We love movies, among other things.
February 2009, issue 42
science fiction films, the monster should always be bigger than the
- Feb. 27, 2009
I've also had a lot of questions about the work, and I'll try to use this month's newsletter to address some of those, particularly as they relate to the film sources behind the paintings (although I'm going to stick to my plan of avoiding naming which specific film each painting is derived from).
B Movies originated in the old studio system of Hollywood. They were low-budget, shorter films that played on a double bill with one of the studio's A-list films -- the films with bigger budgets, bigger stars. Just because a movie was on the lower half of the bill, it didn't have to be bad - Val Lewton's luridly titled films, like I Walked with a Zombie and Curse of the Cat People, have long been hailed as greatly influential, minor masterpieces. But the majority of the B's did not rise above their humble origins and are either just passable, or justly forgettable, like many of John Wayne's early Westerns, or the many detective series films, like Charlie Chan, or Universal's Mummy series with Lon Chaney Jr. or Tom Tyler.
Later, B Movies would also come to refer generally to any low budget movie, including independently produced films. We think of Roger Corman as the King of the B's, and we also think of directors and producers like William Castle and Ed Wood. And still later, in the '60s and '70s, different kinds of exploitation films, like the ones so lovingly evoked by Quentin Tarantino's and Robert Rodriguez' Grindhouse last year, would also be tossed into the B Movie bin. Today, B Movies are the titles that go straight to DVD, or perhaps those cheesy but fun, new made for TV shockers that air on Sci Fi Channel. They are definitely made in the spirit of Mr. Corman.
So, the term B Movie has changed from a very specific kind of studio system output to mean something more like "I know it when I see it, pally, and it ain't always so pretty."
So here's a wide range of B's in our collection, encompassing many years, many genres, and many levels of quality (yes, I've used some of these films as grist for paintings): Detour, Coffy, The Brain that Wouldn't Die, The Wolf Man, Revolt of the Zombies, The Night of the Living Dead, I Bury the Living, Cat People, The Leopard Man, Little Shop of Horrors, The Hitch-hiker, D.O.A., C.H.U.D., Pickup on South Street, The Giant Gila Monster, House on Haunted Hill, Jackson County Jail, and the list goes on, for better and worse....
B Movies have worked for my purposes, because a lot of movies in the public domain are B movies, and I enjoy the way most of the images are banal, but they may come from movies with oftentimes lurid titles or subject matter. And I have an affection for bad and mediocre movies. I love my share of great movies, of course, but I still feel an attachment to these other, lesser things, which of course may have been labors of love or passion for most of those involved. If you've seen Tim Burton's Ed Wood, you get an idea about what I mean. Or get your hands on the affectionate B Sci Fi parody, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.
So, like many directions artists may find themselves following, the use of B movies has intersected with a number of different obsessions of mine, and the lowdown subject matter mixes oddly with my painting influences, like Willem de Kooning and Dutch genre painting, to name a couple which dovetail nicely with the B Movie paintings. Go figure.
Black History Month: The Tuskegee Airmen and the Little Rock Nine
At the inauguration last month, many who had fought over the years for civil rights were given a place of honor. Among them, the Tuskegee Airmen and the Little Rock Nine, American heroes about whom you can learn more with the videos here and here, respectively.
Check out past issues of the newsletter for more Black History Month viewing.
Other sites we like:
This year's Oscar comeback story is Mickey Rourke and his affecting turn in The Wrestler. Mickey's comeback started with a part in the kickin comic book flick Sin City. But go back to his early career to find out why his fall was so heartbreaking. Diner, Johnny Handsome, Angel Heart, The Pope of Greenwich Village, Wild Orchid, and Barfly. Plus, he didn't always look so weird.
This issue of BCLMC is brought to you all the way from the back row by mysterious drifter and Media Assistant Patrick Jewell. Tell your friends.
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