Friday, June 8, 2012

Adventures in B-Grade Movies

Ah, the 80s, the golden age of B movies. The halcyon days before endless remakes of endless remakes. You know Hollywood has scrapped the bottom of the cinematic theater floor when they start remaking movies that didn't even rate a B (yes, Blue Lagoon, I'm looking at you).

Some may argue that my chosen favorites for this post aren't actually B movies. I figure they both were mutilated by critics and yet both ended up with cult-like followers. They're cheesy and fun and the quotable lines are legion. What more do you need? A plot? Pff.

Yes. Really. Come on. The lines alone are worth having watched this piece of fluff nearly every single day that I worked at the video store.

"Character is what your are in the dark."
"No matter where you go, there you are."

My husband loathes this movie. Maybe it says something really frightning about my sense of humor that I've always thought it was a riot. It's one of those movies that, for me, seems to jump feet first into the ridiculous, but not necessarily the slapstick, and makes it fun. It helps that it has always looked to me like the actors were in on the jokes and were having an enormously good time with them.

The second movie I offer for your B-grade consideration: Big Trouble in Little China
Another movie of questionable redemptive value, but who cares?? They blow shit up. Cheesy lines, and completely over the top caricatures make this movie another fluffy bit of sticky, gooey goodness that, if watched on a Friday night, can smooth the rough edges of a really crappy week.

I could add more movies - Earth Girls Are Easy, Resident Evil - but I suspect these movies draw me because they don't take themselves seriously (okay, maybe Resident Evil tried to take itself seriously...)  I love the fact that Buckaroo Banzai started life as a spoof on comic books. Big Trouble in Little China is a live-action cartoon. Comedy is hard stuff. It demands that actors and directors walk an ultrafine line. Step too far to the left and you have a movie that takes itself far too seriously - and suddenly the fun gets leeched right out. Step too far to the right and you a movie that tried too hard to be funny and while all of the comedic elements may be present, they're painful rather than funny. For me, the movies listed this week (with the exception of the SyFy Originals, which, I'm sorry KAK, I'd argue don't even rate a B...) do manage to walk the tightrope of comedic demand and stay fun. Creepy in some cases, but fun.

It doesn't hurt either, that in the golden age of B-grade movies, a couple of guys were out there in movieland reimagining the B movies they remembered from their Saturday matinee childhoods. They nailed the sense of fun and adventure they recalled and gave us Indiana Jones.


  1. Yes! Big Trouble in Little China!

    Jack: You can go off and rule the universe from beyond the grave.
    Lo Pan: Indeed!
    Jack: Or check into a psycho ward, which ever comes first, huh?

    Classic Kurt.

  2. Hee - I haven't seen either movie in far too long. Time to find out if Netflix streams them.

  3. As Ol' Jack Burton always says... ;o)

    I still have the videotape of that movie. My husband had never seen it before I introduced him to it a few years back. Now he occasionally uses the above in conversation.

  4. LOVED Buckaroo Banzai. Only a total cretin could fail to appreciate the humor in that movie.