Plan 9 from Outer Space (Ed Wood, 1959)
While b-movies have been around since the dawn of cinema, its Ed Wood who we owe the privilege of being able to enjoy a whole genre of b-movies. The man who has been called the “worst director of all time” made his most famous movie in 1959’s Plan 9 From Outer Space.
The film is about a scheme called Plan 9 that intends to persuade the human race not to create a weapon capable of destroying the whole universe. Wood’s style has left quite an impact on the budget film industry: 1950’s low-budget horror and sci-fi, in particular. Referenced and copied by both b-movie directors and commercial filmmakers, Ed Wood is the king of the b-movie industry.
Sharknado (Anthony C. Ferrante, 2013)
While the golden age of b-movies was from the 50’s to the 80’s, many are still being produced today. The majority feature lame and budget-friendly CGI. While they weren’t having the same level of impact as their predecessors, the Internet changed everything by enabling the promotion of anything and everything. Sharknado, then, has the Internet to thank for making it one of the more recognisable and successful b-movies of the 21st century. The story is based around a natural disaster, along with an attack by a living creature- a tornado that kills man-eating sharks. With poor effects and a ridiculous plot, the success of Sharknado is evidence that an audience still exists for b-movies and that they’re still capable of achieving a cult following.
I Spit on Your Grave (Meir Zarchi, 1978)
This one belongs in a particular subgenre of the b-movie: revenge. That subgenre has been seen in both mainstream and grindhouse movies. The film is shot at a very slow pace with numerous long shots, many featuring symbolic and meaningful elements. Jennifer Hills is a writer of short stories who has rented a cottage in Connecticut to work on a story. She is raped by five locals and from that point we see her carry out one of the more violent reneges in the history of cinema. The film demonstrates how revenge is best served: violently, relentlessly, and without forgiveness. Though featuring some graphic moments, it is among the best revenge flicks ever made.
Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978)
While there were films featuring zombies made before this one, it’s one of the more popular in the genre. Every other film on the subject has Dawn of the Dead in its DNA. The living have made a home in a deserted mall in order to hide from the zombies. It appears as though they are having too much fun to be concerned with the threat of being turned into zombies. They’re forced to fight to the death, however, and we see a different set of survivors at the end than we did at the start. Dawn of the Dead ranks among the most impactful b-movies in history. Its influence is seen in numerous series, sagas, and movies. It’s also a movie that very much stands on its own. Even the critics loved it, which is rare for a movie made on this kind of budget.