Everyone thinks of something different when you say “B movie.” They might have a specific film that comes to mind. I know I do. It’s that film that, despite being horrible in so many ways, still has something about it that you love. Some of my favorite movies are B movies. I know I am primarily a horror lover but B movies really do run the gambit of genres. This list is a mix of horror, comedy and maybe even a little drama. Let me know your favorite B movies, and maybe I will find some new ones to love!
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2007)
Of course I am going to start this list off with a Troma creation. If you don’t know Troma Entertainment, then you don’t know B movies. They are the freaks that brought you The Toxic Avenger, Tromeo and Juliet, and Class of Nuke ‘Em High. Troma has been at the forefront of B movie making since they started in 1974. Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz have since created an empire built on over the top sexuality, gore and movies you love to hate.
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead is one of my favorites primarily because it’s a horror movie, comedy, love story and musical all rolled into one crazy ride. Trouble comes to Tromaville when American Chicken Bunker builds one of their restaurants on an ancient burial ground. It’s up to Arbie, his estranged now lesbian ex-girlfriend Wendy, and their friends to stop the hordes of undead chickens from killing the whole town. This movie is gory, gross, hilarious and weird. I find myself singing “Fast Food Love” in the shower from time to time. I will put a disclaimer here saying that if you are easily offended or have a weak constitution when it comes to bodily functions, you are better off staying away from it. However, if you are like me and live by the motto “The more blood and gore, the better” and you want to laugh, give it a watch. No need to thank me.
Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
No favorite B movie list would be complete without Manos: The Hands of Fate. This film is one of those movies that is just awful in every way but you can’t help but love it. In fact, it is widely recognized as one of the worst films ever made. This film was actually the product of a fertilizer salesman making and losing a bet. It was incredibly obscure until it was picked up by Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1993. If you haven’t watched that episode, stop what you are doing this second and go watch it. I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe. The plot, which is seriously disjointed, follows a couple, their young daughter, and their dog as they look for the Valley Lodge. The family stops at a house to ask for directions and encounter the odd Torgo, the caretaker of the house which apparently belongs to his master (he mentions him every other sentence). The Master worships a deity known as Manos and, together with his harem of wives that spontaneously break into cat fights, they decide to sacrifice the family and Torgo. If this plot sounds a bit odd, that’s because it is. This film has become a cult classic and remains one of my favorite guilty pleasures.
Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)
Oh where do I even begin with Birdemic? It’s just a mess from beginning to end. A beautiful mess though. It is described as a romantic horror movie. Whatever the hell that is. Rod and Natalie are the perfect power couple, a software salesman and a Victoria’s Secret model (WTF?). They are so in love they don’t seem to notice the mass amounts of dead birds washing up dead on the beaches of their town. All hell breaks loose when the town comes under attack by mutated birds that spit fire and explode into flames when they hit the ground like some sort of Kamikaze avian crazies. They join up with a group of survivors to battle the demented birds and get to safety. The acting in this movie is a train-wreck and the special FX are priceless. I remember watching this movie with one of my old roommates and it stands out in my mind because she laughed so hard she peed herself. This film has also gotten the MST3K/ Rifftrax treatment and it is definitely worth a watch. Birdemic is one of those B movies that defines the genre and will always be one of those train wreck movies. Hard to watch but you can’t look away.
The Touch of Satan (1971)
Once in a while a movie comes along that you know was meant to be something entirely different than what it turned out to be. I believe The Touch of Satan was meant to be a serious horror movie and it turned out to be B movie gold. That’s the trouble with making low budget horror movies that are supposed to be serious, they almost never are taken that way. I believe part of what makes this film so ridiculous is the story. Jodie is a young man driving across the country trying to find himself and decide if he is going to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a lawyer (Really?). He stops for lunch at a picturesque pond and meets a lovely young lady named Melissa who lives just up the road with her mother, father, and weird Freddy Krueger looking grandma on their Walnut Ranch/Farm (WHAT?!). Jodie soon learns all is not what it seems and something more sinister is at work. I first saw this movie in the context of MST3K. As you can tell by this list, I am a big fan. I watched it soon after in its original state and I can safely say, it’s just as ridiculous. Give this one a shot if you feel so inclined but be prepared for continuity flubs, horrible dialogue and some laughable but loveable characters.
The Room (2005)
You knew it was coming. The mere mention of The Room and people roll their eyes, laugh and say “Oh yeah, that movie.” The Room has cemented its legacy in B movie history, and I really did save the best for last. While it’s not a horror movie it is the definition of “So bad, it’s good.” Written, directed, produced and starring the man himself Tommy Wiseau, this film is truly in a class all its own. The random, unrelated subplots and characters that show up once or twice and are never heard from again are only minor pieces in the natural disaster that is The Room. Don’t even get me started on the lengthy, innumerous and awkward sex scenes.
The story follows Wiseau’s character Johnny and his fiancée Lisa. They live an idyllic existence in their San Francisco townhome until Lisa feels dissatisfied with her life and has an affair with Johnny’s best friend Mark. I wish I could tell you a little more about the plot but honestly, I can’t. It’s so convoluted and full of random stuff, that’s about as far as I can coherently go. This movie has spawned a cult following like no other and I quote it all the time. I actually got people at work walking into rooms and saying “Oh hi so-and-so.” If anyone ever asks me about B movies, this is one of the first ones I recommend. A must have for any lover of the B’s.
This list could be 10 pages long and it was difficult for me to narrow down just 5 of my favorites. While they are terrible on a professional level, B movies are a necessity and staple in cinema history. They hold their own amongst the rest and give us something that we didn’t know we needed. Their sometimes unintentional humor, off kilter dialogue and less than stellar acting are why we love them. I am glad I will never have a shortage of B movies to gross me out, make me laugh and keep me coming back for more.