Chris Baker at Wired has compiled a list of the ten best movies in the public domain that can be downloaded via sites like PublicDomainTorrents.com or Archive.org.
1) Detour (1945)
Snappy dialog, femme fatale, guilt-ridden hero, flimsy sets – it’s protonoir that helped launch a genre.
2) Driller Killer (1979)
Abel Ferrara (Bad Lieutenant) directs and plays a homicidal artist. Not the 1948 dance hit Killer Diller.
3) Night of the Living Dead (1968)
George Romero’s gritty classic out-brains the avalanche of zombie flicks it inspired. Mmm … brains.
4) Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
It’s a Wonderful Life is out of the public domain? So what. The interplanetary battle for Christmas rules!
5) Superman cartoons (early 1940s)
Modern superhero flicks got nothin’ on these perfectly drawn shorts.
6) The Battle of San Pietro (1943)
Forget Private Ryan and get into real WW II bunkers with this gripping John Huston documentary.
7) The General (1927)
Buster Keaton is still the king of physical comedy. This train-hijacking romp is his masterpiece.
8) The Lost World (1925)
We’ll take the stop-motion dinosaurs in this seminal f/x flick over Jurassic Park’s CG crap any day.
9) The Street Fighter (1974)
Quentin Tarantino’s idol Sonny Chiba literally tears bad guys apart in a graphic karate-palooza.
10) Reefer Madness (1936)
One puff of wacky tobacky turns Depression-era teens into sex fiends, pinkos, and jazz pianists.
My two favourites here are Night of the Living Dead and The General but Reefer Madness is also a complete hoot.