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Profoundly Disturbing: The Shocking Movies that Changed History Hardcover – June 28, 2003
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
While the chapters on THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and THE EXORCIST may feel a little light, Briggs delves deep into MOM & DAD, AND GOD CREATED WOMEN, and THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN. Standout reviews include BLOOD FEAST, SHAFT, and RESERVOIR DOGS. Always close to my heart, Briggs's take on RESERVOIR DOGS managed to be fresh, giving equal time to both the film's production and the ire raised by its controversial director. After having read everything on the film that I could lay my sweaty paws on, that Briggs managed to break new ground for me is quite a feat.
Briggs gives even the schlockiest film the respect it deserves while keeping his wit razor sharp. His mix of levity and earnestness is always a welcome contrast to the dour self-serious cineastes that glut the bookshelves.
First of all Briggs' choice of profoundly disturbing movies, while hard to refute, is awfully short and awfully familiar. How many more essays on CALIGARI or DEEP THROAT or CHAINSAW MASSACRE do we really need? It would have been fascinating if Joe Bob had plucked less discussed movies out of the disturbing movie cesspool and given them some attention. For instance, instead of highlighting SHAFT for its role in blaxploitation, why not discuss the obscure black-cast horror flick GANJA AND HESS? Instead of DEEP THROAT, why not Gerard Damiano's second hit, and much greater and much more disturbing movie, DEVIL IN MISS JONES, or Radley Metzger's THE OPENING OF MISTY BEETHOVEN, still considered by many the best porn flick ever made. Why not HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER instead of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE? Perhaps Briggs's editor, or Briggs himself, for that matter, just wanted to play it safe, as though commerical appeal might be compromised if he had chosen some really offbeat artifact from the movie netherworld.
Not that I didn't learn something from the book. It abounds in interesting tidbits. For instance, I had no idea Gary Sinise's daddy was a crew member on Herschell Gordon Lewis's BLOOD FEAST. But there isn't enough arcania of that sort or enough original insights about the movies to make it anything outstanding. Usually Joe Bob summarizes the movie's plot, gives some background on its production, and makes mention of its impact then moves on. In his treatment of ILYSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS, he forgets the movie altogether for several pages to give the reader a chronicle of the Ilse Koch, the real life paradigm for Ilysa. It gets tiresome after a while. And his consideration of Cronenberg's CRASH gets downright incoherent as he attempts to make some "profound" statement about the movie's content. Sorry, Joe Bob, but I didn't buy it for a minute.
Still, this is a very attractive volume and easy to read for the most part and probably a must for any hardcore cult movie completist.