Monday, March 05, 2012

For One Week Only: The World of Exploitation Films by Ric Meyers (Revised edition, 2011)

My latest selection from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, For One Week Only: The World of Exploitation Films by Rick Meyers (revised edition, 2011) seemed like a natural fit -- I love exploitation movies (come on, I'm married to this guy), and I'm always down for a nice compendium. Sadly, while there is a lot to like in Meyers' exploitation exploration, the book ultimately just didn't work for me.

This book was originally written in 1982, but never properly distributed, so Meyers revised and re-released it this year. The films are divided into three rather arbitrary categories: Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n Roll; Violence; and Horror (never mind that most of the Violence movies are horror movies, and all the science fiction movies are put under horror). In each section, Meyers gives an alphabetical rundown of individual films, interspersed with longer essays focusing on a director or pivotal film. The write-ups of individual films are a little free form -- usually giving us a plot summary and some factoids, combined with information on similar films, other works by the same director or actors, and Meyers' own take on the movie.

And that is where the problem lies: Meyers just doesn't seem to like most exploitation movies. I understand that most of these movies are "so bad they're good," but I think you need to be someone who can eventually appreciate the good part if you are going to write an entire book about the genre. Some things Meyers really doesn't like include: gore, movies that resemble other movies, movies with titles that don't match the plot, and movies with ad campaigns that are better than the film itself. Stupid exploitation movies that don't need to be watched certainly exist, but there are so many out there that are funny, creative, gross, exciting, or hilarious, and Meyers doesn't seem to like any of them. He also uses the word "gorehound" way way way way way too much.

The book has a nice name and title index, but would have risen above its negative qualities if the publisher had sprung for more illustrations. There are black and white collages of movie posters before each section, but the posters are half the fun with exploitation movies, and it is too bad they couldn't include more of them. The longer essays on individual filmmakers are better written and definitely worth reading, but Meyers slapdash writing style and negative attitude really bring this book down.

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