BINGHAMTON, NY – The Binghamton University Art Museum will open its spring exhibition, Graphic! Lurid! Sensational! Exploitation and B-Movie Posters, from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, April 7, in room 213 of the Fine Arts Building, on campus. The event is free and open to the public.
The exhibition features 35 vintage posters drawn from a collection of over 400 posters that are part of the John McLaughlin Collection in the Special Collections of the Binghamton University Libraries. Brian Wall, associate professor of cinema and art history, is the guest curator. The exhibition will be on view through Saturday, May 21.
From the 1920s through to the 1960s, Hollywood film was shadowed by its rude doubles: the exploitation film and the B-movie. The Motion Picture Production Code, popularly known as the Hays Code, comprised a set of moral guidelines developed by the studios themselves to stave off government interference, interference provoked by abundant Hollywood scandals as well as by risqué films. Among other things, the Hays Code prohibited nudity, images of drugs or white slavery, venereal diseases or prostitution, or childbirth.
For almost 40 years Hollywood regulated itself, but the desire for the forbidden never went away. This desire proved an opportunity for small business, leading to the birth of the exploitation film. The term derives first from these films’ advertising, which, as many of the posters attest, sensationalized the forbidden, and exploited representations of drug use and sexuality in order to turn a profit. This was a necessary strategy, since none of the films featured stars or anything resembling production values, limitations the exploitation film shared with its studio cousin, the B-movie. But these modes of filmmaking also address the viewer directly, appealing to visual curiosity and a desire to see what has been forbidden or repressed.
Here, the repressed deliriously returns, in the form of these graphic and lurid posters. In the exhibition, visitors will find posters of cult favorites such as Plan 9 from Outer Space, The Attack of the 50 Ft Woman and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, alongside lesser known, yet visually arresting posters for films like Killers from Space, The Astounding She Monster and The Weird Love Makers.
Those unable to attend the opening may tune in to WHRW (90.5 FM) during this time to hear interviews, a broadcast of the original War of the Worlds and other cult classics.
All events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit binghamton.edu/art-museum.