Cult Films to Stream on Hoopla
Aaaaah! The cult film. Generally hated on release, but beloved by many as time goes by. That’s not always the case, however – some films are celebrated cult experiences the day they release (see the first selection below). Well, if you’re a film-lover, now is the time to jump into the cult film experience – or just take a refresher on cult film classics. Below I’ve pulled some of my top choices for cult films on Hoopla that you can stream right now. You can find a synopsis and more details in the links provided for each movie.
Mandy – Rated R – 2H1M
This hypnotic revenge story from Panos Cosmatos (son of George Cosmatos who directed Rambo II and Tombstone) showcases Nic Cage at his most unhinged. Gory, artsy, and featuring an epic chainsaw battle! This 2018 release is the very definition of a cult classic.
Enemy – Rated R – 1H30M
A haunting story that keeps its secrets guarded. Star Jake Gyllenhaal doubles up on two lead roles in this dramatic thriller from director Denis Vileneuve (Sicario, Blade Runner 2049) that will keep you guessing for weeks to come. Word of warning: if you don’t like spiders, maybe avoid this one…
Equilibrium – Rated R – 1H47M
A dystopian film featuring Christian Bale where “peace” is maintained in the form of a pill leaving its users completely emotionless. What makes this a fun film is the absurd and over-the-top “Gun Fu” combining martial arts, theatrics, and gun-fighting – all on a level that would make John Woo weep.
UHF – Rated PG-13 – 1H37M
A nonstop slapstick, spoof-ridden piece of 80s humor starring none other than Weird Al Yankovic. This one easily ranks up there as one of my favorite comedies of all time alongside classics such as Airplane and The Naked Gun. If you have fond memories of late-night local stations and public access programming, get ready for a blast with this one. Have fun spotting stars who were getting their careers started with this film as well!
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead – Rated PG – 1H58M
This adaptation of Tom Stoppard’s 1960s stage play stars Academy Award winners Richard Dreyfuss and Gary Oldman as well as a delightfully perturbed Tim Roth. Spinning the story of Hamlet from the view of two minor characters, this film is an existential comedy unlike anything out there. The “questions and answers game” scene is worth the price of admission alone!
Bone Tomahawk – Rated R – 2H12M
Starring Kurt Russell, Craig Zahler’s moody, modern Western is a slow-build character study that erupts into a graphic, violent nightmare. Lead by an outstanding cast featuring Kurt Russell (did I already mention that?), Patrick Wilson, and Matthew Fox, this is unique Western, while perhaps overly long, finds just the right balance between a brooding character piece and absolute horror. And Kurt Russell stars in this film… in case I didn’t make that clear.
Bronson – Rated R – 1H33M
This film is director Nicolas Winding Refn’s theatrical and, at times, Brechtian telling of the story of England’s most dangerous prisoner who renamed himself Charles Bronson. The film stars Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception) as the titular prisoner – and it is an absolute knock-out performance! The film oozes style much like Refn’s other films (see: Drive, The Neon Demon), but has an anarchist bent to it making it utterly captivating and terrifying all at once.
Suspiria – Rated R – 1H32M
Suspiria is one of the granddaddies of cult horror films. A 1970s Italian horror classic from Dario Argento, this film has it all – classic Italian 70s dubbing, an over-the-top mysterious murderer, a strange ballet academy as setting, and all manner of supernatural happenings. Argento was one of the masters of the Italian giallo film, and while this isn’t exactly a giallo, it plays with those ideas well. Pair it with the modern remake for an interesting night of horror.
The Secret of NIMH – Rated G – 1H22M
A children’s film based on the book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. This is the directorial debut of Don Bluth who would go on to create animated classics such as The Land Before Time and An American Tail. While frightening and grim at times, NIMH is one of the best animated films of the 80s. An endearing heroin in Mrs. Frisby and a terrific story make this one an all-around winner.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai – Rated PG – 1H43M
The very definition of a cult film: rock music interludes; wonderfully over-the-top performances (see John Lithgow); inter-dimensional travel and beings from these dimensions who speak with Jamaican accents; ridiculous costumes; a hero who is a neurosurgeon, scientist, rock musician, and tough guy fighter; and oh so much more. A stellar cast of great actors – lead by Peter Weller as the titular Buckaroo Banzai – sells this odd concept of a film making it all somehow work perfectly.
The Host – Rated R – 1H59M
Director Bong Joon-ho swept the Academy Awards this year with his stellar work, Parasite. The Host is an earlier film from the director that defies singular categorization. It combines elements of creature features, black comedy, and government gone awry stories into a delirious, and somehow heartwarming, horror film. While you’re at it, check out another Bong Joon-ho film, Mother (also available on Hoopla).
Metropolis – Rated NR – 2H28M
Okay, not so much a cult classic as just a straight-up classic! Fritz Lang’s silent Sci-Fi epic is a trailblazer. Iconic images abound in this film of science going out of control including workers marching solemnly into and out of work, the creation of the robot woman, and more. Everything from Blade Runner to modern anime has been influenced by this masterwork – including a number of cult films. There’s a shortened 80s re-cut with pop and synth tunes on Hoopla as well – don’t watch that one; stick with the two-and-a-half-hour original!
Written by Seth Longland, Outreach Services Branch Manager and film fanatic