Sitting watching the movie EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS (2002) finally, with its expected characters, scenes but postmodern ironic sheen I wondered about how a film now is decided to be what was once called ‘B MOVIE’. Was it always simply down to the low level of budget it had? Or the thin genre screenplay, using wooden actors, simple stereotypes and of course, over the top laughable monsters?
EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS is actually now around a decade old, and alongside other fairly recent movies like EVOLUTION, LAND OF THE LOST, the infamous SNAKES ON A PLANE, on television recently and straight to DVD SHARKTOPUS, LAKE PLACID, DEEP BLUE SEA, the FINAL DESTINATION series. Are these all definately B movies? Why? Is it even a bad, negative term, or in some ways a badge of honour for the filmmakers, happy to be placed in among a cult genre of less serious and maybe more fun films.
From the days of ROGER CORMAN and the gimmick tricks of cinemas decades ago, right up to the very stunning photorealism in cinema effects today, the idea of what oculd be labelled B movie is possibly very uneven right now. Certainly the negative, embarassing attitude connected to the term is not so certain today. Now, many filmmakers and film fans know film history, understand genres, but also film effects have advances much further where very low budget movies can actually just about achieve almost very good Hollywood level effects and standards. So when we no longer immediately see what is obviously a man wobbling about in a huge rubber monster outfit, or carboard martian lanscapes behind actors, it remains the writing, screenplays and acting that grounds a film in the B movie category.
Right now, and even all those years ago, we usually go to a film knowing what to expect, or at least we decide on the kind of movie, or the genre to watch. The trailer, the reviews and especially the posters and advertising sell a film, and tell us ‘this one is a reliable, laughable, but simple great fun B movie’. It is not European art house, challenging thought provoking filmmaking, but easy fun with friends on a Saturday night. Popcorn thrills, dumb characters, predictable story usually.
B movies still B good old fun, even with state of the art effects.