Fade in from black. The howling wind blows through the swamp-soaked trees to bring the stench of death and dismemberment into the nostrils of the unsuspecting. A swirling mist appears and grows thick with discord and lust.
…and then they appear. Billie-Jean and Sarah Jayne of Frankenfemmes! Two lovely ladies intent on bringing the best reviews of the best of B Horror. Can you NOT be intrigued? You can’t – that’s how. And I have them here, undead and in casket, for my latest Get Jack’d!
JW: B Horror holds a very special place in my heart. I believe it started as a means of escape as a child. I would lose myself in the likes of Tentacles, The Giant Claw, The Creeping Terror, The Brain that Wouldn’t Die, Earth Vs. The Spider – and so many more. The grip those films had on me still holds true and I’m always shocked to find that fewer film fans (especially horror fans) give them a chance.
FF: It is a tragedy that horror and movie fans in general are unable to see the true genius of B movies. They are meant to be funny and ridiculous and allow you to step away from the serious life most of us live. These films are built on extremely low budgets and a lot of heart. We think there is something to be said for films that are often self funded and promoted.
JW: But the biggest question is a simple one – what puts the “B” in B Horror? Is it just plain bad cinema? Poorly written, poorly directed, poorly acted films such as the entire canon of Ed Wood (bless his Angora-stuffed heart) or Roger Coreman? But if you dig deep, you find that even those filmmakers have given the world of cinema something of wonder and joy. Roger Coreman helped to bring the careers of greats like Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, Dennis Hopper to life. Or look at the work of Larry Blamire – a man who has done more to pay homage to B Horror than any other filmmaker (The Lost Skeleton of Cadavre is still one of my favorite films). There is pure genius in the fine line he walks between paying homage and actually diving into the murky waters called “B”.
FF: There are different types of B movies. How seriously does it take itself? What is the story line? – A B movie can be poorly written, directed and acted, but a lot are far from that. These movies grab your attention right away with a good title and synopsis that makes you completely fascinated with it…. you MUST watch it. Comedy, whether deliberate or not, is essential in a good B movie. If we catch ourselves laughing at the bad acting, or lack of effects, that is a good sign. If the movie goes the route of being serious, gore and boobs is a must! There has to be that WOW factor.
JW: I know, with all of my heart, there are tons of closeted B Horror lovers out there. Maybe they think a 12 Step program is necessary – but they’re there, in the closet, wearing their mother’s and wives dresses.
FF: We think most of them just haven’t realized what B horror movies are trying to do. They don’t understand the cheesy goodness that pours out of them. We have a go to list for first time B movie watchers… one that gives them a good sense of what B movies are all about and hopefully make them fall in love with them. This is our list:
- My Name is Bruce (WARNING: People must know who Bruce Campbell is to understand the jokes. Good reason for a Bruce Campbell marathon….? We think so!)
- Jack Brooks Monster Slayer (Robert Englund… the man himself is in it. That is a must see instantly)
- Dead and Breakfast (Zombie flash mob – best moment ever)
- Drive Angry (Nicolaas Cage is a gem)
- Poolboy Drowning out the Fury (Ross Patterson is a damn genius, everything he touches is gold.)
FF: All these films, we find, are not too obscure as to not turn people off of the genre but still have all the elements of a great B film.
JW: What a great list. And any horror fan should at least know who Bruce Campbell is. If not, your cold, black heart is just not in the right place. And Dead and Breakfast is one of my all time favorite zombie films. It’s not Day of the Dead, but it’s cheese factor makes up for nearly everything.
I think one of the issues that keeps B Horror from gaining popularity outside of it’s usual fanbase is production quality. Hollywood has created this odd sort of elitism in the world of film where people base a film’s quality on how slick it looks. It’s the same thing with the stars within the films. Hollywood can’t cast average-looking people – it simply can’t take that risk. B Horror? It doesn’t care. And since B Horror doesn’t have the spit shine that Hollywood Horror has, it has trouble gaining traction.
FF: We couldn’t of said it better ourselves. Hollywood creates a complete fantasy world for the viewers: the people you see, the situations they are put into… these are all situations us “normal” people don’t have a chance to be involved it. With B Horror they bring you into reality and we feel you are then connected more to what is going on. Some people have a hard time seeing the entertainment factor of a less fantasy based film.
JW: Personally, I find Hollywood to have painted itself into a rather dark corner. For how long can it keep one-upping itself with budgets, effects, CGI, etc? On top of that – where’s the originality? In that category, B Horror cannot be beat. Who else would dare do a film about giant praying mantises, a brain that wouldn’t die, or anything from outer space?
FF: We recently were lucky enough to sit in on a panel with Tom Savini at Fan Expo Vancouver 2013. During it, he was asked about what he thought about horror movies nowadays. He was very careful to make sure what he said was diplomatic in his response and basically made the statement that horror now relies so much on CGI. What we used to see in horror was the quality of great makeup and special effects to connect you with the film and make you feel scared. One can argue that with the movement of society, those traditional scare factors no longer scare people. People have a lack of sensitivity due to what is available to us to see on the internet, tv, etc. Movies have to step up their game in order to attract viewers to their movies.
Look back on movies like Psycho, Exorcist, Amityville Horror and Carrie for example. These movies were absolutely terrifying in their day and are movies that are dear to our hearts. These movies left us terrified and truly started our love for horror movies. The problem is, a lot of people go back and watch these films and don’t understand the appeal of them. They can’t see what made them horror movies, they need more effects and stimulants. So in a sense we do have to say that we understand why Hollywood is doing what they are doing, as the audience nowadays is harder to please and feel that in certain films it does work. We love so many horror movies, big and small, however our heart does lie with these classics and the new B films that take us back to those.
Two horror loving friends from Vancouver, BC trying to spread the word of all things B movie and horror related. We have a passion for the genres and want to support the independent film makers as they work on building their name in the film industry.