This is a study of the development of video culture in Russia in the late Soviet and early post-Soviet eras through in-depth interviewing. There has been a cult audience in Russia, although without the discursive framework which has shaped Western cult cinema (i.e. participants didn’t self-identify as cultists): a phenomenon this article terms ‘analytical cult’. Not all movies that achieved cult status outside Russia have become cult in this national context, and vice versa: there are movies treated as cult in Russia that have never been positioned as such outside the country. Some forms of cultism in Russia also have no direct analogues in their Western cult counterparts due to nationally specific means of access to cinematic distribution and production, namely video parlours and authored voiceovers. These have developed into cult forms in their own right. Therefore, although cult cinema can possess a transnational currency, it can also be reshaped in cross-cultural transitions. This kind of transnational cult demonstrates that its participatory practices may not be self-reflexively positioned as ‘cult’ by audiences/marketers/film-makers.