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Big-T & the Bada-Bings


Guide To B-Movie Sites
By Will The Thrill Viharo

Originally, the oft-used and maligned term "B movie" referred to the bottom half of an average double bill back in the '30s and '40s. The "A" title was a slicked-up Hollywood product with big name stars, while the soggy side of this cinematic sandwich, filled with cartoons, newsreels and previews, was usually some tossed-off project with a budget culled from a hobo's pocket and a concept leaked from a wino's imagination. Interestingly enough, it was these barely-advertised bottom-fillers that gave us many now-classic film noirs, such as Detour and T Men, cult film series like the beloved Bowery Boys, and later provided us with endless hours of timeless entertainment on late night television.

In the mid-'50s, James Nicholson and Samuel Arkoff formed American International Pictures and revolutionized the film industry by packaging two B movies—aka, exploitation films, since they often catered to prurient tastes—for less than the price of one A movie. The results were record-breaking profits with minimal investments. What these frantic flicks with lurid titles like I Was A Teenage Werewolf, Invasion of the Saucer Men, Girls in Prison and High School Hellcats lacked in fiscal comfort, they more than compensated for with kooky creativity and starvation-motivated earnestness. In many cases, they were gritty, authentic time capsules, much more reflective of the era's true ethos and mores than their glossy counterparts. Many legendary directors cut their sharp little teeth on these memorable mini-masterpieces, from Roger Corman to Francis Coppola to Peter Bogdonavich. But while the filmmakers themselves later earned respect and kudos from the industry at large, their earlier work remained sources of embarrassment—except to sick people like us.

Nowadays, the over-the-top plots once reserved for exploitation movies are blown out of proportion into big budget mainstream productions, pointlessly spending wasteful millions on derivative concepts. Meanwhile, the low-budget genre picture has been relegated to direct-to-video dreck. The term "B movie"—which could stand for breasts, beasts, and blood—has come to encompass any cheap flick made on the fly for a quick buck. But the sad truth is, in today's greedy, imagination-bankrupt world of remakes and sequels, they don't—can't—make 'em like they used to. Fortunately, if you yearn to share your nostalgia for mad scientists, screaming scantily-clad starlets, private dicks, mutant bugs, alien invaders and rubber-suited beasts, you need only dial into your futuristic space-age computer, daddy-o, and dig these crazy way-out sites devoted to that most outré of obsessions: The B Movie.

The Astounding B Monster
The leading source for the junk movie junkie's cyber-fix, this brilliant and beautiful, award-winning site was created and designed by graphics genius and genre guru Marty Baumann, who, among many other things, writes freelance articles and illustrates his own comic book, The Crater Kid ( Marty and famed guest writers, such as Tom Weaver, craft intelligent, witty, well-researched reviews of vintage and current films, as well as compelling profiles of their stars, including exclusive interviews. While all of this is of intense interest to the hardcore B movie buff, the site also serves as a pithy primer for the nutty novice. In the astounding archives, be sure to check out the Top Ten Lists of Horror and Sci-Fi Films from the "experts"— including, humbly, yours truly.

Brian's Drive-In Theater
B-devotee Brian Walker has created a lovingly built site with specially designed sections, packed with pictures, devoted to varying B movie sub-categories (Hercules, Tarzan, beach party, superhero, and monster flicks, to name a few), as well as galleries of "Beefcake" and "Cheesecake" photos. Brian may only be an ambitious fan, but he gives that phrase a classy ring with his stellar site.

Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt
This site is a stunningly comprehensive guide to every movie ever shown on the hit cable show Mystery Science Theater 3000, which, despite its irreverent approach, helped revive interest in the classic B movie after the untimely ¹90s demise of that formerly ubiquitous television staple, the weekend horror host. What¹s more, Daddy O's is also an electronic encyclopedic reference source crammed with links to other sites of similar interest, plus exhaustive info on the directors, stars, and producers of both the MST3K program itself, and all the movies it showcased. These ranged from offbeat crime thrillers to sword and sandal sweat-fests to schlocky sci-fi. Though there is more text than graphics, the site does display original poster art and photos for the flicks in focus, each of which gets its own page of data. This is dirt well worth delving into.

Mamie Van Doren's HomePage
With sundry indelible appearances in dozens of decadent drive-in delights, like High School Confidential, Girls Town, The Beat Generation, Guns, Girls and Gangsters, Sex Kittens Go to College, Las Vegas Hillbillies and The Navy vs. the Night Monsters, Mamie has proven once and for all that she is the reigning Queen of the Bs. The still-sexy star is currently swingin' harder than ever as the first Sex Kitten of Cyberspace. This site is as gorgeous, colorful, entertaining and provocative as the lady herself, bursting with photos from her early glory days right up to the present, as well as informative autobiographical pieces and other sources of catchy candor and eye candy. (See also Issue #7 of ATOMIC for more of Mamie.)


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