HomeOur ObsessionsA savage ranking of exploitation movies to watch after ‘Suspiria’

A savage ranking of exploitation movies to watch after ‘Suspiria’

Wanna catch up on your exploitation movies now that 'Suspiria' has come and gone? Here’s our ranking of the ten best exploitation movies to check out.

A savage ranking of exploitation movies to watch after ‘Suspiria’

Luca Guadagnino’s highly anticipated remake of Suspiria came out last November. Described by the filmmaker as being more of a homage to Dario Argento’s 1977 original Giallo exploitation flick, the film garnered critical acclaim at its debut at CinemaCon. Amazon shared images from the film spotlighting Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades Freed) in the lead role while another showcases a bevy of ballerinas looking chill before the bloodbath.

Wanna catch up on your exploitation movies now that Suspiria has come and gone? Here’s our ranking of the ten best exploitation movies to check out and rewatch.

10. I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

The notorious rape revenge horror has long been criticized by feminist horror academics for director Meir Zarchi’s protracted and near-pornographic depiction of rape. However, there’s no denying the bloodbath that follows in which the rapists are systematically and violently hunted down by the female survivor is the most important and enjoyable part of the film.

9. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Still regarded as one of the most controversial movies ever made (it did masterfully trick audiences into thinking all the on-screen gore is real, after all) Ruggero Deodato’s splatter flick helped inspire the found footage genre but continues to divide horror fans due to the film’s cultural defilement and deep racial issues.

8. Shivers (1975)

Long before It Follows gave us a modern day rendering of a sexually viral horror, David Cronenberg nailed it with Shivers. Centered around a scientist who implants an aphrodisiac venereal parasite into his promiscuous teenage girlfriend, the film approaches all manner of taboo topics (like incest and rape) with shocking volumes of delight. As the parasite spreads across an apartment complex – turning tenants into sex-crazed fiends – the film becomes progressively more horrifying and wonderfully ludicrous.

7. The Evil Dead (1981)

While the franchise has become better known for being a schlocky horror comedy franchise, Sam Raimi’s original low budget splatterfest is seriously scary and gory. Bruce Campbell (Bubba Ho-Tep) is an absolute star as a young dude ill-equipped to save his girlfriend and fight demons, while one memorable sequence wherein a demonic tree rapes a young woman makes the film one of the most gruelling to watch to this day.

6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

With a bone-chilling performance from Marilyn Burns (Helter Skelter) at the center of it, Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is still one of the most unique, masterful, and unsettling exploitation horrors ever made. More creepy than gory (Hooper was laughably restrained with his depiction of violence in the film in the hopes of acquiring a PG certification), the film set a new precedent for brutality and scariness.

5. The Last House on the Left (1972)

Offering an unrelenting glimpse at retribution, Wes Craven’s harrowing horror features relentless scenes of rape and torture against two young women. When the parents of the young girls figure out the identities of their assailants and plot a dark, rage-fueled revenge against them, the film maintains a pace of dread and never stops in its savagery.

4. Ms. 45 (1981)

Packed full of stunning visuals and a refreshingly feminist perspective for an exploitation movie, Abel Ferrara’s rape revenge movie is a striking tale of trauma where a young woman fights back against a city that has allowed her to be objectified and repeatedly raped. It’s relentlessly violent and full of staggering suspense.

3. The Beyond (1981)

Lucio Fulci’s most highly regarded Giallo follows a young woman who inherits a hotel that also happens to be cursed as it’s built over the seven gateways to hell (well, shit). There are haunting visions, fiendish gore scenes, and nightmarish murders a plenty with the film emanating pure, surreal evil from start to finish.

2. Switchblade Sisters (1975)

Following the violent exploits of a high school girl gang, Jack Hill’s iconic exploitation flick is bombastic and badass and an absolute riot from start to finish. Who wouldn’t want to be a Switchblade Sister after seeing it?!

1. The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

Directed by Amy Holden Jones (Love Letters) and written by Rita Mae Brown, this deceptive exploitation flick offers the usual campy delights of teenage girls in skimpy clothes and a bad man with a phallic weapon (this time a drill) but is actually a shrewd satire on the genre, offering a tongue-in-cheek commentary about gender politics.

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Amy Roberts is a freelance writer who occasionally moonlights as a hapless punk musician. She’s written about pop culture for websites like Bustle, i-D, and The Mary Sue, and is the co-creator of Clarissa Explains F*ck All. She likes watching horror movies with her cat and eating too much sugar.

amy@filmdaily.co