The Ninjabot

Categorized | Editorial, Movie Reviews

Issue #1 – Night at the Grindhouse

Posted on August 15, 2012 at 7:30 am by AGouff

Grindhouse. The word immediately calls to mind a plethora of images – from the comical to the obscene – and not without cause. The many various films that fall into the overarching category of “grindhouse” run the gamut from the hilariously overacted and under-edited, to gratuitously violent, to downright lewd. However, it is not merely being badly written nor badly acted, terribly written or poorly filmed, that sets grindhouse films apart from the endless stream of movies being produced every year. What makes a grindhouse film a grindhouse film, is something much more ephemeral, and yet it can be nailed down to a single factor.

Much like the films themselves, they occupy a space of unique dichotomy between utterly, intolerably bad, and utter brilliance for the very same; and it is this that I adore about them. It is difficult to ever find yourself having as much fun with a group of good friends while watching a movie, as you do when you are enjoying classics like Dolemite, A Boy and His Dog, The Big Dollhouse or Last House on The Left.

Indeed, modern filmmakers clearly appreciate the genre made popular by seedy independent theaters from the 1950s through the 1980s, as you may recognize that last title as a fairly recent Hollywood film starring Garret Dillahunt and Monica Potter. What you may not realize, however, is that The Last House on the Left of 2009 is in fact a remake of Wes Craven’s masterpiece of Grindhouse Horror from 1972. You may also recognize Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hitcher, Wrong Turn, The Hills Have Eyes, My Bloody Valentine, and Running Scared as somewhat recent big budget films that were most definitely remakes of wonderful grindhouse classics.

For the purpose of my column, I will try to stick to a standard definition of grindhouse. Because they were made to be shown in film “houses” known to “grind” films back-to-back-to-back-to-back, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, the standard grindhouse film was one that had a basic hook; something – be it violence, gore, drugs, shocking teenage antics, sexuality or plain old nudity – that would make a person look at the poster or trailer and say, “My goodness! We must see that!”

So it must be a film that presents itself like the freak shows of old would have been presented by a barker and have a blatant big hook. Secondly, these were movies made by studios, casts and directors who were expected to produce as many finished products as possible in as short a span of time as possible. They were films that were being “ground” out. So then, they must also be films that were made with a very low budget and low production value – no Universal Studios blockbuster special effects or sets.

So sit back, and every week I will introduce you all to the amazing joys that are films that you have most likely never seen or heard of. Some may be awesome, some may be bad, and hopefully, a few gems fall into that very best of categories – awesomely bad. I will present a new film every week, and give you a breakdown of the synopsis, and rate them on “awesomely badness” on a scale of 1-9. Why 9 and not 10? Well, because of Plan 9 from Outer Space of course! Don’t know what movie that is? Well, wait until next week and we will remedy that!

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