11th October 2006

Introduction for the book “Cult People: Amazing Tales from Hollywood’s Exploitation A-List”

posted in `Roids |

This is an advance look at the intro I have been asked to write for Nicanor Loreti‘s upcoming book “Cult People: Amazing Tales from Hollywood’s Exploitation A-List” published in 2007. Nicanor Loreti is a journalist and filmmaker from Argentina. He works for the movie magazine “La Cosa”, and is also contributing writer for “Fangoria”, “Shock Cinema” and “Psychotronic Video”. His most recent short film, EL KUERVO, was produced by Tromalum James Gunn. He’s currently finishing a documentary about Los Natas, the grooviest rock band in the world.

By Lloyd Kaufman & Gabe Friedman

Welcome to this excellent book about the world of cult film and exploitation. Mind you, I haven’t read it, but I’m sure it’s great because it got published, but then again three of my books have been published and the L.A. Times, my co-workers, and my wife all say that they suck, so you be the judge and buy them at Borders, Barnes and Nobel’s, Amazon.com, and Troma.com. Hey! How’s that for exploitation, huh?!!

Before I get too forward with my foreword, let me go backwards and speculate on why I was asked to write this foreword (I wish I could think of a synonym for foreward, damn it). My career started off at Yale University with promise, much like my Yale colleague and childhood friend, Oliver Stone. But somewhere along the lines, our careers took drastic turns.

While he went on to make critically acclaimed, award winning films that dealt with such hot button topics as men being brutally blown to bits in war, the perils of drug abuse, a celebration of America’s fascination with sex and violence, and the glorification of a grotesque icon, somewhere I went wrong. I made critically maligned “cult/ exploitation” films graphically embracing such offensive subjects as men being brutally blown to bits in war, the perils of drug abuse, a celebration of America’s fascination with sex and violence, and the glorification of a grotesque icon…Holy Shit!…Wait a minute…Why isn’t Oliver Stone writing this foreword? he does the same shit as I do! —-Oh yeah, he’s mainstream and isn’t into exploitation, whereas I’m a “cult/ exploitation” filmmaker. At least that’s what I’ve been fucking labeled for the past 35 years. To me, being referred to as an “exploitation filmmaker” is a lot like being called a “nigger.” Sure I have a gigantic penis and possess great dance moves…but don’t all filmmakers?

So the question that I have is, why are the good folks in this book called “cult/ exploitation” filmmakers, and Oliver Stone, Stephen Spielberg, and Garry Marshall are worshipped as highly respected, critically acclaimed, mainstream, award-winning geniuses? Are my peers and I in this book labeled “cult” because we have rabid followers who will do whatever we ask? Are we Charles Mansons with celluloid? If so, then why can’t I get a decent bag of weed and/or group sex from nubile hippie chicks? And why are we singled out as “exploitation” filmmakers? Oh, now I’m beginning to get it. The media defines exploitation as “making a profit off of something deplorable.” For example, two and a half hours of graphic Nazi violence, or watching 3,000 innocent people perish in a couple of towering infernos, or the Cinderella story of a cock-loving, cum dumpster who provides true love to rich men — now I’m getting it. That’s exploitation. But, hold your horses partner, that sounds a lot like Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, Stone’s World Trade Center, and Marshall’s Pretty Woman!

But these are not “cult/ exploitation” movies; these are beloved mainstream movies. So what is the difference between them and us? What is the difference between the hideously deformed icon in Oliver Stone’s Nixon and in the The Toxic Avenger? Pretty Woman suggests that a street prostitute can give you real, true love, but the only thing that I ever got from a street whore was syphilis. Who’s doing the exploiting?

The only difference that I can see is that cult directors don’t have the money to spend on big stars, big budgets, press agents, and kabillion dollar advertising campaigns, whereas the sky is the limit for Michael Bay’s Armageddon (that’s big budget exploitation at its finest: a filmmaker who takes a public fear and turns it into a popcorn flick)!

A cult film is the inexplicable success of something that is not rammed down your throat, but it gets publicity from people who have found it, enjoyed it, and passed it on. It’s viral. It’s the type of the sickness that can’t be generated in the sterile environment of the corporate conglomerate machine. It builds and builds until it becomes a phenomenon; then corporate automatons label it “cult.”

So if they marginalize us as cult, then what are they? Allow me to theorize about them: I’m no theologian, but the fact of the matter is that about five companies own or control about ninety-five percent of the entertainment industry. Admittedly some good stuff is produced, but in my opinion, ninety-five percent of that mainstream stuff is fast food shit. The majority of us know that the product ain’t good for you, but it’s everywhere and it’s cheap; and kabillions of dollars are spent to convince us to consume. When you are bombarded with such hype and when the owners of said product also own the TV stations, newspapers, etc., then you can’t help but being brainwashed into going to see it. In the summer of 2006, the mainstream even tried to buy and brainwash its way into the cult movie going wallets. They thought that they could manufacture a genuine cult hit with the mega-budget Snakes on a Plane. Yes, it created lots of chatter on the Internet, but it failed because it sucked. A goofy title and a mega-star like Samuel Jackson may guarantee a good Internet joke, but certainly not a long-lasting, popular cult film. It just ain’t that easy. So if they call us cult then we should call them brainwashers. Cult films may not be any healthier than a Big Mac, but they are made with natural ingredients and with heart, as opposed to being mass-produced in a gigantic corporate factory. Our films are something you might not like, but you want to try at least once…sort of like homosexuality, which I’ve experimented with fourteen times and still don’t know if I like it or not. I’m trying it again tonight.

Getting back to the exploration, I mean exploitation; all films exploit something. That’s the nature of filmmaking. Even the greatest visual artist of our era, Stan Brakhage, exploited his wife giving birth on film in “The Art of Vision.”

What makes the “exploitation” folks you’ll meet in this book unique is that they all have great talent to be able to do so much with so little. What makes the folks in this book stand out is that they have created or helped create art that has withstood the test of time all without the Hollywood brainwash system. Romero’s low budget masterpiece, Dawn of the Dead, is indelibly burned into our minds, while the $100,000,000 mindless mainstream blockbuster Independence Day is forgotten (except for the fact that American audiences applauded during the scene depicting the World Trade Center being blown up by aliens, but five years later were brought to tears when the same buildings were blown up by illegal aliens in Stone’s World Trade Center).

So I guess what defines the “cult/ exploitation” gang who appear in this book is that our tremendous and unique talent transcends narrow categories and labels. Our work, by dint of great word of mouth, is loved and respected by generations around the world…not only that, but just look at all the movies discussed in this book that are being re-made with big stars and big budgets. In fact, half of the people in this book were once cult filmmakers like I still am, and have now become members of the mainstream filmmaking world. Maybe they will be a good influence on the industry and make some quality fast food! See, I am an optimist, after all!

So, I guess it’s a good thing to be a cult filmmaker. I know that I’ll never be as successful as Spielberg or Stone, but I know that I will always have fans that care about my “exploitation” films and will go to the ends of the world to seek them out! What better proof of all this than being read about in a far away country in which my films have practically no distribution…Argentina! Quel honneur!

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