Friday, September 8, 2023

Notes on Film: A Cult Movies Ranking

 by Anthony King

For what is art if not ranked?

As mentioned on a recent F This Movie! Patreon episode, I recently wrapped up season five of the Cult Movies Podcast and the first book in Danny Peary's series. I knew what I was getting into when I began the Cult Movies Podcast, and while I expected to love a bunch of the movies I watched, what I wasn’t expecting were the relationships formed because of the show. I started it because I love Danny Peary and his writing, and I wanted to be able to bring more attention to the man that has taught me how to watch, write about, and love movies better. Because of Danny, I have met some of my best friends, and these are people I’ve never met in person. What started as a podcast to talk about movies with interesting people turned into so much more. These are people with whom I talk about personal matters, confide in when I'm having a hard time in life, and generally “do” life together. That's the power of movies, babe.

Something I planned on doing but couldn’t figure out how to do it in podcast form without rehashing everything I’d already said was ranking all 100 movies from the first Cult Movies book. So here we are - my official ranking! Many of these I saw for the first time because of the show, and several are now some of my all-time favorites. And out of 100 films there were four I didn't like. That's quite a success rate. So, without further ado...

100. Reefer Madness (1936) – Stupid and surprisingly boring for only being 66 minutes.

99. Bedtime for Bonzo (1951) – I just couldn't get past the Reagan of it all.

98. Sylvia Scarlett (1935) – I hate Katherine Hepburn with the fire of a thousand suns.

97. The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) – Doesn't hold a candle to Frank Oz's.

96. Tarzan and His Mate (1934) – Daniel Epler made me barely like this movie.

95. Land of the Pharaohs (1955) – Daniel Epler almost made me outright hate this movie.

94. Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957) – Not as bad as people think. Could be a masterpiece.

93. Rock n Roll High School (1979) – I only like it because of P.J. Soles.

92. Caged Heat (1974) – Aging like a pungent Stravecchio. (good)

91. Up in Smoke (1978) – It eventually wears on me but half of it is really funny.

90. Greetings (1968) – Uncomfortable in all the right ways.

89. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) – If I did the drugs this would be #1.

88. Behind the Green Door (1972) – If you wanna see a 10-minute slo-mo cumshot this is your movie!

87. Trash (1970) – Not my favorite Andy Warhol presents on the list.

86. I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958) – Who doesn't love an ultra-cheap body-snatching?

85. Forbidden Planet (1956) – Serious Leslie Nielsen in front of beautiful matte paintings.

84. El Topo (1970) – My first Jodorowski, and boy let me tell you...

83. Burn! (1969) – What Marlon Brando won't do for money.

82. Detour (1945) – The ultimate sad bastard movie.

81. Performance (1970) – James Fox and Mick Jagger clearly had lots of sex with each other.

80. Bad (1977) – My favorite Andy Warhol presents on the list.

79. King Kong (1933) – Aging like a block of soft Velveeta. (bad)

78. The Scarlet Empress (1934) – Marlene Dietrich in a pantsuit is the sexiest thing I've ever seen.

77. Jason and the Argonauts (1963) – Starring Ray Harryhausen!

76. The Girl Can't Help It (1956) – Where's the Tom Ewell with a hot blonde box set?

75. 42nd Street (1933) – I love the terribly depressing final shot so much.

74. I Walked with a Zombie (1943) – The time I recorded an episode with Danny Peary!

73. Freaks (1932) – Revenge is so weird and sweet.

72. Eraserhead (1977) – First I hated it. Then I liked it. Next time it becomes my favorite movie?

71. Fantasia (1940) – Who is Deems Taylor and why is he in this?

70. Black Sunday (1960) – You can smell the spooky vibes through the screen.

69. Lola Montes (1955) – A sprawling epic in under two hours!

68. Kiss Me Deadly (1955) – If you wanted to know where the light in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction came from...

67. The Tall T (1957) – The most sexless romantic western that ever was.

66. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) – You should listen to Patrick and I talk about this.

65. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – Giant sperm floating through space.

64. Duck Soup (1933) – My least favorite Marx Bros., believe it or not.

63. Mad Max (1979) – It's all about the stuntman taking a tire to the head.

62. Pandora's Box (1929) – A terribly sad Christmas movie perfect for the holidays.

61. Witchfinder General (1968) – Evergreen.

60. Pink Flamingos (1972) – It's the singing asshole for me.

59. A Hard Day's Night (1964) – Just hangin' with the lads for a day.

58. Emmanuelle (1974) – It's not a porno!

57. Shock Corridor (1963) – Nymphomaniacs! A room full of 'em!

56. Top Hat (1935) – Fred and Ginger were never better together.

55. The Harder They Come (1972) – Everybody needs a folk hero with a killer hit single.

54. Billy Jack (1971) – One tin soldier, baby!

53. Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) – Watch everything Dorothy Arzner ever made.

52. The Shooting (1966) – Take a trip in the wild west with Warren and Jack.

51. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) – The ultimate cult movie (that didn't crack the top 50).

50. Pretty Poison (1968) – I mean, who wouldn't do Tuesday Weld's bidding?

49. Outrageous! (1977) – God bless a queer Canadian comedy!

48. Where's Poppa? (1970) – Contains the funniest scene out of all 100 movies.

47. The Nutty Professor (1963) – Not my favorite Jerry but still a perfect example why he's the funniest man who ever lived.

46. Laura (1944) – Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews are pure sex.

45. Peeping Tom (1960) – Not the o.g. slasher but the birth of the modern slasher.

44. Two for the Road (1967) – Albert Finney is the perfectly charming asshole.

43. The Rain People (1969) – Utterly depressing. The very first episode!

42. King of Hearts (1966) – A wildly comedic and sometimes heartbreaking ride.

41. It's a Gift (1934) – Never not funny.

40. Badlands (1973) – Ok, young Martin Sheen, I'll do whatever you want me to.

39. The Honeymoon Killers (1970) – Shirley Stoler is our Queen.

38. Enter the Dragon (1973) – Bruce, John Saxon, and Jim Kelly v. Bolo Yeung.

37. House of Wax (1953) – Pretty sure that's just a vat of Pepto Bismol at the end.

36. The Brood (1979) – How divorce affects an artist.

35. Johnny Guitar (1954) – Sterling Hayden fake playing the guitar is the worst you'll ever see.

34. Force of Evil (1948) – He's been dead for 71 years and I'm still pissed about John Garfield.

33. Petulia (1968) – Weird and depressy is the true San Francisco treat.

32. Beauty and the Beast (1946) – The ultimate in fairy tales.

31. Gun Crazy (1950) – You can't blame John Dall for falling for crazy Peggy Cummins.

30. The Red Shoes (1948) – A pure display of beauty.

29. Man of the West (1958) – Featuring a town with a population of one.

28. Singin' in the Rain (1952) – Reading how Gene was such a dick to Debbie kind of ruins the magic of it all. Still great.

27. The Searchers (1956) – John Wayne just wants to bone his sister-in-law.

26. Targets (1968) – So dark. So delicious.

25. The Maltese Falcon (1941) – Just Bogie, Lorre, and Greenstreet playing detective.

24. La Cage aux Folles (1978) – Let's be gay and rich in France!

23. Out of the Past (1947) – Never trust a dame.

22. The Killing (1956) – Never trust cheap luggage.

21. Vertigo (1958) – America's favorite sweetheart, Jimmy Stewart, plays America's biggest creep.

20. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) – Too scary. Too real.

19. Sunset Boulevard (1950) – William Holden is ready for his close up.

18. Harold and Maude (1971) – If Ruth Gordon were still alive today she'd be 127 and I'd still fall in love with her.

17. Deep End (1970) – A movie I have never stopped thinking about after the first time I saw it.

16. The Producers (1967) – Mel's funniest.

15. The Long Goodbye (1973) – Elliott's finest.

14. The Wizard of Oz (1939) – The first of the five-star movies coming up.

13. The Warriors (1979) – These boys just wanna go ride some rides on Coney Island.

12. The Wild Bunch (1969) – The birth of the modern western.

11. Citizen Kane (1941) – Yes, this is a cult movie.

10. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) – A movie that contains about a dozen of the greatest shots in cinema history.

9. Rio Bravo (1959) – One of the greatest tales of friendship ever told.

8. Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) – My favorite of the first-time watches in the book.

7. All About Eve (1950) – Team Bette, all the way. Also Team Thelma Ritter.

6. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) – Pretty good. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

5. Night of the Living Dead (1968) – I don't trust anyone that doesn't like this movie.

4. Halloween (1978) – The night John Carpenter started collecting the easiest paycheck of his life.

3. Rebel Without a Cause (1955) – My favorite coming of age story ever.

2. Casablanca (1942) – I will never not cry a dozen times every time I watch this.

1. It's a Wonderful Life (1946) – Although I only watch it during the holidays, I can't deny the power this movie holds over me. I laugh out loud, I cry (a lot), and I get chills when Mary looks at George at the end. Every. Single. Time.


  1. Reefer Madness is that one they made to scare teenagers off drugs? Not being from United States, i never had to watch it, but i've heard of it

    Detour is awesome. The criterion blu-ray has some excellent extras

  2. oh this list is EPIC and i very much appreciate it. sooo many to watch.

    Also it serves as a great reminder that its time for me to jump into your podcast head first...downloading S1 now...very very much looking forward to it.