A loose, affectionate look at the golden age of exploitation movies through two pioneers: 84-year-old distributor Dan Sonney and 76-year-old producer David Friedman. Dan Sonney's father, a small town cop, got the family into the exploitation business by capturing a notorious train robber. He parlayed his celebrity into a vaudeville career, then began distributing "Crime doesn't pay" movies. Seeing the market for sex and sin epics, Sonney switched to sleaze and Dan followed in his father's footsteps, keeping abreast of trends and exploiting them shamelessly. Friedman started his career in the Paramount publicity department, but was inexorably drawn to the movie business's flashy underbelly. It's mostly Friedman who shares the trick of the trade. "Sell the sizzle, not the steak," he grins. Attach morals to tacky movies about "prostitution, alcoholism, miscegenation, dope... just as long as it's in bad taste. Keep re-releasing the same movie under different titles." Although director Ted Bonnitt piles on the clips and trailers from Sonney and Friedman's outrageous output, from the cautionary GAMBLING WITH SOULS and trailblazing nudie-cutie DAUGHTERS OF THE SUN to gore pioneer BLOOD FEAST, trend-setting roughie A SMELL OF HONEY, A SWALLOW OF BRINE and sexploitation romp TRADER HORNEE he doesn't organize his material well. The chronology is haphazard, and facts about the exploitation business are delivered off-handedly and without context. This is a film for fans of this alternate universe of movies that flourished as soon as the 1934 Production Code effectively excised most prurient, violent and otherwise titillating material from Hollywood films and withered in the '70s as mainstream movies finally caught up with the indies. Sonney and Friedman are a cantankerous mutual admiration society Sonney calls Friedman "the world's greatest carney," while Friedman lauds the Sonneys as the "first and foremost family of exploitation" but Frank Henenlotter (himself a director of movies like BASKET CASE) steals the movie out from under them. A longtime exploitation fan (and, in recent years, preservationist), Henenlotter provides much needed perspective and conveys the sheer delight of watching these bizarre movie artifacts.
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- Released: 2001
- Rating: NR
- Review: A loose, affectionate look at the golden age of exploitation movies through two pioneers: 84-year-old distributor Dan Sonney and 76-year-old producer David Friedman. Dan Sonney's father, a small town cop, got the family into the exploitation business by ca… (more)