Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies | Chicago Reader

Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies

Ray Greene directed this valentine to the exploitation picture, tracing its arc from the repressed early 1950s to Roger Corman's classics to the big-budget Spielberg and Lucas films that sounded its death knell. Pioneer “exploiteers” like Corman, Samuel Z. Arkoff, Harry Novak (a collaborator of Herschell Gordon Lewis), and Doris Wishman (whose films contributed a rare female perspective) supply gutsy and amusing accounts of serving up sex and gore in a puritanical era, though blaxploitation directors like Melvin Van Peebles are conspicuously absent. Various scholars and genre icons (Dick Miller, Vampira) also chime in with sometimes half-baked sociocultural analyses, but this 2000 documentary is most valuable for its harvest of excerpts from the lurid and long-forgotten “roughies” and “nudie cuties” of the 60s and from Corman's loose adaptations of Poe (some of which featured a fresh-faced though already demented Jack Nicholson). 90 min.

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