Netflix is the perfect place for cult movies: like DVD and VHS before it, it’s a place where films that didn’t necessarily make a big splash in the cinemas can find the audiences they deserve.
Cult films are the films we watch again and again to try and unpick their appeal, to understand why others tried to suppress them or just to wonder what on Earth the director was thinking.
These are some of our favourite cult films on Netflix. Our choices are based on the current Netflix UK catalogue, but you should find them in other regions too – and if you find that your particular territory doesn’t have them, you can always use one of the best VPNs to make more streaming content available where you are.
If you’re a cult film fan, the code you need to go straight to the cult section in Netflix UK is 7627 (opens in new tab).
Want even more great recommendations for content to watch right now? Then check out T3's top 3 Disney Plus action movies to watch in February 2022.
The original Dune may be best known for pop star Sting in strange plastic pants, but the 1984 space-and-spice epic is much more interesting than that: it’s even weirder than you’d expect from a David Lynch movie, which is really saying something. It bombed at the box office and Lynch disowned it, but Dune became a cult hit via word of mouth. The 2021 remake is slicker and more accessible but the original is much more ambitious and much more odd: it’s hazy, experimental and often makes you wonder what the hell David Lynch was doing in the editing room. Is the remake a better film? Almost certainly. But if you love cult movies, the original Dune is a lot more fun.
The live-action remake keeps getting pushed back – it’s been in development for the best part of 20 years now – but while Marvel favourite Taika Waititi struggles to get the remake made you can enjoy the incredible anime original. The 1988 film takes place in Neo-Tokyo, a post-apocalyptic city of high tech and low-lifes, where teenage biker Tetsuo suddenly develops incredible psychic powers. It’s a powerful and beautiful movie that rewards multiple viewings.
David Fincher’s 1999 tale of violent masculinity still has the power to unsettle: just this week Chinese authorities mandated a new ending because they felt the real one was too dangerous to view. It’s a thrilling and often very funny film with fantastic performances by Ed Norton, Brad Pitt and the late Meat Loaf, but – like Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers and Mary Harron’s American Psycho – it’s also been widely misinterpreted, embraced by the very people it set out to satirise.
Bonus movie: Planes, Trains and Automobiles
When you look at the plot for this cult classic you'd be left scratching your head as to what is the big deal, as it literally is two guys trying to get across North America so one of them can have a Thanksgiving Day dinner with his family.
Of course, it is far much more than that, though, with a series of very funny misadventures along the way and a comedy odd-couple dynamic making the movie incredibly watchable.
Steve Martin is on fire in his uptight mode, while the late-great John Candy delivers a classic performance as the good-natured but annoying Del Griffith. And, as ever with Candy, the last act emotional sucker punch is one of his best ever.
For even more great movie recommendations to watch right now be sure to also check out T3's roundup of the best new films on Netflix, as well as top sci-fi, martial arts, action-comedy and anime sci-fi top picks.