Monday, 6 May 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1017: "B" Doesn't Have To Mean Bad.

I was channel surfing the other day and came across a low budget science fiction movie, the kind that get replayed on Canadian cable television until the tape wears out, and I came to a realization.

Self-conscious irony has killed the so-called B-Movie.

What made me have this revelation was watching a scene where Earth's top general of the future, and Earth's top scientist of the future are having a meeting to discuss their war agains the evil aliens. The dialogue was poorly written, poorly acted, and the "actresses" cast as senior authority figures looked like they had been recruited from a strip club in Winnipeg.

In fact all the women in the film, all supposed to be soldiers, scientists, and androids, looked like the casting session was held at the Champale Room at Big Bob's Booby Hatch on the road to the airport.

I could only take five minutes of this before I flipped, and I used to like low budget science fiction and horror movies.

In fact, I grew up watching low budget science fiction and horror films from Universal, Hammer Films, and American International Pictures. I may sound like a cranky old man but the so-called B-movies were better in the old days, and I know why.


Back in the day they makers of low budget movies believed in their movies, even the bad ones. Either they were trying to do their best, but were held back by limitations of talent, budget, and special effects technology, or they were just having fun and believed that you in the audience were going to have fun too.

Nowadays I think too many low budget movie makers are deliberately going for an ironic "so bad it's good" aesthetic, but only end up delivering bad.

I don't see anyone believing in their films either as an attempt at quality entertainment, or as good old fashioned fun. They just do whiter-shade-of-pale imitations of big budget studio movies with poorly stitched together scripts and deliberately crappy CGI that can be outdone by a 12 year old's YouTube video.

And what really pisses me off is that filmmakers can do better without spending more money. It's very possible to do quality science-fiction and horror films without breaking the bank. In some instances following a tightly controlled budget can inspire creativity. 

There are people out there doing it, just not enough, and you certainly can't find them on Canadian cable, because they're too busy re-running the same shit-fests for the umpteenth time this week.

However, that would take work, effort, actual talent, and a belief in aiming for something more than a mortgage payment. Things I don't see coming from enough low budget filmmakers these days.

I know this makes me sound like an old crank, but I know I'm right.

Hey, you punks, get off my lawn! 


  1. People have gotten oversensitive to the opinions of others, and low-budget filmmakers are no exception. They churn out worthless crap because they fear the idea of putting their entire heart and soul into a project only to have it mocked by a bunch of media snobs.

    The result is a morass of uncomfortably self-aware, halfhearted bullshit. "Yes, we know we suck, there's nothing you can say about this film we haven't already heard, so nyaahh."

  2. Rainforest Giant here,

    How hard would it be to combine the budgets from two or three of those scyfy channel abortions they churn out?

    I mean they put up one or two new ones a week. So why not take some time and actually do one half-assed right? Or combine some of their properties into one show? Have 'Face Off' do the makeup for a couple movies and cross-promote with tie-ins all around. Give some money to people doing decent web shows like 'The Guild'.

    I watched the first episode of 'Defiance' and it wasn't too horrible but there were no surprises. I am not sure if I'll keep watching. 'Continuum' was simply boring I quit watching that already.

    They didn't have to reinvent the wheel with their Battlestar Galactica prequel thing. I guess they thought that having a fifteen year old girl who is too stupid to stay away from murderous morons was the way to go.

    Somebody could produce some scifi for kids Saturday morning tv (do they still do that?). It wouldn't have to be too perfect kids don't demand that (look at 'Power Rangers') but they do want it to be engaging and fun. Any reason that cannot be a gateway drug to good science fiction/horror?

  3. I can't argue with any of that. Because of the sincerity you mention (even hipsters like Corman and his crew evince a ton of sincerity even in satiric films like Invasion of the Saucer Men, if only because they were still busting their asses to make the best possible film), those films retain a very real charm that you almost never get today.

    Plus the fact there nearly all clocked in between 60 and 80 minutes, while modern crap cinema is often a half hour longer. I love cheapie '50s sci-fi, but the thought of Kronos or Monster that Challenged the World padded out for another 30 minutes isn't a pleasant one.

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  5. The episode of “Face-Off” which had the tie-in to “Defiance” did neither series any credit.

  6. Dirty McDingus sez:
    It's great to see the poster of John Carpenters' opus on the cheep to be in this post, because it shows his inventiveness and Hubris later when the sequel was made. The cost of that mess was unbelievable and in only a small way did I see where the money went.. I just couldn't believe it!

  7. Sandy Petersen9/5/13 4:09 pm

    You know, there are still some good B monster movies being made. They're just all by indies, instead of hollywood. Look at Splinter, or Aswang, or (my own) The Whisperer in Darkness. So it can be done if you escape the hatchet-men of California.

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