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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Steve's Church-Less Movie Of The Week: Dwain Esper Double Feature ...

The Ataris: Science Fiction Double Feature (reprise)

Dwain Esper (October 7, 1892—October 18, 1982) was an American director and producer of exploitation films, some of which were written by Esper's own wife, Hildegarde Stadie. His work with movies was legendary.

Originally financed by a church group under the title Tell Your Children, the legendary cult movie Refer Madness was intended to be shown to parents as a morality tale attempting to teach them about the dangers of cannabis use. However, soon after the film was shot, it was purchased by Esper, who re-cut the film for distribution on the exploitation film circuit.

But no Refer Madness for us today, folks. No, we have two of his OTHER films to watch and suffer through.

Enjoy ...

Yoinked from and the almighty wikipedia god ...

"Maniac, also known as Sex Maniac, is a 1934 black and white exploitation/horror film, directed by Dwain Esper and written by Hildegarde Stadie, Esper's wife, as a loose adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe story "The Black Cat", with references to his "Murders in the Rue Morgue".

Esper's greatest advantage was the double standard whereby films that presented themselves as being educational could show things that were strictly forbidden in a conventional drama. In Maniac, Esper exploited that double standard to the hilt, concocting a mad doctor movie full of topless women and cat fights both figurative and literal, along with Esper’s usual outrageous overacting and dope imagery, which purports to be both a serious dramatization of some of the more burdensome mental illnesses and an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s 'The Black Cat.'

First of all, I simply can’t get over the fact that we’re talking about a movie from 1934 that features actual nudity and not fake nudity or nudity hinted at. And furthermore, one of Maniac’s two nude scenes exists for absolutely no other reason than to show off the non-actress’s body. There isn’t even the most minor or irrelevant plot point being served in it. Then there’s that bewildering business with the Crazy Cat Guy, a character whose sole apparent purpose— at least in the specific form he takes— is to provide an excuse for all the Mondo-ish footage of battling cats with which Esper peppers the movie as random padding.

This film is a more mind-altering experience than any drug you could take.

The film, which was advertised with the tagline He menaced women with his weird desires, is in the public domain. A full length RiffTrax for the movie was released on November 25, 2009, with commentary by Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame. John Wilson, the founder of the Golden Raspberry Award, named Maniac as one of the 100 Most Amusingly Bad Movies Ever Made in his book The Official Razzies Movie Guide. The actress named Phyllis Diller in this film is no relation to the comedienne Phyllis Diller."

And Now, Our Feature Presentation ...

"Marihuana: The Weed with Roots in Hell is a 1936 exploitation film directed by Dwain Esper, and written by Esper's wife, Hildegarde Stadie.

The film does offer significantly more luridness that such famous contemporaries as Reefer Madness and The Cocaine Fiends, but it also sneaks in an unexpected degree of honesty about its subject, even while paying lip-service to the usual shrill pot-panic line. For despite its title, the action and dialogue of the film just as explicitly paint pot-smoking as a trivial factor, putting the real blame on a combination of family neglect and much more genuinely dangerous drugs. It also treats the mechanics of the drug trade in a far more credible manner than any other contemporary exploitation movie I’ve seen, emphasizing its nature as a business, illegal though it may be. Watching it, you get the impression that Esper might actually have known a thing or two about how all this stuff really worked.

The film centers around a good girl named Burma who goes to a party, smokes marijuana, and winds up going skinny-dipping with her girl friends. When one of the girls drowns, the dope pushers come up with a plan to hide the body. A turn of events leads up to Burma being pregnant and unmarried. She is forced to give the child up for adoption and become a drug dealer.

Yes, that is exactly how it works, my children. If you smoke weed even ONCE you will become a pregnant drug dealer. Remember that, kids!

At times, especially at the end of the film, it’s as if Esper is winking at the savvier members of the audience, slyly acknowledging the absurdity of the 30’s pot scare even as he cashes in on it for all it’s worth. While it has very little to offer from any normal artistic perspective, Marihuana: The Weed with Roots in Hell earns startled respect."

Steve's Snacks Of The Week:





Cheese Crackers

Small Chocolate Eggs

Asthma Inhalation Medicine


Enjoy the show, y'all!

Wind Clan out!

1 comment:

Reverend Steve said...

Beer... five cents?!?