Thursday, May 30, 2013

Junesploitation: A Primer

We're kicking off our first-ever Junesploitation in just two days! Here's a helpful resource to help you get through the month.

So let's talk about getting ready for Junesploitation. If you're unfamiliar with exploitation movies, they're basically any movie built around an exploitable element -- a "hook" that can easily be sold to audiences who want to see that sort of thing. Extreme violence and sex are common elements of exploitation movies, but they aren't necessary; pretty much every category we'll be covering in the month of June can be considered the exploitable element (cars, ninjas, teenagers, rock music). While the exploitation genre as we now know it became most prevalent in the 1960s and '70s thanks to drive-ins and 24-hour movie theaters, exploitation has been around as long as movies have.

If you're a Netflix Instant subscriber (or even if you're not), check out the 2010 documentary American Grindhouse for a good overview. It goes into the seedier side of exploitation (which we generally avoided in choosing categories), but it has a bunch of great talking heads like Kim Morgan, John Landis and Joe Dante and features dozens of clips. For advanced studies, also watch 2010's Machete Maidens Unleashed!, a doc about the hundreds of exploitation movies shot for Roger Corman in the Philippines during the '70s. Many of those were directed by Cirio Santiago, the king of Filipino exploitation. Between those two documentaries, you should get a bunch of ideas for stuff to watch during Junesploitation. They're great.

BUT if you would still like some help, click on the links in each of the categories below. For the most part, they should take you to available titles on Netflix Instant, but in a few cases it's linked to a Wikipedia list. At least you'll have an idea of stuff to choose from. Just keep in mind that you can really pick ANYTHING that you think fits into the category, whether it appears on any of these lists or not. That's the fun of Junesploitation!

June 1 - Cars!
June 2 - Revenge!
June 3 - Italian horror!
June 4 - Pam Motherfucking Grier!
June 5 - Samurai & Ninjas!
June 6 - Sci-fi!
June 7 - Zombies!
June 8 - Charles Bronson!
June 9 - Prison!
June 10 - Cannon Films!
June 11 - Badass Chicks!
June 12 - Spaghetti Westerns!
June 13 - Vincent Price!
June 14 - Blaxploitation!
June 15 - '80s Action!
June 16 - Free Space!
June 17 - Slashers!
June 18 - Sid Haig!
June 19 - Kung fu!
June 20 - Roger Corman!
June 21 - Teensploitation!
June 22 - Fred Williamson!
June 23 - Ozploitation!
June 24 - Rock 'n Roll!
June 25 - '80s Horror!
June 26 - War!
June 27 - Monsters!
June 28 - Free Space!
June 29 - Peplum!
June 30 - Post-apocalypse!

Keep in mind that the Netflix categorization is problematic, and that a lot of movies show up in the wrong categories or don't show up at all. A movie like Dead End Drive-in barely shows up in a Netflix search, but would work for multiple categories: Cars!, Post-apocalpyse!, Ozploitation! Some searches offer very few returns. There is no search term for "Badass Chicks," so you've got to do some digging.

And that's the trick -- do some digging. If you aren't well-versed in exploitation movies but would like to be, use this month to seek out new titles that interest you. Wikipedia has a good overview of many categories, but you should also visit sites like Daily Grindhouse or The Deuce, which go much more in depth in the genres and specific titles. 

But maybe exploitation isn't your thing -- at least, not in the classic '60s, '70s and '80s sense. Just because you don't want to watch some grungy kung-fu movie that played on 42nd Street doesn't mean you can't play along by watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The goal is for all of us to watch more movies and talk about them.

Are you crazy excited yet?? WE ARE!!



  1. Hmm, so I guess this means I have to be your bestest friend in the whole world now. One of the first things you'll learn about me is I'm not very good at following through on promises. Also, could you lend me $20? Hey, I think I'll go with "Friendship!" for one of my free spaces!

    Unfortunately this is a busy month for me - bunch of birthdays (including mine on June "Spaghetti Westerns!"), a family gathering, Man of Steel - but looking forward to participating as much as possible. I'll start with American Grindhouse tonight!

    It's going to be a Baadasssss! month!

    1. *high five*

      I, too, have a birthday in June! It's a mere 6 days after yours on June "Sid Haig!"

    2. Right on buddy - now whenever I read my horoscope I'll know EXACTLY how your day is going too!

      For laughs I looked at the one in my local free newspaper today and it was apparently written by Sun Tzu:

      "If you let people know what it is you are planning you make it easier for them to compete with you, so keep it to yourself for the time being. Knowledge is power and power is not something you just give away."

      Jesus, horoscope, lighten up!

      In more topical news, I watched American Grindhouse last night and it was interesting to see all the social-psychology behind the evolution of Exploitation films. They were basically a seemingly inevitable by-product of both the medium and society's attempt to control/censor it. I'd never really thought of what an important reflection they are of human psychology - now these movies are going to give me a BRAIN boner too!

  2. I'm just going to add that in addition to Netflix, you can find some pretty interesting full movies on Youtube now as well. They are off the beaten path and you may have to search for them, but I've found several full movies that I was looking for which never made it to DVD. For example, Moonrunners. That movie is about two cousins who are moonshine bootleggers, running from the cops in the American South. It was a flop, but it inspired the making of Smokey and the Bandit, which opened the door for the people who made Moonrunners to reformat their movie into a TV show: The Dukes of Hazzard. Moonrunners is on Youtube in widescreen in its entirety and I don't think you can find it anywhere else. As far as I know, there was never a release outside of VHS for that one. You can also find the full, original Gone in 60 Seconds from 1974.

    So Youtube can be your friend if you are willing to dig and don't mind some less than stellar VHS rips. I normally would be really bothered by lower quality, but with exploitation movies, sometimes poor video quality actually adds to the charm. It gives it a grindhouse feel. I don't have to see it look better than it did when it was first released. And with so many exploitation movies being in the public domain, good prints can be hard to find.

    1. Nice, I think I will be watching Moonrunners for my "Cars" film.

      You know "Moonrunners" would also be a great name for a documentary about streakers. Either way, thanks cousin.

  3. Daily Grindhouse and GD! Only looked at them for five minutes so far and I already know I won't be getting much work done today.
    Another suggestion I'd make is Blaxploitation Pride. Most comprehensive list I've found. Good for Pam, blax, hammer and sid. The chart at the top of the page I linked to is fascinating (if it's accurate). And we think we're being over loaded with comic book movies. Ha. Also I love scrolling down the list and then coming across the "B" section and seeing all the titles that started with "Black".