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Profoundly Disturbing: The Shocking Movies that Changed History Paperback – June 28, 2003

4.1 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Briggs, host of the long-running cable shows Joe Bob's Drive-In Theatre and Monstervision, is an acknowledged king of cult movie history. From Blood Feast to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Briggs analyzes 20 films and points out their cultural significance. The book is not, as the London Evening Standard put it, "beyond the bounds of depravity," but rather a wryly amusing, informative study of productions that some publicly disparage and privately relish. Roger Vadim's 1956 And God Created Woman broke down sexual barriers. His directorial shaping of Brigitte Bardot into a sex symbol, despite handicaps of coarse voice, cold manner and expressionless face, is a lusty and intriguing French version of Pygmalion. The Svengali theme also relates to Deep Throat, when Linda Lovelace, its star, became a steamy sex goddess in the hands of husband Chuck Traynor. These two movies permanently altered the way the world views celluloid sex, and Briggs demonstrates how Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch did the same for violence. Briggs touches thoughtfully on controversial interpretations that The Wild Bunch film elicited before placing it in perspective as an artistically daring forerunner of modern action films. Shaft unleashed the blaxploitation boom, while The Exorcist turned Satan into a Hollywood high concept. The author also writes with insight and affection about such lurid enterprises as The Curse of Frankenstein and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. The book merits attention from fans tired of high-minded essays about classics such as Citizen Kane, and explains why crass, tasteless pictures often make more impact than those released with the stamp of respectability. 50 illus.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Briggs brings the sensibilities of his late, lamented cable-TV review show, Joe Bob's Drive-In Theater, to the pages of this meditation on how sensational movies have changed film history and day-to-day culture. Briggs discusses the content, box-office success, and cultural effects of movies running the gamut from the mildly necrophilic Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to the fetishistic Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS, and from the clumsy if well-intentioned 1942 facts-o'-life flick Mom and Dad to the pornographic Deep Throat. Of And God Created Woman, Briggs notes that star Brigitte Bardot was "the Pia Zadora of her day . . . all cheesecake and no class" until she and director hubby Roger Vadim collaborated on this film that challenged traditional perceptions of women because "both Bardot and her movie character . . . loved sex." Briggs' persona as an off-kilter yet knowledgeable cineast licenses him to be pithy and amusing. A must-have for those who consider Mike Weldon's Psychotronic film guides essential. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Universe (June 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789308444
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789308443
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #845,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Raquel B. Starace on September 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
Joe Bob's drive-in books of the past were certainly funny and sometimes informative, but cult film lovers looking for more meat on the bone will enjoy "Profoundly Disturbing." Instead of the standard Joe Bob treatment (breast counts, number of car crashes and/or severed limbs), he gives us an extremely informative and genuinely affectionate take on some of the most influential underground movies to ever offend delicate, G-rated sensibilities. Some of the flicks covered are even respectable (but no less offensive)-- the chapter on "Crash" is one of my favorites. Maybe fans who will accept absolutely NOTHING from John Bloom except his Joe Bob alter ego won't like it because of its lack of redneck element, but for fans (and cult film lovers) who appreciate the fact that behind Joe Bob there is a rather more intellectual and subtle mind, this is a great read.
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I think some of the negative impressions of this book stem from the fact that people were expecting something different from "Joe Bob Briggs." Well, the truth is that before he was Joe Bob's, real name is John Bloom and he was (and is) a fantastic award winning investigative journalist.

His serious side really shines here. He has written a very accessible, erudite and enjoyable book of criticism here, and his critiques of these challenging films still resides within a moral frame work. He strikes a balance here that I think few critics could pull off given the subject matter.

But mainly it's just a great read, even for those that aren't necessarily film buffs. The generous and well-done layout is also worth commending. I highly recommend.
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Joe Bob Briggs, the redneck stage persona of film critic John Bloom, was the hilarious host of late-night B-movie programs DRIVE-IN THEATER on The Movie Channel (1986-1996) and MONSTERVISION on TNT (1996-2000). While his commentary often involved parody and satire of the purportedly high-brow discourse of movie critics like Roger Ebert, genuine information and thoughtful criticism could always be found carefully embedded in the shtick.

With PROFOUNDLY DISTURBING: SHOCKING MOVIES THAT CHANGED HISTORY!, author Joe Bob discusses the history, social relevance, and lasting influence of 15 (not 20, as claimed by the blurb from Publishers Weekly) films that, at the time when each was originally released, caused some sort of uproar or scandal in the media, the arena of public opinion, and sometimes even the U.S. courts. The films included here touch on nearly every major cinematic genre, from westerns to horror to hard-core porn, so fans and film students of all types should find something of interest on these pages. Joe Bob's usual wry sense of humor is clearly in evidence throughout the text, but his overall style here involves less of the redneck shtick and more of the history and literate criticism, and the result is an outstanding read that is both entertaining and highly informative.

As mentioned above, the group of films that Joe Bob analyzes here does include examples from across the genre spectrum, but the list is clearly weighted towards the horror genre. So PROFOUNDLY DISTURBING: SHOCKING MOVIES THAT CHANGED HISTORY! will be of particular interest to horror fans, with the chapters on William Friedkin's THE EXORCIST (1973) and Tobe Hooper's THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974) offering an exceptional history and criticism of those works.
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Joe Bob Briggs picks 15 movies that, for better or worse, changed the movie industry by shattering new ground or ushering in new genres. Most of the movies here are obvious choices--"The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari", "And God Created Woman", "The Wild Bunch", "Shaft", "The Exorcist" and "Reservoir Dogs". He explains how and why they changed the industry and the public. They even include a movie I (a real film buff) never heard of called "Mom and Dad"! However I do question including "Creature from the Black Lagoon", "The Curse of Frankenstein" and "Drunken Master". They're good movies but I don't think they broke new ground or changed the rules. Still I found the book fascinating and a fun read.
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The name on the cover is "Joe Bob Briggs" but make no mistake: "Profoundly Disturbing" is the product of the mind of John Bloom, Joe Bob's alter-ego and a damn fine writer and critic. Readers used to Joe Bob's comic persona may initially be put off by this difference in tone, but if they will stick with this book, they will experience a very satisfying set of essays of analysis and history about these films. These essays are very funny in a different, more irony-laced sort of way, in their own right. And what films they are! Some of them still couldn't be shown on network television after all these years.
Briggs/Bloom skillfully gathers together the pertinent, fascinating facts on each movie and gives his own perspective as well. I have never seen Cronenberg's "Crash" because of its somewhat perverted, NC-17 rated reputation. Joe Bob's persuasive essay on why it really is a fine film makes me want to seek it out and see it. The same can't be said for "Deep Throat" and "Ilsa She-Wolf of the SS", but he make me see why some people would be attracted to these dangerous films. Essays on "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "The Exorcist", and "The Wild Bunch" are nostalgic for the 1970's and what seems like the last era American movies were truly adventerous and independent.
Many observers have noted that Briggs/Bloom has written criticism for the conservative magazine "National Review", and that sort of tough realism about sex and violence carries over into this book. Politically correct liberal puritans would be shocked and appalled by most of these films. (In the essay on "Resevoir Dogs", Joe Bob chortles about how that film changed the image of the initially granola-ish, overly earnest Sundance Film Festival.) This book is a celebration of the freedom we have in America to appreciate art that is made from the most unlikely material. "Mom and Dad" and "Shaft" can teach us more about our great, weird old American culture than a thousand pious textbooks.
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