Manifesto

The following are crucial passages, from a variety of film publications, that have influenced the gestation of Total Trash and informed its eventual manifestation.

One is deeply reluctant to make progressive claims for a body of cinema as spectacularly nasty toward women as the slasher film is, but the fact is that the slasher does, in its own perverse way and for better or worse, constitute a visible adjustment in the terms of gender representation.

Carol J. Clover, Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film (1992)

If we see the evolution of the horror film in terms of an inexorable return of the repressed, we will not be surprised by this final emergence of the genre’s real significance. This is coupled with a sense that it becomes in the 70s the most important of all American genres and perhaps the most progressive, even in its overt nihilism–in a period of extreme cultural crisis and disintegration, which alone offers the possibility of radical change and rebuilding.

Robin Wood, Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan (1986)

Secondly, they [low-budget / exploitation films] often present unpopular–even radical–views addressing social, political, racial or sexual inequalities, hypocrisy in religion or government; or, in other ways they assault taboos related to the presentation of sexuality, violence, and other mores.

V. Vale and Andrea Juno, RE/Search No. 10: Incredibly Strange Films (1986)

In fact, exploitation films are potentially less offensive than mainstream Hollywood cinema precisely because of their resistance to the “natural”, and the way they offer the possibility of taking a critical distance on the metalanguage of mainstream cinema.

The hall-marks of “trash movies” are bad acting, crude stereotypes and schematic narrative; it is precisely these elements which give the exploitation film its subversive potential.

Pam Cook, “‘Exploitation’ Films and Feminism” Screen 17.2 (Summer 1976)

The swamp creature, intended to be a startling and menacing cinematic revelation is, in the last analysis, simply an overweight actor standing in weeds with ping-pong balls attached to his eyes on a hot day in Dallas in 1966. For the paracinematic community, such moments of impoverished excess are a means toward collapsing cinema’s fourth wall, allowing the profilmic and the extratextual to mesh with the diegetic drama. The “surface” diegesis becomes precisely that, the thin and final veil that is the indexical mark of a more interesting drama, that of the film’s construction and sociohistorical context.

Jeffrey Sconce, “‘Trashing’ the Academy: Taste, Excess, and an Emerging Politics of Cinematic Style” Screen 36.4 (Winter 1995)

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