The Blob, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and even the original Friday the 13th all have three things in common:
- They are all considered classics.
- They all birthed a cult following in some way.
- Most importantly, they are all b-movies.
Yes, you read that right: three of the icons of horror are b-movies.
Which brings me to what is probably an unpopular opinion: B horrors have a huge cultural impact.
Before you click away with a laugh, hear me out. I’m being extremely serious.
Movies like A Bay of Blood–-which can be described as a b-movie due to its low budget–inspired an entire sub-genre in horror. B horrors have a cultural impact by helping revolutionize the way movies are made as a whole and providing the audience a place to look at social issues in an interesting way. **For the purpose of this article, I will be “lumping” sci-fi movies and horror movies together as there was some crossover.
Horror movies have always had the ability to provide a way to comment on cultural and societal events. The Blob cleverly commented about America’s fear of the threat of communism– the Red Scare. And, while the movie Candyman isn’t a B Horror, it alluded to racism. B horrors specifically did this while taking the time like their counterparts to comment on social issues. They were also somewhat unchained from them.
Referencing back to The Blob, the movie was released in the late fifties. This was not only during the Cold War, but also a time when the hysteria surrounding the increase and threat of Communism was intensified. As a result, movie critics of the time tied The Blob– which was red and consumed every human in its path- as a metaphor for the spread of communism. However, the producer of the movie, Jack Harris, claims those thoughts are “hogwash”. Although, he also admits that Russia declined playing the movie in theaters. Nevertheless, the communist metaphor has stuck to the movie like red blob-ish slime.
To illustrate what I mean by “unchained from social issues,” I would like to once again use Candyman for my example.
The movie Candyman was released four months after the Los Angeles race riots that lasted for five days in the spring of ‘92. The riots were violent, racially-fueled protests due to the acquitting of four officers who excessively beat Rodney King, a black man. The timing of the movie, though coincidental, is what added further charge to the underlying message of the film. That, or the fact that the main antagonist, the son of a former slave, was murdered for falling in love with a white woman.
The movie itself dealt with the racial charge of the time by “flipping the script” of the story of a black man and a white woman. With Candyman, for the most part, avoiding the blame for his crimes and instead placing blame on Helen. But let’s move forward to additional reasons why B horrors are great!
Low budgets come with low oversight and a “nothing to lose” attitude. This gave directors the ability to push the envelope.
B movies were typically made outside of the beautiful parts of Hollywood. Instead, they were made in run-down parts of town or in Grindhouse studios. This allowed directors to add more gruesome or sexual context to their films,. Thus, this contributed to the birth and growth of the slasher genre. As I mentioned earlier, the movie Bay of Blood is believed to be what kick started the slasher genre, which was followed with movies like Black Christmas and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However, it was the 1981 Friday the 13th movie that revived the subgenre, which, at the time, was shunted to the side for less gruesome films such as The Omen or more funnier movies like Killer Klowns From Outer Space.
However, despite the name, there is more to horror movies than fear (and blood).
There’s also the production and ideas that went behind them that inspired new ways to present films. Forbidden Planet, a sci-fi film about space travelers finding lone survivors on a foreign planet, inspired parts of Star Trek. Night of the Living Dead. This, in turn, inspired movies like Evil Dead and TV shows like The Walking Dead. Jaws inspired what feels like hundreds of movies, both B (Piranha) and A-level (Alien). ….Okay, Jaws has inspired more B horrors than A, but I hope you still catch my drift(wood…I’ll see myself out)!
Hello! I’m a college student who divides my time between school, work, and obsessing over the most recent horror movie!