Furious Grindhouse Genres: Part 1
In this new series, we’ll be listing a variety of popular grindhouse genres and subgenres, explain them for beginners (or newcomers), and provide outstanding examples and links to further reading for interested minds. We’ll kick off things off with a colorful mix to help you fill up those cold Winter evenings when exciting furious b-cinema is crucially needed!
In the late 1960s and 70s the Italian studios took the basic plots of popular World War II films such as the men on a mission classic The Dirty Dozen among others and did them their own way. The results were pulpy b-movies that didn’t always quite hit the mark but provided European and American audiences with alternative kinds of quirky, action-adventure war films. Notable titles include: Inglorious Bastards, Five For Hell, Eagles Over London, The Dirty Heroes and Commandos.
Following the success of hit Hollywood crime films like Bullitt, Dirty Harry, Serpico and The Godfather, Italian studios and filmmakers set out to do their own kinds of rebellious cop and mafia stories. These productions ended up being violent, action packed exploitation films and featured popular European actors of the day like Maurizio Merli, Tomas Milian, Luc Merenda, Franco Nero, Mario Adorf and others. Notable titles include: Milano Calibro 9, Emergency Squad, Live Like a Cop Die Like A Man, Kidnapped, Mad Dog Killer, The Big Racket.
Set in the rural American South, this genre dealt mainly with hootin’ hillbillies, mad as hell moonshiners and other crazy cracker characters. There were all types of hick flicks that spanned a wide variety of formats including crime dramas, horror films, thrillers and comedies. Notable titles include: White Lightning, Moonrunners, Six Pack Annie, Dixie Dynamite, Walking Tall, Hot Summer in Barefoot County, Preacherman and Polk County Pot Plane.
The kung fu craze in America took off in the early 1970s when movies such as the Shaw Brothers classic Five Fingers of Death and Bruce Lee’s smash hit Enter The Dragon were released into theaters. From that point on these kinds of Asian asskicker flix were all the rage with audiences and became a staple of inner city Grindhouses where they would be shown on double and triple bills regularly into the 80s and early 90s.
This subgenre initially got its start in the 1950s with hardboiled female crime dramas then came back with a bang in the early 70s with a more action packed, sexploitation edge. Films like The Big Doll House, The Big Bird Cage, Women In Cages, The Hot Box, Caged Heat and many others provided adult audiences in Grindhouses and Drive-Ins with loads of erotic thrills, action and humor.
Taking inspiration from Hitchcock’s Psycho and the Italian giallo (murder/mystery) craze, what we know as the modern Slasher film began in the mid 70s with Black Christmas, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween. The early 1980s was when the subgenre truly exploded and gave audiences furious fright films like Friday The 13th, My Bloody Valentine, The Burning, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Maniac, Don’t Go in The House, Sleepaway Camp and many more.
We’ll be back shortly with the next installment of our Furious Grindhouse Genres series. We welcome readers to post some of your favorite films and/or genres below in our comments section.