I’ll blame the Something Weird Video product line for
introducing me to “roughies.”
Roughies are defined very simply in the book, Sleazoid
Express: A Mind-twisting Tour Through the Grindhouse Cinema
of Times Square, as “extreme, sexually motivated movies.”
That book hold ups
the Flesh Trilogy by Mike and Roberta Findley, as a shining
In Schlock! The
Secret History of American Movies, the film The
Defilers (by Lee Frost and David F. Friedman) was
held up as the model.
That documentary on
exploitation films defined roughies as “a category of
movie that wallowed in degradation,” elsewhere describing
the subgenre as “dark, downbeat, almost masochistically
These smutty, often
“ugly” black and white films followed the innocent nudist
films or “nudie cuties” that marked the earliest era of
sexploitation, as invented by Russ Meyer.
defines the subgenre: “What the brooding films of Orson
Welles, Fritz Lang and Alfred Hitchcock were to the MGM
musicals of the previous era, roughies were to the nudie
cuties—the monster in the closet, the shadows cast by
all that artificial light.”
So the roughies are
like the “film noir” of sexploitation: twisted, shadowy
movies that wallowed in the idea that humanity is essentially
corrupt. And this dark view extends to both men AND women.
In Scum Of The Earth,
a film made earlier by David F. Friedman (and Herschell
Gordon Lewis), the central piggish blowhard erupts in
a speech used as part of the SWV sleazoid promotional
loop: “You act like little Miss Muffet and down inside
you’re dirty. Do you hear me? Dirty!”
What these films offer,
I think, is an acknowledgement of our deeper, darker,
(and sometimes) nastier impulses.
And, what's suggested
is that sometimes what brings our downfall is not that
we are born sinners, but that we’re unaware or unwilling
to acknowledge who we really are and the darker impulses that
As Dolores says somewhere
in Permanent Obscurity,
We all need
to acknowledge that, okay? Acknowledge our inner bitch.
We need to acknowledge
our own selfishness, too, and get it over with.
Repeat after me:
I am selfish, I am cruel. Let's be real.
The late Karen
Lancaume .... as Nadine (Baise-Moi)
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—Barry Gifford, author: WILD AT HEART, PERDITA DURANGO
Perez's is an
exciting talent and his work goes far beyond
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—Henry Flesh, author: MICHAEL and the Lambda
Dolores & Serena:
for Russ Meyer—
assuming, that is, if Meyer was around and still at his peak.”
Josh Alan Friedman, author: TALES OF TIMES SQUARE, WHEN SEX WAS DIRTY
They were young and immoral!...