Exploitation is a genre of films that attempts to make money by making use of current models, specific niche genres, or obscene content. Exploitation movies are normally B movie. Some exploitation films gain great popularity and sometimes become cult films. Exploitation films can include sex, violence, drug abuse, nudity, blood, riots, mayhem, and weirdness. Such films were first seen in their modern genre in the early 1920s, and had their heyday in the 1960s and 1970s as censorship and film taboos relaxed in the United States and Europe.
In 1933 the film Ecstasy with Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr attracted the attention of exploitation film viewers to see her naked in the film. Hildegard Esper and Dwain Esper are two film directors and producers who made some of the most exploitative films of the 1930s. The censorship didn’t like any of their films. In the 1930s, exploitation films weren’t successful. Censorship boards wanted to maintain the image of an “orderly” Hollywood, yet purveyors of exploitation films went beyond the theatrical circuit. Since the 1990s, this category has also attracted attention in academic circles, where it is sometimes called paracinema.
In exploitation films, transgressive content and art sometimes coexist, as evidenced by the fact that Arthouse films that stopped running to pass official theater censorship were often shown in the same grindhouse theaters as exploitation films. Exploitation films share the courage of well-known transgressive European directors such as Derek Jarman, Luis Buñuel and Jean-Luc Godard in tackling “unethical” material. Many films recognized as classics include shocking scenes, sex and violence usually associated with exploitation films such as A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick, inspired by the novel by Anthony Burgess, writer known for his texts on youth and counterculture. Freaks by Tod Browning and Repulsion by Roman Polanski are other examples of arthouse films that contain exploitation content.
How The Exploitation Film Was Born
The avant-garde film Un Chien Andalou Luis Buñuel contains aspects of the modern splatter film. If Carnival of Souls had been made in Europe, it would have been considered an art film, whereas if Eyes Without a Face had been made in the US, it would have been classified as a low budget horror film. Audiences of arthouse and exploitation films are both thought to have tastes that reject traditional offerings of Hollywood.
Because of the time required to produce a meaningful film, exploitation films have often exploited popular short-term events and news that a large studio could not exploit. Kid Bride (1938), for example, dealt with the problem of older boys marrying girls in the Ozarks. Other issues, such as substance abuse in films like Reefer Madness (1936), attracted audiences that major studios would normally prevent in order to maintain their traditional track records.
With enough revenue, however, major studios could end up producing exploitation films, as Warner Bros. did in their 1969 anti-LSD, anti-counterculture film The Big Cube. The film Sex Madness (1938) showed the risks of venereal disease from premarital sex. Mother and Father, a 1945 film about pregnancy and childbirth, was promoted with scary messages. He should have said no! (1949) integrated the themes of substance abuse and promiscuous sex. In the early days of cinema, when exploitation films had surprising subjects like these, they had to provide a very conservative ethical perspective to prevent censorship.
Some low-budget B-movies often capitalize on important work from the bigger studios. Their rapid production schedule allows them to make the most of promotion attached to major studio films.
Exploitation films, Drive-in and Grindhouse
Grindhouse is an American term for a movie theater that mostly showed exploitation films. These theaters were popular in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s in New York City and other metropolitan centers, generally in North America, however they began a long decline throughout the mid 1980s with l introduction of home video.
One option for grindhouses was to book exploitation films at lower cost. Some producers from the 1950s to the 1980s made films directly for the drive-in and grindhouse market. Many of them were violent action films that some referred to as “drive-in” films.
Marihuana is a 1936 exploitation film directed by Dwain Esper, and written by Esper’s wife, Hildagarde Stadie. Burma is a woman who likes to party. One day she meets some complete strangers in a bar who welcome her and her group to a party. Everyone at the party is consuming alcohol and the women are unknowingly smoking cannabis, which causes them to giggle. Burma and her boyfriend make love on the beach while her friends bathe naked. She presses him to marry her when Burma informs him that she is pregnant from their beach encounter. The woman relies on the strangers in the party to support her future family, and they assign her boyfriend to unload contraband drugs from a secret delivery at the port.
Reefer Madness (1936)
It is a film by propaganda , focusing on the events that occur when high school students are lured by drug dealers to try cannabis: after trying it, they end up addicted, eventually leading them to be associated with numerous criminal activities. While all this is happening, they suffer from hallucinations, fall into madness, commit suicide. The film was directed by Louis J. Gasnier and included a cast of unknown actors.
Initially funded by a church group under the title Tell Your Children, the film was intended to be shown to parents as a morality tale that sought to teach them about the dangers of using marijuana. Soon after the film was shot, it was acquired by producer Dwain Esper, who re-edited the film for circulation in the exploitation film circuit, making use of transgressive scenes to quote the audience while avoiding censorship under the guise of ethical assistance. The film was “found” in the early 1970s and acquired new life as an unintentional satire among advocates of marijuana policy reform. Critics have named it among the worst films ever made, and it has acquired a cult following within the marijuana culture.
Child Bride (1938)
It’s a drama film 1938 American Harry Revier and produced by Raymond L. Friedgen. It was promoted as educational in an attempt to accentuate the absence of laws prohibiting marital relations between boys in numerous states.
The film is set in a remote town in the Ozarks. Due to a nude swimming scene of then 12-year-old Shirley Mills, it was really scandalous at the time. The film circumvented the censorship restriction of on-screen nudity by claiming to be educational. The film was banned in numerous localities, its questionable nature gave it a morbid reputation, and it circulated for many years in the exploitation circuit.
Mon and Dad (1945)
It is a 1945 feature film directed by William Beaudine and mainly produced by exploitation director and speaker Kroger Babb. It is considered the most effective film in its category of “sexual health” films. It faced many legal difficulties and was condemned by the National Legion of Decency, then incredibly turned into one of the highest grossing films of the 1940s. The film is considered an exploitation film as it was re-edited with shock material created to advertise educational value, and in doing so circumvented US censorship laws. Babb’s marketing of his film supplemented traditional medicine programs, which at the time were advertised with roadshows, films, theatre. These educational films formed a model for later work and have been imitated by modern filmmakers.
She Shoulda Said No! (1949)
It is a 1949 exploitation film that follows the spirit of educational films such as the 1936 films Reefer Madness and Marihuana. Directed by Sam Newfield (using the pseudonym “Sherman Scott”) and starring Lila Leeds, it was initially produced to profit from the arrests of Leeds and Robert Mitchum on cannabis-dealing charges. The film was released under many titles; a distributor was difficult to find until film distributor Kroger Babb obtained the rights, reissuing it as The Story of Lila Leeds and Her Exposé of the Marijuana Racket. Its relative success came soon after the advertising posters were remade and an advertisement advertised that the film was being made in partnership with the United States Treasury.
The Wild One (1953)
It is a 1953 American criminal exploitation film directed by László Benedek and produced by Stanley Kramer. The film is known for the character of Johnny Strabler, played by Marlon Brando, whose character has become a cultural icon of the 1950s. The Wild One is considered the first motorcycle hoodlum film and the first to analyze motorcycle gang violence of American hoodlums. The supporting cast features Lee Marvin as Chino, violent leader of the biker gang ‘The Beetles’.
The screenplay for the film was based on Frank Rooney’s short story “Cyclists’ Raid,” published in Harper’s Magazine in January 1951. Rooney’s story was influenced by the sensational news of an American Motorcyclist Association motorcycle rally on July 4th weekend of 1947 in Hollister, California. Overcrowding, arrests and the rise in alcohol consumption received nationwide attention, with a picture published in the newspapers of a drunk boy on a motorcycle.
It is a 1965 exploitation film by Russ Meyer on the themes of sex and violence that focuses on a male motorcycle gang, as opposed to the female gang of go-go dancers included in Faster, Pussycat!. Motorpsycho is significant for being among the first depictions of a distraught Vietnam vet character. The story includes a veterinarian whose wife is raped by a motorcycle gang led by a vicious Vietnam veteran. After the gang kills an old man, his wife teams up with the vet to find the gang.
Hells Angels on Wheels (1967)
It’s a 1967 American biker exploitation film directed by Richard Rush and starring Adam Roarke, Jack Nicholson and Sabrina Scharf. The film tells the story of a gas station attendant who discovers that life is more exciting after meeting a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle club.
The Angels first meet “Poet” (Jack Nicholson) after one of them accidentally damages his motorcycle and breaks its headlight. Poet, with much more guts than brains, challenges the Angel who hit his motorcycle. This is an act that would typically lead to every angel present taking part in a gang revenge of the abuser. “When a non-angel strikes an angel, all angels strike back.” The leader of the Angels, Buddy (Adam Roarke), informs Poeta that the Angels will change the lighthouse. In the meantime, he’s welcome to ride with them while they “work”: they go to a bar to beat up members of another club who previously beat up an angel.
The Wild Angels (1966)
It is a 1966 exploitation film about an American criminal biker produced and directed by Roger Corman. Shot in Southern California, The Wild Angels was the first film to associate star Peter Fonda with 1960s Harley-Davidson and motorcycle counterculture. It inspired the biker film genre that continued into the early 1970s.
The Wild Angels stars Fonda as fictional character Hells Angels San Pedro, president of California’s “Heavenly Blues” (or “Blues”) club, Nancy Sinatra as his sweetheart, Bruce Dern as doomed hoodlum “the underdog” , and Dern’s real-life then-wife Diane Ladd as the Loser’s Wife. Small supporting roles are played by Michael J. Pollard and Gayle Hunnicutt, members of the Hells Angels of Venice, California. Members of the Coffin Cheaters motorcycle club have likewise appeared.
The Born Losers (1967)
It’s a 1967 exploitation film about American criminal bikers. The film stars Tom Laughlin as half-Indian Green Beret Vietnam veteran Billy Jack. Since 1954, Laughlin had been attempting to produce his own Billy Jack screenplay about discrimination against American Indians. In the 1960s he chose to feature the character of Billy Jack in a quickly written script created to exploit the pattern then popular in biker gang films. The story was based on a true 1964 event where Hells Angels members were arrested for raping 2 teenage girls in Monterey, California.
Angels from Hell (1968)
It is a 1968 action exploitation film directed by Bruce Kessler and starring Tom Stern and Arlene Martel. It was the very first film produced by Joe Solomon’s Fanfare Films, a company that Solomon had started with the proceeds of 3 previous bicyclist films. The film was shot in Bakersfield, California. The film’s screenplay was written by Jerome Wish and the film uses music from The Peanut Butter Conspiracy and The Lollipop Shoppe. Sonny Barger, president of the Hells Angels’ Oakland, California chapter, is credited as the story expert.
Easy Rider (1969)
It’s a independent film 1969 American drug culture road exploitation drama written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Terry Southern, produced by Fonda and directed by Hopper. Fonda and Hopper play 2 bikers who take a road trip across the Southwest and Southern United States, bringing in the payoffs from a drug supply. The success of Easy Rider helped spur the movie era of New Hollywood in the early 70s.
A seminal, generational counterculture film that has captured worldwide attention, Easy Rider explores the social landscape, problems and tensions of teenagers in the United States in the 1960s, the growth of the hippie movement, the abuse of drugs and lifestyle of hippie communes. Released by Columbia Pictures on July 14, 1969, Easy Rider grossed $60 million worldwide with filming budgets not exceeding $400,000. Critics actually applauded the actors, direction, editing, score and visuals. He got 2 Oscar elections for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Jack Nicholson).
Satan’s Sadists (1969)
It is a 1969 American criminal exploitation film directed by Al Adamson and starring Russ Tamblyn. The plot centers around a criminal biker gang called the “Satans”, who roam the deserts of the American Southwest. The leader of the gang calls himself Anchor, and the other members are Firewater, Acid, Muscle, Willie, Romeo and Gina. The gang meets 2 boyfriends who attack: beat the man and rape the woman. They then kill them both and throw their car, with them in it, off a cliff.
Naked Angels, 1969
It’s a 1969 American thug motorcyclist exploitation film directed by Bruce D. Clark. Starring Michael Greene as Mother, Jennifer Gan as Marlene, and Richard Rust as Fingers, it provides an expert’s perspective on the lifestyle of bandit cyclists. Naked Angels was the last film released by Favorite Films. The story tells of a fatal brawl between 2 competing biker gangs. The Angels are out for revenge against their competing gang, the Las Vegas Hotdoggers, who severely beat their leader, Mother (Michael Greene). Marlene (Jennifer Gan), has become the property of Fingers (Richard Rust), the new head of the clan. When the mother returns, she quickly reassumes the management of the gang and the rights to the blonde Marlene.
The Sidehackers (1969)
It is a 1969 American exploitation action film about motorcycle racing. Each bike has a sidecar but no sidewalls or seat, into which a traveler flies and leans to one side or the other when negotiating curves. The credits thank the “Southern California Sidehack Association”; Sidehacking is also called sidecarcross or “motocross racing sidecar”. The film centers on Rommel, a mechanic at a motorcycle service center who works alongside his partner Luke and does sidehack-style racing. He and his girlfriend Rita try to get married. One day at work, she meets JC, a cantankerous artist and his team, when he brings in his motorcycle for repair work. He sees a sidehack bike in the shop and likes it. Rommel joins him in a sidehack event over the weekend.
The Losers (1970)
It’s a war 1970 American exploitation movie direct by Jack Starrett. The storyline includes a Hells Angels-type motorcycle gang called “The Devil’s Advocates” associated with the Vietnam War. They are sent into the Cambodian jungle on Yamaha motorcycles to rescue an American diplomat / CIA agent, Chet Davis. The biker gang is led by Link Thomas, a Vietnam veteran and brother of an army major who hired them. His gang includes Duke, also a Vietnam vet, Limpy, Speed and another Vietnam vet, Dirty Denny. I’m under the orders of Army Captain Jackson.
CC and Company (1970)
It is a 1970 American biker exploitation film directed by Seymour Robbie. It starred Joe Namath as cyclist CC Ryder, Ann-Margret as reporter Ann, and William Smith as Moon, the leader of the ‘Heads Company’ hooligan cycling club. The film also features singer Wayne Cochran and the group The CC Riders. CC Ryder comes across a bike gang in the desert, and then saves Ann from trouble with the same gang. A motocross race takes place afterwards. The Chiefs interfere with the event, however CC Ryder enters the race to win Ann’s favor. This brings him into conflict with Moon. And Ryder should go back to save her when Ryder leaves and wins the race with his prize money, the gang kidnap Ann.
Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970)
It’s an exploitation thriller 1970 American action movie directed by Ossie Davis and starring Godfrey Cambridge, Raymond St. Jacques and Redd Foxx. The film, later cited as an early example of the blaxploitation category, is based on the book of the same name by Chester Himes. The opening song, “Ain’t Now But It’s Gon na Be”, was composed by Ossie Davis and performed by Melba Moore. The film was among many black films that appeared in the 1970s and ended up being a hit of nightly screenings. It was followed 2 years later by the sequel Come Back, Charleston Blue.
Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971)
It is a 1971 American blaxploitation exploitation film written, co-produced, edited, directed by and starring Melvin Van Peebles. His son Mario Van Peebles also appears in a small part, playing the title character as a young boy. The film tells the picaresque story of a black boy who runs away from white policemen.
Van Peebles began developing the film after landing a three-picture deal with Columbia Pictures. No studio would finance the film, so Van Peebles produced it himself, shooting for 19 days, doing all his own stunts and appearing in numerous sex scenes, some seemingly unsimulated. He took out a $50,000 loan from Bill Cosby to complete the deal. The film’s frenetic montages and jump-cuts were typical features in American cinema of the time. The film was censored in some markets and received mixed reviews, but left its mark on American cinema.
Sweet Sweetback’s musical arrangement of Baadasssss Song was performed by Earth, Wind & Fire. Van Peebles had no money for marketing, so he launched the soundtrack album before the film’s release to build promotion. The film played in only 2 theaters in the United States. It later earned $15.2 million at the box office and revealed in Hollywood that movies portraying “militant” blacks could be extremely rewarding, resulting in the development of the blaxploitation category.
It is a 1971 American criminal action exploitation film directed by Gordon Parks and written by Ernest Tidyman and John DF Black. It is an adaptation of Tidyman’s book of the same name and is the first installment in the Shaft film series. The plot focuses on a private investigator called John Shaft who a Harlem mobster works with to rescue his daughter from the Italian mobsters who have kidnapped her. The film stars Richard Roundtree as Shaft, alongside Moses Gunn, Charles Cioffi, Christopher St. John and Lawrence Pressman.
The film has themes of the Black Power movement, masculinity, sexuality and race. It was recorded in Harlem, Greenwich Village and Times Square in the Manhattan borough of New York City. The soundtrack album for Shaft, recorded by Isaac Hayes, was also a success, winning a Grammy Award for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture and a second Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement. The “Theme from Shaft” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, making him the first black boy to win the award.
Super Fly (1972)
It is a 1972 American neo-noir crime exploitation film directed by Gordon Parks Jr. and starring Ron O’Neal as Youngblood Priest , an African-American drug dealer who is attempting to give up the underworld. The film is famous for its soundtrack, composed and produced by soul artist Curtis Mayfield. O’Neal repeated his role as the Youngblood Priest in the 1973 film Super Fly TNT which he also directed. Producer Sig Shore directed a second sequel, The Return of Superfly, launched in 1990, starring Nathan Purdee as Priest. A remake was launched in 2018.
It is a horror film 1972 American blaxploitation subgenre exploitation William Crain. It stars William Marshall in the title role of an 18th century African prince named Mamuwalde, who became a vampire in Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania in the year 1780 after Dracula refused to help Mamuwalde to curb the slave trade .
Blacula opened to mixed reviews, but was one of the highest-grossing films of the year. It was the first film ever to receive a Best Horror Film award at the Saturn Awards. Blacula was followed by the sequel Scream Blacula Scream in 1973 and influenced a wave of blaxploitation-themed horror films.
Man from the Deep River (1972)
It is a 1972 Italian cannibal exploitation film directed by Umberto Lenzi and starring Ivan Rassimov, Me Lai and Pratitsak Singhara. It was the beginning of the “cannibal boom” of Italian exploitation cinema in the early 80s and late 70s. It is thought that Lenzi was attempting to imitate material from the Mondo Cinema genre, which had had considerable appeal in Grindhouse theaters since Gualtiero Jacopetti and Paolo Cavara made Mondo Cane in 1962, although this film is based on fiction. The film and its title were influenced by A Man Called Horse, which also featured a white boy included in a people who initially held him hostage.
The Mack (1973)
It is a 1973 American blaxploitation exploitation film directed by Michael Campus, starring Max Julien and Richard Pryor. The film also stars Academy Award nominee Juanita Moore and actress Anthony Williams. Shot in Oakland, California, the film follows Goldie, who returns from a five-year prison sentence to discover that her brother is associated with black nationalism. Goldie chooses to take an alternative path, pledging to become the biggest pimp in town.
Ratings were low upon release, but The Mack was later regarded by many critics as the best film in its category. The film is classified as a blaxploitation, however Michael Campus, Max Julien, and others associated with its production have argued that the genre label oversimplifies the film. The film score was recorded to tape by Motown artist Willie Hutch.
Willie Dynamite (1973)
It is an exploitation film of the American blaxploitation subgenre of 1973 directed by Gilbert Moses and starring Roscoe Orman, Diana Sands, Thalmus Rasulala, Joyce Walker, and was launched by Universal Pictures. The namesake Willie Dynamite is a New York City pimp who wants to be the best in town, while a social worker named Cora is attempting to change his methods and those of the women who work for him.
Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile (1974)
It’s an exploitation film psychological horror 1974 Alan Ormsby and Jeff Gillen and starring Roberts Blossom. The plot, loosely based on Ed Gein’s criminal activities, follows Ezra Cobb, a middle-aged man in a rural Midwestern neighborhood who begins a string of serial killings after the death of his mother, a spiritual fanatic who raised him as a misogynist. Based on serial killer Gein, the film’s title is misleading considering Gein never explored necrophilia. Financed by an American show promoter on a small budget, the production occurred in Oshawa, Ontario in the 1973 winter season with a mostly Canadian cast and crew. The film was considered lost upon its release in 1974; however, it was found in Florida in the mid-1990s and was released on home video.
It is a 1974 Australian hooligan biker exploitation film written, directed and produced by Sandy Harbutt. It is a low budget film from Hedon Productions. Detective Stone goes undercover with the GraveDiggers motorcycle gang, to find out who is killing their members, one by one. The film stars Ken Shorter and includes Rebecca Gilling, Bill Hunter and Helen Morse. The score for the film was composed by Billy Green and included some members of his group Sanctuary. Among the bikes present is the famous Kawasaki Z1. The film was featured in the documentary, Not Quite Hollywood, in which Quentin Tarantino raves about the film. Australian stuntman Peter Armstrong set a world record for riding a motorcycle over an 80-foot cliff to fall headlong into the sea.
Foxy Brown (1974)
It’s a 1974 American blaxploitation exploitation film written and directed by Jack Hill. It stars Pam Grier as the title character who goes after a gang of white drug dealers who have killed her lover. The film was released by American International Pictures as a double feature with Truck Turner. The film uses African-American fashion in its clothes and hair. Grier starred in 6 blaxploitation films for American International Pictures.
Sugar Hill (1974)
It’s a zombie 1974 American blaxploitation movie directed by Paul Maslansky and starring Marki Bey as the title character who uses voodoo to get revenge on the people responsible for her man’s death. It was launched by American International Pictures. According to the film, zombies are the bodies of servants brought to the United States from Guinea. The production studio had previously integrated the scary and blaxploitation categories with Blacula (1972) and its sequel Scream Blacula Scream (1973).
Black Christmas (1974)
It is a 1974 Canadian exploitation slasher film produced and directed by Bob Clark and written by A. Roy Moore. In the cast Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, Andrea Martin, Lynne Griffin and John Saxon. The story follows a group of sisters who receive a threatening call and are eventually stalked by a psychopathic killer around Christmas time.
Influenced by a series of murders that took place in the Westmount area of Montreal, Quebec, Moore wrote the screenplay for the film entitled Stop Me. The filmmakers made various changes to the script, mainly switching it to a college setting with young characters. It was filmed in Toronto in 1974 on a budget of $620,000 and was released by Warner Bros. in North America.
Upon its release, Black Christmas received mixed reviews, but it actually received a crucial reappraisal, with film historians hailing it as one of the first slasher films. It is similarly applauded for its impact on John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978). In addition to becoming a cult film after its release, a novel written by Lee Hays was released in 1976. It is the very first film in the Black Christmas series, followed by 2 remakes in 2006 and 2019. The film gained retroactive recognition and was actually considered among the best horror films ever made.
It is an exploitation film and historical film focusing on the Atlantic slave trade in the South. The film’s title describes Mandinka individuals, who are described as “Mandingos” and referred to as excellent servants. Produced by Dino De Laurentiis for Paramount Pictures, the film was directed by Richard Fleischer. The screenplay for the film, by Norman Wexler, was adapted from the 1957 novel Mandingo by Kyle Onstott and the 1961 play Mandingo by Jack Kirkland.
The film stars Perry King as Hammond, the son of terrible servant Warren Maxwell (James Mason). Hammond is said to have raped the maids on his father’s plantation, and is ordered by his father to marry a white woman in order to have grandchildren without black ancestry. Hammond marries Blanche (Susan George), his cousin, who becomes envious that he pays more attention to his black mistress Ellen (Brenda Sykes) than to his wife, leading Blanche to seduce manservant Mandingo Mede (Ken Norton).
Mandingo garnered unfavorable reviews upon release. In retrospect, the film’s reception was much more beneficial. It was actually seen as a big-budget exploitation film made by a major studio, a grim film about American slavery, analyzing historical fears. It was a box office success and was followed by a sequel, Drum (1976), with Norton as a different character and Warren Oates as Hammond.
It is a 1975 American adult satirical criminal exploitation film written and directed by Ralph Bakshi. The narration of the film features 3 anthropomorphic characters of Uncle Remus, Brother Rabbit, Preacher Fox and Brother Bear. They rise to the top of the Harlem mob racket, with help from the corrupt police, con artistry, and the mob, in a satire of both bigotry within the Hollywood film system and America itself. The film stars Philip Thomas, Charles Gordone, Barry White and Scatman Crothers, appearing in both the animated and live-action series.
Coonskin ran into debate prior to the film’s theatrical release when the Congress of Racial Equality claimed the film was racist. When the film was released, Bryanston offered it a minimal circulation and it initially received mixed reviews. Later re-released as Bustin’ Out and Street Fight, Coonskin effectively re-evaluated it, contextualizing the film as a condemnation of bigotry rather than a racist story.
Black Shampoo (1976)
It is an American exploitation film directed by Greydon Clark. Released in 1976, the film is considered an example of the blaxploitation and sexploitation subgenres of exploitation film. Produced on a $50,000 budget, the film stars John Daniels as Jonathan Knight, an African-American entrepreneur and hairdresser who regularly hooks up with his mainly white female clients, and Tanya Boyd as Brenda, the secretary and Jonathan’s girlfriend, who was previously in a relationship with a white mob employer, who, out of jealousy of his ex’s new mistress, begins to regularly send thugs to trash Jonathan’s store. The violence escalates as the film progresses.
Clark deliberately did not wish to make a film that included character archetypes that blaxploitation films generally had, such as pimps, private eyes, or drug dealers, and decided to make a film in which an African-American entrepreneur was the lead, instead of multiple characters stereotypical blaxploitation. The screenplay of the film, written by Clark and Alvin Fast, was explained by Clark as a mix of sex, violence and fun. Clark drew his motivation from the 1975 film Shampoo. The film is an example of a blaxploitation type of filmmaking in which an earlier popular film starring a primarily white cast is mimicked by an African-American cast.
Last Cannibal World (1977)
It is a 1977 Italian cannibal exploitation film directed by Ruggero Deodato and written by Tito Carpi, Gianfranco Clerici and Renzo Genta. Starring Massimo Foschi, Me Lai and Ivan Rassimov, the plot follows a boy who tries to escape from a jungle island inhabited by cannibalistic people. It is the precursor to Deodato’s famous Cannibal Holocaust (1980), however it was initially slated to be directed by Umberto Lenzi as a follow-up to his 1972 cannibal film Man from Deep River. Although not prosecuted for obscenity, the film was seized in the UK.
Cathy’s Curse (1977)
It’s an exploitation film supernatural horror 1977 directed by Eddy Matalon and starring Alan Scarfe, Beverly Murray and Randi Allen. The film follows a girl who is possessed by the spirit of her deceased aunt. A co-production between Canada and France, it was filmed in the Westmount area and Montreal, Quebec. The film was panned upon release, with many scenes copied from other films of those years including The Exorcist and Carrie, then became a cult classic.
It is a 1977 independent horror exploitation film written and directed by David Cronenberg. A co-production of Canada and the United States, the film stars Marilyn Chambers, with support from Frank Moore, Joe Silver and Howard Ryshpan. Chambers plays a woman who, after being injured in a motorcycle accident and undergoing surgery, finds an orifice in her armpit that hides a phallic/clitoral stinger that she uses to eat people’s blood. Those it feeds on are contaminated. Their bite spreads the disease and unleashes massive riots starting in rural Quebec and ending in Montreal.
The Brood (1979)
It is a 1979 Canadian horror exploitation film written and directed by David Cronenberg and starring Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar and Art Hindle. Its plot follows a man and his mentally ill ex-wife, who has been kidnapped by a psychiatrist known for his questionable treatment strategies. A series of ruthless unsolved murders forms the backdrop to the main story. Written by Cronenberg after his divorce, the film’s screenplay is a meditation on a broken relationship in a couple who share a child, and cast Eggar and Hindle as alter egos of himself and his ex-wife. The Brood was successful earning over $5 million. Initially welcomed by critics, it has become a cult film in the following years. The film attracted interest for its themes of mental disorder and being a parent.
Disco Godfather (1979)
It is a 1979 American action exploitation film starring Rudy Ray Moore and Carol Speed, directed by J. Robert Wagoner and distributed by Transvue Pictures. Often perceived as a blaxploitation film, the plot centers on Moore’s character Tucker Williams, a retired police officer who runs a nightclub and tries to bring down the local angel dust dealer after his nephew Bucky, (Julius Carry) gets hit by drugs. An angel dust addict’s claim that she cooked her own baby for Easter dinner is a variation of the urban myth referred to as “The Baby-Roast.”
Prom Night (1980)
It’s a 1980 exploitation slasher film directed by Paul Lynch and written by William Gray. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Leslie Nielsen. The plot of the film follows a group of high school students who are targeted at their prom by a masked killer, seeking revenge for the unintentional death of a girl 6 years earlier. The film includes supporting roles from Casey Stevens, Eddie Benton, Mary Beth Rubens and Michael Tough.
The film was released on July 18, 1980 in select theaters and was an immediate success, subsequently breaking weekend records in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and New England. By the end of its theatrical release the film had earned $15 million in the United States and was Canada’s top-grossing horror film of 1980. Critical response to the film was mixed and negative for its depictions of violence against girls. Prom Night garnered some major accolades, garnering Genie Award elections for editing and for the lead role of Jamie Lee Curtis. Some film scholars have mentioned Prom Night as one of the most notable slasher films.
Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
It’s a 1980 Italian cannibalism horror film directed by Ruggero Deodato and written by Gianfranco Clerici. It stars Robert Kerman as Harold Monroe, an anthropologist from New York University who leads a rescue party into the Amazon jungle to find a team of filmmakers. Starring Carl Gabriel Yorke, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen and Luca Barbareschi, the team got lost while filming a documentary about local cannibals. When the rescue party manages to recover the film reels the team lost, an American broadcaster wants to broadcast the video as a sensational television special. After viewing the reels, Monroe is horrified at TV’s intention to air the documentary.
Produced as part of the modern cannibal film of Italian exploitation cinema, Cannibal Holocaust was influenced by the Italian media coverage of Red Brigades terrorism which Deodato thought was staged, a concept that ended up being an important element of the story of the film. Extra story components were influenced by Mondo director Gualtiero Jacopetti’s documentaries, consisting of discussion of lost footage by the documentary team, which makes up about half of the film. The treatment of this video, known for its visual realism, innovated found footage design in cinema which was later used by The Blair Witch Project. Cannibal Holocaust was filmed primarily in the Amazon rainforest of Colombia with a native cast performing with primarily non-professional American and Italian actors hired in New York City.
Cannibal Holocaust has achieved prestige as its violence has sparked much debate. After his release in Italy, he was blocked by a magistrate and Deodato was arrested on obscenity charges. He was subsequently charged with several counts of murder due to reports that numerous actors had been killed in front of the camera. Deodato was acquitted of these charges but the film was banned in Italy, Australia and a number of other countries due to scenes of actual sexual and animal abuse. The film’s reception was mixed, although it actually gained a cult following. The plot and violence of the film has been considered as a metaphor for journalism, the exploitation of South American countries and the distinction between non-Western and Western countries, but these analyzes have also been criticized.
Cannibal Ferox (1981)
It is a 1981 Italian exploitation horror film written and directed by Umberto Lenzi. Upon its release, the film’s US distributor stated that it was “the most violent film ever made”. Cannibal Ferox has likewise been declared “banned in 31 nations”, although this claim is dubious.
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
It is a 1981 Canadian exploitation slasher film directed by George Mihalka and written by John Beaird. In the cast Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier and Neil Affleck. The storyline shows a group of young men who choose to throw a Valentine’s Day party, only to further the cruel rage of a maniac into mining equipment who goes on a killing spree. The film was shot in the Sydney Mines area of Nova Scotia in the fall of 1980. It was released in theaters on February 11, 1981 by Paramount Pictures, in celebration of the Valentine’s holiday.
Despite a mixed reaction from critics and earning $5.7 million at the box office, the film has established a large cult following for many years since its release. My Bloody Valentine faced censorship with a total of 9 minutes cut by the Motion Picture Association of America due to the amount of violence and gore. Co-producer Dunning confirmed that the full-length film still existed and tried to pitch it but it proved difficult as Paramount Pictures refused to provide an uncut version.
Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1988)
It’s a comedy film American exploitation JF Lawton and starring Shannon Tweed and Bill Maher. The film deals with many popular culture themes and social models, consisting of feminism, B-movies, actors, political figures and writers, centered around a satire of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness from 1899. It was the first feature film directed by the screenwriter JF Lawton, also author of Pretty Woman, Under Siege and its sequel.
It is a 1981 Canadian supernatural exploitation slasher film directed by James Makichuk and starring Riva Spier, Georgie Collins and Murray Ord. The plot centers around a trio of snowmobilers in the Canadian Rockies who end up stranded in a deserted hotel where the elderly innkeeper hides an evil entity within the facility. The film is influenced by the Windigo legend of North America.
Recorded in Banff, Alberta in December 1980, the film ran into an unstable monetary situation and the filmmakers nearly halted production midway due to running out of its spending plan. The film was offered minor distribution in Canada and the United States and is therefore unknown among horror film fans, but has indeed gained a cult following over the years.
is a 1982 Canadian action comedy-thriller exploitation film directed by Peter Carter and starring Richard Harris, Christopher Plummer and Beverly D’angelo. The film was shot in Montreal and Toronto, and is remembered for its finale atop the CN Tower, in which stuntman Dar Robinson free-falls 700 feet, protected only by a hidden parachute.
The film went through a difficult and protracted post-production runtime. Originally shot in 1979 as a comedy thriller in the vein of North by Northwest, the film was shelved for 2 years. The film had a minimal release in Europe in 1982. Due to unfavorable critical reception and audiences who disliked its complicated plot and pacing, the film was re-edited by North American distributor New World Pictures. This variation was released in theaters in 1984 and provided the basis for future home video releases.
It is a 1983 Canadian exploitation slasher film directed by Richard Ciupka and Peter R. Simpson, written by Robert Guza Jr. and starring John Vernon, Samantha Eggar, Linda Thorson and Lynne Griffin. Set in the world of theater and cinema, its plot focuses on a group of actresses who audition for a film role in the mansion of a distinguished director, where they are targeted by a masked killer.
Developed by producer Peter R. Simpson following the box-office hits of Prom Night (1980), the film was intended to be an “adult” slasher aimed at an older audience as opposed to the mainstream films of the time, which predominantly featured characters teenagers. Filming began in late 1980 and was the beginning of a struggling production marked by numerous rewrites and reshoots that spanned nearly 3 years. The film’s lengthy production ended with Ciupka dropping his name from the work.
The film had its US premiere and was released theatrically in Canada the following year to very unfavorable reviews. A total failure at the box office, the film ended up being a staple of late night TV. The film established a cult following around the 2000s on home video.
American Nightmare (1983)
It is a 1983 Canadian exploitation slasher film directed by Don McBrearty and starring Lawrence Day, Lora Staley, Lenore Zann, Michael Ironside and Alexandra Paul. It tells the story of a powerful pianist who investigates the disappearance of his sister in metropolitan decay while a serial killer targets street women and prostitutes. John Sheppard’s film script, based on a story by John Gault and Steven Blake, was influenced by rising crime rates in American cities in the 1970s and early 1980s.
The film was produced by Paul Lynch, who previously directed Prom Night. Filming took place in Toronto, Ontario in 1980 on a budget of $200,000. The film initially had a small theatrical release in March 1983 in Canada before appearing on television in the United States the same year.
It is a 1976 American comedy and exploitation film directed by Paul Bartel and starring David Carradine. The film is between two released in 1976 based on a real life illegal cross-continent street race that took place over several years in the United States. The same subject later ended up being the basis for the films The Cannonball Run, Cannonball Run II and Speed Zone. The film was written and directed by Paul Bartel, who also directed Death Race 2000.
The name of the plot and the film were inspired by Erwin G. “Cannon Ball” Baker, who made a trip to the United States a certain number of times, and by the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, an illegal cross-continent road race presented by Brock Yates to protest the 55 MPH speed limit.
Dead End Drive-In (1986)
It’s a dystopian exploitation film about a teenage couple caught in a drive-in that is actually a prison camp for social decline. The prisoners, many of whom sport a punk style, are treated to a diet of unhealthy food, new age music, drugs and exploitation films. The film was directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith and stars Ned Manning and Natalie McCurry as the captive couple, and Peter Whitford as the drive-in manager. Mad Max 2 stuntman Guy Norris did some of the stunts. The soundtrack consists of modern music performed by bands such as Kids in the Kitchen and Collectors and hunters. The end credits tune is “Playing With Fire” by Lisa Edwards.
The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963)
It’s a thriller film directed by Italian director Mario Bava, the film stars John Saxon as Dr. Marcello Bassi and Letícia Román as Nora Davis. The plot focuses on a girl named Nora, who takes a trip to Rome and witnesses a murder. The policemen and Dr. Bassi don’t believe her since no traces are discovered. This is followed by a series of other murders of victims chosen in alphabetical order. It is the first crime film, a film category with a mix of sexploitation, thriller and horror conventions.
A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971)
It’s a 1971 yellow exploitation film directed by Lucio Fulci and produced by Edmondo Amati and Robert Dorfmann. In the cast Florinda Bolkan, Stanley Baker, Jean Sorel, Leo Genn and Anita Strindberg. The film is an Italian-Spanish-French co-production. Set in London, the film follows Carol Hammond (Bolkan), daughter of a reputable political leader, who goes through a series of psychedelic experiences including promiscuous sex orgies and LSD use. In the dream, she commits a murder of a neighbor she is envious of.
Blade of the Ripper (1971)
It’s a mystery film directed by Sergio Martino and starring Edwige Fenech, George Hilton, Ivan Rassimov and Alberto de Mendoza. Its plot follows a diplomat’s companion who finds herself being pursued by her former abusive lover in Vienna. The letter “h” was added to the name “Ward” when an Italian woman named Mrs. Ward threatened legal action that the initial title could destroy her reputation, just before the film was released. The film was initially released under the title Blade of the Ripper in the United States. It similarly launched with alternative titles Next! and The Next Victim.
The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959)
It’s a science fiction film 1959 American black-and-white Irvin Berwick, and starring Jeanne Carmen, Les Tremayne, John Harmon, Don Sullivan, Forrest Lewis, and Pete Dunn. The Monster of Piedras Blancas was influenced by Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Kevan, who had actually overseen the production of the Gill-man suit and handled the Mole People clothing at Universal-International, produced Piedras Blancas’ monster suit. Kevan utilized several of his previous Universal collaborators on the film, consisting of sound engineer Joe Lapis and prop master Eddie Keys.
The Man Who Saved the World (1982)
It is a 1982 Turkish martial arts adventure film directed by Çetin Inanç, and starring actor / martial artist Cüneyt Arkın. The film is known abroad as Turkish Star Wars, due to its notorious unapproved use of video, music and sound effects from Star Wars and other science fiction films. The film, part of a wave of low-budget Turksploitation superhero films produced during the 1970s and early 1980s and combines science fiction themes with martial arts, having more in common with martial arts films than Hong Kong from the 70s since with Star Wars. The film was panned by critics and was considered one of the worst films ever made.
Dog World (1962)
It’s a documentary from 1962 and directed by the trio of Gualtiero Jacopetti, Paolo Cavara and Franco E. Prosperi, with narration by Stefano Sibaldi. The film includes a number of travelogue scenes that provide a glimpse into cultural practices around the world intended to shock or surprise Western film audiences. These scenes have little connection, as they are shown as a jaw-dropping kaleidoscopic material instead of providing a structured argument. Regardless of its claims to real scenes, many scenes are artistically staged or controlled to enhance this result.
The film was a worldwide box office success and influenced an entire category of “mondo movies” in the form of exploitation documentaries, many of which also have the word “mondo” in the title. The musical arrangement by Riz Ortolani and Nino Oliviero has gained significant appeal beyond the film itself. Its lead song, “More,” won a Grammy Award and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, and has been covered by artists including Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, and Roy Orbison.
Africa Addio (1966)
It is a 1966 Italian mondo movie exploitation documentary co-directed, co-written and co-edited by Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi with music by Riz Ortolani. Jacopetti and Prosperi had gained popularity as directors of Mondo Cane in 1962. Africa Addio records the completion of the colonial era in Africa, and the violence and chaos that followed. The film was a great success, which confirmed the popularity of the “Mondo movie” category, a cycle of “shockumentaries”, documentaries that include shocking subjects. The film received criticism due to its controversial material, however it is regarded as an extremely important film in the history of documentary cinema.
Faces of Death (1978)
It is a 1978 American exploitation horror film written and directed by John Alan Schwartz, credited respectively under the pseudonyms “Conan Le Cilaire ” and “Alan Black”. The film, shot in a documentary-like style, centers on pathologist Francis B. Gröss, played by actor Michael Carr. The narrator provides the audience with a series of videos revealing various gruesome methods of dying from a variety of sources.
Some of the most famous scenes were fabricated for the film, while most of the film is pre-existing footage of actual deaths or aftermath of death. Faces of Death received poor reviews, but was a major box office success, earning over $35 million worldwide. It gained a cult following, was eventually considered creatively considerable, and also spawned numerous sequels, the first of which, Faces of Death II, was released in 1981.
It is a 1978 American exploitation horror film directed and co-edited by Joe Dante, and starring Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Barbara Steele and Dick Miller. The film tells the story of a river populated by deadly genetically engineered piranhas, threatening the lives of residents of the region and visitors to a nearby summer resort.
Produced by Roger Corman, Piranha is the first in a series of low-budget B-movies inspired by the film Jaws (1975). Universal had actually considered filing an injunction to avoid launching Piranha, especially since they had actually launched Jaws 2 the same summer, but they gave up after Spielberg himself gave the film a favorable review. Released on August 3, 1978, the film was a commercial success and later ended up as a cult movie. Piranha was followed by a sequel, Piranha II: The Spawning (1982), and by 2 remakes, one in 1995 and another in 2010, which spawned a sequel in 2012.
It is a 1977 Italian-American exploitation horror film directed by Ovidio G. Assonitis (billed in the American variant as Oliver Hellman) and starring John Huston, Shelley Winters, Bo Hopkins and Henry Fonda. When many people go missing in a seaside town, a reporter discovers that a huge octopus is terrorizing the coast. As a marine biologist attempts to stop the octopus it appears a society may be linked to the cephalopod’s murderous habits. The film was intended to ride on the success of Jaws, and also bears various similarities to the 1955 science fiction horror film It Came from Beneath the Sea.
Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS (1975)
It is a 1975 Canadian exploitation film about Ilsa, a sexually ravenous and ferocious Nazi prison camp commander. The film is directed by American director Don Edmonds and produced by David F. Friedman for Cinépix Film Properties in Montreal. The film stars Dyanne Thorne in the title role, who is loosely based on Ilse Koch, a war convict and overseer of the Buchenwald prison camp.
Upon its release in early 1975, the film was immediately met with controversy and derision from critics who called it a degenerate film. Specific criticisms were leveled at the film’s explicit violence; which includes depictions of castration, caning, human experimentation and many other types of abuse. Word of mouth quickly spread, and the film was a major commercial success, eventually becoming a classic of grindhouse and drive-in theaters.
The film’s appeal led to the production of 3 sequels, each of which saw Thorne repeat his role. The film’s infamy eventually developed into a significant cult following, with the character of Ilsa coming to be a pop cultural icon with “strong and aggressive” female authority. The film is among the most popular of the Nazisploitation subgenre and, to a lesser extent, the sexploitation subgenre.
SS Experiment Camp (1976)
It is a 1976 Nazi exploitation film directed by Sergio Garrone. The plot centers on the sexuality of the inmates of a prison camp run by Colonel von Kleiben (Giorgio Cerioni), a Nazi officer who needs a testicle transplant after being castrated by a Russian woman. It gained a bad reputation in the 1980s for its questionable themes and a public advertising campaign that included scandalous and controversial posters. The film was banned in some countries, including the UK.
Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! (2008)
It is a 2008 Australian documentary about the Australian New Wave of low-budget cinemas of the 70s and 80s. The film was composed and directed by Mark Hartley, who spoke to over eighty Australian, British and American stars, directors, producers and writers, including Quentin Tarantino, Brian Trenchard-Smith, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dennis Hopper, George Lazenby, George Miller, Barry Humphries, Stacy Keach, John Seale and Roger Ward.
Hartley invested many years in an in-depth research study, which served to some extent as the script for the film, on the New Wave period of Australian cinema. It focused on typically ignored ‘Ozploitation’ films, primarily filled with violence, fear and sex, which critics and film historians found offensive and repulsive, typically excluded from Australia’s ‘mainline cinema history’.
Hartley approached Quentin Tarantino, a longtime fan of “Ozploitation” who had actually dedicated his 2003 film Kill Bill to the category of exploitation, and Tarantino agreed to help get the job off the ground. Hartley then invested another 5 years talking topics and editing the combined 250 hours of interviews and initial stock video into a 100 minute film. Not Quite Hollywood, which premiered at the 2008 Melbourne International Film Festival, was not a success upon its Australian release, but garnered generally favorable ratings from critics and an election for “Best Documentary” at the Australian Film Institute 2008.
I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
It is a 1978 American horror film about rape and revenge edited, written and directed by Meir Zarchi. The film tells the story of Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton), a writer in New York City who exacts revenge on each of her tormentors after the gang rape of 4 men.
The film is remembered for its questionable depiction of violence, particularly the prolonged gang-rape scenes, which eat up 30 minutes of the film’s running time. During its wider release, it was subject to censorship by film commissioning bodies in the UK. Called repulsive trash the film remains extremely questionable to this day, considered among the worst films ever made. For some, it’s this debate that actually made it a cult film. Despite unfavorable reviews, Camille Keaton’s performance was applauded by critics.
The Last House on the Left (1972)
It is a 1972 American horror film written, directed and edited by Wes Craven in his directorial launch. The film follows Mari Collingwood (Sandra Peabody), a hippie teenager who is kidnapped, raped and tortured on her 17th birthday. When they unsuspectingly seek refuge in her home, the killers face vengeance from her parents.
Craven based the film on the 1960 Swedish film The Virgin Spring, directed by Ingmar Bergman, which itself is an adaptation of the Swedish ballad “Töres döttrar i Wänge”. Craven produced the film with producer Sean S. Cunningham after dealing with him on Together (1971). Craven wrote a screenplay focused on the shock aspect of the story, wishing to portray the violence explicitly.
The film was initially destructive to Craven’s career and was questionable for its marketing, with the tagline “Can a film go too far?”, promoting its violence. While not a huge drive-in ticket booth attraction, she earned $3 million against a sub-$90,000 spending plan. Critics derided the film for its confrontational violence and Craven’s use of scenes from black comedy interspersed with rape scenes. The film was particularly troublesome for lead starlet Peabody, who recalled having difficulty filming due to an ever-changing script and being abused by her male co-stars. Many other actors in the film have had remorse for acting years after its release.
World of the Vampires (1965)
It is a 1965 Italian-Spanish science fiction film, produced by Fulvio Lucisano, directed by Mario Bava, with Barry Sullivan and Norma Bengell. The screenplay of the film, by Bava, Alberto Bevilacqua, Callisto Cosulich, Antonio Roman and Rafael J. Salvia, was based on an Italian science fiction story, “A 21-hour night” by Renato Pestriniero.
The story follows the terrible experiences of the team members of 2 spaceships crashed and arrived in a forbidding and unexplored world. The disembodied residents of the world possess the bodies of the team that perished in the crash and use the corpses to hunt down and kill the remaining survivors. Years after its release, some critics felt that Bava’s film had a significant impact on Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) and Prometheus (2012), both in narrative information and visual style.