What are Cult-Classics?


Uriel Pimentel, Staff Reporter

Cult films: What are they and what makes a movie a cult classic?


Over the years we have all experienced the life and excitement of watching movies and living a life of fantasy, action, mystery, and adventure all these films have offered over the years. We’ve all come to enjoy a movie because of its lessons, story, characters, and overall fitting our likes and tastes. Films such as Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia, Shrek, Avengers, etc have been enduring and largely loved movies because of how compelling and charming their characters and stories are. The majority of us can all agree that these movies are nice to watch on a Friday night. However there are certain movies out there that have gained an interesting fanbase which gives the film a different reputation, compared to the movies listed earlier, these movies are called “Cult Films (or Cult Classics),” but what exactly are cult classics and what makes a movie be given this label?


Cult: an admiration or obsession towards a particular person, place, or thing which often leads to a group to share such admiration/obsession.

Classic: A work of any form of art that is often considered and honored with value and quality.


With those words in mind it’s pretty easy to define what exactly cult-classic means and is; A piece of work or production that is admired and considered of quality by a niche group of people, in this case it refers to a film. While of course this definition can be changed and easily mistaken, for example: Movies such as Avengers: Endgame and Titanic are movies that have been considered some of the best cinematic works in cinema history do indeed have a fanbase and are positively critiqued all over the world, however these are not cult classics for various reasons which I will discuss. What makes a movie a cult-classic then? A movie is given the title of cult-classic due to specific reasons, whether due to the age of the movie or for being considered “underrated” by a group of people.

Let’s go more in-depth: First off, many cult-classics are movies that did not perform that well in the box office in terms of money and reviews (which to be honest you should NEVER listen to reviews because a movie can only be judged by your own personal opinion), these films most of the time are disregarded by the good majority of people. However, these particular films, while not being considered good by a lot of people, do indeed gain viewers who do enjoy and like the film whether for its characters and/or story. This creates a small fanbase in which the people who are able to express their enjoyment towards the movie instead of being suppressed by the majority who didn’t like the film. Movies that would fall under this category would be the Rambo sequels, while the reviews weren’t positive and overall did not favor the films in terms of money compared to the first Rambo movie, many fans appreciate the effort, passion, the story told throughout the movies, and consider it a beautiful series that takes “real cinema watchers” time to properly appreciate and understand these films. (Copyright: Orion Pictures, Calico Pictures)

Secondly, cult-classics can be the result of a movie once being ignored and disregarded by people when it is released, but over time ends up being liked and noticed by a group of people, or in other words, “Right thing at the wrong time”. These movies can diverse from being underperforming in the box office to disregarded and forgotten over the years due to them being overshadowed by other movies releasing that people were more excited about. The most famous example of a cult-classic like this would be Treasure Planet, which many people today regard as a gem lost to time. Many fans of Treasure Planet today agree that the movie was released at a time where it wasn’t appreciated. Its themes are ones that stand strong today and teach us valuable lessons while also providing amazing animation and storytelling with its uniqueness. Another example of this would be Megamind, made by Dreamworks in 2010, while the movie performed well and had good reviews overall, it was disregarded and pushed aside by many people back then due to Despicable Me releasing alongside it, which Despicable Me took the world by storm, causing Megamind to be lost for a while. Megamind today is put in high regards by newer and older fans that claim that if Megamind was released today, it would have definitely been more successful and even had a sequel.

(Copyright: Megamind by Dreamworks, Treasure Planet by Disney)

Finally we have a final category that makes a movie into a cult-classic. These films become a cult classic due to a meme or a joke about the film. A movie can be lost to time, whether it was good or bad, but gains sudden popularity due to a meme made about the movie. An example of this would be the 2001 film, Zoolander, a movie that is over 20 years old suddenly gaining popularity due to memes (I am legally not allowed to explain the meme) regarding the silly faces and humor the film has. The 2000 film, American Psycho, gained massive popularity and a cult following due to how sinister Patrick Bateman is in the movie which in return memes and edits revolving around how paranoid and “relatable” the character is. While these memes are mostly irony and sarcasm and do not actually relate to the violent nature Bateman has in the book/movie, it did indeed create a fanbase that appreciates how deep and well thought out the themes and meanings of the story the film portrays which many claim that movies today don’t have.

(Copyright: American Pyscho based off the book by Bret Easton Ellis, film adaptation by Lions Gate Films, Zoolander by Paramount Studios)

In the end, while fans of cult-classics tend to hold these films into high regards and will most likely argue with you all day about why [insert film] is the “best and most underrated” movie of all time, it does teach us a valuable thing. A good thing about cult-classics is that it teaches us to appreciate and try to understand a movie (or any form of production like shows, cartoons, etc) rather than listening to online reviews or what people say. People today tend to favor movies that have better reviews or have a higher budget because they believe this makes movies better, however this is not true most of the time. While reviews do help you know more about it, what to expect, and express opinions that you, yourself, might agree with, you should always at least try to avoid such opinions and reviews and form your own opinion. Cult-classics a lot of the time are fans who express their passion and opinion towards the films regardless of how much money it gained or how popular it was. It’s okay to like and be passionate about something that other people are not into, because we are all unique and should respect what we like and not follow society and its customs of “going with the flow.”