B-Movie directors tend to get made fun of just for doing what they do, which has always been a little ridiculous to me. Look at the way in which these productions are typically made, especially in the old days, and you’ll see just how much hard work really goes into the quickest and cheapest of films. Working with limited resources, little to no money, there’s much less margin for error and you’re always racing against the clock.
A list like this can be tough to put together, though, when you consider the fact that the B-Movies of yesterday are the A-Movies of today. Superhero films, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, Aliens, all of these are beloved and critically revered today but that all have roots in cheesy serials and early B-Movies.
Many of the directors who worked on these productions were—and many still are—incredibly smart and talented people who could handle anything you threw at them if given the chance.
Of course, Roger Corman is the most obvious example. He is the king of the B-movie. He’s worked with just about every great actor in the business. He’s made some incredibly silly stuff, but he has also been involved with some really smart and innovative projects as well. His early Poe pictures, in particular, show him as a master of performance and dialogue. He could have easily applied what works about those films to just about any genre and I’m certain it would have been a success.
Albert Pyun has made some of the most absurd B-Movie offerings ever, but he made even the most off-the-wall premises watchable. Dollman stands, um, tall with some ‘80s action movies even though it was made a decade later. He could have even made his Captain America work if it was given anything resembling a budget. If he’d been given the chance and the money, he could easily have gone on to be a large-scale action director.
DeCoteau has had some hits and misses, but that’s because he’s always working. Puppet Master III is a good movie, regardless of the fact that it’s the third entry in a straight to video franchise. The film features strong performances, plenty of frightening sequences, a hefty dose of action, and enough compelling drama to prove that this B-movie director could really achieve that on any level given the time and money.
William Castle was the master of goofy, gimmick cinema in his day, but also turned out greats like the original House on Haunted Hill. Just imagine if Castle could have given us a Batman movie that would have perfectly blended the gothic atmosphere of Tim Burton with the high camp of Adam West.
Maybe not so much Charles Band, director of Evil Bong, but the Band of the mid ‘80s who directed Trancers, that guy should have been given the opportunity to direct a bigger budget action movie right after that. Of course, Band has always had a producer’s mindset more so than that of a director, even when directing.
We would have had a Deadpool movie years ago if they’d just given it to Lloyd Kaufman. Why didn’t he get bigger, goofier comic projects after Toxic Avenger? His has the perfect résumé for action-heavy, lowbrow, absurdist cinema. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the Troma empire, but man what we could have had if Toxie had been the one to kick off the superhero movie boom.