Written by: George Pacheco on June 2nd, 2016
BluRay released: April 26th, 2016
Approximate running time: 136 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: LPCM Mono English
BluRay Release: Severin Films
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $24.95
It’s been a while since the fine folks at Something Weird and Basket Case director Frank Henenlotter first announced their plans to collaborate on a film documenting the early days of sexploitation cinema, but, as the saying goes, “all good things come to those who wait.”
That’s Sexploitation leaves no stone unturned when it comes to unearthing the most obscure clips and facts about how nudity and sex was first introduced into modern, popular cinema. The archives of the much missed Mike Varney and his Something Weird imprint were a host of lost treasures, all of which have been mined here by Henenlotter as he describes sexploitation from the 1920s on to the early days of hardcore in the 70s.
Indeed, those looking for a Rialto Report styled investigation into the more explicit end of the sexploitation pool will likely be disappointed by That’s Sexploitation, as the tone here is more light and kitschy than erotic, in line with the scare films and hygiene pictures a la Reefer Madness and its ilk. This doesn’t mean that Henenlotter doesn’t offer a wealth of fascinating information, however, as his film basically hits upon every major milestone in the movement, from nudie cutie films and white coat “scientific” pictures with “moral value” on to the burlesque films and roughies which littered New York’s 42nd Street district during the 1960s and 70s.
One disappointment, however, is the fact that all of That’s Sexploitation is told from the perspective of either the host Henenlotter or his main interview subject David F. Friedman, who serves as the film’s main narrator. Sure, Friedman possesses an exploitation reputation second to none, but the fact that we only receive his perspective, as opposed to perhaps stories from others who were involved in the industry, makes this a very one sided stab at a documentary. If anything, That’s Sexploitation serves as more a labor of love from Henenlotter, than anything attempting to be a definitive document on the subject, and that’s fine. The film never really says otherwise, and is takes itself with the same grain of salt which so many of its subjects did back in the day.
That being said, That’s Sexploitation was certainly worth the wait, especially for those who are fascinated with how filmmakers skirted the boundaries of “decency” and pushed the envelope of taste during a time before hardcore opened wide the floodgates of adult cinema at a heretofore unrealized rate.
Severin presents That’s Sexploitation in full, 1080p HD, with Henenlotter’s filmed sequences benefiting from bright colors and clear audio. The clips used for the film also look fantastic, which is remarkable, considering some of them are over eighty years old. The disc features full length commentary from Henenlotter and Something Weird’s Lisa Petrucci which goes into the making of the film and the clips with Henenlotter’s trademark humor and wit.
That’s Sexploitation goes even further with regards to preserving these clips, however, as the special features include over three and a half hours of sexploitation shorts from the Something Weird archives. Many of these are featured within the film itself, and are presented here in their full, uncut glory, making this disc a stacked purchase for those who have been waiting to see That’s Sexploitation since its initial announcement.
Note: This film is also being released by Severin Films on DVD.