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AUTHOR: David Sterritt and John Anderson
PUBLISHER: Da Capo Press
PAGES: 256 pages







The Pitch


There’s a lot of second-rate movies out there. Let’s watch ‘em.

The Words in The Bound Text Square

How in the hell is Platoon considered to be a B-Movie? I was reading the opening review of this film after perusing a couple of other titles. The case is made for Carrie 2: The Rage, but too much time is spent defending the inclusion of Platoon and other films. When I compared to reviews to the later coverage of Grindhouse, I started to notice a trend. This wasn’t a piece that examined the role of the B-Movie in American cinema. It was a cautious discussion of similar film grammar in off-beat films.

The B List was previously covered at CHUD in a galley form. The only thing that seems to differ is the inclusion of two more film reviews. Nothing really stands out, as you get to read everyone from Peter Travers to Kevin Thomas force discussion points where they don’t exist. I felt myself getting annoyed at points where I had to keep stomaching Shakespearean themes popping up in such works as Son of Kong or Pink Flamingos. They’re not there, what the writer is doing is stretching to find something else to say about Divine eating dog shit.

The rest of the book centers around the attempt to break the films down to cultural shifts. Even the dullest reader can trace the rise and fall of cultural stigma, as each film is examined. After finishing the book, that wasn’t enough to make me want to purchase the book. It seems to keep tying back into a trend that I’ve noticed in the fourth quarter of 2008. Redundant entertainment product that seems to cover the same tepid material to infinity. I’ve had enough.

The Things I Learned

Apparently, mainstream readers believe that anything is a B-Movie. Playing it safe with something like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and its ilk will fill the Netflix queues of several folks. But, it doesn’t do shit to challenge their movie views. Nobody is going to discover the joys of Robot Monster or Street Trash from reading this book. If you can’t compel a reader to try something new, then why bother with a book like this?

What
does irk me about the series is its nature to say the same thing. There is nothing new to be gleamed by reading this book. I’ve read Da Capo Press’s previous work on The A List and it worked. You got a better selection of writers and they seemed to spend more time actually explaining why the included films were A List. Now, it seems more of a justification. The search for an excuse to dub something a B Film.

The Section for People That Don’t Read So Good

There are movies made for little money. Some of them are bad, others good.

The Last Word

I typically enjoy these books. But, the selection of writers and films didn’t gel together. All we got was a bizarre mess of safe choices and flicks that don’t inspire one to hunt them down. Mixed emotions and no real reason to view the material is enough to make you want to pass it up. Sure, CHUD is the home of all things related to B-Movies. That’s what led me to think that I was coming at the book from a weird angle. Had I been unfair to the work?

The only thing
that really detracts from my overall enjoyment is the loose definition of B-Movie. I thought that this was a personal hang-up until I left the book out on a coffeetable. A guest picked it up and perused through the offerings until he came to a stop on Platoon. What he had to say later summed up everything I felt about the book. The guest stated that the writer dubbed Platoon a B-Movie because it didn’t fit what had came before. That’s not a B-Movie, that’s a groundbreaking film. The next that Da Capo drops a book like this. Sit your editors down in a room and come to agreement on what course you’re going to pursue.

6.3 out of 10