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Author Topic: Do We Need A New Term for B-Movie?  (Read 7615 times)
frank
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« Reply #30 on: August 21, 2008, 06:19:38 AM »


If I wasn't confident with "B-movie", which I am, I'd offer "offstream movie".

Just for the kicks...

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« Reply #31 on: August 21, 2008, 10:57:59 AM »

I'm a lover of blaxploitation, exploitation, kung fu, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, animation, film noir, mystery, western war films. 

I'd like to see one of those, , It'd be more convoluted than "Sparrow Fey's Catfood Traumafest". .
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« Reply #32 on: August 21, 2008, 11:54:53 AM »

Again I'll point out that the term B-Movie is nothing to do with Bad. That in not what "B" stands for. B refers to the class of the film. the "A" files are you big budget movies that the studio's would promote the hell out of and try to make the big money, where the "B" movie would be more like the second movie in a bill,or released for Drive-ins.

All of Val Lewton's films were considered "B" movies, yet these are great films. He just made them quickly and with small budgets for showing like 2nd billing and drive-ins.

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AndyC
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« Reply #33 on: August 21, 2008, 12:00:54 PM »

As others have said, this is a very difficult idea to wrap up in one term.

B-movies are a specific thing, although the definition can be expanded to other films in the same spirit. It still doesn't apply everywhere.

Many of the movies we like are obscure, but many are not. Likewise, not all have the devoted following to be called cult films.

Most are older movies, but not all, and they don't come from any particular decade. Budgets vary as well. Not all of them are bad movies, some of them are tongue-in-cheek bad (and thus good in their own way), some are well-made but kind of odd. That would include art films and foreign films.

Some were perfectly good movies in their day, but have gotten old and dated.

Some genres are more represented than others, but there are still too many to define by genre.

And on and on it goes.

In another thread, I suggested the term "misfit movies" to apply to anything that didn't really fit into the current mainstream movie scene. It's analogous to a high-school classroom. You have the kids who fit in – the jocks, the good-looking and popular kids, and the average kids. Then you have the misfits - the geeks, stoners, headbangers, underachievers, socially-inept kids and so on. A diverse group, but united in their deviance from the norm.

I like "misfit" because it implies something is out of place, but does not necessarily have negative connotations. Misfits can be lovable. As Rudolph and Hermie said, "What's the matter with misfits? That's where we fit in!" That certainly seems to apply to the movies we like, not to mention our attitude about them.
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« Reply #34 on: August 21, 2008, 12:26:58 PM »

We'll always be categorizing and re-categorizing movies.  I think that's some primordial hunter-gatherer instinct we have, to gather things together in a semblance of order.

Just as is our penchance for subjectively debating things. . .   Wink

###

<...>the point isn't who has seen a particular film or not, regardless of what anyone - or everyone - thinks about any such film, whether "good" or "bad".  The point was to define the term "B-movie."   Defining a term is not "subjective."

The SHORT concise answer:

Yes, it is.

The LONG boring dithering pseudo-philosophical answer:

Since reality is a subjective experience and thus any experience we attempt to relate to another is based on our experiences and how we relate to the object in question that, by definition, makes any attempt to define anything subjective.  The purpose of a definition is to abstract a subjective experience into something codifiable based on a shared objective reality.  What tastes good?  Some people like spinach, some do not.  Every individual has their own tastes based on subjective experience.  So, too, how we define what is bad is similarly rooted in the same.

How would you explain what an "orgasm" is to, say, an asexual ALIEN being from Mars?  Their is only ONE way and that is through seeking out shared subjective experiences to relate meaning, or at least attempt to create a objectifiable set of shared subjective experiences.  But if the ALIEN species has no sex, as we understand it, how do you explain sexual matters (which are subjective) to them?

###

What's great about the "b-movie" label is it's a broad enough subjective tag that it can encompass late night movies, psychotronic cinema, horror, science fiction, drama, comedy, mainstream movies, underground cinema, and just about anything in between.

But that also the problem it's a subjective definition.  Considering how times change, and movies with them, that's probably for the best.  Can you imagine anyone making GALAXY OF TERROR or INSEMINOID today?  Those were grand B-movies.  But whether they're "bad" is a matter of opinion, which doesn't change their "B" status one whit.

###

Two quick points. . .

1) "Late Night (Movies)" is, or was, for the most part, a broad umbrella term used to categorize cable and DTV softcore flicks, which usually played "after hours" late at night on skinemax.

Why?

Rumour has it that, once upon a time not that many decades ago when cable was young, that channels like skinemax used to actually have hardcore movies on late at night.  Thus "late night" = "gratuitous nudity" not necessarily "b-movie" though most of the "good" bad b-movies, and more than a few of the "bad" good b-movies, according to some, have gratuitous nudity.

2) re: Psychotronic.

From their home page: "Michael Weldon did not invent the word "Psychotronic." It is a word to describe mind control by electronic means."

Which is fine and dandy but as most movies in his movie guide tend to be either bizarre, shocking, or just out and out strange I've always found it easier to just equate psychotronic cinema with things psychotropic.   TeddyR

###

But, if we must have a definition of B-MOVIE, how about. . .

B-MOVIE:  Those movies we love to hate and hate to love, the movies we watch for their subtle appeal to something indefinable that transends mere entertainment value; in short that which has to be experienced to be understood.
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Allhallowsday
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« Reply #35 on: August 21, 2008, 01:06:26 PM »

<...>the point isn't who has seen a particular film or not, regardless of what anyone - or everyone - thinks about any such film, whether "good" or "bad".  The point was to define the term "B-movie."   Defining a term is not "subjective."

The SHORT concise answer:
Yes, it is.
I skip your "LONG boring dithering pseudo-philosophical answer" for the sake of space, and I see your point, but I re-assert that terminology is not intended to be subjective. 
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« Reply #36 on: August 21, 2008, 02:12:42 PM »

Some of you seem to be missing the point here.

To simplify, I want to find a word to fit in this sentence
"I have a _______ movie collection."
Now without resorting to jokes, B-movie is wrong, bad is wrong and most of the other terms I've heard just dont do justice to it.
I know what a b-movie is and I dont have a collection of them.

I like Kester's 'Misfit movies' and I still like 'Niche'

What term best describes the movie collection in your house?
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« Reply #37 on: August 21, 2008, 02:43:22 PM »

Some of you seem to be missing the point here.

To simplify, I want to find a word to fit in this sentence
"I have a _______ movie collection."
Now without resorting to jokes, B-movie is wrong, bad is wrong and most of the other terms I've heard just dont do justice to it.
I know what a b-movie is and I dont have a collection of them.

I like Kester's 'Misfit movies' and I still like 'Niche'

What term best describes the movie collection in your house?

"I have a cult, mondo, sexploitation, exploitation, blackploitation, low budget, no budget, experimental, indy, nudie cutie, basement, cheap, crap, B to Z movie collection."
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Psycho Circus
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« Reply #38 on: August 21, 2008, 02:58:16 PM »

I have a Retro-Junk movie collection
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Allhallowsday
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« Reply #39 on: August 21, 2008, 03:16:35 PM »

Again I'll point out that the term B-Movie is nothing to do with Bad. That in not what "B" stands for. B refers to the class of the film. the "A" files are you big budget movies that the studio's would promote the hell out of and try to make the big money, where the "B" movie would be more like the second movie in a bill,or released for Drive-ins.

All of Val Lewton's films were considered "B" movies, yet these are great films. He just made them quickly and with small budgets for showing like 2nd billing and drive-ins.
Underbelly, you don't have to point out "again" that "B-Movie" has nothing to do with "bad."  We know that.  However, please note the website you're on and you may understand why it's difficult for some contributors to separate the two concepts. 
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« Reply #40 on: August 21, 2008, 04:02:46 PM »

Allhallowsday, you say "We know that." and "some contributors to separate the two concepts" Well, maybe I'm talking to those who have trouble. I've read many of all of these post and many people have trouble separating the two, otherwise I wouldn't have repeated myself.

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« Reply #41 on: August 21, 2008, 05:38:08 PM »

Some of you seem to be missing the point here.

To simplify, I want to find a word to fit in this sentence
"I have a _______ movie collection."
Now without resorting to jokes, B-movie is wrong, bad is wrong and most of the other terms I've heard just dont do justice to it.
I know what a b-movie is and I dont have a collection of them.

I like Kester's 'Misfit movies' and I still like 'Niche'

What term best describes the movie collection in your house?

I have a "weird" movie collection.  Both in the sense that I like films that are literally weird, surreal, bizarre, and just make you say "WTF?", and in the sense that I would expect a schoolmarm or grandmother to screw up her face when she looked at my DVD shelf and say, "That's a weird collection."

"B-movies" is a good descriptor and is relatively well understood, but isn't wide enough.  Most of us love many movies that fall outside the technical meaning of "B" movie.  And I don't love B-movies just because they were made on a low budget; I love them because they have a tendency to contain some other ingredient that I enjoy.

I would probably use the term "cult movies" to an outsider as the best known term to describe the films I love.  Unfortunately, "cult" implies a film that is ignored by most but loved by a devoted few, and it catches lots of films that play to mainstream tastes but were simply overlooked.  Alongside movies like PLAN 9, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, and DETOUR, Danny Peary's original list of 100 CULT MOVIES also caught films like ALL ABOUT EVE and DANCE, GIRL, DANCE and 42ND STREET that don't fit the aesthetic we're talking about at all.

"Psychotronic" is probably the best word to describe this type of movie, but it isn't well known enough.  Try telling people at a cocktail party that you collect "psychotronic" movies and watch their eyes glaze over.

"Niche" movies doesn't really work.  Anything that's aimed at a small audience is aimed at a "niche" market.  It would include movies aimed specifically at women, specifically at men, specifically at blacks, specifically at foot fetishists.  It's too wide.

I like the idea behind AndyC's "misfit movies," but I don't think the term will ever catch on. 

The French have a term, "fantastique", that describes the horror, science fiction, and fantasy genres all together.  The genre emphasizes imagery, mood and atmosphere over linear, rational plots.  It's a useful term, but it technically leaves out blaxsploitation.

There is no perfect term; and all of our tastes differ a little anyway, even though they overlap significantly.  I'm sticking with I have a "weird" movie collection.

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« Reply #42 on: August 21, 2008, 05:57:52 PM »

Some of you seem to be missing the point here.

To simplify, I want to find a word to fit in this sentence
"I have a _______ movie collection."

"I have a AWESOME movie collection."

"I have a ECLECTIC movie collection."

"I have a DIVERSE movie collection."

"I have a GREAT movie collection."

"I have a 2 PLY TISSUE movie collection."

BounceGiggle

But, seriously, it might help if we knew some of the titles that have you baffled as to how to best categorize them.  Don't worry there's nothing to be ashamed of, unless that LAST mad lib actually applies.  Wink
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« Reply #43 on: August 22, 2008, 06:26:10 AM »

"I have an intriguing movie collection!"

Plus, see below.. TeddyR
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« Reply #44 on: August 22, 2008, 09:08:07 AM »

I'm thinking b-movie is probably as good a blanket term as we're going to find. Yes, it originally had a specific meaning in the industry, but meanings do evolve through usage.

Consider tabloid newspapers. Most papers I see nowadays are tabloids. I've mostly written for tabloids, but none of them contain celebrity gossip or aliens. Tabloid is a page size. The gossip rags were called tabloids because they used that format rather than the broadsheet format typical of the mainstream papers. Today, tabloid has come to mean a gossip rag to the general public, although the term is still used properly in the industry.

B-movie, similarly, has a technical meaning and a popular meaning. And it has the advantage of being something of an archaic term in its original use. It's nice to have that specific meaning for purposes of discussion amongst fans, but the general public has its own definition of what a b-movie is, based on the common attributes of those original, proper b-movies. There isn't really anything wrong with that.

That is also why we will probably not find an alternate term that will replace it. The public has some idea what a b-movie is, whether purists agree or not. No other blanket term is likely to register with the average person in the same way. And that is why many on this board, myself included, use b-movie in that broader sense. Not because we aren't aware of its history, but rather to be understood. I tell people I like b-movies, and they understand what that is. If they want to know more, that's the time for specifics. Otherwise, there's really no point in communicating more than that.

B-movie, as a blanket term, is fine with me. Fellow enthusiasts won't be confused by it, and other folks will understand it (and not really know or care that it's used improperly).

My view on the matter is that the improper use of the term is really only an issue with folks who get off on correcting other people. "I know what this word really means, 'cause I'm smarter than you."

Here's a question for everyone. Does it really matter to you if b-movie is used as a blanket term?
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