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10 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Hit Cult Movies

Estelle Thurtle


Everyone loves a good cult classic—or loves to hate them. (And they don’t make them like they used to.) Either way, on this list are some lesser-known facts about some of the biggest cult movies to date.

10 Back To The Future

Back to the Future Eric Stoltz

Photo credit: Universal Pictures

Back to the Future was written by Bob Gale and directed by Robert Zemeckis and became the highest-grossing movie in 1985, raking in more than $381 million. It went on to win several awards, including an Oscar for Best Sound Effects Editing.

What some may not know is that Michael J. Fox almost didn’t get the part of Marty McFly. Not only did other great actors audition for the role, including Charlie Sheen and Johnny Depp, but Eric Stoltz was actually given the part and filmed scenes for six weeks. However, it became evident that Stoltz simply couldn’t bring life to the character the way the producers envisioned, and he was replaced by Fox.

It was also decided that instead of crediting the actual singer of “Johnny B. Goode” in the film, Mark Campbell, he would be paid a percentage of the soundtrack sales. This was done so that fans would think that Fox was actually singing the song in the movie.

9 Beetlejuice

Beetlejuice

Photo credit: Warner Bros.

In 1988, the world was introduced to Beetlejuice. And what an introduction it was. The movie grossed more than $70 million, and Sylvia Sidney, who played Juno, won the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress. The movie also won an Oscar for Best Makeup.

However, in earlier versions of the script, the horror far outweighed the comedy. Betelgeuse was pictured as a demon with leathery wings that would attempt to rape Lydia (played by Winona Ryder). Fortunately, things were toned down, and the movie instead featured Michael Keaton’s character as an unhinged, ghostly car salesman who attempts to wed Lydia.

The movie also wouldn’t have been called Beetlejuice if Tim Burton hadn’t insisted on it. Somehow, House Ghosts and Anonymous Haunted House Story 39480 just don’t have appealing rings to them.


8 The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club

Photo credit: Universal Pictures

The Breakfast Club premiered in 1985 and is still hailed as one of the best coming-of-age comedy-drama films ever made. It only took $1 million to produce but earned more than $50 million. The movie was rescreened in theaters in 2015 to celebrate its 30th anniversary.

Some of the cast members were interviewed in 2015, and they let a few facts out of the bag regarding the cult classic. Ally Sheedy confirmed that not only was a topless scene cut from the movie, but so was a scene of middle-aged women doing aerobics in a provocative manner. She also confirmed that contrary to popular belief, she didn’t actually use her own dandruff as part of her character’s art project but rather “potato flakes.”

7 The Craft

The Craft Beach Scene

Photo credit: Columbia Pictures

The Craft was a surprise hit movie in 1996, released by Columbia Pictures and earning more than $50 million. Stars Robin Tunney and Fairuza Balk won the Best Fight award at the 1997 MTV Movie Awards, and the movie has claimed tenth place on the list of highest-grossing witch films.

Several strange incidents occurred during filming of the invocation scene on the beach, including a flock of bats ruining the scene by dropping down onto the candles and extinguishing them as well as severe waves rolling up toward the candles just as filming started. Fairuza Balk, who played Nancy, practiced witchcraft at the time of filming and even bought an occult shop soon after. Also, just to make things a little more creepy, the snakes used in the movie were real—all 3,000 of them.

6 Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing

Photo credit: Vestron Pictures

In 1987, a low-budget film by Great American Films Limited featuring only one major star, Jerry Orbach, took the world by storm. Dirty Dancing became the first movie to sell more than one million copies after debuting on the big screen. The most well-known song from the movie soundtrack, “The Time Of My Life,” won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for Best Original Song.

The movie would have looked a lot different, however, if the lead roles had gone to the actors they were originally offered to, including Val Kilmer, Billy Zane, and Sarah Jessica Parker. After Kilmer turned it down, and Zane failed to impress during the dancing scenes, Patrick Swayze stepped in to save the day. Jennifer Grey had only five minutes to play the character of a 17-year-old convincingly and obviously did so very well, considering that she was 27 at the time of her audition.


5 The Evil Dead

Ash Evil Dead

Photo credit: New Line Cinema

In 1981, friends Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell premiered a supernatural horror film. Campbell himself starred in the low-budget movie, which was shot under difficult conditions in a remote location in Tennessee. After a slow start in the US, The Evil Dead eventually grossed more than $2 million. Stephen King raved over the film, which then inspired New Line Cinema to get involved in its distribution. The movie was later named as one of the best horror films of all time.

Raimi and Campbell came very close to missing the launch of their careers in film, if it hadn’t been for a dentist who decided to invest money in their movie project that he would have otherwise spent in Las Vegas. After filming started, Raimi decided to start a rumor that Campbell had broken his jaw during a scene “just to see how many people would believe it.”

4 Mars Attacks!

Mars Attacks

Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Mars Attacks! was created to be a parody of low-budget sci-fi films but didn’t perform well at the box office after its release in 1996 in the US. It fared better in Europe, but reviews from critics remained mixed. This didn’t stop the movie from becoming a cult classic with a devoted fan base, however.

Some of the most memorable scenes in the movie include that of Martian Girl’s awkward gait and also that skin tight dress. The actress had to be sewn into the dress each day, as it had no zipper. Also, the reason behind the red or green skeletons was because the movie was due to be released over the Christmas holiday. The vaporizing deaths were originally a lot more violent than just leaving behind a skeleton, and a lot of effects had to be left out to ensure a more family-friendly rating.

3 Natural Born Killers

Natural Born Killers

Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Natural Born Killers was named eighth most controversial movie in history in 2006. This was mainly due to its graphic, violent content and its ability to inspire criminals to copycat the gruesome crimes it portrayed. The film has also been accused of inspiring school tragedies, including the Columbine massacre.

Everything within and surrounding the film seemed like a dark, menacing cloud. In the movie, Mickey Knox (played by Woody Harrelson) had his twisted mind highlighted in the color green, which was not-so-subtly used in several scenes, including the green room at the prison. Cinematographer Robert Richardson had a miserable time during filming. Not only did he hate the script, but he became addicted to sleeping pills and almost got divorced. On top of all that, his brother became comatose.

Richardson wasn’t the only one who hated the film. Coca-Cola executives were furious when the movie came out, as their product featured in several violent scenes. This caused them to rethink their entire brand placement policy. Regardless of all of the above, the movie remains massively popular.

2 Scream

Scream Ghostface

Photo credit: Dimension Films

In 1996, Scream became the highest-grossing slasher film in the US, earning more than $170 million worldwide while at the same time being credited with reviving the horror genre with its innovative plot. On the flip side, much the same as with Natural Born Killers, the movie was also blamed for several acts of real-life violence, including the murder of Gina Castillo at the hands of her 16-year-old son, Mario, and his 14-year-old cousin. She was stabbed 45 times, and the boys later claimed that Scream inspired them to murder her.

Getting back to the movie itself, what some may not know is that in order to keep Drew Barrymore’s tears flowing in the opening scene, Wes Craven told her terrible stories about animal cruelty. It was also Craven himself wearing the Ghostface mask in the same scene. The person behind the creepy Ghostface voice, Roger L. Jackson, was barred from meeting the actors, as Craven wanted to keep them in a freaked-out state to enhance their acting in scenes.

1 The Dark Knight

Dark Knight Joker

Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Considered to be one of the best superhero films ever made, The Dark Knight grossed over $1 billion worldwide and received eight Oscar nominations, of which Heath Ledger posthumously won the award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the Joker. The film was also dedicated to Ledger, who died six months before the movie’s release. Ledger was widely praised for his portrayal of the Joker, and he also came up with the makeup for the character himself.

The Dark Knight was the first film about Batman that doesn’t have Batman in the title, and it is also the first one that didn’t have any bats in it. To keep things, well, batty, Bruce Wayne drives a Lamborghini Murcielago, which in Spanish means . . . “bat.”

Estelle lives in Gauteng, SA.

 

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