The Bill Cosford Cinema will transform on Thursday into a theater of the bizarre, featuring films with sex, violence, vice and the worst director of all time.
University of Miami’s Norton Herrick Center for Motion Pictures Studies will draw from its large collection of rare exploitation films to host a discussion on exploitation cinema and low-budget films.
“Exploitation films paved the way for today’s horror films,” said Christina Lane, the director of the Herrick Center.
Eric Schaefer will be leading the lecture called “High on Low: What We Can Learn from Low-Budget Films.” Schaefer is a film professor at Emerson College in Boston, who specializes in exploitation cinema.
“Low-budget movies can often get under your skin and make you feel things in ways that big-budget movies do not,” he said.
Lane said Schaefer is “one of the top scholars on this subject in the nation, if not the world.”
Lane expects students to learn a lot from the session with Schaefer, who will discuss how these films have dealt with subject matter too taboo for mainstream film and what they add to the understanding of cinema.
The films in the collection, including cult films and race movies, draw from controversial subject matter.
They were initially made to target and shock young adult and college-age audiences.
These graphic titles influenced directors like Wes Craven, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.
“Watching these examples might help them to better appreciate and understand many of the movies that draw them in today,” Lane said.
One of the clips screened will be from director Ed Wood, sometimes referred to as the worst director of all time. Wood’s movies had dry acting, terrible special effects that were noticeably fake (even for their time) and incoherent plots.
“Looking at all types of moving images helps inform our understanding of history,” Schaefer said. “When we have a grasp of history we’re better able to understand our contemporary situation and plan for our future.”
Schaefer hopes students will come away with a better understanding of the underbelly of the film world and how it differs from mainstream Hollywood fare.
“Scholars are starting to realize that you can learn just as much about popular taste and opinion from marginal films – maybe more – than from film,” Schaefer said.