‘That’s Sexploitation!’ looks at the history of adult films

"That's Sexploitation!" will screen at PhilaMOCA.
“That’s Sexploitation!” will screen at PhilaMOCA.

The man who would go on to direct such outrageous sleazy-but-smart films as “Basket Case,” “Brain Damage” and “Frankenhooker” began life as a good Catholic boy in Long Island – which, Frank Henenlotter says, explains a lot.

“Back in the ’60s, there was this thing called the Legion of Decency,” Henenlotter recalls, “and every year you had to take a pledge in church that you would never see a film that the legion condemned, under the pain of mortal sin. I couldn’t wait to see a condemned film. It was all I thought about.”

The chance came via the deceptively named Fine Arts Theater, where the woman manning the box office was “so damn blind she had no idea who you were, what age you were and you could walk right in without showing any kind of proof.” Henenlotter’s first nudie-film double feature was “Prowl Girls” and “House of Cats,” neither of which is known to survive, and he was hooked. “I’ve always been attracted to all things exploitation and transgressive and underground,” he says.

Henenlotter revisits that world in his new documentary, “That’s Sexploitation!”, which recounts the raucous history of adult film in the decades prior to the emergence of hardcore porn. Produced in conjunction with Something Weird Video, which has been releasing such obscure oddities since 1990, the film features hundreds of clips of bizarre silent shorts, sex hygiene films, nudie-cuties and nudist camp movies, burlesque and stag reels, and countless others.

“They’re not something that most of the world are readily aware of,” Henenlotter says. “They were always films that played in a cinematic ghetto. They were once offensive and now they’re just plain silly, and I think each day that goes by takes the edge off them. They’re just so damn funny and crazy.”

The film’s narrator and guide is the late David F. Friedman, a “human encyclopedia” of the genre who was responsible for some of its most notable entries as producer of titles from “Goldilocks and the Three Bares” to “Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS,” to the films of the Godfather of Gore, Herschell Gordon Lewis. But the true star is the endless parade of truly strange film clips compiled by Henenlotter.

“A lot of my criteria was simply, ‘How funny is this clip?’” he explains. “I’m just so attracted to really ludicrous sexual images. Even if they don’t make you laugh out loud, you sit there shaking your head, saying, ‘Did you see that? Why was a semi-naked girl wearing a scuba mask and flippers indoors? Why is that buxom topless woman chasing a stork?’ There are a lot of those strange moments in the film.”

“That’s Sexploitation!”
Sept. 13, 7:30 p.m.
PhilaMOCA
531 N. 12th St.
$10
www.philamoca.org



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.