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10 Cinematic Cults That We Would Consider Joining

From venerated car engines to pagan mosh pits, some cinematic cults seem like a total blast.
List Cinematic Cults
By  · Published on July 23rd, 2018

When it comes to cinematic baddies, cults are right up there with Freddie, Jason, and buzzkill EPA agents that hate ghostbusting. And just like any villain, not all fictional cults are born bad, they’re just politically organized that way. In fact, some films feature fictitious cults that seem reasonable at times. Attractive, even. Dare I say…fun.

Cults Wicker Man

don’t you dare tell me that prancing, dragged-up Christopher Lee isn’t having the time of his life

This isn’t to say that “fun” cults don’t have their downsides. Fancy velour robes and secret basement rituals tend to come at a price. Usually, a human one, because “I bet those weirdos with different beliefs kill babies” has been a staple in the human interaction playbook for centuries.

The difference between what makes cults bad and religions good is fuzzy. There are those who’d argue that specific antisocial, criminal behaviors like brainwashing and sexual deviancy define cults. Others would say that what makes a cult a cult is other people calling it one; that cults are groups that challenge the status quo and are, as such, inherently villainous. 

I don’t know about you, but doing things differently has a certain appeal to it. Don your goat masks, here are ten cinematic cults that we’d consider joining:


Cult of the V8 | Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Cults Mad Max: Fury Road

In a post-apocalypse that doubles as a demolition derby, best believe there’s going to be some strong feelings about cars. And who among us did not succumb to car-fanaticism while watching Mad Max: Fury Road? The Cult of V8’s foundation is unknown, and irrelevant, with Fury Road doubling down on its silent film spirit by showing, not telling, us about its shiny and chrome theology. The War Boys build altars out of personalized steering wheels, craft intricate iconography into scrap metal, cry out for Valhalla, and embrace the liturgy of gesture. In this sour, irradiated sandlot — the only salvation is vehicular.

Pros: Something to distract from being riddled with apocalypse cancer

Cons: Ritual self-sacrifice


Unnamed pagan cult | The Wicker Man (1973)

Cult The Wicker Man

We can all agree that burning people alive is a bad thing. But there’s something undeniably bold about following up human sacrifice with a cheery round of folk songs. The Wicker Man’s got it all: Morris dancing, nude fire-jumping fertility rituals, animal masks, constant musical numbers, a fearless leader in Sir Christopher Wicker Man is not a horror movie Lee. If Wicker Man wanted to put us off sacrificial tree-loving it shouldn’t have made it look so damn fun. Sorry, well-meaning party pooper cop. Wrong place, wrong time.

Pros: Seasonal parties

Cons: Seasonal murder


Locker C-18| Men in Black II (2002)

Cult Men in Black II

On their quest to save the world, agents Kay and Jay stop by a locker in Grand Central Station that is home to a society of tiny aliens who worship Kay, “the light-giver,” as their god. Their faith is based around the objects Kay has left in the locker over the years, which include a wristwatch (“you left it to illuminate our streets and our hearts!”) and a video store membership card that doubles as a sacred text (“Be kind! Rewind!”). When Kay retrieves the watch and panic ensues, Agent Jay replaces it with his own, supplanting Kay as the locker’s deity. Locker C-18 has everything: wide-spread peace, adaptable allegiances, and a large adult entertainment section in the back.

Pros: Peace under the watch-ful benevolence of Tommy Lee Jones

Cons: Condemned to a lifetime in a train locker


Army of the Twelve Monkeys | 12 Monkeys (1995)

Cult 12 Monkeys

Driven underground by a bio-catastrophe, mankind orders a very disoriented Bruce Willis to go back in time to find and stop the perpetrators: a shadowy “let the world burn” group called the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. In the end, the Army is revealed to be a mostly harmless if eccentric eco-terrorist group lead by a charismatic mentally-ill red herring played by Brad Pitt. So, good news: the worst thing the group with the super cool name did was release some animals from a zoo. Bad news: we have a plague.

Pros: Not really a cult just pro-animal rights

Cons: Still technically a terrorist group


The Brotherhood of Sleep | Prince of Darkness (1987)

Cult Prince Of Darkness

Who doesn’t love a good secret? Well, The Brotherhood of Sleep has been sitting on a doozy: an ancient cylinder containing…wait for it….Satan. Hell. Yes. After stumbling upon the cylinder in the 16th century, the Brotherhood took a vow of silence to contain the son of the Anti-God, separating themselves from the Vatican, and hauling ass to the New World to keep their secret safe. But, as the film’s title suggests, Satan wakes up.

Pros: A rare, anti-satan religious sect! Reset the clock!

Cons: Good at keeping secrets, bad at keeping their numbers up


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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).