10 Modern Cult Movies You Must See Before You Die

Cult_Movies_700x384What makes a movie a cult movie? Is it the movie itself or the audience who watches it? Are certain movies just born to be cult, while others have cult status thrust upon them? These questions are as elusive and provocative as cult movies themselves, but while you ponder, check out these 10 cult movies from the past 25 years that are all included in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

1. Drive
Ryan Gosling plays The Driver, a stunt performer by day who moonlights as a getaway driver for anyone willing to pay his fee. When a favor he does for a neighbor goes wrong, The Driver embarks on a vengeful killing spree across L.A. The violence is shocking, the soundtrack (by Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer-turned-film composer Cliff Martinez) is a classic in the making and Gosling exudes movie-icon cool.

2. Delicatessen
The directorial team of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro transform Paris into a futuristic-yet-apocalyptic shadow world, focusing on the new tenant (Dominique Pinon) in an apartment building ruled over by a landlord (Jean-Claude Dreyfus) who also happens to run the butcher shop downstairs… Just don’t ask him where he gets his meat from. Twisted, darkly funny and stylish—the French movie outdoes most American horror comedies.

3. Natural Born Killers
Quentin Tarantino wrote the original story for Oliver Stone’s serial-killer road movie, which upped the volume, the violence and the hysteria usually found within that cinematic sub-genre. As homicidal lovers on the lam, Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis are smoking hot, but even their performances pale when Robert Downey Jr.’s trash-TV host and Tommy Lee Jones’ prison warden arrive on the scene. It;s a cult movie about cult killers. Meta.

4. Pan’s Labyrinth
Guillermo Del Toro’s fantasy adventure, set during the Spanish Civil War, is beautiful, vividly imagined and spellbinding. It’s the story of a girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who’s drawn into an imaginary land to escape the horrors around her, as well as her sadistic stepfather Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez), who serves in General Franco’s fascist army. Despite the wonderful creatures Ofelia encounters in her fantasy land, the threats that lurk in both her real and made-up worlds are chilling. Fans have been decoding Pan’s Labyrinth since it’s release.

5. Ring
Hideo Nakata’s Japanese cult hit is one of the most terrifying horror movies in recent years. There’s a videotape going around; if watched, it will result in the viewer’s death exactly one week later. Unless, of course, they can get someone else to watch the tape, thus passing on the curse. The arrival of the videotape’s vengeful spirit Sadako (Rie Ino) halfway through Ring is simply one of the best entrances of any horror movie.

6. Romper Stomper
Geoffrey Wright’s tough drama about a racist gang of skinheads who hang out in suburban Melbourne, bullying the local Vietnamese community, is now renowned as the film that launched Russell Crowe’s career. He plays the gang’s psychotic leader; his performance, physical and threatening, remains one of his best. Upon it’s release, critics immediately drew comparisons to another violent cult classic—A Clock Orange.

7. Safe
Todd Haynes’ second feature stars Julianne Moore as Carol, a woman allergic to the modern world. What starts out as a chilling portrait of a woman detached from society transforms into a satire of the alternative-therapy industry when Carol is admitted into the care of a New Age doctor. It cemented Moore’s reputation as one of the most daring actresses of her generation and took on the cult of wellness in modern-day society,

8. Trainspotting
Renton, Spud, Sick Boy and Begby—the four main characters of Irvine Welsh’s caustic novel on which the movie is based—break a longstanding movie taboo by acknowledging that drugs can make you feel fantastic, even if only for a short while. That’s not the only way this black comedy about Scottish heroin users broke the mold of British cinema. Directed by Danny Boyle, Trainspotting is furiously paced, relentlessly stylish and equal parts entertaining and sickening.

9. The Cabin in the Woods
Co-written by Joss Whedon and Drew Godard, the creative team behind TV cult fave Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cabin draws on every horror-movie cliche in the book, resulting in an inspired parody of low-rent scare flicks.

10. The Crying Game
This movie’s twist is part of what turned it into an instant cult movie. Auidences flocked to it to find out the secret, but then refused to spoil the movie by giving away the secret. Therefore, if you saw the movie and knew the secret, you were part of a special club. That said, Neil Jordan’s psychological drama refuses to be pigeonholed in any way: It starts off as a thriller, then morphs into a relationship drama before its climactic shootout. It shouldn’t work, but it does.