October 24 – October 31
From the late 1950s through the mid-80s, many workaday directors tasked with exposing film for the workplace and classrooms moonlit in cemeteries, bayous, and basements, lensing brilliant genre pieces and prurient trash for drive-ins and grindhouses. Pairing features with commercially sponsored shorts, INDUSTRIAL TERROR examines regional horror filmmaking across the USA through the craftsmen who sharpened their teeth in industrial cinema – some of whom went on to become genre legends, and others who are due for rediscovery.
In earlier decades, these seemingly disparate modes of filmmaking were directly intertwined, as films on forbidden subject matter such as teen pregnancy, venereal disease, drug use, and violence were often presented as touring roadshows under the pretext of illuminating social responsibility. After Army-trained commercial filmmaker Russ Meyer released the first unabashedly nude feature film, THE IMMORAL MR. TEAS, the dual intentions diverged. Filmmakers trafficking in taboo subject matter abandoned claims of social pretext or openly mocked them. Quasi-documentary tropes and regional myth were appropriated within lurid, fantastic, and terrifying narratives. Reciprocally, wry bits of the macabre livened up training and educational films. And many free-spirited directors used industrial and educational filmmaking for their economic and creative gain, earning their livelihood and experimenting stylistically within a commercial framework in order to create independently of studios and major production centers.
INDUSTRIAL TERROR offers a subversive tour of Middle America stretching between two poles of marginal cinema. Some filmmakers are associated with storied industrial firms like Centron, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Wexler Films, and Jam Handy. Others were self-employed commercial mavericks. This will be the first time many of the industrial/educational films screen in a cinematic context, and almost certainly the first time nearly all have been paired with their directors’ features. The series also includes the premiere New York screenings of Zoltan G. Spencer’s THE SATANIST, a lost film recently recovered on 35mm. Though virtually nothing is known about Mr. Spencer, a hunch has led us to uncover industrial films believed to have been directed by the same pseudonymous filmmaker in frosty Canadian exile.
Programmed by Jon Dieringer. Special thanks to Cassie Blake (Academy Film Archive), Cristina Cacioppo, Eric Caidin (Hollywood Book & Poster Co.), Keith J. Crocker (Cinefear Video), Tom Van Dyke & William Dear, Mark Freado, Roy Frumkes, Harry Guerro, Ann Harris, Matthew Irvine, Matt Jones (North Carolina School of the Arts), Paul & Elizabeth Nelson, Stephen Parr, Rick Prelinger, Brian J. Quinn (Grindhouse Film Festival), Herb Shellenberger, Dan Streible, and David Wexler.