9. The Candy Snatchers (1973)
A trio of criminals kidnap a teenager named Candy and bury her alive while they attempt to extort jewelry from her father, while an autistic boy that cannot speak and lives in a dysfunctional family is the only witness to the crime.
Things from there go on a series of surprising double crosses and shocking plot twists that won’t be revealed so as not to spoil anything. But the ending is very memorable and could be considered extremely shocking.
This is an unbelievably excellent exploitation movie that has been somehow missed. It is a brilliantly filmed low budget film featuring a solid script and dialogue, great cinematography, great use of color and shadows, and great acting from the overall cast.
Vince Martorano particularly stood out as the criminal Eddie, who tries to protect Candy from being harmed by the rest of his group. It is a violent, dark, and sleazy world that features multiple evil characters, rape, and murder. It could be considered as a neo-noir film, being as it’s a dark story where bad things usually happen to everyone.
The film could be seen as influencing both Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch and their future films. It has parts that could be related to Reservoir Dogs, including the jewel heist, the shoot out gone bad, and an ear being cut off.
It has elements that could relate to Lynch’s Twin Peaks series, mainly the highly dysfunctional family and the mother that is very mean and crazy. This film is truly a must see for fans of crime thrillers, it is truly disturbing on multiple levels.
10. Phase IV (1974)
“Adapt or die” . A pair of scientists is sent in to a desert town to research ants that have shown a strong collective intelligence and have been getting violent towards the local residents. Along with a stray girl they rescued, they must try to communicate with the ants or destroy these creatures that have shown that they are constantly learning and adapting at a very fast rate.
This has to be most realistic bug horror film that has been made, up until the trippy ending. It is thoroughly engaging, gripping, suspenseful, beautiful, and haunting with a unique story, good acting, and some absolutely amazing insect sequences.
There are so many great close up shots of the ants and things that they do throughout the film; including a female birthing, a spider being attacked and disintegrating, a praying mantis attacking a spider and then also being attacked, ants destroying and disintegrating a mouse, and lining up their dead.
The film has a powerful statement about how man may not be the most powerful forces on this planet, a line in the film said that ants are “so defenseless in the individual, but so powerful in masses.” If you’re scared of ants or bugs, then you have to watch this film.
11. Flesh Gordon (1974)
“An outrageous parody of yesterdays’ super heroes!” . The opening tagline essentially says it all; as a trio of earthlings (Flesh Gordon, Dale Ardent, and Flexi Jerkoff) goes to the planet porno in order to stop the evil Emperor Wang and his powerful sex ray that makes everyone on earth crazy sex fiends.
With the help of the obviously gay Prince Precious, Gordon battles monster chicks with dicks, a one-eyed penisaurus, Amazon lesbians, a mechanical praying mantis, and the giant ape like Great God Porno.
So much could be said about this film, it is a masterpiece of low budget comedic filmmaking that mixes satire, campyness, gratuitous nudity and sexual situations. It also has stop-motion animation effects, great low budget miniatures, a great opening comic style title scene, and a great score that is able to combine both the classic hero sound with the whimsical. Yes there is a lot of nudity, but it’s a comedy not a porno.
Depending on your tastes, this is a nonstop laugh riot with tons of great dialogue and bits. Almost every line of dialogue could be listed, along with the character names and various moments throughout the movie.
The stop-motion animation and miniature effects are excellent and call back to the low budget sci-fi films of the 1950’s, oh and the spaceship that Jerkoff creates is shaped liked a penis and all of the parts came from the Sears catalog.
This is just a great movie that I don’t have enough words to talk about. Some people may be put off by the large amount of nudity, but despite its exploitative nudity, it is essentially a comedy.
12. The Arena (1974)
“See wild women fight to the death!” . This is a Roger Corman B-movie that essentially took the popular women in prison films and placed them in Roman times, where they decide to have slave girls fight as gladiators. It stars popular Blaxploitation actress Pam Grier opposite Margaret Markov, both had previously appeared in a women in prison film titled Black Mama, White Mama.
The film has some issues, the plot is somewhat weak and the action scenes could probably be better. The main reason to see this is for the two main actresses, who shine when they are put in scenes together. Other than that, there is more than enough nudity in this to please exploitation fans and women in prison film fans.
13. Big Bad Mama (1974)
“Hot Lead – Hot Cars – Hot Damn!” . This was essentially Roger Corman’s version of Bonnie and Clyde, but with less violence and more nudity. The film stars Angie Dickinson, as a mother who ends up bootlegging and robbing banks with her two daughters and two other criminals, played by William Shatner and Tom Skerritt.
The films major cult status is due to the appearances of the three main actors and the nudity and sex scenes involving them and the other two female characters.
There is more than enough nudity and cheeky, sexual dialogue throughout the film to entertain most low budget film fans. The action is pretty light, as it is meant to be more comedic than violent. It was pretty successful and would have a sequel released in 1987.
14. The Streetfighter (1974)
This Japanese produced martial arts film is the ultimate grindhouse style film featuring badass martial arts, ultra violence and gore, and the amazing Sonny Chiba. Chiba was Toei Studios action star version of Bruce Lee, but much more gritty and with a harder tone to his films.
The story involves a hired killer (Chiba) who decides to protect the wealthy daughter of a recently deceased business man, after the Yakuza refused to meet his asking price and then tried to kill him. His methods are super violent, including crushing people’s skulls and a very graphic castration scene.
The film was a worldwide success and made Chiba a superstar, he had a certain screen presence and style that was unique and different compared to Bruce Lee. It was the first film to receive an X rating in the United States solely based on violence . The popularity of the film would lead to two sequels and a spin-off film.
The film and Chiba had been somewhat forgotten by American audiences until the StreetFighter films appeared in True Romance. Chiba is probably best known now for appearing in Kill Bill as Hattori Hanzo and was also a fight choreographer on the films for the sword fighting sequences.
15. Cockfighter (1974)
This is by far one of the most underrated and underappreciated films that were made during the 1970’s, featuring one of Warren Oates best performances and the underappreciated direction of Monte Hellman. Hellman also directed cult favorites The Shooting and Two-Lane Blacktop and Oates appeared in a total of four of Hellman’s movies.
Being an immense fan of both men may cause some bias on the writer’s part, but watch the film and make a determination. The subject matter is tough for some people to deal with and that caused this to be the only film that producer Roger Corman lost money on during the 1970’s. There are some very graphic scenes involving cockfighting and birds getting killed in them.
Oates plays Frank Mansfield, who has vowed to remain silent until he wins the Cockfighter of the Year medal, something that he highly covets. He loses almost everything he has on a side bet with a former friend Jack (Harry Dean Stanton) and must start all over, borrowing money from an old girlfriend to buy a new cock and forming a partnership with another cocksman to get a shot again at the medal.
This is just an excellent movie that you should give a chance on.
16. Black Belt Jones (1974)
Blaxploitation film starring Jim Kelly, who recently had a standout appearance in the Bruce Lee epic Enter the Dragon that gave the actor great exposure. This led to multiple starring roles in a series of blaxploitation films during the 1970’s.
In this film, Black Belt Jones helps fight against the mafia when they murder an old friend of his that was operating a karate school. The result is a series of good martial arts fight scenes and a couple of the best one liners ever.
Kelly was no amateur when it came to martial arts, he was the real deal. He had trained in Lexington, KY in the disciplines of Shorin-Ryu karate and Shaolin-Do. He won several world karate championships during the early 1970’s and opened his own dojo, which had several celebrities training there. He was featured in several other blaxploitation films before retiring to become a tennis pro, most notably being Three the Hard Way that also featured Jim Brown and Fred Williamson.
Both films are truly must see for fans of blaxploitation cinema. Do a double feature with your wife or girlfriend, if they don’t like them you’ve got the wrong girl. Climb out the bathroom window immediately.
17. House of Whipcord (1974)
“Was her act more obscene than theirs…?” . A secret British prison dedicated to the old system of capital punishment kidnaps and brings in women that they feel committed immoral offenses. The old blind judge thinks that they are still trying to rehabilitate the girls, but the female warden and guards are actually torturing and killing them after breaking three rules.
While this is essentially an exploitation film about women in prison, it is far more devoted to theme and horror than to sexually titillating the viewers. There is some nudity and violence in this one, but it is far less than the films that this one would be compared to. It ends up being more of the psychological type of horror meant to scare the viewer.
The performances by the warden and two female guards are downright terrifying and sadistic, with close ups of their reactions usually shown instead of the flogging or hanging scenes. They were supposed to represent how many of the youth viewed the government authority during this time period, as being legally and morally corrupt.