Some Nudity Required
Since the popularization of home video in the mid-'80s, exploitation films, which once populated movie houses and drive-ins, have since dominated the direct-to-video marketplace. At the same time, exploitation films as a whole have lost some of the inventiveness and campy charm that marked the golden age spanning the '50s through the '70s. With few exceptions, the last decade in particular has seen a few exhausted, generally dark-spirited genres tirelessly reworked, most notably the Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct-derived erotic thriller. This phenomenon has largely gone unmentioned, and first-time filmmaker Odette Springer might seem an ideal candidate to rectify that situation. A former composer for B-movies made by Roger Corman's Concorde/New Horizons studio, Springer observed the process from the inside for years. Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to have paid too much attention, as the amateurish Some Nudity Required amply demonstrates. The film attempts to cover contemporary B-movies from a feminist perspective, which makes sense: Any insightful documentary on the field, with its high quotient of sex and violence, would almost seem to demand it. Some Nudity Required, however, is less a documentary than an extended journal entry in documentary form. Before it's over, viewers will know a lot more about Springerfrom her childhood love of performing (a part in an opera at 13!) to her move to L.A., to her nose job at 16, to her singing and songwriting career (generously sampled on Nudity's soundtrack), to her thrill at buying her first bustier in the company of scream queen Maria Fordthan Nudity's ostensible subject. In fact, for all the suspiciously contrived-sounding narration about her strange mix of attraction and repulsion to B-movies, Springer never seems to view them with anything other than condescending disdain. Interviews with Corman, Jim Wynorski, and Andy and Arlene Sidaris are filled with leading questions, while interviews with female stars (with the notable exception of Julie Strain) perhaps unintentionally cast them in a worse light than before. (An addled-looking Ford's apparent bafflement that her parts in films like Stripped To Kill 2 would require nudity is especially unconvincing.) Aside from some observations that could be made by anyone armed with an Intro To Women's Studies textbook, the only point Springer convincingly makes is that shewith her monotone revelations and sub-Vonda Shepard musicianshipis even worse as a documentary subject than as a documentarian. The fact that Springer fails to mention that Corman is one of the few studio heads to regularly hire women writers and directors (or composers, for that matter) gives an idea of how balanced her portrayal is. Late in Some Nudity Required, Springer reveals that an aunt and uncle molested her as a child. This is, of course, unfortunate, but it has no relevant connection to the world of B-movies in the '90s. Given her film's song-of-myself qualities, it also has the strange effect of making Some Nudity Required feel more exploitative than the films it covers, which is probably not what Springer had in mind. Given the tremendous opportunity she squanders here, it's difficult to figure out what she was thinking .