Top Ten Cheap Cinema Classics

Posted: March 14, 2010 in Movie Review, Top Lists
Tags: , , , , ,

Before we can talk about my top ten, we should perhaps define my terms. Cheap Cinema is a specific kind of movie to me. It’s not one that is just low cost, or independent. No, it’s something that is truly made on the cheap. Something that really deserves the term “cheap” to be applied to it. That’s not to say it’s made without love, or without care. Often, the only way these movies could be made at all was to go the cheapest route. Quite often the filmmakers had to endure many trials just to get their story on the screen without compromising their visions. It’s those films we salute here with a list of the top ten occupying my mind right now.


10. Black Dynamite
The newest movie on this list, but I think it easily makes it into the top 10. A straight-faced comedy on Blaxploitation movies of the seventies, this was one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in the last year. I would suggest anyone who likes Cheap Cinema to go out and get this one now.


9. Wizards
This might not be Ralph Bakshi’s best movie, but it’s the one that I like best. A fantasy that has elements of sci-fi in it and a lot of strangeness, I do love this. I know the movie isn’t the best, I know the animation isn’t as good as it could be, I know there are plot holes and padding, but I don’t care. I don’t even mind the huge use of reused film that’s been rotoscoped into being a cartoon really. At least this story is original, and it goes somewhere interesting.


8. Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior)
A cheap action movie, with lots of car driving, but not much gun play. It’s a neat movie, and deceptively small. There are only a few actors, and fewer sets in this thing. That’s actually more of a help than a hindrance for this sort of film. You don’t want huge sets or new cities, you want a handful of survivors fighting against the odds. This was the first time I’d seen a post-apocalyptic movie like this, so it gets on my list.


7. The Pit And The Pendulum
Oh, Roger Corman, you are a hero to this list. Would a list like this even exist without him? Yeah, probably. Still though, Roger is the king of Cheap Cinema and probably one of the greatest teachers for directors & actors I’ve ever heard of. A list of people who came from Corman’s group reads like a who’s who of Hollywood. This is one of his better movies, but I could have picked any of half a dozen or so to put here.


6. The Dark Corner
A great example of Film Noir, and of course most of those were cheap films. Like the last example, I could have picked a lot of movies here, but I picked this one. It’s a great movie, like a lot of other Film Noir were, and it’s one of my favorites. This one also gets in on the cheap factor a bit. It’s still a good movie, but from a different time when a B-Picture had some love from the parent studio. However, if there were angsty teen years for Hollywood, I would suggest Film Noir is the result.


5. Evil Dead II
This is an improvement on the first Evil Dead. Both in terms of storytelling and technical improvements of filmmaking, this is better work from all parties. A lot of horror movies are cheap movies, which is why you’ll see so many of them on lists like this. I probably should have picked a cheap sci-fi movie, but my heart went with this classic.


4. Drunken Master
Most of Jackie Chan’s early movies were pretty low cost. Out of his early movies, this one made the most money and launched him into stardom. It was still a pretty cheap movie though, and made while he was on loan to another studio because of problems with his boss at the time. Chan would go on to greater heights, but this is probably his best early cheap movie.


3. Dawn of The Dead
Another sequel. Probably because even though the sequels were still cheap, they were almost always an improvement over the original. Some people prefer the Night of the Living Dead, some people prefer Day of The Dead, but I like this one best. All the best zombie movies are Cheap Cinema, and the zombies don’t run in them. Any remakes of a great zombie movie, and any movie where they run is normally more expensive and also… crap.


2. Maximum Overdrive
I said, “This may just be the best movie ever made” when I reviewed it. There might be better movies, but this is the best of the movies I like to call Cheap Cinema. It’s a near perfect Drive-Thru movie, missing only one element to really make it 100% complete. Still, even without that one thing it’s as close to being perfect as it can be. If only there was a gratuitous nude/sex scene it would have been the Holy Grail


1. MST3K
If there was a thing that exemplifies Cheap Cinema it’s this. A cheaply made show that probably introduced more of us to the greatest examples of Cheap Cinema than any other single source. 198 movies, not including shorts and serials. Think about that for a moment. Over ten seasons, two hosts, six villains, four bots and numerous bad movies they never spent very much and they had a lot of fun. That, in essence, is what a section like this is all about, having fun.

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