Dwain Esper

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Dwain Esper
Born Dwain Atkins Esper
(1894-10-07)October 7, 1894
Snohomish, Washington, U.S.
Died October 18, 1982(1982-10-18) (aged 88)
San Diego, California, U.S.
Cause of death Surgical complications
Occupation Filmmaker, producer
Spouse(s) Hildagarde Stadie (m. 1920)
Children 2

Dwain Atkins Esper (October 7, 1894 – October 18, 1982) was an American director and producer of exploitation films.


A veteran of World War I, Esper worked as a building contractor before switching to the film business in the mid-'20s. 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."[1]

Esper's wife, Hildagarde Stadie, wrote many of the scripts for his films.[2] Together they employed extravagant promotional techniques that included exhibiting the mummified body of notorious Oklahoma outlaw Elmer McCurdy, before it was acquired by Dan Sonney.[3]

Esper died in San Diego, California, at the age of 88.[4] He and Hildagarde had two children, Dwain Jr. and Millicent.


Director credits[edit]

Marijuana: The Devil's Weed, 1936 opening title
a.k.a. Sins of Love (USA: reissue title)
a.k.a. The 7th Commandment (USA: poster title)
a.k.a. Narcotic Racket (USA: reissue title)
a.k.a. Narcotic! (USA: promotional title)
a.k.a. Narcotic: As Interpreted by Dwain Esper (USA: closing credits title)
a.k.a. Sex Maniac
a.k.a. Marihuana, the Devil's Weed
a.k.a. Marihuana, the Weed with Roots in Hell!
a.k.a. Human Wreckage (USA: reissue title)
a.k.a. They Must Be Told (USA: reissue title)
a.k.a. Love Life of Adolph Hitler (USA: reissue title)
a.k.a. The Strange Love Life of Adolf Hitler (USA: reissue title)
a.k.a. The Strange Loves of Adolf Hitler (USA: reissue title)

Producer credits[edit]

Excluding films Esper directed.
a.k.a. Beyond Shanghai (UK)
a.k.a. Forbidden Adventure (USA: informal reissue title)
a.k.a. Forbidden Adventure in Angkor (USA: reissue title, 1937)


a.k.a. Hell-O-Vision (USA)
a.k.a. Cain


External links[edit]