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I have settled into B Movie Wednesday quite nicely. I think it is a nice little niche in my blog and seeing as some of these movies are so small, I have one of the few reviews floating around the internet for a lot of them. I am glad I started it and I am in no hurry to stop watching this truly bad movies. However, I have drawn up a few conclusions from my time watching them. After treating myself to some surprisingly good ones and comparing them to the worst ones, I am pretty sure I have found many of the common pitfalls in the genre. If I ever got my hands on the budget to make a straight-to-DVD movie, I hope that I would manage to use this knowledge to become one of the better ones.

3 – KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS

The best B Movie I have seen on this blog is easily Stalled. This was the movie that realised it had a tiny budget and therefore came up with a script that only needed one set: the bathroom cubicle of a public restroom. Almost all of the movie was filmed in that one cramped place and it meant that rather than procuring expensive sets and needed to spend more time switching from one scene to the next, the movie was able to put more money into the movie’s zombies. As long as the writer and director are clever enough to make that idea work, then there is nothing wrong with that. It struck me as odd that no one has considered that option before, making a Stalled a refreshingly clever change of pace in a sea of stupid movies.

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Whenever a large scale B Movie falls short, I always compare it to Stalled. Take Dinoshark. The movie obviously has budget problems, because the CGI shark was poor and the death scenes were very basic. There was not enough money in the pot to truly depict a dinosaur shark terrorising people. This is where someone who could understand limitations would have helped that movie. Rather than having several set-pieces stretching across an entire coast-line, why couldn’t the action be more contained? Bait was a much better shark movie, because it was set in one location and it came across as more intelligent. It can be fun to enter a movie, be told the rules of the film and then watch the director try to stick to the rules, especially when they are as tricky as keeping an entire film in the confines of a bathroom stall. Of course, the downside to this is that we don’t want every B Movie trying to tone down on set-pieces. That is how every horror movie involves into found footage or home invasion – it is an easy way of limiting the money you are spending. I like Stalled, but I don’t want every B Movie I see to be set in a single location. In many ways, the endless terrible B Movies are the ones that make the smarter ones like Stalled so much more enjoyable and worthwhile.

2 – TERRIBLE ACTING IS EASILY AVOIDABLE

If I ever had a tiny budget and had to make a movie with it, I am confident that terrible acting would never be the downfall of my film. As a struggling actor myself, I know where to find good – no, great – actors that would work for a modest budget. Just to star in a movie that will end up on a DVD, even if it is a bargain bucket in a supermarket, is too good a chance to miss. Even if the movie is bad, your performance might stand out among the mess and get you work in better stuff (Briana Evigan in Sorority Row). Hell, if you don’t know where to start looking for actors, head over to a University. There are dozens of wannabe actors waiting for their first film role. A week of auditions later and you have weeded out the dregs and have yourself a pretty solid cast. As long as your script is good enough for them to stand a chance at delivering a good performance with, then bad acting shouldn’t even be a worry.

The one occasion that bad acting should crop up is when you get a film like Osombie. Osombie was started by Kickstarter and that is the kind of movie that flashes warning lights. Some new director has an idea and needs to go to the wider public for funds. That is a reasonable place to go, but because the general public’s idea of a good movie is hazy at best, the end result can be dreadful. Osombie, to me, looked like a dude filming his mates killing zombies. Hell, some of them were OK, if you consider that they probably weren’t even actors, but people who picked up some prop guns and headed off to a film set to shoot some extras dressed as zombies. I wonder how many other B Movies I have seen went astray, because the director started hiring his mates, rather than some actors waiting in the wings at the nearest talent agency.

1 – NO ONE IS IN TOTAL CONTROL OF A B MOVIE

However, the sad truth is that maybe all B Movies are doomed to suffer from the start. While reading up on whose fault it actually was that there are so many terrible B Movies when the mistakes are easily fixable, I learned that the main reason was that the directors and writers often have their hands tied.

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The writers are blamed a lot for the failure of many movies (not just B Movies now, but the blockbuster), but a lot of the time, they are being held back by the vision of the director. And with B Movies, the director is often being tightly restricted by the producer. Take Roger Corman, the man who brings us Dinoshark and Sharktopus (essentially all of the cheesiest B Movies out there). He often throws a small amount of money at a director, throws an idea into their hands (eg: a shark with two heads), and says: make me a movie in the next few months. There is no way that can turn out well for anyone. Is it any wonder that there are so many awful B Movies floating around out there for hapless bloggers to use for Shitfest?

Actually, I am in the school of thinking that this excuse is exactly that: an excuse. I remember reading an article where a writer was asked to write a B Movie, but the catch was there had to be nudity every fifteen minutes as one of the producer’s demands. My first thought was: how can that movie ever work? My second thought was: challenge accepted. As someone who writes, I would love to be handicapped like that and try to come out with a decent movie. If someone gave me a small amount of money, a tight time frame and asked me to write up a thriller about anacondas, I would find the process entertaining. If you could somehow inject some intelligence into the script, your movie could accidentally become a success (Ron Howard, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese all started off writing this terrible B Movie scripts). Maybe those making a B Movie should stop thinking off these restrictions as part of the job and try a little bit harder to make something worthwhile for the audiences at home.

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7 thoughts on “3 Things I Have Noticed From Watching B Movies

  1. Great piece! I wonder if Corman’s latest wave of B-movies will get the same reconsideration that many of his earlier cult films have…

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