Review: Swedish Sensationfilms

Most countries have an underground film scene, a B-movie circuit and amateur/trash filmmakers. But few countries are mostly known for these “artistic” efforts. Ask anyone in the world outside Scandinavia what they associate with Sweden, and it will be meatballs, Ikea and bikini blondes.

The latter is closely linked to a type of films that were produced in Sweden predominantly during the 50s to 70s. They were a big part of what author Daniel Ekeroth calls “sensationfilms”; independent horror, exploitation, softporn, thrillers, and cheesy action flicks. Often produced outside government support organizations, these low budget films were designed to shock and exploit, perhaps as a result of the combination of the liberal Swedish mindset and as a reaction to the politically correct establishment (which still penetrates Sweden on most levels). While Sweden still produces the occasional horror film, and lots of cheap porn, the sensationfilm era ended in the 90s and therefore Daniel Ekeroth wrote the book Swedish Sensationfilms, an extensive introduction to Sweden’s trash film history. As the book proves, the country’s film history is not only about tired old cops and grey family dramas.

The bulk of the book is made up of more or less short reviews of over 200 films from the mentioned genres. Ekeroth has probably seen too many trash films to remain sane by now, but he does a good job in describing plot stories and why these films should shock. By today’s standards most of these film would not shock jaded viewers but going as far back as the 50s, when the idea of naked skin was enough to get censorship scissors out from the drawer, the book is not just an overview of films most of you have never heard of, but also mapping the development of Sweden’s alternate film history (which took a new turn in 2011, when the film censorship office was closed). You’ll find plenty of educational reviews; for example, did you know that Sweden produced a number of Wild West films, called lingonberry westerns? Or that international stars such as Stellan Skarsgård, Max von Sydow, David Carradine, Dennis Hopper, and Pernilla August all acted in questionable Swedish trash films? Yes, Ingmar Bergman is included in the book as well, as the director of perhaps the first rape-revenge film, but most of the titles, directors and actors will be new to you, although Ekeroth makes you want to get to know them better!

The book also offers Ekeroth’s definition and introduction to sensationfilms, an essay by sensationfilm star Christina Lindberg of Thriller fame, an analysis of Sweden post-sensationfilms, a glossary of typical Swedish items with links to movies, name references, and Ekeroth’s Top 20 sensationfilms you need to see before you die. Packing in at 320 pages with plenty of stills and poster art (most of it in black & white), Swedish Sensationfilms is a very welcome reading for anyone interested in cult cinema. Although coloured by Ekeroth’s personal opinions, which seem not so hard to agree to, the book is entertaining and educational, and essential as a reference book for film fans, journalists and researchers.

Rated 8 of 10.

Published by Bazillionpoints.

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