Textploitation! Essential Books on B-Movies and Cult Films

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"Exploitation Films", "B-Movies", "Cult Classics", "Grindhouse Cinema" call them what you want but for those of us who love them, the slang terms don't really matter. What does matter is that they are examples of some of the most wild, crazy, no holds barred kinds of cinema ever made. From the early roadshow days when sex and drugs were the big taboos, to the 50s and 60s where sci-fi and weird horror invaded drive-in screens through to the 1970s and 80s when kung fu, blaxploitation and more shocking cinema became the norm for grindhouse crowds, these movies undoubtedly made their mark on pop culture. It's undeniable, no matter what people say as a negative about them, there is something extremely powerful and exciting about seeing movies that don't play by the standard rules and give viewers things they simply won't get in mainstream fare. For all you voracious readers out there we've put together a guide to great reads that we think cover a nice variety of classic-international B-movie and cult cinema history. So when you're not lost in these movies, try picking up one, two or all of the chosen titles for your home book shelf. More titles will be added as we find them.

Sleazoid Express

Sleazoid Express (1980-1983, and later editions) was the original fanzine on the 42nd Street Grindhouse movie scene in New York circa 1964-1984. Edited and Written by Bill Landis, a projectionist and devotee of the crime-ridden grindhouses, the magazine not only captured the genre affections but the whole Times Square atmosphere that revolved around hard drugs, violence and prostitution. Founded as a one-sheet (later to expand to four to six pages) by Bill Landis, an NYU graduate, projectionist, and devotee of the crime-ridden sleaze houses, the magazine not only captured the genre affections but the whole Times Square milieu of drugs, violence and prostitution. Typical films shown in the movie houses, which centred on the city's 42nd Street, included Bamboo House of Dolls, The Corpse Grinders, Mad Monkey Kung Fu, Miss Nymphet's Zap In and The Ultimate Degenerate. Approximately 48 issues were published over a five-year period, the first issue being dated June 18, 1980, and the last issue appearing in the fall of 1985. (Wikipedia)

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Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide

Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide is the first truly comprehensive examination of the genre, its films, its trends and its far-reaching impact, covering more than 240 blaxploitation films in detail. This guide is the primary reference book on the genre, covering not just the films' heyday (1971-1976) but the entire decade (1970-1980). From Aaron Loves Angela to The Zebra Killer, they're all here in one indispensable volume. Complimenting the text of Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide are many of the vivid, highly-theatrical, motion picture posters and ads that promoted the films. Blaxploitation's rich and colourful poster art has been the sole subject of a number of coffee-table books. The hand-painted, elaborately illustrated posters and ad campaigns associated with the genre represent a now-gone golden era of sensational motion picture representation. Also features page after page of stunning action stills and original newspaper admats.


So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films Vol. 1

Troy Howarth, the author of The Haunted World Of Mario Bava and the co-author of the up-coming The Tome Of Terror series, examines the genre from its inception through its inevitable decline. Covering everything from popular fan favorites by the likes of Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento to lesser known gems by Cesare Canevari, Massimo Dallamano and Poalo Cavara as well as the worst of the worst by the least inspired of hacks, So Deadly, So Perverse provides an in-depth examination of a genre that has too often been marginalized in other studies of the horror film and the thriller. In addition to reviews of every Giallo made between 1963 and 2013, this two-part study of the Giallo – with volume two (covering 1974 onwards) coming later in the year – is also lavishly illustrated with rare and colorful stills and poster art.

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Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: The Biography of Russ Meyer

Russ Meyer, cult hero, creator of the sexploitation film, and the man the Wall Street Journal called the King Leer of Hollywood, made movies that filled the big screen with “big bosoms and square jaws.” In the first candid and fiendishly researched account of the late cinematic instigator’s life, Jimmy McDonough shows us how Russ Meyer used that formula to turn his own crazed fantasies into movies that made him a millionaire and changed the face of American film forever. This former WWII combat photographer immortalized his personal sexual obsession upon the silver screen, creating box-office gold with The Immoral Mr. Teas in 1959. The modest little film pushed all preexisting limits of on-screen nudity, and with its success, the floodgates of what was permitted to be shown on film were thrust open, never to be closed again. Bringing his anecdote- and action-packed biographical style to another renegade of popular culture, New York Times bestselling author of Shakey Jimmy McDonough offers a wild, warts-and-all portrait of Russ Meyer, the director, writer, producer, and commando moviemaking force behind the sexploitation classics Vixen, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and many others. (Google Books)


Theme '70: Tackling The Beast They Call Exploitation Cinema

Mark Banville's THEME '70 began as a unique British Grindhouse film fanzine in the 90s and has now been re-released in a glorious 200+ page book filled from cover to cover with Hard Knuckle Video Reviews, pre cert VHS commentaries and imagery from the golden age of exploitation cinema. It is a truly wonderful celebration of the days when The Deuce (aka 42nd Street in NYC) was showing double and triple features of action packed Blaxploitation films, hard hitting Kung Fu classics, steamy Sexploitation romps and other down n' dirty delights of the era. Along with the vibrant visual content that gives readers an up close look at the kinds of promotional advertising that made exploitation cinema so exciting, there are a selection of actor profiles and filmographies included. We can't praise this publication enough. If you always wanted The Deuce in coffee table book form, well this is it! THEME 70 gets our highest recommendation for fans of authentic Grindhouse Cinema. (GCDb)


GUN AND SWORD: An Encylopedia of Japanese Gangster Films 1955-1980

Chris D. began watching yakuza films, writing the initial drafts of GUN AND SWORD, the definitive encyclopedia of the Golden Age of Japanese gangster films, in 1990. In 1997, he traveled to Japan, doing research and collecting illustrations. With 95% of the main text completed in 2002, several publishers were interested but only if the book was cut by 300 pages. It still took another ten years for this astounding reference guide to come to final fruition in its unexpurgated form - a fount of fascinating insights and information for both the seasoned Japanese genre film fan and the curious newcomer. All types of the Japanese gangster movie made between 1955-1980 are covered: the swordfighting ninkyo sagas set in the 1890-1940 period, the modern jitsuroku ("true story") bloodbaths, the matatabi (wandering samurai gambler) pictures, plus the juvenile delinquent subgenres: sukeban (girl boss), taiyozoku ("sun tribe") and bosozoku ("violent tribe" or biker). All movie genres deserve ardent completists as well as astute critical observers. With Chris D. the reader gets both. His informed passion matches an eagle's eye for small but critically important details and cinematic-literary-historical-industrial connections. Rich in primary, groundbreaking research, GUN AND SWORD is an invaluable reference." (Goodreads)


Grindhouse: The Forbidden World of Adults Only Cinema

From the 1920s through the 1970s, America's most fearless entrepreneurs created thousands of "adults only" features— exploitation films that promised "Sinsational!" treatments of the day's hottest topics. These films played red light district theaters and roadshows for almost half a century, until hardcore pornography and the advent of VCRs rang the death knell for this distinctive form of "art." Grindhouse traces the ribald history of these "adults only" films, down Poverty Row through the Scandinavian Invasion, past the nudie-cuites, and into the swinging days of free love. Along the way we get the most sordid, sleazy, and shameless cinema imaginable-Vice Rackets! Narcotics! Nazis! Nudists! Cults! Wrestling Women! And So Much More Than You Can Ever Imagine! Adding yet more color to this history of blue movies are revealing portraits of the artists and auteurs behind the films, including Dwain Esper, Kroger Babb, Russ Meyer, Doris Wishman, David F. Friedman, Radley Metzger, and the Mitchell Brothers. Grindhouse was named one of the 25 best art books of 1997 by legendary Village Voice art critic Guy Trebay. (EddieMuller.com)


Book of The Dead: The Complete History of Zombie Cinema

From 1932's White Zombie to 28 Days Later and the current crop of Japanese shockers, the zombie movie has been one of the most enduring mainstays of international horror cinema. Now, for the first time ever, the complete history of zombie cinema is told in this lavishly illustrated and fully cross-referenced celebration of living dead cinematic culture. Few horror movie monsters are as maligned as the zombie. While vampires, werewolves and even serial killers command respect, the zombie is never treated as anything other than a buffoon who stumbles around in the cultural hinterlands messily decaying. There are no aristocrats, blue bloods or celebrities among zombies, no big name stars or instantly recognizable faces, just low-rent, anonymous monsters who usually can’t talk, can barely walk and spend most of their energy trying to hold their decomposing bodies together. Zombies are the great unwashed of horror cinema, soulless creatures that wander around without personality or purpose - a grotesque parody of the end that awaits us all. For all their lack of finesse or style, though, the living dead have been a constant presence in horror films since the 1930s. (Amazon)


Bold! Daring! Shocking! True: A History of Exploitation Films 1919-1959

Unashamed nudists, high-flying hopheads, brazen strippers, vicious vice lords, and high school girls who find themselves “in trouble” comprise the population of exploitation films. In the first full-scale history of these low-budget movies of decades past, Eric Schaefer reveals how this pioneering form of “trash film” purveyed the forbidden thrills of explicit sexual behavior, drug use, and vice that the mainstream movie industry could not show. Bold! Daring! Shocking! True! is a meticulously researched, interdisciplinary study that is informed by a wide range of sources—including both mainstream and industry newspapers and periodicals, archival accounts, personal interviews, and the films themselves. Schaefer begins by exploring the unique mode of production of exploitation movies, their distribution, and the outrageous exhibition practices that were rooted in the traditions of sideshows and carnivals. His close analysis of dozens of films, such as The Road to Ruin, Modern Motherhood, One Way Ticket to Hell, and The Wages of Sin demonstrates that these films were more than simply “bad” movies. Engagingly written, illustrated with rare photographs, posters, production stills, and ad slicks, and offering a full filmography, Bold! Daring! Shocking! True! reveals a forgotten side of film history and American culture. (Google Books)


Reel Wild Cinema! The Anthology of Eclectic Film & Video

A compendium of issues 1 - 6 of REEL WILD CINEMA!, the 1990's Australian fanzine devoted to off-beat, cult and exploitation films of all kind, and from all eras, with a particular emphasis on covering genre films which had been released on home video in that country during the previous 15 years. REEL WILD CINEMA! was an A4 photocopied fanzine published by John Harrison out of the outer Melbourne suburban wasteland of Berwick, with six issues appearing between 1997 - 1999. Devoted to all manner of cult and eclectic/off-beat films, REEL WILD CINEMA! rode the tail of the classic wave of cut & paste film fanzines of the 1980s and 90s, before the internet exploded and changed the landscape of fan publishing forever. Reprinted in it's Original Old School Format! ADULT READING!!


Grindhouse Nostalgia: Memory, Home Video and Exploitation Film Fandom

An indispensable study of exploitation cinema’s continuing allure. Too often dismissed as nothing more than ‘trash cinema’, exploitation films have become both earnestly appreciated cult objects and home video items that are more accessible than ever. In this wide-ranging new study, David Church explores how the history of drive-in theatres and urban grind houses has descended to the home video formats that keep these lurid movies fondly alive today. Arguing for the importance of cultural memory in contemporary fan practices, Church focuses on both the re-release of archival exploitation films on DVD and the recent cycle of ‘retrosploitation’ films like Grindhouse, Machete, Viva, The Devil’s Rejects, and Black Dynamite. At a time when older ideas of subcultural belonging have become increasingly subject to nostalgia, Grindhouse Nostalgia presents an indispensable study of exploitation cinema’s continuing allure, and is a bold contribution to our understanding of fandom, taste politics, film distribution, and home video.


Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses: Roger Corman: King of the B Movie

Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses is an outrageously rollicking account of the life and career of Roger Corman—one of the most prolific and successful independent producers, directors, and writers of all time, and self-proclaimed king of the B movie. As told by Corman himself and graduates of “The Corman Film School,” including Peter Bogdanovich, James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, and Martin Scorsese, this comprehensive oral history takes readers behind the scenes of more than six decades of American cinema, as now-legendary directors and actors candidly unspool recollections of working with Corman, continually one-upping one another with tales of the years before their big breaks.Crab Monsters is supplemented with dozens of full-color reproductions of classic Corman movie posters; behind-the-scenes photographs and ephemera (many taken from Corman’s personal archive); and critical essays on Corman’s most daring films—including The Intruder, Little Shop of Horrors, and The Big Doll House— that make the case for Corman as an artist like no other. (Amazon)


Nightmare USA

Running to 528 large-format pages, Nightmare USA is a veritable encyclopedia of grindhouse cinema - it's one of the most acclaimed genre film books ever published, and after having Sold Out three times over already, it's finally back in print! A kaleidoscopic journey through the heyday of Horror and Exploitation Cinema in America! From Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill) to Eli Roth (Hostel), the young guns of modern Hollywood just can't get enough of that exploitation film high. Nightmare USA goes where no other in-depth study has gone before, revealing the fascinating true stories behind classics and obscurities alike. Stephen Thrower, author of Beyond Terror, the definitive book on Italian gore maestro Lucio Fulci, has explored the attics and cellars of American cinema, delved beneath the floorboards, peered between the walls, searching for the strangest, most exotic cine-lifeforms... Nightmare USA is the reader's guide to what lies beyond the mainstream of American horror, dispelling the shadows to meet the men and women behind fifteen years of screen terror: the Exploitation Independents! (Fab Press)


Nicolas Winding Refn: The Act of Seeing

For the first time Nicolas Winding Refn, writer, producer and director of the PUSHER films, BRONSON, VALHALLA RISING, DRIVE, ONLY GOD FORGIVES and THE NEON DEMON, trawls through his unique collection of rare American film posters to unfold ways the viewer validates and actualises the presentation of key images into their own personal reality. Now the celebrated filmmaker makes complicit voyeurs of us all by editing his exceptional collection of little-seen and vivid front-of-house displays into an extraordinary creation to match the observation sensations explored in his own pioneering screen work. With comprehensive historical context provided for each poster and every production detail meticulously overseen by Winding Refn himself, this book encapsulates everything he has knows about eyewitness confrontation on a heart-felt journey into the art and act of seeing.


Flying Through Hollywood by the Seat of My Pants: From the Man Who Brought You I Was a Teenage Werewolf and Muscle Beach Party

American International Pictures (AIP), founded by the author and James Nicholson in 1954, produced a succession of remarkable low-budget movies in the following decades. Targeting the youth market with such films as their first big hit in 1957, I Was a Teenage Werewolf (with Michael Landon), Arkoff describes how his frugality, resourcefulness, and good business sense were parlayed into box office success. Typical of the author's amusing, behind-the-scenes stories, he recalls how AIP's "beach movies" incurred the wrath of Walt Disney for displaying former Mouseketeer Annette Funicello in a bathing suit. Encounters with the Catholic Legion of Decency and other guardians of morality are humorously described. Especially entertaining are the accounts of AIP's more upscale, higher-budgeted horror films of the 1960s, which starred Vincent Price. This good-natured, unpretentious memoir is recommended for subject collections. (Amazon)


Larry Cohen: The Stuff of Gods and Monsters

Larry Cohen: The Stuff of Gods and Monsters traces the extraordinary career of the legendary writer/producer/director responsible for such cult and classic films as Black Caesar, It's Alive!, God Told Me To, The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover, Q: The Winged Serpent, The Stuff, Maniac Cop, and Phone Booth. Creator of some of the most diverse and thematically rich genre films that have been made in American independent cinema, Cohen's oeuvre has embraced horror, science fiction, thrillers, Westerns, comedies, the biographical film, and blaxploitation gangster movies. At turns provocative, disturbing, and humorous, his distinctly personal works in film, television, and theater are distinguished by their ferocious intelligence, biting satire, and powerful emotionalism. Over the course of 28 chapters, this in-depth career-length interview is an entertaining, enlightening, and gripping account of the singular career of a true American original.


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