The 34 greatest cult movies of all time

Cult of irrationality

What is a cult movie? A movie about cults? Ha ha ha, foolish earthling, how dare you try to use logic and reason to determine genre labels. No no, the term 'cult movie' is typically applied to any motion picture that attracts a cult-like following. Usually, it's for an older film, or perhaps one that under-performed at the box office. At other times, cult interest will spring up around a critically panned disaster, sometimes ironically, oftentimes not.

For whatever reason, these otherwise distinct pictures end up endearing themselves to a small but rabid fanbase, an ultra-committed branch of cinephiles who would just as soon flay themselves alive than question why they're the only ones not laughing at Samurai Cop. Strange, obsessive and irreverent, these cults deserve a 'best of' list that's every bit as quirky as they are. How does a top 34 sound?

34. Labyrinth (1986)

The Film: Astounding puppetry from Jim Henson, and even more astounding trouserage from David Bowie as the Goblin King who steals away heroine Sarah's baby brother.

Join The Cult: Why not read some Labyrinth slash fiction (not suitable for work. Or, come to think of it, civilisation) or even write your own? We've got a particularly nasty one in the works about the bog of eternal stench. Sexy!

33. The Room (2003)

The Film: This is special. Released in 2003, The Room has been acclaimed as 'the Citizen Kane of bad movies', (or "like being stabbed in the head" if you read certain IMDB comments). Everything about it is abysmal, but especially the script, with its endless talk of "future wives" instead of "fiancees", misplaced subplots, and its advice to "keep your comments in your pocket". Bravo, star, writer and director Tommy Wiseau.

Join The Cult: The Room gets regular late-night screenings (it's recently been on at the Prince Charles Cinema in London) so you can get in on the merriment. Don't forget the proper greeting for fellow watchers: "Oh, hi [insert first name here]."

32. Harold And Maude (1971)

The Film: Compulsive suicide-faker Harold escapes his overbearing mother for a profound and then romantic relationship with septuagenarian Maude, much of it conducted in his custom Jaguar/hearse. Funny, morbid, moving, and pretty much on its own in the whole of cinema.

Join The Cult: Can't find a revival screening? At the very least, dig out a Cat Stevens tapes and take a long drive while thinking on mortality.

31. Office Space (1999)

The Film: Pitch-perfect cubicle workers' breakout fantasy from King Of The Hill creator Mike Judge. The real hero is introverted Milton with his stapler fixation. Don't touch his red Swingline, people...

Join The Cult: With your very own red Swingline Stapler, put into production after hundreds of requests from Office Space fans. Alternatively you could go nuclear and ditch the whole employment thing altogether. "I get a lot of people who say, 'I quit my job because of you,'" star Ron Livingston reports. "That's kind of a heavy load to carry."

30. Get Carter

The Film: Concrete-hearted Northern revenge juggernaut, with Michael Caine as the returning hard man investigating his brother's murder against a tide of grim housing estates and black-lunged working men's clubs.

Join The Cult: The film's stern architectural backdrop makes a location tour particularly interesting, especially given the demolition plans for the iconic Trinity Square carpark.

29. They Live (1988)

The Film: Rowdy Roddy Piper finds a pair of sunglasses that show the world how it really is. That is, teeming with skull-face aliens and controlled by a hypnotising television broadcast. You could do a Marxist analysis on the consumer culture stuff, but really you're in for the "chew bubblegum and kick ass" moment, right?

Join The Cult: Everything you need to become an enlightened alien hunter is right there in your petrol station 24-hour market. Bubble gum, shades... actually, you'll need to cast around a bit for the firearms.

28. Clerks (1994)

The Film: Kevin Smith's made-for-pennies debut packs more laughs per production buck than... well, anything. Randal and Dante grind out a day in the Quick Stop minimart, helped by crude banter and crackers stunts.

Join The Cult: Check out the super-smash-you-up drinking game hosted on the View Askew website. Just make sure you're fetching drinks from the kitchen when Silent Bob pipes up... the penalty for that one is stern.

27. Pink Flamingos (1972)

The Film: Drag star Divine eats up the screen in this fabulous John Waters freakshow. And what that dog does at the end? Yeah, she eats that too. Euch. Still, the underground circuit couldn't get enough.

Join The Cult: You don't have to go the whole Divine to get in the gang. Online series The Funday PawPet Show hosts the 'Pink Flamingo Challenge', where a guest is filmed chomping chocolate while watching the film's filth-munching climax.

26. Mamma Mia! (2008)

The Film: A mix of the brilliant and the absurd, and therefore perfect cult fodder. A cast of established screen favourites exubertantly murder the best pop songs of all time in a joyous, unashamedly romantic love-in.

Join The Cult: Caving in to the irresistable ABBA tunes, several cinemas began showing sing-along screenings on the way to the film becoming the biggest grossing ever in the UK (it's recently been toppled by Avatar). And if you can't find one of those, then grab the DVD: it has a sing-along option too.