Thursday, 23 September 2010

Research: Into B-Movie

There has always been a widespread interest in the art of film making, for it holds the ability to tell a tale through physically depicting the envisioned ideas of the writer. We cant all be George Lucas and own millions of pounds worth of studio equipment, or be able to hire out specified workers by the dozen, but this doesn't stop a large majority of artists with a passion for film making from making their final cuts. These somewhat lower budget movies are often described as "B-Movies", and are often either brilliantly executed according to the resources available to the maker, or quite often immersed in cringe-worthy acting and soaked in obvious amateur editing skills.

A lot of the best B-Movies that one comes to find would be that of the horror genre, laced in laughable special effects yet showcasing brilliant bursts of the imagination. Sometimes these lower budget horror films would succumb to being far scarier than anything created with a higher budget, due to the more realistic-less "Hollywood" feel that the actors would portray, and also with less access to special effects of any outstanding quality B-Movies tend to use the saying of "less is more".

An example of a typical scary old B-Movie would be Dracula (1931) which was released by Universal studios and stars Bela Lugosi as Dracula himself. Directed by Tod Browning, this is described as "The story of the strangest passion the world has ever known!", unleashing the audience into a thrilling ride of love-crossed evil in an anxious hold. The actor playing Dracula is said to have a distinguishably unnerving smile "You have never seen a creepy as hell smile until you've seen the smiles Bela Lugosi throws at people in this movie." This suggests that the fear induced into the audience is more about the acting than visual effects. According to, there is a lot of suggestive notions of society in the 1930's within this film as the audience only ever witnessed Dracula biting women on the neck. This suggests two things, that Dracula biting men would be perceived as exposing homosexuality to the masses, which in such times was looked down upon greatly. Also this shows how females were seen as the weaker of the species, how men overpowered them and were in control. (information on Dracula found at

These aspects of how film makers pursued their storytelling within a low budget continued into the modern age B-Movies. Some of the more successful B-Movies to weave this craft managed to get their films into mainstream cinema. Examples of this include films such as "The Blair Witch project" and more recently "Paranormal Activity". This film has undergone such success that they are working on a sequel to the first film, of which I beleive is to be an enhanced version of the original due to its success. On a review site it points out facts based on the film itself, some of which sum up the nature of the budget movie itself. An example of a few of these facts are:

•Filming was completed in 10 days.

•The entire movie was filmed in Oren Peli's own home. (the writer/director)

•The actors weren't given scripts but were given guidelines on how to behave or what to discuss in their scenes. (This created a more "realistic" sense, however made things cheaper on the printing costs!)

•Dreamworks wanted to remake the movie with a bigger budget and better known actors rather than release the film as it was and use the original as a DVD extra. (This goes to show how a higher end production company enjoys the ideas portrayed in such a simple storyline and piece of film, however this shows throwing the film at a more commercialized audience would ruin its scary appeal)

•The film is based on a personal experience in which Oren Peli encountered an object in his house fall off a shelf at night which seemed highly to be paranormal at the time. Therefore he took this concept and created the idea of a demonic presence overcoming a house of a usually contented, happy couple and twisting it into a maddening possession that somehow all audience members feel they can relate to. We have all experienced that feeling of not being alone at night, or being watched, this is the very human emotion that Peli plays with in this movie.

Info on paranormal activity review at

Overall these two films I have discussed show similarity in how they shock the audience using simplicity and a lower end budget to spend on. I am not yet sure of which genre my group is placing its "B-Movie" trailer within, but this provides evidence that horror is a prime subject to touch on when faced with empty pockets. I will be providing a list of different B-Movies in my next blog to compare different genres and get a better understanding of what works and what doesn't.


1 comment:

  1. It also shows how the 'spin' is attached to the finished film - The use of posters / trailers to trick the audience into believing they're going to watch a bigger budget version of the actual film on offer - A kind of "Colourful packaging" approach to the marketing.