SEE! Monsters! Aliens! Demons! TERROR!

by David MacDonald

Created 08/28/12

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The Criterion Collection houses more than just films of an artistic nature; they're a shelter for great films of ANY form, even ones which most people discount as "low art." In this list are some of the greatest, cheesiest, campiest B horror movies this world has seen, and whether we admit it or not, we just can't seem to stop watching them, and THAT'S the sign of a good film.
These are movies which are best when watched with a group of good-humored friends looking for something to laugh at.

(NOTE: This is a list that I plan to add to as time goes on and Criterion releases more awesome B movies)

  • I'll start off with probably the most shoddily made of the lot (at least until I Was a Teenage Zombie gets released). Equinox is an absolute mess with a terrible dub track, an idiotic storyline and acting to rival Keanu Reeves' contribution to Bram Stoker's Dracula. The movie's best attribute is probably its special effects, which are delightfully chaotic and creative.

  • Maybe on the same level as Equinox as far as terribleness, this is another one of those movies where you just have to wonder: "How did this ever get made?"

  • A great French take on the classic tale of a brilliant scientist, driven mad by an obsession. In this case, the scientist scours the streets of Paris, searching for young women in order to kidnap them and surgically remove their faces, all for his horribly disfigured daughter. As far as TRUE terror goes, this might be the best movie on this list.

  • Goke features beautifully blunt social commentaries on the evils of man and a slime-monster who crawls inside of people's skin to control them.
    X features a fantastical space adventure, incredible sci-fi set designs and a ridiculous rubber monster to rival Rodan or Mothra, maybe even Godzilla himself.
    Genocide, Criterions second film from Kazui Nihonmatsu, is much darker in tone than The X From Outer Space, but no less ridiculous. In it, a breed of poisonous bugs is trained by a vengeful Vietnam War widow to trigger a worldwide nuclear apocalypse. If that premise isn't ridiculous enough, wait until you see an African-American GI screaming in over-dubbed Japanese with the voice of a cartoon character.

  • As far as good film goes, this might be the best movie on the list; it's the one which film snobs are most willing to lower themselves to. Steve McQueen stars as a young teenager who was only trying to take his girl out for a night, but soon the entire town is in peril at the figurative hands of the blob, a thoughtless, wantless organism which can do nothing but consume and grow. A great campy plot, awesome special effects and a very catchy opening title sequence make this movie a classic.

  • Ah, the Monsters & Madmen collection. I'm waiting impatiently in hopes that Criterion will one day release a "Monsters & Madmen Volume 2" with more of these horror gems. I chose not to include Corridors of Blood here, as it wasn't really so much a "horror" film as it was a drama about drug-addiction, it just happened to feature two of the world's greatest horror icons.
    First Man Into Space: A classic take on the age-old story of men turning into monsters; in a specialized aircraft a pilot becomes the first man to leave the Earth's atmosphere, but with dire consequences for himself and those around him.
    The Atomic Submarine: B movies don't get any better than this; everything from the meeting with the giant tentacled eyeball and on is pure cinema gold.
    The Haunted Strangler: When you think of classic horror, what name do you think of? Fifty percent of you just thought "Boris Karloff," and you were right. His facial and physical contortions in this movie are frightening enough to grant it an entry on my list; the creepy plot and haunting imagery are just the whipped cream on top.

  • Another great monster flick; the story of a man and his brain, and the hundreds of invisible killer brains that he accidentally spawned. This one tried to be a condemnation of nuclear power, but ended up just being hilarious and awesome.

  • Here we go. The king of giant monsters. The grandfather of fat guys walking slowly in rubber suits. Like the radiation-challenged title character, Godzilla can never die; it is and always will be a classic. The movie is equal parts social commentary, Godzilla coming over hills and Japanese people making goofy faces at the camera and screaming. Somehow when you put that all together it makes a masterpiece.


  • By coolhand
    September 03, 2012
    12:45 PM

    awesome. some of these films are on my personal faves list if i ever decided to write it
  • By Craig J. Clark
    September 28, 2012
    01:50 PM

    I got to see First Man Into Space and The Atomic Submarine a couple weeks back on Criterion's Hulu channel. Terrific stuff. Last I checked, The Haunted Strangler (one of the Karloff films in the Monsters and Madmen set) was still available to be seen for free. Highly recommended.
    • By David MacDonald
      September 28, 2012
      04:42 PM

      Actually, I finally caved and bought the Monsters & Madmen set on Hulu. I'm adding those two now.
  • By Russell Fry
    December 17, 2012
    11:54 PM

    I've still got my fingers crossed for a Criterion release of Forbidden Planet. Judging by the titles listed above (which I love) I really don't feel it would be out of place at all. Perfect for that Monsters and Madmen Vol. 2 set!
  • By Tjaden S.
    January 23, 2013
    06:59 PM

    In no way is Carnival of Souls a "terrible" film. Equinox is in the "so bad it's good" category, but Carnival is top shelf horror.
    • By DUDElaundrey
      April 22, 2013
      11:52 AM

      I never understood. I agree with the posters comment. over the years, it became a cult favorite, and somehow managed to get shoved in with the great horror movies. it has a good atmosphere. as for top shelf horror, I do not believe any one genuinely believes this. top shelf, as in Diabolique, Vampyr, Eyes Without a Face, Sisters, Silence of the Lambs etc... absolutely not in acting, idea, form, style, images...
  • By MrCannon
    April 08, 2013
    01:08 AM

    Great list, David. I really need to Goke, and The X, you definitely got me interested.
  • By SputnikSweetHrt
    April 12, 2013
    11:49 PM

    I have to agree with some of the posters above--Carnival of Souls is great, and very unsettling. I hope it gets the Blu-ray treatment someday
  • By Larry369
    April 13, 2013
    11:33 PM

    I would say that Carnival of Souls is mostly not too great - most of the time, that is. Though it still manages plenty of ridiculously effective moments scattered throughout.
  • By Maxwell Bresee
    April 15, 2013
    03:18 PM

    Very good list. I'd maybe add HOUSE and even THRONE OF BLOOD however.
  • By Emma
    April 16, 2013
    09:37 PM

    What?! Carnival of Souls is good. Not "so bad it's good," just plain good. Equinox, now? Definitely so bad it's good. But Carnival of Souls... never.
  • By JustinDW
    April 22, 2013
    09:18 PM

    Great, fun list! I love Carnival of Souls, a creepy and atmospheric little ghost story that M. Night Shyamalan has obviously seen. Equinox is amateurish, yes, but it was made by amateurs. All Jack Woods did was shoot a few extra scenes and re-edit it. It has that wonderful small town haunted house feel to it that you only get from micro-budget monster movies. Eyes Without a Face is gag-inducingly effective! The Monsters and Madmen set is awesome. Fiend Without a Face is crazy fun. Love the ketchup splatter when the monsters get smashed with an axe. So great to see Criterion put out two of the best monster movies ever made: The Blob and Godzilla!
  • By JMB
    January 11, 2014
    07:19 PM

    With Gozilla, I'm wondering if your refering to a particular version, Gojira or King of the Monsters, or both in genral. King fits the bill for cheese much greater than Gojira in my opinion. Also, I think Carnival is fantastic.
    • By David MacDonald
      January 20, 2014
      02:24 PM

      I suppose King of Monsters is easily the more cheesy. Then again, it could never have existed if not for the original Gojira. I guess I'm including both of them in the same slot.
  • By Jake W.
    October 26, 2016
    06:11 PM

    I have to disagree with Godzilla. Godzilla is a beautiful anti nuclear movie. I'd also say The Blob so so much better made than it needs to be. however, I have a tendency to drift towards cult labels for these kinds of movies. and I don't know why I needed to admit tot that.