Friday, April 8, 2016

THAT'S SEXPLOITATION! (2013) (Blu-ray Review)

Label: Severin Films
Release Date: April 26th 2016 
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 136 Minutes
Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Stereo 
Video: 1080i HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Frank Henennlotter
Cast: David F. Friedman, Frank Henenlotter

That's Sexploitation! is a fun and naughty documentary that guides you through the illicit history of nudie movies in America, the doc is directed by Frank Henenlotter who brought the classic b-movie Basket Case and Frankenhooker. Henenlotter introduced the doc and then hands over the reigns to sexploitation pioneer David F. Friedman who then walks us through the story decade by decade, film by film, and the damn thing is jam-packed with eye-popping vintage nudie clips. The story begins back in the 1920s, with with the advent of cinema it was just about impossible that sex would not eventually end on celluloid and in the homes of nudie lovers with the proliferation of 16mm film projectors. 

From there Friedman and Henenlotter take us through the decades of nudie movies in all their wonderful varieties from the silent era on through to the pre-code peeps, then onto the roughies, the burlesque loops, the psychedelic druggies, the nudist movies and the doctor-approved "white coaters", right up to the proliferation of hardcore sex movies which all but brought an end of the innocent softcore nudie movies. Watching this was a load of dirty fun, the tour through the cinema smut was both a cinema education and a cheap thrill. Not having the most robust background in early dirty movies I found this both a fun watch and a turn-on, hanging onto every word and clip. 

Henenlotter is quite a storyteller in his own right, but he leaves most of the storytelling this time around  to the very charming Friedman who passed on shortly after his interviews were filmed for this doc, sadly he never saw it finished. Friedman touches on many of the notable players from the nudie era, names like Herschel Gordon Lewis, Russ Meyer, husband and wife duo Michael and Roberts Findlay and the Queen of the Nudist films herself Doris Wishman. Friedman also points out that the nudist movies have their  origins in Hitler's Third Reich of all places, though I might need to fact check that one, haha. 

I found the clinical sex hygiene films to be quite an eye opener, as were the sex education scare films which were meant to scare kids and soldiers off of sex with alarming graphics and grotesque pics of diseased schlongs, some of which were real stomach churners. One of the movies features a shot of a baby being birthed straight from the source, a brief but graphic shot that might get that gag reflex going on some of you weaker stomached viewers. 

Friedman notably perks up when he spoke of the '60's, an era he called the "decade of innocent decadence", speaking about the orgiastic drug fueled nudie films that were drenched in hippie-nudity, with plenty of go-go dancing and psychedelic op-art visuals layered upon them, my favorites of the bunch were Hedonistic Pleasure and Psychedelic Sex Freak, both were vibrant and fun with a wonderful Davie Allen-esque fuzzed-out guitar score. The roughies gets some good play, with clips from Aroused, Tortured Females, Bad Girls Go To Hell, and Friedman's own standard-setting roughie The Defilers. 

Friedman also speaks of the Motion Picture Production Code, also known as the Hays Code, and the introduction of Jack Valenti and Motion Picture Association of America and the effect that both organizations had on nudie cutie movies of the era, providing some context for each of the eras. The doc doesn't go into the advent of hardcore porno much at all, other than to say that once the hardcore cinemas proliferated it was the doom for the more innocent nudie films.

Henenlotter and Friedman really put sexploitation on front street with this doc, a gorgeous eye-popping love letter to a more innocent time of nudie films, and if that is not enough to draw you in might I suggest the entire two hour plus doc is worth a watch just to catch a glimpse of the Batman parody Bat Pussy, with female hero Dora Dildo, alias Bat Pussy, a crime fighter who jumps into action when her twat begins to twitch!

Audio/Video: That's Sexploitation! is a Severin Films/Something Weird Video team-up, who bring it to Blu-ray framed in 1.78 widescreen, the 1080i image looks generally good but the abundance of rare and vintage clips of nudie awesomeness does tend to fluctuate in quality from scene to scene and era to era, but I never less that watchable. A few of these clips are coming up on 100 years of age, all things considered I think it looks great. The movie is bookended with Frank Henenlotter at a strip club, shot on digital video and looking great, as do the David F. Friedman interview clips. The English LPCM 2.0 audio sounds just fine, it does fluctuate along with the video quality based on the quality of the source material but is otherwise clean and discernible. 

Onto the extras we have an audio commentary with director Frank Henenlotter and Something Weird Video’s Lisa Petrucci. Co-producer Mike Vraney of Something Weird Video passed on in early 2014, and both Henenloter and Petrucci talk at length about his contribution and love for the project. While Henenlotter took a bit of backseat to Friedman on the doc this commentary is where he gets to become the animated storyteller we know and love, the guy can go forever about this stuff, and thankfully does just that! Speaking in-depth about a few of the clips, some of the players, and his own story as a teen watching nudie films on 42nd Street, pointing out the cinemas he often frequented in his youth. 

In addition to the over-stuffed doc and audio commentary we have a trailer for the doc plus over three and a half hours of Sexploitation Shorts straight from the Something Weird Archives, which is all sorts of awesome!

Special Features: 

- Over 3 1/2 Hours of Sexploitation Shorts from the Something Weird Archives (213 Mins) 
- Audio Commentary with Director Frank Henenlotter and Something Weird's Lisa Petrucci 
- Trailer (2 Mins) 

That's Sexploitation is an expansice and detailed exploration of the nude films from the '20 through to the '70s, we're treated to a guided tour of peep shows, stags films, sex-hygiene films, nudie-cuties, roughies, druggies, and white coaters along with David F. Friedman, a man who lived and breathed nudie movies most of his life, and brought to you by Frank Henenlotter, a guy who has  loved them for most of his. Part cinema history lesson, part sleazy fun, and 100% awesome, highly recommended.