• Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!: A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959

    Pages: 488
    Illustrations: 59 b&w photographs, 7 figures
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
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  • Acknowledments

    Introduction: “As Long as It Was in Bad Taste!”

    “An Attempt to ‘Commercialize Vice’”: Origins of the Exploitation Film

    “A Hodge-Podge of Cuttings and Splicings”: The Mode of Production and the Style of Classical Exploitation Films

    “You Gotta Tell ’Em to Sell ’Em”: Distribution, Advertising, and Exhibition of Exploitation Films

    “Thoroughly Vile and Disgusting”: The Exploitation Film and Censorship

    “No False Modesty, No Old-Fashioned Taboos”: The Sex Hygiene Film

    “The Monster That Caters to Thrill-Hungry Youth”: The Drug Film

    "Timely as Today’s Front Page”: Vice, Exotic, and Atrocity Films

    “They Wear No Clothes!”: Nudist and Burlesque Films

    Conclusion: The End of Classical Exploitation

    Appendix 1 - Major Exploitation Producers/Distributors and Their

    Company Names

    Appendix 2 - Filmography

    Appendix 3 - Video Sources



  • Recipient of a Theatre Library Association special jury prize for distinguished achievement


  • Recipient of a Theatre Library Association special jury prize for distinguished achievement

  • “An astonishing scholarly achievement, one of the most impressive books I’ve read in a decade. Schaefer’s research is broad and profound. This is not only the reference work on the subject; it is a model of elegant argument.”—Matthew Bernstein, author of Walter Wanger, Hollywood Independent — N/A

    “The exploitation film has enjoyed a cult following as ‘turkey cinema,’ ‘trash,’ midnight movie camp, psychotronic cinema, and the object of ridicule on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Yet Schaefer’s book shows us that it must be central to any understanding of the way Hollywood cinema operates. This groundbreaking work will open up an entirely new field of film history.”—Henry Jenkins, author of Science Fiction Audiences: Watching Doctor Who and Star Trek — N/A

    “When I was in the business I billed myself as ‘The Expert Exponent of Exploitation.’ I hereby bestow that shibboleth to the genuine, absolute, factual Expert Exponent, Eric Schaefer. Nothing more need ever be told about this subject.”—David F. Friedman, who was there when a lot of it happened, producer of Daughter of the Sun, Blood Feast, and other exploitation classics — N/A

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  • Description

    Unashamed nudists, high-flying hopheads, brazen strippers, vicious vice lords, and high school girls who find themselves “in trouble” comprise the population of exploitation films. In the first full-scale history of these low-budget movies of decades past, Eric Schaefer reveals how this pioneering form of “trash film” purveyed the forbidden thrills of explicit sexual behavior, drug use, and vice that the mainstream movie industry could not show.
    Bold! Daring! Shocking! True! is a meticulously researched, interdisciplinary study that is informed by a wide range of sources—including both mainstream and industry newspapers and periodicals, archival accounts, personal interviews, and the films themselves. Schaefer begins by exploring the unique mode of production of exploitation movies, their distribution, and the outrageous exhibition practices that were rooted in the traditions of sideshows and carnivals. His close analysis of dozens of films, such as The Road to Ruin, Modern Motherhood, One Way Ticket to Hell, and The Wages of Sin demonstrates that these films were more than simply “bad” movies. By situating exploitation films in a historical context and organizing them according to the social problems they addressed, Schaefer shows how they evolved during a period of forty years and how, during that time, they shaped public policies and attitudes. Finally, he focuses on the changes in the postwar American film industry that led to the decline of the classical exploitation film and set the stage for the rise of “sexploitation” in the 1960s.
    Engagingly written, illustrated with rare photographs, posters, production stills, and ad slicks, and offering a full filmography, Bold! Daring! Shocking! True! reveals a forgotten side of film history and American culture. It will delight and inform those interested in film history, cultural studies, American studies and history, and the many fans of exploitation films.

    About The Author(s)

    Eric Schaefer is Assistant Professor of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College in Boston.

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