"It’s only a movie…It’s only a movie…"
Two posts in one day! Zowwie!
Well, you have had your beer intro, now lets talk B-Movies. Don’t panic! This post won’t be as long as the Beer Primer.
I guess a good place to start is to try to define what I mean by the term “b-movie”.
The original definition was a film made cheaply, employing non-star cast members (usually young unknowns or older stars that could no longer find better work) and crew. The big budget films with the well known stars were “A-List” movies. The b-movie production houses were kind of like minor league sports teams. Actors, directors, editors, effect folks, etc. would work in b-movies hoping to show themselves off and move up to the big leagues. Most of the time, this did not happen, but many b-movie actors and crew were steadily employed, even if they did make less money than the a-list folks.
B-movies can have any subject matter, but the genres of horror and sci-fi are perhaps overrepresented. This is probably due to the fact that a young director or effects person could always find a way to wrap a horror or sci-fi theme around whatever expolitative elements they were trying to showcase.
Did I say exploitative? Hell yes! Exploitation plays a big part in b-movies. Whether it is some sort of taboo content or subject matter the film makers use to get folks to plop down their hard earned dough to watch their movie (i.e. nudity or gore), or the recognition of a ready and willing audience who will go see a certain kind of movie just cause it is what they like (kids tend to like monster flicks).
In 1979 the great Joe Bob Briggs first outlined the essencial elements of drive-in movies: beasts, blood and breasts. Drive-in movies are definitely part of the b-movie scene and I think Joe Bob summed up their appeal eloquently.
Of course another part of the appeal of b-movies were that they were cheap to see as well as cheap to make. You could go to a matinee or a drive-in and see three b-movies for the price of one a-list film.
I have very fond memories of going to the drive-in with my family or just my dad. We would take all our own refreshments in a big cooler and watch the movies and laugh at the stupid parts or, in my case, be frightened by or wonder what was the big deal about the other stuff. My folks did not worry about what I was seeing – my mom would just say it was grown-up stuff and wave it off. For the most part I just ignored it and waited for the monsters or action to pick up.
But by far my appreciation for b-movies springs from watching local TV monster/horror movie shows. These were usually hosted by someone and also involved skits or local events. These shows were broadcast on Friday and Saturday night as well as weekend afternoons. Usually the night time shows would start at 11:30 pm after the local news. My friends and I looked forward to these shows because we got to stay up late, often as “sleepover” guests at one of our houses and because it was our time and our show. Often our parents would go to bed before the show started, leaving us alone to enjoy the night. This was a big deal when I was a kid! Perhaps in future posts I will feature these shows.
As I grew older, b-movies became the place to see things that teenaged boys thought of as cool – like gore effects and nekkid girls. The older I got the more jaded I became – the gore had to be more shocking and the girls had to be…uh…um…more nekkid (if you know what I mean and I think that you do!).
Today I enjoy b-movies for the nostalgia – the fun memories of what it was like to be a little kid allowed to stay up and watch monster flicks, for the ridiculous plot elements, horrible acting, pitiful special effects, ludicrous dialog and yes for the nekkid chicks!
As Mystery Science Theater 3000 showed, the kind of movies we watched as kids are still very entertaining to watch as adults, just perhaps for different reasons!
Did I say adult? Hell yes! I may as well get this out in the open right now – the reviews that will be posted here will contain some adult references and language. What can I say? Sometimes ya just gots to call a titty a “titty”. Some of the movies I review will be about stuff like murder or war or nunsploitataion. These are things that some folks might find objectionable. If you are one of those people; go see a shrink, get some meds, have a brew, pray or do whatever you think you need to do to deal with what you read here – but YOU deal with it. I don’t want to be bothered with any holier-than-thou how-could-you emails. You are not going to change my mind or make me feel ashamed or “see the light”. If what you read here offends you that much – feel free to leave and not come back.
By the way, not all of the movies I choose to refer to as b-movies are low budget affairs staring nobodies. Some pretty darn crappy films were made for big bucks with big stars! I hope to feature some of these big time b-movies, because they show what you can see so much of in blockbuster movies today – just cause you got money and talent, don’t mean it ain’t crap! That is another reason I like b-movies. I would rather laugh at a b-movie I see on TV or rent or even buy for less than a single admission price, than sit through pompous big budget insulting junk like “Alexander”.
So what won’t I watch? Well since I have a perverse morbid and masochistic curiosity, I will try most anything. But there is one aspect of a film I can’t stand; the kiss of death, even for me is simply this: boredom. Crappy films can be a lot of fun, but not if they bore you.
One last thing. In my reviews, both of beer and b-movies, I am going to give my honest subjective opinions. I am not going to try to “tap into the consciousness of everyman”. Everyman sucks. I speak my own mind. I’m BigRuta dammit, and don’t you forget it!