Exploitation films had always found success in the aisles of struggling theaters. By the 1980s the marginal exhibition sites that had sustained exploitation movies were disappearing. Crumbling inner-city movie palaces gave way to urban renewal projects. Neighborhood theaters were bulldozed for parking lots and acres of suburban drive-ins were converted to shopping malls as the number of drive-ins in the US dropped from more than 3,000 in 1980 to fewer than 1,000 in 1990. Exploitation movies were less desirable in a new era of saturation bookings, national advertising campaigns, and blockbuster films. However, they have not entirely disappeared.
Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz's Troma, Fred Olen Ray's American Independent Productions, and Corman's Corcorde-New Horizons initially concentrated on theatrical releases. But by the late 1980s video and cable television proved to be greener pastures and theatrical releases became token efforts. Full Moon Entertainment, Tempe Entertainment, Seduction Cinema, and other companies were formed specifically to make films for the direct-to-video market. Most of these companies depended on the loyalty of the fans of low-budget genre films, whether horror, science fiction, splatter, or erotic thrillers. Fans have gotten into the act as well, picking up cameras and making their own films, hawked in the pages of fanzines, at conventions, and on the Internet. Other entrepreneurs, who scour old film depots and vaults, have released hundreds of old exploitation movies to new generations on videotape and DVD. It would appear that as long as audiences will search for a cheap thrill, there will be exploitation movies available to satisfy their demand.
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