Before Disney owned the block, New York’s 42nd Street was lined with movie theatres playing low-budget horror pictures, sexploitation epics and foreign films, the more thoughtfully paced of which caused riots when bored audiences ran amok.
Plywood archways fitted around the entrances to the theatre lobbies would be adorned with film stills to which fake blood would be added, along with words like SHOCK, LURID Or SEX. It was, in short, a long way from when John Barrymore had performed Hamlet there during the 1920s.
Once inside, the coming attractions promised yet more sex and violence. “A ghastly tale drenched with gouts of blood spurting from the writhing victims of a madman’s lust,” claims the trailer for A Taste Of Blood, promising more than the movie delivers. Exploitation filmmakers might not have been up there with Kubrick and Kurosawa, but they knew how to sell their product.
Sometimes that product offered more sleazy fun than the Hollywood blockbusters they were ripping off. Humanoids From The Deep, for instance, is Jaws as only Roger Corman could do it, with rubber monsters who want naked starlets not for food, but to mate with.
When people say they don’t make ‘em like they used to, they’re right, and here are 10 films that prove it.