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The best feature-length movies on YouTube, free or otherwise

Back in 2011, Google quietly rolled out the YouTube.com/movies section. Over the past few years it has amassed a library of titles you can rent, purchase, or stream for free, and today, there’s more content in the movie section than you could watch in a lifetime — and that’s not even counting all the full-length films uploaded by users. So to help save you some time in your search for something to watch, we’ve sifted through all the movies the site has to offer — free, paid, legal, and not-so-legal — to bring you this list of the best full movies on YouTube.

Related: Time to kill? These are the 99 best movies currently streaming on Netflix

Free Movies (legally uploaded)

YouTube has a pretty sizable list of movies you can stream for free, but truth be told, not many are worth watching. The overwhelming majority of them are obscure B-movies that’re so bad they make you want to gouge your eyeballs out with a hot grapefruit spoon. Movies so genuinely awful that, if you dare to watch them, you’ll find yourself awestruck by the idea that somebody actually took the time to shoot, edit, and distribute such garbage. That being said, there are a few freebies on here that we were pleasantly surprised to find, all of which we’ve listed below.

Millennium Actress

Directed by the late Satoshi Kon, Millennium Actress is a visually inventive animated journey through the history of Japanese cinema. This history is told through the lens of Chiyoko Fujiwara, a woman who stars in a variety of film’s throughout her storied career. When the studio where she made her name is torn down, filmmaker Genya Tachibana contacts Chiyoko, hoping to make a documentary about her career. Chiyoko relates her experiences, starting with her birth in Imperial Japan and through the post-war period. Chiyoko’s reveries are conveyed through dreamlike imagery, and as Genya and his cameraman listen, the lines between past and present seem to blur.

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Youtube

Kung Fury

Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, Kung Fury promised its backers a spectacular homage to ’80s action films, and it truly delivered. Director David Sandberg also plays the lead, Kung Fury, a detective who was granted superhuman fighting abilities when, in pursuit of a ninja, he was simultaneously struck by a bolt of lightning and bitten by a cobra. Kung Fury uses his supreme kung fu skills to clean up the violently filthy streets of Miami, but faces his greatest challenge when no less a villain than Adolf Hitler (Jorma Taccone) arrives, intent on conquering all of time through his own mastery of kung fu. If it’s not apparent already, Kung Fury is a film that makes no attempts at seriousness. The constant escalation of ridiculous gags would probably become tiring in a full-length film, but at 30-ish minutes, it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

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Youtube

The End of Poverty?

As the name denotes, this documentary looks at factors that led to world poverty and the forces that are pushing the wage gap further and further apart. Martin Sheen lends his voice to narrate the movie, examining the barrios of Latin America and slums of Africa, while showcasing interviews with historians, economists, and sociologists. It isn’t a particularly happy film, but it will change the way you look at people in poverty and might motivate you to examine your lifestyle.

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Youtube

Night of the Living Dead

Known as one of the original horror movies, George A. Romero’s classic follows seven people who find themselves trapped in a barn in Pennsylvania as the terrifying walking dead surround them. They have to try to survive without understanding the terror that lurks outside. The movie has been noted as the first zombie film and it’s influences can be seen in everything from 28 Days Later to Shaun of the Dead, quickly revolutionizing the horror genre on a budget of a mere $114,000.

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Youtube

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

This film noir follows Martha Ivers, a defiant orphaned teenager who ends up accidentally-but-kind-of-on-purpose killing her authoritarian aunt, her guardian and the town matriarch. 18 years later, Martha is married to Walter, the only witness to her crime, whom she does not love but agreed to marry after his ambitious father helped her avoid the consequences, placing Martha — now the heiress of her aunt’s fortune and power —under his thumb. The movie is worth watching alone for Kirk Douglas, who delivers a brilliant on-screen debut performance as Martha’s weak alcoholic husband that’s far different from his later tough guy roles.

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Youtube

Seven Men From Now

Writers of the first season of Hell on Wheels may have taken some cues from this classic John Wayne-produced western. Former sheriff Ben Stride is on a mission of vengeance, tracking down and killing the seven men who killed his wife in their robbery of the Wells Fargo station where she worked. With a few plot twists and a pair of illicit lovers, pining for each other but sticking to their morals, this film might not be a John Ford, but it’s an excellent example of the genre, regardless.

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Youtube

Don’t Try This at Home: From Dogma to Dogville

A esoteric doumentary for cinephiles and filmmakers, From Dogma to Dogville, explores the miniDV revolution of the late ’90s that influenced the independent cinema scene. Though a bit dry, the film’s interviews with three renowned cameramen who were particularly significant during that period provide insight into the process behind such films as My Brother TomA Map of the Heart, and The Feast.

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Youtube

Gaslight

Ever wonder where the term “gaslighting” came from? This psychological drama is the first of two film adaptations of the play by the same name — all of which, combined, gave society the term for the particular type of psychological abuse they depict. Paul and Bella, newlyweds, move into a house that has remained empty since a wealthy old woman was murdered there. Little by little, Paul convinces Bella she is losing her sanity in order to continue his nefarious pursuits.

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Youtube

His Girl Friday

One of the best prototype second-wave feminist films, His Girl Friday, is a hilarious Hawksian farce with electric chemistry between stars Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. Hildy (Russell) may be newspaper editor Burns’s (Grant) protégée (and ex-wife) but when she announces to Burns that she’s leaving the business to get married, he concocts at scheme to delay her departure. Hijinks ensue and Hildy, not quite as unwitting a pawn in Burns’ game as he thinks, shows that the student has surpassed the master — while discovering that the student might also still be in love with the master.

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Youtube

The Lady Vanishes

Alfred Hitchcock’s penultimate British film, The Lady Vanishes, was also his first to received wide box-office success and helped propel his career across the Atlantic to Hollywood. The film is a comic mystery, filled with cartoonish supporting characters and unlikely but entertaining capers. When a woman goes missing on a train, only a beautiful young dilettante seems able to recall that she was ever there to begin with and begins a search, aided by a handsome young musicologist.

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Youtube

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