Weekend Roundtable: Cult Movies That Actually Suck

Sometimes, great movies fail to catch a mass audience but play well to smaller throngs of devoted fans. On the other hand, sometimes cult movies with fervent followings turn out to actually just, you know, kind of suck. Our Roundtable this week is about the latter.

M. Enois Duarte

The immediate movie that jumps to mind is the utterly vapid and ridiculously beloved ‘The Boondock Saints‘. Writer and director Troy Duffy made a notorious name for himself by burning a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity while also setting fire to every bridge in Hollywood using the same matches. Nevertheless, he somehow managed to have his script financed and made, though theatrical distribution proved a far more difficult challenge and his eventual downfall.

The result is a preposterous plot with plenty of potential for something entertaining in the right hands of an experienced filmmaker. Instead, moviegoers are given an absurdly pretentious actioner that oozes with Duffy’s inflated and absolutely unwarranted ego. The movie feel cobbled together from other genre flicks while trying desperately for vainglorious action sequences that are ultimately shallow and lackluster, all punctuated by monotonous, eye-rolling dialogue. While I agree that the movie has earned its cult status for being so horribly bad (I even have it in my library because I’ve been an enthusiastic collector of bad movies since childhood), it baffles me when people praise this particular piece of garbage far beyond what it deserves. As a fervently passionate cult collector, this movie doesn’t even qualify as “so bad it’s good.” It’s just flat out garbage.

Shannon Nutt

I loved director Edgar Wright’s ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and enjoyed his recent film ‘Baby Driver’ quite a bit, but I hated, hated, hated ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World‘ and still have no idea why anyone likes this movie, let alone loves it.

About five minutes into the story (if that term even applies here), I was already sick of Michael Cera’s annoying quips and one-liners and exhausted by Wright’s quick cuts and bombardment of F/X shots. I’ve heard of having a short attention span, but ‘Scott Pilgrim’ was made for people with NO attention span. It’s a movie that makes Michael Bay look like David Lynch in terms of pacing. It’s one of the few movies where I found myself both bored and exhausted by the time the end credits finally rolled. It’s big, loud and brash, with a big ol’ helping of stupid.

Luke Hickman

Do you remember that guy in high school or college who tried oh-so-hard to be one of the cool kids? You know, the one that you look back on now and realize was just a major douche? For me, the cinematic equivalent of that is ‘Donnie Darko‘.

I was in college when the cult classic hit DVD shelves. I hadn’t heard of it before then, but a few girls who lived down the hall would not stop talking about it. They brought it over one night and said something along the lines of, “Don’t be frustrated if you don’t understand it. Nobody gets it the first time.” Then we watched it. And when it was over, they asked, “You didn’t like it, did you?” Before I could answer, they said, “You need to watch it again. Then it won’t be confusing. It will all make sense.” I responded by telling them it made complete sense, but that it was trying so hard to be cool that I saw straight through it.

That was the last time those girls came around again.

I revisited the movie with friends when the director’s cut was released a couple years later. I still didn’t like it.

Josh Zyber

It has to be ‘Equilibrium’. A million times, ‘Equilibrium‘. Before he made Batman begin, Christian Bale starred in a low-budget sci-fi flick about a dystopian future world where all emotion is outlawed and everyone is miserable and oppressed. The only hope for salvation comes when Bale’s government enforcer goon falls in love with a puppy and suddenly has a surge of emotion, gets woke, and single-handedly overthrows the totalitarian regime.

Blah blah blah, you get the idea. The movie cobbles together clichés from countless dystopian future stories (‘Fahrenheit 451’, ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, ‘The Matrix’, etc.), each executed as stupidly as possible. The basic premise makes no sense at all, and every beat of the plot is completely idiotic. The only merit in its favor is that writer/director Kurt Wimmer stages a number of unique action scenes in a made-up form of combat he calls “gun-kata,” which mixes kung-fu with shooting. Those scenes are actually pretty cool, which might explain why the movie grew a very vocal fandom who take this garbage way too seriously. Unfortunately, sitting through the scenes in between the action set-pieces is torture. I loathe this movie.

The director would later go on to make an even worse piece of shit called ‘UltraViolet‘, which is so insanely bad that nobody can defend it. That was his last directing credit, though he has somehow continued to score screenwriting gigs that inflicted both the ‘Total Recall’ and ‘Point Break’ remakes onto a world that didn’t want them.

Tell us in the Comments about the cult movies that you just can’t get behind.


  1. Luke, thank you so much for posting ‘Donnie Darko’. My distastes for this overrated piece of Hot Topic cinema delayed my appreciation for Gyllenhaal’s acting abilities.

    • “Hot Topic cinema” is the perfect label for it. There are so many elements within it that could have made for an excellent movie, but it was just trying too hard to be cool. Richard Kelly’s short-lived flame burned out pretty quickly, didn’t it? ‘Southland Tales’ only saw the light of day as a glorified workprint. And just like ‘Donnie Darko,’ the good idea buried within ‘The Box’ crumbled beneath its poor execution. Since 2009, he’s been off the grid.

  2. Josh – Isn’t there a logic issue with ‘Equilibrium’ where the final edit is out of sequence? It’s been over a decade since I’ve seen it, but wasn’t it something like the dog wouldn’t logically be in the trunk, or the gun swap was at the wrong time…something odd that when you saw it, it broke the whole movie.

  3. Charles M

    Hellraiser. Always thought it was a terrible movie.

    Escape from New York and Most of John Carpenter’s movies. Always considered him to be a hack. Escape is a perfect example, great concept (NY is a giant prison) and great character in Pliskeen. But Carpenter doesn’t anything with them. It’s just mostly Kurt Russell walking around. Not a single memorable action set piece in the movie.

  4. Timcharger

    Luke: “That was the last time those girls came around again.”

    I’m sure there’s a different version of this story after a couple beers and wifey’s not within earshot.

  5. Definitely agree on Boondock Saints. Just awful. I’d throw in Empire Records, too. Can’t stand that movie, but people always want to celebrate Rex Manning Day.

  6. Dave

    I always have hated Blade Runner. I’ve watched many different versions they are all terrible. Just some longer than others.

  7. Elizabeth

    I guess it’s more popular than a cult classic, but I can’t stand Pulp Fiction. I rented this back when DVD rental places were still a thing. I sat there wondering why I should care about any of the characters, completely bored. I watched the supposedly iconic dance with John Travolta getting his Saturday Night Fever grove on and was equally disinterested with Uma Thurman’s almost drug overdose. I made it to the introduction of Bruce Willis’ character. I was about an hour in and looked at the back of the box to discover there was still nearly an hour and a half to go. I cut it off and have never felt the desire to see those last 90 minutes.

    Runner-up: 2001: A Space Ody…………….sorry, this morning is so deadly dull even typing the title puts me to sleep. I’ve tried watching this “classic science fiction” movie a couple of times but have never made it more than 15-20 minutes before I was sound asleep.

    • NJScorpio

      I read this while having the Pulp Fiction soundtrack playing in the background.

      I’ve heard this complaint before about the movie, and it always ends with the person saying they never finished watching it. I know a big part of my enjoyment of the movie was the way it all came together, so I wonder if your final opinion of the movie would have been different if you finished it.

      I won’t criticize someone for stopping a movie, I’ve done that a handful of times (‘Tree of LIfe’ being one of them).

    • I was living in conservative Tulsa, Oklahoma, when ‘Pulp Fiction’ came out in theaters and saw a matinee of it with an audience that skewed older than myself (I was a college student at the time). I laughed uncontrollably for three hours while getting a number of stares and witnessing more than a few walk-outs. I remember leaving the theater and overhearing a couple in the lobby saying “That was horrible,” to which I replied, “no…you didn’t get it…that was fantastic.” I tried to tell them it was supposed to be a dark comedy, but they just thought I…and the movie…were sick. 🙂

      • My grandfather took me and my (younger) brother to see it when I was 14. He had no idea what it was. Before the opening “Honey Bunny” scene ended he told me he was going to sleep and to wake him when the movie was finished. Don’t know if he ever went back to watch the rest.

  8. Pedram

    It’s funny how opinions on film can vary so wildly. I loved Scott Pilgrim and also Equilibrium, but thought 2001 is a boring piece of overrated pretentious cinema, and don’t get why so many others love it.

    To each their own I guess. The one thing I won’t do though is try to convince someone else that it’s bad. If they love it, then who am I to try to convince them not to? I never got why some people seem almost offended when people loved a movie they don’t, and need to proclaim to the world how much it sucks. Let them enjoy it. How will that harm you in any way?

    • Trust me when I say I’m in the vast minority (at least among the types that visit movie sites such as this one) when it comes to ‘Scott Pilgrim’. I’ve come to loathe it more due to people I talk to who think it’s the best thing since sliced cheese. I think they got the cheese part right, though. 🙂

    • Timcharger

      Pedram: “I never got why some people seem almost offended when people loved a movie they don’t,and need to proclaim to the world how much it sucks.”

      Meet this Pedram: “2001 is a boring piece of overrated pretentious cinema.”

      Seriously, you did it in the same comment posting.


      Pedram: “Let them enjoy it. How will that harm you in any way?”
      It harms society when examples like Bayformers exist. Yes, in most cases, who cares if some crappy movies exist. But there are exemptions that we need to travel back in time to remedy our human history failings.

  9. Judas Cradle

    JUNO. the most painfully unfunny, hipster dialog ever put to film. A movie I literally would like to punch in the face.

  10. photogdave

    I think most of Kevin Smith’s movies gain a cult following. I can’t stand any of them
    I remember thinking Clerks was okay when I saw it in the theatre (might be time for a re-watch) but everything that followed absolutely stunk. Pretentious dialogue, lame characters, stupid plots, and worst of all — no laughs.

      • NJScorpio

        I think ‘Red State’ was a little underrated. It still seems to have the Kevin Smith film flaws photogdave mentioned, but he has a good eye for the blood and gore horror genre. He should have continued down that path, instead of trying to return to comedy.

  11. William Henley

    One that immediately comes to mind was Napoleon Dynamite. I did not get it. Every party I went to for two years, it was played at. I went from not caring about it on my first viewing to LOATHING it on my second, to wanting to kill myself by the third. I just did not get it. So why did I sit through multiple viewings of it? I was working with youth at the time, and the people in charge thought it would be a good idea to show it, over and over and over again. And the guy in charge loved the movie.

    • photogdave

      Totally agree. In fact, I feel that way about all the Hess movies except for Gentlemen Broncos, which is totally awesome!
      If this discussion was about favourite cult movies that no one else likes I would pick Gentlemen Broncos without hesitation. So achingly funny it hurts to watch.

    • Nick

      I loved Napoleon Dynamite! Its damn funny. AND its a family film that all ages can watch together – with no irritating schmaltzy sentimental crap! A very rare beast indeed!

  12. I’m not sure if it really is a cult movie, or if I was just pranked. Anyway, I bought DOLEMITE on DVD a while back, based on the recommendation of some very enthusiastic fans of the movie. After three attempts, I’ve still not made it past the first 20 minutes. Maybe you need to be stoned to enjoy it.

  13. Nick

    Scott Pilgrim…

    I cant even watch it because of insufferably annoying Michael Cera – be honest, you want to punch him too right?

    Donnie Darko… I did like this one but nowhere near as much as some people seem to do. Its good but its no classic or anything.

    Ultraviolet LOL. Milla Jovovich’s stab at a pop video!

  14. Bryan Toth


    I actually really kind of like Ultraviolet. Is it a *good* movie – hell, no. Is almost everything about it cheesy, over-the-top, and cliched – absolutely. However, there’s something about it I just find entertaining. (It doesn’t hurt that it stars Milla Jovovich essentially playing the same exact character that she does in the Resident Evil movies.) I won’t defend it per se, because I can certainly understand why almost everybody hates it, but I do find it fun in a mindless kind of way.

      • Chaz Dumbaugh

        And thats saying something coming from them because they actually enjoy schlocky movies most of the time. I love that podcast though, lovingly chew apart bad movies but they usually have a blast watching them too. I can be that way because I love B movies but yeah, Ultraviolet is just plain bad, like it wasnt even finished. I’m a big fan of Equilibrium though and was hoping for something really good with Ultraviolet but he tanked his whole career with that one it seems

      • Bryan Toth

        I’ll have to check that out. If even people that like schlocky movies find nothing good to say about it, there’s obviously just something wrong with me – I even bought the Zaavi Steelbook version …. 🙂

  15. Chaz Dumbaugh

    Yeah I enjoy all of those movies, especially Scott Pilgrim, I’ve seen that one A LOT since it came out and love it more every time I do 🙂

  16. Néstor P.

    I agree on Scott Pilgrim. I couldn’t finish it.

    My picks for cult movies that actually suck are: It Follows and The Fountain. I don’t know if the fountain qualifies as a cult movie, but it certainly sucks. No idea what was going on. My wife and I just plain hated it. I haven’t watched another Aronofsky movie since.

    It Follows was just mind numbingly slow and lacked absolutely any scares. I fell asleep towards the final 10-15 minutes but my wife made it through. I asked her what happened at the end and she said: “Nothing”. That was good enough for me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *