The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Exploitation film

Exploitation is the name given to genre of films, extant since the earliest days of moviemaking, but popularized in the 1970s. Exploitation films typically sacrifice traditional notions of artistic merit for the sensational display of some topic about which the audience may be curious, or have some prurient interest.

Some of the earliest exploitation films were pitched as sensationalist exposés of some drug or sex-related scandal, and were made independently of the major Hollywood studios, thus avoiding restrictions of the Production Code and providing a revenue source for independent theaters. Now that the major motion picture studios allow much more latitude in subject matter, it is not necessary for independent producers to cater to audiences' desires to view such things. Thus, in modern cinema, roles have reversed somewhat, with major studios catering to the so-called "lowest common denominator", while art films are more typically made independently.

Subcategories of exploitation films include the following:

  • Shock Exploitation Films (Shock Films), are films containing content designed to be particularly shocking to the audience. This type of exploitation film focus content traditionally thought to be particularly taboo for presentation in film, such as extremely realistic graphic violence, graphic rape depictions, simulated zoophilia and depictions of incest. Examples of shock films include "Cannibal Holocaust", Last House on the Left, Fight For Your Life , Run and Kill , Bald Headed Betty , Last House on Dead End Street , Baise-Moi, , Cannibal Ferox (AKA Make Them Die Slowly), and I Spit On Your Grave. Sometimes these films purport to be the retelling of a true story, such as the Japanese film Schoolgirl in Cement , which dealt with the Junko Furuta murder. The sub-sub-genre of artificial "snuff" films might also belong here, such as the infamous Guinea Pig films, also from Japan.
  • "Mondo" Exploitation Films are quasi-documentary films, often reconstructions of actual or purported events. The events depicted in such films are usually closer in spirit to shock exploitation: they are shocking not only because they deal with taboo subject matter (foreign sexual customs, for instance, or varieties of violent behavior in various societies), but because the on-camera action is allegedly real. Some mondo movies are more blatantly fictitious than others, and the vast majority of them are staged forgeries. Most of them tend to be anthologies of different things under a broad collective label rather than one specific thing. The name "mondo" comes from the first broadly commercially successful movie of this type, Mondo Cane (which was followed by a number of sequels and spinoffs). Other movies of this type include Addio Zio Tom and the Faces of Death series of films. Sometimes "mondo" films are called shockumentaries (i.e., a combination of shock exploitation and documentary).

Another term for exploitation movies is grindhouse cinema; the term can refer either to the way these films were "ground out" for their audiences, or the usually-disreputable movie theaters that showed them.

Some exploitation movies cross categories freely. Doris Wishman's Let Me Die A Woman contains both shock documentary and sex exploitation elements.

Directors associated with exploitation film include:

Other important figures in exploitation film:

Film Genres influenced by exploitation film:

See Also:

List of movie genres

Last updated: 05-14-2005 21:56:25