Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published October 12th 2010
When you went to the cinema during its 'Golden Age' you'd often get twice for the price - in the form of a double feature. But it was a bit of a trick on the part of the studios, 'cause the bottom bill of the double wasn't always on par with the first, as far as quality was concerned.
Putting it politely the studios were making cheap films which they partnered with decent ones in order to get them sold and seen. This dodgier bottom biller was the 'B' movie. Sometimes lack of budget means that film makers have to be ingenious with their ideas, sometimes the results just look cheap, and sometimes you get a bit of both in a 'B' movie. These are the best kind, and the ones you should share with your friends, cardboard sets, wigs made of string and all.
The 'B' movie spans all genres, but the B-est of the 'B's seem to be horrors, where the inclusions of monsters, aliens and other gruesome fiends leaves plenty of room for the costumes to be impressively awful, the sets to wobble, the dialogue to have been dubbed in later – badly – and for the acting to rage from flamboyant melodrama to wooden in the same scene. Which is why they're the perfect sort of films to show at a movie night.
A lot of the fun is in the poor dialogue and the goofs, fluffs and mistakes. The more errors the better, and the more eyes you have looking for them the more you're going to see. So the first thing you need to do is to choose your film – here's a selection of cult classics well known for having plenty of well publicised bloopers:
Plan 9 from Outer Space": was just a bad film until it started being cited by critics as the worst film ever made – and its status is now beyond reproach almost, with lots of people enjoying it because it's just so terrible. So it's the perfect film to show to kick off a 'B' movie season.
Flying saucers not only cast a shadow against the backdrop of the sky, they're also described as being cigar shaped by an actor who is supposed to have seen their saucer shapes with his own eyes; day-for-night shot outdoor footage is interspersed with footage shot on a sound stage with little continuity success; the flying saucers appear to be made from cardboard, both inside and out; pilots fly planes without controls, while one of them reads from a script in his lap and the other uses a phone to call the fly tower instead of a mic; the dead pick up tombstones and put them back; people fall onto pillows and Béla Lugosi's stand in looks absolutely nothing like him – he's not even the right height or build.
Horror of Dracula: in which staked corpses breathe and Dracula's foot is seen disintegrating in the suns rays only to reappear a moment later – with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee doing their best to hide mistake.
The Beast of Yucca Flats: some contest that this film is as badly written and conceived as Plan 9, and as with the very best, the very worst is a matter of taste. Staring a Swedish ex-wrestler helps, as does shooting the whole thing as silent and adding all the audio and sound effects later – people only speak when their faces are away from the camera, likewise guns only fire when you can't actually see them. Expect to see numerous characters who receive life threatening gun shot wounds to appear fine in the following shot.
Robot Monster: it's the special effects that break and thus make this film – it's another fine example of the it's-so-bad-that-it's-good category. Imagine this: the budget didn't allow for a robot costume, so the director, Phil Tucker, used his friend who had a gorilla suit and just added a spaceman's helmet. They could afford to shoot it in 3D though, which just adds to the charm.
To be fair, 25 year old Tucker made the film in four days.
The Brain that wouldn't Die: does what its title says it will, but with a whole lot of continuity issues. Limbs are lost yet remain visible, blood is smeared around and then magically cleared up, scenes are spliced together with no thought for how the sets are dressed...it's basically a free for all.
The Creeping Terror: what's worse than a robot in a gorilla suit? A group of men shuffling along under what looks like a big piece of shag pile carpet: this is The Creeping Terror. In its defence it is supposed to come from outer space, it crash lands on earth at the beginning, however it's probably not supposed to be wearing trainers...and it's strange that the people the 'slug' consumes actually appear to be clambering into its 'mouth' of their own volition...
Once you've picked your flick, help set the scene for your guests by finding out as many fun facts about the film as you have time to, along with making note of places to look out for the 'bumps' in the narrative. Then get your themed refreshments in: remember, red wine and teeth shaped sweets are good for Dracula films, peeled grapes in red jelly is a good snack for mad scientist films – served with any drink that's been dyed green, and anything livestock shaped is good for an evening of monster flicks.
Then arrange plenty of pillows in front of your screen and get everyone over for some best of 'B' movie banter.