It’s rare that we remember b-movies. They have a strict budget and aren’t supported by a well-known producer. The actors aren’t always the most talented of actors and the crew has minimal equipment.
As they are separate from the main film industry, directors can make their films around taboo topics. Many b-movies, certainly in the 1970’s, focused on violence in macabre and gruesome fashion, and eroticism with great lust and passion. Due to their controversial themes and the fact that they are produced outside of the Hollywood machine, mainstream audiences haven’t been exposed to them. Many film fans who visited independent cinemas, however, have seen a number of these movies that have gone on to achieve cult status. Many have influenced other movies and directors, even within Hollywood. This list features the b-movies that have had a lasting impact, and most notably an influence over other b-movies, and even mainstream cinema.
Foxy Brown (Jack Hill, 1974)
We can’t have a conversation about the most lasting b-movies ever without mentioning one of the more well-known subgenera: blaxploitation. Blaxploitation films featured good-natured yet rebellious black characters who were taking on injustice represented by either whites or corrupt black gangsters. Often, they received help from black street-style gangs.
Foxy Brown fulfils each of these criterions. Foxy is the girlfriend of a cop who is presumed dead. When he (along with her brother) are shot by drug-dealing Miss Katherine and Steve Elias, she goes on a mission to end their lives, as well as their drug empire.
Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (Russ Meyer, 1965)
Director Russ Meyer loved sex, large breasts, and cars: the last two of which are very much on display in this b-movie. This film demonstrated that sexy ladies with large breasts could be equally bad. The main characters were Varia, Rosie, and Billie, go-dancers who enjoyed cars. The three girls come across a young couple, Tommy and Linda. Then proceed to race against Tommy but Varia breaks his neck before the race is over. They then kidnap Linda before pretending to steal money from the owner of a gas station before turning on one another. The fact that that girls with large breasts could be just as badass as men perhaps goes some way to explaining its cult following among the feminist movement. The movie is also Quentin Tarantino’s favourite.
The Last House on the Left (Wes Craven, 1972)
Before Wes Craven made Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, he made this little beauty. In spite of the filmmaker’s reputation, The Last House on the Left isn’t strictly a horror movie. The bad guys here are humans, with the victims being two innocent teenage girls, as opposed to the dumb jock and hot cheerleader being hounded by a monster. The film is an important one for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s among the earliest movies from one of the most famous horror directors of our time. It also includes a number of elements that have been copied in other movies.