The B-Movie Oscars
It’s not fair that other great actors glide through their careers widely unnoticed by the Academy. I mean, where are Bruce Campbell’s Oscar nominations? His portrayal as an ageing fat Elvis in Bubba Ho-Tep was simply sublime. I think it’s time that someone took a stand and recognised some of the fantastic performances and masterpieces from the land of the B-Movie. I’m going to be that someone. Here are my nominations (and winners) for the B-Movie Oscars:
Best Picture – Army of Darkness (1992)
The Toxic Avenger (1984)
Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
They Live (1988)
Braindead (Dead Alive) (1992)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)
Return of the Living Dead (1985)
The third film in The Evil Dead series, Army of Darkness, sees its hero Ash Williams (played by Best Actor nominated Bruce Campbell) trapped in the year 1300 AD where he must fight off an army of the undead, in order to return to the present day. It sounds fantastic right? That’s because it is! The fact that Ash has a chainsaw mounted onto his elbow (after losing his forearm in the previous film) is enough to make Army of Darkness stand head and shoulders above the rest of the nominations. Don’t pretend that you’ve never lay in bed imagining all the wonderful things that you could do if one of your arms was, in-fact, a chainsaw. You could cut down small trees and shrubbery. You could carve the turkey at Christmas far more efficiently than either of your parents. You could fight an army of the undead in the Middle Ages… the list is endless! Congratulations Army of Darkness, you deserved it!
Best Actor – Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead series/Bubba Ho-Tep/Maniac Cop)
Roddy Piper (They Live/ Hell Comes To Frogtown)
Robert Englund (Nightmare on Elm Street… every single one of them)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun/ Leprechaun 2/ Leprechaun 3/ Leprechaun 4: In Space/ Leprechaun in the Hood)
Brad Dourif (Chucky)
Well OK, I kind of gave this one away in the introduction. How could I not give this award to Bruce Campbell? In-fact, I’m giving him two. One for him and one for his remarkable chin. Bruce has appeared in more great B-Movies than any other actor in the nominations list. His comedic timing is near perfection and he coined the phrase “Boomstick”…yeah, that’s right. I have never heard Daniel Day Lewis refer to a shotgun as his “Boomstick” so, instantly, Bruce Campbell must be a better actor. For his role as Ash in The Evil Dead, I heard he ACTUALLY went back to the Middle Ages and ACTUALLY fought an army of skeletons with nothing but a water pistol. I’ll fight anyone who tries to prove that this didn’t happen. Well done, Bruce, your chin did not go unnoticed this time!
Best Actress – Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween/ Halloween 2)
Cassandra Peterson (Elvira)
Danielle Harris (Halloween 4/5 and the Rob Zombie versions)
Janet Leigh (Psycho)
Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead)
Jamie Lee Curtis, the Queen of scream! Her performance in John Carpenter’s Halloween is remarkable. When she’s hiding in the cupboard near the finale of the film, you feel that she may have actually forgotten that she is in a film and her fear is nothing but genuine! Also, I’ve yet to see a more convincing coat hanger stabbing. Curtis deserves this award as I heard that the police actually removed all wire coat hangers from her home following the filming of Halloween, for the safety of her neighbours. I hope this award eases the pain of 30+ years of creased clothing for her and her family.
Best Director – Ed Wood Jr
I’m not going to even bother with other nominations for this category as it is, most definitely, a one horse race. Ed Wood was nothing short of a genius. He may have been posthumously awarded the title of Worst Director of All Time but, if you’ve ever sat with a group of friends, a case of beer and Plan 9 From Outer Space then you will know that this title is horrifically inaccurate. Plan 9 was an incredible piece of cinema history. None of it made sense, there was little to no continuity throughout the film, nobody ever found out what the first 8 plans were and, after the death of Bela Lugosi, Wood replaced him in the remaining scenes with a man holding a cape over his face in the hope that nobody would be able to tell. And yet, despite (or more likely, because of) the endless flaws, it is still one of the most entertaining film I have ever sat through. Ed Wood Jr. might have had very little filmmaking skill, but he had more passion than any director before or since. His love for film is apparent in his casting of a washed out Bela Lugosi, simply because he was a massive fan of the actor. They say that sometimes true art is always misunderstood, well this is a prime example. Forget all of today’s comedies (especially any with Adam Sandler at the helm), if you want a good, laugh-a-minute night in, then you can never go wrong with Plan 9 From Outer Space. I wish Hollywood still had the sheer verve of Ed Wood Jr.
That wraps up my B-Movie Oscar awards. I feel that they are long, long overdue and the Academy need to take a hard look at themselves and appreciate the art of the B-Movie. I’ll take an 80 minute comedic gore-coaster over a 150 minute bore-athon about a President any day of the week and I know I can’t be alone in that thought! My copy of Plan 9 is now screaming at me from across my dark, monitor-lit room…who needs sleep?