For the young cinéaste, attending your first midnight movie is a rite of passage that’s as important as your first kiss. Midnight screenings inspire rabid devotees, because they invite fans to participate in communal antics (think Rocky Horror) and indulge that giddy feeling when experiencing something shocking or strange on an intimate scale. It’s a bonding experience that unites outsiders, offers a venue for discovery, and encourages audiences to let their hair down. Midnight showings can elevate a movie to cult status, but not all cult movies are midnight favorites. Here are 50 of the greatest midnight movies that have that certain je ne sais quoi — the ones we’d happily stay up all night to watch.
Tod Browning’s 1932 film was one of the first canonized midnight movies and is a prime example of the kind of movie that gets adopted by cult film fans: stories about outsiders, featuring taboo subjects and apparent exploitative elements. Starring real-life carnival sideshow performers with real deformities, Freaks was a cabinet of curiosities for the average moviegoer.