Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Grindhouse



Roger Eberts and Russ Meyers Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

Hobo with a Shotgun is a mock trailer for a Grindhouse film directed by Jason Eisener. The trailer was made for Robert Rodriguez's South by Southwest Grindhouse trailer competition (Austin, Texas). An example of "traditional" Grindhouse and fairly impacting too. The idea of a hobo is perfect in its context as most anti-heroes such as Batman etc are exiles who in their isolation are able to serve justice above and below the law. So the story isn't so slapped together as an amateur Grindhouse fan might perceive, indeed usually filmmakers who reigned in these genres would aim for quite lofty philosophical morals or ideals and then produce the analogies in film form very low-brow. Not purposefully however, simply "because" (Insert your own theory here).

Now I haven't explored a lot of Grindhouse films, but traditionally they come from I believe the 1950s and 1960s where double-features would show a couple of "screamers" to audiences looking for a bit of horror, sex and gore - or audiences looking for a dark row of seats to get in a smattering of sex whilst watching horror, sex and gore. It's not a genre I immediately take to. The reason for that is I just don't find obvious goof or malicious quips amusing - sure I don't mind toilet humor if done well, or violent slapstick if written into a clever scenario, but I can't seem to "get into" blood and guts. This is not to say that I don't fully appreciate other people's love of it, for me, I find myself for want of something else.

But this isn't a post on my opinion of Grindhouse, it's a post on Grindhouse. As I mentioned it isn't a genre I am too familiar with but a quick search on Google took me to some interesting sites that know everything about Grindhouse, so if you are interested there is Grindhouse dot com and Grindhouse Releasing, for all your Grindhouse needs.

Now, Grindhouse is a portmanteau of "Bump and Grind" and House (A term for cinemas and dance music - indeed, Grindhouse soundtracks made into techno tracks could be called Grindhouse Music). Traditionally Grindhouse was primarily pornographic, and filmmakers such as Barry Mahon who directed Errol Flynn's Cuban Rebel Girls went on to make loads of Grindhouse flicks including The Dead One, Run Swinger Run!, and Fanny Hill Meets Dr. Erotico. Now I know that much and am interested in Barry Mahon, especially since he directed Errol Flynn's final film. So I think I'm more keen on the "Grind" element then the "Bump".



Errol Flynn and Barry Mahon's Cuban Rebel Girls.

So Grindhouse sits under the umbrella of "exploitation movies" and here in Australia Quentin Tarantino coined Australian exploitation films as "Aussiesploitation" which was then modified by Not Quite Hollywood direct Mark Hartley as "Ozploitation". I am an avid fan of 1970's Australian cinema like Alvin Purple and The Adventures of Barry McKenzie but they are not exactly Grindhouse films.



The Adventures of Barry McKenzie - with Barry Humphries and Barry Crocker.

Anyway, if there is a bandwagon, I'm a little belated jumping on it, if ever I will truly perch myself on it indefinitely. The current trend for this kind of filmmaking I do believe comes not from Man With A Movie Camera exactly but in our age of digital technology, from Any Man, His Dog, And A Movie Camera. It also derives from our "Fast Nation" attitude, fast food and fast films. In the day I suspect people were making "exploitation films" in the same way that photographers were once seen to be taking "naughty seaside postcards", however these days true exploitation may need to explore themes "psychological" or "sexual" that if we look around our mass media are shunned from or repressed. Maybe films like Humpday are on the right track, perhaps there might be an amalgamation of contexts and genres.

Whatever the case may be, as far as where we are at culturally, we could make it very interesting times ... or not.

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