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This documentary explores the hidden history of the American Exploitation Film. The movie digs deep into this often overlooked category of U.S. cinema and unearths the shameless and occasionally shocking origins of this popular entertainment.Written by
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Makes you wonder if the documentary itself isn't exploitation filmmaking!
'AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE': Four Stars (Out of Five)
A documentary on the history of exploitation films, which are as old as film itself. As the movie points out as soon as man had the power to keep a video recording of things the first thing we naturally wanted to do was record something exploitative. The film is directed by Elijah Drenner (in his feature film debut) and written by Drenner and Calum Waddell. It features interviews with such legendary exploitation filmmakers as John Landis, Joe Dante, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Jack Hill, Larry Cohen, Don Edmonds and many more. The film is narrated by Robert Forster.
The movie follows the history of exploitation film from the turn of the century, when film was invented, to present day and displays a decade by decade examination of it. It intercuts clips from various movies with interviews from different filmmakers, critics and actors discussing them. Some of the earlier clips are the most interesting and shocking. It examines the effects of various things on the industry, like the Motion Picture Production Code as well as the 'Grindhouse' theaters themselves. 'Grindhouse' theaters were movie theaters that almost solely showed exploitation films and usually stayed open all day and night. They were named after the run down burlesque theaters on 42nd Street in New York City. The film follows the history of 'Grindhouse' theaters and the exploitation film industry all the way to it's near extinction in the mid 70's when movies like Steven Spielberg's 'JAWS' finally blurred the lines between indie exploitation and Hollywood films and made exploitation 'B' movies a mainstream excepted thing.
The movie is extremely interesting and educational. It's also very entertaining and never dull. It moves at a remarkably fast pace and finishes in a very quick 80 minute running time. There are a few movies and filmmakers I'm surprised they never touched on, especially considering some of the ones they did, which makes me feel the film is not as complete a film history lesson as it could have been (but then again no movie possibly could be). It is only 80 minutes like I said and I'm sure there were budget restraints as well (It is a very low budget movie itself). The interviews are outstanding and the clips shown are as shocking and disturbing as any movie I've seen. Which makes you wonder if the documentary itself isn't exploitation filmmaking.
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