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Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies

4.1 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The wild no-holds barred independent American filmmakers of the ‘50s and ‘60s tell their own story in this critically acclaimed survey of exploitation and sexploitation filmmaking. Features the last major interviews conducted with legendary producer Sam Arkhoff, and "Queen of thew Nudies" Doris Wishman plus Peter Bogdanovich, Roger Corman, Vampira, and many more

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: F.X. Feeney, Maila Nurmi, Michael Copner, Samuel Z. Arkoff, James H. Nicholson
  • Directors: Ray Greene
  • Writers: Ray Greene
  • Producers: Ray Greene, Daniel Hsu Accomando, Wade Major
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Pathfinder Home Ent.
  • DVD Release Date: December 2, 2003
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000DC13D
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #217,344 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
It's amusing to read down the reviews and see the usual angels on the head of a pin discussions about inclusion and exclusion that seem to always occur between schlock devotees, along with the justifiable praise this wickedly amusing documentary deserves. This stuff is all subjective, so I'll just state my opinion, which is that this movie is splendid and that the filmmakers got it pretty much exactly right in the balance they strike between teenage exploitation and the "adults only" variety -- I clocked it, and it works out to pretty much a 50/50 split, which is how it ought to be if you're focusing on the actual exploitation production and distribution patterns of the 60s and not the films like Corman's "Bucket of Blood" which have gone on to individual fame through constant TV airings.

There was a lot of crossover between the teen exploitation and sex exploitation worlds, and it could be argued that "SCHLOCK!" could do a better job of demonstrating this; for example, there is no discussion of the fact that Sam Arkoff's teenage-themed AIP handled films by sexploiteers Harry Novak and Doris Wishman, in Wishman's case under the "Hallmark" bannerhead, which was created for movies too offensive to run under the schlock AIP monniker! But by blending these two worlds, this documentary makes a point that needs to be made, which is that the teen exploitation filmmakers and the sex exploitation filmmakers were two sides of the same outsider coin, and sometimes their relationship was even closer than that shopworn analogy makes it seem.
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Format: DVD
Do they let us contradict people on this site? Because I'm looking down the comments and I see one guy who is saying this movie misspells the word "SCHLOCK" (I'm Jewish, it's a yiddishism, and they spelled it correctly, "SCHLOCK," not "shlock" as this incorrect spellchecker viewer says it should be) and another guy who says that sexploitation movies aren't part of the "schlock" genre (this despite the fact that the most articulate interview subject in this movie -- an honest to God theoretician of the exploitation realm -- is David F. Friedman, a key figure in sexploitation).

I mean, c'mon, ask yourself, is Russ Meyer an exploitation moviemaker, is he a "schlock" auteur? Answer: Of course. So why wouldn't his sexploitation competitors, who are a part AND ONLY A PART of this movie also be considered "schlock" filmmakers? They should be, and in this movie they are.

Sam Arkoff and Roger Corman get half this movie's running time, which seemed like plenty to me, since so much more has been written and said about them than the Doris Wishmans of this world. Speaking of Doris: as an aspiring "bad girl" filmmaker, I gotta say, I found her absolutely inspirational. "Bad Girls Go To Hell" indeed!

I think the guy who was unwilling to admit that sexploitation movies are exploitation movies needs to watch this thing again, and more closely. He'll have a good time if he does to, and so will you, dear and gentle reader.

Wishman forever!
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Format: DVD
In Schlock! The Secret History Of American Movies, Ray Greene brings us up close and personal with the seamier side of film presenting, in great detail, the history of the exploitation film genre that thrived on the fringes of Hollywood.
From road shows presenting 'educational' films, nudie cuties, grind house fair, roughies, and most any kind of exploitation genre you can name, we get up close and personal with the people involved in making and starring in these films. Greene talks to such notable figures as Roger Corman, David F. Friedman, Dick Miller, Samual Z. Zarkoff, Forry J. Ackerman, Harry H. Novak, Doris Wishmen, Vampira, and many more.
We learn how these films came about, how they evolved in reference to society, and how mainstream Hollywood eventually co-opted the format. We also learn interesting details about financing of the films, the film makers experiences with censorship, and how these small, low or no budget films actually outpaced Hollywood releases at times in drawing attendees. What I found really interesting was how, these directors and producers really zeroed in on what the public wanted, what the public wasn't getting from mainstream movies, and made heaping mounds of money doing it. Once the mainstream industry saw the kind of money being made, they would begin to incorporate the material presented in these seedy, little movies, forcing the exploitioneers to find even more shocking and enticing material to release on an unsuspecting public.
At a running time of about 90 minutes, this documentary certainly doesn't cover everything, but what it does cover, it does very well, between the interviews and rare film clips, and provides a fascinating glimpse into a world few get to see.
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Format: DVD
Man, I hate giving a lousy review to a movie that's gotten a lot of good ones, because now everyone's gonna write in to argue it with me.

But here's the thing: "Schlock!" begins promising, with brief scenes of movies like "Teenagers from Outer Space" and "The Fast and the Furious," and an interview with '50s TV horror movie host Vampira, but then takes an abrupt right-hand turn into nudism movies and burlesque, where it spends most of its time.

Now, I agree that the nudie film circuit has a fascinating history, and I'm all for watching clips of naked young women playing volleyball, even though they're all as old as my Grandma now. But my argument is they aren't really "schlock" movies -- at least not in the same sense that the teen exploitation and monster movies of the '50s and early '60s were. And even though the movie makes a strong argument that they're related, skin flicks and cheesy teen movies really are separate genres altogether.

In that regard, the movie doesn't live up to the promise of its title, and that's a shame. The filmmakers scored great interviews with industry giants like Roger Corman and monster mag publisher Forrest J. Ackerman, as well as "schlock" stars like Dick Miller and Vampira, but they only serve to make you wish there was much more of them. In fact, while the film shows several scenes of Vampira's appearance in "Plan 9 From Outer Space," it never even mentions the movie at all. And "Plan 9" is perhaps the king of all "schlock" movies!

Where was "Robot Monster," "Teenage Zombies" or "Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla"? I could name a million "schlock" movies that "Schlock!" ignores altogether, in favor of its odd concentration on nudism movies, which, while titillating (heh-heh), don't really belong here.

Two stars from me, with the hope that the next filmmaker to make a "schlock" movie documentary knows what "schlock" really is.
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