FRANKENHOOKER 

 TRAILER 1990 

   

"TITTER YE NOT"

******************

 

After a venerable career of endless, stellar successes the greatest director who ever lived is in his prime and preparing for his most ambitious project ever when he unexpectedly dies and is called home to heaven.

 

St. Peter meets him at the gate. “So sorry about your untimely death,” he tells the director. “But God himself has called you home." You see, God wants you to direct a movie for Him.

 

The great man is humbled, “God wants ME to direct a film?” “Yes,” St. Peter tells him. “And we’ve arranged to have the best of everything made available to you. For example, the script is by William Shakespeare.” The director is stunned, “An original screenplay by William Shakespeare?” “Yes,” St. Peter assures him, “And it’s his greatest work ever.”

 

“Wow!” says the Director, awe struck. “Your Production Designer will be Michaelangelo. We’ve got Leonardo Da Vinci doing the sets, your musical score will be an original work by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and your cast includes a young Laurence Olivier and the greatest actors of all time in supporting roles.”

 

The Director can’t believe it. “This is incredible,” he says. “This will be the greatest movie ever?” St. Peter kind of shuffles his feet. “Well,” he says, “we do have one tiny little problem.” “Problem?” says the director. “What kind of a problem?” St. Peter puts his arm around the director’s shoulder,

 

“Ya see,” he whispers, “God’s got this girlfriend…”

 *****************

 

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A B movie is a low-budget commercial motion picture that is not

an arthouse film. In its original usage, during the  Golden Age 

 of Hollywood , the term more precisely identified a film

intended for distribution as the less-publicised, bottom half of a

double feature. Although the U.S. production of movies

intended as second features largely ceased by the end of the

1950s, the term B movie continued to be used in the broader

sense it maintains today. In its post – Golden Age usage, there

is ambiguity on both sides of the definition:

                                                                    on the one hand, the

primary interest of many inexpensive exploitation films is

 prurient ; on the other hand, many B movies display a high

degree of craft and aesthetic ingenuity.

 

In either usage, most B movies represent a particular genre

—the Western was a Golden Age B movie staple, while low-

budget science-fiction and horror films became more popular in

the 1950s. Early  B movies  were often part of series in which

the star repeatedly played the same character. Almost always

shorter than the top-billed films they were paired with, many

had running times of 70 minutes or less. The term connoted a

general perception that B movies were inferior to the more

handsomely budgeted head-liners; individual B films were often

lgnored by critics.

 

Latter-day B movies still sometimes inspire multiple sequels,

but series are less common. As the average running time of top-

of-the-line films increased, so did that of B movies. In its

current usage, the term has somewhat contradictory

connotations:

                     it may signal an opinion that a certain movie is (a)

a genre film with minimal artistic ambitions or (b) a lively,

energetic film uninhibited by the constraints imposed on more

expensive projects and unburdened by the conventions of 

 putatively  "serious" independent film. The term is also now used loosely to refer to some

higher-budgeted, mainstream films with exploitation-style content, usually in genres traditionally associated with the B movie.

 

From their beginnings to the present day, B movies have provided opportunities both for those coming up in the profession and others whose careers are waning. Celebrated filmmakers such as  Anthony Mann  and Jonathan Demme learned their craft in B movies. They are where actors such as John Wayne and  Jack Nicholson  first became established, and they have provided work for former A movie actors, such as Vincent Price and Karen Black. Some actors, such as Béla Lugosi, Eddie Constantine and Pam Grier, worked in B movies for most of their careers. The term B actor is sometimes used to refer to a performer who finds work primarily or exclusively in B movies.

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In 1927–28, at the end of the silent era, the production cost of an average feature from a major Hollywood studio ranged from $190,000 at Fox to $275,000 at MGM. That average reflected both "specials" that might cost as much as $1 million and films made quickly for around $50,000. These cheaper films (not yet called B movies) allowed the studios to derive maximum value from facilities and contracted staff in between a studio's more important productions, while also breaking in new personnel. Studios in the minor leagues of the industry, such as Columbia Pictures and Film Booking Offices of America 

( FBO ), focused on exactly those sort of cheap productions. Their movies, with relatively short running times, targeted theaters that had to economise on rental and operating costs, particularly small-town and urban neighbourhood venues, or "nabes". Even smaller production houses, known as  Poverty Row studios , made films whose costs might run as low as $3,000, seeking a profit through whatever bookings they could pick up in the gaps left by the larger concerns.

 

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                                                                            With the widespread arrival of  sound film  in American theatres in 1929,                                                                                      many independent exhibitors began dropping the then-dominant                                                                                                  presentation model, which involved live acts and a broad variety of shorts

                                                                            before a single featured film. A new programming scheme developed that                                                                                    would soon become standard practice:

                                                                                                                                           a newsreel , a short and/or a serial,                                                                                  and a cartoon, followed by a double feature. The second feature, which                                                                                        actually screened before the main event, cost the exhibitor less per minute                                                                                  than the equivalent running time in shorts. The majors' "clearance" rules                                                                                      favouring their affiliated theatres prevented the independents' timely access                                                                                to top-quality films; the second feature allowed them to promote quantity                                                                                      instead. The additional movie also gave the program "balance"—the practice                                                                              of pairing different sorts of features suggested to potential customers that                                                                                    they could count on something of interest no matter what specifically was on                                                                                the bill. The low-budget picture of the 1920s the second feature Age.

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 Poverty Row studios , from modest outfits like Mascot Pictures, Tiffany Pictures, and Sono Art-World Wide Pictures down to shoestring operations, made exclusively movies, serials, and other shorts, and also distributed totally independent                                                                                                                                    productions and imported films. In no position to                                                                                                                            directly block book, they mostly sold regional                                                                                                                                  distribution exclusivity to "states rights" firms, which in                                                                                                                  turn peddled blocks of movies to exhibitors, typically                                                                                                                      six or more pictures featuring the same star (a relative                                                                                                                  status on Poverty Row).

                                                                                                                Two "major-minors"—Universal Studios and rising                                                                                                                        Columbia Pictures—had production lines roughly                                                                                                                          similar to, though somewhat better endowed than, the                                                                                                                  top Poverty Row studios. In contrast to the Big Five                                                                                                                      majors, Universal and Columbia had few or no                                                                                                                              theatres, though they did have top-rank film                                                                                                                                    distribution exchanges.

 

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                                                                                                                In the standard Golden Age model, the industry's top                                                                                                                    product, the A films, premiered at a small number of                                                                                                                      select first-run houses in major cities. Double features                                                                                                                  were not the rule at these prestigious venues. As                                                                                        described historian Edward Jay Epstein, "During these first runs, films got                                                                                    their reviews, garnered publicity, and generated the word of mouth that                                                                                        served as the principal form of advertising." Then it was off to the                                                                                                  subsequent-run market where the double feature prevailed. At the larger                                                                                      local venues controlled by the majors, movies might turn over on a weekly                                                                                  basis. At the thousands of smaller, independent theatres, programs often                                                                                    changed two or three times a week. To meet the constant demand for new                                                                                  B product, the low end of Poverty Row turned out a stream of micro-budget                                                                                movies rarely much more than sixty minutes were known as "quickies" for                                                                                    their tight production schedules—as short as four days. As Brian Taves                                                                                        describes, "Many of the poorest theatres, such as the 'grind houses' in the                                                                                  larger cities, screened a continuous program emphasising action with no specific schedule, sometimes offering six quickies for a nickel in an all-night show that changed daily." Many small theatres never saw a big-studio A film, getting their movies from the states rights concerns that handled almost exclusively Poverty Row product. Millions of Americans went to their local theatres as a matter of course:

                                                                                                                                      for an A picture, along with the trailers, or screen previews, that presaged its arrival, "the new film's title on the marquee and the listings for it in the local newspaper constituted all the advertising most movies got", writes Epstein. Aside from at the theatre itself, B films might not be advertised at all.

 

The introduction of sound had driven costs higher:

                                                                               by 1930, the average U.S. feature film cost $375,000 to produce. A broad range of motion pictures occupied the B category. The leading studios made not only clear-cut A and B films, but also movies classifiable as "programmers" (also known as "in-betweeners" or "intermediates"). As Taves describes, "Depending on the prestige of the theatre and the other material on the double bill, a programmer could show up at the top or bottom of the marquee." On Poverty Row, many Bs were made on budgets that would have barely covered petty cash on a major's A film, with costs at the bottom of the industry running as low as $5,000. By the mid-1930s, the double feature was the dominant U.S. exhibition model, and the majors responded. In 1935, B movie production at Warner Bros. was raised from 12 to 50 percent of studio output. The unit was headed by Bryan Foy, known as the "Keeper of the Bs." At Fox, which also shifted half of its production line into B territory,  Sol M. Wurtzel  was similarly in charge of more than twenty movies a year during the late 1930s.

 

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                                                                                           A number of the top Poverty Row firms consolidated:

                                                                                                                                                                             Sono Art joined                                                                                             another company to create Monogram Pictures early in the decade.                                                                                             In 1935, Monogram, Mascot, and several smaller studios merged to                                                                                             establish  Republic Pictures . The former heads of Monogram soon                                                                                             sold off their Republic shares and set up a new Monogram                                                                                                           production house. Into the 1950s, most Republic and Monogram                                                                                                 product was roughly on par with the low end of the majors' output.                                                                                               Less sturdy Poverty Row concerns—with a penchant for grand                                                                                                     sobriquets like Conquest, Empire, Imperial, and Peerless—                                                                                                           continued to churn out dirt-cheap quickies. Joel Finler has                                                                                                             analyzed the average length of feature releases in 1938, indicating                                                                                               the studios' relative emphasis on B production. United Artists                                                                                                       produced little, focusing on the distribution of prestigious films from                                                                                               independent outfits  Grand National, active 1936–40, occupied an                                                                                               analogous niche on Poverty Row, releasing mostly independent productions.

 

The Western was by far the predominant B genre in both the 1930s and, to a lesser degree, the 1940s. Film historian  Jon   Tuska  has argued that "the 'B' product of the Thirties—the Universal films with Tom Mix, Ken Maynard, and  Buck Jones, the Columbia features with Buck Jones and Tim McCoy, the RKO George O'Brien series, the Republic Westerns with John Wayne and the Three Mesquiteers ... achieved a uniquely American perfection of the well-made story." At the far end of the industry, Poverty Row's Ajax put out oaters starring Harry Carey, then in his fifties. The Weiss outfit had the Range Rider series, the American Rough Rider series, and the Morton of the Mounted "northwest action thrillers." One low-budget oater

of the era, made totally outside the studio system, profited from an outrageous concept:

                                                                                                                                           a Western with an all-midget cast,  The Terror of Tiny Town  (1938) was such a success in its independent bookings that Columbia picked it up for distribution.

Series of various genres, featuring recurrent, title-worthy characters or name actors in familiar roles, were particularly popular during the first decade of sound film. Fox's many B series, for instance, included Charlie Chan mysteries, Ritz Brothers

comedies, and musicals with child star  Jane Withers . These series films are not to be confused with the short, cliffhanger-structured serials that sometimes appeared on the same program. As with serials, however, many series were intended to attract young people—a theater that twin-billed part-time might run a "balanced" or entirely youth-oriented double feature as a matinee and then a single film for a more mature audience at night. In the words of one industry report, afternoon moviegoers, "composed largely of housewives and children, want quantity for their money while the evening crowds want 'something good and not too much of it." Series films are often unquestioningly consigned to the B movie category, but even here there is ambiguity:

                                     at MGM, for example, popular series like the Andy Hardy chronicles had leading stars and budgets that would have been A-level at some of the lesser majors. For many series, even a lesser major's standard B budget was

far out of reach:

                         Poverty Row's Consolidated Pictures featured Tarzan, the Police Dog in a series with the proud name of Melodramatic Dog Features.

 

By 1940, the average production cost of an American feature was $400,000, a negligible increase over ten years. A number of small Hollywood companies had folded around the turn of the decade, including the ambitious Grand National, but a new firm, Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC), emerged as third in the Poverty Row hierarchy behind Republic and Monogram. The double feature, never universal, was still the prevailing exhibition model:

                                                                                                                                             in 1941, 50 percent of theatres

were double-billing exclusively, and others employed the policy part-time. In the early 1940s, legal pressure forced the studios to replace seasonal block booking with packages generally limited to five pictures. Restrictions were also placed on the majors' ability to enforce blind bidding. These were crucial factors in the progressive shift by most of the Big Five over to A-film production, making the smaller studios even more important as B movie suppliers. Genre pictures made at very low cost remained the backbone of Poverty Row, with even Republic's and Monogram's budgets rarely climbing over $200,000. Many smaller Poverty Row firms folded as the eight majors, with their proprietary distribution exchanges, now commanded about 95 percent of U.S. and Canadian box office receipts. In 1946, independent producer  David O. Selznick  brought his bloated-budget spectacle Duel in the Sun to market with heavy nationwide promotion and wide release. The distribution strategy was a major success, despite what was widely perceived as the movie's poor quality. The Duel release anticipated practices that fuelled the B movie industry in the late 1950s; when the top Hollywood studios made them standard two decades after that, the B movie would be hard hit.

 

Considerations beside cost made the line between A and B movies

ambiguous. Films shot on B-level budgets were occasionally marketed as A

pictures or emerged as sleeper hits:

                                                        One of 1943's biggest films was  Hitler's 

 Children , an RKO thriller made for a fraction over $200,000. It earned more

than $3 million in rentals, industry language for a distributor's share of gross

box office receipts. Particularly in the realm of film noir, A pictures sometimes

echoed visual styles generally associated with cheaper films. Programmers,

with their flexible exhibition role, were ambiguous by definition. As late as

1948, the double feature remained a popular exhibition mode—it was

standard policy at 25 percent of theatres and used part-time at an additional

36 percent. The leading Poverty Row firms began to broaden their

scope:

          In 1947, Monogram established a subsidiary, Allied Artists, to develop

and distribute relatively expensive films, mostly from independent producers.

Around the same time, Republic launched a similar effort under the

"Premiere" rubric. In 1947 as well, PRC was subsumed by Eagle-Lion, a

British company seeking entry to the American market. Warners' former

Keeper of the Bs, Brian Foy, was installed as production chief.

 

In the 1940s, RKO stood out among the industry's Big Five for its focus on B

pictures. From a latter-day perspective, the most famous of the major studios'

Golden Age B units is Val Lewton's horror unit at RKO. Lewton produced

such moody, mysterious films as Cat People (1942), I Walked with a Zombie

(1943), and The Body Snatcher (1945), directed by Jacques Tourneur, Robert

Wise, and others who would become renowned only later in their careers or

entirely in retrospect. The movie now widely described as the first classic film

noir—Stranger on the Third Floor (1940), a 64-minute B—was produced at

RKO, which would release many additional melodramatic thrillers in a

similarly stylish vein. The other major studios also turned out a considerable

number of movies now identified as noir during the 1940s. Though many of

the best-known  film noirs  were A-level productions, most 1940s pictures in

the mode were either of the ambiguous programmer type or destined straight

for the bottom of the bill. In the decades since, these cheap entertainments,

generally dismissed at the time, have become some of the most treasured

products of Hollywood's Golden Age.

 

In one sample year, 1947, RKO produced along with several noir

programmers and A pictures, two straight B noirs:

                                                                              Desperate and The Devil

Thumbs a Ride. Ten B noirs that year came from Poverty Row's big three—Republic, Monogram, and PRC/Eagle-Lion—and one came from tiny Screen Guild. Three majors beside RKO contributed a total of five more. Along with these eighteen unambiguous B noirs, an additional dozen or so noir programmers came out of Hollywood. Still, most of the majors' low-budget production remained the sort now largely ignored. RKO's representative output included  the Mexican Spitfire  and Lum and Abner comedy series, thrillers featuring the Saint and the Falcon, Westerns starring Tim Holt, and Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller. Jean Hersholt played Dr. Christian in six films between 1939 and 1941. The Courageous Dr. Christian (1940) was a standard entry:

                                                            "In the course of an hour or so of screen time, the saintly physician managed to cure an epidemic of spinal meningitis, demonstrate benevolence towards the disenfranchised, set an example for wayward youth, and calm the passions of an amorous old maid."

 

Down in Poverty Row, low budgets led to less palliative fare. Republic aspired

to major-league respectability while making many cheap and modestly

budgeted Westerns, but there was not much from the bigger studios that

compared with Monogram "exploitation pictures" like juvenile delinquency

exposé Where Are Your Children? (1943) and the prison film Women in

Bondage (1943). In 1947, PRC's The Devil on Wheels brought together

teenagers, hot rods, and death. The little studio had its own house

auteur:

           with his own crew and relatively free rein, director  Edgar G. Ulmer 

was known as "the Capra of PRC". Ulmer made films of every generic

stripe:

         His Girls in Chains was released in May 1943, six months before

Women in Bondage; by the end of the year, Ulmer had also made the teen-

themed musical Jive Junction as well as Isle of Forgotten Sins, a South Seas

adventure set around a brothel.

attack of the crab monsters
i married a monster from outer space
she devil
the phantom from 10000 leagues
wild women of wongo
flight to mars

 

In 1948, a Supreme Court ruling in a federal antitrust suit against the majors

outlawed block booking and led to the Big Five divesting their theatre chains.

With audiences draining away to television and studios scaling back

production schedules, the classic double feature vanished from many

American theatres during the 1950s. The major studios promoted the benefits

of recycling, offering former headlining movies as second features in the

place of traditional B films. With television airing many classic Westerns as

well as producing its own original Western series, the cinematic market for B

movies in particular was drying up. After barely inching forward in the 1930s,

the average U.S. feature production cost had essentially doubled over the

1940s, reaching $1 million by the turn of the decade—a 93 percent rise after

adjusting for inflation.

 

The first prominent victim of the changing market was Eagle-Lion, which

released its last films in 1951. By 1953, the old Monogram brand had

disappeared, the company having adopted the identity of its higher-end

subsidiary, Allied Artists. The following year, Allied released Hollywood's last B series Westerns. Non-series B Westerns continued to appear for a few more years, but Republic Pictures, long associated with cheap sagebrush sagas, was out of the film making business by decade's end. In other genres, Universal kept its Ma and Pa Kettle series going through 1957, while Allied Artists stuck with the Bowery Boys until 1958. RKO, weakened by years of mismanagement, exited the movie industry in 1957. Hollywood's A product was getting longer—the top ten box-office releases of 1940 had averaged 112.5 minutes; the average length of 1955's top ten was 123.4. In their modest way, the Bs were following suit. The age of the hour-long feature                                                                        film was past; 70 minutes was now roughly the minimum. While the Golden Age–                                                                        style second feature was dying, B movie was still used to refer to any low-budget                                                                        genre film featuring relatively unheralded performers (sometimes referred to as B                                                                        actors). The term retained its earlier suggestion that such movies relied on                                                                                  formulaic plots, "stock" character types, and simplistic action or unsophisticated                                                                          comedy. At the same time, the realm of the B movie was becoming increasingly                                                                          fertile territory for experimentation, both serious and outlandish.

 

                                                                       Ida Lupino , well known as an actress, established herself as Hollywood's sole                                                                          female director of the era. In short, low-budget pictures made for her production                                                                          company, The Filmmakers, Lupino explored virtually taboo subjects such as                                                                                rape in 1950's Outrage and 1953's self-explanatory The Bigamist. Her most                                                                                famous directorial effort, The Hitch-Hiker, a 1953 RKO release, is the only                                                                                    example of film noir's classic period directed by a woman. That year, RKO put

                                                                      out another historically notable film made at low cost:

                                                                                                                                                         Split Second, which                                                                                      concludes in a nuclear test range, is perhaps the first "atomic noir". The most                                                                              famous such movie, the independently produced Kiss Me Deadly (1955),                                                                                    typifies the persistently murky middle ground between the A and B picture, as                                                                               Richard Maltby  describes:

                                                                                                                a "programmer capable of occupying either half of a                                                                            neighbourhood theatre's double-bill, it was budgeted at approximately $400,000.

                                                                      Its distributor, United Artists, released around twenty five programmers with

                                                                      production budgets between $100,000 and $400,000 in1955." The film's length,                                                                          106 minutes, is A level, but  its star,  Ralph Meeker , had previously appeared in                                                                          only one major film. Its source is pure pulp, one of Mickey Spillane's Mike                                                                                    Hammer novels, but Robert Aldrich's direction is self consciously aestheticized                                                                          The result is a brutal genre picture that also evokes contemporary anxieties

                                                                      about what was often spoken of simply as the Bomb. The fear of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, along with less expressible qualms about radioactive fallout from America's own atomic tests, energised many of the era's genre films. Science fiction, horror, and various hybrids of the two were now of central economic importance to the low-budget end of the business.

 

It's easy. Most down-market films of the type—like many of those produced by  William Alland  at Universal (e.g., Creature from the Black Lagoon 1954) and  Sam Katzman  at Columbia (e.g., It Came from Beneath the Sea 1955 )—provided little more than thrills, though their special effects could be impressive. But these were genres whose fantastic nature could also be used as cover for mordant cultural observations often difficult to make in main stream movies. Director  Don Siegel's 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), released by Allied Artists, treats conformist pressures and the evil of banality in haunting, allegorical fashion. The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), directed by  Bert I. Gordon , is both a monster movie that happens to depict the horrific effects of radiation exposure and "a ferocious cold-war fable that spins Korea, the army's obsessive secrecy, and America's post-war growth into one fantastic whole."

 

The Amazing Colossal Man was released by a new company whose name was much bigger than its budgets. American

International Pictures (AIP), founded in 1956 by  James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff  in a reorganisation of their American Releasing Corporation (ARC), soon became the leading U.S. studio devoted entirely to B-cost productions. American International helped keep the original-release double bill alive through paired packages of its films:

                                                                                                                                                                            these movies were low-budget, but instead of a flat rate, they were rented out on a percentage basis, like A films. The success of I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) thus brought AIP a large return—made for about $100,000, it grossed more than $2 million. As the film's title suggests, the studio relied on both fantastic genre subjects and new, teen oriented angles. When Hot Rod Gang

(1958) turned a profit, hot rod horror was given a try:

                                                                                   Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (1959). David Cook credits AIP with leading the way "in demographic exploitation, target marketing, and saturation booking, all of which would become standard procedure for the majors in planning and releasing their mass-market 'event' films" by the late 1970s. In terms of content, the majors were already there, with "J.D." movies such as Warner Bros.' Untamed Youth (1957) and MGM's High School Confidential (1958), both starring  Mamie Van Doren .

 

project moonbase

                                                                      In 1954, a young filmmaker named  Roger Corman  received his first screen                                                                                credits as writer and associate producer of Allied Artists' Highway Dragnet.                                                                                  Corman soon independently produced his first movie, Monster from the Ocean                                                                            Floor, on a $12,000 budget and a six-day shooting schedule. Among the six films                                                                        he worked on in 1955, Corman produced and directed the first official ARC                                                                                  release, Apache Woman, and the Day the World Ended, half of Ark off and                                                                                  Nicholson's first twin-bill package. Corman would go on to direct over fifty feature                                                                        films through 1990. As of 2007, he remained active as a producer, with more                                                                              than 350 movies to his credit. Often referred to as the "King of the Bs", Corman                                                                          has said that "to my way of thinking, I never made a 'B' movie in my life", as the                                                                          traditional B movie was dying out when he began  making pictures. He prefers                                                                            to describe his me tier as "low-budget exploitation films". In later years Corman,                                                                          both with AIP and as head of his own companies, would help launch the careers                                                                          of Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, Robert Towne, and Robert De Niro, among many others.

 

the brain eaters

 B MOVIE SONG NOWHERE GIRL 

                                                                      In the late 1950s,  William Castle  became known as the great innovator of the B

                                                                      movie publicity gimmick. Audiences of Macabre (1958), an $86,000 production                                                                            distributed by Allied Artists, were invited to take out insurance policies to cover                                                                            potential death from fright. The 1959 creature feature The Tingler featured                                                                                  Castle's most famous gimmick, Percepto:

                                                                                                                                       at the film's climax, buzzers attached to                                                                        selected theater seats would unexpectedly rattle a few audience members,                                                                                 prompting either appropriate screams or even more appropriate laughter. With                                                                            such films, Castle "combined the saturation advertising campaign perfected by                                                                            Columbia and Universal in their Sam Katzman and William Alland packages with                                                                        centralized and standardized publicity stunts and gimmicks that had previously                                                                            been the purview of the local exhibitor."

 

                                                                      The post-war drive-in theatre boom was vital to the expanding independent B movie industry. In January 1945, there were 96 drive ins in the United States; a decade later, there were more than 3,700.

Unpretentious pictures with simple, familiar plots and reliable shock effects were ideally suited for auto-based film viewing, with all its attendant distractions. The phenomenon of the drive-in movie became one of the defining symbols of American popular culture in the 1950s.  At the same time, many local television stations began showing B genre films in late-night slots, popularising the notion of the midnight movie.

 

Increasingly, American-made genre films were joined by foreign

movies acquired at low cost and, where necessary, dubbed for the

U.S. market. In 1956, distributor Joseph E. Levine financed the

shooting of new footage with American actor Raymond Burr that was

edited into the Japanese sci-fi horror film  Godzilla . The British

Hammer Film Productions made the successful The Curse of

Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958), major influences on future

horror film style. In 1959, Levine's Embassy Pictures bought the

worldwide rights to Hercules, a cheaply made Italian movie starring

American-born bodybuilder Steve Reeves. On top of a $125,000

purchase price, Levine then spent $1.5 million on advertising and

publicity, a virtually unprecedented amount. The New York Times was

non plussed, claiming that the movie would have drawn "little more

than yawns in the film market ... had it not been [launched] through

out the country with a deafening barrage of publicity." Levine counted

on first-weekend box office for his profits, booking the film "into as

many cinemas as he could for a week's run, then withdrawing it before poor word-of-mouth withdrew it for him." Hercules opened at a remarkable 600 theatres, and the strategy was a smashing success:

                                                                                                                                the film earned $4.7 million in domestic rentals. Just as valuable to the bottom line, it was even more successful overseas. Within a few decades,

Hollywood would be dominated by both movies and an exploitation philosophy very like Levine's.

tarantula  movie
b movie band
hells bells
campo de perversion
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