Beyond mainstream cinema lies a subculture of films that slip through the cracks of the masses, but develop a unique following that propels their popularity to undeniable heights. Many of these films have shown an inability to be a success in theaters but gain notoriety that many of it's more successful brethren are unable to achieve. The Boondock Saints is a prime example of this, as it’s mainstream release was painfully short, being pulled from theaters within a matter of weeks. It did something right as it gained such a huge underground following that producers decided to make a sequel, which is a rarity for a film that failed to new epic levels in theaters. If there was a rating scale for such films, BDS would be an A-List film, but what I bring before you are those that dwell in a much deeper, darker place. The B-Movies. Movies of questionable quality that have found their way into the hearts of many gaining the infamous title of “Cult Classic.”
The Dungeonmaster - Paul is a dork. Paul is a dork that has a super computer named X-Calibr8 and a girlfriend named Gwen. Paul and Gwen are teleported to some hellish fantasy world controlled by the lead villain who looks like a cross between Dracula, Satan and the KurgAn from Highlander. In this hellish world Paul must face a handful of challenges in order to save his girlfriend, fully equipped with a Nintendo Power glove knockoff containing the brains of his super computer that allows him to shoot lasers. Lasers created by the worst special fx you may ever see. This my friends is Hardcore-Corn to the max. Horrific stop-motion animation and bad acting create the foundation for this otherwise enjoyable film. He battles rock monsters, ugly cave trolls that look eerily reminiscent of the monsters from the 80’s classic Troll (turns out it was the same director), Jack the Ripper, Albert Einstein (master of evil?), and a heavy metal band lead by a fake Ozzy Osborn with super guitars. In the final showdown we have Paul challenging Dracula-Satan to a pseudo-boxing match/choke fest until our geeky hero tosses Satan into the bowels of hell. This is a film with high replay value the second you recover from “what did I just watch” mode. There is simply way too much for you to absorb in a single viewing.
The BeastMaster - If it’s from the 80's and has the word “Master” in the title, it is awesome. The beastmaster is a movie I obsessed over as a child, and after rewatching as an adult, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it really wasn’t that bad as far as the acting and special effects are concerned for the type of film it is. After being transported by sorcery from his mother’s womb into a cow, Dar is born with the ability to control animals. On a quest to stop a spreading evil across the land he makes various friends, falls in love with his cousin, and controls a plethora of animals including two awesome ferrets. The plot is pretty bad, but the overall pace, action sequences and costume design are top-notch for an 80’s film. The sword play and actions sequences are easily comparable to other sword and sorcery films like Conan the Barbarian and The Destroyer. It’s totally 80's and isn’t without it’s moments of corn, but it holds up well in modern times compared to many of its other counterparts.
The Guyver - As a kid turning teen, The Guyver was the sh!t. Action, Horror, manga, aliens and Mark Hamill jumbled together in one film was nerd’s gold. The plot was simple as expected, a young man comes in contact with an alien artifact that attaches to his head transforming him into a badass, alien fighting machine. Of course, when one turns into a badass alien fighter, other monsters are bound to attack. It’s one of those films where everyone knows karate, the costumes (with the exception of The Guyver), look like monster movie rejects, and the fight scenes are so poorly choreographed you have to wonder what would make this movie so awesome. To be quite honest, after a later viewing, I’m not so sure, as it is definitely a b-movie bordering on C level. It’s a bad movie that definitely falls in line with a guilty pleasure. Whether it’s nostalgia or just a love for bad flicks, The Guyver is still big ball of alien entertainment.
Arena - More fist fighting with aliens make the list, but this time the fighting is done with class. What we have here is a movie about alien prize fighting in a gladiator-like tournament. Of course, in an alien/monster dominated universe we have the only human capable of going toe to toe with freaks triple his size. For his sake the “Arena” is equipped with a handicapping system that levels the playing field as he throws leather with aliens of much greater strength. It’s a true underdog story where the odds seem nearly impossible, yet our hero, through stellar technique and undying heart, craftily beats all those before him. Of course when prize fighting is involved you’ll have some intergalactic level of gambling involved as well. With gambling comes cheating as the aliens can’t have their own losing to a human. It’s not a good movie but it does have some unique monsters and costume designs, mixed with fight scenes guaranteed to excite anyone under 13 years of age. I guess I’m still 12 at heart because I love this movie. It’s insanely dumb, but if nothing else is on it’s worth a viewing.
Nightbreed - If you are a fan of horror then this is an absolute MUST watch. Clive Barker is a master of horror and this is a shining example of his skills. It will be really hard to find a movie with such a unique array of monsters stuffed into one film. The costumes are absolutely fantastic and can stand up against any monster flick of modern era. Special fx are great, but nothing beats high-level makeup to create a more realistic representation of a monster. The story is nothing special to write home about. A young man is killed and returns as a monster version of himself confined to a graveyard full of the undead. Eventually it turns into a battle of the living vs the monsters as our anti-hero leads the group in defending their turf, while trying to save his (living) girlfriend from a zipper-mouthed serial killer. This is true eye-candy for any horror fan as none of the monsters disappoint. Go out and give the Directors-cut a whirl, you won’t be disappointed.
The Toxic Avenger - No cult film list would be complete without mentioning at least one movie from the Tromaville filmography. They are the absolute personification of B-Movies. Gorey, bizarre nonsense backed by terrible acting, cheesy special fx and any other bad movie cliché you can think of. Out of their vast library of b-movie terror there is one film that stands above the rest. The Toxic Avenger. The story of super-nerd Melvin Junko (no joke) who is tricked by a group of overly horny, gym obsessed teenagers/young adults into wearing a tutu and making out with a goat. Out of sheer embarrassment he dives head first out of a 2nd floor window and lands into a vat of toxic waste. He makes his way home, literally melting, until he transforms in the super-human, man-monster, The Toxic Avenger. A revenge-thirsty monster equipped with a mop as he begins his quest to “clean” the streets of filth. It’s bloody, and I mean over-the-top bloody, has monster and blind woman sex relations, out of control teens high on steroids and drugs causing mayhem, and a metric-ton of other nonsense you have to see to believe. It’s a movie that sucks yet draws people in with mysterious powers. I referred this movie to at least a dozen people who have each made mention of how terrible the movie was, but that they couldn’t stop watching and in turn referred it to others as well.