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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.