Great B Horror MoviesBy RodneyHatfieldJr for Movies
The term B Movie does not mean the same thing when it was first introduced back in the 1930‘s. Originally it was a term used when the double features were the norm. Movies showing a main feature, usually a big budget studio picture with star names, and a B movie afterwards. The B movie would usually have a much smaller budget and no big name stars. This did not include Arthouse films. The films were usually genre pictures: westerns, science-fiction and horror being the most popular.
Now the term is generally meant for movies with a smaller budget, but not indy and amateur films. In technical terms B means any film by an independent studio under a budget of 25 million. Not only did the term change, but those older B movies are now cataloged as C and even Z movies. For myself, if a movie is entertaining, I don’t care what group they list it under. And let me say, it has gotten me more than my share of gruff because the latest blockbuster everyone was suppose to love was in fact crap. Anyway we are going to root around down in the cellar for the best B Horror Movies in the last 40 years. I know I will not be listing some favorites, I could easily make a list for ever decade since 1930. Let me say I am sorry. Now grab your favorite adult beverage and lets explore the B side of horror.
Disclaimer: This will be full of spoilers. So if you haven’t seen any of them, you should be ashamed. Bad movie fan. Bad.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space 1988
With a tagline: In space no one can eat ice-cream. How could this not be a hit. A brilliantly original concept that is completely summed up in the title. A race of aliens who happen to resemble clowns, travel across the galaxy in a spaceship that looks like a giant big top. They arrive in a small sleepy town to harvest its inhabitants for sustenance. The whole film is a string of visual circus gags connected by a thin thread of a story. The Klown puppets are marvellously done, they are cheerfully creepy and deeply sinister. They have gritty worn pockmarked faces and evil grins that make them the stuff of nightmares. Despite this the Klowns are engaging and entertaining.
The film has a gleefully surreal tone, a black sense of humor, and is mostly played for laughs and giggles. The plot is a homage to the B movies of the fifties, only instead of pod people you’ve got psychotic alien clowns looking for food. If any movie ever needs a sequel (not a remake dagnabbit) this one does.
Galaxy of Terror 1981
How is this for a story; A motley crew of space explores are gathered together and sent on a mission, to a distant planet, to rescue a crashed spaceship. When they get to the planet they find the ships wreckage but no survivors. They also discover a mysterious pyramid near the crash site. It turns out the pyramid hides a dark and sinister secret. It has the ability to read your mind and then manifest your worst fears and kill you with them. The crew members are picked off one by one in increasing inventive ways, including a woman being raped to death by a giant slug maggot monster.
If the story sound familiar, James “Aliens" Cameron worked as a production designer. If that isnt enough reason for a viewing, how about it being a Rodger Corman production. Then add in stars Sid Haig, Robert Englund and Grace Zabriskie. This movie is full of B movie royalty.
A little know gem of 1980‘s slasher goodness. A group of criminal ex-soldiers steal three million dollars from army base payroll. They hijack an aeroplane, kidnapping the pilot and his daughter, and head for Mexico. On fight they are double-crossed by one of the criminals. He takes all the money and parachutes out of the plane, landing in a deserted cornfield. The remaining criminals make an emergency landing and come looking for their loot. All they find is an abandoned farmhouse guarded by demonically possessed scarecrows.
If you take Aliens, Predator, Night of the Living Dead, and Friday the 13th, and meshed it together, the resulting product would look like this. The film has a suffocating and creepy atmosphere. The paranoia and tension build up nicely as the soldiers get picked off one by one. Added bonus; The victims also return to life as Scarecrows to help finish off the remaining survivors.
Brain Damage 1988
Brian is a slightly depressed twenty-something, who shares an apartment with his brother in New York. One night he’s attacked by a bizarre talking slug like creature, who goes by the name of Elmer. It attaches itself to Brian’s spine and injects him with a highly addictive psychedelic drug to keep him under control. Elmer lives off brains, human brains being his favourite. Now under Elmer’s control, Brian hunts the streets for human victims, so Elmer can munch on their grey matter. Brian’s life goes down the toilet, he becomes a recluse and moves into a fleabag hotel. He tries to go cold turkey but the addictive power of Elmer’s drug in just too strong to resist.
The film is an allegory for drug addiction. The surreal nightmarish tone works surprisingly well as a parallel to the hallucinations and horrors of real drug addiction. Although any film that features a talking slug, that looks more like a turd, shouldn’t be taken too seriously. The film is able to overcome its limited budget with invention and satirical wit. There are several darkly humours death scenes and many gruesomely bizarre moments. A true classic in the B movies.
The Evil Dead 1981
One of the B horror movies to cross over into mainstream popularity. The film is considered by many to be one of the best and most original horror films of all time. Made on a shoestring budget by an inexperienced crew, director Sam Raimi’s talent for mixing horror with dark macabre humour shone through. A group of five college students head out to a remote cabin in the woods. The cabin appears to have been used by an archaeologist before them, and he seems to have left all his belongings behind, including “The Book of the Dead”. This book brings forth demonic spirits that possess some of the students, turning them into bloodthirsty supernatural zombies.
Simple premise, low budget, and lots of love. The film was hugely influential and set the tone for the rest of the decade, as countless horror movies tried to imitate its winning mixture of excessive gore and slapstick comedy. This may be the top contender for the King of the B Movies.
Every single one of them, it doesn’t matter which. All you need to remember is this. Giant tornado wrecking havoc while slinging sharks around. That’s it.
Best way to watch these films is either intoxicated, or with a group. The over the top kills are worth the price of admission. Don’t think to much into this, just sit back, turn your brain off and enjoy.
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon 2006
Taking place in a world where supernatural killers such as Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger actually existed, this mockumentary follows around a guy named Leslie Vernon, who dreams of being the “next great psycho killer.” In doing so, it provides answers and insight into dozens of horror movie tropes and clichés, such as “How does the killer train?” How does he pick his victims? How can he seemingly be in two places at once? It’s a brilliant, twisted love letter to the genre that also develops an unexpected stylistic change right when you think you know where things are headed.
It’s one of the most creative horror B movies without a doubt.
Val and Earl, local handymen in the small town of Perfection, Nevada. Our hero’s do battle with giant, man-eating worms. It has suspense, lovable characters, action, and just enough fun that it doesn’t overshadow the tension. It is a excellent revival of the classic 1950's nature’s revenge movies that was all but destroyed by the influx of horrible animal movies of the 70‘s.
It boils down to humans banding together, bickering like children, and throwing dynamite at monsters.
Tucker & Dale vs Evil 2010
Tucker and Dale are two sweet hillbillies who are mistaken for psycho killers by a group of college kids who constantly die in hilariously horrific accidents, for which our two adorable leads are blamed, because, well, they look like what we would expect the killers to look like in a movie such as this.
Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine are a match made in Heaven. Trust me when I say, they capture the essence of a true West Virginia hillbilly. It's as gory as they come, but the core theme, is as old as time itself. It shows the folly of judging a book by its cover. Tucker & Dale is a modern classic, and a great example of a post-modern and self-aware B-Movie.
I Sell the Dead 2008
With only a few hours to go before his date with the guillotine, Arthur Blake tells his life story to Father Francis Duffy. Before long, Arthur spills the beans on how he got started in the grim corpse peddling business with seasoned ghoul Willie Grimes.
Few movies give a glow of love like homage to grave robbers. This film has everything that makes a great horror film. A fresh, dark but funny blend of crime and the supernatural. It delivers an offbeat but carefully balanced mix of shocks, homages and uneasy chuckles. Another gem that has achieved cult status.
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