There are lots of schlocky, low-budget monster movies out there for those who are interested in finding them. In fact, thanks to the internet and affordable digital cameras and hosting, there are more low-rent monster flicks out there than anyone actually has time or patience to watch. For the sake of this piece I’m going to skip any and everything produced by Troma Studios for a few reasons, namely they make their living creating intentionally low budget, overly gory, horror schlock comedies. If that’s what you’re looking for, then the fine, freaky folks at Troma are who you want to go to. That being said, let’s jump on in and have a look at some truly wonderful B-monster flicks. The Last Man on Earth (1964) Let’s start with one that is near and dear to my heart. The Last Man on Earth starring the legendary Vincent Price is the first of four film adaptations of the novella I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. Set in the mid-1970s Los Angeles, Robert Morgan (Nevelle in the book) has found himself the sole human survivor in a world ravaged by disease. By day, he roams the empty streets, seeking survivors and supplies. But at night, with a jigger of bourbon and a record player, he barricades himself inside his empty home and waits out the routine assaults and taunting of the undead. The same plague that Morgan has survived has turned the entirety of humanity into bloodthirsty vampiric monsters who hunger for the last man alive. So what’s great about? To begin with, the story itself is, in fact, one of the most important in the entire horror genre in the last seventy-five years. The shambling, single-mindedness of the vampire horde resurrected by an unknown and unstoppable disease became the inspiration for George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and we all know exactly how that turned out. But take away the seminal, genre-defining nature of the book and film and you still have a unique atmosphere of loss and insecurity. Price delivers a character who has become very wooden, immovable in his continued survival and doldrums of absolute isolation. You see a man who wrestles with depression, grief, and anger as well as a sense of ennui as he looks for some reason to continue waking up each morning. In addition, there are flashbacks, not the least of which being when his recently buried wife returns to their home on a mission of murder. Shot in black and white, it has that classic horror movie charm mixed with themes that still hold relevance fifty years later. Dead Alive / Braindead (1992) New Zealand is under appreciated when it comes to their cultural exports and this gory, zomedy is magnificent example of everything that is right with horror movies from the Southern Hemisphere. Dead Alive, also Braindead depending on the region it’s watched in, is a touching story of a young man falling in love with the girl of his dreams and settling down on the family estate to live happily ever after. No, sorry, scratch that. It’s about an awkward, Norman Bates-y shy guy who begins a relationship with a shopkeeper despite the objections of his overbearing and demanding mother. A day trip to the zoo leads to a bite from a rabid monkey that begins and chain of deaths, reanimations, and wholesale slaughter as a doting son tries to protect his mother, woo his lover, and keep up appearances for everyone who continues to drop by for a visit. So what’s so great about it? “I kick ass for the Lord,” the local priest says as he battles zombies before being impaled on a cross in a cemetery. This is a comedic horror romp literally dripping with blood and gore from the moment you press play. There are so many memorable moments from the initial introduction of the Sumatran Rat-Monkey, a product of the voracious, one-sided love affair between island monkeys and rats that led to the unholy abomination that started the zombie outbreak. This is also the only other place aside from a Dead Rising game where you’ll see a nerd in a sweater vest use a gas powered lawnmower to plow through a crowd of flesh-hungry zombies. It has some decent acting and makeup and it sets a definite tone. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll question whether or not you’re a good person. Altered (2006) This movie is a tough one. You definitely have to sit down and pay attention throughout to truly appreciate what you’re watching and everything that’s happening throughout. The first two things that come to mind when I look for a way to describe this are Aliens meets Deliverance. We start out with a gang of good ol’ boys hunting something through the woods and laughing and lightly torturing before they drag it to a friend’s home/bunker in the middle of nowhere. They chain the creature to a steel table in the garage and cover its face with a welding mask so it can’t use any sort of hypnotic powers with its eyes. What unfolds from there is a drama about a group of childhood friends who were abducted and tortured by aliens. The creatures took them, experimented on them, and killed one leaving the boys to grow up as pariahs amongst their friends and families. Now, with one of the creatures in their possession decades later, they debate on what sort of message they want to deliver to their former captors. So what’s so great about it? While the movie never actually scared me it creeped me the hell out more than a few times. The alien costume is mostly prosthetics and latex but it has this incredible emotion to it both in the features and movements that leave no doubt that this is a being who is not only cruel and capricious but is reveling in the pain it causes. There are some truly unique moments in this movie including one of the friends who becomes infected and gradually deteriorates throughout the movie after being bitten by the alien. The ending is weak, I won’t lie, but overall it’s an excellent story done with mostly classic effects and decent scripting and acting. If you haven’t seen it already, make sure you go check it out. Stung (2015) Giant bugs, man, I’ve got a soft spot for them. From the close-up shots of ants and puppets superimposed on film backdrops to make them look gargantuan in Them to the CGI and animatronics alien arachnids trying to slaughter humanity in Starship Troopers, I love giant bug movies. I mean, we all do. Stung is an amazing entry into this arena. With a production value akin, at times, to a SciFi Channel original this film is about a couple of caterers working a high society function in a mansion in the middle of the sticks, unaware that the angry wasps buzzing and bother guests are some genetically modified horror that will soon be mutating people into much larger wasps via a Cronenbergesque mutation process. It’s very much about size when it comes to the wasp stings as well. If they sting a toy poodle, it becomes a toy poodle sized wasp. If they sting a person, it morphs into something a little bigger than a person. You get the idea. The story itself is your standard horror-survival tale about escaping from a mansion turned wasp nest. So what’s so great about it? A lot of the effects are CGI but the close-up stuff and several of the transformations are animatronics, puppets, and makeup which are always so cool when you’re talking about a monster movie. Also, did I mention the giant wasp cows? No? Well, there are giant wasp cows. I mean, if for no other reason than that, you should watch this movie. They’re great. Slither (2006) Everyone has that one movie they watch when they’re feeling bad. Sick? Depressed? Bored? For me, that movie is Slither. This is one of those movies where people are always torn. You either love it or hate, there never seems to be any middle ground. This movie is both a satire and homage to a lot of classic tropes in monster movies. A meteorite lands in a small town carrying with it a strange alien organism that quickly mutates an unlucky townie into some hybrid monster bent on destruction. From there, he begins to infect others using a flood of grotesque worms that turn people into zombies controlled by the man first infected by the alien disease. It has a lot of references to a lot of other zombie and monster movies including Night of the Creeps. So what’s so great about this movie? Everything. Cult icon Nathan Fillion (Captain Mal to all us Brown Coats) stars in the movie as the wise-cracking sheriff. There are lots of strange, quirky laughs, gory demises including a redneck tentacle slapped into two halves, and some powerful love anthems sang by a mutated zombie squid monster and one seriously angry zombie deer. It’s entertaining and has a decent enough story to keep you interested through the end. So there you have it. A couple of old classics and some modern ones to balance out a decent roster of creepy, funny, gory flicks full of zombies, bugs, and all sorts of crawly horrors to turn your stomach. I’d like to mention that as I was looking at this short list here there were a lot of other films I wanted to add such as Humanoids from the Deep, Poultrygeist, The Thing, CHUD, and many, many more. So, keep reading, you’ll be seeing a lot more where this came from. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response John E. Meredith June 12, 2016 Some great choices here that I shall look for. LAST MAN ON EARTH is definitely the best version of that particular story. Thanks for the ideas . . . and the great writing. Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.