It's easy to see the appeal of a good cult: Acceptance, a group of like-minded individuals, lots of quasi-consensual sex. But did you know that cults also have a dark side? It's that dark side that these six movies attempt to explore. Maybe you should watch one or two of them if you're thinking about joining a cult. Or if you're already in one, maybe they'd make good choices for your cult's movie night.
"The Seventh Victim"
The 1940s were a more quaint and innocent time, when all you needed to get a cult going was a little Satan-worship. Val Lewton's horror classic is one of the darkest thrillers of the 40s, showing a young woman who is targeted by a Satanic cult after her sister (who was involved with same) goes missing. This leads to some attempted murders and a shower scene that predates the one in "Psycho"!
"Tarzan and the Leopard Woman"
When you hear the phrase "virgin sacrifice" you probably picture a young tropical maiden being thrown into a volcano, right? But the cult in "The Wicker Man" isn't as picky about what kinds of virgins they sacrifice. What they are picky about is the actual ceremony, which involves a giant wicker statue being set on fire with some unlucky virgin inside. Let the dancing commence!
M. Night Shyamalan's thriller about a secluded forest community might seem more like a "monsters on the prowl" movie than a cult movie. But – spoiler alert for "The Village"! – it turns out that the seemingly 19th century community is actually nestled right here in the present day, unbeknownst to all but the highest-up of the villagers. So these cult members don't even really know they're in a cult, they just think they're in a village. They have village/cult confusion, it happens all the time.
"From Dusk Till Dawn"
Usually, the only thing that unifies all the members of a cult is a sense of loneliness and maybe a strong streak of gullibility. But in the cult/dive bar community that the heroes of "From Dusk Till Dawn" stumble on, there's another important common factor: They're all freakin' vampires, man! Since this is a Robert Rodriguez movie, the two groups amicably reach an agreement and part ways in order to avoid any further conflict. Just kidding, they slaughter each other.
"Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Last year's indie thriller darling "Martha Marcy May Marlene" is about the kind of outdoorsy wilderness cult that you occasionally read about in the newspaper. There's a bit of Manson Family in there, in addition to some creepy Warren Jeffs-polygamy stuff thrown in. The result is a terrifying look at what can happen to a person's mind when it's subjugated by a cult. Fun for the whole family (or "Family")!