A movie about a guy being kidnapped and surgically sewn into a walrus suit by a mad seafaring old man hit theaters last week, and I am super goddamn pumped about it. As much as I’m excited to actually SEE the movie (though admittedly, the surgical walrus genre tends to run into a certain quality ceiling rather quickly), I’m equally happy that something with that batshit a premise has been made.
“Tusk,” written and directed by Kevin Smith (yes, Silent Bob, the “Clerks” guy) is the most recent example of a good ol’ B movie, those shlocky piles of shit that rarely make it to a major release but can be found if you overturn the right rock. Lately, thanks in no small part to the growth of digital streaming services, it seems like a lot more rocks are popping up in places outside the local cineplex.
Sites like Netflix and Amazon have opened a new door of accessibility to varieties of shlock that used to be confined to midnight-movie houses in major cities, or in a shoebox the back of your weird uncle’s closet. A world where “Re-Animator,” “Big Trouble in Little China,” and basically the entire Jean-Claude Van Damme catalogue are available on demand is a good place to be. YouTube is another option, with B movie powerhouse Troma Entertainment making many of their classic crapfests free to watch in their entirety.
I’d go so far as to liken online streaming as the modern version of the drive-in movie. It’s cheaper than the traditional option, lends itself more to being a bit more social during the flick – as opposed to keeping quiet for the sake of other moviegoers – and if you exert the effort, you can expose yourself to films outside the realm you’d normally stick with. And I guess sharing accounts can be like stuffing your friend in the trunk to avoid paying for another ticket.
The new-tech tie-ins don’t stop with streaming. Hell, the idea for “Tusk” was conceived during a podcast where Kevin Smith ranted with friend and producer Scott Mosier about a mock classified ad, then turned to Twitter to see if fans would watch something so weird. Sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are also giving new platforms for a new batch of B movies to be made.
B movies seem to have weaseled their way into the mainstream a little in the last few years, and “Sharknado” deserves a lot of the praise (probably the first time that sentence has been written). Thanks to word-of-mouth buildup on Twitter, it became one of the SyFy channel’s most successful made-for-TV movies, and stirred up excitement for the genre in the general population.
Sure, they’re not going to be winning any Oscars or change your life, but every once in a while a good crappy movie goes a long way. And chances are you have more of them available to you than you realize. So grab a friend, drink a little too much and treat yourself to some Troma.