A History of American B Movies – Part 3
Another genre, albeit a smaller one, is Brucesploitation.
Its name was derived from the fact that after Bruce Lee had passed away, a number of filmmakers attempted to benefit from his legacy by hiring actors for their king fu films who had similar names, such as Dragon Lee, Bruce Lai, and Bruce Li. Even the titles were cashing in, with films including Bruce Lee Fights Back From the Grave, Big Boss 11, and Clones of Bruce Lee. The sub-genre didn’t have a huge impact on the b-movie genre, but it’s an interesting one all the same.
One sub-genre that did have a significant impact upon the b-movie genre was the monster movie. While Hollywood attempts to recreate the interest in this kind of movie, they’re missing the point by using CGI. Audiences know that the actors aren’t real and thus fail to connect with the characters. People remember the cheesey-looking monsters from their childhood because, despite the fact that they looked unrealistic, they were still more real than CGI.
The “great” filmmakers
One of the real legends of the genre, Roger Corman, has been making movies since 1954. The only ones that have had any lasting impact, however, are his monster movies. He’s produced 415 films at the time of writing (Nov 2018) and continues to work today. Corman has produced a number of fun movies but many shouldn’t have been made in the first place. Certainly, he remains one of the genre’s greatest contributors, however. Another legendary b-movie filmmaker goes by the name of William Castle. Castle has produced numerous classic flicks over the year. He introduced a number of gimmicks such as with the film 13 Ghosts where the audience was given special glasses in order to see the ghosts. Before his film Macabre in 1958, he told the crowd that he insured himself against anyone who was scared to death (literally) during the movie.
In 1963, the horror film went up a notch when Herschell Gordon Lewis made Blood Feast…the first true gore film. It left little to the imagination as audiences were treated to a true gore fest. No filmmaker was ever so bold as to show a woman’s tongue being removed before. While the gore became the stuff of legend, the characters were pure fun. Some of the actors were reading their lines from their hands.
Japanese rubber suits and more
There are numerous other sub-genres that we could go into, such as Japanese rubber suit films. They’re better known as Godzilla movies, although there have been many in the sub-genre that had nothing to do with our favourite dinosaur. B-movies have taken on more significance over the years. Many people appreciate the fun aspect of the films that aren’t always present in the unoriginal big-budget movies we see Hollywood producing today, which has resulted in many of these wonderful old movies being available to buy on DVD. Now today’s and tomorrow’s generations will be able to watch these classic movies and understand exactly why their place in history is so deserved.