Join 3,496 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


SPOILER: "Manos: The Hands of Fate" is NOT on the List
May 11, 2014 2:40 PM   Subscribe

The 100 Best (?) “B Movies” of All Time, a mix of Cheap Knock-Offs, the Almost-Good, the Too Weird for This World and Classic Corn, compiled by Paste Magazine's Jim Vorel, who has published more beer reviews than anything else, possibly because his "10 Most Unwatchable Films Featured on MST3K" drove him to hopeless alcoholism. He also previously listed "10 Essential Bad Movies for Your Collection", all of which are highly ranked here (if you want to save time). So pull up a chair and make plenty of popcorn, because the only thing more fun than watching cheezy movies is arguing about them. ("Hercules in New York" is ONLY #99? "Sharknado" only #90?!? Blasphemy!!)
posted by oneswellfoop (77 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite

 
Obviously, your mileage may vary, but otherwise a good list.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 2:46 PM on May 11


I am dismayed by the absence of BLOOD FREAK, but partially appeased by the inclusion of FOOD FIGHT.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:57 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


It's got some of my favorite cheesy movies on it, but not all. It's such a damnably hard list to crack - at what point do you switch over-the-top, cheap horror movies onto this list? What do you love because it's bad, and what do you love because it's good but not in a conventional way?

I mean, I kind of love Master of the Flying Guillotine, Foxy Brown, and Death Race 2000 without a shred of irony, but I'd never say that of Death Bed, Plan 9 From Outer Space or Troll 2. How do you rate 1992's Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil, probably my favorite slasher after Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street, which follows the rules of a slasher like they're written in stone, but hits all the notes and manages to be a really fun ride?
posted by graymouser at 2:58 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


Every time I came across a movie I saw I thought, "Oh yeah. That movie belongs on this list." Nicely done.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:59 PM on May 11


The total lack of Jess Franco badly hurts any claim of being authoritative.

On the other hand, this description is pure gold:

Employing a style coined as “Zen Filmmaking,” they set out to make a post-apocalyptic, rollerblade-centric action movie with absolutely no script involved. As Shaw says, Zen Filmmaking “allows for a spiritually pure source of immediate inspiration to be the only guide in the filmmaking process.” Here, it guided them to a movie about a nomadic warrior who teams up with a kabuki mime and a banjo player to defeat Joe Estevez and Frank Stallone in a Road Warrior-like wasteland.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:06 PM on May 11 [5 favorites]


I think the best bad films are the ones that take you by surprise. About a year ago, I channel surfed one Saturday night (I just have an antennae, so it didn't take very long) and came across the beginning of "Blind Rage", which is about a criminal that hatches a plan to rob a bank with five random strangers who are all blind. Oh, what a deliriously bizarre film. And the cherry on the top was when Fred Williamson is introduced as a new character in the last ten minutes to take care of the mastermind.

And I came across it completely by chance. Those are bad movie moments I truly cherish.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 3:07 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Also, I saw most of the listed 1980s action movies in the theater, and my friends and I all thought they were great. If you had told us that they would end up on a 100 worst list we would have laughed at you.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:08 PM on May 11


Out of all of the movies I've seen on that list (maybe 1/4), #31. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, is the only one I appreciated non-ironically. It's very low budget, but it has a great sense of humor. It's funny for all the reasons it's supposed to be.
posted by dgaicun at 3:09 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


I'm glad a couple of Corman's Poe movies made the list, but they left out the best one: "The Raven". Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre and Vincent Price, and a young Jack Nicholson with a full head of hair!

And I must say they're right to include Killer Klowns From Outer Space. That is one righteous film, right there. From the very first moment, every scene screams "Low budget!"

And it sports one of the best lines ever: "Don't be afraid. We only want to kill you."
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:10 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Still reading the links, but so far I'm pleased that Vorel understands the difference between good bad and bad bad. It's easy for some people to get wrapped up in turning their appreciation for bad movies into a kind of endurance contest. The point is really about finding things that are entertaining despite themselves, not unentertaining because of themselves.

The 10 Most Unwatchable Films Featured on MST3K are fan favorites in part because the movies' badness made Best Brains step up their game. You really, really don't want to watch those movies without accompaniment. Unless you lost a bet. I recall one or another of the behind-the-scenes shows about MST3K had one of the writers (Frank Conniff, I think) admitting that they had screened movies so bad that they couldn't make a show from them.
posted by ardgedee at 3:13 PM on May 11


(And yeah I know heta-uma is usually translated to bad-good.)
posted by ardgedee at 3:16 PM on May 11


I'm sad there's only one Vincent Price film on this list. He's, like, my B-Movie hero.
posted by hellojed at 3:16 PM on May 11


The total lack of Jess Franco badly hurts any claim of being authoritative gives this list a shred of hope.
posted by item at 3:17 PM on May 11


Incidentally, Laserblast is available to stream through Netflix.
posted by mediated self at 3:23 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Pretty great list from what I can tell. But there are a few instances of self-aware genre satire that don't make sense on a list like this. Like I don't think Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon belongs here at all.
posted by naju at 3:25 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]


Hellojed, there were two Vincent Price films.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:31 PM on May 11


There's at least four: The Tingler, House On Haunted Hill, Dr. Goldfoot And The Bikini Machine, and The Haunted Palace.
posted by dng at 3:35 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


It's a good sign that the pull photo at the top is from my favorite horror movie of all time (Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon). I can already see people disagree but ymmv. I bought it on dvd without watching it because it was packaged with Reanimator and Phantasm, which I wanted, but it turned out to be exactly what I wanted out of a weird low budget rando pick.

Though I hated Iron Sky. Maybe I should read the whole list before commenting. Hmm.
posted by Tesseractive at 3:37 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Not every film can be the Citizen Kane of its day. For every high-budget “A movie” that commands significant promotion and funding from its studio, there are piles of B movies that scratch and claw their way into existence without the benefit of things like “a budget” or “a script” in some cases.

It also doesn’t mean “worst-made,” or else films like Manos: The Hands of Fate and The Beast of Yucca Flats would make prominent appearances.

Manos was made without studio or production company support, and financed by the director. I'm not sure how "B Movie" is defined for the purposes of this list - just cheap? Actually a budget product of an entity that makes more "premium" films?
posted by ryanshepard at 3:40 PM on May 11


I was a bridesmaid for a woman who currently cosplays as Robot Monster (#75) so I feel comfortable that I am the target audience for a list like this.
posted by Tesseractive at 3:42 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Ok, one more note, it's a damn shame there are no John Waters movies on this list. Surely Desperate Living would stack up well with all this surreal bizarre incompetence/decadence?
posted by Tesseractive at 4:03 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


FDR: American Badass (#35) looks amazing. And on the Netflix instywatch! Review: "If I said this movie is Barry Bostwick's Bubba HoTep, and you knew what that meant, you'd probably like this." SOLD. Plus, Ray Wise!
posted by asperity at 4:11 PM on May 11 [8 favorites]


I feel like I'm the only one who has watched 'Amok Train,' aka 'Behind the Door III'.
posted by LindsayIrene at 4:16 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


I'm not going to watch any if these movies, but by putting them all on one page (instead of breaking them up into 25 pages for more page views) they kept me skimming along through the whole list.

So word to the wise, web designers.
posted by Western Infidels at 4:22 PM on May 11


The most glaring absence for me is "ZOTZ!" (IMDb) (wikipedia), the fantasy/comedy directed by William Castle and starring Tom Poston (in the days he was most noted as a panelist on To Tell the Truth). And it's viewable online at the copyright-neutral DailyMotion. Not convinced? Jim Backus was the Villain.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:24 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


C'mon no Lifeforce? No Mutant/Forbidden World? For shame.
posted by elendil71 at 4:36 PM on May 11


No Six String Samurai?

DEATH: "Only one man could kill this many Russians. Bring his guitar to me!"
posted by belarius at 4:51 PM on May 11 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure how I feel about everyone already having forgotten After Last Season.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:51 PM on May 11 [5 favorites]


having forgotten After Last Season.

I haven't been to that town, but I've been through it.
posted by belarius at 4:52 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


A movie so great everyone assumed it was somehow viral marketing for a Spike Jonze movie.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:58 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


A movie so bad we had to assume it was hiding a deeper mystery. As Daria once said, "Sometimes your shallowness is so thorough, it's almost like depth."
posted by Tesseractive at 5:07 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Suffers from a lack of movies featuring a man ripping his own ding-dong off.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:12 PM on May 11


Fuck this unreadable web site. Fuck it in the return slot.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:23 PM on May 11


I'm not sure how I feel about everyone already having forgotten After Last Season.

shakespherian, I'm fairly certain Matthew Weiner models every single "Next Week on Mad Men" after the After Last Season trailer.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 5:29 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


I'm still convinced After Last Season is hiding a deeper mystery, for what it's worth. That movie did things to my brain. Unconscionable things.
posted by naju at 5:30 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


I sincerely love that movie, FWIW.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:31 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


what happens in vegas gets buried on "zyzzyx road", but it doesn't stay buried. who wouldn't want to make a baby with natasha henstridge from "species", even at the cost of being eaten afterward? do you remember when santa claus defeated the martians?
posted by bruce at 5:34 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


mr.encyclopedia, you might enjoy "teeth".
posted by bruce at 5:36 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


If they're giving a spot to a Lifetime movie, then I want to nominate Sudden Terror: The Hijacking of School Bus 17, a TV movie which (a) starred Maria Conchita Alonso, (b) is "based on a true story," (c) concerned a terrorist hijacking a school bus full of special-needs students so the IRS would forgive his debts, (d) please go back and read (c) again, and (e) is so concerned with veracity over story structure that the denouement features the heroine stepping off the bus and dramatically twisting her ankle a minute before the whole thing ends.
posted by psoas at 5:40 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Well, if you're going to include The Roller Blade Seven (1991), then you might want to also consider including Roller Blade (1986), which is one film that earned a rare shout of approval from a gang of rather jaded amateur critics back in the dark ages.
posted by ovvl at 5:42 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


not sure if Mr.Encyclopedia is referring to Street Trash because in that one the man's ding dong is ripped off by a homeless man who proceeds to play keep away with it with some other homeless people.
posted by sineater at 5:52 PM on May 11


I saw Five Element Ninjas (#9) a long time ago, but I'll always remember it for the (subtitled) line
"I've been poisoned, I can't use my powers for three months"
which is most honestly flippant excuse I've ever heard for why the wise mentor character can't just use his or her superior abilities to vanquish the big bad and must instead compel some untested, unsure young hero into doing it instead.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:54 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


Return of the Living Dead is probably the best zombie movie ever. That's all I had to say.
posted by MikeMc at 6:16 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Actually I have more to say...Bloodsucking Freaks should have made the list.
posted by MikeMc at 6:19 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


i guess this is as good a place as any to ask: has anyone else seen Alien Warrior?
posted by ennui.bz at 6:37 PM on May 11


It seems that people have forgotten what B movies are. They're not "bad" movies, as in Golden Turkey Awards kind of stuff, which is what this list is. They were lower budget movies made to be the secondary movie in a double bill, like the support band at a rock concert, in the days when a trip to the movies might involve an A movie, a B movie, some cartoons and a newsreel. Not all B movies were bad, and most of the films listed are not B movies, either because they were features or because they are not from that era.
posted by w0mbat at 7:03 PM on May 11 [5 favorites]


Showdown in Little Tokyo has a climax where good ol' Dolph Lundgren is running down the street dressed as if he's a dockworker extra in a Godzilla movie AND the line, "Let's go back and eat sushi off those naked chicks."

If I had to pick a Dolph film, though, it's hard to go wrong with I Come in Peace, which is about cops fighting extraterrestrial drug dealers armed with CD players of doom and handguns you can use to destroy an entire city block.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:07 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


w0mbat is technically right, but that means there hasn't been a B movie in 40 years! FWIW, I looked for my favorite - The Night of the Comet. Nope.
posted by Carmody'sPrize at 7:09 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


This is the best list of these sorts of films that I've seen. I now have about 10 new "b" movies to watch.
posted by chaz at 7:14 PM on May 11


no gamera: super monster? - a truly inane, strange movie

there's another movie involving scantily clad women and tarantulas - (hint - they were allied) - but i can't for the life of me remember the title
posted by pyramid termite at 7:20 PM on May 11


I thought After Last Season was an homage to Last Year At Marienbad.



A terrible, terrible homage.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:50 PM on May 11


belarius, Six String Samurai isn't on the list because all that cinema aspires to be is Six String Samurai. Also, it has the best soundtrack of. All. Time.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Mortal Kombat 2 on the list. That movie is just absolutely atrocious. It makes the first one look like the Godfather (or, well, okay, Bloodsport). For years, it was the worst theater movie I'd seen (I reviewed movies for my school's newspaper). It's reign of mediocrity was short lived. After having seen Batman and Robin, Mulholland Falls*, and The Craft, MKII resides at a comfortable #4 on my worst movies of all time list.

* No, not the good Mulholland Drive, Mulholland Falls, with Nick Nolte, Chazz Palminteri, and John Malkovitch in a whodunit where everyone knows who did it, but they just spend their time wandering around, trying to be Chinatown and failing. The only good thing about it was that, just as I was standing up to walk out (which I literally had never done before), the movie ended. Not for any obvious reason. The credits started rolling. The movie was perfectly calibrated to my level of crap movie endurance, and that's the one good thing in what is otherwise the worst movie I've ever seen in the theater.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:14 PM on May 11


Huh, I've only seen 17 out of 100. Time to get started watching....

Some notes:
- He mentions The Magic Sword as being the best movie MST3K did. I remember that Joel even thanked the mads for not sending such a bad movie that time. But the Russo-Finnish movies (The Day the Earth Froze, The Magic Voyage of Sinbad, The Sword and the Dragon and Jack Frost) are pretty good too.
- He generally mentions when a movie has been covered on MST3K, but four more movies were done on Rifftrax: Laser Mission, Troll 2, Birdemic and The Room.
- King Kong Lives is the only movie on this list to get a Famicom game based on it.
- In the description of The Stuff, the "Where's The Beef?" lady was played by Clara Peller, not Pepper.
- On "The Toxic Avengers," would you believe the movies got an official Saturday morning cartoon, Toxic Crusaders, in which they somehow protect the environment?
posted by JHarris at 9:57 PM on May 11


If I had to pick a Dolph film, though, it's hard to go wrong with I Come in Peace, which is about cops fighting extraterrestrial drug dealers armed with CD players of doom and handguns you can use to destroy an entire city block.

This movie is so awesome. It's over two decades since I saw it and I still remember: (1) the doohickey on the wrist that spit out some deadly spinning compact disk and (2) "And you go in pieces...asshole.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:04 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


I actually helped for a few hours on Killer Clowns when it was being filmed in Santa Cruz. Everyone in town went to see it when it came out. I liked the scene where one of the clowns makes a balloon dog to track an escaping victim.
posted by boilermonster at 10:32 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Return of the Living Dead is probably the best zombie movie ever. That's all I had to say.

And thus it stands out like a dismembered corpse on that list. It's too good. Not because it's wigged out, weird, transgressive (though it is all of those things) but because it's well written, well directed, well produced, well cast, well soundtracked, well everything. And it's funny.

I'd rate it as one of the five or ten best movies period of the 1980s ... and yeah, the last zombie movie I ever really needed to see.
posted by philip-random at 11:39 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


There's no Spider Baby there, but that's ok, there are so many to choose from any way.
"Spider Baby is a 1964 black comedy horror film, written and directed by Jack Hill. It stars Lon Chaney, Jr. as Bruno, the chauffeur and caretaker of three orphaned siblings who suffer from "Merrye Syndrome", which causes them to mentally, socially, and physically regress backwards down the evolutionary ladder starting in early puberty."
That link's for the full version. It's a great popcorn and junk food movie.
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:40 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


All I remember from SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO is that towards the end, before they are about to go into battle, Brandon Lee turns to Dolphin Lundgren and tells him, out of nowhere and unprovoked, "you know, you have the biggest dick I've ever seen on a man."

I saw this film ages ago and can remember nothing more - no plot, no other scenes, no characterization, no motives, nothing. But I remember that one moment clearly enough that I would be able to identify the film based on a single screenshot of that specific ten seconds.

Huh.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:44 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


IIRC, it's because there was a previous scene where Dolph's character gets lucky with a women in a hot tub, like I think he's relaxing at home and she just shows up gets naked and jumps in with him, and Brandon's character is awakened from his slumber upon Dolph's couch by said luck.

That movie also has a bunch of fantastic fight scenes where Lee outshines anything Lundgren puts onscreen.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:25 AM on May 12


Tesseractive: "It's a good sign that the pull photo at the top is from my favorite horror movie of all time (Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon). I can already see people disagree but ymmv. I bought it on dvd without watching it because it was packaged with Reanimator and Phantasm, which I wanted, but it turned out to be exactly what I wanted out of a weird low budget rando pick.

Though I hated Iron Sky. Maybe I should read the whole list before commenting. Hmm.
"

I liked Iron Sky, but at least partially because of another little indie B-Movie that used to be on Netflix, Mistress of the Moon (which is so indy, it isn't even in IMDB). It made the term "Moon nazi" a running joke between a friend and I.

(FWIW, I liked Behind the Mask better than any of the Scream stuff.)
posted by Samizdata at 4:25 AM on May 12


asperity: "FDR: American Badass (#35) looks amazing. And on the Netflix instywatch! Review: "If I said this movie is Barry Bostwick's Bubba HoTep, and you knew what that meant, you'd probably like this." SOLD. Plus, Ray Wise!"

It's pretty bad, and I fancy myself a student of cinema merde.
posted by Samizdata at 4:27 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


belarius: "No Six String Samurai?

DEATH: "Only one man could kill this many Russians. Bring his guitar to me!"
"

[sighs happily]

Long live the Red Elvises!
posted by Samizdata at 4:28 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


No Herschell Gordon Lewis?
posted by malocchio at 6:35 AM on May 12 [2 favorites]


The Lost Skeleton of Cadavera is so completely awesome. Like Springtime for Hitler in The Producers, it was made to be exactingly horrendous, except with the glimmer of hope that it might get some popularity.
posted by plinth at 7:50 AM on May 12


plinth: "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavera is so completely awesome. Like Springtime for Hitler in The Producers, it was made to be exactingly horrendous, except with the glimmer of hope that it might get some popularity."

It is only horrible when no one is doing SCIENCE!
posted by Samizdata at 8:05 AM on May 12 [2 favorites]


IIRC, it's because there was a previous scene where Dolph's character gets lucky with a women in a hot tub, like I think he's relaxing at home and she just shows up gets naked and jumps in with him, and Brandon's character is awakened from his slumber upon Dolph's couch by said luck.

Yeah, but why do we get the fond remembrance of that moment before they go kick someone's ass is the thing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:17 AM on May 12


This is great list. I would add Forbidden Zone. If you haven't seen that, you haven't lived.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:00 AM on May 12 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but why do we get the fond remembrance of that moment before they go kick someone's ass is the thing.

Answering this would require a fairly deep essay on hypermasculinity, action movie tropes and psychosexual politics.
posted by naju at 10:18 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


I'm glad a couple of Corman's Poe movies made the list, but they left out the best one: "The Raven". Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre and Vincent Price, and a young Jack Nicholson with a full head of hair!

Indeed. It features the greatest wizard fight of all time.

On a Saturday afternoon I stumbled upon a wretched creation called Doomsday with Bob Hoskins and Rhona Mitra. It BEGGED for MST3K, especially the cannibal scene that was accompanied by a hair metal song.
posted by Ber at 10:33 AM on May 12 [2 favorites]


No Boardinghouse? No Love Butcher? No Fiend? No Criminally Insane II? No Redeemer? No Sledgehammer? No Demon Lover / Coven which spawned the fascinatingly awkward Demon Lover Diary which bears a passing resemblance to American Movie and is by Joel Demott, Sundance Grand Prize winner for Seventeen. Or arguably the greatest avant garde B cinema classic I have ever seen A Night to Dismember, made up of narration and ends of scenes because the original negative was destroyed in a fire?

Otherwise not a bad list though I'd take out the movies that are more self-consciously attempting to be cult films but that's my particular axe to grind.
posted by Ashwagandha at 11:31 AM on May 12


Ber: cannibal scene that was accompanied by a hair metal song

You say that like it is a bad thing.
posted by Ashwagandha at 11:41 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Someone else saw Blood Freak! Ah, the were-turkey.
posted by doctornemo at 11:53 AM on May 12


That wizard fight scene from The Raven is truly legitimately badass.

Watch it with the sound off and The Sword playing in the background. It will change your life.
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:37 PM on May 12


Someone else saw Blood Freak! Ah, the were-turkey.

I've always felt that the chain-smoking narrator's coughing fit while narrating at the end of the film really emphasizes the anti-drug message he's attempting to deliver.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 12:38 PM on May 12


Herschel Gordon Lewis was mentioned upthread; I would have to nominate Two Thousand Maniacs! as his contribution. The wikipedia synopsis doesn't begin to do it justice.

Plus, it inspired the name of one of the few good bands to come out of the 80's.
posted by TedW at 12:58 PM on May 12


I saw Laserblast in the Betamax era, a few years after Star Wars and I loved it.
As a kid I thought it was a good movie.
I foolishly destroyed it in the 2000s when I found it for rental.

Now, when looking for crap movies, I check if MST3K/Rifftrax have done it first.
I learnt that lesson.
posted by Mezentian at 11:27 PM on May 13


I like how they specifically note the "pre-The Crow Brendan Lee!" for Showdown in Little Tokyo.
Because Lee had such a stellar career after The Crow.
posted by Mezentian at 11:33 PM on May 13


« Older This Is What Happens When An All-Female Band Tries...  |  A comprehensive review of mugs... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments