Frequently still omitted from polite discourse about the history and importance of moving images, exploitation and pornographic films represent a final frontier for film preservation. As such, the task of preserving and restoring such films — when undertaken at all — generally falls to private institutions, which stand free from the moral scrutiny applied to their public peers. As an enterprise located almost wholly within the private sector, the restoration of exploitation film thus presents a unique set of logistical and ethical challenges that come coupled with the more traditional obstacles found in a typical motion picture restoration workflow. The obstacles facing the preservation of exploitation and adult cinema begin well before a single rusty lab can is opened, and stand deeply rooted in longstanding cultural ideas of artistic and social legitimacy. Nevertheless, while a series of congressional hearings saw a sea change in the broader archival and governmental view of what films are worthy of preserving, with focus shifting sharply to include orphan and other non-commercial, amateur, and avant garde works,  the realms of exploitation and pornography still failed to make the grade. While today the reasons behind this continued exclusion may seem obvious, its underpinnings nevertheless lie in a complex network of intersecting social and political factors that bear further scrutiny.
Sign in. Dwain Esper was probably the most obscure of the 'Hollywood hack' filmmakers of the s alongside Victor Adamson, Robert J. Horner and others whom directed low-budget Westerns feature films and serials. Esper's film career was focused on softcore exploitation features which have a hard, merciless edge and a serial killer pathology. His films are too sick and mean-spirited to be guiltless kitsch and too weird to enjoy just for laughs. Born in Washington state in October , Esper's pre-cinematic background, unsurprisingly, was in the tawdry underbelly of the early 20th century carnival circuit as a barker. But after receiving a film lab as part of a settlement, he had the same revelation that later would dawn on the owners of burlesque theaters as "nudie cutie" loops: talent could balk, show up late, or ask for more money, but a film runs uncomplainingly every time it's reeled up.
Don't have an account yet? Get the most out of your experience with a personalized all-access pass to everything local on events, music, restaurants, news and more. Among other things, cinema has always been a ready-made self-eulogizer -- Hollywood was making two-reeler silent comedies about the craft of moviemaking before the viewing public even knew what it entailed, and documentaries about famous and forgotten threads of film history were being assembled before there was even a history to speak of.
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