"But does he have a human brain, or the MURDEROUS BRAIN OF A FLY?" Any doubt about the value of monster movies is shattered by contemplating an overwrought Vincent Price uttering these words in the original version of The Fly.
For if it wasn't for monster movies of the B-variety, would such a sentence ever exist? Even sci-fi literature of the pulpiest kind rarely reached such levels of dialogue. Great dramatic films have memorable conflicts and heartaching tragedy, but produce banter that is startling mainly for its ordinariness... "Frankly, Scarlet, I don't give a damn".
Variations on that one will have echoed across the Lousiana bayou about the time you finish this sentence.
Nope, there's no doubt that B-monster movies are the very stuff of creation, and thanks to the wonders of Amazon, a basic intro to the genre is possible right here in the quaint ol' city of Prague. And never content with products of the west side of the Atlantic, Czech and even Russian offerings also get their due in the list.
PART 1: THE NORTH (& CENTRAL) AMERICAN MONOLITH (+JAPAN)
The Fly, the1958 original mentioned above, is a tragic tale of a scientist trying to invent a molecular transportation device, only to get seriously involved with a six-legged stowaway. Forget the 1980s remake... go with the original.
For another classic from the 50s, and to see what happens when a very serious UFO lands on earth and says "Stop!", check out one of the best alien invasion films, The Day The Earth Stood Still from 1951, even though the later remake is also on a must watch list, but watch the original first.
Once upon a time in Prague, Video to Go was the only place to find 1935's The Bride of Frankenstein, the psycho/sociological nerve-dangler about an all-broken-up technovictim freak desperate for female company (sound familiar?). Now, thanks to the internet, you can watch it without even getting on the tram!
More gore rearrangement, voluptuous death and male desperation is in 1962's Brain that Wouldn't Die, a truly creepy depiction of a man going to all efforts to save his wife after a car crash.
If your summertime picnic is ruined by ants, as least be thankful they aren't two stories tall as in Them! (1954). The original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), about that familiar sensation that there is something wrong with everybody in the world besides you, is also on Amazon, though in shamefully colorized form.
Lots of shameful activity goes on in Spider Baby (1964), a genuinely strange and sometimes disturbing tale of some very bad kids. While slipping over into the unfortunate realm of camp a couple times and containing only degenerating humans, this one is still mandatory viewing.
For a sampler of many many monster, sci-fi and horror movies, many of these DVDS carry different collections of trailers (as in movie previews and not trailer parks.) With their teasing glimpses of some astounding films (Where is The Tingler when we need it?), these should be checked out in high res, to see all the monster movies properly... better than online:
Another important compendium to avidly consumer is the multi-movie Japanese Godzilla Mega Set set.
Two important Mexican mummy films are Curse of the Aztec Mummy and Wrestling Women Vs. Aztec Mummy, only available these days on VHS mainly. Speaking of mat-fighting, Amazon also has a listing for one of the greatest Mexican wrestling monster movies of all time, from the legendary Santo series.
But WARNING! The video labeled Santo in the Wax Museum, wherein the always-masked mauler should take on wax museum figures that come to life, is in fact Santo vs. the TV Assassin, a very boring film in which the Tijuana toughguy deals with some electronic mind-control hijinks. So order the Santo En El Museo De Cera (Santo In The Wax Museum) with English subs version to make sure you get the real deal. Or watch online here;
If the stereotypical mid-twentieth century women's roles in most of the above flicks get you wishing for a little payback, Lux Interior of The Cramps once recommended Russ Meyer's Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! in order 'to see beautiful women driving fast sportcars and breaking joculatory hemen men's spines'. While not strictly a monster movie, there is some truly monstrous behavior going on.
Fast-forwarding in time, for an updating of the genre that mixes horror and monsters with wry humor and exhibits the kind of remarkable film technique only found in such movies, the 1980s The Evil Dead Anthology should be scrutinized, with 4 Films in a 6-Disc Box Set (The Evil Dead / Evil Dead II / Army of Darkness & Evil Dead (2013) ), with Book of the Dead & Kandarian Replica Prop!
PART 2: THE CZECH CHILLERS
Czech monster movies videos with English subtitles are next to impossible to find. One might be The Faust Lesson (Lekce Faust), where a unnerving life-sized puppet-devil makes the rounds and some nightmarish claymation sequences guarantee a disturbed viewing.
Another Švankmajer film, Alice, a version of Alice In Wonderland, might also qualify (both at Virus). Anothert Švankmajer issue, Little Otik (Otesánekaka Greedy Guts - 2001), is very monstrous - dealing with a piece of wood that grows into a giant tree person with a demanding meat requirement.
Its very possible your friendly neighborhood Czech videostore should carry some of these titles, if any even exist anymore, and it doesn't matter if your Czech skills are not up to par, because screaming is the international language!
And you can get on Amazon some of these if they don't have them in those shops;
Cesta do pravěku - Journey to the Primieval, (1955) - a land o' dinosaurs flick.
Fantom Morrisvillu - The Phantom of Morrisville, (1966 - a wonderful horror parody.
Adéla ještě nevečeřela - Adela Hasn't Eaten Yet, (1977) - wherein a giant carnivorous plant goes berserk. It's not on Amazon, but you can watch the whole file here:
Upír z Feratu - Vampire in a Ferata, (1982) -wherein a thirsty car drinks the blood of drivers (more of those in Prague, please).
Tajemství hradu v Karpatech - Secrets of the Carpathian Castle, (1981) - goings on in a haunted mansion. You'll need to check the local shops for this one too.
Dívka na koštěti - The Girl on the Broom (1982) - little witch in fantasy land: headless knights and demons. Buy on Amazon or watch in full here:
Vlčí bouda - The Wolf Kennel, (1986) - director Vera Chytilova, about some hungry women aliens. Watch in full on Youtube here:
Prokletí domu Hajnů - The Damned House of Hajn, (1988) - a Poe-influenced tale. There have been several remakes of this, but the original is the best. Its hard to find, but someone on Youtube put up "part 2"
Ropáci - Petroleum (1988) -from the Dark Blue World and Kolya team, a pseudo-documentary about a little creature discovered to eat toxic waste. On Youtube in three parts with subtitles.
Císařův pekař a Pekařův císař - The Caesar's Baker and The Baker's Caesar (1951) - Directed by Martin Fric, a Golem monster masterpiece, a Czech classic! Also known in English as The Emperor and the Golem.
Baron Prášil (1961) -a Czech version of Baron Munkhausen, the man who tells very incredible stories.
Čarodějův učeň - The Sorcerer's Apprentice, ( 1977) - An animated film of witchcraft by Karel Zeman.
Monstrum z galaxie Arkana - Monsters from the Arkana Galaxy, (1981) - a 1981 Yugoslav-Czechoslovak film directed by Dušan Vukotić. Just what it sounds like.
Na kometě - On a Comet, (1970) - Another Karel Zeman movie, this time a Jules Verne in Space thing.
Krvavá pani - The Blood Countess, (1982) - animated with lots of red ink, the story of the Romanian gentlewoman who bathed in her subjects' blood.