After watching Some Nudity Required, Odette Springer’s revealing documentary about the B-movie industry, movies like Slumber Party Massacre 3 and Naked Obsession may never again seem like innocent fun.
Despite an ample selection of clips from movies that define the word gratuitous, Some Nudity Required (which played at the ’98 Sundance Film Festival) is no sleaze-fest. It is, by turns, good-natured, confrontational, and disturbing. Springer, a classically trained musician who worked for schlockmeister Roger Corman as a composer and music supervisor on such films as Dune Warriors and Fire on the Amazon, interviewed producers, directors, actors, and crew members who candidly — and in some cases defensively — reflected on the impact and karmic legacy of T&A thrillers. As writer-director Catherine Cyran puts it, ”It’s no joke that men get a hard-on from seeing women in jeopardy.”
It may be true, as director Jim Wynorski has said, that ”breasts are the cheapest special effects,” but, as Springer discovered, those performers possessing them often pay a high price to work in a corner of Hollywood where a starring role in a film like Stripped to Kill II can be considered a stepping-stone.
Ironically, one woman did parlay Stripped to Kill II into mainstream success. Writer-director Katt Shea, who went on to make the Drew Barrymore steamer Poison Ivy and The Rage: Carrie 2, tells EW that she looks back on her Corman years as ”a positive experience.” Like Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Demme before her, Shea made films that contained exploitation elements, and she took care ”not to be one of the exploiters.” ”I made some films I’m really proud of,” she says. ”You have to really have a passion, not just see it as a stepping-stone. That’s the difference.”
It was not until Springer was well into production that she realized her excursion into this ”over-the-top world that Fellini couldn’t have made up” was taking a personal toll. Compiling the clips, she found herself inexplicably obsessed with and aroused by the very images she considered violent and degrading. ”First, I was irate at some of this stuff,” she says. ”I watched these movies and I hated them…. But my body was telling me something different. I didn’t realize I had such a shadow side to my own sexuality.”
The irony is not lost on Springer that movies she considers damaging helped her to grow and ”become stronger.” ”That’s a very confusing thing,” she says. ”This is the last place I would have looked for healing, believe me.”