Most died at the box office, some of them horribly. Mangled and despised, they were re-animated on video. And now they compose our cultural Esperanto, a subliminal vocabulary of vaguely subversive images, ideas, and phrases that we continue to obsess over and dissect at parties, around watercoolers, in bars, over the blaring banalities of the mainstream media din. They are Cult Movies, and their realm can be conjured with the mere incantation of, say, ”Big bottom/Big bottom/Talk about mud flaps, my gal’s got ’em!” Abandon all Patch Adams DVDs, ye who enter here: Beyond this page, only the language of Cult is spoken. So if you take your dead evil and your buckaroos banzai-ed, pour yourself a tall glass of Kool-Aid and peruse this list, complete with signature lines and a near-Talmudic trove of trivia. If you’re not already of the Cult, you’ll be converted. Though into what, we couldn’t tell you.
11 FIVE DEADLY VENOMS (1978) Chang Cheh
A dying kung fu teacher sends his final student… Okay, enough plot — on to the kind of silly, overchoreographed, ’70s-style flava that only Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers could produce. This is the martial-arts movie that Quentin Tarantino would’ve recommended when he was a video-store geek, replete with bad dubbing, sounds of chopsticks breaking when someone blocks a punch, faceless nimrods waiting their turn to attack the hero, and high-decibel screams of ”Hwayiii!” SIGNATURE LINE ”Hwayiii!” SENSELESS ACT OF VIOLENCE To defeat one martial artist’s ”toad” style — which imparts almost impervious skin — his enemies place him in a coffin filled with needles.