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
This film begins with people debating on what a grindhouse film really is and after the release of the film GRINDHOUSE it seems like everyone was debating the true definition. This documentary, to me, covers pretty much everything that wasn't accepted by the mainstream. We cover a wide range of films starting with some early silents from Edison and then moving to Hollywood movies like FREAKS as well as trashier things like MANIAC, REEFER MADNESS and then going through other decades. Included are the "birth" films from the 40s, the nudist films of the 60s, the gore period starting with Herschell Gordon Lewis and then moving through the 70s with stuff like THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and the blaxploitation pictures. John Landis, William Lustig, Ted V. Mikels, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Joe Dante, Kim Morgan, Fred Olen Ray, Fred Williamson, Allison Anders, Larry Cohen, David Hess, Don Edmonds and Jack Hill are just a few of the people interviewed here and they too have a wide range of opinions on the films covered here. For the most part I think this is a terrific introduction to those unfamiliar with the genre but if you have a good idea of these films and their history then it's doubtful you're going to learn much here. I think American GRINDHOUSE would best be used as a training tool for those new movie fans wanting to see about this stuff and be able to see countless clips as well as get some nice recommendations for rentals. I think the documentary does a good job at covering various genres but at just 83-minutes there's really no way it can really dig deep into everything. Europeon films are pretty much overlooked and this is somewhat frustrating especially when certain films are made to appear as if they started a sub-genre when in fact it was usually something overseas. The film also does a nice job at showing how certain production rules in Hollywood is what helped change the exploitation filmmakers and how Hollywood eventually had to drop what they were doing and offer people what they wanted.
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