Just because you can make a movie, that doesn’t mean you should.
Made in 2009 and originally titled Working Title, Troma’s Not Another B-Movie is one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve come across in a long time. No, really.
A screenwriter (Byron Thames) meets at a restaurant with a director and producer to discuss their latest project, a low-budget B-movie about a baseball-themed killer. They can’t agree on anything, as each has his own ideas as to what the movie should be. Their waitress (Lindsay Gareth) is a struggling actress. She knows these three guys are in the movie business, and she hopes to get their attention somehow.
Have you ever watched a bad movie and asked, “What were they thinking?” or “How could they not see these plot holes?” or “Why did they think this would be any good?” This movie attempts to answer these questions by showing us what really happens when a low-budget exploitation flick is created. No one can agree on anything, and eventually compromises are made just so the movie can get finished.
The word here is “meta.” As the writer, producer, and director discuss their script, we the viewers get to see cutaways to scenes from their movie, in whichever version or suggestion they’re discussing. As their ideas get farther and farther away from what the script is about, the cutaways get crazier and crazier. Other cutaways are flashbacks to the characters’ pasts, done to inform the viewers as to why they’re doing this and what they care about. At some points, the characters discuss movie ideas remarkably similar to the ones we see in Not Another B-Movie‘s main story—the story they’re in—which adds yet another meta layer.
Check out the eclectic cast: Ed Asner (Up), David Faustino (Married with Children), Erin Moran (Happy Days), and Larry Thomas (the “Soup Nazi” from Seinfeld), along with B-movie mainstays Joe Estevez and Robert Z’Dar, and the requisite cameo by Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman. The success of the movie, though, rests on the shoulders of Byron Thames as the frustrated writer and Lindsay Gareth as the equally-frustrated actress. Their personal struggles feel genuine, despite the goofy silliness seen elsewhere in the movie.
Audio and video are mediocre, with hazy, grainy colors and flat sound likely a result of the shoestring budget and not the digital transfer. There are two featurettes, one with the cast trading anecdotes from the low-budget filmmaking trenches, and the other with footage from the film’s premiere. From there, we get the usual “Tromatic extras,” with a bunch of trailers for other Troma films and a couple of short comedy sketches.
It’s either unfortunate or hilariously ironic how the movie has been renamed and marketed. The half-naked girl and blood splatter on the cover art make this look like one of the movies this one is spoofing, rather than what it is. In the realm of movies-about-moviemaking, this is one of the best I’ve seen. Hilariously funny, while also emotionally honest and heartfelt, this is a film festival movie in disguise as a trash Troma flick. If you love movies, you owe it to yourself to seek this one out.