In the history of film, there have been a number of turning points. Points where things in the medium just can’t go back to they way they were before. Technological advances like live audio recording or color film come to mind. Sure, the shift may have been a gradual and even set the medium back a bit while filmmakers and audiences played with the new toys, but eventually they become the norm.
Other changes have more to do with stylistic choices. Onscreen violence was never the same after movies like Night of the Living Dead, Last House on the Left, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But it would be a mistake to think of film as something completely linear that just gets better as it goes. The artistic choices and commercial decisions are a series of reactions that don’t exist in a vacuum.
There’s a certain degree of subjectivity involved too. I’ve heard people marvel at modern effects and the advances of CGI. It’s hard to argue that they’re not technically impressive, but for me, nothing in the last 30 years have come close to matching to accomplishments seen in The Thing and Day of the Dead.
Like those movies, today’s moment should have been one of those turning points in film. How anyone could see moments like these and not entirely rethink the way they approach film is beyond me.
This addition to the curious collection comes from H.O.T.S., an unassuming (albeit fun) T&A movie from the late 70s. Rampant sexism and fat shaming abound in a time before political correctness was even the slightest concern. The plot is simple. A college girl hears the rich leaders of a snobby sorority making fun of her for being poor. In order to get back at them, she starts her own sorority with the primary goal of sleeping with the boyfriends of every PI girl. Throw in some escaped bank robbers and a bear in a hot air balloon and you have H.O.T.S. in a nutshell.
Somehow, all of this leads to a game of strip football. That, in it’s own right is something remarkable. It begs the question, why did it take until 1979 to make a movie where the climax was a game a strip football? In hindsight, it seems so obvious.
What often makes moments like this stand out is the fact that they go so far above and beyond what is necessary. In any movie, a game of strip football would be a highlight. What, with all the running, throwing, and other feats of athleticism that show off breasts to wonderful effect. This is a smorgasbord of visual delights. Before you call me a chauvinist, understand that it’s the strategic planning that really makes H.O.T.S. essential viewing. By strategic planning of course, I mean the huddle. It is sheer brilliance in its simplicity.
Again, I have to ask, why did it take so long to conceive of and execute a shot like this? Shouldn’t this have been one of the first things created after the invention of the camera? I know that early film experiments often involved naked people walking down stairs and doing other mundane things. We already had enough of an understanding of gravity that this should have been a no brainer. Not only was H.O.T.S., to my knowledge, the innovator of such a shot, but director Gerald Seth Sindell had the sense to do it twice:
It’s stuff like this that makes me think we should step back and take a look at the direction in which cinema is going. The desire for progress is understandable, but let’s not reinvent the wheel. Every single one of the millions (billions?) of shots from every film that I’ve seen since this has been inferior. Thankfully, we have moments like this that I can bottle up and add to my collection. Although it’s a shame that this hasn’t happened with more frequency, I take solace in the fact that it did happen and was preserved. H.O.T.S., I commend you for your contribution to film history and to the greater good of mankind in general.