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10 'B' movies to stream this month

o Jeffrey M. Anderson
19.04.2013 kl 20:19 | TechHive

The "B" movie was a term for a shorter, lower-budget feature film that would play in front of the high-class "A" movies back in the days of movie palaces. Though that phenomenon did not last forever, the term "B" movie stuck, and was used to refer to just about any low-budget, high-concept movie, usually in marketable genres like crime, horror, sci-fi, Westerns, beach movies, blaxploitation, kung-fu movies, erotic movies, monster movies, etc. Eventually, the form had its own legion of fans, even if--or perhaps because--the movies never achieved the respect that their "A" cousins did. Here's a selection of so-called "B" movies to catch on Netflix this month.

 

The "B" movie was a term for a shorter, lower-budget feature film that would play in front of the high-class "A" movies back in the days of movie palaces. Though that phenomenon did not last forever, the term "B" movie stuck, and was used to refer to just about any low-budget, high-concept movie, usually in marketable genres like crime, horror, sci-fi, Westerns, beach movies, blaxploitation, kung-fu movies, erotic movies, monster movies, etc. Eventually, the form had its own legion of fans, even if--or perhaps because--the movies never achieved the respect that their "A" cousins did. Here's a selection of so-called "B" movies to catch on Netflix this month.

Killer's Kiss (expiring 5/1)

After making his feature directing debut with Fear and Desire (which he subsequently suppressed), the great Stanley Kubrick moved into a more commercial realm with the 67-minute quickie Killer's Kiss (1955). It's a fairly ridiculous story about a washed-up New York boxer who gets mixed up with a dance hall girl, and the combination leads to murder. But the 26 year-old Kubrick already had plenty of style, and he cooked up a unique, deep-focused, realistic view of the city streets, as well as show-stopping moments like a showdown in a mannequin factory.

The Killer Is Loose (expiring 5/1)

Director Budd Boetticher, who broke into movies as a bullfighting consultant, went on to direct a series of "B" movies that culminated in a remarkable series of seven Westerns starring Randolph Scott. The 75-minute crime film The Killer Is Loose (1956) was made just before, and has a certain neat style of its own. Joseph Cotten stars as a police detective who accidentally shoots the wife of a bank robber during an arrest. The robber, Poole (Wendell Corey), with his froggy, searching eyes hiding behind huge spectacles, vows revenge. Unfortunately, the detective realizes that it's his own wife Poole is after.

Beyond the Time Barrier (expiring 5/1)

The Austrian-born Edgar G. Ulmer reportedly helped the set design for some of the great German Expressionist films before trying to make a go as a director in Hollywood. He started in "B" movies and never stopped, but created some genuine low-budget masterworks. Beyond the Time Barrier (1960) was one of his last films, and arguably one of his cheapest, shot in about a week at the site of a world's fair in Texas, and shot side-by-side with another cheapie, The Amazing Transparent Man. It concerns a test pilot (Robert Clarke, who also produced) who accidentally cracks the time barrier and winds up in the future, where a plague has turned the world into a living nightmare. Ulmer cast his daughter Arianne as "Captain Markova."

Planet of the Vampires (expiring 5/1)

Italian director Mario Bava began as a stylish cinematographer for sword-and-sandal flicks before embarking on a career directing mostly horror films. He developed a knack for using color in impressive, vibrant new ways, employing bold swatches and creepy shadows to suggest different emotional states. Planet of the Vampires (1965) tells the sci-fi story about a band of astronauts who land on an uncharted planet and mysteriously begin to attack each other. (Sorry... there aren't any vampires in this one.) Like most of Bava's films, the story is nonsensical, but the style more than makes up for it. Many have suggested that Ridley Scott was heavily influenced by this film during the creation of his Alien (1979).

Vampire Circus (expiring 5/1)

England's Hammer studio was known for re-inventing all the classic movie monsters in the 1950s and 1960s, with more blood and sex, but nothing it produced would prepare a viewer for Vampire Circus (1972). Set in the 17th century, the film is about a traveling circus that arrives in a small village. Purporting to entertain the plague-fearing masses, the circus folk are actually a batch of shape-shifting monsters, out for revenge. The movie features striking color cinematography and unforgettable surreal imagery, as well as a healthy dose of gore and nudity. Robert Young directed.

Dolls (expiring 5/1)

Director Stuart Gordon began his career in Chicago underground theater, and then directed two notable H.P. Lovecraft movies,Re-Animator (1985) and From Beyond (1986). Dolls (1987) was his third feature, and though it has no Lovecraft origins, it's still just as perverse and bizarre. It begins with an ages-old setup: During a storm, several different travelers take cover in a mysterious old mansion. The residents are a kindly old couple who make extraordinary dolls. Among the visitors, only a little girl (the child of an anxious father and a vicious stepmother) and a sensitive young man who loves toys seem to be avoiding getting brutally murdered by mysterious, tiny, predators. Gordon infuses the gory attacks with his own infectious brand of nasty humor.

Monkey Shines (expiring 5/1)

Director George A. Romero may be primarily known for his zombie films, and for making horror movies in general, but his works always contain fascinating layers of social awareness. On the surface, Monkey Shines (1988) tells the story of a law student, Allan (Jason Beghe), who becomes a quadriplegic. A friend who has been experimenting with an intelligence drug on monkeys gives him the smartest of the batch, Ella, to help take care of him. Unfortunately, Allan and Ella start becoming attached in unhealthy ways, and people start dying. The movie doesn't really have any scares, and a silly epilogue lessens its impact, but otherwise, it's a smart, gripping thriller, and one of Romero's best. The promotional title on the poster was "Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear."

American Pimp (expiring 5/1)

The twin filmmakers Allen and Albert Hughes invaded Hollywood during the early 1990s with their powerful Menace II Society (1993), but years later found it difficult to work within the system. So they pooled their funds and made the documentary American Pimp (2000), about five real-life pimps, for about $100,000. The movie is less informative than it is entertaining, though it does contain a few choice facts, as well as the "rules" of being a pimp. The Hughes brothers were apparently influenced by "blaxploitation" movies of the 1970s, and they include several clips from some classics (The Mack, Foxy Brown) here.

True Legend

The legendary fight choreographer, stuntman, and director Yuen Woo-ping--whose films Drunken Master and Iron Monkey are "B" movie classics--returned to the helm for the first time in years with the large-scale historical epic True Legend (2010). Warrior Su Can (Vincent Zhao) has retired to marry his sweetheart and raise a family. When his father is murdered, he battles his evil brother-in-law Yuan (Andy On) and loses. So he goes into an extensive and dreamlike training period, while Yuan has kidnapped his son. But Su Can's revenge is not so easily achieved. Though the movie seems a bit long, it contains some of the most spectacular, graceful, and speedy fight footage of recent years. Michelle Yeoh co-stars as a wine-maker who nurses Su Can back to health, Jay Chou is the God of Wushu, and David Carradine (in one of his final roles) is a nasty American fight trainer.

Scream 4

Made 11 years after the previous entry, the sequel Scream 4 (2011) seemed a bit too little, too late for most viewers, but it also showcased director Wes Craven at the height of his powers. One of the smoothest of all horror directors, he has a knack for depth and space and rhythm that few others can match. Neve Campbell returns once again as the perpetually hunted Sidney, now touring with a book about her horrific experiences. Unfortunately, the masked killer strikes again. Craven and writer Kevin Williamson keep folding the movie in upon itself, referencing references and taking meta-ness to a whole new level. Courteney Cox and David Arquette also star, reprising their old roles.

What's new

  • In Another Country
  • Mr. Bean's Holiday
  • ParaNorman
  • Safe [2012] (4/19)

Expiring soon

  • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (5/1)
  • Adaptation (5/1)
  • Barb Wire (5/1)
  • Beach Party (5/1)
  • The Big Knife (5/1)
  • Big Time (5/1)
  • Black Sabbath (5/1)
  • The Black Stallion (5/1)
  • Blithe Spirit (5/1)
  • Boxcar Bertha (5/1)
  • Burn! (5/1)
  • A Canterbury Tale (5/1)
  • The Cat's Meow (5/1)
  • Comic Book Confidential (5/1)
  • Crime of Passion [1957] (5/1)
  • The Crimson Cult (5/1)
  • Cruel Intentions (5/1)
  • Cul-de-Sac (5/1)
  • Cutter's Way (5/1)
  • Dr. No (5/1)
  • For Your Eyes Only (5/1)
  • Frogs (5/1)
  • Gandhi (5/1)
  • Garbo Talks (5/1)
  • The Ghoul (5/1)
  • GoldenEye (5/1)
  • Goldfinger (5/1)
  • Gregory's Girl (5/1)
  • High Anxiety (5/1)
  • High Tide (5/1)
  • Hour of the Wolf (5/1)
  • The Hurricane (5/1)
  • Kansas City Confidential (5/1)
  • Kes (5/1)
  • Kiss Me, Stupid (5/1)
  • The Lady Vanishes (5/1)
  • Ladybird, Ladybird (5/1)
  • The Last Man on Earth (5/1)
  • License to Kill (5/1)
  • Live and Let Die (5/1)
  • The Man from Planet X (5/1)
  • The Masque of the Red Death (5/1)
  • Matilda (5/1)
  • Mulholland Dr. (5/1)
  • My Best Friend's Wedding (5/1)
  • Navajo Joe (5/1)
  • Octopussy (5/1)
  • One, Two, Three (5/1)
  • Pauline at the Beach (5/1)
  • Platoon (5/1)
  • Prince of Darkness (5/1)
  • The Rocking Horse Winner (5/1)
  • Snatch (5/1)
  • The Spy Who Loved Me (5/1)
  • Stardust Memories (5/1)
  • The Stranger (5/1)
  • Stuart Little (5/1)
  • A Tale of Springtime (5/1)
  • Tales of Terror (5/1)
  • 10 to Midnight (5/1)
  • Theater of Blood (5/1)
  • Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (5/1)
  • Thieves Like Us (5/1)
  • Thirst (5/1)
  • 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould (5/1)
  • Tomorrow Never Dies (5/1)
  • Top Secret! (5/1)
  • A View to a Kill (5/1)
  • Vincent & Theo (5/1)
  • WarGames (5/1)
  • The Wedding Banquet (5/1)
  • Witchfinder General (5/1)
  • The World Is Not Enough (5/1)
  • You Only Live Twice (5/1)
  • Young and Innocent (5/1)
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