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Top 10 British Cult Movies

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Written by Richard Bush They may be controversial, lewd, stripped back or just downright weird, but there’s something loveable about these films that has people quoting, debating and re-watching them time and time again. Welcome to Watchmojo UK and today we are counting down the Top 10 greatest British Cult Films. For those after a little clarification, we are looking at films made in Britain, centred on British life or primarily starring a British cast - and of course, by cult, we’re referring to films that have been shunned by many for their irregular characteristics, and yet have gained a dedicated following for that exact reason. Special thanks to our users Emily Hepworth and MikeMJPMUNCH for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 British Cult Movies


They may be controversial, lewd, stripped back or just downright weird, but there’s something loveable about these films that has people quoting, debating and re-watching them time and time again.

Welcome to Watchmojo UK and today we are counting down the Top 10 greatest British Cult Films. For those after a little clarification, we are looking at films made in Britain, centred on British life or primarily starring a British cast - and of course, by cult, we’re referring to films that have been shunned by many for their irregular characteristics, and yet have gained a dedicated following for that exact reason.

#10: “Shaun of the Dead” (2004)


Cornetto anyone? There’s loads of zombie flicks out there, seemingly with each one more ludicrous than the last - but that’s where “Shaun of the Dead” is different. Giving us a look at what the everyman - with a struggling relationship, annoying best friend and unwanted step dad - would do in a zombie apocalypse, Shaun is the relatable, cricket bat-wielding hero we all identify with. Expertly directed and written by Edgar Wright, everything from its snappy scene transitions to its pop culture references make this a textbook reimagining of a classic genre.

#9: “Kes” (1969)


For people of a certain age, this film is an eerily realistic fly-on-the-wall re-telling of a childhood in public school. We get to see day-to-day life through the eyes of young Billy, a struggling, misbehaving child who only wants to be accepted and to care for his best friend Kes, a Kestrel he finds in a nest. “Kes” is littered with golden moments - be it the caning scene, football match or any numerous classroom lessons - and reminds us how much education has changed in such a short period of time.

#8: “Quadrophenia” (1979)


A film that has inspired everything from haircuts to entire lifestyles. Chronicling the lives of London-based Mods in the 70s, including protagonist Jimmy, “Quadrophenia” is about giving up your dead-end job, jumping on a scooter and doing whatever you want - be it brawling with motorcycle gangs or taking drugs and dancing till you drop. The Mod movement, along with its music, is one of the biggest driving forces of this film, but for many movie-goers, it's the general look of the lifestyle, including scooters with more mirrors than miles on the clock, that make it a true cult classic.

#7: “Rita, Sue And Bob Too” (1987)


Taboo doesn't quite cut it here. A story of two teenage babysitters having sexual flings with their older employer is the crux of this film, but it’s a little more complicated than that. Telling of working class life and the struggles that go with it, including drunken, abusive parents, “Rita, Sue And Bob Too” is just as much about promiscuity as it is about people coming of age. Packed full of dramatic and uncomfortable encounters, this is a film that has clearly aged, but is all the better for it.

#6: “The Wicker Man” (1973)


This takes the word “cult” quite literally. When Sergeant Howie receives a letter about a missing girl, he travels to a remote island to investigate. There he encounters devote pagan believers who carry out strange rituals based on religious ideologies, including dancing and having sex in the open land of the island. This is intertwined with spades of mystery, human sacrifice, brilliant performances by Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee, and ultimately leads to a cinematically-fantastic climax. If this film doesn't make you fear island retreats, nothing will.

#5: “Monty Python's Life of Brian” (1979)


Imagine being told you were the all powerful Messiah. Well, no need to imagine, just watch “Life Of Brian”. A satirically religious comedy penned by the brilliant minds of the famed Pythons, an average joe is believed to have the miracle-working skills of Jesus Christ. What follows are classic tongue and cheek Python moments, with religion and its intricacies at the butt of the joke. Saying “Life of Brian” hit a nerve would be an understatement, with many countries issuing outright bans or X-ratings for the film.

#4: “Withnail and I” (1987)


Drunk, out-of-work actors can be quite volatile, especially when played by Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann. Leaving their toxic London flat for a stint in the countryside, they encounter disgruntled locals, angry bulls and a sexually-charged Uncle Monty, played by Richard Griffiths. We’re not quite sure if it’s their frequent visits to the pub, recreational drug use or the carelessness of drinking lighter fluid, but there’s something admirable about this pair of dysfunctional, bohemian friends. And this drunken dynamic duo is exactly what makes this film so memorable, relatable and hilarious.

#3: “A Clockwork Orange” (1971)


The story of this film is intriguing enough, but it’s the way in which it’s told that has instilled it within the minds of film lovers forever. Directed by the visionary Stanley Kubrick and based on the novel by Anthony Burgess, it tells of Alex and his gang of droogs, who travel the streets at night and terrorise everyone they encounter in a future dystopia. From rape to cold blooded murder and classical music to rhyming slang, there is plenty to wince at and admire about this masterpiece. Of course, with said themes, it has encountered its fair share of adversity over the years.

#2: “Trainspotting” (1996)


Drug addiction can be brutal - and “Trainspotting” shows us that in both a painfully realistic, and surprisingly entertaining way. Focusing on the journey of Renton and his mates, “Trainspotting” is a film about trying to escape a past life you feel shackled too, which in this case is heroin addiction. Together with highly-quotable monologues, graphic drug trips and heroin den squalor, it’s both culturally significant and relatable for anyone who has ever tried to breakout of existing, insidious social circles - only to be dragged back kicking and screaming.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honourable mentions:

“Get Carter” (1971)

“Sid and Nancy” (1986)

“Scum” (1979)

#1: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975)


An orgy of song and dance, sex and rock ‘n’ roll, this midnight movie’s fan base are as loyal as they come, dressing up every year to watch it in cinemas and on the stage. Centering on a honeymoon couple who lose their way and find refuge in a castle full of eccentric beings, the film was scrutinised upon initial release, but has gone on to earn legendary cult status. Its script reads like brilliant, psych ward scribbles; it’s characters crazier and creepier than Frankenstein - and its leading man, or is it lady, Tim Curry, is electric.
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