Friday, 10 May 2013

Rant - Why does Netflix have so many "bad" movies? (And why is this not a bad thing?)

I got into an argument a civilised debate with someone recently who was complaining about the content (or lack-of) of the Netflix Streaming store. They were complaining that there were too many B-movie-esque films and not enough proper movies to make their money worthwhile. While very true, I think this was a rather harsh judgement of the aforementioned B-movies.

First off, never say that there isn't enough content on Netflix for your money. The amount of hours from movies and TV shows (just the critically acclaimed ones) is enough to last you a good 8-9 months of solid watching, and that's not taking into account the many titles added each week. People who say there isn't enough content are either too spoilt for choice or they have a very poor taste in entertainment because Netflix is very careful to ensure there is enough to cater for all tastes.

But why does Netflix have so many "bad" movies to show? The obvious explanation is that chances are the licensing costs are dirt cheap, so it helps to boost up their title numbers. The other, more appropriate explanation, is due to the sheer pleasure of the B-movie.

The original definition of a B-movie stemmed from when cinemas used to play two features - the main feature, which would have been the reason to go to the cinema in the first place, and the second film, a cheaply made flick that used recycled ideas (or sometimes unusual ones) to create an extra hour of entertainment. They generally were of poor quality however, which is why in the modern day movies that are made on the cheap and look bad are referred to as B-movies.

As the years progressed, B-movies evolved to envelope a new range of movies including a whole heap of exploitation flicks, as well as direct-to-DVD features and sequels. Just becuase a movie is made cheaply and looks terrible, doesn't mean it should be avoided however.

Roger Corman is one of the greatest producers Hollywood has ever seen. He has a roster of well over 500 movies to his name, helped launch the careers of Joe Dante, James Cameron and Martin Scorsese and yet every one of his movies was made cheaply and is pretty dreadful. And that's why they are so good to watch. The tongue-in-cheek value of his movies is priceless and makes for a great night in with friends, and this is how most movies like this should be enjoyed.

The late Roger Ebert, one of the greatest film critics ever and a very respected taste in movies, was a great B-movie screen-writer and participated in a lot of movies along with Russ Meyer, another B-movie (and sexploitation film) pioneer.

I'm not saying that movies with the titles such as "Alien Armageddon", "Super Cyclone" or "Hellevator" will be any good - because they won't, it's guaranteed - but that doesn't mean you should raise your nose to them. These are the movies that have to be watched after consuming a whole heap of alcohol with friends (I still have fond memories of "Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus" thanks to four and half bottles of Jack Daniels).

Play drinking games with these movies.
See which actor looks like someone you know.
Try to guess the dialogue as the film goes along (or even completely recreate it yourselves).

Netflix knows that these movies are not works of art, that's why it also offers up "There Will Be Blood" and "Drive" and other critically acclaimed movies. What it does know is that there are people out there who know how to appreciate these types of movies, once again proving that Netflix really does cater for all tastes.

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