B-Movies: The Best Of The Worst
However, sometimes a film can be so absolutely wretched that it comes full circle into being good again; at this point, you've entered the territory of the bad B-movie. B-movies walk a thin line between incredibly entertaining and downright unbearable. In order to get the most out of these movies you have to tread carefully. If you aren't paying attention, you could find yourself forty-five minutes into Carnisaur III with a life that has crumbled into a living Hell all around you.
In order to avoid this we've compiled a short guide to some of the best of the worst. Some of these films follow the so-bad-it's-good principle, while others may actually be legitimately worthwhile schlock, if such a thing exists.
Troll 2 (1990)
This movie has become a bit of an internet phenom over the past few years. "Troll 2" is a sequel to the film Troll, a movie about trolls, but doesn't actually share any relation to the first film except for in name, and doesn't even feature any trolls. Troll 2 takes place in the goblin infested town of Nilbog (You see what they did there?). Like most monsters, these goblins want you to eat their enchanted food which turns you into lime Jell-O, and then devour you in front of your children. Typical goblins.
Words can't fully describe what happens during "Troll 2." The movie feels like the kind of nightmare you have when you're six-there are some goblins, some weird things happen, and none of it makes any goddamn sense. There's also a witch in the mix somewhere-at least she might be a witch, you can't really tell.
The movie starts innocuously enough with a grandfather sitting in a rocking chair reading his grandson a bedtime story-but then the hero of the story gets eaten alive by goblins, and you realize that grandfather is actually dead. Things only get better from there. No one could consider any part of this movie even "kind of competent." The actors feel fresh off the stage of a high school play; the goblins look like paper mache cross-eyed Halloween decorations; and the soundtrack sounds like the demo button on an early-90s Casio.
"Troll 2" is REAL bad, but at the same time, "Troll 2" has an undeniable charm. It's the type of film that teachers should show in film classes as an example of how things can go wrong. It's not painful to watch like other soul crushingly bad movies (If you want bad, bad, bad check out "Manos" The Hands of Fate), in fact "Troll 2" may be one of the most fun movies ever produced, even though, it's still really, really bad.
Robot Jox (1990)
Robot Jox is what you would call "not a very good movie." There's some plot in there somewhere (kind of), but it's mostly the giant bitchin' robots bashing into each other that moves the film along. In a future where war no longer exists, the world's super-powers settle territorial disputes in what essentially amounts to pro-wrestling using 100-foot tall war-robots. In fact, the movie bears so many similarities to pro-wrestling that our hero even has a double-crossing cowboy manager named Tex. It makes you wonder where they would get steel chairs big enough to accommodate robots of such size.
The film's hero, Achilles, is a bit like the Hulk Hogan of the giant robot scene. He's the undefeated good guy who just needs that one last match to finally earn his retirement. Then there's Alexander, the film's antagonist, whose main motivation simply seems to kill the living hell out of Achilles. Alexander spends most of the movie parading around with his Dolph Lundgren haircut, and shouting things like, "I could squash both of you... Like bugs!" His giant, black, evil-looking robot even has a giant chainsaw in its crotch. In short, Alexander is awesome-incredibly awesome, in fact. He single handedly takes this overwrought cartoon of a movie and turns it into a chocolate covered diamond of a movie.
Chopping Mall (1986)
Ah, Roger Corman, how you make our hearts soar. Having directed over 50 features and produced almost 400, Roger Corman stands as a living legend amongst straight-to-video B-movie disasters. Unlike Ed Wood or other iconic B-movie directors, Corman is fully aware of what kind of movie he's putting out and it's this wry awareness that separates his goofball sci-fi/horror movies from the rest of the junk.
Take "Chopping Mall," for instance. "Chopping Mall" is a movie about killer security droids let loose in a shopping mall full of promiscuous teens. It's a bit like Dawn of the Dead, except less, you know, good. If you were to believe the film's badass one sheet, you would think that these killbots would 8-feet tall with spiked fists, and roam the mall collecting various body-parts in a shopping bag. However, what you get are killer robots that are about 3-feet tall, and look like some sort of failed Sega Genesis accessory on treads. Nevertheless, they can do this:
"Chopping Mall" is the kind of movie you see on TBS at 3:30 in the morning, and probably best viewed on a ratty, half-melted VHS tape. It is cornball, cheapo video store cheese at its best. After all, not every movie has robot blood.
Shogun Assassin (1980)
In Kill Bill vol. 2 when the Bride and her daughter cuddle up together to watch a movie, the haunted words of a child echo through the bedroom. "When I was little, my father was famous…" These same words open Wu-Tang Clan member the Genius's quintessential album Liquid Swords. "He was the greatest samurai in the empire, and he was the Shogun's decapitator…" These oft-sampled words come from "Shogun Assassin," an Americanized kung-fu film that consolidates two Japanese films based on the popular manga series Lone Wolf and Cub. Shogun Assassin, in a word, is badass.
"Shogun Assassin" is a revenge film at its heart. After finding his wife murdered by the Shogun's ninja spies, The Lone Wolf Ogami Itto walks the road of vengeance with his infant son in tow leaving a trail of arms, ears, lungs, heads, and legs in his wake. No ninja assassin is safe from The Lone Wolf's mighty chopping. This guy could chop through the internet if he were alive today.
The blood spray in this movie is beyond epic. Blood pumps out of wounds as if being shot out of a Coleman Powermate 4600 PSI pressure washer. Oddly enough, the film's typical goofy kung-fu movie dubbing fails to do any harm. Characters deliver their lines in an odd dry rasp that almost makes them seem supernatural, which when coupled with a genuinely atmospheric synthesized score, gives the film an overhanging sinister mood.
Despite its apparent misgivings, "Shogun Assassin" somehow manages to transcend reason. You know that a baby carriage with blades sticking out of the wheels might be over the top, but once it mows down a few ninja assassins you won't care enough to think about it.
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)
Have you ever wondered what a movie written by popular film critic Roger Ebert would be like? What kind of a movie would you get from a man who sings the praises of directors like Yasujiro Ozu, Federico Fellini, and Ingmar Bergman? Well, you get a movie about an all-girl band that slips into deprivation in late 1960s California and features gay love affairs, a handful of murderous rampages, and a scene involving a topless man/woman stabbing a man wearing a SS uniform with Excalibur. Have I piqued your interest yet?
Roger Ebert penned "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" alongside legendary smut director Russ Meyer as a harsh and ridiculous satire of hedonistic show-biz lifestyle. The movie actually moves along fairly normally at first, but then just as drug fuelled affairs start to heat up this happens:
What follows is a bizarre mixture of drug abuse, violence, and some downright creepy sexuality. In one scene, a girl actually fellates the barrel of a handgun before it blows out the back of her head. Of course, this all sounds disturbing out of context, but within the confines of Ebert and Meyer's twisted world it makes for a remarkable comedy. The movie is a spoof of the film Valley of the Dolls and popular culture as a whole, but it doesn't let on to the fact that it's actually a send-up. Unlike some of the other B-movies on this list, "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" is actually cinematically worthwhile. It both manages to rip apart late sixties drug culture and manages to push the limits of tastelessness even by today's standards.
Night of the Creeps (1986)
"Night of the Creeps" essentially has everything you need when it comes to great bad B-movies: wafer-thin characters, garish head wounds, topless girls, badass one-liners, and, best of all, brain slugs that turn frat boys into zombies. Brain slugs and zombies! It's like the horror movie equivalent of a quadruple stuffed Oreo.
The movie is a relentless ride of knuckleheaded spoofery. You know that you're in for something special with "Night of the Creeps" when you see a chase scene involving giant, naked, angry looking space babies within the first five minutes of the film. The movie is self-referential to the point that even most of the characters share last names with famous horror movie directors: the main character is Chris Romero, his crippled friend is James Carpenter Hooper (two directors there), his love interest is Cindy Cronenberg-you get the idea.
Despite the film being an obvious send-up of the genre, "Night of the Creeps" delivers the B-movie goods, and it probably features one of the absolute best characters of all time: Detective Ray Cameron played by Tom Atkins. Cameron is a man who has lost everything and lives his grizzled life crawling in and out of a half-empty bottle of scotch-he even manages a few suicide attempts within the movie's 88-minute run time. Nevertheless, if Detective Cameron knows one thing, he knows brain slug infected zombies:
Now that's great cinema.
Story by Kris King
Starpulse contributing writer
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