Furious Grindhouse Genres: Part 2
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.
In the early 1970s the Civil Rights Movement was raging and Hollywood began to focus on a new kind of cinema about the African-American community. The films that are now considered the main forerunners of this genre (given the controversial term “blaxploitation”) would be Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasss Song and Shaft (both 1971). Each of the films featured strong, rebellious main characters who fought against “The Man” (usually powerful white criminals or corrupt/racist law enforcement figures). This finally gave Black Audiences their own supercool heroes to root for in movies. Over the next decade hundreds of films were made and spanned a wide variety of subgenres. Notable titles include: Super Fly, Coffy, Dolemite, Blacula, The Black Gestapo, Slaughter, Black Belt Jones.
This term was coined by filmmaker Mark Hartley (Not Quite Hollywood) as a shorter variation on Quentin Tarantino’s original description “Aussiesploitation”. In the 1970s, large tax cuts and a newly introduced R rating gave Aussie filmmakers the ability to produce a massive amount of low budget genre films aimed towards adult audiences. These productions (ranging from sex comedies to horror flicks to action-thrillers) often exploited Aussie stereotypes and Down Under topics to attract overseas audiences. Notable titles include: Alvin Purple, Mad Max, Patrick, Long Weekend, Stone, The Man From Hong Kong, The Adventures of Barry McKenzie, Wake in Fright.
The mixture of religion and sex has always been a taboo subject throughout history so it actually made perfect sense for tales about perverted and/or corrupted nuns and priests to become a major subgenre in classic B-cinema. The film that initially gave birth to this type of movie was Ken Russell’s highly controversial masterpiece The Devils. Throughout the 1970s European studios produced many exploitation films dealing with repressed female servants of God who secretly carry out their forbidden fantasies behind convent walls. Notable titles include: Killer Nun, The Nun of Monza, Story of a Cloistered Nun, School of The Holy Beast, Flavia the Heretic.
World War II gave us one of the most interesting and cinematic kind of movie criminals you could ask for. The evil Nazi has been a perfect archetype for big budget filmmakers to tell different kinds of stories about. The B-Movies were no different and they even had a subgenre specifically about these diabolical agents of Hitler. One of the most well known cult classics would be Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS. The story focuses on a sadistic Nazi female prison warden (Dyanne Thorne) who commits heinous acts of barbarism on her victims. These lurid, violent shock movies gave Grindhouse audiences some very twisted sights and sounds to gape at in the dark. Other notable titles include: Love Camp 7, SS Hell Camp, Salon Kitty, Red Nights of the Gestapo.
This sci fi/horror-thriller subgenre also known as “Nature Strikes Back” or “Nature Runs Amuck” deals with critters that turn on their human co-habitants and wreak horrendous havoc. Such things as gigantic killer insects, rabid mangy mutts and flesh eating fishies made great subject matter for low budget filmmakers to exploit in a variety of entertaining ways. Notable titles include: THEM!, Frogs, Piranha, Squirm, Grizzly, Kingdom of The Spiders, Alligator.
In the early 20th century films like White Zombie (1932) and I Walked With a Zombie (1943) introduced movie audiences to a kind of horrific cousin to the vampires seen in Nosferatu and Dracula. It wasnt until George A. Romero’s 1968 cult classic Night of The Living Dead that the zombie subgenre really took off and spawned lots of exploitation movies about the walking deceased who could only be killed by a gunshot to their melons. Classics include: Dawn of The Dead, Zombi 2, Shock Waves, Dead and Buried.
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.