One Man's Trash

The guilty pleasures of vintage posters from classic exploitation flicks

Reefer Madness"I've read so many film books, and every one of those books has [just] two to five pages of stuff that was worth reading," declares the Werepad's Jacques Boyreau. "Hopefully, we gave you those pages and left out the other stuff." The text in Trash (Chronicle Books) -- a boho coffee-table tome conceived by Boyreau with Werepad cohort Scott Moffett -- is indeed pithy and sparse, leaving the focus squarely on the many pages of artwork designed to rev the imagination: vintage posters for lowbrow exploitation flicks drawn from Boyreau's mammoth collection.

It's a beautiful book (in a cheesy way), but look closely and you'll see fold lines in several of the reproductions. That makes the posters flawed in some people's eyes -- "It freaks out other collectors, who are all about vacuum sealing," says Boyreau with a provocateur's chuckle -- but he suggests that it's oxymoronic to pursue pristine notices from low-culture, nonintellectual (or anti-intellectual) B-movies. "These are works of art that benefit by being creased and wrinkled and assaulted."

Boyreau confides that he and his editor agreed to toss one image out of Trash. "I was in a shop on Divisadero and I had bought this lobby card from Meteor, the movie that basically ended the whole American International Pictures dynasty [run by legendary exploitation pioneer Samuel Z. Arkoff]. A disaster movie disastered the studio. It's a 1979 image of the World Trade Center exploding in flames at the exact story level that they did, in fact, explode in flames. Both towers -- it could have been a still from the news. It's utterly supernatural." Boyreau owns enough posters to publish a follow-up title, which could happen given that Trash is on the verge of a second printing.

Desert Hearts Sara Millman ran away from Florida after the 10th grade to become an actress in New York. Instead of fame and glamour she found hard times, and eventually she took off for the Bay Area. Fifteen years later, Millman is behind the camera, making her first feature film, an interracial lesbian action-drama-love story with a happy ending. "Action?" I ask curiously, since low-budget films rarely spring for stunts. "There's a motorcycle and a cop scene and some guns," she replies with a self-conscious laugh.

Robin's Hood is a spin on the Sherwood Forest fairy tale, with the Robin-Marian relationship acted out by a white, French thief (portrayed by Clody Cates) and a black social worker increasingly disillusioned with the system (played by Khahtee Turner, Millman's partner, who co-wrote the screenplay with her and serves as assistant producer). The soundtrack employs a range of styles; Cates' brother's rap band, Strict Flow, composed and performed the theme.

Millman researched a bevy of video formats, finally settling on German mini-35mm lenses that impart a rich film look to DV. They're exceedingly hard to find in this country, but gaffer Justin Chin -- who lives four doors down from Millman and Turner on the Berkeley-Oakland border -- owns a set. That's the kind of miracle every indie filmmaker relies on, but Millman still faces the financial hurdle of post-production. She and Turner are hosting a country-western dance party/fund-raiser on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Club 1220 in Walnut Creek. Call (925) 938-4550 or visit www.robinshood.siteblast.com for more info.

While the City SleepsJon Moritsugu's Scumrock won the Best Feature award at the Chicago Underground Film Festival. The soap/rock opera screens at the Other Cinema in November. ... Local filmmakers Scott Kildall and Sasha Magee's In the Dark, a persuasive political and scientific treatise on the effects of locating power plants in low-income neighborhoods, premieres Sept. 17-18 at the Red Vic. ... Film Arts Foundation, Frameline, NAATA, and several other media arts groups move into their new Ninth Street building this month. FAF closes Sept. 17-22, reopening Sept. 23 in the ace space. ... The city of Fremont hopes to entice Hollywood into blowing up its City Hall building -- for a price, of course. Heck, it worked once before, when city fathers lured the makers of Terminator 2: Judgment Day into dynamiting an edifice for the cameras. Check the specs at www.filmoakland.com/fremont.

 
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