The Annoying Misunderstanding of B Movies

For as long as I can remember I have been a huge fan of B Movies. Your initial thought may be that I say this because I think I’m a hipster movie aficionado and I want everyone to know it. Whilst that’s probably partially true, there are far more important reasons as to why B Movies make for an incredible experience.

Just to clarify, in case you don’t know, a B Movie refers to a commercial film that has a very low budget, and is more often than not created around a schlocky or absurd concept. The low budget is really what makes a good B Movie great.

When filmmakers are given budgets in the hundreds of millions they know they can get whatever they want, without really trying. If they need an expensive explosion, or to have a huge monster appear they can hand over a few million to an effects house and wait for the results. But for a B Movie there is no budget for any of this. What you get, therefore, is the highest level of creative filmmaking. Blood squibs are replaced with exploding sachets of Ketchup, camera dollys are replaced with modified shopping trollies, CGI ghosts are replaced with haunting noises and misdirection. So much thought has to go into every last piece of the puzzle, to get it to come in on virtually no money.

What you also get with B Movies are entire crews whom you can tell all love what they are doing. Much like any independent film, B Movie crews are more than likely up and coming filmmakers trying to get the attention of the big players. They are full of fresh ideas and a kind of desperation to make the film that will get them noticed; which leads them to make genuinely brilliant pieces of cinema.

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Mmmmm……B Movie legs!

So where does the misunderstanding come in?

Well to me there are way too many people who never get past that sense of post modern irony about B Movies. You’ll know the attitude; people that laugh the films off based on a trailer or poster, but at the same time say “oh man I can’t wait to see that” as if they are expecting it to be a piece of shit, so that makes it worth seeing. Now I don’t want to come off as a preachy boring film snob, and I know that a big part of B Movies is the fun element; I do find myself laughing throughout many of my favourites. But the viewpoint of “that looks so bad it must be good” just winds me up. It is a mindset that is only exacerbated by the SyFy channel.

The recent crop of films that have been put out by the SyFy channel are the most senseless films in existence. They are made to be rubbish! Sharknado for example (being the latest piece of dog poo) has no hint of ever wanting to be good. Instead it purposefully becomes a parody of itself and its predecessors. I can only assume then, that the executives in charge of these productions think that they are making a B Movie by making it crap on purpose; like that’s what all B Movie directors set out to do. And they couldn’t be more wrong.

B Movie’s are set out with the best intentions. They are made by innovative people who genuinely care about what they are doing and are just doing the best with what little resources they have. Evil Dead is a B Movie, so is Braindead, and even Total Recall, based on its budget is classed as a B Movie, but nobody is laughing Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson and Paul Verhoeven off as being “so bad they’re good”.

What counts is the end result of a hell of a lot of effort. Some of them are bad, some are terrible but the important fact is that none of them mean to be. So when SyFy releases their next movie (is it going to be Sharknado 2? Do we even care?) remember that whilst they think they are putting out something that matches all other B Movie standards, they are actually just crapping on a legacy they clearly don’t understand.

James is a movie obsessive with a particular love for scores and screenplays. He has written for numerous blogs, sites and cinemas and has been involved in several screenwriting projects. He can usually be found in front of a large plasma screen devouring Westerns, 80s pulp, Jimmy Stewart movies or anything by the Coens.

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