We’ll start with an un-classic cult. In 1987 a Japanese cult known as Ho No Hana was founded by Hogen Fukunaga, a man who claimed he could see a person’s past and future by looking at their feet. He used his followers’ health as a kind of ransom (it’s a long story) and extorted 150 million yen out of them, a 30,000 member cult. Thankfully he was caught and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Cult Classic: Donnie Darko (2001). This one is a strange movie in a lot of ways (common for cult classics), but I’m glad I watched it. There is a clear and intriguing story that keeps you watching. The strange things don’t bother you, though the ending of the movie bothers some. At the very least it is fun to talk about with people who have seen it and want to make sense of it with you. I definitely recommend it.
Un-Classic Cult: Order of the Solar Temple. This group claims to be based on the Knights Templar. They mix Christian, New Age, Freemason, and UFO religion in their beliefs and practices. In the mid-90’s a total of 69 members had been burned on a plateau in France, Switzerland, and right here in Canada. The one in Canada included an infant being stabbed multiple times at the request of his father who claimed the baby was the antiChrist.
Cult Classic: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I saw this movie, a rare Johnny Depp picture that is not directed by Tim Burton. His and Benicio del Toro’s performances are quirky, bizarre, at times funny, and definitely memorable. But I really didn’t get it. Not crazy about this one.
Un-Classic Cult: The Branch Davidians. This was the cult led by David Koresh in Waco, Texas. After being disowned by the Seventh Day Adventists as a young man, he joined this cult, had an affair with its founder, and was chosen by her to succeed him. He claimed to be a messiah and that all women, even underage girls and wives of other men, were married to him. His child abuse was overlooked by his loyal followers, but the government wasn’t too pleased with it, as well as with his alarmingly large collection of firearms. They raided the compound where there was a 51-day shootout/standoff, and a subsequent fire started from within. The flames took Koresh’s life as well as 80 of his followers, including 20 children.
Cult Classic: Being John Malkovich (1999). Enjoyable, but I’m not sure why it became a cult classic. It’s worth seeing just for one scene where a character gets heckled when a kid in a car driving by throws a pop can at him. Not that that is incredibly funny, but it was unscripted. They had no idea they’d be in this movie!
Un-Classic Cult: Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments. It’s a long name, but it’s an official one. These folks predicted the earth would come to an end on December 31, 1999 (How original!). When that didn’t happen they said that the Virgin Mary would come to earth on March 17 of 2000. That didn’t happen either, but what did happen that day was a big explosion and fire killing hundreds of its members. The police feared this was a mass suicide, but it wasn’t. The cult’s leaders had set this up, murdered their flock, and skipped town.
Cult Classic: Reservoir Dogs (1992). This one is amazing! The story, the filming, the acting is all so good I tend to think it may be Tarantino’s best movie. There is one disturbing scene, though it’s more of a case of convincing you, the viewer, that you’re seeing something you’re not.
Un-Classic Cult: Church of Euthanasia. Under the guidance of founder Chris Korda, this cult has a very clear and underlying belief that can be summed up in its most popular slogan: “Save the planet, kill yourself.” They promoted and encouraged suicide, even having a suicide hotline devoted to helping convince people to take their own lives.
Cult Classic: Nacho Libre (2006). If you haven’t seen this movie, what are you even doing with your life? The quotable quotes you will leave with after watching are worth their weight in gold. (Yes, I know quotes don’t weigh anything, but you know what I’m saying.)
Congratulations Nacho Libre. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Marisa Tomei as Cassidy in The Wrestler.
Best Actor: Definitely not anyone in No Holds Barred. Mickey Rourke as Randy “The Ram” Robinson in The Wrestler.
Best Quote: “Beneath the clothes, we find a man… and beneath the man, we find his… nucleus.” — Jack Black as Nacho/Ignatio in Nacho Libre.
Back in 2014 I gave the following list of who I thought were the greatest movie characters of all time:
- Jack Sparrow; Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (2003-2017)
- Clark Griswold; National Lampoon’s Vacation movies (1983-2015)
- Tyler Durden; Fight Club (1999)
- Nacho/Ignacio; Nacho Libre (2006)
- Lloyd Christmas; Dumb and Dumber (1994)
- Daniel Plainview; There Will Be Blood (2007)
- Ron Burgundy; Anchor Man franchise (2004-2013)
- Guido Orefice; Life Is Beautiful (1997)
- Rocky Balboa; Rocky franchise (1976-2018)
- The Tramp; Charlie Chaplin movies (1920’s, 1930’s)
- Austin Powers and Dr. Evil; Austin Powers franchise (1997-2002)
- Darth Vader; Star Wars franchise (1977-present)
I don’t know what I was thinking giving Jack Sparrow the #12 spot, but here is another 12 that I’d say are also amoung the greatest:
- Nurse Ratched, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
- Immortan Joe, Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
- Napoleon Dynamite, Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
- Col. Jessup, A Few Good Men (1992)
- Buster Scruggs, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
- Doc Brown, Back to the Future (1995)
- Marge Gunderson, Fargo (1996)
- Raymond Babbit, Rain Man (1988)
- Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller (1986)
- Sonny/E.F., The Apostle (1997)
- Forrest Gump, Forrest Gump (1994)
- Buddy the Elf, Elf (2003)