Sleaze Artists: Cinema at the Margins of Taste, Style, and Politics
Duke University Press, Oct 3, 2007 - Performing Arts - 340 pages
DIVBad Girls Go to Hell. Cannibal Holocaust. Eve and the Handyman. Examining film culture’s ongoing fascination with the low, bad, and sleazy faces of cinema, Sleaze Artists brings together film scholars with a shared interest in the questions posed by disreputable movies and suspect cinema. They explore the ineffable quality of “sleaze” in relation to a range of issues, including the production realities of low-budget exploitation pictures and the ever-shifting terrain of reception and taste.
Writing about horror, exploitation, and sexploitation films, the contributors delve into topics ranging from the place of the “Aztec horror film” in debates about Mexican national identity to a cycle of 1960s films exploring homosexual desire in the military. One contributor charts the distribution saga of Mario Bava’s 1972 film Lisa and the Devil through the highs and lows of art cinema, fringe television, grindhouse circuits, and connoisseur DVD markets. Another offers a new perspective on the work of Doris Wishman, the New York housewife turned sexploitation director of the 1960s who has become a cult figure in bad-cinema circles over the past decade. Other contributors analyze the relation between image and sound in sexploitation films and Italian horror movies, the advertising strategies adopted by sexploitation producers during the early 1960s, the relationship between art and trash in Todd Haynes’s oeuvre, and the ways that the Friday the 13th series complicates the distinction between “trash” and “legitimate” cinema. The volume closes with an essay on why cinephiles love to hate the movies.
Contributors. Harry M. Benshoff, Kay Dickinson, Chris Fujiwara, Colin Gunckel, Joan Hawkins, Kevin Heffernan, Matt Hills, Chuck Kleinhans, Tania Modleski, Eric Schaefer, Jeffrey Sconce, Greg Taylor/div
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
I had picked this up with the intention of reading "The Sleazy Pedigree of Todd Haynes," but, as happens with a strong collection, I ended up getting sucked in and reading Tania Modleski's take on Doris Wishman, Chuck Kleinhans on pornography and documentary, an excellent look at "homo-military" films, and a stirring call for discernment even in the throes of cultish geekery. As the volume's title declares, these are explorations of the margins (of cinema, of taste, etc.), but all of the contributors (at least the ones I read) express a nuanced understanding of how these "margins" are constructed and of the various interrelated registers of culture (high/low/art/mass/camp/trash/etc.). I appreciated the emphasis on hybridity, especially in the article about Haynes: it's too often that cinema is viewed as points along a (wholly arbitrarily constructed) spectrum, with, say, Russ Meyer at one end, one of my beloved mid-20th-century Europeans at the other, and Hitchcock or Welles squarely in the middle. (Actually, this is something that I felt pretty strongly when reading Greg Taylor's "Pure Quidditas or Geek Chic? Cultism as Discernment." If cinematic geekdom has two extremes [using the spectrum above as the model:], my interests are located at the Artsy end...and yet I feel an incredible affinity for my fellow geeks at the Sleazy end. We're basically in the same boat: waiting for obscure treasures to show up in theaters or on DVD, endlessly picking apart scenes and fragments and trivia, obsessively educating ourselves and defending our predilections even when those around us--who just watch movies the way Normal People watch movies--think we're unhinged or perverse.) Anyway, it's a fascinating collection--all over the place in terms of genres and directors and arguments--and there's a lot to ponder. Modleski's piece in particular gets into some reconsidering of traditional feminist film theory (and feminist theory more broadly), which is exciting (and very appropriately ends with the demand for bad girls to unite). Good, interesting stuff.
Review: Sleaze Artists: Cinema at the Margins of Taste, Style, and PoliticsUser Review - Goodreads
Sconce verbalizes in this book an idea I have called "The esthetic of Half-assery." Sconce calls it "Genius of poverty." My pal Jake Stroh calls it "low tech, high touch." A few nice essays. Over-all, however, not my cup of tea.
Pandering to the Coon Trade Framing the Sexploitation Audience through Advertising
Doris Wishman as the Last Auteur
Representing Repressed Homosexuality in the PreStonewall Hollywood HomoMilitary Film
Pornography and Documentary Narrating the Alibi
Origins and Anatomy of the Aztec Horror Film
Art House or House of Exorcism? The Changing Distribution and Reception Contexts of Mario Bavas Lisa and the Devil
Troubling Synthesis The Horrific Sights and Incompatible Sounds of Video Nasties
The Sleazy Pedigree of Todd Haynes