Volume 1. GRINDHOUSE: CULTURAL EXCHANGE ON 42ND STREET, AND BEYOND Edited by Austin Fisher and Johnny Walker (2016)
The pervasive image of New York’s 42nd Street as a hub of sensational thrills, vice and excess, is from where “grindhouse cinema,” the focus of this volume, stemmed. It is, arguably, an image that has remained unchanged in the mind’s eye of many exploitation film fans and academics alike. Whether in the pages of fanzines or scholarly works, it is often recounted how, should one have walked down this street between the 1960s and the 1980s, one would have undergone a kaleidoscopic encounter with an array of disparate “exploitation” films from all over the world that were being offered cheaply to urbanites by a swathe of vibrant movie theatres.
The contributors to Grindhouse: Cultural Exchange on 42nd Street, and Beyond consider “grindhouse cinema” from a variety of cultural and methodological positions. Some seek to deconstruct the etymology of “grindhouse” itself, add flesh to the bones of its cadaverous history, or examine the term’s contemporary relevance in the context of both media production and consumerism. Others offer new inroads into hitherto unexamined examples of exploitation film history, present snapshots of cultural moments that many of us thought we already knew.
Volume 2. DISPOSABLE PASSIONS: VINTAGE PORNOGRAPHY AND THE MATERIAL LEGACIES OF ADULT CINEMABy David Church (2016)
From early-twentieth-century stag films to 1960s sexploitation pictures to the burst of 1970s “porno chic,” adult cinema’s vintage forms have seen reappraisal by a new generation of historians, collectors, archivists, and fans—all figures both dependent on and helping shape the archive of film history. But what is the present-day allure of these artifacts that have since become fetishized more for their age than the explicit acts they show? And what are the political implications of recovering and re-releasing rare but still-visceral adults-only texts from a less “enlightened,” pre-feminist past? David Church argues that vintage pornography retains its retrospective fascination precisely because these culturally denigrated texts have been so poorly preserved on political and aesthetic grounds. Often orphaned, mutilated, or left to rot, vintage pornography thus serves as the absent center of film preservation efforts in general. With these films’ ongoing moves from cultural emergence to concealment to rediscovery re-enacting the erotic visual strategies at their core, the archive itself performs a striptease by permitting material contact with these corporeally stimulating forms at a moment when the physicality of media objects is undergoing rapid transformation. Chapters include discussions of cinephilia and stag films, the eroticism of sexploitation ephemera, archival practices and the porn industry’s self-censorship, and an emerging generation of home video companies dedicated to preserving hardcore films. Addressing both film historians and film preservationists, this study explores the archival and historiographic lessons that vintage pornography can teach us about which materials our society chooses to keep, how we interact with these anachronistic forms, and who plays a role in keeping them alive today.