker Man” (1973)
- “The Haunting” (1963)

#1: “The Evil Dead” (1981)

Before his wildly popular “Spider-Man” trilogy, Sam Raimi was easily the king of cult filmmaking. After all, in his first foray into feature-length movies, he created “The Evil Dead.” That low-budget romp sees Bruce Campbell star as Ash, a man who finds himself in supernatural situations when he and some friends vacation in a remote cabin. You know the drill: demons and spirits and possessions – oh my! The film’s popularity led to two sequels and a remake, and a reputation as the daddy of all cult horror flicks.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite cult classic horror flick? For more terrifying top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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