When I was a kid I loved low budget genre movies or "B-Movies" as they are popularly, but inaccurately called. I blame The Great Money Movie, and it's late night sister show, Weird 2, both were TV shows from over the border in Maine, which showed them with the same hyperactive glee as they did the big budget movies from the major studios.
My pop culture diet was heavily larded with regular doses of rubber monsters, spaceships that were made out of parts of toys, and sets where the walls looked like a stiff wind would take them away.
I also became a bit of a "B Movie" history buff, reading everything I could about the people who made these movies, and the often crazy stories behind their making.
It was then that learned just how inaccurate the term "B-Movie" was. You see the term originated from the old studio system when you gave the guy at the box office your nickel, and in return you got two feature films, a cartoon, a newsreel, and a whupping to keep your mind on your business.
The two movies in the double feature would consist of an "A" picture which had a big budget, big stars, and some sort of classy pedigree. The other feature, the "B" picture would be shorter, cheaper genre movie designed to keep the kids on the balcony interested enough to keep them from tossing their popcorn.
What we usually think of as "B Movies" are in fact independently produced "exploitation" movies, and not studio made "B movies."
But enough of my usual know-it-all-ism, and let me get to the meat of this rant.
I've seen some of today's crop of so-called "B-Movies" and I have found them wanting.
What really bugs me about today's movies has roots in the whole "mockbuster" fad. Now making a low budget
rip-off imitation of a big budget studio picture is a tradition that goes all the way back to the silent era. However, it has become a mini-industry all of itself, and it's actually kind of turning me off the whole thing.
I've always said that the big studios are creating huge gaps in the movie market with their insistence on blockbusters, and that it should be the mission of independent filmmakers to try to fill those gaps with the sorts of stories that the majors are ignoring.
All these mockbusters do is just rehash what the major studios are doing, only doing it with worse stories, worse directing, worse acting, and even worse production values.
I know people say that they're of the campy "so bad they're good" variety, but I just don't see it. I find them as entertaining as getting a root canal.
And I can't appreciate the camp value of these production because they really don't have any, because of their attitude.
There's this whole air of smug ironic detachment behind these movies that bugs me. A "this movie is supposed to be shit, so why bother trying to be original, entertaining, or interesting, just toss in a washed up pop singer or sitcom star with some CGI done on a Commodore 64 and call it a day" sort of attitude.
The thing that made me love the old B-Movies I remember from my childhood is that even though a lot of the movies were laughably bad, there was still a sincere desire behind their making, even if that desire was just to get paid and hopefully another job afterwards. The people making the movie were trying their best, and while their efforts were often thwarted by the limitations of budget, talent, technology, or all of the above, they at least tried.
Many of those old time "B Movie" makers who had serious talent learned to work within their limited resources, breaking new ground in the process, and moved onto bigger and better things.
I don't really see a desire to break new ground with today's movies, just an itch to scratch the surface.