Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Free flick: American Grindhouse

Free for you to view from Hulu.com: American Grindhouse, director Elijah Drenner's 2010 documentary about the various disreputable subgenres -- everything from nudie cuties to sci-fi cheapies, blaxploitation melodramas to blood-soaked splatter flicks -- that define exploitation cinema.

As I reported for Variety while reviewing the movie at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival, "Drenner neatly balances wink-wink irony with enthusiastic affection while employing an extensive array of film clips to illustrate the sometimes serious, sometimes snarky commentary by film historians, veteran actors and moviemakers who have produced and/or enjoyed exploitation fare... Definitions are vague and lines of demarcation are smudgy -- there's even some debate over what a true 'grindhouse' really is, or was -- but the lack of precision seems altogether appropriate for a pic about such unabashedly slapdash product."

Among the interviewees: Directors Jack Hill (The Big Bird Cage), Don Edmonds (Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS), Jonathan Kaplan (Truck Turner) and Larry Cohen (Black Caesar). But wait, there's more: A few "expert witnesses" -- including filmmakers John Landis and Joe Dante -- pop up now and then to express their unabashed appreciation for these and other schlockmeisters. Indeed, Landis goes so far as to suggest that Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is no better, and maybe worse, than any exploitation movie he's ever seen. No kidding.

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