20 Best Cult Movies Of The 1980s
Enduring cult classics we can't stop revisiting.
Cult movies have been around since the advent of cinema itself, but it wasn't until the advent of home video in the 1980s where they truly found their audience. Only then were genre fans able to fully appreciate the obscure, strange and transgressive movies of old, securing their place in the ever-expanding pantheon of cult classics.
The definition of a cult movie is open to endless debate. They come from all kinds of genres, are often smaller budget or independent movies (although this hasn't stopped some big budget box office flops from becoming cult movies in their own right), and tend to be made by filmmakers with an unconventional approach to the material.
Not only was the 80s the decade which allowed fans to revisit the cult movies of years past, it was also a vital and energized decade for the production of new movies which would earn cult status. As huge blockbusters opened up the scope of industry investment at the same time as censorship became less restrictive, the stage was set for a new era of cinema.
From mind-blowing low budget horror which puts today's mainstream horror to shame, to outstanding animation and subversive comedies, here are the 20 best cult movies of the 1980s.
Andrzej Żuławski's Possession is a deceptive horror movie. Much like films such as From Dusk Til Dawn and Kill List, it sets out in a different genre before switching into a shocking horror which sneaks up out of the blue. Like Kill List, you'd be forgiven for thinking Possession is a marital drama, if you judged it only from the first hour or so.
Exploring the crumbling relationship between a spy (Sam Neill) and his wife (the incredible Isabelle Adjani), Possession's attention to the details of a marriage on the rocks has seen it likened to the films of Ingmar Bergman, notably Scenes From A Marriage. But when a private investigator hired by the husband discovers a dank apartment with a dark secret within, Possession shifts gears completely.
The Lovecraftian feel to the horror elements of Possession are perfectly realised, and Żuławski's understanding of the psychological deterioration of his characters - and how this decline is amplified by subplots involving political intrigue and occult occurrences - has justified Possession's entry into the canon of classic cult 1980s horror films.
Special mention goes to Adjani for her central performance (not least a scene in a subway in which she emits a seemingly endless amount of monstrous discharge), which earned her the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1981.