For times when you don't watch to watch an acclaimed drama, a passionate romance movie, or gripping documentary on Netflix, there are B movies. These low budget, over-the-top movies, hidden in the deep recesses of Netflix, ready for you to stream when you need a good laugh, are often in the horror or science fiction film genre, but if done right (read: wrong) in the production value (or lack thereof) department, the best B movie can be considered a comedy, too, or at least a horror-comedy.
Unlike your big-budget, Oscar-winning feature films, B movies on Netflix use the word "entertainment" very loosely. They likely bombed at the box office (if they weren't straight-to-video), but rest assured, they're probably laughing at themselves, too. And their loss is our gain, as many of these B movies wind up streaming on Netflix for our enjoyment. If you're lucky, you might even catch a star before their big break (or maybe between acclaimed films). If you're looking for mediocre special effects, the absolute disgraces of Rotten Tomatoes, horror movies that are only scary because they're so bad, have at it: these are the best B movies on Netflix.
The Book of Henry (2017)
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Cast: Naomi Watts, Jaeden Martell, Jacob Tremblay, Sarah Silverman
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Runtime: 1h 40m
Rotten Tomatoes: 22% (Critics) 63% (Audience)
Following the release of the critically and commercially successful Jurassic World in 2015, director Colin Trevorrow wanted to return to his low budget film roots with the family drama film The Book of Henry. This turned out to be a mistake, as The Book of Henry became one of the most critically reviled films of 2017. Thankfully, it’s one of those movies that’s so bad it has to be seen to be believed, largely because of how strange it is. The drama centers on Susan (Naomi Watts) and her genius son Henry (Jaeden Martell) who financially and emotionally supports his mother and younger brother (Jacob Tremblay). When Henry discovers a dark secret about the girl next door, he hatches a plan to save her and implores his mother to help. This plot seems like it could work on paper, but there are a couple of bizarre, misguided twists that throw this movie into true B-movie heaven. The acting is subpar at best, the tone of the film switches from lighthearted family drama to revenge drama on a shocking dime, and most importantly, nothing in this film makes any narrative sense. A rare modern B-movie gem, The Book of Henry is best enjoyed as an unintentional comedy masterpiece.
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Director: Ronny Yu
Cast: Robert Englund, Ken Kirzinger, Jason Ritter, Kelly Rowland
Runtime: 1h 37m
Rotten Tomatoes: 41% (Critics) 50% (Audience)
It was one of the most exciting crossovers in horror history, and thanks to strange tonal choices and an even stranger script, Freddy vs. Jason instead became a modern B-movie classic. The movie centers on horror icons Freddy Krueger (from the Nightmare on Elm Street series) and Jason Voorhees (from the Friday the 13th series) as a weak Freddy (Robert Englund) manipulates Jason (Ken Kirzinger) into coming back to life and attacking the residents of Springfield in order to allow Freddy himself to gain his strength back and continue his killing spree. Eventually Jason learns of the manipulation and battles Freddy, with the town residents caught in the crossfire. What hurts Freddy vs. Jason is the convoluted plot that has to retroactively establish both franchises as existing within the same universe, as well as create a convincing reason for them to do battle. What works, however, is the amount of gore, enjoyably silly performances, and the pure novelty of seeing the legendary screen monsters interact with each other. You won’t get too scared or be too invested in the plot, but you will enjoy the inevitable showdown between Freddy and Jason in all of its over the top glory. Deeply silly but very entertaining, Freddy vs. Jason is B-movie catnip for horror fans.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)
Director: David Blue Garcia
Cast: Mark Burnham, Sarah Yarkin, Elsie Fisher, Jacob Latimore
Runtime: 1h 23m
Rotten Tomatoes: 32% (Critics) 27% (Audience)
It’s not often a new movie instantaneously becomes a B-movie upon release, but 2022’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre is just that enjoyably bad. A reboot of/sequel to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the confusingly titled Texas Chainsaw Massacre takes the Halloween (2018) approach, taking place in the continuity of the original film with legacy characters returning alongside original new characters. The slasher takes place decades after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and centers on Leatherface as he targets a new group of young adults and battles the sole survivor of his original massacre, Sally (Olwen Fouéré). A blatant ripoff of the Halloween reboot without any of the visual flair or intelligent writing (or even an iconic actress returning to the franchise, since original star Marilyn Burns passed away in 2014), the film feels like a cash grab and the kind of unimaginative horror movie reboot that horror fans thought Hollywood left in the early 2000s. It’s a deeply stupid take on one of the smartest and scariest horror movies of all time (the less said about a character threatening to “cancel” Leatherface, the better), but at the very least it has gore in spades, and enough nasty twists and turns to keep the average horror fan entertained (the less than 90-minute runtime helps in that regard as well). Schlocky enough to keep horror fans satiated but not many other viewers, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is an enjoyable disaster.
Director: Justin Dec
Cast: Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway, Talitha Eliana Bateman, Tichina Arnold
Runtime: 1h 30m
Rotten Tomatoes: 26% (Critics) 72% (Audience)
Sometimes all a B-movie needs is a silly premise done with just enough care. In that respect, 2019’s Countdown is the perfect late 2010s B-movie. The horror movie centers on nurse Quinn (Elizabeth Lail) as she downloads an app that tells her she only has three days to live. She soon finds herself haunted by an evil entity and must race against the clock to save her own life. Yes, there is a movie about a literal killer app, and yes, it’s stupid, but oh boy is it fun to watch. Countdown knows exactly what kind of movie it is and has fun with its deeply silly premise, peppering in likable characters, lots of comedic relief, and a creepy enough monster that they thankfully don’t show too much of. The movie itself feels like the perfect 2010s B-movie not only because of its very contemporary premise, but also because of side plots referencing #MeToo and the opioid crisis that are pretty respectfully done, and give the world of the film a bit more dramatic heft. Countdown is a B-movie delight that hits just the right balance of bad and good.
The Hurricane Heist (2018)
Director: Rob Cohen
Cast: Maggie Grace, Ryan Kwanten, Toby Kebbell, Ralph Ineson
Genre: Action, Thriller
Runtime: 1h 43m
Rotten Tomatoes: 47% (Critics) 23% (Audience)
Heist movies are one of the most inventive film genres, and are usually enjoyable thanks to their charming ensemble casts and high stakes thrills. What The Hurricane Heist presupposes is, wouldn’t a heist movie be even cooler if it took place during an actual hurricane? The film centers on Federal Reserve Treasury agent Casey (Maggie Grace), a maintenance worker (Ryan Kwanten), and a meteorologist (Toby Kebbell) as they attempt to fix a generator at a cash storage facility, only to find themselves under siege by thieves who are using an incoming category 5 hurricane as cover. What follows is glorious action B-movie nonsense, including hubcaps used as weapons, storm clouds that look like a human skull, and questionable interpretations of climate science. Director Rob Cohen is best known for directing the very first The Fast and the Furious, and his love for ludicrous action and car action is very much on display here as well. If you’re in the market for a movie that has both heists and weather related mayhem, The Hurricane Heist is the perfect movie for you.
Snakes on a Plane (2006)
Director: David R. Ellis
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kenan Thompson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Phillips
Runtime: 1h 45m
Rotten Tomatoes: 69% (Critics) 49% (Audience)
Some movies have titles that are mysterious, cool, or even purposefully confusing in order to grab your attention. Other movies just tell you exactly what they are from the start. Snakes on a Plane is one of the latter movies, and we’re more than grateful for it. The action thriller follows an FBI agent (Samuel L. Jackson) as he escorts a witness testifying against a mob boss on a flight to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the mob boss attempts to kill him by… you guessed it: releasing snakes on the plane. Snakes on a Plane has a deeply stupid plot, but had the luck of coming out in 2006, at a time when internet memes were just beginning to become universally popular. The ridiculousness of the title, combined with the plot and the addition of Samuel L. Jackson gave the movie a lot of pre-release hype that it delivered on, with plenty of snake violence (as advertised), enjoyable bad acting, and Jackson giving it his all, especially in that now-famous scene where he announces that he’s indeed tired of those snakes on that plane (add more expletives and you get the idea). Snakes on a Plane is a modern B-movie gem, the likes of which the internet hasn’t seen since.
Thirteen Ghosts (2001)
Director: Steve Beck
Cast: Tony Shalhoub, Embeth Davidtz, Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth
Runtime: 1h 31m
Rotten Tomatoes: 17% (Critics) 48% (Audience)
It’s impressive that a remake of a B-movie could also be its own type of B-movie, and Thirteen Ghosts managed to do just that. A remake of the 1960 film of the same name, Thirteen Ghosts follows Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth) as she inherits her Uncle Cyrus’s estate, which serves as a prison for 12 malevolent ghosts. She soon finds herself trapped in the house alongside several others, including a ghost hunter and a ghost rights activist, as they struggle to find a way out alive. The original 13 Ghosts used a gimmick where the audience could see the ghosts in 3D, a charming and ahead of its time stunt that purposefully distracted from the less enjoyable part of the film, which was a specialty of director William Castle on all of his productions. The remake makes no attempt to update this ploy and basically hits 2000s horror movie bingo: bad CGI, unnecessary nudity, and plenty of nonsensical gore. While a deeply silly film, there’s some fun to be had in great actors like Tony Shalhoub, F. Murray Abraham, and Matthew Lillard running around a haunted house away from actors done up in (admittedly pretty good) ghost makeup and some inspired production design. Thirteen Ghosts isn’t great, but there is fun to be had in its schlocky early 2000s aesthetic.
The Babysitter (2017)
Cast: Judah Lewis, Samara Weaving, Bella Thorne
Runtime: 1h 25m
Rotten Tomatoes: 72% (Critics) 61% (Audience)