Sunday, August 7, 2011

American Grindhouse (2010)

This thing was put together by two college film students with the mission to make a Jack Hill documentary. The working title was Spiders To Switchblades which I found to be rather witty. The two film student, fan-boys changed the direction of the documentary when they realized how many great cult icons signed on to their little project to be interviewed. Instead they make the wise decision to shoot a documentary on the history of American exploitation films.

The great Herschell Gordon Lewis (Blood Feast, A Taste Of Blood) appears and sheds some light on his contribution to exploitation cinema, along with exploiteers such as Ray Dennis Steckler, Ted V. Michaels, Jack Hill (of course), Fred Olen Ray, Fred Williamson, Larry Cohen and many more.
All in all American Grindhouse turns out to be a well researched, very informative and very entertaining documentary. The research dates back as far as the films shot by Thomas Edison in the early 1900's. It works its way through the 20's and 30's with teen-scare flicks and sex hygiene movies like Mom And Dad and Sex Madness. The 50's & 60's roll in with Juvenile Delinquent pictures and silly monster movies, sometimes the two genres clashed with stuff like I Was A Teenage Frankenstein and Invasion Of The Saucer Men and while these films had mass appeal to the teenagers there was plenty of other stuff brewing for an older audience. American Grindhouse walks us through the days of Nudist Camp Cinema (Nude On The Moon) and the so called Nudie Cuties (Immoral Mr. Tease) and then the real fun and interesting stuff arrives.

The darker days of the Roughies are discussed by greats such as William (Maniac) Lusting and John Landis. They talk about the films of Doris Wishman and Roberta & Michael Findlay. Lusting also compares New York City from the 70's to present time and lets just say he isn't exactly pleased. Gory horror flicks, blaxploitation movies and women in prison films mainly take up the later part of the documentary but the likes of Biker films, beach party movies and many other sub-genres have their screen time. David Hess also appears in an exceptionally wacky interview "I wanted to cut your dick off while you were smelling roses".

You can talk about this documentary forever but what it all comes down to is that if your a fan of exploitation films, American Grindhouse is a must own. The dvd is jammed packed with interviews, trailers, radio spots and anything that a cult cinema fanatic needs. Check it out for a trashy good time.

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