FLMS3008: Studies in Cult & Exploitation Cinema

letterhead

FLMS3008: Studies in Cult & Exploitation Cinema

 

Module Handbook
Semester Two, 2017
Wednesdays, 14:15 – 17:15, (JLG 014)

Module Tutor
Dr. Jonathan Wroot
jlwroot@googlemail.com

 

This module explores the development of, and theoretical meanings associated with, cult and exploitation cinema from around the world. The module itself is broken up into three sections: The first, Exploitation Cinema, explores the historical development of exploitation cinema, from the early roadshows to drive-in movie exhibition contexts; the second, Cult Cinema, looks at, and problematises, the understanding of cult cinema through a consideration of audience, alterity, and reading practices; the third and final section, Grindhouse, looks at the different genres of cult and exploitation cinema, through a contextualised study of, among others, Blaxploitation, sexploitation, horror, and kung fu.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  1. Critically review and evaluate the historical materials on early exploitation filmmaking practices and exhibition;
  2. Utilise highly specialised scholastic skills in cult and exploitation cinema, including but not limited to audience and reception studies;
  3. Critically review and evaluate non-canonical taxonomies within an appropriate cultural framework;
  4. Critically evaluate popular cinema as emerging from “vernacular” culture;
  5. Utilise research skills in film studies.

Attendance Policy

Attendance on all modules is compulsory to foster a culture of engagement and student progression. Excessive absenteeism, on any module and at any level, could jeopardize the student receiving credit for having taken that module.

To further foster a culture of engagement and student progression Film Studies has an explicit attendance policy, which requires students to attend a minimum of 75% of any module to be recognized as having taken the module.

Learning Contract

By enrolling in this module, students are expected to agree that they will,

  • Attend relevant sessions – lectures, screenings, and seminars
  • Take notes in relevant sessions, including screenings.
  • Have prepared for each class by reading the required materials, at least
  • All required readings are the minimum to be read; it is expected that everyone will read beyond the required list too.
  • Be active participants in seminar discussions, including asking questions when issues require clarification.

The module leader, in turn, agrees that they will,

  • Be in attendance for all relevant sessions; if, due to unforeseen circumstances, the module leader is unable to attend, the module participants will be notified via the appropriate ways in due course
  • Be sufficiently prepared to answer any questions about course materials, when relevant
  • Be available to students through office hours
  • The module leader will also be available at other times, but these must be arranged individually, ideally through email.
  • The module leader will always provide informal feedback on course-work in progress, within reason, but sufficient time must be given to allow reasonable turn-around time (i.e. at least 48 hours in advance).

Required and Suggested Reading List

All readings are available digitally. Please access Blackboard or email the module tutor for copies.

Films and availability:

  • * = essential viewing
  • When available, and necessary for lesson content, some further recommended films have been placed on Google Drive.

* Tetsuo: The Iron Man (Shinya Tsukamoto, 1989) – Google Drive

Tetsuo II: Body Hammer (Shinya Tsukamoto, 1992) – Google Drive

* Freaks (Tod Browning, 1932) – DailyMotion, Google Drive

Mom & Dad (William Beaudine, 1945) – YouTube, Google Drive

* Erotica (Russ Meyer, 1961) – Google Drive

* The Wizard of Gore (Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1970) – YouTube, DailyMotion, Google Drive

Glen or Glenda? (Ed Wood, Jr., 1953) – YouTube, Google Drive

* Showgirls (Paul Verhoven, 1995) – Box of Broadcasts

* Pink Flamingos (John Waters, 1972) – Google Drive

* Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978) – Box of Broadcasts, YouTube

* Coffy (Jack Hill, 1973) – Google Drive

* In The Realm of the Senses (Nagisa Oshima, 1976) – Google Drive

* The Boxer from Shantung (Chang Cheh and Pao Hsueh-li, 1972) – Box of Broadcasts

* Battle Royale (Kinji Fukasaku, 2000) – Box of Broadcasts

Trigger warning: these films are all shades of messed-up. The goal for many of them is to shock and offend you. Try to make it to the end with all of them – it’s worth it!

Module Calendar

Date & Room Topic Films
Week 1

1 Feb

Introduction (In class)

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (Shinya Tsukamoto, 1989)

Required Reading N/A
Suggested Reading N/A
Week 2

8 Feb

Exploitation Freaks (Tod Browning, 1932)
Required Reading Hawkins, J (1996), ‘ “One of Us”: Tod Browning’s Freaks’, in R.G. Thompson, Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body, pp.265-276, NY University Press:

http://f09.middlebury.edu/FYSE1270A/hawkins.pdf

Suggested Reading Brottman, M (2005), Freaks: Carnivalizing the Taboo. In Offensive Films, pp. 15-49, Vanderbilt University Press.

Flynn, C. (1975). The Schlock/Kitsch/Hack Movies. In T. McCarthy & C. Flynn eds. King of the Bs: Working Within the Hollywood System, pp.3-12. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co. Inc.

McRoy, J and G. Crucianelli. (2009). “I Panic the World”: Benevolent Exploitation in Tod Browning’s Freaks and Harmony Korine’s Gummo. Journal of Popular Culture 42.2: 257-272

Schaefer, E. (1999). Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!:A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Weiner, R. G. (2010). The Prince of Exploitation: Dwain Esper. In J. Cline & R. G. Weiner (eds.) From the Arthouse to the Grindhouse: Highbrow and Lowbrow Transgression in Cinema’s First Century, pp. 41-56. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press

Week 3

15 Feb

Prurience Erotica (Russ Meyer, 1961)
Required Reading Schaefer, E. (1997). The Obscene Seen: Spectacle and Transgression in Postwar Burlesque Films. Cinema Journal 36.2: 41-66.
Suggested Reading Bowen, Michael J. (2002) Doris Wishman Meets the Avant-Garde In X. Mendik & S. J. Schneider (eds) Underground U.S.A.: Filmmaking Beyond the Hollywood Canon, pp. 109-122. London: Wallflower Press.

Ebert, R. (1975). Russ Meyer: King of the Nudies. In T. McCarthy & C. Flynn eds. King of the Bs: Working Within the Hollywood System, pp.110-132. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co. Inc.

Luckett, M. (2003). Sexploitation as feminine territory: the films of Doris Wishman. In M. Jancovich, A.L. Reboll, J. Stringer & A. Willis eds. Defining Cult Movies: The Cultural Politics of Oppositional Taste, pp. 142-156. Manchester: Manchester University Press

McKendry, R. (2010) Fondling Your Eyeballs: Watching Doris Wishman. In J. Cline & R. G. Weiner (eds.) From the Arthouse to the Grindhouse: Highbrow and Lowbrow Transgression in Cinema’s First Century, pp. 57-74. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

Week 4

22 Feb

Horrality The Wizard of Gore (Hershell Gordon Lewis, 1970)
Required Reading Brophy, P. (1986). Horrality – The Textuality of Contemporary Horror Films. Screen 27: 2-13.
Suggested Reading Bissette, Stephen R. (2002). Curtis Harrington and the Underground Roots of the Modern Horror Film. In X. Mendik & S. J. Schneider (eds) Underground U.S.A.: Filmmaking Beyond the Hollywood Canon, pp. 40-50. London: Wallflower Press.

Boss, P. (1986). Vile Bodies and Bad Medicine. Screen 27: 14-25.

Jancovich, M & T. Snelson. (2010) Horror at the Crossroads: Class, Gender and Taste at the Rialto. In J. Cline & R. G. Weiner (eds.) From the Arthouse to the Grindhouse: Highbrow and Lowbrow Transgression in Cinema’s First Century, pp. 109-125. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

McCarthy, T & C. Flynn. (1975). Herschell Gordon Lewis. In T. McCarthy & C. Flynn eds. King of the Bs: Working Within the Hollywood System, pp.346-360. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co. Inc.

Week 5

1 March

Camp & the Cult of Bad Movies Glen or Glenda? (Ed Wood, Jr., 1953)

Showgirls (Paul Verhoven, 1995)

Required Reading Sontag, S. (2008). Notes on “Camp”. In E. Mathijs & X. Mendik eds. The Cult Film Reader, pp. 41-52. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Sconce, J. (2008). “Trashing” the academy: Taste, excess and an emerging politics of cinematic style. In E. Mathijs & X. Mendik eds. The Cult Film Reader, pp. 100-118. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Suggested Reading Hunter, I. Q. (2008) Beaver Las Vegas! A fan-boy’s defence of Showgirls. In E. Mathijs & X. Mendik eds. The Cult Film Reader, pp. 472-481. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Mathijs, E. (2005). Bad Reputations: The Reception of ‘Trash’ Cinema. Screen 46.4: 451-472.

Mathijs, E. & J. Sexton (2011). Camp and Paracinema.  In Cult Cinema, pp.  86-96. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons.

Newitz, A. (2000). What Makes Things Cheesy? Satire, Multinationalism and B-Movies. Social Text 18.2: 59-82.

Taylor, Greg. (1999) Artists in the Audience: Cults, Camp, and American Film Criticism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Week 6

8 March

Cult Pink Flamingos (John Waters, 1972)
Required Reading Gorfinkel, Elena. (2008). Cult Film, or Cinephilia by Any Other Name. Cineaste 34.1: 33-38.

Martin, Adrian, What’s Cult Got To Do With It?: In Defense of Cinephile Elitism, Cineaste, 34:1 (Winter 2008), 39-42.

Cult Film: A Critical Symposium, Cineaste, 34:1 (Winter 2008) – companion web article: https://www.cineaste.com/winter2008/cult-film-a-critical-symposium

Suggested Reading Austin, B. A. (2008). Portrait of a Cult Film Audience: The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In E. Mathijs & X. Mendik eds. The Cult Film Reader, pp. 392-402. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Briggs, Joe Bob, J. Hoberman, Damien Love, Tim Lucas, Danny Peary, Jeffrey Sconce & Peter Stanfield. (2008). Cult Cinema: A Critical Symposium. Cineaste 34.1: 43-50.

Mathijs, E. and X. Mendik. (2008). The Concepts of Cult. In E. Mathijs & X. Mendik eds. The Cult Film Reader, pp. 1-24. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Mathijs, E. & J. Sexton (2011). Cult Cinema. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons.

Mendik, X & S. J. Schneider. (2002) A Tasteless Art: Waters, Kaufman and the Pursuit of ‘Pure’ Gross-Out. In X. Mendik & S. J. Schneider (eds) Underground U.S.A.: Filmmaking Beyond the Hollywood Canon, pp. 204-220. London: Wallflower Press.

Smith, J. (2010) The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). In Withnail and Us: Cult Films and Film Cults in British Cinema, 1-10. London, I. B. Tauris.

Week 7

15 March

Ambivalence Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978)
Required Reading Becker, M. (2006). A Point of Little Hope: Hippie Horror Films and the Politics of Ambivalence. The Velvet Light Trap 57:43-59.

Lauro, S. J. & K. Embry. (2008). A Zombie Manifesto: The Nonhuman Condition in the Era of Advanced Capitalism. boundary 2 35.1: 85-108.

Suggested Reading Bishop, K. (2006). Raising the Dead. Journal of Popular Film & Television 33.4: 196-205.

Bishop, K. (2009). Dead Man Still Walking. Journal of Popular Film & Television 37.1: 16-25.

Cook, P. (1976). ‘Exploitation’ Films and Feminism. Screen 17: 122-127.

Grant, B. K. (2008). Science Fiction Double Feature: Ideology in the Cult Film. In E. Mathijs & X. Mendik eds. The Cult Film Reader, pp. 76-87. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Green, P. (1993). Ideology and Ambiguity in Cinema. Massachusetts Review 34.1: 102-127

Horne, P. (1992). I Shopped with a Zombie. Critical Quarterly 34.4: 97-110.

Week 8

22 March

Blaxploitation Coffy (Jack Hill, 1973)
Required Reading Kraszewski, J. (2002). Recontextualizing the Historical Reception of Blaxploitation: Articulations of Class, Black Nationalism, and Anxiety in the Genre’s Advertisements. The Velvet Light Trap 50: 48-62.

Munby, J. (2007). Signifyin’ Cinema: Rudy Ray Moore and the Quality of Badness. Journal for Cultural Research 11.3: 203-219.

Suggested Reading Benshoff, H. (2008). Blaxploitation Horror Films: Generic Reappropriation or Reinscription? In E. Mathijs & X. Mendik eds. The Cult Film Reader, pp. 216-225. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Chaffin-Quiray, G. (2002) ‘You Bled my Mother, You Bled My Father, But You Won’t Bleed Me’: The Underground Trio of Melvin Van Peebles. In X. Mendik & S. J. Schneider (eds) Underground U.S.A.: Filmmaking Beyond the Hollywood Canon, pp. 96-108. London: Wallflower Press.

Koven, M. J. (2010) Blaxploitation Films. Kamera Books.

Week 9

29 March

Sexploitation In The Realm of the Senses (Nagisa Oshima, 1976)
Required Reading Church, D (2014). Between Fantasy and Reality: Sexploitation, Fan Magazines, and William Rotsler’s “Adults-Only” Career . Film History. Vol. 26 Issue 3, p106-143.

Richie, D. (2006) ‘In The Realm of The Senses: Some Notes on Oshima and Pornography’, from the Criterion website, http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/1108-in-the-realm-of-the-senses-some-notes-on-oshima-and-pornography

Suggested Reading Andrews, D.  (2007). What Soft-Core Can Do for Porn Studies. The Velvet Light Trap 59: 51-61.

Gorfinkel, Elena. (2002) Radley Metzger’s ‘Elegant Arousal’: Taste, Aesthetic Distinction and Sexploitation. In X. Mendik & S. J. Schneider (eds) Underground U.S.A.: Filmmaking Beyond the Hollywood Canon, pp. 26-39. London: Wallflower Press.

Schaefer, E. (2007). Pandering to the “Goon Trade”: Framing the Sexploitation Audience through Advertising. In J. Sconce ed. Sleaze Artists: Cinema at the Margins of Taste, Style and Politics, pp. 19-46. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Week 10

5 April

Martial Arts Movies The Boxer from Shantung (Chang Cheh and Pao Hsueh-li, 1972)
Required Reading Man-Fung Yip (2014), In the Realm of the Senses: Sensory Realism, Speed, and Hong Kong Martial Arts Cinema. Cinema Journal, 53:4, 76-97
Suggested Reading Hunt, L. (2008) Han’s Island Revisited: Enter the Dragon as transnational cult film. In E. Mathijs & X. Mendik eds. The Cult Film Reader, pp. 301-308. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Teo, Stephen. 2009 Chinese Martial Arts Cinema: The Wuxia Tradition. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

  Easter Break (10 April – 21st April)
Week 11

26 April

Contemporary and Global Cult Cinema Battle Royale (Kinji Fukasaku, 2000)
Required Reading Dew, Oliver (2007). Asia Extreme’: Japanese cinema and British hype. New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film. Volume 5 Number 1. 53-73.
Suggested Reading Cubbison, L (2005). Anime Fans, DVDs, and the Authentic Text. Velvet Light Trap, 56:1, 45-57.

Denison, R (2011). Anime fandom and the luminal spaces between fan creativity and piracy. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 14:5, 446-66.

Lobato, R (2012). Nollywood at Large… , in Shadow Economies of Cinema: Mapping Informal Film Distribution, pp.55-68. London, BFI.

Wroot, J (2013). DVD Special Features: Whose Promotional Material Is It Anyway? Frames Cinema Journal , No.3, May 2013:  http://framescinemajournal.com/article/dvd-special-features-and-stage-greetings-whose-promotional-material-is-it-anyway-2/

Week 12

3 May

ESSAY TUTORIALS

Assignments

  1. Essay 1 Topics (Historical Contexts)
    • What are the aesthetics of exploitation cinema? Discuss with reference to one film of your choice.
    • With regards to a “nudie cutie”, burlesque or nudism film, discuss the film’s construction of prurience.
    • Discuss the construction of a gore sequence in any horror film by Herschell Gordon Lewis.
    • Discuss the aesthetics of camp in reference to a ‘failed’ or ‘bad’ film.
    • The era of the cult film ended with the popularity of home video. Agree or disagree with reference to a specific film you feel is ‘cult’, or perceived as ‘cult’.
    • Discuss, with reference to an appropriate film of your choice, how it can be read as ideologically ambivalent.
    • Discuss the relationship between exploitation and art with reference to an appropriate film of your choice.

Your essays will be assessed based on the demonstration of your understanding of the cultural/historical context of the film you are discussing, the quality of your textual analysis, your application of theoretical issues to your film and the quality of your essay-writing skills at the appropriate university-level.

Length: 2000-words
Weighting:  40%
Due:  7 April, 2017

 

  1. Essay 2 Topics (Genres and Global Trends)
    • Discuss the Blaxploitation genre with reference to one film of your choice.
    • Discuss the Sexploitation genre with reference to one film of your choice.
    • Discuss the Kung Fu/Martial Arts genre with reference to one film of your choice.
    • Discuss a non-English language film of your choice. How is it representative of cult, and/or exploitation cinema?

Your essays will be assessed based on the demonstration of your understanding of the cultural/historical context of the film you are discussing, the quality of your textual analysis, your application of theoretical issues to your film and the quality of your essay-writing skills at the appropriate university-level.

Length: 2000-words
Weighting: 60%
Due:  19 May, 2017

*Assignments will be graded within three weeks of submission*

Submission,

Both assignments should be electronically submitted via the student’s SOLE page. All assignments will be submitted to Turnitin by the module leader.

 For information regarding plagiarism, referencing, and general study skills please visit http,//www.worc.ac.uk/studyskills

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