Documentary

That’s Sexploitation! (2013)

Comments Off on That’s Sexploitation! (2013) 11 July 2016

thatssexploitation

Studio: Severin

Theatrical Release: June 23, 2013 (limited) 

Blu Ray Release: April 26, 2016 

Director: Frank Henenlotter

Not Rated

Review by James Klein

From the director the Basket Case Trilogy comes the documentary That’s Sexploitation, a love letter to the heyday of sexploitation films starting from the late 1920’s all the way thru the late 1960’s until pornography took over and basically killed the more innocent nudie film. Running over two hours, this overlong and at times tedious documentary takes viewers down memory lane with not just sexploitation feature films but with shorts, loops, stag films, roughies, and even sex-hygiene films.

Narrated by Henenlotter and featuring a lengthy interview with the late producer David F. Friedman that is inter cut throughout the movie, That’s Sexploitation in my opinion is at it’s most interesting from the start of the film. The movie begins with a brief introduction of pre-code films; films and shorts released before 1933 when sex, drugs, and violence could be shown in films. While the well known films like Reefer Madness and Marijuana are mentioned, it’s the sexploitation shorts like Uncle Cy and the Sirens about a man who uses his television receiver to see topless hulu dancers that I found most fascinating. This silent short was one of the first known sexploitation films and a real treat to watch.

Exploitation producer Friedman, who looks so frail and sickly, does discuss some of the films that he has produced over the years but the documentary sadly just focuses on sexploitation transitions from peekaboo shorts, to burlesque, to nudie camp films, to feature films. While briefly mentioned, I would have loved to hear more about Friedman’s partnership with Herschell Gordon Lewis who together made several nudie films prior to the horror breakout, Blood Feast. While I loved seeing some of this rare footage (I particularly loved seeing the behind the scenes footage of the making of these shorts) the movie is basically a hodge podge of Henenlotter’s favorite nudie/sexploitation shorts. When the film shifts to the 1950’s, shorts were a bit more cleaned up with many of the shorts being burlesque shows which I find terribly boring. The film stops dead in its tracks for me as we witness scene after scene of these burlesque shows, offering nothing to the viewer in terms of how these shorts were shot and how they were distributed. Personally, I wanted more of a history lesson on sexploitation than a clips show and that is the problem I had with That’s Sexploitation, it’s mostly clips and sequences of thousands of different sexploitation films / shorts.

Co-produced by the late Mike Vraney of Something Weird Video, Severin’s release of That’s Sexploitation feels like a Something Weird release all the way which is a good thing. The blu ray has over three hours worth of sexploitation shorts / loops / hygiene films that have been sought after for years, thought to have been forgotten. Fans can now enjoy watching Uncle Cy and the Sirens, Nude Frolics, Naked Fury, Bullfight Watusi, and How the Nudist Keeps Fit and many, many more in glorious HD. Severin does give the viewer a great disc for fans of this era.

Also included (aside from the trailer) is an audio commentary by Henenlotter and Something Weird’s own Lisa Petrucci, the widow of Mike Vraney. Their commentary track is worth a listen as what they discuss exactly what I thought was missing from the documentary. They bring up how they found these forgotten films, they discuss various stories on Friedman as well as H.G. Lewis, their favorite era of sexploitation, as well as how these films were shown to the public (I was amazed that most of the early shorts were shown at carnivals and circuses). I did find it annoying that Henenlotter would start a story that seemed like it was going to be good, only to be sidetracked by what is playing on the screen. This happens a few times and I found myself grinding my teeth at how annoying it was becoming because he never got back to what he was about to say.

I would have preferred a more in depth look at sexploitation films and while I found the documentary interesting and at times fun and humorous to watch, it is not much more than just two hours of clips.

Movie Rating: ★★½☆☆

Blu Ray Rating: ★★★★☆

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