They Must Be Told! - The Real Story Behind Sex Madness

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Other Worlds Orbiter presents SEX MADNESS REVEALED, starring Patton Oswalt and Rob Zabrecky. SMR takes the form of an audio commentary that plays out over the little known 1938 STD propaganda film SEX MADNESS (1938). The voice of a persnickety film blogger (Oswalt) interviews the descendant of the original motion picture’s director who harbors a nefarious secret.

Please join us, and director Tim Kirk, for the Texas premiere on Wednesday, September 19 (7:30PM) at Flix Brewhouse. You can get more info and reserve your tickets here. But first, OWA Programmer and Outreach Director, Tessa Morrison, delves into the history of the original SEX MADNESS:


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SEX MADNESS is an 'educational' film from 1938 about the horrors of syphilis and sex! Directed by Dwain Esper, who some call the father of exploitation films, and written by Joseph Seiden and Vincent Valentini, this film uses its educational stance to portray otherwise taboos topics not permitted in theaters due to the Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 which only became stricter in the 1940s.  

This film warns against the dangers of casual sex and STDs, which talking about sex and STDs is a step in the right direction, however it pushes the idea that women have nothing to live for other than being married and having children and if they are 'sullied' with even a curable venereal disease they are unworthy of love or marriage.

One step forward, and a crap ton of steps back. SEX MADNESS features crazy drug/alcohol fueled parties, lesbianism, burlesque performers, premarital sex (gasp!), etc. As salacious as some of this sounds, the film is rather tame by our standards as far as what is shown on screen. 

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In addition to being a director, Dwain was a producer and purchased and edited REEFER MADNESS (1938) and did reissues of it and FREAKS (1932). SEX MADNESS had a couple US reissues and also goes by the titles HUMAN WRECKAGE and THEY MUST BE TOLD! 

The original film has fallen under public domain and is available for free download from the Internet Archives. HOWEVER, if you want to see SEX MADNESS REVEALED, you can catch its Texas premiere in Austin, Texas, Wednesday, September 19t at Flix Brewhouse (Round Rock). For more info and to reserve your tickets, go here.