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fake cult classics the funhouse
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Laughing Sally as featured in The Funhouse

The twelve horror movies on this list feel a lot like cult classics, but going by my personal method to decide what constitutes cult cinema and what doesn’t none of these is actually one.

My personal method, like I wrote elsewhere on this website, to decide if a movie deserves the cult classic status is very simple.

If the movie in question was either made or produced (distribution doesn’t count) by a big studio, that disqualifies it from being called a cult classic by me.

I used IMDb’s rating to order this list, it’s ordered from the lowest-rated to the highest.

12. The Funhouse (1981)

the funhouse
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The Funhouse (1981)










Universal produced this horror gem. This movie is neither like Carnival of Blood (1970) or Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood (1973). This is a well-written and equally well-filmed horror classic by Tobe Hooper.

I named those two movies that came before because I think that, somewhat, what The Funhouse, which in certain parts looks very b-grade, does is what those other two movies tried to do and failed. To be an average, scary horror movie set in an amusement park.

It may be that I’m a fan of dark rides and ghost trains and every other similar amusement, but I’m very upset to see this movie as the lowest rated of this batch. I may be seeing the world through funfair-colored glasses, but I dare say as a horror movie, is not an average horror movie, but somewhat above the average level due to its high entertainment value.

This movie is purely and simply a love letter to the lovers of the theme park, amusement park, and funfair. The whole of the first third of the movie is spent getting to know the park, its rides, and the personages that populate it.

11. Of Unknown Origin (1983)

of unknown origin
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Of Unknown Origin (1983)












No, the man in the movie’s poster (not shown here) is not Walter “Heisenberg” White. It’s actually Peter Weller.

The plot of this movie is more or less this: Robocop, now a yuppie, meets rat, rat decides to set up camp in Robocop’s apartment, rat makes Robocop crazy… you can imagine the rest.

10. Zeder (1983)

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Zeder (1983)















Zeder was one of those movies with that hard to pinpoint something that makes it very clear that the item in question is a product of the 1980s.

It’s hard to tell from where the feeling may come, it may be a product of the iconic technology used to film it, it may be a less objective sensation caused by a combination of elements. I don’t know. But Zeder is one of those movies that feel totally 1980s to me.

Another example of what I’m saying, that came to my mind while writing this, is Lair of The White Worm. That’s another movie with that strange 1980s atmosphere, that I feel in many horror movies of that decade.

Anyway, be warned that the plot in Zeder is a very, very slow burn. This movie may annoy you and bore you for nigh 85-95% of its running time, but when the payoff at the end comes, it’s going to amaze you.

9. Dead of Winter (1987)

dead of winter
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Dead of Winter (1987)















This is a movie to watch deep into the winter, in one of those lonely, cold nights where spring still seems an unlikely, faraway dream.

Not many movies made me feel like Dead of Winter, and I’m an addict to its feels and looks. Some day you’ll be able to get a list on this site that will group this movie with many other midnight specials (as I love to call them) like it.

8. Inferno (1980)

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Inferno (1980)












Argento’s output is way too long and interspersed with Giallo cinema. It is going to be a chore for me the day I decide to curate his movies. I will, someday, separate the horror gold from the (as I see them) inferior Giallo. His Giallo movies generally don’t interest me as much as his pure horror movies.

I know that it’s not what I’m going to say is just stupid, but also a gross generalization or comparison, but I think Inferno could be considered a spin-off of Argento’s Three Mothers Trilogy saga, it’s about witches, and we all know that witches are Dario’s forte.

7. Elvira: Mistress of The Dark (1988)

elvira mistress of the dark
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Elvira Mistress of The Dark (1988)












The first movie with exuberant Elvira in the lead may fool many as its status. Since it was produced by (among others) NBC Productions, its standing as a cult classic remains dubious.

I would classify Elvira Mistress of The Dark as a black comedy with horror elements, still, you can’t deny that Cassandra Petersen is a heavyweight in the horror arena since the 1980s and, like it or not, pretty much Vampira’s successor. She hosted many true cult classics in her 1980s TV show, so that makes both this movie and the sequel interesting for horror fans that like cult classics.

6. Body Double (1984)

body double
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Body Double (1984)











A movie about a claustrophobic horror b-movie star. Not much else to say about Body Double, other than Melanie Griffith characterized as a young woman of the era (and a rather punk-ish one, at that), looks gorgeous in this flick; she was 28 years old, by the way.

5. Dark Night of The Scarecrow (1981)

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Dark Night of The Scarecrow (1981)















It hurts to call this movie just a relative cult classic, but it’s not clear to me who produced it.

IMDb only shows Wizan productions in the free version of the website, but in a different database CBS appears as its production house, so Dark Night of The Scarecrow as not a cult classic is still debatable for me.

4. The Hidden (1987)

the hidden
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The Hidden (1987)












If we consider Twin Peaks, Roswell, Blue Velvet, and The Hidden, we could say that Kyle MacLachlan is a genre actor for different flavors of the weird and bizarre genres. This movie certainly looks like what you’d call a cult film. Yet, it was produced by Warner Brothers’ subsidiary New Line Cinema.

3. White Dog (1982)

white dog
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White Dog (1982)












A rather bizarre, if not that unthinkable, movie produced by Paramount. Movies in general teach a lot of stuff.

The thing you’re going to learn watching White Dog, a movie which belongs to the horror drama genre, is a very difficult thing to learn I guess. The odds of learning that thing by yourself are virtually zero.

You will learn that a so-called white dog can be created, if you want to know how, then watch the movie.

2. Warlock (1989)

elvira mistress of the dark
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Warlock (1989)

Warlock is a well-done little movie, with a thrilling plot and interesting setting. It has all the trappings of a cult classic and more. Yet, it isn’t one, since it was produced by Fox.

1. The Night Stalker (1974)

kolchak the night stalker
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The Night Stalker (1974)














The introduction of the endearing paranormal detective Kolchak to audiences. This movie shouldn’t be classified as a cult classic, even if it is super-cheesy. It is actually a TV movie that was produced by Universal.

It also works as a pilot for the TV series, but IMDb doesn’t make that fact obvious and even gives the database entry for the whole series and hence a wrong running time.

Conclusion: Cult Classics or Not

I’m not actually satisfied with the audiences perception and rating of these movies. They seem to favor the ones that look and feel more accomplished as horror cult classics even if they, going by my method, can never be considered as such.

© Bholenath Valsan 2021–2023 — Cult Classics that Weren’t: 12 Horror Movies That Seem Cult Classics – Cult Classics


I curate horror things for horror fans to discover them without hassle

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