Friday, February 03, 2012

American Grindhouse = Blood + Boobs + Violence

Continuing my education into the flip-side of the Hollywood corporate entity. I watched this doc by director Elijah Drenner last night. Always having a limited knowledge of the "Grindhouse" era, I thought it just was during the late 60's to late 70's, a phenomenon where schlocky exploitation movies were churned out to the drive-in and 24 hr movie theater house crowds.

Oh how wrong I was. That is only a speck in a history that stems from the creation of the moving picture. This tightly woven doc starts with the early days of exploitation at the start of cinema, expanding to the late 70's where the tables turn and Hollywood begins to exploit the Grindhouse subject matter creating some of the biggest box office successes of all times, JAWS and STAR WARS. This was the beginning of the end for these mom and pop venues and forever
changing the way these movies were made and distributed.

Narrated by Robert Forster including interviews with John Landis (who is not so snarky in this doc), William Lustig, Joe Dante, Herschell Gordon Lewis and Jack Hill to name a few. All have wonderful stories about the Grindhouse way of making movies and the PT Barnum atmosphere that surrounded their creations upon release.

Scattered into the mix and adding tidbits of perspective are film historians Eric Muller, Eric Schaeffer and probably the cutest film historian ever to be interviewed Kim Morgan.

As I was taking notes the whole time on what films to catch up on. One of my favorite that they discussed only but briefly is LORD LOVE A DUCK from 1966 starring Roddy McDowell, Tuesday Wells (oh, my!), Harvey Coreman etc. I've seen this film several times in my life and it's truly a spectacle to view. A twisted comedy that in retro spec I never realized how saucy and jaw dropping some of the scenes they get away are. Then again it's been a good 15 years since I saw it. Time to re-visit and have a good 'ol belly laugh!

Sadly there are only a few of these type of theaters still around mainly in LA and NY though heavily depleted from it's heyday and I would bet don't run 24-7 anymore. In their places now are couches with 24-7 cable and internet access where you can stream and watch in the comfort of your home.

There is something to be said to sit with an audience during a midnight showing of EVIL DEAD 2 and it's pretty fucking incredible.

I miss those days.