Top 10 Creepy Cults in Movies

Script written by Ryan Hechler. Sometimes, the admiration of a devoted group of followers can get a bit, well, excessive… Join as we count down our picks for the top 10 cults in movies. For this list, we’re only reviewing cults featured in cinema. While many of these groups only exist within their respective film’s universe, a few are actually based on real life cults. Be forewarned, there are some spoilers so SPOILER ALERT. Special thanks to our users DamonKBrown, Brogan Rees, tandee82 and troll for submitting the idea on our Suggest Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Ryan Hechler.

Top 10 Cults in Movies

Sometimes, the admiration of a devoted group of followers can get a bit, well, excessive… Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 cults in movies.

For this list, we’re only reviewing cults featured in cinema. While many of these groups only exist within their respective film’s universe, a few are actually based on real life cults. Be forewarned, there are some spoilers so SPOILER ALERT.

#10: Secret Philosophical Society
“Martyrs” (2008)

Led by a woman merely known as “Mademoiselle,” this unnamed cult features a group of alleged philosophers that are trying to understand the afterlife by forcing people into becoming martyrs. The secretive society selects young women as their potential martyrs and kidnaps them. Through methodical torture, they hope their subjects will give them an understanding of the hereafter. Consistently unsuccessful, the group is convinced that they have not yet produced a proper martyr and have labeled all of their dead subjects as “victims” – that is, until they find Anna.

#9: Eden Parish
“The Sacrament” (2013)

Eden Parish is a dystopian community based on the real-life Jonestown cult, also known as the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project. In this found footage film, a religious leader known simply as Father established it. Father’s followers are convinced that he saved them and obsessively venerate him. Meanwhile, armed guards keep outsiders away and deter dissenters from leaving. When an investigative news team comes to interview Father, they are covertly contacted by a group of dissidents that wants to leave due to systematic abuse they’ve suffered. A planned escape turns into a revolt, during which Father convinces most of his followers to drink a cyanide concoction, with armed guards executing those that refuse.

#8: Time Travel Cult
“Sound of My Voice” (2011)

A woman called Maggie claims to be from 2054 and leads the cult that’s the focus of this psychological thriller. Convincing her followers that the future is nothing but war and famine she asserts she time-traveled to prepare them for forthcoming struggles. Members greet each other with a convoluted handshake. Two independent investigators, Peter and Lorna, gain access to the cult. Peter falls for Maggie while the Justice Department taps Lorna for help. Things take a turn for the even stranger when Maggie convinces Peter to arrange a meeting with a girl named Abigail, who is supposedly Maggie’s mother and they perform the cult’s special handshake…

#7: Catskill Mountains Cult
“Martha Marcy May Marlene” (2011)

The mysterious Patrick leads this cult in New York’s Catskill Mountains. This group supposedly exists to achieve self-sustainability through communal farming, but in reality, it’s much more sinister than that... Protagonist Martha ventures into the Catskills and meets Patrick, who changes her name and eventually rapes her. After singing Jackson Frank’s “Marcy’s Song” to followers, he refers to Martha as Marcy May. It’s soon revealed Patrick rapes female followers, has all his female children and the occasional outsider killed, and followers use the alias “Marlene Lewis” when talking to outsiders.

#6: Freiburg Dance Academy
“Suspiria” (1977)

This dance academy in Freiburg, Germany is not a traditional arts institute… Peculiarly, many of its students are murdered, yet young aspiring dancers keep signing up to attend! Instructors Madame Blanc and Miss Tanner aren’t just dance teachers… they’re part of a larger coven, or group of witches, that serve under the watchful eye of the school’s supposedly dead founder, Helena Markos. But is she really dead? It’s only near the film’s end that protagonist Suzy, and audiences, find out the truth about this ballet school.

#5: The Islanders
“The Wicker Man” (1973; 2006)

The 1973 film takes place in the fictional Summerisle, Scotland, where the Islanders have reverted to worshipping ancient Celtic gods to ensure a profitable harvest. Due to a recent harvest failure, locals trick investigator Sergeant Howie into looking for a missing girl, only to sacrifice him during a May Day celebration to improve their next harvest! In the poorly received 2006 remake, the location was moved to a mysterious island off Washington’s coast, and while the only reference to the original location is found in the community leader’s name, Sister SummersIsle, this pagan cult is still terrifying and memorable either way.

#4: Children of the Corn
“Children of the Corn” (1984)

This agrarian youth cult secretly exists in the fictional town of Gatlin, Nebraska. The young preacher Isaac Chroner convinces the children of Gatlin that God has a violent personification known as “He Who Walks Behind The Rows.” Due to a poor corn harvest, Isaac then persuades the children to murder all of Gatlin’s adults, as well as any subsequent adult that travels through town, as a sacrifice to what isn’t actually God, but Satan! Through such violence, Isaac establishes a death cult that is only stoppable by burning the cornfields.

#3: The Cause
“The Master” (2012)

With some resemblances to L. Ron Hubbard's scientology, The Cause is a philosophical cult led by the intelligent and charismatic Lancaster Dodd. Dodd initiates members through “Processing,” a system of disconcerting psychosomatic personal inquiries. Such questions are asked to force the examinee to overcome past sufferings, to move beyond the self, and to become one with The Cause. Told through the perspective of the increasingly jaded initiate Freddie Quell, the film also follows Dodd’s steady rise in power, even in the face of internal and external criticisms.

#2: Satanist Cult
“Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)

Unbeknownst to new apartment tenants Rosemary Woodhouse and her struggling actor husband Guy, their elderly neighbors Minnie and Roman Castevet are Satanists! After Guy becomes friends with the Castevets, his career improves, and he convinces Rosemary to have a baby. One evening, Minnie secretly drugs Rosemary, who dreams – or thinks she dreams – that she’s being raped by the Devil while her husband, the Castevets, and other neighbors watch. Eventually, Rosemary gives birth to the son of Satan and discovers the apartment buildings’ tenants are the Castevets’ disciples – and despite all that, Rosemary appears to agree to raise her Satanic son (albeit reluctantly)!

Before we get to our number one cult, here are some honorable mentions:
- Religious Cult
“Ticket to Heaven” (1981)
- Bright & Shiny Cult
“Bubble Boy” (2001)
- The Order
“Silent Hill” (2006)
- Five Points Trinity Church
“Red State” (2011)

#1: Thuggee Cult
“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984)

Thuggee is the archetype for the villainous movie cult! Based in Pankot, India, the Thuggee cult is centered on black magic and is devoted to Kali, a heavily fictionalized version of the Hindu goddess of destruction, change, and time! The Thuggee have all the classic hallmarks of a horrific cult – they dabble in human trafficking and child slavery while also indulging in human sacrifice! During the film’s climax, Indiana Jones and company witness the cult’s high priest Mola Ram ripping the heart out of a living man for sacrifice to Kali! So this is one cult you wanna stay on the right side of.

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