SCHLOCK! THE SECRET HISTORY OF AMERICAN MOVIES is loads of fun. Director Ray Greene manages to cram in a lot of information and interviews, covering decades of non-Hollywood American movies. Touching on the silent era, much of the documentary focuses on the fifties and sixties, when the movies that end up on Something Weird DVD’s were made.
The movie makers and producers interviewed are not talking about art as much as financing and what people will pay to see. It’s refreshing to see people who admit they tried to come up with something other people would pay to see, and got it from people who couldn’t help but use their personal quirks to make movies.
SCHLOCK! is refreshingly opinionated. It’s not a PBS-type “objective” history. Director Ray Greene loves these movies, but he also has a problem with the exploitation of nude female bodies, so he puts a woman taking off her clothes on the cover. (Wait…) While nudity is dealt with openly, Greene finds gore distasteful. The one ‘controversial’ director touched on is Herchell Gordon Lewis. Forry Ackerman is visibly turned off by the mention of Lewis’ name.
It’s interesting how openly producers talk about making money and the real meaning of ‘exploitation films’ is clear. What can we get for the least money that will give us the largest return at the box office? This ain’t Truffaut/Hitchcock.
Greene spends a lot of time on Doris Wishman. I could’ve stood even more. While I find most Roger Corman movies dull, and Wishman’s “nudie cuties” are even worse, it’s fascinating to see that this woman with no connection to the industry somehow managed to make DOZENS of movies. In this time when people are complaining about Hollywood not giving enough people opportunities, it’s thrilling to see this woman just went and made movies. In her success it’s clear that many who claim to want to make movies but can’t are actually saying they want that Hollywood money, the big budgets and trailers, the premieres and TV appearances.
You want to make a movie? Go see how Doris Wishman did it. (Hint: She just went out and did it.)