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The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s

Updated October 2, 2019 2.2k votes 359 voters 19.5k views43 items

List RulesVote 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 Massacre is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    109
    17

    The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

    Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns

    Released1974

    Directed byTobe Hooper

    This movie is a 1974 American slasher film, directed and produced by Tobe Hooper, who cowrote... more on Wikipedia
  • 2
    Dawn of the Dead is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    88
    13

    Dawn of the Dead

    Tom Savini, Ken Foree

    Released1978

    Directed byGeorge A. Romero

    This film is a 1978 Italian-American horror drama film written and directed by George A.... more on Wikipedia

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  • 3
    Death Race 2000 is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    62
    16

    Death Race 2000

    Sylvester Stallone, David Carradine

    Released1975

    Directed byPaul Bartel

    This film is a 1975 cult action film directed by Paul Bartel, and starring David Carradine,... more on Wikipedia

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  • 4
    The Last House on the Left is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    59
    16

    The Last House on the Left

    Martin Kove, Steve Miner

    Released1972

    Directed byWes Craven

    The Last House on the Left is a 1972 American exploitation-horror film written, edited, and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 5
    I Spit on Your Grave is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    59
    19

    I Spit on Your Grave

    Camille Keaton, Richard Pace

    Released1978

    Directed byMeir Zarchi

    Day of the Woman is a controversial 1978 cult classic rape and revenge film. The film received... more on Wikipedia

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  • 6
    Foxy Brown is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    56
    16

    Foxy Brown

    Pam Grier, Sid Haig

    Released1974

    Directed byJack Hill

    Foxy Brown is a 1974 American blaxploitation film written and directed by Jack Hill. It stars... more on Wikipedia

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  • 7
    The Hills Have Eyes is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    56
    17

    The Hills Have Eyes

    Dee Wallace, Michael Berryman

    Released1977

    Directed byWes Craven

    The Hills Have Eyes is a 1977 American exploitation-horror film written and directed by Wes... more on Wikipedia

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  • 8
    Assault on Precinct 13 is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    45
    12

    Assault on Precinct 13

    Austin Stoker, Charles Cyphers

    Released1976

    Directed byJohn Carpenter

    Assault on Precinct 13 is a 1976 American action thriller film written, directed, scored and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 9
    Pink Flamingos is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    47
    21

    Pink Flamingos

    John Waters, Divine

    Released1972

    Directed byJohn Waters

    Pink Flamingos is a 1972 American transgressive black comedy exploitation film written,... more on Wikipedia
  • 10
    Shaft is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    39
    16

    Shaft

    Richard Roundtree, Moses Gunn

    Released1971

    Directed byGordon Parks

    Shaft is a 1971 American blaxploitation film directed by Gordon Parks, released by... more on Wikipedia

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  • 11
    Super Fly is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    35
    13

    Super Fly

    Curtis Mayfield, Julius Harris

    Released1972

    Directed byGordon Parks, Gordon Parks, Jr.

    Super Fly is a 1972 blaxploitation, crime drama film directed by Gordon Parks, Jr., starring... more on Wikipedia
  • 12
    Coffy is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    54
    33

    Coffy

    Pam Grier, Sid Haig

    Released1973

    Directed byJack Hill

    Coffy is a 1973 blaxploitation film written and directed by American filmmaker Jack Hill. The... more on Wikipedia

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  • 13
    Car Wash is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    34
    15

    Car Wash

    Danny DeVito, Richard Pryor

    Released1976

    Directed byMichael Schultz

    Car Wash is a 1976 American comedy film released by Universal Pictures. The Art Linson... more on Wikipedia

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  • 14
    Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    40
    22

    Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

    Pam Grier, Charles Napier

    Released1970

    Directed byRuss Meyer

    Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is a 1970 American satirical musical melodrama film starring... more on Wikipedia

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  • 15
    Piranha is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    38
    23

    Piranha

    Keenan Wynn, John Sayles

    Released1978

    Directed byJoe Dante

    Piranha is a 1978 American B movie about a swarm of killer piranhas. It was directed and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 16
    Master of the Flying Guillotin is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    30
    17

    Master of the Flying Guillotine

    Philip Kwok, Lau Kar-wing

    Released1976

    Directed byJimmy Wang

    Master of the Flying Guillotine is a 1976 Taiwanese wuxia film starring Jimmy Wang Yu, who... more on Wikipedia

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  • 17
    The Street Fighter is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    25
    13

    The Street Fighter

    Sonny Chiba, Yutaka Nakajima

    Released1974

    Directed byShigehiro Ozawa

    The Street Fighter, literally Clash, Killer Fist!, is a Japanese martial arts film released in... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    Thriller: A Cruel Picture is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    27
    17

    Thriller: A Cruel Picture

    Christina Lindberg, Per-Axel Arosenius

    Released1973

    Directed byBo Arne Vibenius

    Thriller – A Cruel Picture is a 1973 Swedish exploitation film in the "rape and revenge" genre... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    Female Trouble is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    25
    17

    Female Trouble

    Divine, Mink Stole

    Released1974

    Directed byJohn Waters

    Female Trouble is a 1974 dark comedy film co-composed, filmed, co-edited, written, produced,... more on Wikipedia

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  • 20
    Black Caesar is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    18
    8

    Black Caesar

    Fred Williamson, Gloria Hendry

    Released1973

    Directed byLarry Cohen

    Black Caesar, released theatrically in the UK as Godfather of Harlem, is a 1973 American... more on Wikipedia
  • 21
    Wake in Fright is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    22
    13

    Wake in Fright

    Donald Pleasence, Jack Thompson

    Released1971

    Directed byTed Kotcheff

    Wake in Fright is a 1971 Australian-American thriller film directed by Ted Kotcheff and... more on Wikipedia
  • 22
    I Drink Your Blood is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    22
    15

    I Drink Your Blood

    Bhaskar, Jadine Wong

    Released1970

    Directed byDavid E. Durston

    I Drink Your Blood is a cult horror film originally released in 1970. The film was written and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 23
    Lady Snowblood is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    16
    7

    Lady Snowblood

    Meiko Kaji, Kō Nishimura

    Released1973

    Directed byToshiya Fujita

    Lady Snowblood is a 1973 Japanese film directed by Toshiya Fujita and starring Meiko Kaji. It... more on Wikipedia

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  • 24
    Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    26
    20

    Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom

    Paolo Bonacelli, Caterina Boratto

    Released1975

    Directed byPier Paolo Pasolini

    Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, commonly referred to as simply Salò, is a 1975 Italian-French... more on Wikipedia

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  • 25
    Blacula is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Exploitation Movies of the 1970s
    32
    29

    Blacula

    Vonetta McGee, Elisha Cook

    Released1972

    Directed byWilliam Crain

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