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What Makes a Movie a Cult Classic?

January 16, 20185 min read

You’ve probably heard the term “cult classic” before, even if you haven’t, you’ve probably at least heard of a movie that is so bad, it’s good. I, personally, think that the greatest movies ever made fall into the category “cult classic” or “midnight movie,” so, saying they’re so bad that they’re good is an understatement.

These movies are nostalgic, artistic, funny — maybe they simply resonate with audiences in a way film critics just can’t understand.

Either way, the making of these movies is an adventure in and of itself. The amount of weirdness that surrounds them is astounding. Their plots are wild. The production value is both terrible and amazing at the same time. In my opinion, these films are life-changing.

But when does a movie become a “cult film? The most simple definition is that a “cult movie” is a film that has a cult following, which is kind of self-explanatory. These movies are more generally known for their fan base than the actual movie itself, because most fanbases of these types of movies are passionate and very dedicated to these movies. They’ve created an entire subculture surrounding these films, and they (including me) love it. These subcultures include references, quotes, inside jokes and many other fun and interesting things to learn about.

A more including definition might say that these movies were box office-bombs that were rejected by the mainstream media but ultimately embraced by a more obscure audience — or that they were eventually made popular by individual people spreading the word to their friends.

What makes these films fun is that they’re strange and different from what we’re used to seeing and what we know as traditionally “good cinema.”

On the other hand, another term for cult films is “midnight movies,” which makes a little bit of more sense when you learn what it means. This term refers to a practice that took place in the U.S., in which certain movies that weren’t very popular or that weren’t very good were played at midnight showings in cinemas or during late night TV hours. Starting in the late ’50s, the best of the worst movies played are now referred to as cult classics (some networks even offered funny commentary alongside the movies).

I’ve mentioned before that I am a person who truly enjoys these movies, and I am also a person who truly believes in sharing their passions, so I took the time to compile a short list of my favorite cult-classic movies of all time for your viewing pleasure.

Pulp Fiction

This movie is a wild ride. I’ve watched it like a dozen times and still can’t tell you exactly what it’s about, but it involves gangsters, hitmen, boxers and diners intertwining four stories of violence. This is another one of my favorites. Full disclosure, this movie is very violent, but if you’re not faint of heart, you might enjoy it.

Night of the Living Dead

This movie literally invented zombies. The entire zombie genre as we know it today was born because of a simple mistake in the production of this movie. Either way, if you enjoy zombies, this movie is for you. Besides, you can find it completely free on YouTube, because it has no copyright, so it’s a win-win.


First of all, Winona Ryder is in this movie! Which, in my mind, is cause enough to watch it. Anyway, this movie involves a popular high school clique called The Heathers, containing three girls who go by the name of Heather and a Veronica (Winona Ryder). It revolves around one of the characters plotting the murder of the other characters, basically trying to kill off the popular kids.

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Fatima Fernandez

Today is going to be a good day. Follow me on instagram and twitter: @fatimafdzm