the longest time, Sweden was seen as the home of sin to repressed
Brits – softcore movies would be frequently retitled with
the word ‘Swedish’ inserted, regardless of the actual
nationality of the film, and although it was Denmark that led
the way in porn liberalisation at the end of the Sixties, for
horny Britons, it was free-love hapy blonde Swedish girls who
fired the imagination.
As it turned out, Sweden wasn’t quite the liberal,
anything-goes paradise we were led to believe – censorship
was rife, especially of horror films, where restrictions actually
made the British censors seem lax. And more recently, while film
censorship has ben relaxed, Sweden has become the world leader
in strident feminism, resulting in heavy-handed anti-prostitution
(or, more accurately, use of prostitute) laws and an atmosphere
that is far removed from the sexually liberated image of old.
Nevertheless, Sweden did make its contribution to sleaze cinema
– from the revolutionary nudity of early Ingmar Bergman
through revolutionary films like I Am Curious –
Yellow to notorious shockers like Thriller –
A Cruel Picture, the nation cranked out an impressive
array of lurid porn, action and horror.
A long overdue study of these Swedish exploitation epics, Daniel
Ekeroth’s book offers a fairly exhaustive look at the sex,
violence and action films that the country produced from the late
Fifties to the early Nineties. After a short history off what
he dubs Sensationsfilms – and what you might call Swedesploitation
– and an introduction by the nation’s finest export
Christina Lindberg (pictured), Ekeroth takes us on an A-Z (actually,
A-Y) of Swedish cult movies. There are notorious arthouse films
that pushed at the boundaries – Dom Kallar Oss Mods
from 1968, 1964’s 491 – alongside
respectable films from the likes of Bergman, hardcore porn, softcore
comedies, action films like Animal Protector
and trashy horror efforts like the infamous Blood Tracks.
It’s surprising how many of these films were new to me,
and I now want to see them all!
author takes a pleasingly jaundiced look at the films –
you suspect he has something of a love-hate relationship with
his nation’s movie output – and writes tight, pithy
critiques that thankfully avoid being too po-faced about the movies.
And of course, there are plentiful illustrations to accompany
the text. There’s also a guide to the important figures
of the genre and a handy – and amusing – reference
guide to Swedish cultural phrases.
If I had a complaint about the book, it would be that films are
listed under the original language titles, which makes looking
up titles you do know quite hard. A minor issue, and
perhaps a petty one, but as the book is in English, I wish the
film titles were too.
But that’s not really important. This is an essential guide
to demented sounding movies that have, for the most part, rarely
been written about until now. For that reason alone, it’s
an essential purchase – assuming you need any further recommendation
after seeing the glorious cover.
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