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The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s 

Ranker Film
Updated October 2, 2019 1.9k votes 354 voters 18.8k views 43 items

List Rules Vote up the most interesting exploitation films that were released in the 1970s.

The best ‘70s exploitation movies are a dizzying blend of graphic sex, sensational violence, and a dash of kitsch. Nazis, fast cars, zombies, bikers - you name it, they are all featured prominently in this 1970s exploitation film list. These films were made with a lower budget, and aimed to produce pure, high-octane entertainment.   


What are the top ‘70s exploitation movies? This list runs the gamut from grindhouse classics, like Death Race 2000, to genre-defining horror flicks like The Hills Have Eyes and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, directed by a young Tobe Hooper. Gory slasher movies constitute a number of the top ‘70s exploitation movies. Some films on this list transcended their B-movie status and became cultural touchstones. For example, the movie Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, is actually banned in several countries due to its highly controversial subject matter, and is regarded as one of the most shocking films ever made. 
 

Here, you’ll also find Assault on Precinct 13, originally released in 1976, and remade in 2005 starring Ethan Hawke and Laurence Fishburne. You won’t find any arthouse flicks here, but you will find some salacious cult classics.Vote up the best '70s exploitation films, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section.

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1
The Texas Chain Saw Mass... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal

Released: 1974

Directed by: Tobe Hooper

This movie is a 1974 American slasher film, directed and produced by Tobe Hooper, who cowrote it with Kim Henkel. It stars Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow and Gunnar ...more

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2
Dawn of the Dead is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Tom Savini, Ken Foree, James A. Baffico

Released: 1978

Directed by: George A. Romero

This film is a 1978 Italian-American horror drama film written and directed by George A. Romero. It was the second film made in Romero's series, but contains no characters or settings from them, ...more

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3
Death Race 2000 is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Sylvester Stallone, David Carradine, Mary Woronov

Released: 1975

Directed by: Paul Bartel

This film is a 1975 cult action film directed by Paul Bartel, and starring David Carradine, Simone Griffeth and Sylvester Stallone. The film takes place in a dystopian American society in the ...more

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4
The Last House on the Le... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Martin Kove, Steve Miner, Fred J. Lincoln

Released: 1972

Directed by: Wes Craven

The Last House on the Left is a 1972 American exploitation-horror film written, edited, and directed by Wes Craven and produced by Sean S. Cunningham. The story is inspired by the 1960 Swedish ...more

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5
The Hills Have Eyes is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Dee Wallace, Michael Berryman, John Steadman

Released: 1977

Directed by: Wes Craven

The Hills Have Eyes is a 1977 American exploitation-horror film written and directed by Wes Craven and starring Susan Lanier, Michael Berryman and Dee Wallace. It is about a suburan family on a ...more

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6
I Spit on Your Grave is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
I Spit on Your Grave Camille Keaton, Richard Pace, Gunter Kleeman

Released: 1978

Directed by: Meir Zarchi

Day of the Woman is a controversial 1978 cult classic rape and revenge film. The film received a limited release, with a wider release in 1980. Prominent film critics condemned the film for its ...more

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7
Coffy is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Pam Grier, Sid Haig, Gail Davis

Released: 1973

Directed by: Jack Hill

Coffy is a 1973 blaxploitation film written and directed by American filmmaker Jack Hill. The story is about a black female vigilante played by Pam Grier. The film's tagline in advertising was ...more

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8
Foxy Brown is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Pam Grier, Sid Haig, Peter Brown

Released: 1974

Directed by: Jack Hill

Foxy Brown is a 1974 American blaxploitation film written and directed by Jack Hill. It stars Pam Grier as the title character, described by one character as "a whole lot of woman" who ...more

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9
Assault on Precinct 13 ... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Austin Stoker, Charles Cyphers, Tony Burton

Released: 1976

Directed by: John Carpenter

Assault on Precinct 13 is a 1976 American action thriller film written, directed, scored and edited by John Carpenter. It stars Austin Stoker as a police officer who defends a defunct precinct ...more

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10
Pink Flamingos is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
John Waters, Divine, Mink Stole

Released: 1972

Directed by: John Waters

Pink Flamingos is a 1972 American transgressive black comedy exploitation film written, produced, scored, shot, edited, narrated, and directed by John Waters. When the film was initially ...more

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11
Beyond the Valley of the... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Pam Grier, Charles Napier, Cynthia Myers

Released: 1970

Directed by: Russ Meyer

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is a 1970 American satirical musical melodrama film starring Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers, Marcia McBroom, John LaZar, Michael Blodgett and David Gurian. The cult ...more

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12
Shaft is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Richard Roundtree, Moses Gunn, Lawrence Pressman

Released: 1971

Directed by: Gordon Parks

Shaft is a 1971 American blaxploitation film directed by Gordon Parks, released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. An action film with elements of film noir, Shaft tells the story of a private detective, ...more

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13
Piranha is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Keenan Wynn, John Sayles, Barbara Steele

Released: 1978

Directed by: Joe Dante

Piranha is a 1978 American B movie about a swarm of killer piranhas. It was directed and co-edited by Joe Dante and starred Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, ...more

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14
Car Wash is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Danny DeVito, Richard Pryor, George Carlin

Released: 1976

Directed by: Michael Schultz

Car Wash is a 1976 American comedy film released by Universal Pictures. The Art Linson Production was directed by Michael Schultz from a screenplay by Joel Schumacher. Starring Franklyn Ajaye, ...more

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15
Super Fly is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Curtis Mayfield, Julius Harris, Ron O'Neal

Released: 1972

Directed by: Gordon Parks, Gordon Parks, Jr.

Super Fly is a 1972 blaxploitation, crime drama film directed by Gordon Parks, Jr., starring Ron O'Neal as Youngblood Priest, an African American cocaine dealer who is trying to quit the ...more

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16
Blacula is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Vonetta McGee, Elisha Cook, Jr.

Released: 1972

Directed by: William Crain

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Blacula is a 1972 American blaxploitation horror film produced for American International Pictures. It was directed by William Crain and stars William Marshall in the title role about an ...more

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17
Master of the Flying Gui... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Philip Kwok, Lau Kar-wing, Kang Chin

Released: 1976

Directed by: Jimmy Wang

Master of the Flying Guillotine is a 1976 Taiwanese wuxia film starring Jimmy Wang Yu, who also wrote and directed the film. It is a sequel to Wang's 1971 film One Armed Boxer, and thus the film ...more

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18
Vanishing Point is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Charlotte Rampling, Cleavon Little, Dean Jagger

Released: 1971

Directed by: Richard C. Sarafian

Vanishing Point is a 1971 American action road movie directed by Richard C. Sarafian and starring Barry Newman, Cleavon Little, and Dean Jagger. The film is notable for its scenic film locations ...more

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19
Vampyros Lesbos is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Dennis Price, Soledad Miranda, Paul Muller

Released: 1971

Directed by: Jesús Franco

Vampyros Lesbos is a 1971 West German-Spanish horror film directed and co-written by Jesús Franco. The film stars Ewa Stroemberg as Linda Westinghouse, an American who works in a Turkish ...more
20
The Street Fighter is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Sonny Chiba, Yutaka Nakajima, Tony Cetera

Released: 1974

Directed by: Shigehiro Ozawa

The Street Fighter, literally Clash, Killer Fist!, is a Japanese martial arts film released in 1974 and produced by Toei Company Ltd. It was released in the US by New Line Cinema and became one ...more

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21
Switchblade Sisters is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Robert Lee Minor, Don Stark, Janice Karman

Released: 1975

Directed by: Jack Hill

Switchblade Sisters is a 1975 action and exploitation film detailing the lives of high school-aged female gang members. It was directed by Jack Hill and stars Joanne Nail, Robbie Lee and Monica ...more
22
Thriller: A Cruel Pictur... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Christina Lindberg, Per-Axel Arosenius, Bo Arne Vibenius

Released: 1973

Directed by: Bo Arne Vibenius

Thriller – A Cruel Picture is a 1973 Swedish exploitation film in the "rape and revenge" genre written and directed by Bo Arne Vibenius under the name Alex Fridolinski. It tells the ...more

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23
Eyes Without a Face is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
ishallbesuccessful added Alida Valli, Pierre Brasseur, Édith Scob

Released: 1960

Directed by: Georges Franju

Eyes Without a Face is a 1960 French-Italian horror film adaptation of Jean Redon's novel, directed by Georges Franju, and starring Pierre Brasseur and Alida Valli. During the film's production, ...more

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24
Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
George Buck Flower, Richard Kennedy, Dyanne Thorne

Released: 1975

Directed by: Don Edmonds

Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS is a 1975 American Nazi exploitation film produced in the USA. The film was directed by Don Edmonds, produced by David F. Friedman and written by Jonah Royston.

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25
Female Trouble is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
Divine, Mink Stole, Edith Massey

Released: 1974

Directed by: John Waters

Female Trouble is a 1974 dark comedy film co-composed, filmed, co-edited, written, produced, and directed by John Waters starring Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole, Edith ...more

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