Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Glorious Genre of the B Movie

In my last post I expressed my liking for B movies. My family teases me about it all the time. The more hokey, or strange, or the more badly written the more they think I'm going to like it. That's not entirely true. I don't really care for zombie movies, or slasher movies, or movies that spend a significant amount of time the an ugly dark place. But I really like movies with interesting characters.

So what is a B movie? One would be tempted to think it means Bad movie, but not so. I was going to muddle my way around an explanation, but Wikipedia puts it better.

A B movie is a low-budget commercial motion picture. In its original usage, during the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood, the term more precisely identified a film intended for distribution as the less-publicized, bottom half of a double feature. Although the U.S. production of movies intended as second features largely ceased by the end of the 1950s, the term B movie continued to be used in the broader sense it maintains today.

The term connoted a general perception that B movies were inferior to the more handsomely budgeted headliners. As the average running time of top-of-the-line films increased, so did that of B pictures. In its current usage, the term has two primary and somewhat contradictory connotations: it may signal an opinion that a certain movie is (a) a genre film with minimal artistic ambitions or (b) a lively, energetic film uninhibited by the constraints imposed on more expensive projects and unburdened by the conventions of putatively "serious" independent film. The term is also now used loosely to refer to some higher budgeted, mainstream films with exploitation-style content, usually in genres traditionally associated with the B movie.

In looking at several different lists of B movies, I realized that my list is very different from most other lists. Most other lists fall into the really really bad movies but don't we just love them category.

So I decided to make my own list. (In no particular order)

Eaon Flux (the movie) SO don't like the MTV version.
(Because Jaime reminded me...) The Scorpion King
Escape From New York
Escape from L. A.
Fifth Element (Is this a B movie????)
(Have to 'fess up to the Kill Bill movies)
Batman Returns... (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are not B movies)
Flash Gordon
Big Trouble in Little China
Lara Croft Tomb Raider
Star Trek Nemesis
The Alien movies - mostly#3 and #4
All the Predator movies - especially #2
And the Alien vs. Predator movies... though in the last one they nuke Gunnison, Colorado... disturbing since I visit Gunnison occasionally.
Dark City
The first thirty minutes of the Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Mummy (not a B movie) and The Mummy Returns
The Professional
Fright Night
Pitch Black
The Chronicles of Riddick
The Lost Boys
Interview with the Vampire
Queen of the Damned
Red Scorpion
Vampires - with James Woods
Cherry 2000
They Live
Terminator 1, 2, and 3 (Some might dispute these)
The Road Warrior
The Crow - Brandon Lee
A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly - Clint Eastwood
12 Monkeys - a really great movie on the time travel paradox
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Bulletproof Monk
Jackie Chan movies

Some I don't watch, but are very popular

Reptile movies about snakes and crocodiles
Biker flicks
Haunted house movies... Though there's an Amityville House movie I watch for the first thirty minutes and then shut off.
Zombies - the Living Dead stuff
Dr. Giggles
Any of the Saw movies
Jeepers Creepers - one of the most disturbing movies I ever watched. Jeepers Creepers 2 was just as bad.
Sin City
The Candy Man movies
Urban Legend

There are a lot more, on both lists.


Jaime Theler said...

I don't know that I agree with you on the Alien, Terminator, and Predator movies. They were pretty big & they *rock*. I do love The Mummy. I don't know, does that make me a B-movie lover? Or just related to you?

I'd put on the list of B movies that are the worst of the genre almost anything on the Sci-Fi channel (hello! Frankenfish!) and The Scorpion King (*groan*). And I know you love that one :)

Deborah said...

Okay... maybe Alien and Terminator aren't B movies... But the Alien vs. The Predator movies rank right up there, or down there with the best of them.

Eddie Oliver said...

Although I'm not sure I entirely agree with the definitition of what a B-movie is, I can definitely say I love 'em too.For example, earlier Tarantino films could be qualified as B-movies, even Pulp Fiction could be qualified in the B-movie genre because of the abstract nature of it, but not because the economical factor. They're so abstract sometimes that it's so funny to watch. Great post by the way! Kudos!