Special Report

The Best Cult Films of All Time

What makes a film a cult classic? The fervor of its fans – the growth of a community of people who love the film, have probably seen it numerous times, can probably quote lines from it, and often have some proprietary feelings toward it.

Some films that achieve cult status tank at the box office when they first come out and/or fail to win the approval of the critics, but find a life of their own after they’ve left the first-run houses. Others are successful from the outset, but instead of fading into the background after a few months of good ticket sales, linger permanently in the consciousness of the film-going public – or at least a dedicated segment of it. (These are the 25 best movies you’ve probably never seen.)

To determine the best cult classics, 24/7 Tempo consulted numerous film and popular culture websites to assemble a list of movies with their own cults, then ranked them by developing an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of August 2022, weighting all ratings equally.

Click here to see the best cult films of all time

Among the quintessential cult-film directors are Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarantino, and Terry Gilliam, each with two movies on this list. Horror films have long been cult-movie fodder, and horror helmsmen John Carpenter and Sam Raimi are represented here with a combined five motion pictures.

Speaking of horror, the oldest film on the list, “Freaks” from 1932, was so shocking in its day that it was banned from many states – attaining modern-day cult status only when it was screened for packed arthouse crowds in the 1970s. (These are the 50 best horror movies of all time.)

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