Sex and Buttered Popcorn (1989)
This film chronicles the exploitation film business of the '30s and '40s. Though this documentary does provide ample footage of legendary films like 'Mom and Dad', 'Maniac', and 'Reefer Madness', its aim is not to provide artistic criticism (which, given the quality of these movies, is a wise choice). Rather, 'Sex and Buttered Popcorn' highlights the promoters of these films, complete with reminiscences from many of the top exploitation producers.
Most of the films under consideration dealt with some taboo issue that excited the public's interest and (often morbid) curiosity. 'Maniac', for example, ostensibly deals with mental illness, 'Mom and Dad' with teen pregnancy, 'Reefer Madness' with drug use. The promoters would use the films to excite, titillate, and often panic their crowds, then sell books and other materials dealing with the topic. In almost all instances, the movies were there to help sell other products, not to stand on their own. This subtlety is usually lost on modern viewers of these movies, especially "bad movie" fans who often cry, "What were they thinking?" This film goes a long way toward answering that question.
Granted, most of the films were laughably bad by modern standards, and one can only speculate on the quality of the materials these hucksters were dealing, but the surviving promoters certainly show no shame. The men in this movie, rather, are proud of what they did and speak with great joy of their days on the circuit.
If you're a fan of exploitation movies, this is indispensable viewing. If not, it's still a fascinating look at a misunderstood sector of the industry. (IMDB stuthehistoryguy)
|Dan Sonney - David F. Friedman|