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March 03, 2015


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Aaron Aradillas

I've told this story before, but I'll tell it again. Being born with very limited eyesight made my viewing habits very lenient. The thinking was that I might lose my vision at any moment, so let him see it all while he can. By the time my parents realized I wasn't gonna go blind anytime soon it was too late. A movie critic had been created.


For me it was seeing The Last Picture Show at a drive-in, sitting between Dad on one side and Mom on the other. They were fairly conservative, church-going folks, so when Cybill Shepherd stripped off on that diving board, I expected Dad to start the car and zoom out of there. But nope, we stayed for the whole thing, and I don't recall any argument about it (if there had been one, I'm guessing Dad would've argue FOR staying).

I guess our local theaters were fairly lax about the R rating, because me and my fellow 13- to 14-year-olds never had any problem seeing them unescorted -- Frenzy, Play Misty for Me, The Todd Killings, etc., all seen without adult accompaniment.


Eh, meant "my fellow 13- to 14-year olds and I." Sleep deprivation trumps the English degree every time.


My parents took me to the opening weekend of All That Jazz at 12 or 13 or so, for which I was eternally grateful. Still can't enough of that film, to this very day. (On the way home, I got to ask them why someone in the audience kept laughing at every mention of "Dr. Hymen" and repeating the name like it was the best joke he'd ever heard.) Cool parents are nice.

But we'd already had HBO for a couple of years, so the gig was already up...

And happily, the video store next door started being VERY relaxed about its porn rental requirements around the same time, so all my needs were met, from the greats of 1970's cinema to more "educational" films.


Hard to know quite where to begin, as there were so many differing levels of inappropriate at different times. First was probably Halloween on TV at a sleepover in the church rec room. Scared me like my dad warned me it would, but I was happy with the whole experience. Also coming to mind is Death Game, where Sandra Locke and Colleen Camp turn on Seymor Cassel's horndog family man by tying him up and taunting him and trashing the place. Saw it shortly after we got basic cable when I was probably 11 or so. Went and found my mom in the laundry room and said "I think I watched something I shouldn't have." It was the cruelty and callousness that disturbed me...we would go to Atlanta Flames hockey games and the fighting made me sick and depressed...anyway, KING OF THE F***ING LIST is unquestionably SS Experiment Love Camp. My best friend's mom, whom I used to discuss Dostoevsky with (she was an English teacher) carelessly left it lying around when we were 11 or 12 and we dutifully watched it. Our first porn film...people having sex in ice cold tanks of water, women being tortured, a man having his dick bitten off (at least he was a Nazi)...afterwards we were like Sam in Freaks and Geeks: depressed, appalled, put quite off a bit on the whole idea of sex for the moment.
On a mildly-related-to-the-topic note, the same mom dropped us off and waved at the cashier for Beverly Hills Cop...and then the very next day my mom took me as a special treat. She was super disappointed by my reaction because I didn't laugh once (having just laughed at it all the day before), and I felt really terrible bc I couldn't tell her why.
Looking back at the sexy S&M undertones of the whipping in Flash Gordon (I was seven), it seems a bit much for a kid. I know because when I saw it as an adult for the first time (the TV versions I had seen in between clearly skipped that moment), seeing the welts in her sweaty back again as she turns and gives a look of desire and pain was like a Proustian madeline of confusion and excitement. (Freudians note: no fetish resulted.) The next year after Flash we all went to Modern Problems for another birthday party, and there is a half-second nipple slip before the actress grabs the covers again. Gavin Fay started screaming "I saw her cherry, I saw her cherry!" over and over again (yes, I know, not her cherry) until an usher had to come and literally drag him out as he continued to scream said phrase all the way out the door. Bet that never happened in France.


Not film-related -- none of my anecdotes could match those above anyway -- but I was reading Gilbert Shelton comix before my age reached double figures.


I'm not sure what the "four felony counts" are, but dang if this isn't timely:http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/03/04/Subsitute-teacher-who-showed-violent-movie-sentenced.html

Grant L

Another "Psycho" victim here, on latenight TV at age 10, in 1971. A good friend and I noticed it in the TV guide and declared our intention to watch it. Our moms had a lot of reservations, but didn't forbid it, and disappeared to bed long before the movie started. We were lucky - we were well aware of who Hitchcock was, of course, especially since my grandma had begun passing along her copies of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine to me, but we didn't know ANYTHING about this particular movie except the title. Perhaps a testament to the idea that great films can survive anything, we watched it on a tiny set and the film was interrupted every 15 minutes or less with ads starring Mickey Dolenz touting an album with 112 of your favorite hits, but the movie never broke its spell, and it scared the fucking shit out of us. A pivotal experience.


I forgot my, perhaps, absolutely favorite inappropriate viewing.

One summer back when I was about 10, a friend's older brother, who must have been around 14, snuck us into "Undercovers Hero" (1975), more accurately described by its original UK title, "Soft Beds, Hard Battles".

It involved Peter Sellers, playing about 27 different parts, teaming up with hundreds of naked French hookers based out a resistance brothel to save the world from the Nazis. And good lord, naked girls galore. Everywhere. Lasciviously and lingeringly filmed.

So no good parents were involved in this glorious experience, only a 14 year old 'guardian'. But the best part was that I discovered that I was able to go back to the cinema alone and get admitted to see it Every Single Day of it's one-week run by (accurately) claiming that I'd already been there with a guardian. The 1970's were an enlightened era.

(Being a wise pre-teen, I was always more interested in inappropriate naked girls than inappropriate horror.)


My first "inappropriate" movie was probably HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS (1970), which was PG but had an R-rated level of gore. It probably would have been R a few years later. But because it was PG, I was able to see it at age 11.


The first R-rated movie I saw was WALKING TALL (1973 version), a movie described by Leonard Maltin as "sickeningly violent." It was filmed close to where I lived in Tennessee, and everyone in town wanted to see it. The theater let everyone in, including kids not accompanied by parents.

But that was rare. My parents usually said "no" when I asked to see R-rated movies (no amount of begging would convince them to let me see THE EXORCIST). Also, box offices in the '70s were staffed by adults, not teenagers, and they didn't hesitate to ask you to produce an ID.

I do remember badgering my father into taking me to see THE LONGEST YARD (1974). Also saw PLAY MISTY FOR ME with both parents, at a drive-in, a couple of years after its initial release.

In 1975, I got my drivers license and started seeing R-rated double bills at the drive-ins, which never asked for an ID. If you were old enough to drive, you got in. This was the golden age of exploitation cinema. In addition to schlock like THE POM POM GIRLS and SATAN'S CHEERLEADERS, I saw low-budget classics like DEEP RED, SUSPIRIA, RABID, DEATH RACE 2000, JACKSON COUNTY JAIL and ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13. Oh, and FLESH GORDON. All before I was 18.

In high school I had a growth spurt and was able to see R-rated fare like CUCKOO'S NEST and MARATHON MAN at indoor theaters, and the "forbidden" thrill of seeing an age-inappropriate movie began to fade.


My first genuinely "inappropriate" experience was seeing a red-band trailer for 1970's EL CONDOR, with abundant toplessness of Marianna Hill. This was prior to a showing of the G-rated BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES.


Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls at the Kitale Golf Club in Kenya in 1975. My parents parked my brothers and I, aged 4, 6 and 8, in front of the screen, while they repaired to the adjoining bar to get smashed. They were completely oblivious as to what the film was about ("I think it's a film about drug addicts", my mother said vaguely). We stared gob-smacked at a woman fellating a pistol and then a woman with huge breasts and a see-through blouse running in slow-motion across a beach. Or something like that. "I don't think it's a children's film", I said to my siblings.


On local TV, I recall unedited showings of THE PAWNBROKER and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. The latter was shown on a Sunday afternoon! People came home from church and got to see this. This was a time (the early '70s) when nothing remotely as graphic as Romero's film was being shown on TV.

Needless to say, these uncensored showings were not repeated.

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