Anaconda (1997)

You really wouldn’t expect a story about a man-eating monster to be this boring.

A documentary crew floats into the Amazon rainforest in search of a good story. They rescue a stranger who temps them with the tale of a creature who will “…strike, wrap around you. Hold you tighter than your true love.”

The early CGI makes Syfy channel originals look like masterworks of technical wizardry (despite its $100,000 a second price tag). But, what keeps Anaconda from going adrift in the river of forgettable flicks is Oscar winner Jon Voight as the snarling stranger. His accent is almost as weird and indistinguishable as Tommy Wiseau’s, and his performance comes across so bafflingly bad. One look, and you may become hypnotized.

Directed by Luis Llosa.
Starring Jon Voight, Jennifer Lopez, and Ice Cube.
89 Minutes – Rated PG-13

Abominable Dr. Phibes, The (1971, UK)

If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.”
– John Donne

Strange, ritualistic murders begin happening to medical doctors. The only thing they have in common is a single patient that they failed to save. It couldn’t possibly be her husband who died at the same time… Or could it?

This tale of biblical revenge and eternal love is weird even by Price’s standards. There is little dialog. Price himself doesn’t speak for more than half an hour. Instead, we see him quietly disposing of those whom he blames for taking his beloved.

They really and truly don’t make them like this anymore. But after seeing the not-so-good doctor deliver “nine eternities in doom,” you, like us, will wish they did.

Directed by Robert Fuest.
Starring Vincent Price.
94 Minutes – Rated R

Army of Darkness (1992)

This sorta, kinda, sequel to Evil Dead II sends Ash into a renaissance faire version of the past. He comes armed with his chainsaw arm, boomstick, and chemistry book. Along the way, he battles life and pint-sized versions of himself, demons galore, misbehaved books, a tongue twister spell, and, as might be expected, an army of darkness.

Rami ramped up the comedic aspects with each Evil Dead entry, and Army of Darkness succumbs to all-out silliness. While this may disappoint some, don’t let it. Campbell tackles his role with self-awareness, mockery, and sheer bravado. His performance makes the whole movie an absolute romp and firmly secures his status as a cult movie icon.

Ash is one king worth bending the knee to, baby.

AKA: Bruce Campbell vs. Army of Darkness
Directed by Sam Raimi.
Starring Bruce Campbell.
89 Minutes – Rated R

Alien (1979)

A blue-collar spaceship picks up an odd signal. Upon investigation, the crew finds a wrecked alien ship and a sea of slimy eggs. After the eye-opening hatching of one of the little fellas, and they decide to get the hell out of Dodge. But it is far too late.

Alien is a masterful melding of sci-fi and horror. The alien is as grotesque as it is intimidating and one of the best-designed creatures ever (kudos to H.R. Giger). The rest of the designs are equally impressive. Combine all of this with Ridley Scott’s penchant for visual storytelling, and you have a film that changed both sci-fi and horror (for the better).

Final report. Alien is still a harrowing experience and a voyage to space that all cultists must endure. This is your Cult Caretakers, signing off.

Directed by Ridley Scott.
Starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto.
117 Minutes – Rated R

28 Days Later (2002, UK)

Nothing since George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead has inspired zombie lovers to such an extent, and, while the villains are not technically dead, they are oh so horrifying.

The UK faces a plague fittingly named “The Rage”. An apocalyptic 28 days follow unseen. A man wakes in a hospital, alone, with no knowledge of the events. The next 28 days, which we do see, are loaded with mayhem and savagery as the infected pursue the man and other survivors.

There are no cheap thrills here, folks. The violence is unsettling and, naturally, what we paid our money for this. But what makes 28 Days Later stand out is the story. It builds and builds before climaxing into a perfect crescendo. Cult classic is the logical conclusion for this most gratifying spectacle. 

Incidentally, the bad guys are FAST!

Starring Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, and Megan Burns.
Directed by Danny Boyle.
113 Minutes – Rated R