Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies
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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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Gives a lot of the backstory behind B movies and exploitation films, especially those created in the Philippines. Nice interviews with producers, directors and cast members. Read morePublished on March 21, 2014 by Rick Mcneely
"Schlock" is a term (of endearment) that refers to low-caliber exploitation movies in general -- the cinematic equivalent of a carnival sideshow -- and covers a broad base of... Read morePublished on May 16, 2013 by Doctor Mabuse
Header pretty much says it. B-movie lovers should enjoy this one. Found the visit to Harry Novak's studio worth the price of admission alone, although they did leave out low-budget... Read morePublished on May 24, 2008 by Kirk Alex
This documentary written, directed and edited by Ray Greene features clips of independent movies made in the 1950s and 1960s at the height (relatively speaking) of exploitation... Read morePublished on July 18, 2005 by Lawrance Bernabo
What a fun, cool, interesting and humorous movie! It takes exploitation films and presents them in a way that increases their significance and makes them accessible to everybody,... Read morePublished on April 14, 2004
Trying to encapsulate the entire history of "shlock" cinema (and what's with that misspelled title?) within a 90-minute documentary is a fool's errand at best but this ambitious... Read morePublished on April 10, 2004