Vanity Fear

A Pretentious A**hole's Guide to B-Movie Bullsh*t

Filtering by Category: Bullsh*t Lists

Back When B-Movies Were An Option....

On Tuesday I commented via the Twitter that were it 25 years ago, Lindsay Lohan would have already starred in a women-in-prison movie by now. Back then former A-Listers whose careers were clearly set on self-destruct didn’t spend their days being constantly monitored by celebrity websites, they made the transition to B-Movies! And, oh, what a wonderful time it was! 

Thus inspired, I thought it would be fun to look at the kind of films she might have once made, when the option still existed.

Texas Lightning (1981)

It turns out that if you lived in Hollywood and had a decent coke connection, there was a very good chance you could get a BJ from The Brady Bunch’s own “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” Suffice it to say, there was a significant time in Maureen McCormick’s life where her career was not her main priority. This explains Texas Lightning, a redneck coming-of-age fiasco written and directed by legendary B-Movie cameraman Gary Graver.


Savage Streets (1984)

Truth is, I could probably just make this a list of Linda Blair movies and save myself the effort. Like Lohan she was a former child star whose career in the majors was stalled by a criminal conviction (specifically, conspiracy to sell drugs, although it seems to have been more a matter of her being in the wrong place at the exact wrong time), and further crippled by her decision to pose nude for Playboy’s less-reputable cousin, Oui. Still a bankable name because of The Exorcist, she went on to become one of the reigning queens of 80s B-Movies. Her defining role from the period was that of Brenda, a tough New York girl who refuses to take the rape of her deaf sister and the murder of her friend lying down. Grabbing a crossbow, she goes after the hoods who hurt those she loved and makes them pay. She makes them pay hard.


Certain Fury (1985)

A truly talented young actress, Tatum O’Neal’s career was derailed by the fact that Ryan O’Neal was her father and it takes a shitload of drugs to get over that kind of crap. No, seriously, if you’ve read even a little bit of inside stuff on the guy it’s pretty hard not to conclude that he’s one major league scumbag. That said, I do love him in Zero Effect. Anyhoo, four years after starring with Richard Burton in one of the creepiest January/December romance pics ever made, she made her B-Movie debut in a film directed by Stephen “Jake and Maggie’s Dad” Gyllenhaal. Co-starring Irene Cara, Certain Fury is essentially The Defiant Ones with chicks in the big bad city, which is admittedly a concept just dying for a remake.


Poison Ivy  (1992)

Am I the only person who remembers how fucked up Drew Barrymore used to be? Christ, she played herself in a TV movie about how messed up her childhood was! Beat that Lindsay! Ironically, her B-Movie debut in this overheated low-rent “erotic” melodrama actually marked the rebirth of her career. Sure there were a few insanely brief marriages and late-show tit flashes to get out of her system, but once they passed she steadfastly crafted one of the more admirable of Hollywood careers, proving that it is possible to hit rock bottom and rise back up to the top.


Embrace of the Vampire (1995)

Alyssa Milano’s B-Movie escapades (which included a spin in the Poison Ivy franchise mentioned above) appeared to be made less out of frantic desperation, as they were the clumsy results of Milano trying to transcend her status as Tony Danza’s TV daughter into becoming Hollywood’s top choice slut. How else do you explain the softcore fangfest Embrace of the Vampire, a film more notorious today as a result of Milano’s litigious attempts to erase all photographic evidence of it from the Internet than anything in it (besides her boobies, natch). She might have made good on this career trajectory, if it were not for Aaron Spelling and a little TV show called Charmed, which ran for so long people forgot about her implants and B-Movie past. Unfortunately for Lindsay, Mr. Spelling is no longer around to once again perform such a miracle.

The Five Worst James Best Movies

You know him as Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane from The Dukes of Hazzard, but before that James Best had a long career filled with the highest of highs (Shock Corridor) and the lowest of lows (see below). You can learn more from the man himself in a Flick Attack interview I contributed to earlier this year. Having gone over his body of work, I have tremendous admiration for the man and have chosen to pick on him in this manner only because no one would know what I was talking about if I did The Five Best David Wurst Movies instead (he's a composer who has worked on a bunch of Corman movies, including the never released version of The Fantastic Four).

1. The Killer Shrews (1959)

Remembered today thanks to a classic episode of MST3K (enough so that a very belated sequel is apparently on the way), this no-budget B&W indie stars Best as a boat captain trapped on a island terrorized by poor dogs stuck in ridiculous shrew costumes. What is a shrew anyway? If only I currently had access to a vast pool of information from which I could divine an answer. Despite the MST3Ker's best efforts, Shrews is still a struggle to get through due to its glacial pace. Better to stick with Night of the Lepus for your ludicrous animal attack movie enjoyment.

2. Nickelodeon (1976)

In his Flick Attack interview, Best admitted to not liking director Peter Bogdonovich. After sitting through this laboured ode to cinema's earliest days I can't say that I blame him. Give me At Long Last Love any day of the week.

3. Hooper (1978)

According to Best, he helped write this late 70s ode to the Hollywood stuntman, but all of the blame for its suckitude still has to go to director Hal Needham. He obviously considered the film to be something of an autobiography, which goes to prove what an asshole he really is.

4. Sounder (1972)

Based on everything I've heard, this is actually an excellent movie. I've never seen it. I really shouldn't have said this list would be five movies long.

5. The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood (2000)

I don't really remember this TV movie, but old Daisy made me sad.


I'm sorry, I really have to think before I do one of these.

The Four Worst Movies With the Word "Greatest" In Their Title

The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

Considered the worst movie to ever win a Best Picture Oscar by many of the people who write for this blog, this Cecil B. DeMille circus drama is an insomniac’s nightmare—it’ll make you want to sleep more than anything else in the world, but will piss you off just enough to keep you awake.

The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)

Bet you didn’t know that Jesus was Swedish, did you? Long, boring and terrible, but still worth watching just to enjoy the hilariously inappropriate celebrity cameos. If you can’t quote John Wayne’s only line in this movie, you probably don't belong on this site.

The Greatest Athlete In the World (1973)

This Jan Michael Vincent live action Disney flick actually isn’t that bad, but it turns out that there aren’t that many movies with the word “Greatest” in the title, so some unassuming film was bound to suffer. Life’s unfair sometimes. That said it’s the only movie of the four that’s so obscure I couldn’t find a decent image of the poster for it. 

The Greatest (1977)

This biopic starring the legend himself is 100x better than Ali, but that says far more about how much Michael Mann fucked up one of the most compelling stories in American 20th century history than how good this flick is.


Catching Up With Canuxploitation

As you can see I've adopted a new strategy here at Vanity Fear (AKA Still The House of Glib until I get the banner changed) and instead of writing a new longer post every couple of weeks, have decided to contribute shorter daily posts instead. That way, experience has proven to me, leads to people actually visiting the site on occasion, which leads to me experiencing happiness, which leads to me not pressing the big red button the aliens gave me for when I could no longer justify the further existence of my destructive species.

But since I know some of you out there actually enjoyed my longer pieces I wanted to take the time to lead you to some I've recently written for another awesome blog, Paul Corupe's excellent Canuxploitation. It's not everyday you get to write for a website that actually coined a phrase, so I've been excited by the opportunity a random email I sent to Paul has afforded me. I've contributed three reviews and one amusing list thus far to Paul's site and I thought I'd link to them here for those of you who haven't yet confronted them in their natural habitat.

1. The 5 Best/Worst Performances by American Actors in Canuxploitation Films

As the title suggests, this is an amusing list in which I make fun of 10 yanks who went up north to collect a much-appreciated paycheck.

2. Agency

In this early 80s political thriller/ad-world satire, Lee Majors plays a character he never played before and never would again--the world's manliest copywriter.

3. Blonde and Blonder

Someone thought that ripping off Dumb and Dumber by recasting the leads with Pamela Anderson and Denise Richards was a surefire way to B.O. magic. My review explains why they were incredibly stupid for thinking this.

4. Tanya's Island

In this film, my least favourite female Prince protege cockteases an apeman until the creature just can't take it any more. This film is terrible, but that didn't keep me from admiring it.

The ABCs of B-Movie Bullsh*t -- From A to Z

The ABCs of B-Movie Bullsh*t -- Y is for Young People


is for Young People


It took Hollywood decades to discover what B-Movie makers knew from the very beginning. Adult viewers may bring prestige, but teenagers will make you rich.

The fact is that when people grow up their lives become busy and the opportunities they have to indulge their need for unconstructive entertainment can be measured in minutes per month. Teenagers, on the other hand, are so overburdened with free time that it’s the very thing that causes them to terrify their elders. Free time means mischief and mischief means reefer and jazz, which leads to murder in the streets.

Realizing this, enterprising low-budget producers started making films aimed directly at the young folks who had the time and allowance/babysitting money to go out see terrible movies over and over again.

To attract the kiddies, these producers threw in popular pop stars from the day and had them engage in silly, nonsensical plots involving popular fads like surfing, drag racing and dancing. The most famous of these were a series of A.I.P. produced films that starred Frankie Avalon and/or Annette Funnicello. The films were cheaply made cartoons that aped the style pioneered earlier by Frank Tashlin in such films as The Girl Can’t Help it and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter. They were also pretty awesome. Especially when they had Susan Hart in them.


Eventually, the studios caught on to this formula and it's now applied to most films made today. The only difference being that the amount of money being spent is that much greater than it ever has been before.

Problem is that while kids today still have a mega-buttload of free time to spend, they increasingly have access to better ways to spend it, which means the studios might eventually have to start making movies for the older audiences they have spent the past couple of decades specifically alienating.



is for Young People


Young People



The ABCs of B-Movie Bullsh*t -- X is for XXX-Rated


is for XXX-Rated

Quick question:

What’s the most financially successful movie of all time?


Not even.

Don’t make me laugh.

Nope, none of those come close. The truth is that no one actually knows how much the most financially successful movie has made. Some estimates suggest that it could be as high as a billion dollars.

“So what? A bunch of movies have made that much!”

Yeah, but how many of them cost $25,000 to make?

On the basis of pure cost to profit ratio, there has never been a film to even come close to the success of 1972s Deep Throat. And the reason for its success?

Well, it ain’t because it’s a good movie, that’s for sure!

It just so happened that the film came out at the exact time America decided to make good on the promise of the sixties and get its collective freak on. For one brief, shining moment everyone decided they wanted to see a movie where a frizzy haired brunette with an annoying voice inhaled an impressively large penis right down to the short and curlies.

The immediate result was several ridiculous legal battles, but the long term result was that pornography finally became a mainstream phenomenon, which it has been ever since.

“But that can’t be true! People only started talking about porn being mainstream when everyone started acknowledging the existence of Jenna Jameson!”

Yeah, but people are liars. The fact is that XXX videotapes were largely responsible for the home video boom of the 80s. Pornographic websites were the first to prove that online businesses could make money. Pay-per-view porn proved to be a major profit center for hotel and telecommunication companies. Throughout the 80s, 90s and early to mid-00s, XXX productions brought in just as much money as their untarnished Hollywood counterparts.

XXX was mainstream looooong before Pamela Anderson went all Linda Lovelace on Tommy Lee or we spent One Night in Paris. It was just something no one ever talked about. After everyone saw Deep Throat or Beyond the Green Door it became a cultural secret everyone agreed to keep.

The irony being that for most of the time we were keeping this secret, XXX movies actually had plots and occasionally attempted to look and feel like real movies. Today they are the equivalent of a Michael Bay movie—uncomfortable close-ups, weird edits and all-cumshots-all-the-time. It’s enough to make you long for the days of 1972. Just as long as you don't have to watch Deep Throat.


is for XXX-Rated



is an

XXXtremely sensitive subject

The ABCs of B-Movie Bullsh*t -- W is for Women in Prison


is for Women in Prison


Chicks in chains. Babes behind bars. Ladies in lockup. Slammer sluts. Hotties in the hoosegow. Kittens in a cage. Detention center dames. Whatever you want to call them, they’re a lot of fun to watch.

The formula is simple: Stick a bunch of attractive actresses in skimpy prison gear (bras definitely NOT allowed), have them fight, fall in lesbian love and/or lust, get tortured and/or raped by corrupt officials and then watch as they riot and/or escape. Sound misogynistic? Well, that all depends on the movie.

Take the infamous Ilsa movies, for example. Are they misogynistic? Hooboy, are they! Even their most ardent defenders can’t deny that Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS and Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks film the torture of its female characters with erotic glee, imagining the boners its audience members will get as Shannon Kelly is flogged to death, as Uschi Digard has her internal organs squashed while trapped inside a pressure chamber, as Haji has her breasts put in a vice, and as some actress who didn’t appear in Russ Meyer movies is slowly strangled with a noose while standing on a block of melting ice.

But you can’t judge an entire genre by its worst offenders. Just take a look at other famous women in prison movies. Is Chained Heat misogynistic? Well, maybe. The Big Bird Cage? Aum, there is the scene where Anitra Ford is hung by her hair. Delinquent Schoolgirls? Oh, yeah, definitely. Reform School Girls? It’s a spoof, so it doesn’t count. What about all those Jess Franco variations? Well, they were able to turn at least one into an unofficial Ilsa movie, so…. Wait! How about Caged Heat? It was totally directed by noted liberal Jonathan Demme! It isn’t misogynistic at all!

So, there you go. Don’t judge Women in Prison movies by a few bad apples. Judge it by one good apple—Caged Heat. And don’t mind us while we watch and enjoy the rest.


is for Women in Prison


Women in Prison



The ABCs of B-Movie Bullsh*t -- V is for Vincent Price


is for Vincent Price


I’ve spent the last hour trying to explain why Vincent Price is my favourite actor. The problem is I could write a whole book on the subject and I don’t currently have the time to undertake such a worthy project. So, instead I’ve decided to put my feelings under high heat and reduce them to their very essence—the one concentrated phrase that sums up why I adore this one actor more than any other.

Watching Vincent Price makes me happy.

I realize this is probably not as profound as you might have hoped, but it’s true and if you want something deeper, then you’re just going to have to wait until I have the time to write the book.


is for Vincent Price


Vincent Price


Too great to explain

In just one lame blog post

The ABCs of B-Movie Bullsh*t -- U is for UFOs


is for UFOs


Thanks to George Méliès, aliens have been a part of movies from cinema’s very beginning, but they didn’t really start getting their B-Movie due until the 1950s, when the gothic horror films of the 30s and 40s gave way to the sci-fi terror of the post-war, nuclear-threatened world.

During this time, aliens could be actual killer vegetables (The Thing From Another Planet, Invasion of the Body Snatchers) or ones who just looked like killer vegetables (It Conquered the World’s walking piece of okra). They could be big-headed mutants (Invasion of the Saucer Men) or horny Martians (Mars Needs Women). They could be misunderstood messiahs (The Day the Earth Stood Still) or easily understood maniacs (Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers, War of the Worlds).

But the “new horror” of the 60s and 70s didn’t have much use for such fantastical monsters and it took George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to bring the alien back into the pop culture zeitgeist. Their efforts were so successful that reports of people seeing and being abducted by such creatures increased by a shocking degree, with most reporting that their otherworldly kidnappers looked just like the aliens seen at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Since then aliens have appeared in every single genre of B-Movie, from slashers (Evil of the Night) to kid flicks (Mac & Me) to buddy cop movies (Alien Nation, The Hidden) to westerns (Oblivion) to sophomoric unnecessary comedy sequels (Meatballs II). They aren’t going anywhere and we’d all miss them if they did.


is for UFOs




Ultra Cool


The ABCs of B-Movie Bullsh*t -- T is for Trailer


is for Trailer


The only thing keeping movie trailers from being as vital a part of the B-Movie experience as movie posters is the fact that—with a few exceptions here and there—filmmakers are obliged to include actual footage from the films they are selling. Unlike a poster, where pure misrepresentation is easily achieved, a trailer has to work much harder to trick an audience into wanting to see it.

That said, there is a proud tradition of crafty trailer editors spinning worthless celluloid into pure gold. These devious Rumpelstilskin’s of the flatbed were not afraid to completely misrepresent the films they were selling or even insert shots from totally unrelated films. There is the oft-told legend of how during a period in the 70s, virtually every trailer from Roger Corman’s New World cinema featured the same shot of an exploding helicopter. Even if this is apocryphal, it still feels like its true.

For this reason, the B-Movie trailer is its own genre, as important and worthy of study as any other. For the enthusiast, 90 minutes worth of trailers is as good as any one movie you can name.


is for Trailer





The ABCs of B-Movie Bullsh*t -- S is for Scream Queens


is for Scream Queens

It’s said that the term “Scream Queen” was coined in reference to Jamie Lee Curtis, whose run of 70s-80s horror movies (Halloween, Prom Night, The Fog, Terror Train, Road Games, and Halloween II) more then earned her the nickname. Since then, though, the term has been co-opted to apply to any attractive actress who has spent a significant portion of her career running away from masked maniacs baring lethally sharp instruments of bloody impalement.

The one difference between the original SC and her future descendents is that Curtis famously made her way through horror movie stardom without once giving up the goods (she saved that for her big time Hollywood debut, Trading Places), while a modern SC generally spends more time naked than otherwise. In fact, their open attitude regarding their bodies is generally responsible for the ubiquity that will eventually earn them SC status.

Take for example, Michelle Bauer. Never a particularly talented or convincing actress, she still managed to work a lot throughout the late 80s and up to the mid-90s (and even now makes the occasionally appearance here and there), largely because she was a trooper who low budget filmmakers understood was a guaranteed commodity. Casting her meant not having to worry about the sudden cold feet that sometimes affected less experienced actresses just before the film was about to roll on the nude scene for which they were specifically hired. Michelle would drop her top anywhere, anytime, for as long as you wanted and she looked great doing it. So what if she wasn’t that great at delivering her lines?

Throughout the 21st century the role of the SC has declined significantly from its 90s peak. By the turn of the century many SCs had either aged out of the roles previously available to them or had ended their careers prematurely by refusing to do the only thing people previously hired them to do (see Jewel Shepard for the best example of this).

But the biggest factor in their fall from prominence is the diminished presence of low-budget independent genre films in popular culture. A present day SC like Tiffany Shepis, for example, may have almost 100 credits to her name, but even the most dedicated genre fan is unlikely to get the chance to see more than a handful of them. This stands in contrast to an 80/90s equivalent SC such as Linnea Quigley, whose most obscure films could still be found in the majority of video stores of the period. It was easy to be a SC fan back then. It takes a lot of work to admire them now.

Still it is worth the effort.


is for Scream Queens


Scream Queens




The ABCs of B-Movie Bullsh*t -- Q is for Q


is for Q


Since he first burst upon the scene, Q has had his detractors. They’ve accused him of being derivative (at best) and a plagiarist (at worst). They’ve made fun of his absurd acting ambitions and gleefully produced handwritten notes that suggested one of Hollywood’s most respected writers is actually illiterate.

All of this fair and probably true. It is also completely irrelevant.

Like a master DJ who is able to sample a beat or melody from someone else’s song and turn it into something exciting, thrilling and new, Q eagerly ripped off his vast array of influences and created works that transcended their unoriginal origins and became something entirely unique and unmistakably his own. For this alone he must be ranked amongst the best of the best, but that’s not the reason he made this particular list.

No, this honour is due to one glorious fact: Every single B-Movie fanboy has dreamed of turning their obsessions into art, cataloguing vast archives of character and plot for the sole purpose of someday creating their own piece of genius. Virtually none of us will ever see these dreamplays inside our minds come to life, but we are able to take solace in the fact that one of us did. Q succeeded where 99.999% of us failed, and the only possible reason anyone could resent him for this is a lack of generosity in their heart.

Jealousy is an ugly thing. Especially when it only makes you look silly and stupid.


is for Q



is for