You've heard of Hollywood, a town of tinsel and glamour, the town of Paramount, Columbia and MGM. But there is another Hollywood, a place where maverick independent EXPLOITATION FILMMAKERS went toe to toe with the big guys and came out on top! "SCHLOCK! THE SECRET HISTORY OF AMERICAN MOVIES" takes you behind the scenes with the legendary EXPLOITATION and SEXPLOITATION filmmakers of those golden "DRIVE-IN" MOVIE days. It's sexy! It's strange! And every word is true!Written by
Ray Greene (director of the film)
Interesting, if limited, overview of the Exploitation Cinema
No one documentary could reasonably encompass the full range of the Exploitation Cinema, though SCHLOCK! gives it a decent go. By focusing in on just a few key figures, Director Greene gives us some depth into their careers, but limits the overall breadth of the subject.
For those familiar with AIP & Roger Corman, the first section will probably contain nothing new. The dry, academic narration doesn't help matters. Countless articles, books and interviews with and by Corman and Sam Arkoff leave little room for anything fresh to be said. Some of their "discoveries" such as Peter Bogdanovich and Dick Miller also appear. The ID's on the clips are sketchy during this section as well (But improves for some reason during the rest of the film. The one glaring exception there is that the only example of early sexploitation in the cinema are excerpts from METROPOLIS of all things - AND, they're not ID'd).
The Documentary kicks into gear with the long middle section focusing on David Friedman, Doris Wishman and Harry Novak and the less well known Nudist, Nudie Cutie and Roughie Sexploitation era. Friedman too has made the rounds the past couple of decades, but he's the consummate showman. The Documentary springs to life whenever he's on screen. Though there is a brief afterword on the post-Sexploitation era, the Documentary seems to take the point-of-view that Exploitation cinema ended in the early 70's when mainstream Hollywood began making the pictures that these pioneers had been making for decades (an opinion oft echoed). This short-changes the period of Drive-In Exploitation cinema that flourished in the 70s' and then had a brief revival during the VCR boom of the 80's and early-90's (This despite the fact that Corman was and IS active throughout this latter period. The film dismisses Corman's post-AIP career in a few seconds).
A note on the DVD. The behind the scenes "tour" of Novak's studio/office is a fascinating peek at an era long-gone, and David Friedman shows off his best Carnival barker routine. Both pieces are fully worth the price of the DVD. In just the few years since this doc was made, the Cinema has lost both Doris Wishman and Samuel Z. Arkoff, making their inclusion here even more valuable.
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