Exploitation 101: a guide to the grind

by Beacon Staff • April 4, 2007

Movies are about escaping from the everyday. When grindhouse theatres would play double or triple features, the films shown would be based in some sort of reality but ideally go to the extreme. This is where we get the exploitation films that influenced the new motion picture Grindhouse.

The following are the best of this genre, which overflows with sex, drugs and violence, the best themes celluloid has to offer.

Vengeance: Thriller - A Cruel Picture (1974)

Touting itself as the first film ever banned in Sweden, Thriller is the ultimate film about retribution. A young woman who loses the ability to speak after being raped as a child is kidnapped and forced into a life of prostitution. Seeking revenge on the men who did this to her, she learns karate and visits gun ranges so she can serve her captors and former clients a dish that is best served cold.

Badass Femme: Sex and Fury (1973)

This film is Tarantino's blueprint for Kill Bill. Our dragon-tattooed heroine starts things off by slicing through a dozen attackers outside a Japanese bathhouse while in the nude. Seeking revenge against the gangsters responsible for her father's murder, she lets the blood flow freely as she takes out various Yakuza members. Oh yeah, there's also a gang of switchblade-carrying nuns.

Kung Fu: Master of the Flying Guillotine (1977)

One-armed boxer. Check. A blind, flying guillotine-master out for revenge. Check. Martial arts competition that includes an Indian fakir who can stretch his arms 10 feet. Check. One of the worst dubbing jobs in cinematic history. Check. Kraut-rock soundtrack set to whole ordeal. Check.

Blaxploitation: Truck Turner (1974)

Pimps are bad news, but don't worry folks, Truck Turner is on the case. Bounty hunter Truck Turner is a marked man after killing a pimp and the pimp's old lady puts a hit out on him. Trying to survive the pimp named Velvet Blue, Truck's life could be cut short if he's not careful. Luckily, Truck is a bad mutha shut-yo'-mouth. Shaft who?