That’s Sexploitation! (2013)

thatssexploitationIn conjunction with the mighty Something Weird Video, cult director Frank Henenlotter (Frankenhooker) takes moviegoers on an epic, yet whirlwind tour of a film genre as old as cinema itself. Ladies and gentlemen, That’s Sexploitation!

For assistance, Henenlotter calls upon someone who not only knows his sexploitation history inside and out (and in and out), but had a hand in directly steering it: the legendary producer and distributor David F. Friedman, who died in 2011; the finished film is rightfully, lovingly dedicated to him. While I would have preferred to see more than one talking head contributing to the documentary — especially one of such significant length, as it runs two hours and 15 minutes — Friedman was renowned for a colorful personality. It’s on full display and matched only by his wit as he takes viewers through sexploitation’s life cycle, from its demure birth to its death, when hardcore pornography took over and, as a result, says Friedman, “the fun stopped.”

thatssexploitation1But wasn’t it fun while it lasted? Henenlotter is out to prove that with an emphatic “hell, yes!” With a cup-runneth-over wealth of clips, the doc beckons you through the entire tits-a-twirlin’ timeline of subgenres: morality scares (Damaged Goods), “goona-goona”/jungle natives (Ingagi), peep-show loops, instructional/hygiene (USS VD: Ship of Shame), strip/burlesque (Teaserama), nudie cuties (The Immoral Mr. Teas), roughies (The Defilers), dopers (The Acid Eaters) and white-coaters (Man and Wife).

Among those whose work is featured are behind-the-camera trailblazers like Russ Meyer, Herschel Gordon Lewis, Doris Wishman and Michael Findlay, and such in-front talents as Bettie Page, Blaze Starr, Lili St. Cyr and Tempest Storm. Henenlotter is nothing if not thorough, and while he obviously loves these films, he doesn’t pretend they are something they’re not; of one group in particular, he remarks, “They were called ‘nudie cuties.’ And they were the stupidest films on the face of the earth!” That much, we knew. But even to those well-versed in sexploitation, this documentary still has lessons to teach. It’s jarring, for example, to see an example of a silent hardcore, complete with an “I’m going to fuck you!” title card. —Rod Lott

Get it at Fandor.

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