My Neighbor Totoro (1988, Japan)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
Starring Chika Sakamoto, Noriko Hidaka and Hitoshi Takagi.
86 Minutes – Rated G

The first truly great film by Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, My Neighbor Totoro exemplifies everything we love about both.

A father and his two girls move to the country while the mother is in the hospital long-term. Soon the sisters become enchanted with the world of trees and spirits (such as herds of the wandering soot Susuwatari and the great Totoro, keeper of the forest and umbrella enthusiast). Still, their mother’s absence and lingering illness hangs over them.

This is a quiet film that lacks a driving conflict but is all the better for it. Despite all the fantasy, there is realness to the sisters and their relationship. This deep understanding of childhood and its wonders is the true magic behind Totoro and Studio Ghibli.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

Director John Cameron Mitchell.
Starring John Cameron Mitchell, Miriam Shor, Stephen Trask, Andrea Martin and Michael Pitt.
92 Minutes – Rated R

Hedwig is the tale of a “slip of a girly boy” from East Berlin. He flees to the West by trying to change his gender but “My sex change operation got botched… Now all I got is a Barbie doll crotch, I’ve got an angry inch!”

Born out of real drag shows, this flick is too creative, too outlandish and too much fun. Hedwig’s story is told through a series of concerts at crummy seafood restaurants. The songs are consistently entertaining and some of our favorites to be performed in stilettos since our first trip to Frankie’s castle. Despite all the ridiculousness, there is an emotional depth to our lead and his journey (due in no small part to writer/director/lead Mitchell).

Deny Hedwig and be doomed.

Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Directed by Dan O’Bannon.
Starring Clu Gulager, James Karen and Don Calfa.
91 Minutes – Rated R

Zombie comedy? Zom-com? Zomedy? “Shut up and listen man!” Return of the Living Dead is the first real entry into the aforementioned sub-sub-genre.

Night of the Living Dead was based on true events but the real bodies are lost. They end up contaminating Resurrection Cemetery while it is inhabited by a group of sex and death obsessed teens. Being undead hurts and the zombies need brains to alleviate their suffering, so a-biting-they-will-go. However, the pain of being dead can’t possibly be as bad as the pain of plodding all the way through this one, only to get to that explosive dud of an ending.

This flick features shitty punk rock, shitty synth music and few laughs. We admire it for being a trail blazer but it only took a couple of months for it to be completely surpassed by Re-Animator and it seems to have fewer and fewer followers as the years roll by.

They Live (1988)

Director John Carpenter.
Starring Roddy Piper and Keith David.
93 Minutes – Rated R

Government forces are on the hunt for a group of communists. These homegrown terrorists are armed and dangerous. They can be identified by the dark sunglasses agents wear while in public.

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OBEY. CONSUME. WATCH TV. Hey brothers and sisters, welcome to the real world. Formaldehyde faced aliens walk among us and control everything. But with these babies on, you can see the truth. We have a guy, don’t know his name, but he’s got a plan to strike back.

They Live is as emblematic of our odd, obsessive genre as it gets. Everything screams cult movie, from Carpenter’s slow, thudding bass soundtrack, to Piper’s perfectly rough performance, to the corny one liners and famed fight scene. Needless to say, this is a flick that we love and, deservedly, lives on.

Warriors, The (1979)

Directed by Walter Hill.
Starring Michael Beck, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, James Remar, Lynne Thigpen, Doresy Wright, Marcelino Sanchez, and Roger Hill, Terry Michos, and Tom McKitterick. Warriors
94 Minutes – Rated R

All you boppers out there, all you cultists with an eye for action, we have a flick for you.

Cyrus, the one and only, brings together all the gangs of New York in truce. But he is assassinated and the warriors are wrongfully blamed. The group is wanted alive or wasted and have to bop their way back to home turf of Coney Island with enemies in every direction.

To pause is to die and we love this breakneck pace that keeps everything sprinting along. Add in the over the top gangs (particularly the baseball furies) and the setting of a dirty and dangerous New York (that birthed punk rock around this same time) and it’s easy to see why The Warriors is still a cult classic despite losing much of its original, visceral punch.

To answer your question Cyrus, we can dig it.

Sneak peak!

We know things have been dark around these parts for much of the year (damn school!) but your Caretakers are returning! We will see you very, very soon!

Your lately lentitudinous,
Cult Caretakers

Coming Soon:
Escape From New York
The Warriors
Last Action Hero
Last Temptation of Christ
The NeverEnding Story
Videodrome
History of Violence

Groundhog Day (1993)

Directed by Harold Ramis.
Starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliott.
101 Minutes – Rated PG

A conceited weatherman is sent on his least favorite assignment, “A thousand people freezing their butts off to worship a rat.” He suffers through but wakes the next morning to find there is no tomorrow, only Groundhog Day.

The real genius of this flick is that is doesn’t bog itself down in the hows or whys of Phil’s repeating day. Rather, it centers on his journey from disbelieving asshole to piggishness, depression and finally acceptance. Ramis and Murray made multiple cult comedies together but this, their last collaboration, is the most heartfelt and thought provoking.

Inconsequentially, your Caretakers can’t think of a more hellish fate than an eternity of “I Got You Babe.”

Merry Christmas!

We wanted to wish a quick Merry Christmas to each and every fellow cultists who frequents our tiny corner of the net. We hope you’re with your family and are enjoying a good Christmas cult flick!

We will see you soon for our 2009 inductees!

Bad Santa (2003)

Directed by Terry Zwigoff.
Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, Brett Kelly, Lauren Tom, John Ritter and Bernie Mac.
91 Minutes – Rated R

Put the kiddos to bed! This Santa’s a swearing, sot, slut and you won’t want the little ones anywhere near his urine soaked lap. He cons his way from mall to mall, despising kids, Christmas and everything except booze, big women and the haul of cash he steals annually.

Thornton plays inebriated a little too convincingly and it comes as no surprise he later admitted to being genuinely drunk. His development from completely awful (“Your soul is dog shit.”) to slightly less awful (“It’s Christmas and the kids getting his fucking Christmas present!”) isn’t that of Scrooge but is satisfying in its own right.

Bad Santa is the perfect remedy for The Happy Little Elves hangover that too many family flicks tend to bring.