Many people say to me, “Hey Sully, what are the best exploitation flicks of all time?”
And I reply, “It’s the same list as the worst exploitation flicks of all time.”
These films are, by definition, awful. They may be poorly made. They might deal with taboo subjects. They might have been made for $11.87 by a couple of Armenian Jews in Mexico.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get all that and more!
Remember, “exploitation” is an elastic term. It may refer to the exploitation of women (a common feature of schlock). It could mean the exploitation of a touchy subject — just run the lesbian vampire sub-subgenre by the gals at the next feminist symposium you happen by on your way to the track.
It always means the exploitation of you, the moviegoer — because you, like a chump, bought a ticket, or rented the DVD (a sad feature of our lax post-modernist, post-drive in society).
So here we go:
10. I Spit On Your Grave. Made in Kent, Conn. for the above-mentioned $11.87. A valiant, doomed attempt was made to recast this as a feminist film, because the grave-spitting is done by the female lead, with good reason. Nice try.
9. Make Them Die Slowly. The ultimate “Stupid White People in the Jungle” flick.
8. Deathstalker II. Sword and sorcery epic, with an evil warlock who looks like Gloria Swanson.
7. Freaks. Tod Browning’s 1931 circus geekfest anticipates reality TV and gave the Ramones their “Gabba Gabba Hey” chant.
6. Basket Case. A “Freaks” for the 1980s that also captures pre-Disney Times Square.
5. Zombie Lake. This gets the nod over “Shock Waves” in the underwater Nazi zombie category with its tender love story and nekkid volleyball.
4. Bloodsucking Freaks. The flick that gave us the deranged midget Ralphus and a renewed appreciation for the techniques of modern dentistry.
3. Evil Dead II. In which the hero, with a new group of dopes, goes to the exact same cabin and reads the exact same words out of the exact same Book of the Dead — and is then surprised when the forces of Hell are unleashed. Again.
2. Night of the Living Dead. For pure horror nobody has ever come close, certainly not director George Romero in his innumerable rehashings of the subject.
1. Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS. If you wish to alienate someone forever — someone normal, that is — make a big tub of Jiffy Pop, pop open a couple of Dr. Peppers and settle in for this monstrous epic.