Sunday 10 November 2013

A Little Bit Precode-er: Top 5 Exploitation Films

Sometimes disguised as documentaries or news reports, Precode exploitation cinema focused on education, knowledge and warning audiences against dangerous behaviours…or so the films promoted. They mostly aimed to make money and tempt audiences through a filmmaker’s favourite method – lots of sex, violence, nudity and drugs. Below is my top five accompanied by amazingly saucy and provocative poster art:

1) Ingagi (1930)

A ‘documentary’ film from the Nat Spitzer's Congo Pictures company. It was promoted as a factual journey of Sir Hubert Winstead in Africa and his encounter with a gorilla-worshiping tribe of women. The film was denounced by the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association for the fabricated scenes and subject when it was announced that the picture was mostly filmed in Los Angeles. The nudity and insinuation of sex between women and gorillas made Ingagi a notorious exploitation movie.

2) Elysia, Valley of the Nude (1934)
A look into the lifestyle of people in a nudist camp. The 45 minute ‘documentary’ was film in the largest nudist camp in California, located 10 miles from Lake Elsinore. This Bryan Foy Productions film is seen through the eyes of a newspaper reporter sent to investigate the people living within the Elysia nudist camp.    


3) Road to Ruin (1934) 
This exploitation film, directed by Dorothy Davenport (aka Mrs Wallace Reid), shows the journey of a young girl whose life is destroyed by drugs and sex. The movie concludes with main character, Ann (Helen Foster), pregnant suffering drug and alcohol addiction and forced to get an abortion. This movie is part of the precautionary sub-genre of Pre-code exploitation but was considered tamed compared to the original 1928 silent version.


4) Narcotic (1933)
Another precautionary tale, Narcotic, shows the impact of drug use on promising medical student, Dr. William G. Davies. The story continues with his downward turn into opium dens and the deterioration of his medical practise. The doctor slowly reverts to more powerful drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, causing hallucinations and an eventual mental breakdown. This hour length feature stars Harry Cording, Joan Dix and Patricia Farley.    


5) Maniac or Sex Maniac (1934)    
A loose adaption of Edgar Allen Poe’s story “The Black Cat” and with references to "Murders in the Rue Morgue". It follows lab assistant Don Maxwell who is dutifully assisting mad scientist, Dr. Meirschultz, with his work of reanimating corpses. After being asked by Meirschultz to commit suicide for another radical experiment, Maxwell murders the doctor and covers up the crime by impersonating his employer. The character of the doctor begins to overpower Maxwell as he begins a downturn into insanity.       



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