Vampires. Werewolves. Nazis. Incest. Lobotomies. We're serving up 10 must-watch cult classics you have to see to believe.
By
SBS Movies

8 Jul 2016 - 10:57 AM  UPDATED 8 Jul 2016 - 11:14 AM

Click the image to watch each film in full at SBS On Demand. 

Vampyros Lesbos

MA15+
Germany, Spain, 1971
Genre: Horror
Language: German
Director: Jess Franco
Starring: Soledad Miranda, Ewa Strömberg, Andrés Monales
What's it about?
Count Dracula's descendant, Nadine Countess Korody (Soledad Miranda), entices young women to her isolated island, then seduces and kills them in order to remain young. A lawyer, Linda Westinghouse, becomes fascinated with Nadine, when visiting her about an inheritance from the Dracula family. Linda becomes her newest victim, giving her blood to Nadine, but now she must try and save herself from joining the vampire world forever.

 

She Killed in Ecstasy

MA15+
Spain, Germany, 1971
Genre: Horror
Language: German
Director: Jesus Franco
Starring: Howard Vernon, Soledad Miranda, Ewa Strömberg
What's it about?
Made right after Vampyros Lesbos, She Killed in Ecstasy again stars Soledad Miranda as the widow of a young doctor who kills himself after a medical committee terminates his research into human embryos, considering it too inhumane. She seeks revenge on those who drove her husband to his death by luring each member of the committee into compromising situations and then killing them one by one.

 

The Night Porter

MA15+
Italy, 1974
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Liliana Cavani
Starring: Dirk Bogarde, Charlotte Rampling, Philippe Leroy
What's it about?
One of the most controversial films of the 1970s, The Night Porter stars Charlotte Rampling as a Holocaust survivor who discovers the Nazi officer who tortured her (Dirk Bogarde) working as a night porter in a Viennese hotel. The couple then resume their sadomasochistic relationship, thirteen years after the end of the war.

 

The Cars That Ate Paris

M
Australia, 1974
Genre: Horror, Comedy
Language: English
Director: Peter Weir
Starring: John Meillon, Terry Camilleri, Kevin Miles
What's it about?
The Cars That Ate Paris is the fiendishly funny debut feature from Picnic at Hanging Rock director Peter Weir. After the death of his brother on the road, unemployed and unstable drifter Arthur Waldo stays for a while in the rural Australian town of Paris as the guest of the mayor. Arthur soon realises the quaint town has a sinister secret: they orchestrate car accidents and rob the victims. Survivors are brought to the local hospital, lobotomised, and used for a local doctor's experiments.

 

Patrick

M
Australia, 1978
Genre: Horror
Language: English
Director: Richard Franklin
Starring: Robert Thompson, Rod Mullinar, Susan Penhaligon
What's it about?
Richard Franklin’s Patrick was a minor hit back in 1978, before it became cult with the retro crowd (largely thanks to some typically loud love from one Quentin Tarantino). Patrick is deep in a coma in hospital after murdering his mother and her lover three years ago. Pretty Nurse Jacquard senses that Patrick is communicating with her, and is using psychic powers to manipulate events in her life, with chilling effect.

 

Escape from New York

M
United States, 1981
Genre: Science Fiction
Language: English
Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Kurt Russell, Adrienne Barbeau, Lee Van Cleef
What's it about?
The first in John Carpenter's trifecta of '80s cult classics with Kurt Russell, including The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China, Escape from New York is the movie that cemented Kurt in the action hero hall of fame. It's the year 1997, and Manhattan has been transformed into a dystopian high-security prison. When the President's plane is brought down into bad old Gotham by the unruly inmates, one-eyed badass Snake Plissken (Russell) is tasked with getting him out. 

 

Scanners

MA15+
Canada, 1981
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction
Language: English
Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Jennifer O'Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan
What's it about?
In the mindblowing Scanners, David Cronenberg (Videodrome, The Fly) explores his theme of choice: body modification. Scanners are people with extraordinary telepathic powers, who can read people's minds, make them mad or even explode. Darryl Revok, a rebellious scanner, is the leader of an underground movement and decides to wage a war against a weapons manufacturer who uses people of his ilk for their dastardly purposes.

 

An American Werewolf in London

MA15+
USA, 1981
Genre: Horror
Language: English
Director: John Landis
Starring: David Schofield, Rik Mayall, David Naughton
What's it about?
Lauded at the time of its release for its outstanding make-up effects, this cult "scary-funny" movie by John Landis follows two American college students on a backpacking holiday in England. When they are attacked by a werewolf, only one of them, David, survives and is taken to the hospital in London. But his dead friend soon appears to him in his dreams (in various stages of decomposition), and warns David that he was infected and that he will be turning into a werewolf at the next full moon. Wouldn't you know it - his dead buddy's right.

 

Flowers in the Attic

M
USA, 1987
Genre: Thriller
Language: English
Director: Jeffrey Bloom
Starring: Louise Fletcher, Victoria Tennant, Kristy Swanson
What's it about?
There's creepiness aplenty in this 1987 adaptation of V.C. Andrews' shocking novel (which was recently remade with Heather Graham and Ellen Burstyn in the leading roles). A widow (Victoria Tennant) moves with her four children in her parents' house. When a shocking family secret threatens to be unearthed, the children are locked in an attic by their deceitful mother and cruel grandmother.

 

Velvet Goldmine

MA15+
United Kingdom, 1998
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Todd Haynes
Starring: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Christian Bale, Ewan McGregor, Toni Collette
What's it about?
Director Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, Carol) recreates the UK glam rock scene of the '70s by following British journalist Arthur Stuart (Christian Bale) on an investigation about the rise and fall of his childhood hero, pop superstar Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Also stars Ewan McGregor as rebellious American singer Curt Wild, and Toni Collette as Slade's wife Mandy.

Velvet Goldmine Review

 

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