The category is broad so the criteria must be limited to the B Monster's discretion. Films about prehistoric creatures disturbed from a 60 million-year slumber don't qualify; otherwise we'd be re-exploring Dinosaur Island, Mothra's home base and two dozen other Toho habitats. Other planets are out; as the list indicates, our own planet is riddled with tunnels and peppered with islands inhabited by lost civilizations. Finally, films such as She and Lost Horizon are just a bit too "legit," and therefore fall outside our genre-film wheelhouse. So, in no particular order ...

10A. Fantastic Voyage
From its opening frame, this film screams "sixties." The music, the titles, the white naugahyde zipper suits. And what an odd mix this cast is -- Stephen Boyd, Edmond O'Brien, Raquel Welch, Donald Pleasence, Arthur Kennedy -- none of whom seems particularly comfortable with the milieu. O'Brien leads the scenery-chewing as the top dog of a super-secret government miniaturization program. The now-familiar plot involves a shrunken scientific team inserted into the body of a scientist. They're washed and flushed through darned near every vital organ. These visuals were impressive in 1966, and the film won Oscars for art direction and effects. Just imagine if they made it today; it would spawn a dozen or more sequels: Fantastic Voyage II: Spastic Colon Assault, Fantastic Voyage III: Acid Reflux Extreme! The tagline? "Get your bowels in an uproar!"

10B. Innerspace
A variation on the miniaturization theme -- and a splendid film to pair with Fantastic Voyage -- Innerspace wisely avoids the condescension and clichés that might have undermined its success. Director Joe Dante helmed this charming, innovative take on inner-body travel, shaping a top-notch cast and nifty effects into a satisfying whole. Dennis Quaid is the mini-pilot at the controls of a revolutionary craft that courses its way through the spastic, convulsive body of Martin Short, already a hyper-kinetic subject who's well-matched to the part. Kevin McCarthy is terrific as the conniving heavy, and this is as good a time as any to salute Dante for casting McCarthy, Ken Tobey, William Schallert and Dick Miller, all veterans of our favorite genre films. (Oh, yeah, Meg Ryan is in it, too.) This easily could have been a derivative, hackneyed, by-the-numbers schlockfest, but thanks to Dante's feel for the genre, it's snappy, fresh and affectionate. And, you can watch it with your kids! Just imagine!

9. Atlantis: The Lost Continent
Producer George Pal was an erratic filmmaker with a visionary's ambitions and an eye for seductive color and design. He gave us Destination Moon, War of the Worlds, When Worlds Collide and, unfortunately, Atlantis: The Lost Continent. I don't know if the great man's ambitions exceeded his resources or if the big ideas were just TOO darned big to credibly translate. In any case, the film just doesn't happen. It has its visual attributes -- they built Atlantis, for Pete's sake -- and there's a nifty armored submarine. Add Joyce Taylor and a minotaur or two ... sounds exciting, right? It isn't. It's easily Pal's worst film. The casting doesn't help much. Bland John Dall was perfect in Gun Crazy, but he doesn't cut it as the fabled lost isle's top heavy.

8. Unknown World
This atom-age riff on Journey to the Center of the Earth starts with a bang, then turns so deadly earnest in its approach that it almost becomes an educational film. It seems that scientists have determined that the only safe haven from the volatile Cold War and imminent nuclear destruction is at the earth's core. Grandfatherly Victor Kilian and his crew pile into the Cyclotram, an auger-nosed tank contraption whipped up by effects aces Jack Rabin and Irving Block. The Cyclotram bores through soil and stone, burrowing towards mankind's new refuge, but nothing terribly interesting happens along the way. (Put me behind the wheel of one of these babies during rush hour. Now THAT would be interesting.)

7. Journey to the Center of the Earth
Colorful, engaging (if a trifle long at 132 minutes) version of Verne's time-honored tale with a top-flight cast that includes James Mason, Arlene Dahl, Diane Baker, Alan Napier -- even Pat Boone is okay. The intrepid group begins their trek by spelunking into a live volcano! (Wait a minute, who planned this trip?) Before long, they're bumping into big lizards, a lost city and all manner of science-fiction-type fauna. A nifty Bernard Herrmann score keeps things perking through the rough patches.

6. The Land Unknown

The number of outright "duds" on producer William Alland's illustrious resume is limited to just one, The Deadly Mantis. But The Land Unknown is only better by a whisker. Alland and director Virgil Vogel turned out this rather limp variation on the Lost World scenario. The prehistoric tropical zone in question is illogically tucked away somewhere in Antarctica. There were three ways to go when making a dinosaur picture in the pre-CGI era: Stop-motion animation, as in King Kong, pet store lizards with glued-on fins, as in King Dinosaur or guys in rubber suits, like the ones who tromp through The Land Unknown. We've seen worse (the ludicrous The Last Dinosaur comes to mind), but the distraction is nonetheless insurmountable. Jock Mahoney, Shawn Smith and William Reynolds wrestle with some absurdly corny dialogue to no avail. The Land Unknown has its innocent charms, but not enough of 'em.

5. Unknown Island
A true rarity -- a 1950s sci-fi film that was made in 1948! There's not much happening here plotwise, and the island in question is populated by perhaps the least convincing dinosaurs ever to stalk a soundstage. ("Cue the rubber suits!") These are arguably the most ill-attired reptiles in fantasy-film history. Paul Blaisdell wouldn't be caught dead in these dinosaur duds! Filmed in glorious Cinecolor, Unknown Island is a decidedly sluggish ride over well-traversed terrain. But it has two things in the plus column -- and they're big pluses: Richard Denning and Barton MacLane. Denning never walked into a scene he didn't brighten, even when playing the nominal heavy as he did in Creature From the Black Lagoon. And Barton MacLane is always fun to watch, grumbling, grousing and muscling his way through every scene in every movie he was ever in.

4. The Lost World
No, not Irwin Allen's disastrous 1960 version. Not the 1993 Canadian rendition starring John Rhys-Davies that turns up on cable at least three times a week. And certainly not to be confused with the sequel to Jurassic Park. This is the groundbreaking 1925 silent version of the Conan Doyle classic. Animation-meister Willis O'Brien's stop-motion dinosaur, created 77 years ago, is still impressive work. Its stunning stampede though London was the blueprint for all of our favorite "monster on the loose" movies, and planted the cinematic seeds that would lead to the creation of Kong.

3. The Mole People
It may not be the film that its producer, the great William Alland, would want to be remembered for, but it's nothing if not ambitious. The vast, subterranean city of the ancient Sumerians looks pretty phony, but it is not without charm. (There's a sweeping matte painting for long shots, a rather shoddy set for ceremonies in the Sumerian temple, and dark tunnels for everything else.) The Moles themselves are memorable, and even a bit scary if you're of a certain age. They're enslaved by the pasty-faced, solar-sensitive Sumerians until aided in their rebellion by scientists John Agar and Hugh Beaumont. (Be sure and freeze-frame the scene when our heroes are first abducted by the Moles. One maskless Moleman sticks his very human face into frame for a second or two.) An aside to all you self-proclaimed "bad-movie connoisseurs": Stop picking on John Agar! He's just fine in this film, as he was in many films. The next time you feel the urge, think of Hayden Christensen's performance in Attack of the Clones. Is this what your generation brings to the table?

2. Lost Continent
Note to the uninitiated: Go ahead and laugh at the Davey and Goliath-like dinosaurs, the padded rock climbing sequences, the green-tinted footage and the bravado performances. Go ahead and laugh at everything I think makes this picture terrific! With the possible exception of Alex Gordon, only Robert L. Lippert could assemble such a cast: Cesar Romero, Hugh Beaumont, John Hoyt, Whit Bissell, Chick Chandler, Hillary Brooke, our beloved Sid Melton -- and Acquanetta, for cryin' out loud! Let's say they were burying a time capsule and someone said, "Quick, pick one picture that showcases the most and the best B-movie actors in top form!" I'd be tempted to toss in Lost Continent. It's cheap and kooky and slow in spots, but every performer goes at the material as though it were Shakespeare -- much like Lugosi in his waning days. I like that about this picture.

1. King Kong
Come on, is there another title on this list that even comes close? It's the ultimate "Lost World" adventure and the best darned epitaph a guy like Willis O'Brien could have. After seven decades, his special effects have not been outdone in terms of charm and emotional connection. Based on his facial expressions and body language alone, Kong out-acted most of that year's Oscar winners. And the dreamlike sets and matte paintings are nearly as gorgeous as Fay Wray. Max Steiner's music may sound calculated to contemporary ears, but its bumps and blares suit the material perfectly. (Would you prefer the ceaselessly treacly strings of John Williams? That guy's been on auto-pilot for 10 years. Give him another Oscar!) But I think Robert Armstrong is the unsung hero of King Kong. (There, I said it.) His cocksure performance is the catalyst. He brings the picture home with a winning mix of selfish cunning and humanity. He was the era's premier "wiseguy with a heart of gold," and a confoundingly underrated actor. (Go back and watch G-Men or The Lost Squadron or The Ex-Mrs. Bradford.) In summation, if you ever get tired of watching King Kong, then you're just plain tired of movies.

"2 Great Blood-Horrors to Rip Out Your Guts!"
I Drink Your Blood/I Eat Your Skin

"Touch the Scream That Crawls Up the Wall!"
The Trip

"Creeping, Crawling, Flesh-Eating Maggots!"
Flesh Feast

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