A Cut Below

A Celebration of B Horror Movies, 1950s–1980s


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About the Book

Horror films have been around for more than 100 years, and they continue to make a large impact on popular culture as they reflect their contemporary zeitgeist. Between the mid–1950s and mid–1980s, drive-in theaters were at their peak of popularity, and each decade brought forward new challenges and themes.
This book explores 60 B horror films, divided into 12 fun and uniquely-themed categories. Chapters discuss how the Atomic Age, the Vietnam War, the women’s liberation movement and other current events and social issues affected these films. Films covered include Willard, The Fly, Santa Sangre and many more.

About the Author(s)

Scott Drebit is the senior columnist for the Daily Dead website, a leading publisher of online horror news and reviews. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Bibliographic Details

Scott Drebit
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 234
Bibliographic Info: 60 photos (all in color), index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9195-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5038-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  ix
Preface  1
Festival One: The Animal Killdom 3
Willard (1971) 4 • Ben (1972) 7 • Grizzly (1976) 10 • Kingdom of the Spiders (1977) 13 • Piranha (1978) 17
Festival Two: Those Darn Kids! 20
The Bad Seed (1956) 21 • Alice, Sweet Alice (1976) 24 • Who Can Kill a Child? aka Island of the Damned (1976) 28 • The Children (1980) 31 • The Pit (1981) 33
Festival Three: The Blood on Satan’s B-Roll 37
The Devil Rides Out (1968) 38 • Race with the Devil (1975) 41 • The Devil’s Rain (1975) 44 • The Sentinel (1977) 47 • Fear No Evil (1981) 50
Festival Four: Chop Chop Till You Drop 54
Strait-Jacket (1964) 56 • Popcorn (1991) 58 • Just Before Dawn (1981) 62 • 10 to Midnight (1983) 65 • Pieces (1982) 69
Festival Five: Any Portmanteau in a Storm 72
The House That Dripped Blood (1971) 73 • Vault of Horror (1973) 76 • Asylum (1972) 79 • From a Whisper to a Scream (1987) 82 • Creepshow (1982) 86
Festival Six: Terror in Technotown 90
The Fly (1958) 91 • Westworld (1973) 94 • Demon Seed (1977) 97 • Evilspeak (1981) 101 • Videodrome (1983) 104
Festival Seven: Back Bacon Bloodbath 107
My Bloody Valentine (1981) 108 • The Brood (1979) 112 • Of Unknown Origin (1983) 115 • Spasms (1983) 118 • Curtains (1983) 121
Festival Eight: If You’re Undead and You Know It, Clap Your Hand 125
The Plague of the Zombies (1966) 126 • Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972) 129 • The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (1974) 132 • Zombie (1979) 135 • Burial Ground (1981) 140
Festival Nine: What the Film 143
The Baby (1973) 144 • Phantom of the Paradise (1974) 147 • Eaten Alive (1976) 151 • Hollywood Meatcleaver Massacre (1976) 154 • The Manitou (1978) 158
Festival Ten: Duct Tape and Stardust 162
Invaders from Mars (1953) 164 • Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957) 167 • Fiend Without a Face (1958) 170 • Basket Case (1982) 173 • Things (1989) 176
Festival Eleven: Potluck of Horror 180
The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) 181 • The Curse of the Werewolf (1961) 184 • Messiah of Evil (1973) 188 • The Bees (1978) 191 • Prince of Darkness (1987) 194
Festival Twelve: Around the Weird in a Day 199
Blood and Black Lace (1964) 200 • Quatermass and the Pit (1967) 203 • Viy (1967) 207 • Evil Dead Trap (1988) 209 • Santa Sangre (1989) 212
The Past, Present and Future of Horror: Or, How to Hit Your Word Count and Close Out the Book 216
Index  219

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Continuing the mission Drebit started online as senior columnist at the Daily Dead website, in his ‘Drive-In Dust Offs’ series, his book highlights obscure horror movies made between the 1950s and the 1980s and finds joy in the poorly funded, the questionably marketed, and the occasionally out-of-focus. Covering 60 films, categorized into 12 themed ‘film festivals,’ the book acts as a guide to movie nights for readers interested in horror pictures with themes such as ‘the Animal Killdom’ or ‘Back Bacon Bloodbath.’ Each movie receives a few pages of enthusiastic text, weaving together plot summary with production information, and an image of the often-garish movie poster, which gives the book a Paperbacks from Hell vibe. There are no deeper dives beyond Drebit’s affection for the genre… Ably captures the nostalgia of a time when horror buffs could walk into a video store and find all sorts of low- and no-budget gems on the shelves. A cool read.”—Library Journal

• “Scott Drebit has seen his share of horror films and he’s been writing about them for years. Now he’s updated his musings into book form, analyzing so-called Golden Age horrors from the ’50s through the ’80s in the form of mini-festivals of related genre titles, many familiar, some obscure. It’s a handy guide to what’s out there and what you may have missed. His insights are concise, witty and always intensely personal—like having a conversation with a like-minded Monster Kid. He even has a kind word for Plan 9 from Outer Space! A Cut Below is A Cut Above.”—Joe Dante, director (Piranha, Gremlins, Matinee)

• “Willard was one of the best experiences of my life except for the final shot they saved till the last day when they smeared me with peanut butter and dumped 300 rats on me. Ah…the days before CGI! I LOVE this book! Such memories of a lost era.”—Bruce Davison, actor (Willard, X-Men, The Lords of Salem)

• “A Cut Below is a love letter to a genre once considered a guilty pleasure, now graduated into the mainstream. Scott Drebit sure knows his stuff. His essay on my friend and mentor George Romero and his classic film, Creepshow, is bloody damn accurate. I should know. I was there!”—John Harrison, writer/director (Tales From the Darkside: The Movie, Book of Blood, Dune)

• “Whether you’re a lifelong horror cinephile or are just starting your journey into the genre, Scott Drebit’s A Cut Below is required reading that will have you looking at these films in a different light and programming some all-night horror movie marathons of your own!”—Jonathan James, founder and editor-in-chief, Daily Dead

• “Scott Drebit has painstakingly curated every chop, cudgel, gnash and slash for an entire year’s worth of terror in this all-encompassing look at horror movie classics. Dim the lights, pop some popcorn, and crack open A Cut Below…Your next nightmare is waiting.”—Clay McLeod Chapman, author of (Ghost Eaters and The Remaking)

• “A Cut Below is an A+ guide to Hollywood’s B movie genre. Scott Drebit’s unique, personal and always entertaining take on horror movies is laced with lovingly snarky asides as he dives head first into the gore and and the cheese that made me fall in love with these movies in the first place. With wit and wisdom, A Cut Below is a fun and unapologetic homage to the critters, slashers and zombies that still make us squeal with delight in the darkness. Time to dust off the VHS machine in the garage and catch up on the best of the B.”—Josh Stolberg, screenwriter (Saw X, Piranha 3D, Sorority Row)