It's hard to know what's going to be of value in the future, so we often discard things that we deem worthless, but live to regret later. For instance, thousands of Egyptian mummies were used for fuel and kindling in the 1800s, and of a much lesser cultural value, my grandmother threw out all of my dad's baseball cards - which included Micky Mantle's rookie card. I can still recall placing all my comic books, hundreds of old and valuable comics, in a big cardboard box and slapping a $5.00 price tag on it at a yard sale. In hindsight, it was an idiotic move; but, I literally had no idea that these would be valuable one day.
The same can be said about early films, especially those low budget exploitation reels. They were meant to be played a certain length of time at a drive-in or a seedy movie theater... and then destroyed. It was inconceivable that these would be of commercial value one day. They were a fire hazard and would likely deteriorate on their own anyway. Thus, hundreds of shitty movies are gone forever.
It's fair to say none of these films are any good - they were hastily made, low budget and amateurish. Nonetheless, these are cultural artifacts, and can be enjoyed with the right frame of mind. So, while these aren't lost Citizen Kanes, it is a shame that these reels of celluloid are gone forever.
Let's take a moment to look at a few missing pieces of cinematic sleaze.
Warm Nights and Hot Pleasures (1964)
This one interested me because it starred Joe Santos whom many of you may remember from The Rockford Files as the Rockford's buddy with the comb-over at the police station.
Here's a newspaper clipping describing a pornography crackdown involving this film. "Their buttocks can be discerned through sleazy panties" Gasp!
Almost nothing is known about this film. Believe it or not, it was directed by Joel L. Freeman - a guy who became a well respected Hollywood director/producer. He's probably best known for Brainstorm (1983) starring Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood.
The movie starred Michelle Angelo, whose claim to fame is being a go-go dancer at the Whiskey A-Go Go and roles in various other smut like The Secret Files of Detective X.
Linda and Abilene (1969)
This one is of interest because it was filmed at the notorious Spahn Ranch - the same spot Charles Manson and his followers plotted one of the bloodiest murder sprees in our nation's history. The Spahn Ranch was originally a spot where local filmmakers in the 1920's rented horses for their movies. Later, George Spahn created a movie set there, and it became a part of The Lone Ranger and Bonanza sets. By 1968, The Manson Family moved in and the Spahn Ranch became a popular location for low budget adult films including: The Fabulous Bastard from Chicago (1969), The Ramrodder (1969), The Female Bunch (1969) and Wanda, the Sadistic Hypnotist (1969). The ranch burned down in a fire in November 1970.
In addition to its notable location is its director - H. G. Lewis, the man credited with opening up the floodgates of gory cinema via Blood Feast and 10,000 Maniacs. Lewis is a fascinating character, his career is more varied and interesting than anyone I can think of. In addition to introducing gore to movie audiences, he wrote a book on Norman Rockwell and a guide to plate collecting, is an accomplished musician and became filthy rich in the field of direct mail marketing. He also owned the DeLorean used in Back to the Future!
If you know of any other movies considered lost forever, throw it in a comment. I'd love to hear some of them.