Sunday, January 23, 2011

American Grindhouse (2010)

When I think "grindhouse," I think biker movies, blaxploitation, and super-gory horror movies.  But according to this documentary, there's so much more than that.  To be honest, I don't think anyone making the movie could really agree on what grindhouse actually comprises.  They cover everything from Mom and Dad to Shaft to Planet Terror.

American Grindhouse covers so-called "grindhouse" movies all the way back to the Edison-era, when people were being filmed stripping or having sex on film.  Then came medical-type films such as Mom and Dad and Because of Eve, which were important at the time, as it was difficult to obtain information about sexuality, venereal diseases, and childbirth.  Next came nudist camp movies, inspired by nudist camp trade publications, which people were obviously looking at just to see naked people.

After the nudist camps came bikini movies, which were meant to appeal to teenagers, but actually ended up capturing an older audience.  Therefore, filmmakers started churning out films directed at teenagers, such as I Was a Teenage Werewolf.  The 60s brought biker films, which led to the success of the flick representative of the era, Easy Rider.  With the 70s came Blaxploitation and the proliferation of horror, kicked off by The Last House on the Left.  They didn't have too much to say about the 80s, 90s and 00s, but they did touch on the possible resurgence of "grindhouse horror" as marked by the double feature Planet Terror/Death Proof and the spinoffs of the films fake trailers.

It was cool to see the seedy Times Square of back in the day, and clips from movies that seemed so controversial then but wouldn't make anyone blink an eye nowadays.  The interviews were a little "meh" and they were kind of repetitive since they only had about 7 or 8 people to interview for the documentary.  I did enjoy the discussion of LHOTH with David Hess, the appearance of Fred Williamson, and John Landis was pretty entertaining throughout.

This isn't the best movie documentary I've seen, but it's definitely worth checking out if you're interested in the genre.