Film International: Rehistoricizing the Gaze

By Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
Film International

Gorfinkel_Lewd coverWhile Elena Gorfinkel’s Lewd Looks: American Sexploitation Cinema in the 1960s (University of Minnesota Press, 2017) looks towards another commonly derided body genre – sex films instead of horror films – as Linda Williams famously noted in her 1991 essay “Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess,” both horror and sex films have much in common. A charming anecdote early in Gorfinkel’s book tells of her interest in the subject being sparked by a visit from legendary sexploitation filmmaker Doris Wishman to her graduate feminist film theory class in 1998. Like Roberta Findlay (another sexploitation filmmaker of this era mentioned throughout Gorfinkel’s book), Wishman would work in “roughies” – sexploitation films that combined violence with sex that would, amongst other things, go on to influence the later slasher subgenre – and both women would later in their careers move from making sex films to horror movies.

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