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Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

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Main Details

  • Released in 2004
  • B & W/Color
  • Running Time: 90 Min.
  • Distributed by Pathfinder Entertainment
  • Directed by Ray Greene
  • Available DVDs

Film Review

Schlock is a well executed documentary on the history of Exploitation cinema from the early to mid 20th century and looks at the beginnings of the original Exploitation genres including: Nudies, Roughies and Gore. Each chapter of the film explores the different genres and filmmakers of the time. Theres some nice interviews with Exploitation King Roger Corman, Sexploitation pioneers Harry Novak, Doris Wishman and David F. Friedman and also interviews with the legendary TV host Vampira (Maila Nurmi), Sci Fi-Horror Guru Forrest Ackerman, B Movie regular Dick Miller (A Bucket of Blood, The Terror) and Director Peter Bogdanovich (Targets). Sadly there were no interviews with Sexploitation king Russ Meyer or The Godfather of Gore: Herschell Gordon Lewis included. Writer-Director Ray Greene explains in the audio commentary that when he contacted Meyer, he really turned his nose up at him, because the project wasn't special enough.

Greene does a very good job bringing us through Exploitation Cinema's main roots. Starting with an introduction by one of its pioneers: Roger Corman who gives us his definition of what Exploitation means. In the next chapter we meet Vampira aka Maila Nurmi, who hosted her own TV show in the 1950s which showcased classic B-movies. We move on to the films of American International Pictures and Roger Corman and Samuel Z. Arkoff. Ray Greene uses a lot of Exploitation movie art in the film, which is really great.

For the Sexploitation lovers, theres plenty of nudity in the film as well. You'll see Birth Hygiene film clips, Nudist Camp clips and segments from the infamous Roughie films. NOTE: The graphically bloody clips of HG Lewis' seminal gore classic Blood Feast were edited. Director Ray Greene chose not to show the violence of these films for personal reasons. Its understandable, but then why do a documentary on Exploitation films and not show the films in their entirety? It left me feeling sort of "gyped".

Other film clips featured in the film include: Bad Girls Go to Hell, Carnival of Souls, Blood Feast, The House of Usher, The Terror, A Bucket of Blood and many more.

Schlock is an entertaining and educational look at the roots of the Exploitation genre. I wish there was more to the film regarding the 70s Exploitation genres like Blaxploitation and Kung Fu etc, but this film only covers a short period. Mainly the 50s and 60s. For newbies to the Exploitation genre, it will give you some nice info and let you know what they are about, where they came from and where to start if you want to watch some of these often unappreciated gems of pop culture. Pathfinder did a very nice job with this release.

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Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. He is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life.
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