I have an essay about the new book about Jack HIll up at the Reader.
Hill’s female characters are both psychosexual props and real people. Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith, in an early stage of pregnancy, is an asset to The Swinging Cheerleaders both for the exploitation value of her massive breasts and for the incredibly winning, innocent-yet-skeptical way she watches as her klutzy boyfriend prepares dinner and then drops it on his pants. Hill’s vacillations between humor and sleaze, between affection for his characters and gratuitous abuse of them, are what make his movies such vertiginous romps—unexpected, delightful, and disturbing in a way that a straightforward gorefest, or for that matter, a mainstream movie, could never be. That’s why I’ll take The Big Doll House and The Swinging Cheerleaders over anything by Kubrick, Coppola, or Scorcese.