I was maybe 12 years old the first time I ever saw my first low budget sci-fi movie. I don’t remember much about it except that it was the most glorious 70 minutes my formative mind had ever experienced. Looking back on that lost gem, it dawns upon me that that was most likely the moment in which I became a geek.
Sure, I was a casual fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation and was starting to appreciate dragons and orcs more than most people around me, and I had a pretty formidable Magic deck. But that movie, with its foam rubber alien invaders and schlocky dialogue, left a much greater impact on my young and impressionable mind. The next few years essentially turned into my own personal version of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (which I wouldn’t discover for another 5 years) as I scoured the internet and late night cable channels for the cheesiest features ever produced.
It was during this initial phase that I stumbled upon classics like Plan 9 from Outer Space and Troll 2, and I was certain that I had hit the zenith of awe-inspiring awfulness. Even still, I consumed more and more so-called bad movies. Eventually, I stopped to ask myself “Why? Why low budget affairs with shoddy production and snicker-inducing scripts? Why the ineffective practical effects and the inaudible audio?” It took me a few years to answer that question. More specifically, it took a viewing of the infamous Manos: The Hands of Fate to reveal to me what the appeal of bad movies is to people who share my mind set: heart. The directors, producers, actors and actresses, and virtually everyone else involved in these movies are doing so because they feel like they have something to prove. These people are fighting tooth and nail for their shot at stardom and they’ll be damned if a little thing like “budget” and “talent” are going to get in their way.
Continuing in this vein of thought, it occurred to me that another group of artists had achieved a notable level of success by shirking those same things. And, they were a group of artists I had admired for a few years by this point in my angsty, teen life: punk rockers. Think about it, won’t you? Both of these groups unburdened themselves from corporatism and perceived artistic limitations by foregoing the traditional paths of making their art, for whatever reason, and threw themselves into creating something apart from the mainstream. This often allowed more overtly personal slants on social, political, and ethical quandaries of the time. The content was raw, figuratively and literally, and to those willing to subject themselves to the initial discomfort of the presentation it could prove to be an important inspiration in creating their own art.
The creators of these pieces had nothing to lose in putting it all out, often because they had nothing to begin with. The result is a beautiful cacophony of will, vision, and utter incompetence that dares you to rethink the very concept of entertainment. And in the archives of these hallowed halls you will be able to uncover thousands of hours of otherwise dismissed content, waiting for someone like you to change the world.