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Eric Schaefer

Related: American exploitation - exploitation film - early exploitation film

The term exploitation film is derived from the practice of exploitation, advertising or promotional techniques that went over and above typical posters, trailers, and newspaper ads. . . . During the postwar years, the designation of exploitation film was gradually expanded to include almost any low-budget movie with a topical bent. During the 1960s and 1970s, the term was modified to indicate the subject that was being exploited, such as for "sexploitation" and "blaxploitation" movies. But it was only from the 1950S that the term became more fluid. --"Bold! Daring! Shocking! True: A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959 (1999) - Eric Schaefer

Classical exploitation films were disreputable when they were originally released, and the mainstream industry went to great lengths to stamp them out. Histories of the motion picture medium passed them by. Their current position is as part of the "bad film" cult. --"Bold! Daring! Shocking! True: A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959 (1999) - Eric Schaefer, page 9

By the early 196os, the terms art theater and art film had become synonymous with nudity, completing the cycle begun with Ecstasy. Exploitation director Barry Mahon could claim, "So-called exploitation pictures originally started with the idea that it's European, therefore it's artistic and consequently it's risque?" --"Bold! Daring! Shocking! True: A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959 (1999) - Eric Schaefer, page 336


Eric Schaefer is a film scholar.

Dr. Schaefer's primary research interests are film history, exploitation film and other marginalized cinemas, popular culture, and postwar film and television. His essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies and he is the author of the award-winning book "Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!": A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959. He is currently working on Massacre of Pleasure: A History of Sexploitation Films, 1960-1979. Dr. Schaefer is also active in the area of film preservation and serves on editorial board of The Moving Image, the journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists. --http://www.emerson.edu/media_arts/index.cfm?doc_id=166&facultyID=445 [Nov 2005]

"Bold! Daring! Shocking! True: A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959 (1999) - Eric Schaefer

(1999) - Eric Schaefer [FR] [DE] [UK]

Eric Schaefer's readable history of exploitation movies begins with a description of what the genre ain't--the rabid "nudie pics" of Russ Meyer (Faster, Pussycat, Kill! Kill!) and the drecky, knowing arthouse flicks made by Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey (Andy Warhol's Dracula). Though these camp movies are sometimes labeled "exploitation," they do not exactly fit Schaefer's definition. For him, exploitation is the brand of movie that puts nudity and antisocial behavior up on the screen in the name of civic-mindedness and healthy social conscience--and with a wink. Between 1919 and 1959, sexual hygiene and antidrug movies with kicky, lascivious titles such as No Greater Sin (1939), Call Girls (1959), Nudist Land (1937), and Paroled from the Big House (1938) traveled through the country outside regular theater chains, advertising themselves as "shocking" yet educational. The posters didn't slouch either. No Greater Sin promised viewers, "You'll gasp, you'll wince, you'll shudder... so powerful, many will faint!" Schaefer argues that studying the films tells us cartloads about the way Puritanical America grappled with complex issues like premarital sex, drugs, infidelity, and alternative lifestyles. And he may be right: by 1959, audiences had begun turning to European films like And God Created Woman, films that treated exploitation movie subjects legitimately. The story of a lost culture, Bold! Daring! Shocking! True! is finally an archaeology of the immediate past that throws our present incoherence about sex, public-mindedness, virtue, and immediate gratification into high and sometimes hilarious relief. With priceless historical black-and-white photographs. --Lyall Bush, Amazon.com


  1. "An Attempt to 'Commercialize Vice' ": Origins of the Exploitation Film
      What they are not: They are not stag films or pornographic films, they played in legitimate theatres, not smokers, nor brothels
      What they are (1919-1959)
    1. Forbidden topic: Sex, sex hygiene, prostitution, vice, drug use, nudity, and anything in bad taste
    2. Made cheaply
    3. Distributed independently
    4. Exhibited in theatres not affiliated with the majors
    5. Few prints in release
  2. "A Hodge-Podge of Cutting and Splicing": The Mode of Production and the Style of Classical Exploitation Films
  3. "You Gotta Tell 'Em to Sell 'Em" Distribution, Advertising, and Exhibition of Exploitation Films
  4. "Thoroughly Vile and Disgusting":The Exploitation Film and Censorship
  5. “‘No False Modesty, No Old-Fashioned Taboos’: The Sex Hygiene Film”
  6. “The Monster That Caters to Thrill-Hungry Youth”: The Drug Film
  7. “Timely as Today's Front Page”: Vice, Exotic, and Atrocity Films
  8. “They Wear No Clothes!”: Nudist and Burlesque Films
  9. Conclusion: The End of Classical Exploitation

See also: nudist film - exploitation film - nudism

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