|Tim Curry as Darkness. Oh yeah.|
Interestingly, this list was the most fun to make of any of my top three (I'll post horror next week.) I'm not sure why - perhaps because most of my fantasy cult favorites are also adventure films in one way or another. My sci-fi seems more serious, and horror can be, you know ... scary.
In any case, trying to pull this together was both very entertaining and very frustrating. I had to drop a huge stack of fantastic films in order to whittle this down to ten. Fantasy ends up being a catch-all genre for anything with supernatural elements that are not horrific or futuristic. I had to cut Raiders of the Lost Arc, Clash of the Titans, The Hobbit, Highlander, Yellow Submarine, Conan the Whatever, The Beastmaster, Charlotte's Web, and on and on.
10. Krull - 1983 - There was more hokey, campy fantasy in the 80's than Max Headroom could shake a stick at. Here we have witches, horses with fire coming out of their feet, a cyclops, a magical ninja throwing star, and the whole prince-saves-princess thing. At least that last cliche is busted when it takes both of their powers (their love, actually, yikes) to defeat the big bad.
9. Wizard of Oz - 1939 - The oldest film on all three lists, this classic is still one of my favorites. Based on Baum's book published in 1900, this movie is still entertaining (sometimes in ways it wasn't meant to be). The fantasy elements are handled beautifully, with joy, awe, horror, and a nice neat little moral all rolled up into one. The color is of course phenomenal, because (egads) every single frame was hand painted.
8. The Last Unicorn - 1982 - Okay, back to the 80's. This one has that creepy Rankin Bass animation style, but is still fun to watch. It's also surprisingly disturbing for a kid's fantasy flick. The voice cast is canonically star-studded again, and the group America did the soundtrack. Really.
7. Legend - 1985 - More eighties bizarre camp with so many stars it just does not make sense. Tim Curry as "Darkness" (in a costume that makes Rocky Horror look subtle) is the best thing in the film. Oddly juxtaposed music from Tangerine dream and the lead singers from Yes and Roxy Music add to the sense of the surreal.
6. Excalibur - 1981 - This movie was the first full-blown treatment of high fantasy I ever saw, so it made a huge impression. The movie also doesn't really make much sense, as it is cobbled together from a mass of different legends, and blends historical features from a span of several hundred years. I still enjoy it for the epic feel and the amazing images. Still have to laugh at the sex scene where the dude does not even bother to take his armor off.
5. The Dark Crystal - 1983 - Okay, yes, you think I am crazy now. I can't help it, I really like this movie. It has so much fun fantasy, great puppeteering, and excellent voice work. I re-watched it recently for the millionth time and realized that I Am Fizgig.
4. Sleeping Beauty, Disney - 1959 - The style is so lush and iconic. It formed a strong idea in my head of what was meant by "medieval." The real stars are the fairies, who mess up the day and then save it. Oh yeah, I Am Also Merryweather. Make it blue. Seriously.
3. Ladyhawke - 1985 - Once again, stars all over the place in this one. This movie has an 'A' movie feel with a 'B' movie plot. Some great sets and good acting, as well as a really creepy story and nasty villain, make it a favorite.
2. Monty Python and the Holy Grail - 1975 - Fantasy at its absolute craziest. This movie truly defines 'cult' for me. You watch it over and over and laugh every time, and then get pissed off at the stupid ending. The foul tempered rodent and the holy hand grenade are total genius.
1. The Princess Bride - 1987 - Too romantic? Too mushy? Well, probably, but this just has to be my number one in this category. It simply must. Wonderful jokes, more star studded than the other stuff I said was star studded, gorgeous sets and scenery, as well as fencing. As the bad guy says, "a trifle simple perhaps but her appeal is undeniable."
Well, there you have it. I'm really curious to find out what your personal cult fantasy favorites are, and how you chose them. Drop me a comment, or point me towards your blog!
Image Credit: Character 'Darkness'. Actor - Tim Curry. Promotional photo for the movie Legend.