Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Top Ten Cult Movie Favorites: Science Fiction

Logan 5's time has run out.
What is a cult movie?  There are a mind-numbing number of possible definitions.  I read a bunch of them for the sake of being educated.  Then I figured I would go ahead and make up my own definition and rubric for that extra-personal touch.  

Most definitions I read online focused on the movie doing poorly at initial release, but later becoming an underground success with a niche audience.  But for me, the most important aspect of "cult" is that I have - and will - watch the movie over and over and over.  It has to be a movie that isn't just a personal favorite, but is one I'm obsessive about.  You know, like a cult sort of thing.

So here is how I picked my top ten ...
  1. Has to be at least 25 years old.  I took anything from 1987 or older. 
  2. I have to have seen it at least five times.  Points for every time over that I've watched the film.  Special bonus points for anything I've seen 25 times or more.
  3. Points for movies my family and friends can't stand
  4. Points for movies that didn't do well at the box office
  5. Points for movies that have not been remade/rebooted, and have not lead to any sequels. 
  6. Points if I own a copy.  I don't buy many movies, so this is a pretty good sign of my feelings towards a film.
Then I realized I also had to define "Science Fiction," since there are plenty of movies that mix genres.  I decided I'd consider anything with a science-fiction setting like spaceships, other planets, or the future.  If the movie had elements of either fantasy or horror that overwhelmed the impact of the sci-fi setting, then I moved it to that category.

So okay, in proper top ten style, starting with number ten ...

10.  Tron - 1982 - Some think it's too bad to be good, but I really enjoy this film.  The vision of what goes on inside a computer is fascinating, and of course the difference in tech between now and then leads to many laughs.  I didn't see the sequel, and probably won't.  (You're a user!)

9.   Blade Runner - 1982 - This is of course an amazing movie that has great acting and an overwhelming atmosphere.  It's a bit darker and more drama-like than most of my preferred sci-fi, but was too awesome to leave out. (It's too bad she won't live.)

8.   Logan's Run - 1976 - Amazingly hokey and predictable, but still an entertaining romp through a bizarre future world.  It was supposed to be serious, but seeing Farah Fawcett try to act in a bit part here pushes it over into the realm of the ridiculous.  York is good, as always.  (Renew!)

7.   The Andromeda Strain - 1971 - Even though this movie has been remade, the old version still makes my list.  This was one of the first sci-fi movies I wanted to see anytime it came on the tube.  (Flashing lights remind me of my time in a bordello.)

6.   Dark Star - 1974 - A lesser known dark comedy about a crew of humans who have the job of destroying planets that might become orbitally unstable, thereby making the universe safe for human colonization.  The scenes with an alien beach ball creature eventually gave rise to the concept behind the movie Alien. (Phenomenology.) 

5.   Robocop - 1987 - I love the juxtaposition of "real" gritty city life against the shiny corporate machine (literally), all set against dry gags about our dystopian future.  There is so much ass-kicking, too.  (Sun Block 3000)
4.   Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan - 1982 - In spite of the massive Star Trek franchise, The Wrath of Khan is very high on my cult movie list.  In fact, I have to say it's an awesome movie all around, with a very tight script, good acting, excellent pace, solid plot, and great special effects. (Khaaan!)
3.   The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension - 1984 - A fabulous, bizarre adventure with the canonical star-studded cast.  The humor ranges from surreal, to dry, to dark, to utterly absurd.  The concepts are so whacky you just can't stop watching. (What's that watermelon doing there?)

2.   Flash Gordon - 1980 - This fantastically campy comic book of a film has a score by Queen and a huge number of disturbingly famous actors.  It is in my top five cult films of ANY genre, time, or place.  I can hardly say why, but I love this film. (Fly my hawkmen!)

1.   Star Wars Trilogy - 1977, 1980, 1983 - In spite of its popularity, the fact that it is a huge franchise, how much money it has made, etc., I was forced to put the original Star Wars Trilogy at the top of my list.  I have long, long since lost track of the number of times I have seen Star Wars.  Added to the number of times I've seen Empire and Jedi, it's probably over a hundred. (It's a trap!)

A brief moment of silence for all those great movies that just didn't make the cut like The Road Warrior, Time Bandits, and the Planet of the Apes.

I want to hear from you!  What are your top ten cult sci-fi movies?  How did you pick them?  Go ahead and put your thoughts in the comments here, or do your own blog post on the subject and post the link in my comments so I can come and check it out.

Pax, All

Image:  Logan 5 from the movie Logan's Run, Wikipedia


Cary Caffrey said...

I'm glad to see Logan's Run on this list, but no 'Cult Favorite' list would be complete without the fantastically surprising Death Race 2000! (the original 1975 classic).

Amy Fredericks said...

Not sure if it counts as "cult" but my favorite movie is Aliens. (Note the "s", that means the second movie in the series, the one with the Marines, for the slow people... ;) )

Another favorite: Outland.

JA Grier (ee/em/eir) said...

Hello Cary - Thanks for visiting! I agree, Death Race 2000 is a fabulous cult flick. But I haven't actually seen it more than three times. I know, sad ...

JA Grier (ee/em/eir) said...

Hey Amy! Aliens, definitely. I ended up moving that one to my horror list, which I'm going to post in a week or two. Even with sci-fi setting, I moved it because it absolutely scared the crap out of me. And yes, Outland! Great flick. I've only seen it twice, though, so it just didn't make the cut.

Lynn Mann said...

I like your definitions of cult classic (do you find the term "instant classic" as annoying as I do?). I have totally lost count of the number of times I've seen the original Star Wars movies. What about Back to the Future?

Eigon said...

I couldn't choose ten, but some of my old favourites are Robinson Crusoe on Mars, This Island Earth, The Day the Earth Stood Still and Them! There's such lovely misdirection in Them!, where you're obviously meant to think that aliens have landed.