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10 Best Cult Classics of 2023

10 Best Cult Classics of 2023

While the buzz surrounding a film’s debut weekend is always exciting, the true test of its greatness lies in its enduring impact. Money may talk in the movie biz, but it doesn’t always accurately measure artistic brilliance or entertainment value.

But let’s dive into the fascinating world of cinema history and uncover the origins of cult classics. What hidden forces could have hindered their instant triumph? These hidden treasures were often overshadowed by the release of a mega-hit that stole the spotlight. Today, let’s take a closer look at a couple of examples, like Clerks and The Lost Boys, and uncover the films that cast a shadow on these beloved cult favorites.

1. Dazed and Confused’ (Overshadowed By ‘The Good Son’)

Dazed and Confused' (Overshadowed By 'The Good Son')
Release Date: September 24, 1993

In 1976, Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused became a beloved coming-of-age comedy. The film follows a group of teenagers as they celebrate their last day of high school. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jason London, Ben Affleck, and other well-known actors, it has even made it onto Quentin Tarantino’s top 10 films of all time list.

Unfortunately, Dazed and Confused faced some challenges at the box office. It struggled to make just under $8 million in ticket sales. Adding to its difficulties was the fact that it had to compete with The Good Son, a film where Macaulay Culkin portrays a mischievous and tormenting character. The Good Son proved to be the more popular choice among audiences, raking in an impressive $60.6 million in box office earnings.

2. The Lost Boys’ (Overshadowed By ‘The Living Daylights’)

The Lost Boys' (Overshadowed By 'The Living Daylights')
Release Date: July 31, 1987

Can you believe that Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys didn’t become a box office hit when it first came out? It’s widely considered as one of the best vampire movies ever made. The film follows the story of two brothers, Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim), who move to a new town and get tangled up in the world of vampires and vampire hunters. The performances of Kiefer Sutherland, Alex Winter, and Dianne Wiest only add to its appeal.

Although The Lost Boys made a decent $32.2 million domestically, it was unfortunately overshadowed by the release of The Living Daylights, a 007 film starring Timothy Dalton, which came out around the same time. As expected, like every other James Bond movie, The Living Daylights blew away its competition, raking in a staggering $192 million. However, in the long run, The Lost Boys has managed to maintain a dedicated and passionate fanbase.

3. This Is Spinal Tap’ (Overshadowed By ‘Against All Odds’)

This Is Spinal Tap' (Overshadowed By 'Against All Odds')
Release Date: March 2, 1984

Get ready to crank the volume up to 11, because This Is Spinal Tap is an absolute gem of a mockumentary that revolves around the fictional rock band, Spinal Tap. Directed by Rob Reiner, this film stars Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer as the iconic band members Nigel Tufnel, David St. Hubbins, and Derek Smalls. What makes This Is Spinal Tap even more hilarious is how it mirrors the real-life experiences of numerous rock bands, showcasing the eccentric, self-entitled, and indulgent characters that often populate the music industry.

Despite its side-splitting humor and its lasting impact on popular culture, This Is Spinal Tap only managed to bring in a modest $4.5 million at the domestic box office. Surprisingly, it was the thriller film Against All Odds, which tells the tale of a football star (played by Jeff Bridges) hired by a mobster (portrayed by James Woods) to locate his missing lover, that enjoyed significant commercial success, raking in a hefty $25.1 million.

4. Clue’ (Overshadowed By ‘The Jewel of the Nile’)

Clue' (Overshadowed By 'The Jewel of the Nile')
Release Date: December 13, 1985

Can you believe that a movie based on a board game actually became a cult classic? It’s pretty impressive, and it just goes to show how good Clue really is. The film revolves around six strangers who are trying to solve a murder that takes place during a dinner party.

Kristin Battestella from InSession Film had some really nice things to say about the movie. She praised its multiple endings that play with character deliveries, subtext, and the overall whodunit aspect. But don’t worry, the movie doesn’t completely throw the audience off with unexpected twists. It keeps things pleasant with deductions and winks.

Even though most people were familiar with the board game, Clue didn’t make a ton of money at the box office. It only managed to earn $14.6 million domestically. One reason for this could be because another movie called The Jewel of the Nile was released at the same time. The Jewel of the Nile brought back Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in their beloved roles from Romancing the Stone, and audiences were more drawn to this action-packed romantic comedy.

5. Little Shop of Horrors’ (Overshadowed By ‘Lady and the Tramp’)

Little Shop of Horrors' (Overshadowed By 'Lady and the Tramp')
Release Date: December 19, 1986

Frank Oz’s Little Shop of Horrors may seem like just another film remake on paper, but its true greatness lies in its adaptation of the stage musical, which drew inspiration from the previous film. Many consider this version to be the pinnacle of the franchise, thanks to its memorable soundtrack and outstanding performances by Rick Moranis, Steve Martin, and Levi Stubbs (the voice of the man-eating plant Audrey II).

Critic Walter Goodman also had high praise for the cast, particularly Levi Stubbs, stating: “Levi Stubbs’s powerful voice bursts forth from the insatiable plant, and Steve Martin and Bill Murray deliver knockout performances as a sadistic dentist and his masochistic patient.”

Although this rendition of Little Shop of Horrors is fondly remembered today and made a respectable $39 million at the box office, it faced tough competition during its initial release from the re-release of the beloved Disney classic, Lady and the Tramp. Those two lovable dogs had a field day, raking in the box office earnings and leaving Little Shop of Horrors in the dust.

6. Shaun of the Dead’ (Overshadowed By ‘The Forgotten’)

Shaun of the Dead' (Overshadowed By 'The Forgotten')
Release Date: September 24, 2004

Edgar Wright’s zom-com Shaun of the Dead is a delightful feature that captures how most people would react in a zombie apocalypse. The film revolves around Shaun (Simon Pegg) as he navigates his community amidst the outbreak of the undead. It brings a unique blend of humor and emotion to the apocalypse, presenting an ordinary person’s perspective.

Despite its status as a must-watch in the zombie genre and its $30 million box office success, Shaun of the Dead was overshadowed by The Forgotten. The latter is a suspenseful story about a mother (Julianne Moore) grieving the loss of her son, only to discover that he never actually existed. The Forgotten raked in $117.6 million during its release, but it has not maintained the same level of recognition as Shaun of the Dead.

7. Raising Arizona’ (Overshadowed By ‘Lethal Weapon’)

Raising Arizona' (Overshadowed By 'Lethal Weapon')
Release Date: March 13, 1987

In Raising Arizona, we get to see Nic Cage at his absolute best. This crime comedy follows the story of a childless couple, H.I. (played by Cage) and Ed (played by Holly Hunter), who decide to kidnap a quintuplet from a wealthy businessman. Despite their questionable actions, the Coen brothers manage to make this irreverent tale enjoyable and the leading duo likable.

According to Brian Eggert from Deep Focus Review, Raising Arizona is not only one of the Coen brothers’ funniest and most accessible films, but also one of their most introspective.

Unfortunately, Raising Arizona faced tough competition when it hit theaters just a week after the release of Lethal Weapon. This buddy cop extravaganza became one of the biggest action-comedy franchises in the world and dominated the box office with a staggering $65.2 million domestically. In comparison, Raising Arizona only managed to bring in $29.2 million worldwide.

8. Donnie Darko’ (Overshadowed By ‘K-PAX’ And ‘Thirteen Ghosts’)

Donnie Darko' (Overshadowed By 'K-PAX' And 'Thirteen Ghosts')
Release Date: October 26, 2001

Donnie Darko is often seen as that strange movie with a teenage protagonist who chats with a creepy bunny suit-wearing figure about the impending end of the world. And well, that description pretty much sums it up. But there’s something about this film that lingers with people long after it’s over, taking them on an emotional and thought-provoking rollercoaster ride.

However, despite its unique and innovative nature, Donnie Darko didn’t exactly set the box office on fire, only raking in $7.5 million worldwide. Granted, it’s not your typical blockbuster entertainment, but it also had to compete with the release of other films like the sci-fi drama K-PAX and the horror remake Thirteen Ghosts, which led to it getting lost in the shuffle. Interestingly enough, Thirteen Ghosts eventually gained a cult following, even though it wasn’t universally loved upon its initial release. And let’s not forget, it made more money than Donnie Darko too.

9. The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ (Overshadowed By ‘Jaws’)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show' (Overshadowed By 'Jaws')
Release Date: September 26, 1975

In 1975, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was released to audiences who were not yet aware of the sweet and sensational tracks that would become iconic. The film tells the story of Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, a couple who find themselves seeking shelter at a castle owned by Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a self-proclaimed transvestite from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania.

Despite its enduring popularity today, The Rocky Horror Picture Show initially struggled to attract audiences. It was overshadowed at the time by the toothy Steven Spielberg feature, Jaws, which focuses on a shark causing chaos in a coastal town. Interestingly, the filmmakers of The Rocky Horror Picture Show were well aware of the competition, even using the tagline “A different set of jaws” to playfully acknowledge it.

However, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has proven to be a gift that keeps on giving. Though it may have been a box office flop initially, the film’s lasting legacy has allowed it to continue generating revenue and proving to be a wise investment for everyone involved. It lives on through various Broadway productions and popular midnight screenings filled with tradition.

10. Army of Darkness’ (Overshadowed By ‘Groundhog Day’)

Army of Darkness' (Overshadowed By 'Groundhog Day')
Release Date: February 19, 1993

Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness, the final installment of the Evil Dead trilogy, delivers a brilliant conclusion as Ash Williams (played by Bruce Campbell) finds himself transported back to the Middle Ages. In this unique twist, he must once again battle the Deadites, but in a completely different setting. The stop-motion scenes in this film are particularly impressive, taking things to a whole new level of awesomeness.

Despite the immense popularity of the Evil Dead franchise among fans, it couldn’t compete with the box office success of Groundhog Day, a comedy starring Bill Murray. Groundhog Day revolves around a weatherman who finds himself trapped in a time loop, reliving the same day repeatedly. While Army of Darkness managed to bring in a respectable $21.5 million, Groundhog Day raked in an impressive $71.1 million, leaving the Evil Dead series in its shadow.

Emma Isabella
Emma Isabella
Emma is a regular contributor to WhatsNewNetflix. She likes delving into the world of Netflix TV shows as well as studying films, especially comedies.


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