The Very Best B-Movie Directors – Part 2
Donald G. Jackson
There’s no question that Jackson is the strangest director on this list, and quite possibly the one to make the least bearable movies. That hasn’t stopped him from being a very interesting person, however. After starting out with semi-conventional movies like Hell Comes to Frogtown, with Rowdy Roddy Piper, he decided to apply his own philosophy to filmmaking and gave us such titles as Guns of El Chupacabra and The Roller Blade Seven. He also gave us “zen filmmaking”, along with actor and collaborator Scott Shaw. That basically means directing movies without a blueprint i.e. the script. Shaw explained that this way of making films provides an immediate spiritual inspiration to guide the process. It doesn’t always work when you’re casting such actors as Joe Estevez, however.
Fred Olen Ray
Olen Ray isn’t entirely unlike Jim Wynorski in that his back catalogue is less known than some of the other directors on this list. He became famous in the horror genre with such flicks as Alien Dead before he made a number of exploitation films and action movies that went straight to the video store, with movies like Bikini Jones and Dinosaur Island, a hysterical Jurassic Park rip-off with a seemingly endless amount of T&A. One movie which gave us an astounding amount of cheese was Evil Toons. It’s basically crossed between softcore horror and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Oh, and it also stars David Carradine, along with a cartoon killer wolf who seems to enjoy stalking a group of nubile young girls.
Almost every director on this list has at some point been referred to as “the next Ed Wood”, or something of that sort, during their career. But no director’s influence has spread wider in the world of B movies in the last few decades, with the possible exception of Charles Band. The director’s various companies, including Empire International Pictures and Full Moon Features, worked on a great number of famous b-movies, such as Ghoulies, Puppet Master, and Subspecies. He’s also been exceptionally prolific since the early 1980s, with such ridiculous flicks as Trancers. Like Roger Corman, his films have given first-chance opportunities to numerous film crew personnel and young directors who went on to make their own movies.
Here is a creator whose films aren’t just bad: there’re tragically so. When you’re venturing into the b-movie genre, it’s expected that you’ll make a couple of stinkers. You’d have to try really hard to make something as awful as Dr Alien, however. DeCoteau’s career started in the same way as contemporaries Olen Ray and Wynorski, making micro classic films in the mold of sleazy 80s horror like Sorority Babes and Creepazoids. His most well-known contributions are likely in his directing of a number of Puppet Master movies. In fact, he gets numerous mentions in a book about The Room by Greg Sestero due to Sestero having stared in Retro Puppet Master (the 1999 flick that came before The Room).