Yeah yeah, I know there's a lot of long black haired Eastern spooky girls to write about, but I got caught up in a series of documentaries on movie making - the most entertaining (to me) being those about exploitation movies. I was fortunate to have found Blackenstein (To Stop This Mutha Takes One Bad Brutha) and a few others that I will put on here in the next day or two, barring of course my fibro taking over and commanding me to be flat on my back.
'How could you like films that exploit (fill blank here)?' You might ask. Easy. If you think about it in a twisted, warped kind of way (which is the only way my brain works) EVERY film exploits something. It's just that in the 60's and 70's they were a bit more blatant about it - pushing boundaries to see what they could get away with and what people would pay to see.
Oh sure, they're a tiny bit more subtle nowadays - but doesn't horror exploit your fears, teenage slasher films exploit the young, romantic films exploit your feelings and action movies exploit, uh, your willingness to pay out big bucks to watch stuff explode? And don't forget Disney - the biggest exploitation factory of all - they took our childhoods, warped our bedtime stories and made them scarier than crap cartoons that we watched and flinched through? You think they were great? How 'bout Dumbo's mom getting locked up and kept away from her kid, Bambi's dad AND mom dying horribly, and the valiant knight fighting the horrific dragon? Every stepmother was evil, every kid had tragedy early in life and we were supposed to believe in happy endings?
Ahem. <puts away soap box> So as I was saying, Netflix has several very good documentaries on film trends as well as some hilarious examples of film trailers and, of course, the infamous late night hosts that got us through some of the most hideous movies ever committed to film. But I sort of started focusing on the exploitation factor and found out some interesting stuff.
Yeah, we've heard of the blaxploitation stuff, women-in-prison stuff, even reversing roles like having women bikers or women gangs - but did you know how important the Philippines were to 70's American Cinema?
Lets start with the biggest movie made there that you could call an exploitation of the Vietnam War era: Apocalypse Now. Made in 1979 for $31.5 million (in inflation dollars that's about $98,077,691.75 as of last year). Why would I malign the great name of Francis Ford Coppola and the bevy of huge stars in this epic movie that made big, big money?
Well, for one, according to one documentary, if you asked just about any Vietnam vet if it was an accurate depiction of their experience, you'd either get hysterical laughter or righteous indignation. Despite Coppola's assertion that this was not "like" the Vietnam war, it WAS Vietnam, it has been stated that it was not even close. Yup, Brando, Duvall and Sheen were past wonderful in this film fraught with tragedies: Brando was way overweight for his role, Sheen suffered a heart attack on the set, and tropical storms nearly decimated their work - but it was huge, it was epic, it was FICTION.
Another was its actual filming location: the Phillipines. In the 70's film makers flocked to this country for several reasons - cost, scenery and cost. Sets were cheap. Life was cheap. If an extra was instructed to, say, fall off a roof pretending to be shot they did - they were not stunt men. They were barely paid - some as little as $5 a day. And they suffered. Fortunately although injuries were common, deaths were not - only one was mentioned as being confirmed and that was their word so take it as you will.
But for the 70's exploitation films were the rage (and of course usually involved lots and lots of naked women) because, after all, would you go see a film full of naked guys? Don't answer that.
But the following reviews should be fun until I find something else that tickles me (or my mental fog will wipe out every clever thing I meant to say).