25 Cult Fantasy Films That Are Worth Your Time

18. Deathstalker (1983)

Deathstalker (1983)

“The last great warrior king” [37]. Deathstalker (Richard Hill) is told by a witch that he must obtain and unite three powerful objects, a sword, chalice, and an amulet. He must do this to prevent a magician named Munkar from getting them and using them for evil.

Deathstalker obtains the sword and joins a group of warriors in a tournament to determine the strongest warrior. Munkar has arranged the tournament in order to kill off all of his strongest opposition. Deathstalker has to try and win the tournament, save a princess, and defeat the evil magician.

This was a low budget Roger Corman produced film that was basically a Conan rip-off, looking to piggyback off its success. It was the first of nine films that Corman would produce in Argentina [38]. Because of its low budget and moderate success, three Deathstalker sequels would be made. It also introduced Lana Clarkson, a voluptuous woman who would go on to star in a series of female Conan knock-offs titled the Barbarian Queen.

This is by far one of the better of the sword and sorcery rip-off films, much better than the cheaper Italian and Cannon produced ones. It has a decent enough production value even for a low budget film, better than average acting, violence, and nudity, more than enough to satisfy most 1980’s movies and VHS rental fans.

It has a cult following among fans of Conan and the sword and sorcery films, so if you’re into those then give this one a go.


19. Krull (1983)

Krull (1983)

“A world light-years beyond your imagination” [39]. The film has a combination of multiple genres, including Conan, Star Wars, Excalibur, and Flash Gordon. The planet called Krull has been invaded by an alien army rules by the Beast, with a futuristic army known as Slayers. Two families are to join by marriage in order to fight the alien army together.

On the day of the wedding, Slayers come and kill everyone and kidnap the princess Lyssa. The prince Colwyn survives and goes on a quest to rescue the princess and destroy the alien invaders, joined by a group of companions. He seeks out a magical weapon called the Glaive, and his companions include a magician, the old one, a Cyclops, and nine criminals looking to clear their records.

The cast is notable for early appearances from Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane. The film has an incredibly impressive look, beautiful scenery and settings, impressive looking castles, and good costume design. It was filmed in various locations in Italy, Spain, England, and at Pinewood studios in England [39].

There are excellent scenes of large mountains and valleys and Colwyn making a long climb to find the Glaive. There are interesting costumes that try to combine elements of medieval costumes mixed with futuristic sci-fi elements. Colwyn’s outfit is reminiscent of Robin Hood. There are a series of amazing special effects, such as when they kill the changeling that looked like the magician.

The budget of the film was reportedly over $50,000,000 and performed poorly in the U.S., earning around $16,000,000 [40]. Reception was mixed from critics and awards groups, it was nominated for a Saturn Award for best Fantasy film and at the same time won a Stinker Award for worst picture [39]. The mix of genres seemed to confuse the audiences from giving this film a chance, yet it did grow a strong cult following.

In the end, Krull is a beautifully shot film that was just misunderstood at the time. It has grown a cult following from sci-fi and fantasy films, if you like those then you should give this a chance. If you enjoy Krull, then you may also like Excalibur, Beastmaster, Willow, Ice Pirates, and Flash Gordon.


20. Barbarian Queen (1985)

Barbarian Queen (1985)

“No man can touch her naked steel” [41]. Queen Amethea’s (Lana Clarkson) is destroyed and most of village is murdered by the forces of Lord Arrakur. Her sister and several other villagers are taken as prisoners. Amethea, her handmaiden Estrild, and female warrior Tiniara survive and set out to rescue the survivors.

Another Corman production meant to be a starring vehicle for Clarkson, who had gained popularity with her appearance in Deathstalker. Its popularity is based on the level of violence and nudity, and there is plenty. B-movie critic Joe Bob Briggs review of the movie said that “It’s no Conan the Barbarian II, but it’s got what it takes, namely: Forty-six breasts, including two on the male lead.

Thirty-one dead bodies. Heads roll. Head s. Three gang rapes. Women in chains. Orgy. Slave-girl sharing. One bird’s-nest bra. The diabolical garbonza torture. Sword fu. Torch fu. Thigh fu (you have to see it to believe it)” [42]. Humorous dialogue, gratuitous nudity and violence, what more can you ask for.

It has a cult following among fans of sexploitation, Conan, and sword and sorcery films, so if you’re into those then give this one a go.


21. Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity (1987)

Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity (1987)

“Big Movie. Big Production. Big Girls” [43]. Two girls escape from a space prison, only to land on an island where a man named Zed is playing The Most Dangerous Game. Oh, he happens to have some robots. He sends out his guests so that he can hunt them.

It’s low budget at its worst or best, you be the judge. Bad dialogue, half naked women, really fake looking robots, cheap sets and effects. It’s everything you want or hate in a movie.

It’s a cult film because it’s so low budget and cheesy. So be warned ahead of time, watch this for the humor that comes from it being a low budget film.


22. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

Robin Williams in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

“A true story. We’ve got the film to prove it” [44]. This is the epic tale an 18th German century aristocrat and legendary figure Baron Von Munchausen (John Neville) and his strange adventures as he battles the Turks and the Ottoman Empire, with the help of a little girl and his group of misfits with special powers.

One that has super strength, one that has super speed, one with super eye sight, and one with super hearing. The baron’s adventures take him on a trip to the moon, beneath the earth to Vulcan and Venus, swallowed by a sea creature, all while trying to escape the grim reaper.

This British production was co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam, who is known for being a member of the British comedy troupe Monty Python. Gilliam directed many other memorable and possibly cult films; this includes Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Brazil, Time Bandits, The Fisher King, Twelve Monkeys, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Some other well known actors make appearances in the film including Eric Idle, Sarah Polley, Oliver Reed, Jonathan Pryce, Uma Thurman, Robin Williams, and Sting. This is supposed to be the third film in a trilogy from Gilliam that focuses on trying to escape from society through the use of imagination; Time Bandits is through the eyes of a child, the second Brazil is through the eyes of a thirty year old man, and third is Munchhausen through the eyes of an elderly man.

There are many memorable moments in this film as the Baron travels to different places and parts of the world. One in particular is his tale of how he was the cause of the war, due to a bet that was made by him and the Sultan. The bet involved getting the finest bottle of wine to the Sultan within a certain amount of time or the Baron would lose his head.

He uses his friend Berthold, the world’s faster runner to go and get it. Berthold falls asleep and the Baron narrowly escapes beheading thanks to the help of his other friends. Neville gives an outstanding performance as the Baron and the film was nominated for four Academy Awards for Art Direction, Costume Design, Visual Effects, and Makeup.

The film bombed at the box office earning $8,083,123, with a production budget of around $46,000,000 [45]. Despite the poor box office, it received some good reviews and has gained a strong cult following.

As with most Terry Gilliam films, your either going to love it or hate it. He has a style and uniqueness that stands out in everything he does. The theme of searching for some sort of ‘Grail’ object is touched on in this film and many of Gilliam’s. In this one it is physical, the search for youth through adventure.

Every time the Baron does something adventurous he gets younger, going from an old man to progressively younger. If you have not seen this before and love Python or one of his other films, then you really need to check this one out.


23. Paperhouse (1988)

Paperhouse (1988)

“Is anybody there?” [46]. A young sick girl finds that her drawings become reality when she visits a surrealistic dream world. The next time she draws a face and a sick disabled boy named mark appears, who we later learn is a real person. She draws her father as if he is angry and crosses it out, who then appears in the dreams as an Ogre. The boy and girl must figure out a way to destroy the monster in the dream.

The fantasy element of this one is more psychological, what we see in our dreams or hallucinations. What makes the dream sequences so special is that they are filmed in a very convincing manner; we believe they are real because they look that way. And as the scenario gets darker, it increases the tension in the film. It starts to become like a nightmare with Freddy Krueger.

Director Bernard Rose would go on to direct the horror film Candyman. It also includes performances from Ben Cross and Sarah Radclyffe. This is a hard one to pin down, somewhere along the lines of a dark children’s story almost like Pan’s Labyrinth.

So if you’re a fan of psychological fantasy, dream, or nightmare films, then you should check this out.


24. Wizard of Speed and Time (1988)

Wizard of Speed and Time (1988)

“This is the kind of movie you would make, if you had nothing better to do!” [47]. Mike Jittlov is a special effects filmmaker who is assigned to make a film for them. What he doesn’t know is that the producer has placed a $25,000 bet that he won’t be able to come up with anything to use.

The film is written, directed, animated, and starring Mike Jittlov. It is basis of 16mm short that was made in 1979. There are all kinds of gags, gadgets, jokes, satire, and a true portrayal of the low budget side of Hollywood.

A strange mix that is reminiscent of the film UHF with Weird Al Yankovic and Pee Wee Herman’s world. There are bits involving an ad where clothes dance around, Jittlov takes the time machine from the 1964 movie and travels through time, and a singing bit as the wizard of speed and time.

Due to issues with Jittlov and his estranged producer, it never received a theatrical or video release [33]. It has grown a strong cult following.

If you like wacky, weird and low budget, then this is just for you.


25. The Tune (1992)

The Tune (1992)

This is an animated film created by animation artist Bill Plympton. It tells the story of Dell, who is trying to create a perfect song for his mean boss in order to keep his job and girlfriend. He has 47 minutes to complete the song and get it to his boss.

On the way to the office, he gets lost in a town called Flooby Nooby. The town has a singing mayor, a dog that is an Elvis impersonator, a nose less cabdriver, and a psycho bellhop.

Plympton is a graphic designer, animator, and cartoonist whose work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, television commercials, music videos, television shows, and he completed six animated features.

He may be best remembered from appearing on the MTV TV show Liquid Television, which was also the first appearance of Beavis and Butthead. This feature consisted of over 30,000 ink and watercolor drawings [33]. His distinctive style is unforgettable.

This has a cult following among animation fans and Plympton fans, so if you’re into either then you need to watch this.

All the works cited can be found here.

Author Bio: Raul J. Vantassle is a jazz musician whose key strokes move about the page creating an explosion of formlessness to form, or just total bullshit. His heroes include John Waters, Robert Crumb, Charles Bukowski, and the Cobra Commander. His Knowledge of film goes across the board but he specializes in Asian and cult cinema. He may be the filthiest person alive. You can visit his blog here.