In our last Nerds on the Rocks podcast, a startling discovery was made: Sam Neal, the baby of our podcast group, didn’t understand half the references we were making. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been privy to many movies of the nerdier persuasion. I couldn’t handle this. In fact, at the time I could feel my brain melting. I made a promise that night. I swore to Sam that I would craft a massively large list that any self-respecting dork should watch, and scream at him until he began indulging in them. Naturally, this list is based on my highly subjective (and always correct) opinion, and I’ve limited listing only one movie per franchise. Without further ado…
50. Short Circuit
– A Wall-E looking military robot is randomly hit by lightning and becomes sentient. He develops self-awareness, consciousness, and a fear of the reprogramming that awaits him back at the factory. It’s ridiculous and the robot looks hella lame, but it’s also a classic.
– Vampires and werewolves are caught in a modern-day war with each other. It takes the love of a vampire vixen and a werewolf-bitten human with weird blood cells to bridge the gap. It’s basically a rip off of the Matrix and Romeo & Juliet. The fight scenes are cool.
48. The Room
– Lovechild of the sketchtastic Tommy Wiseau, The Room is a cult classic of “so bad it’s good” cinema. Memorable quotes are everywhere, characters are hilariously awful, at least half the movie is stock footage of San Francisco, and the ending is just priceless.
– While Labyrinth is a testament to Jim Henson’s genius, it’s more popular among female dorks — mostly because of David Bowie’s crotch. There are a bunch of memorable song and characters, and it was the first film to demonstrate the concept of LARPing (Live Action Role-play).
– It’s long as fuck, focused on a mcguffin known as “spice,” and only makes sense if you read the book. However, it was also done by David Lynch and trippy as hell. Don’t watch the theatrical cut, it butchers the awesomeness of this movie.
45. The Warriors
– The leader of the most powerful gang in New York tries to unify all the gangs in a conclave. He’s killed and The Warriors are blamed for it. Now, they need to get back to their gang’s territory while narrowly escaping rival gangs and the po-po on the the way. This is the most badass gang movies I’ve seen. You will buy a baseball bat after you watch it.
– A slice of Lovecraftian horror, Re-Animator is basically the plot of my book (buy “In Stitches” now on Amazon.com) without the dorky humor. A dedicated med student gets involved in experiments centered around re-animating the dead. The practical effects in this film shine and it’s a pretty rad cult classic.
43. The Lost Boys
– The Lost Boys features biker gangs, mysterious deaths, and vampires. It’s mostly known for starring the two Coreys (Feldman and Haim), but also has a pre-25 Kiefer Sutherland. It was also directed by Joel Schumacher, before he decided to destroy the Batman movies.
– A king of arcade gaming get’s transferred inside of a stand-up video game, only to become the hero of that virtual world. There’s a weird plot about an AI trying to take over the world by controlling an organization, but most people watch Tron because it looks 80s rad and was the first film to implement computer animated effects.
41. Office Space
– Created by the guy behind Beavis & Butthead and King of the Hill, Office Space is about working a shitty desk job at a boring software development company. It’s hilarious in roughly a thousand ways and has a scene where three guys beat the crap out of a fax machine.
– Hard to understand and free to watch, Primer is a low-budget science fiction movie about time travel. A group of engineers manage to create a time machine and exploit it to become rich. The movie is a puzzle and will require at least three viewings before the plot really sinks in.
39. The Crow
– Starring the son of Bruce Lee in the role he died for, The Crow is about a guy who comes back to life to take vengeance after being brutally murdered. One-by-one he gives his killers a taste of their own medicine. It’s a decent action movie, but most dorks dig it because of the dark tone.
38. 2001: A Space Odyssey
– 2001: A Space Odyssey is both the most boring science fiction movie you’ll ever watch and a crowning achievement of the genre. Make no mistake, every dork has to see this movie at least one. HAL is a brilliant villain, the cinematography is inspiring, and it is one of Kubrick’s best.
– In a distant future version of Detroit, the city is full of crime and run by a massive company. That company has created a massive crime-fighting robot, but screws up and becomes a fairly massive problem. When officer Alex Murphy is killed by a gang, the company sees a way to regain favour by bringing him back to life as the cyborg Robocop. This is a great film in a fairly terrible franchise. Hilariously, there is no way Detroit could ever afford this kind of law enforcement today.
36. Weird Science
– Two nerds create the perfect woman with their computer. Nough’ said.
35. Dark City
– A man wakes up in a strange hotel without any memories and finds out that he’s wanted for a series of intense murders. In trying to figure out who he is, he stumbles upon a underworld controlled by “The Strangers.” These bastards can put people to sleep and alter the city and its citizens. Trippy, complex, and dark. This is an underrated classic.
34. Troll 2
– One of the worst movies that I’ve ever fallen in love with. A family does a house swap with another family in a place called “Nilbog” (get it? It’s goblin spelled backwards). They soon find themselves being stalked by their new troll neighbours who love turning humans into plants and eating them. It’s so, so bad. I love every minute.
33. Mad Max
– It’s basically RAGE or Borderlands with more swearing and Australian accents. Max is on a quest for vengeance in a dystopian society of gangs after his best friend and family are slain. Yes, he is mad.
– Kevin Smith’s Clerks is an ode to the shittyness of the retail world. It chronicles a single day of events for clerks Dante and Randal, as they deal with death, hockey, customers, and a girl troubles. It’s black-and-white, but perfect in its own way.
31. Halloween III: Season of the Witch
– Yes, it is the one Halloween that doesn’t feature Michael Myers. Yes, it has a weird plot involving stonehenge. Yes, it is totally worth watching. The Silver Shamrock commercial still gives me the heebee jeebees.
30. Night of the Living Dead
– The first successful indie movie (go ahead, look it up). Night of the Living Dead is all about ghouls tearing up America and a group of survivors that are trying to hold it together. It popularized the zombie genre and was the first movie to put a black man in a principal role.
– An anime classic. In Neo-Tokyo, a biker gang member becomes a rampaging psionic psychopath that has to be taken down by two kids. Anti-government activists, crazy scientists, greedy politicians, and crotch rockets are everywhere. It’s rad in the most 80s of ways.
28. The Princess Bride
– The kid from The Wizard is sick and his grampa tells him a story about kingdoms, pirates, giants, and magic. It’s quotable as hell and stupidly entertaining. Fun Fact: I watched this on my very first date.
– THERE CAN ONLY BE ONNNNNNNE. Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery are 100% awesome for 110 minutes.
26. The Iron Giant
– Probably the greatest animated kid’s movie ever made. Brad Bird (The Incredibles, UP, The Simpsons) directed this masterpiece and it was woefully underappreciated. In fact, it sunk Fox Animation. I cried watching this. It’s a perfect robot movie.
25. The Big Lebowski
– From the minds of the Coen Brothers, The Big Lebowski is stylish, unique, and incredibly odd. It’s about bowling, terrible synth bands, being a dirt bag, and not giving a fuck. I watch it every year.
24. Army of Darkness
– Technically a sequel to The Evil Dead series, Army of Darkness has a chainsaw and shotgun wielding Ash go back into the medieval times to combat the armies of the dead. Bruce Campbell is friggan’ hilarious, the practical effects are ultra realistic, and he makes working a shitty superstore job look fun.
23. Rocky Horror Picture Show
– Super overrated, but also very fun. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a musical about a couple whose car breaks down and ask for help from a mean transvestite. They stay in his mansion, only to find themselves part of a love-trapezoid. It will make you want to do the Time Warp again.
22. Planet of the Apes (1968)
– He was on Earth the whole time (I don’t count it as a spoiler if 45 years have passed). You should still watch it though. Steer to avoid the Tim Burton remake though. It’s a piece of shit.
21. Escape From New York
– New York City has become a maximum security prison. Convicts bring down the president’s plane, and the Ã¼ber badass Snake Plissken, a one-eyed lone warrior, is tasked with rescuing the president from the horde of murderers, rapists, and double-parkers. Like Mad Max, it is worth watching for the main character alone.
20. Birdemic: Shock and Horror
– Another “so bad it’s good” classic. Birdemic is so inept that even the sound mixing is off. The acting is wooden, it takes 40 minutes before the “Shock and Horror” actually begins, there are like 20 environmental subplots, and the birds are actually animated gifs. It’s so perfect in its awfulness.
19. Shaun of the Dead
– A perfect parody of Dawn of the Dead. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost entertain by leading a group of survivors past a zombie horde to the local pub in order to “have a few beers and wait for it all to blow over.” Smart, inspired, hilarious.
– The hunters become the hunted. One of Schwarzenegger’s finest films and a testament to awesome 80s action.
17. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
– The original will always be better than the remakes. This low-budget horror flick succeeds at being freaky by showing less. The grittiness of the cinematography makes everything seem that much more real, and leather face is an intriguing villain.
16. Â Showgirls
– Nekkid ladies, terrible acting, and Kyle MacLachlan’s massive chin. This film single-handedly ruined Elizabeth Berkley’s acting career, and features more catfights than an episode of The View. Make no mistake, Showgirls is just terrible. Thankfully, it’s also endlessly quotable.
15. Total Recall (1990)
– While the shitty remake took things too seriously, the original Total Recall knew how dumb it was and embraced it. Implanted memories, women with three boobs, and the planet Mars. It’s really, really stupid, but in a fun way.
14. The Matrix
– Red or blue pill? The Matrix is a great film about philosophy, religion, and the limits of humanity. Unfortunately, it’s followed by two not-so-great sequels than piss on everything it set up.
13. Jurassic Park
– A rich billionaire funds the research and development of dinosaur resurrection. He then proceeds to make a theme park for the kiddies, hires untrustworthy fat guys, and invites loved ones to visit. Clearly, this was a foolproof plan.
– Who ya gonna’ call? Three parapsychology professors set up a practice for the removal of ghosts from the city of New York. They become local celebrities, stumble upon a gate to another dimension, and battle with a giant marshmallow man. Comedic gold.
11. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
– The greatest comedic troupe of all time pays homage to the middle ages. Amazing from start to finish.
10. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
– The single greatest Star Trek film ever released. Important characters die, Kirk pays for his hubris, and the cinematographer does something other than take glory shots of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Every film since, including J.J. Abram’s, has been trying to live up to this one.
9. Fight Club
– The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club.
8. Back to the Future
– Two years from now, a teenager is accidentally sent thirty years into the past thanks to a badass DeLorean. He must make sure his high-school-aged parents get busy in order to save his own existence.
7. Die Hard
– The single greatest Christmas movie ever made. Bruce Willis may be an ass hole in real life, but John McClane will always be my hero.
6. Terminator II
– While some weirdos prefer the original *cough, cough* Earl *cough*, Terminator II may be the best sequel ever released. It’s a boy-and-his-robot movie about a future savior trying to survive in the past. A badass liquid terminator tries to kill this mini-Jesus, and the two robots duke it out. So boss.
5. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
– Blah, blah, blah, Peter Jackson is great, blah, blah, the one ring to rule them all, blah, blah, the dark lord, blah, blah, Tolkien. Yes, this film series is indeed impressive. It changed the way big budget movies were marketed and offers what is probably one of the best adaptations out there. Of the three LotR films, the Fellowship is the most complete (that is, it has a solid beginning, middle, and end).
– Science fiction horror at its finest. What Ridley Scott innovated, James Cameron perfected. It features the most interesting, well rounded, and heroic female characters ever to be in any film, and the action is impressive from start to finish.
3. Raiders of the Lost Ark
– Indy at his finest. There are treasures to be found, boulders to be dodged, and Nazis to be killed. It’s the perfect realization of the adventure cereals of the 1950s, and makes you feel more manly as you watch.
2. Star Wars
– I love me some Star Wars. Specifically, the original Star Wars. I don’t call it Episode IV and I certainly don’t call it “A New Hope.” This film, in its original form (where Han shot first), nailed everything. The characters were compelling, music was emotionally powerful, acting was believable, and visuals were so dynamic that they still hold up today. Also, Jedis are badass.
– If there is any film that you should watch if you consider yourself a dork, nerd, or geek, it is Blade Runner. A tale of humanity, freedom, love, and death, Blade Runner singlehandedly popularized the cyberpunk aesthetic and was tragically underrated in its time. Harrison Ford is Deckard, a Blade Runner, whose specialty is terminating replicants — human clones that were used as slaves. When Four replicants escape from an offworld colony to Earth he has to track them down, only to have to question his own morals and their right to live. It’s brilliant.