Faster, Pussycat! Kill!…Kill! (1965) – The Ultimate Exploitation Film!
Trash cinema legend Russ Meyer wrote and directed this sexploitation masterpiece, about three beautiful and buxom Go-Go dancers, who go on a murderous rampage in the California desert. Its shot in glorious black and white, has no frontal nudity and the violence is tame by today’s standards, yet it remains an engaging, super-sexy and bone-crunchingly savage classic. The standout cast includes Tura Satana, Haji, Lori Williams, Susan Bernard and Stuart Lancaster.
Coffy (1973)- Blaxploitation at its best…you dig!
Though others came before it, this is the best example of Blaxploitation cinema as 70’s icon Pam Grier lights up the screen in this classic, written and directed by Jack Hill, about a Los Angeles nurse, who takes no prisoners in her mission against the drug ring that messed up her younger sister. Grier would later go on to star in Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 film, Jackie Brown, a great homage to the Blaxploitation genre.
Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1974)- Revenge…Swedish style!
There are other more notorious films in the rape/revenge genre, like Last House on the Left (1972) and I Spit on Your Grave (1978), but this is one is notable for a couple of reasons. First is Swedish sex starlet Christina Lindberg and second is that one version of the film contains explicit sex scenes. Written and directed by Bo Arne Vibenius the story concerns the abuse of a young girl, who is eventually forced into drugs and prostitution, but then learns to fight back and takes her ultimate revenge.
Vanishing Point (1971)- Carsploitation…American muscle at over 100mph!
Essentially, a 90 minute chase film. The story is pretty simple, a car delivery driver named Kowalski, played by Barry Newman, bets he can take a 1970 Dodge Challenger from Denver to San Francisco in under 24 hours. This simple yet effective film from director Richard C. Sarafian is the ultimate Carsploitation flick. Aided by the help of a groovy radio DJ, our hero continually eludes police, and he stops to check if their OK, when they veer off the road!
Grindhouse (2007)- Rodriguez and Tarantino bring back the genre!
Directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino brought the term grindhouse/exploitation back into pop culture with their double-feature of exploitative madness! Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, a zombie splatter fest featuring an all-star cast that included Rose McGowan, Bruce Willis, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolin, Marley Shelton and Michael Biehn is a blood-soaked blast from beginning to end and Tarantino’s fast and furious Death Proof, featuring Kurt Russell and his killer car, taking on a bunch of thrill-seeking females is a thrill a minute. In between saw a bunch of great faux movie trailers…one of which, Machete, starring Danny Trejo as a burned Federale wielding a hacking tool, just got released…a film that Rodriguez also directed!
Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS (1974)- Nazisploitation…leather boots and all!
This Canadian-produced film, that was shot on the location of the Hogan Heroes set, brought a whole new type of exploitation to schlock cinema. Sadistic and sexy Nazis in black leather boots wreaking havoc on P.O.W.s and female inmates all in the name of the Third Reich! Dyanne Thorne tears up the screen, as the title character of this film that simply has it all…beautiful women, lots of sex and nudity, sadistic torture and plenty of blood. It even has some great action scenes and it’s funny too! Its The Great Escape meets Hostel…it’s that awesome!
Cannibal Holocaust (1980)- The Green Inferno.
The 1980’s saw the proliferation of the cannibal genre and this landmark film, from Italian director Ruggero Deodato, about a rescue team sent into the South American jungle to find a missing documentary filmmaking crew, is still the best. It’s definitely not for everyone, as the film is notorious for its depiction of real animal killings and the cruel and savage nature of its subject matter, but for those who can stomach it, it’s worth a look.
Spider Baby (1968)- A creepy and disturbing gem.
Jack Hill wrote and directed this wonderfully eerie film, about a deeply disturbed and demented family, who have their own disease named after them! Lon Chaney stars as the caretaker of this deeply strange and twisted family, who have suffered mentally and physically through generations of inbreeding. It sounds horrific, but there is little to no violence and gore, just great atmosphere and tension in this wonderfully creepy film.
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)- Murder, Music, Mayhem…it has it all!
Film critic Roger Ebert is famous for writing the screenplay to Russ Meyer’s psychedelic, sexploitation classic about an all-girl rock band, who venture to Los Angeles for fame and fortune. What they find is the sleazy underbelly of a city filled with sex, drugs, rock n’ roll and even a little murder thrown in. There is just so much going on in this film, that it’s kind of a mess, but it’s a trippy and fun mess.
The Devil’s Rejects (2005)- Rob Zombie takes it to a new level.
Heavy metal front man, now turned director, Rob Zombie’s follow up to his 2003 film, House of a 1000 Corpses is far better in every way. The brutal and sometimes off-putting story of the ruthless Firefly family, a band of deranged serial killers, is elevated by the superb performance of William Forsythe as Sheriff John Wydell, the police detective in charge of hunting down the sadistic killers. Great direction, great sets and great music show that Rob Zombie is a powerful force in the world of exploitation filmmaking.