The B-Movie Vault Master

As part of our Monster Movie Month, we scoured the globe to find the biggest B-Movie Fan alive. The more people we spoke to, the more the same name came up… Jordan Garren. He LOVES B-Movies and is currently compiling a website featuring some of the best (and worst). We spoke to the Vault Master himself…..

B movieWhen did your obsession with B-Movies begin?
Obsession? Am I obsessed? Hmm… yeah, I suppose I am, though I’ve always referred to it as a “passion” for b-movies.
Haha. Well my obsession began at a very early age; I was what some would refer to as a “monster kid.” As far back as I can remember I absolutely loved anything to do with dinosaurs or sharks (something a lot of kids that grew up with me found positively odd).

Once I was in grade school, I would read any book in the school library that had anything to do with prehistoric creatures, which eventually led me to discover those old (and sometimes inaccurate) orange and black Crestwood Monster books written by Ian Thorne.

And luckily for me, as I was discovering the world of classic monster movies, cable television programming (e.g. TNT’s MONSTERVISION and 100% WEIRD, USA Up All Night, TBS’s frequent airing of killer animal flicks)  and a booming home video rental market (R.I.P) helped feed my growing curiosity.

Soon I was immersing myself in Toho’s fantastic Godzilla universe, watching the startling creations of Ray Harryhausen, and becoming terrified of swimming thanks to films like JAWS and Piranha. Also, I have to thank my older siblings who enjoyed torturing me when our mother’s back was turned. Because of them, I got to witness the rise (and eventual fall) of slasher cinema, taking in such films as Dark Night of the Scarecrow, several of the “Friday the 13th” films, and of course A Nightmare on Elm St.

It all started innocently enough as you can see, but didn’t really become an obsession until my teenage years when I was earning my own money, had my own vehicle (a battered but completely reliable Chevy S-10 pickup), and had just gotten onto the world wide web. Toss in the fact that there were at least three video stores within walking or driving distance of my childhood home, as well as the fact that I was… socially awkward, and you have a recipe for addiction.

battlefield earthWhat is the difference between a B-Movie and a regular movie?
Ok, well to answer this, we’ll have to look at a little movie history. A “B-film” originally referred to the second movie on a drive-in double bill, many of which were low-budget Horror and Sci-Fi pictures. As the drive-in era began to come to a close, the term b-movie stuck, primarily to low budget Horror, Science-Fiction, and Fantasy offerings.

Over the past several decades though, there has been a lot of arguments about what truly makes a film a b-movie. To some, the “B” stands for “bad,” (which suitably fits a lot of the films that fall under the category of b-movie) which means that Hollywood flops like Battlefield Earth (pictured, below left) make the grade. But in its purest form, a b-movie is a low-to-no budget production, with “homemade” special effects, unknown actors (or stars that are in the “twilight years” of their career), and a simplistic plot involving hauntings, alien invasions, and/or monsters terrorizing rural communities.

Many will tell you that a low budget is a requirement, but these days, I only partially agree with that. The term “b-movie” has become rather subjective; it has evolved so much over the past fifty years or so that it applies to independent films, direct-to-DVD schlock, Hollywood flops, bad movies, grindhouse films, and of course the drive-in classics that started it all.
But, considering how many of the films Hollywood has churned out lately are basically glorified b-films (alien invasion flicks and superhero origin stories are all the rage right now), I’d say that aside from considerably larger budgets, the only difference is star power.

However, if you consider that many Hollywood stars (e.g. Jack Nicholson, Viggo Mortensen, Matthew McConaughey, Jamie Lee Curtis, et al.) all got their start by acting in b-films, one has to wonder if b-cinema has actually become the norm!