|Born||Dwain Atkins Esper
October 7, 1894
Snohomish, Washington, U.S.
|Died||October 18, 1982
San Diego, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Surgical complications|
|Spouse(s)||Hildagarde Stadie (m. 1920)|
A veteran of World War I, Esper worked as a building contractor before switching to the film business in the mid-1920s. He produced and directed inexpensive pictures with eye-catching titles like Sex Maniac, Marihuana, and How to Undress in Front of Your Husband. To enhance the appeal of these low-budget features, he included scenes containing gratuitous nudity and violence that led some to label him the "father of modern exploitation."
Esper's wife, Hildagarde Stadie, wrote many of the film scripts. Together, they employed extravagant promotional techniques that included exhibiting the mummified body of Oklahoma Outlaw Elmer McCurdy, before it was acquired by Dan Sonney.
Esper died in San Diego, California at the age of 88. He and Hildagarde had two children, Dwain, Jr. and Millicent.
- aka Sins of Love (USA: reissue title)
- aka The 7th Commandment (USA: poster title)
- Narcotic (1933)
- aka Narcotic Racket (USA: reissue title)
- aka Narcotic! (USA: promotional title)
- aka Narcotic: As Interpreted by Dwain Esper (USA: closing credits title)
- Maniac (1934)
- aka Sex Maniac
- aka Marihuana, the Devil's Weed
- aka Marihuana, the Weed with Roots in Hell!
- aka Human Wreckage (USA: reissue title)
- aka They Must Be Told (USA: reissue title)
- aka Love Life of Adolph Hitler (USA: reissue title)
- aka The Strange Love Life of Adolf Hitler (USA: reissue title)
- aka The Strange Loves of Adolf Hitler (USA: reissue title)
- Excluding films Esper directed.
- aka Beyond Shanghai (UK)
- aka Forbidden Adventure (USA: informal reissue title)
- aka Forbidden Adventure in Angkor (USA: reissue title, 1937)
- aka Hell-O-Vision (USA)
- Man's Way with Women
- Freaks (uncredited) as Forbidden Love, and later Natures Mistakes with Sam Alexander providing a live appearance with some disfigured members of his 'troupe'.
- Cain: Aventures des mers exotiques
- aka Cain
- Senn, Bryan (2006). Golden Horrors: An Illustrated Critical Filmography of Terror Cinema, 1931-1939. McFarland & Company. p. 263. ISBN 978-0786427246.
- Cline, John; Weiner, Robert G., eds. (2010). From the Arthouse to the Grindhouse: Highbrow and Lowbrow Transgression in Cinema's First Century. Scarecrow Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0810876545.
- Schaefer, Eric (1999). Bold! Daring! Shocking! True: A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959. Duke University Press. p. 122. ISBN 978-0822323747.
- "Dwain Esper Obituary". Variety. 27 October 1982. ISSN 0042-2738.