If you are looking for last-minute gifts, look no further! “Grindhouse” movies referred to the low-budget exploitation movies that played New York’s Time Square district in the late 60’s and 70’s – these 42nd Street theaters usually offered triple bills of low-rent, low class features, “grinding out” non-stop 24 hours a day. The theaters were dens of sex, drugs, and of course, movie going at times as well. You entered these rundown theaters for cheap thrills and the possibility of life-changing violence, and that was just from your fellow patrons. This era ended with the advent of VHS movies, which meant you could get your thrills at home – without being assaulted. The glory era of “grindhouse” was from the mid-60’s to the late 70’s, when Times Square sleaze was at its peak, and drive-in theaters around the country routinely booked these movies to teens looking for cheap thrills. Unfortunately, the drive-in theater is almost extinct and as we all know, Times Square has retained none of that era of sleaze.
To celebrate this low-rent era of sex and violence, here are my top 10 Grindhouse movies, either from that era or imspired by that era…grab a machete and a shotgun and let’s go!
10-Not Quite Hollywood. We were not alone in our love of sex and violence. The Australian film industry in the 70’s and 80’s also embraced this dangerous mix, and this documentary celebrates those films, and filmmakers. A terrific look at our exploitation friends down under.
9- The Blood Red Trilogy. Herschell Gordon Lewis was the “Godfather Of Gore”. There is a terrific documentary just released all about him, but this great movie trilogy will tell you all you need to know – “Blood Feast” started it all with the tease line “nothing so appalling in the annals of horror!” And perhaps, nothing so appalling in film making, but it didn’t matter – Times Square audiences flocked to see this non-stop fountain of bloodletting, and drive-ins across America were filled with carloads of kids seeking cheap thrills never before seen onscreen…this set also includes the outrageous “2000 Maniacs” and “Color Me Blood Red.” Something Weird Video is a leader in restoring many of these classic exploitation features, so go to their website and support them. Exploitationers, start your engines!
8-Machete Maidens. Step back, Australia, the Philippines had their own era of exploitation, and this new documentary celebrates the best of the worst from that region. In an era when life was cheap, this docu showcases an bygone era of “anything goes!”
7-Chillerama – Directors Joe (Wrong Turn 2) Lynch and Adam (Frozen) Green are just two of the Directors who contributed to this anthology that celebrates the grindhouse era. Get the unrated version and let these talented filmmakers take you back to a bygone era of sex and violence.
6-Vampire Circus – Hammer Films set a new standard for horror in the 60’s, but even they felt the need to ramp it up to stay relevant in the post “Blood Feast” era. Behold 1971’s “Vampire Circus”, a crazy blend of traditional horror and psychodelic sex and violence as a town is gripped by vampires – and circus freaks! The terrific Synapse Films blu-ray includes a documentary about the film as well, a great package…
5-The Body Beneath. Ever heard of prolific Director Andy Milligan? Well, he battled Ed Wood for the title of world’s worst Director, and this is arguably his masterwork. “The Body Beneath” is low-budget, woodenly acted and gloriously soaked in sex and violence. If you must, also check out his classics “The Ghastly Ones”, “Bloodthirsty Butchers” and “Fleshpot on 42nd Street” to really appreciate the man…and yes, I have a book all about his world of micro-budget movie making – they might not be good, but he made more movies that you did, so there!
4-Suspiria – sometimes, exploitation can be good! Dario Argento mastered a form of italian thriller called the “Giallo”, their version of grindhouse movies – full of sex and violence, with a hynoptic european quality that sometimes was just as sleazy as the US – see “Strip Nude For Your Killer” as a perfect example – or they can be as stylish and spellbinding as “Suspiria”…definitely your first step into the world of Argento.
3-The Sinful Dwarf. This 1974 Danish film grew to legendary status – as almost everyone denied it existed – but oh yes, it does! And it is just a wrong as the title suggests…read that again – IT IS JUST AS WRONG AS THE TITLE SUGGESTS – but if you want to slide down into the bowels of grindhouse, this is the one for you! A flophouse is run by a woman with peculiar friends and atrocious singling ability (trust me, they prove it!), but even worse, her son is a sinful…well you get it. Nothing good happens to anyone who check into this place! There is a XXX-version, but it is just a minute or two of hardcore material inserted into the movie randomly. The other version is more than sleazy enough for you, I promise.
2-Thriller, A Cruel Picture. If you don’t know who Christina Lindburg is, you missed out on Sweden’s most beautiful young exploitation star of the early 70’s. She only made a few movies, but has received legendary status in sexploitation circles, and this is her masterwork…
Quentin Tarantino called it “the roughest revenge movie ever made!” and he’s not far off…this is exactly what a grindhouse movie was all about: non-stop sex and violence. Enjoy!
1-42nd Street Forever. There are a number of movie trailer compilations in the market now that celebrate the grindhouse era, but this is the first, and the best. When you watch this onslaught of movie trailer madness, you are taken back to the grimy theaters that showed these masterworks…once again, Synapse Films delivers the goods!
If you tell me you want more, I will do the next 10 sexploitation classic in time for Valentine’s Day – leave a message!
Categories: 70's Cinema, Action Films, Australia, Christina Lindberg, Foreign Films, Grindhouse, Horror films, Japanese Sexploitation Movies, Movies, Obscure Movies, Revenge Movies, Sexploitation Movies, Travel