About This Blog

The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.
-- Orson Welles

We live in interesting times. When I was a kid, TV meant a box with a cathrode-ray tube and a wobbly antenna that at best delivered a handful of fuzzy local channels. Since then “TV” has exploded into basic and premium cable, satellite, and the ever-multiplying Hydra-heads of internet streaming services.

Poster - Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)
Companies like Netflix and Amazon that just a few years ago focused on delivering others’ content, now are becoming mega-producers. (The 2018 Emmys showcased streaming’s meteoric rise, with Netflix garnering more nominations than venerable HBO, and tying it with 23 wins.) Who knows, in no time at all Netflix and Amazon may control all that you see and hear, Outer Limits-style.

Theaters compete with CGI-infested blockbusters that more resemble amusement park rides than traditional movies (and desperately try to deliver on ever-more exorbitant ticket prices). It’s Cinerama all over again, trying to woo jaded consumers away from the net, if only for a couple of hours. An increasingly desperate Hollywood pushes every franchise entry, re-boot, re-make or sequel as an “event,” with accompanying big ticket prices, leading to empty wallets and growing cynicism.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade today’s multiplicity of entertainment options for a fuzzy black and white TV or a ratty-old downtown theater with hard, worn seats. But in the midst of all of entertainment life’s complexity, I find it refreshing to revisit the simple cinematic joys of my youth. In today’s on-demand world, it’s sometimes hard for us fogies to remember the eager anticipation of waiting for that favorite show or creature feature to be broadcast, and of promising your parents that you’d be good for the week (or month or year) if only they’d let you stay up late.

Today, sci-fi and fantasy rules the big-budget movie universe. An old sci-fi fan like myself ought to be in heaven. But, in the desperate quest for world-wide profits, each succeeding epic gets a little louder, a little dumber, and despite the awesome CGI visual feasts, each cinematic “event” blurs into the next in a progression of stultifying sameness.

In contrast, I love the simplicity and unpretentiousness of old, low budget, pre-CGI films. In the absence of sophisticated digital effects, stories and characters were paramount. While we’re not talking art here, Orson Welles had it right. The absence of limitations in filmmaking, especially budgetary, almost always results in monotonous, albeit competent, drivel. Low budgets and modest expectations freed the B movie makers of the classic era to take chances on interesting lesser known actors, original material, creative shoestring effects, and quirky bits of dialog and business. The results, while not always sublime, were often refreshing and fun.

So, it’s to these films and their makers, free to “B” themselves, that I dedicate this blog. And if you’re interested in breaking through the time barrier to enjoy the artifacts of a simpler time, then this one’s for you too.

Disclaimer (of sorts): Since establishing the blog in 2010, I’ve focused on B and low-budget genre movies from the pre-CGI period between roughly 1930 and 1979. The films have mostly been sci-fi and horror, but I’ve also dabbled in film noir, mystery-thrillers, and the occasional TV show. I especially like to write about underdog and obscure films that have lingered in the shadows and escaped the attention of many fans.

With the 2018 reboot of the blog, from time to time I will expand into the 1980s, just because there’s much fun to be had watching dystopian sci-fi and sword-and-sandal epics made on shoe-string budgets. As always, my object is not to make fun of these movies, but to point out their strengths and weaknesses and why (maybe) you should look them up if you haven’t already. If I do laugh, it’s with them, not at them.

Lastly, on occasion I will look at intriguing contemporary films, if nothing else than to prove I’m not hopelessly mired in the past. I look forward to continuing the blog -- there are so many movies on the DVD shelf and the streaming queues calling to me...

Brian Schuck
September 20, 2018