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Joining the Cult: What Makes a Cult Movie?

Surely you have heard the term “cult movie” mentioned every now and then, possibly from a friend who is such a movie enthusiast. The label has been used to describe various films from vastly different genres, making it harder for the uninformed to determine what makes a movie reach “cult” status. What exactly is a cult movie, though, and what makes them so different from other movies?

Cult movies are popularly described as films that initially did not do well in the box office, but later gained fame and acclaim through sales of their DVDs and reruns. There are many theories as to why such movies only became popular well after their theatrical releases, which include nostalgia and public opinion changing over a film’s controversial content, among other reasons. Cult movies enjoy a large fan base long after their time, and continue to fascinate future viewers to this day.

There is a popular misconception that the term cult movie refers only to low-budget films with cheesy dialogue and abysmal product budgets. Indeed, many cult flicks are “B movie” material that are far from being arthouse material, but there are those films with large production budgets that find cult followings long after their original run. Thanks to cult followings, movies (whether they are big budget films or otherwise) can enjoy a relevance and popularity that endure for years.

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