Top Ten Death Proof Exploitation Films: the films that wouldn?t die.

The splatter and schlock that inspired a thousand remakes.

Top Five Death Proof Exploitation Films: the films that wouldn't die.
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have long reigned as the Dark Princes of Schlock-Appreciation. They make movies for those who like it rough, sleazy and thrill-packed. Every dirty flicker in Death Proof and Planet Terror pays tribute to a thousand cheaply-produced fun-rides of perversion known as exploitation films. These often violent, and always sensational, flicks were pumped out for high-profits and thrills.

And this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Trash appreciation is a fine tradition amongst film lovers, as witnessed by the large number of grindhouse gems that are repeatedly dug from their filthy graves. These resurrected zombies of the film-world still walk amongst us today and RT pays tribute.

Reefer Madness 1) Reefer Madness

This little gem had an unlikely start in life. It was a Church-made morality tale about the evils of cannabis. That is until exploitation director Dwain Esper got his grubby mitts on it and with a bit of creative editing turned it into a camp, cult classic.

Now walks the earth as...
Not only is Reefer Madness still compulsive viewing in college dorms and share-houses the world over, it spawned its very own off-Broadway musical satire. Still not content to let it lie, Showtime turned that musical into a film, also called Reefer Madness, starring Kristen Bell and Alan Cumming.


Pussycat! Kill! Kill! 2) Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Ladies and Gentlemen -- welcome to violence. This Russ Meyer flick is what happens when angry young go-go dances go wild and it has everything a good little exploitation film could want: speed, sex and violent women.

Now walks the earth as...
You can hardly walk past an art house retrospective without tripping over this one. It has made some reverberations in the rock world having been sampled and referenced by The Cramps, The Killers, White Zombie, and of course, metal band, Faster Pussycat. There have also been some rumours that Tarantino may have a crack at remaking it but this has not been confirmed.

Shaft 3) Shaft

This is a blaxploitation film with some pretty good pedigree. Isaac Hayes won an Academy Award in 1971 for "Theme from Shaft" and the film was box office lightning on release. It is the story of the coolest black detective in history on the search for the missing daughter of a mobster.

Now walks the earth as...
It spawned two '70s sequels and a series of made-for-television movies. In 2000, director John Singleton brought the character back to life with his sequel, also entitled Shaft, starring Samuel L. Jackson. The original film has a place in the United States National Film Registry, preserved as a shining example of its genre.

Vanishing Point 4) Vanishing Point

Vanishing Point paid tribute to the 1970 Dodge Challenger in one of the great road trip films of the era. Car chases, hitchhikers and blind DJs are all a film really needed to find its way into the drive-ins of the early '70s. This one was a surprising box-office hit and captured an audience on the look-out for marginalised American anti-heroes cruising the highways at great speed.

Now walks the earth as...
Its re-make appeared in 1997 and was a little less successful. It starred Viggo_Mortensen and Jason Priestly. The original is still a staple in the DVD collections of those who love a grizzled anti-hero and Tarantino has called it one of the major influences for Death Proof.

Dawn of the Dead 5) Dawn of the Dead

George A. Romero's sequel to Night of the Living Dead is violent, gory and worshipped by horror fans the world over. Not only does it pack a punch on the terror front but also carries powerful metaphors for human emotional and commercial behaviour. It was critically acclaimed and a blow-away commercial success.

Now walks the earth as...
There are many cuts of Dawn of the Dead in existence, the most famous being Italian director, Dario Argento's 118 minute version called Zombi. A Japanese version exists that is so violence-free that it is reviled by the purists and the extremely long German version, can inspire riots of hatred. A slightly sanitised American version appeared in 1983 to be shown along with Creepshow but the extraordinary backlash resulted in it being pulled from public viewing. Hong-Kong comedy spoof, Bio Zombie, appeared in 1998. Dawn of the Dead was remade (or re-imagined as many prefer due to its reworking of the original story) in 2004 by director, Zack Snyder. It also underwent another re-imagining two weeks later when Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg set their much loved Shaun of the Dead loose on the world.

Cannibal Holocaust 6) Cannibal Holocaust

Ruggero Deodato holds the dubious honour of making one of the most graphic and controversial films in the genre. When the film was released in Italy he was immediately arrested for obscenity and held on suspicion of having made a snuff film due to the extreme graphic nature of the footage. He was released only when he was able to produce each actor alive and well. While it appears that the actors survived, many animals were slaughtered for his art.

Now walks the earth as...
Deodato is helping himself to some flesh-snacking seconds with his remake scheduled for release in 2009. It will be interesting to see if the director will match his original splash of controversy. It is safe to assume that animal welfare groups will have kept a fairly watchful eye over this set.

Coffy 7) Coffy

If Shaft was cool, Coffy was ice. Billed as the baddest one-chick-hit-squad on the block, this role of nurse turned vigilante catapulted Pam Grier to the position of Queen of the Blaxploitation pics.

Now walks the earth as...
Coffy was mirror-imaged three years after its release as The Sexy Killer (Du Hou Mi Shi) by Hong Kong director, Sun Chung. Chung loved it so much that he knocked it out again in 1977 as Lady Exterminator (A-Sir du hou lao hu qiang). 1981 saw the release of the whitest rendition of a blaxploitation film ever in Lovely But Deadly starring none other than our very own Mark Holden. Strong traces of Coffy can also be found in Kill Bill Volume 1 and Kill Bill Volume 2

Foxy Brown 8) Foxy Brown

This film started production as a sequel to Coffy but that idea was dropped and Pam Grier was reborn as brown sugar and spice, Foxy Brown. Foxy, like Coffy, is one sexy woman set on revenge and nothing will stand in her way. Despite following Coffy, Foxy Brown is often credited as the film that set the scene for strong, black women to rule the Blaxploitation screen.

Now walks the earth as...
Every time a strong woman appears on screen fighting for the power of good and her loved ones, there is a little bit of Foxy running through her motivation. Tarantino worships at her feet in the Grier vehicle, Jackie Brown, and like Coffy, Foxy's influence can be seen throughout the Kill Bills.

Ilsa, She 

Wolf of the SS 9) Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS

One of the more disturbing strands in the exploitation tail is the naziploitation film and Ilsa is the undisputed queen. Here she plays the warden of a Nazi death camp who performs horrendous and sexual experiments on her captors. One of the more intriguing elements of this movie is that it was filmed on the set of Hogan's Heroes. Go figure.

Now walks the earth as...
Ilsa had her share of sequels: Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks and Ilsa, the Tigress of Siberia. Ilsa, The Wicked Warden was also released under the titles Greta, The Mad Butcher and Wanda, the Wicked Warden. She has settled comfortably into the role of sadistic cult figure referenced in films, comics and videogames. Notably, she was an inspiration for video game, BloodRayne, and Rob Zombie's Grindhouse trailer, Werewolf Women of the SS.


the Valley of the Dolls 10) Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

This Ross Meyer / Roger Ebert collaboration is B-grade gold. It tells the story of all-girl rock band, The Kelly Affair, and their descent into the decadence of Hollywood. Not to be confused in any way with the Valley of the Dolls, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is hedonistic satire a-go-go.

Now walks the earth as...
Like many exploitation turned cult films, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls has grossed the lion share of its profits through DVD sales and the retro release circuit. This is one film that isn't going anywhere fast. It is heavily referenced in the Austin Powers films and by rock acts with glam leanings the world over. The Village Voice included it in its 100 Greatest Films of the Century in 2001.

Honorable mention:
An honorable mention goes to the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes which is about to be remade by Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine.

If you want more schlock, check out Rotten Tomatoes' definitive Grindhouse A to Z special. In this era of filmmaking when the remake is king, you can be guaranteed that many more of these little treats will come crawling back from the dead, so do your homework and be prepared.

Video Ezy is offering a two for the price of one special. Rent Death Proof today and rent Planet Terror free.


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