I was a Teenage Werewolf. Hitler's Children. The Devil Thumbs a Ride. Other than a catchy title, what do all these movies have in common?
The films above would fall under the B-Movie category. B-Movies are low-budget films that might not be hits at the box office but can be considered cult classics. The term originated during the Golden Age of Hollywood in the 1930s with short, inexpensive Western flicks, but the label can now be identified with the science fiction, horror, anime or foreign genres, or anything independent, alternative and kitschy. B-Movies are also well known for bringing up controversial, touchy subjects in an outlandish, brash manner.
Many now-famous stars jump-started their careers with B-Movies. Actors Ronald Reagan and Jack Nicholson, as well as director Jonathan Demme (Academy Award winner for Silence of the Lambs) began at the B-Movie level.
Today, multi-million dollar movies with credible special effects and countless actors reign the big screen, while most B-Movies are sent straight to video. Independent, artsy movies are becoming more popular again, though, and many still admire the cheesy, vulgar and amateur qualities that B-Movies possess.
The B-Movie Film Festival, created in 1999 by local filmmaker Ron Bonk, is held annually in Syracuse, New York. At Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, B-Fest is a 24-hour marathon held every year in January. In Franklin, Indiana, the first annual "B" Movie Celebration will take place August 17-19, which includes over 50 movie screenings, special guest appearances, awards and over 20 educational seminars about B-Movies. Another annual festival, Wisconsin's Independent Genre Film Festival, will take place in Milwaukee in October 26-28.
Below are some links to help you learn more about B-Movies and their impact on the big screen.