When you think of “cult”, you most likely and immediately think of a religious cult. And you may picture cults as being in backwoods areas, with no running water or access to civilization, with all the members dressed in matching white outfits and uttering chants to whatever person or deity the cult worships.
While some cults might be this way, some actually do not seem so bad. From an outside glance, you might not even know a cult was a cult unless the members flat out told you. Or even if you knew it was a cult, you might not care because of the benefits it offers. Let’s wander into ten horror films and into the midst of ten creepy, yet cushy, cults.
10. Split Image (1982)
After Jonestown in 1978, people were scared there was a cult secretly lurking on every street corner. So of course, Hollywood capitalized on this with Split Image. Michael O’Keefe (Caddyshack) played the young Danny, enticed into the cult known as Homeland by Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark), who played pretty cult member Rebecca. Peter Fonda (Easy Rider) plays the enigmatic cult leader, while James Woods (John Carpenter’s Vampires) plays the self-admitted sleazy cult deprogrammer.
But who would want to be deprogrammed from a cult where the daily attire is gold lamé, and where everything is made directly at the cult compound? The alternative is having James Woods yell a lot of nasty things at you to try and snap you out of it.
9. Children of The Corn (1984)
Admit it. When you were a kid, at one time or another you thought your parents were the meanest people on Earth and you wished they would go away. But you didn’t really mean it. The kids in this town actually do mean it. Gatlin, Nebraska, is a town that is the epitome of NO ADULTS ALLOWED.
Children of the Corn, based on the story by Stephen King, made this corn-filled town in Nebraska a paradise for kids. No adults, no rules, no one to answer to except for a weird kid named Isaac telling you to beware of He Who Walks Behind the Rows. As long as you are a kid and as long as you are not over eighteen, this cult might be the cult for you.
8. The Cabin in The Woods (2012)
A business office. Suits, ties, and lab coats, and a company betting pool. A coffee machine, and friends making plans about what to do for the weekend. Oh, and people sacrificing five teenagers to appease the Titans, the Greek mythological beings defeated by the Greek gods. All in a day’s work for this cult with multiple global factions that compete with one another to see which faction can get the first of their sacrifices…well, sacrificed.
While these cult members seem overly desensitized to the idea of sacrifices, murder, and death, if you’re into sacrificing people for the greater good and having a fresh and free cappuccino on call, this cult wouldn’t be all too terrible.
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7. The Wicker Man (1973)
On a remote Scottish island called Summersisle, all looks normal. People get drunk in bars, children dance around a maypole and eat sweets after having a frog put in their mouths for a sore throat. If you blinked twice at the last part of the sentence, don’t worry…it’s all part of the ritualistic beliefs this pagan cult holds.
Beyond the sacrifices taking place at specific times of the year for a full and bountiful harvest, the island is a realm of drunkenness and debauchery of all sorts. Hopefully, you wouldn’t be what this cult was looking for, except in a potential member. Because hey, at least the perks are good.
6. The Witch (2015)
Imagine being alone with your family in the uncharted American frontier in the early 1600s. Now imagine your family is accusing you of witchcraft and that they all met a violent end, leaving you even more alone. A goat transforms into a man and asks if you want butter, pretty dresses, to see the world, and to live deliciously. All you have to do? Take off your nightgown and sign your name into a book.
Which book is it? Who cares. I’m alone in the wilderness in the 1600s, my family is dead, and a guy is offering me butter and clothes. I’m going to sign my name, get naked, and go into the woods to join the cult of naked witches floating in the air around a fire.
5. Hereditary (2018)
Toni Collette’s performance alone is enough to watch this film (and I am still salty she was never nominated for an Oscar). In Hereditary, this cult is very, very much behind the scenes, and things don’t get figured out until almost the last half of the movie. Heads roll (literally), fires consume, and it all ends in a treehouse with a bunch of naked people bowing to a demon named Paimon.
If you don’t mind giving your life over to a demon and having a “clothing optional” rule, bring on the Paimon cult.
4. Sound of My Voice (2011)
Sound of My Voice tells the tale of two aspiring documentarians who wish to expose a cult led by a woman named Maggie, played by Britt Marling (Another Earth); Maggie claims to be from the future and appeals to people who want to be safe from the horrors the future will bring.
While they adhere to the typical cult stereotype of wearing matching white outfits, their meeting spot is in a house basement, they have a secret handshake, they dance to sitar music, and they meditate and eat apples and other engineered food. Not too shabby for a cult with no name.
3. The Village (2004)
The Village is, in my opinion, one of M. Night Shyamalan’s most underrated films, but it is not one people often think to look at when it comes to a cult. The people in the village live on a peaceful plot of land. Each person in the village has a job and a purpose. There is a doctor, a school, a church, and celebrations to honor marriages and other events.
True, the time period isn’t the greatest, and they have to deal with creatures that look like a cross between a porcupine and a werewolf. On top of this, they have to avoid “The Bad Color” (red) and give the creatures some raw meat so they will leave the village alone. Like all Shyamalan movies, there is a twist (and an eerie and poignant twist at that), but even in spite of the twist this village and its cult deviation from the norms wouldn’t make this a terrible cult to partake in.
2. Housewife (2017)
One word that comes to mind when you think of Housewife is surreal. Clémentine Poidatz, who plays tortured woman Holly, ends up at a seminar for a cult called Umbrella of Love and Mind. The leader, Bruce O’Hara, played by David Sakurai, picks her to specifically join the ranks of this cult that involves weird, Eldritch, Lovecraftian style horror in the form of dreams and dream-walking.
However weird it might get, if you don’t mind being seduced in your dreams by a cult leader you find handsome and attractive, Umbrella of Love and Mind might be the umbrella to ride out your storm under.
1. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
New York City. The Big Apple. Home of the Bramford apartment building, where a secret cult lurks that worships Satan. Rosemary, played by Mia Farrow, and Guy, played by John Cassavetes, dismiss rumors of the Bramford’s association with cannibalism and murder as a bunch of hooey and move in anyway.
ADS ARE SCARY
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Sure, if you’re a member of this cult, you want Rosemary to bear the son of Satan, the son that will bring about the end of the world. Besides that, you live in an apartment building with all the various amenities. And you live in New York City, a city with a lot to do and see. Before the end of the world happens, I think you’d be just fine as a member of this cult.
There are my picks for ten creepy, yet cushy, cults. Is there one that we missed that belonged on this list? Let us know on Twitter, Instagram and over at the Horror Fiends of Nightmare on Film Street Facebook group!