FLMS3008: Studies in Cult & Exploitation Cinema

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http_a.amz.mshcdn.comwp-contentuploads201604reefermadness-10 (1)FLMS3008: Studies in Cult & Exploitation Cinema

Semester Two, 2018
Mondays, 09:15 – 12:15
JL G014

Module Tutor
Dr. Mikel J. Koven
Bredon 137, (01905) 85 5297
m.koven@worc.ac.uk

 

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:

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

Attendance Policy:

It is expected that you will attend all taught sessions, in the same way that attendance is expected in the workplace. Indeed regular attendance has a significant impact on student engagement, understanding and successful completion of University courses. Furthermore non-attendance will significantly affect your ability successfully to complete a module and may jeopardise your ability to undertake re-assessment in the event of failing a module.

It is your responsibility as a student, just as it would be if you were an employee, to ensure that you are punctual and that your attendance has been recorded on the register each week.

Should you, for some unavoidable reason, be unable to attend a scheduled session (for example if you are ill) then you must send an email to ihcastudentabsence@worc.ac.uk . Please include in your email your name and student number, the module code and name, the date of the missed session, and your reason for missing it. You should make sure that you copy the module tutor into the email and also contact your module tutor to make arrangements to catch up on any work you have missed.

Notification must be received within 6 days of the date of the missed session.

Alternatively you can inform IHCA of your absence via the telephone. Please ring 01905 542015 (Shirley Adams) with the required details.

Students with two or more unexplained absences may be required to attend a tutorial/ interview with the module leader, course leader or head of division to discuss their progress.

Learning Contract:

On this module you are expected to be courteous and attentive to your fellow classmates and to the module tutor. You are also expected to undertake the required reading each week and to view the film or films under question. Failure to do either of these things will severely impede your success on the module.

The use of mobile phones will not be tolerated in classes, lectures or screenings. Please turn off all phones before the lesson starts.

Please feel free to email me (m.koven@worc.ac.uk) with any queries you have regarding the module, I will try to reply within 3 working days. My office hours will be posted on the door of my office (BB 137), however I am always open to seeing students at other times if you make an appointment.   

 

Required Reading List

All readings will be available via the Talis list here: https://worc.rl.talis.com/lists/35313D97-6FFD-2AA3-5BEA-9AC5CA90C43B.html.

Film List:

All films not readily available will be accessible via OneDrive a week before the class.

Blood Feast (US, Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1963)
Coffy (US, Jack Hill, 1973)
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (US, Russ Meyer, 1965)
Flesh Gordon (US, Michael Benveniste & Howard Ziehm, 1974)
Freaks (US, Tod Browning, 1932)
Glen or Glenda (US, Edward Wood, Jr., 1953)
Grindhouse (US, Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino, 2007)
The Immoral Mr. Teas (US, Russ Meyer, 1959)
Maniac (US, Dwain Esper, 1934)
Mom & Dad (US, William Beaudine, 1946)
Pink Flamingos (US, John Waters, 1972)
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (US, Lloyd Kaufman, 2006)
Reefer Madness/Tell Your Children (US, Louis Gasnier, 1936)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (GB/US, Jim Sharman, 1975)
Showgirls (US, Paul Verhoeven, 1995)
Terror Firmer (US, Lloyd Kaufman, 1999)
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (HK, Chia-Liang Liu, 1978)
The Wizard of Gore (US, Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1970)

Module Outline (subject to change):

29 January: Introduction

Film(s): Freaks (US, Tod Browning, 1932) & Reefer Madness/Tell Your Children (US, Louis Gasnier, 1936)
Readings: Brottman, M (2005), Freaks: Carnivalizing the Taboo. In Offensive Films, pp. 15-49, Vanderbilt University Press.

05 February: Exploitation

Film(s): Maniac (US, Dwain Esper, 1934)& Mom & Dad (US, William Beaudine, 1946)
Readings:  Miller, Cynthia J. (2010). Exploring Cinema’s Sorid Side: The Films of Sonney and Friedman. In J. Cline & R. G. Weiner (eds.) From the Arthouse to the Grindhouse: Highbrow and Lowbrow Transgression in Cinema’s First Century, pp. 75-84. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow 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

12 February: Grindhouse

Film(s): Grindhouse (US, Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino, 2007)
Readings: Church, David. (2011). From Exhibition to Genre: The Case of the Grind-House Films. Cinema Journal 50.4: 1-25
Smith, Phyll. (2016). “This Is Where We Came In”: The Economics of Unruly Audiences, Their Cinemas and Tastes, from Serial Houses to Grind Houses. In In Austin Fisher and Johnny Walker (eds.), Grindhouse: Cultural Exchange on 42nd Street, pp. 31-52. London: Bloomsbury.
Stevenson, Jack. (2010). Grindhouse and Beyond.  In J. Cline & R. G. Weiner (eds.) From the Arthouse to the Grindhouse: Highbrow and Lowbrow Transgression in Cinema’s First Century, pp. 129-152. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press
Ward, Glenn. (2016). Grinding Out the Grind House: Exploitation, Myth, and Memory. In Austin Fisher and Johnny Walker (eds.), Grindhouse: Cultural Exchange on 42nd Street, pp. 13-30. London: Bloomsbury.

19 February: Prurience

Film(s): The Immoral Mr. Teas (US, Russ Meyer, 1959) & Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (US, Russ Meyer, 1965)
Readings: Casler, Lawrence. (1964) Some Sociopsychological Observations in a Nudist Camp: A Preliminary Study. The Journal of Social Psychology 64: 307-323.
DeFino, Dean. (2014). Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Ferreday, Debra. (2008). “Showing the girl”: The New Burlesque. Feminist Theory 9(1): 47-65.
Osgerby, Bill. (2012). Pages of Sin: Bettie Page – From ‘Cheesecake’ Tease to Bondage Queen. In Xavier Mendik (ed.). Peep Shows: Cult Film and the Cine-Erotic, pp. 25-40. London: Wallflower.
Schaefer, E. (1997). The Obscene Seen: Spectacle and Transgression in Postwar Burlesque Films. Cinema Journal 36.2: 41-66.
Schaefer, E. (1999). Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!: A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

26 February: Horrality

Film(s): Blood Feast (US, Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1963) & The Wizard of Gore (US, Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1970)
Readings: Brophy, P. (1986). Horrality – The Textuality of Contemporary Horror Films. Screen 27: 2-13.
Brottman, Mikita (2005), Blood Feast: There Never was a Party Like This!  In Offensive Films, pp. 67-78, Vanderbilt University Press..
Koven, Mikel J. (2009). Herschell Gordon Lewis Interview – Abertoir Horror Festival. Unpublished

05 March: Camp

Film(s): Glen or Glenda (US, Edward Wood, Jr., 1953) & Showgirls (US, Paul Verhoeven, 1995)
Readings: Lippit, Akira Mizuta, Noel Burch, Choon Noriega, Ara Osterwell, Linda Williams, Eric Shaefer and Jeffrey Sconce. (2003). Round Table: Showgirls. Film Quarterly 56.3: 32-46.
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.
Sontag, S. (2008). Notes on “Camp”. In E. Mathijs & X. Mendik eds. The Cult Film Reader, pp. 41-52. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

12 March: Cult

Film(s): The Rocky Horror Picture Show (GB/US, Jim Sharman, 1975) & Pink Flamingos (US, John Waters, 1972)
Readings: 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.
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.

19 March: Ideology

Film(s): Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (US, Lloyd Kaufman, 2006) & Terror Firmer (US, Lloyd Kaufman, 1999)
Readings: Church, David. (2011). Freakery, Cult Films, and the Problem of Ambivalence. Journal of Film and Video 63.1: 3-17
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.
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.

Easter Break

09 April: Blaxploitation

Film(s): Coffy (US, Jack Hill, 1973)
Readings: 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.
Munby, J. (2007) Signifyin’ Cinema: Rudy Ray Moore and the Quality of Badness. Journal for Cultural Research 11.3: 203-219

16 April: Sexploitation

Film(s): Flesh Gordon (US, Michael Benveniste & Howard Ziehm, 1974)
Readings: Bonnstetter, Beth E. (2011). Mel Brooks Meets Kenneth Burke (and Mikhail Bakhtin): Comedy and Burlesque in Satiric Film. Journal of Film and Video 63.1: 18-31.
Church, David. (2014). Between Fantasy and Reality: Sexploitation, Fan Magazines, and William Rotsler’s “Adults-Only” Career. Film History 26.3: 106-143.
Gorfinkel, Elena. (2011). Tales of Times Square: Sexploitation’s Secret History of Place. In John David Rhodes and Elana Gorfinkel, Taking Place: Location and the Moving Image, pp. 55-76. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Larsson, Mariah (2010). Practice Makes Perfect? The Production of the Swedish Sex Film in the 1970s. Film International 8.6: 40-49.

23 April: Kung-Fu

Film(s): The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (HK, Chia-Liang Liu, 1978)
Readings: Hunt, Leon. (2003). Kung Fu Cult Masters: From Bruce Lee to “Crouching Tiger”. London: Wallflower.
Ma, Sheng-mei. (2000). Yellow Kung Fu and Black Jokes. Television & New Media 1.2: 239-244.
Shu, Yuan. (2003). Reading the Kung Fu Film in an American Context: From Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan. Journal of Popular Film & Television. 31.2:50-59.
Teo, Stephen. (2009). Chinese Martial Arts Cinema: The Wuxia Tradition. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Venkatasawmy, Rama. (2017). Creating the Dragon. Film International 15.2: 34-45.

30 April: Conclusions & Essay discussion

Assignments

Essay 1 Topics (Historical Contexts)

  • What are the aesthetics of exploitation cinema in Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!?
  • 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 (other than Blood Feast or The Wizard of Gore).
  • 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.

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%

Essay 2 Topics (Genre)

  • Discuss the Blaxploitation genre with reference to an appropriate film of your choice.
  • Discuss the Sexploitation genre with reference to an appropriate film of your choice.
  • Discuss the Kung Fu/Martial Arts genre 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: 60%

 *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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