American Grindhouse lays out our favourite deviancy chronologically. Right from the creation of the moving picture through to some recent picks such as Planet Terror and the like.
Our journey starts with the creation of the moving picture and how it spawned exploitation in the sense of your great-grandma whipping off her drawers to ‘titilate’ viewers. Shame on you grandma!
Exploitation, as we know it, began with the movie ‘Traffic of Souls’ which tells the story of white people being bought and sold as slaves. It was a rumour of the time that spawned a movie, but it was the first movie to exploit a genre/story and lo exploitation films were born. Yay!
The documentary briefly discusses the introduction of codes of conduct, the big classics (Dracula, Frankenstein etc.), then discusses the Tod Browning classic ‘Freaks’ which ruined the poor guy. If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to.
Moving into the 30’s it talks about the early crime dramas where criminals would discuss their crime, but with the movie always ending with a message of ‘crime doesn’t pay’. The 40’s, for some reason, brought the ‘educational’ film which either explained VD or showed child birth. Very odd!
But the 40’s also brought us Hollywood ‘film noir’, so that’s OK then. The 50’s brought us dirty magazines, biker gangs and burlesque, and the 60’s gave us the nudist flick! It’s getting better and better all the time! Oh no, wait, the 60’s also gave us beach films. That’s beach, read it again, and the ‘roughies’ where women get their ass kicked for no real reason.
Fear not, the 60’s redeem themselves when one director decides to show the previously unseen and actually shows blood! Gasp! That’s right, along came a Mr H. G. Lewis and Blood Feast. From there on in… well, I’m sure you know the rest. Or you should know the rest!
Oh, and some other film called ‘Psycho’ (or something) also came out around the same time. I don’t think the director of this Psycho ever got anywhere…
The 70’s gave us that crackpot Charles Manson, but it also gave us things like Last House on the Left. I’m not entirely sure if that’s a good thing or not. I’ll let you decide. It also gave us the genre we know as Blaxploitation. Love it or loathe it, it’s fuckin’ awesome. Possibly on the downside we also got the women-in-prison genre. Only good for boobs. Although this film historian, Kim Morgan, says that most women like to see other women naked and it turns them on. I love Kim Morgan!
Although The Big Bird Cage turned it all on its head by having gay prison guards looking after the women which is kinda funny.
By now were in the mid-70’s and that means Ilsa – Shewolf of the SS and a flood of Nazisploitation films. You name it, the Nazi’s were doing it. Closing the 70’s is when it became OK to show full sex and porn arrived, also bringing with it, into the 80’s, the animals-gone-mad films. Dozens of them. Hundreds probably!
Anyway, it’s a good documentary on our favourite genre of movies. A bit slow at the start as, I think, it spends a bit too much time setting the scene. It could have started with Freaks onwards, or even just started from Blood Feast onwards. Either way, it’s a good 90min history lesson on exploitation. Grab it if you can!