I’m a lover of all things bizarre. I also have an affection for the retro aesthetic of the 1970s. So the world of sexploitation movies and films fascinates me to no end. To such an extent, that I’ve developed a treasured collection of them over the years.
Often produced independently and with an exceptionally low budget, sexploitation films were largely shown in metropolitan grindhouse cinemas. These venues were arguably the forerunner to the adult porn cinemas which sprang up en masse from the 70s onwards.
Despite their shocking and often downright bizarre plotlines, the world of sexploitation films is a slice of movie history. In this article, we’re going to celebrate the aesthetic of some of the most controversial sexploitation movies ever made and delve into stuff like:
- A sexploitation movie that saw sexy truck stop hookers in a fierce gun battle with the Mafia.
- Early gay cinema sexploitation flicks that challenged the LGBT struggles of the 1970s.
- The infamous and controversial films centred around a globe-trotting, sadistic Dominatrix mercenary.
So, if you can take these controversial and sometimes offensive storylines, join me on a virtual journey into the provocative but aesthetic realm as we explore the most erotic, memorable, and graphic sexploitation films ever made…
Truck Stop Women, 1974.
I have a penchant for rough, rowdy, and brash truckers. So when I first saw the sexploitation film known as Truck Stop Women, I was entranced. Directed by Mark L. Lester and centred around a mom and daughter running a truck stop brothel in a violent feud with a mafia gang, it features sex, violence, bad acting, and much more!
I mean, what more could you want from a movie that starts with an over-the-top execution in a bathtub and ends with armed hookers in a gun battle? It also features the stunning Claudia Jennings who is either sporting go-go boots, short shorts, or completely nude through most of this flick.
This drive-in movie icon was made in the 1970s so is packed with unessential sexism, but it’s also smattered with a variety of feisty feminism, too. Especially in the form of Jennings and her brothel-owning mom, who are both tough as old boots.
These days, the realm of truck stop porn is a niche but rather a popular type of kink for many people. Did its roots begin with the sexploitation classic of Truck Stop Girls?
Sex World, 1978.
The era between the late 1960s and the late 1970s is described as the Golden age of porn and adult cinema”. Few sexploitation films back this claim up better than Sex World. Directed by and released in 1978, it’s imaginative, high-budget in comparison to similar flicks, and made history by challenging the racism of the 1970s.
Often described as the porn parody of Westworld, the story centres around a coach trip to a sex resort that provides the cure to the sexual hang-ups of the passengers on board. The resort is run by white-coated scientists and technicians who pair off the visitors with each other based on some fascinating factors.
For example, a man who holds racist views is paired with a gorgeous black woman to have sex with in order to change his mind. A frigid, sex-starved housewife typical of the 1970s is paired with a tender, experienced, and sensual lover.
Aside from the well-produced sex scenes, the characters in this movie are enthralling and you can’t help but want to get to know them. The story introduces the viewer to a wide mix of people and as you learn about their sexual desires, you’re rewarded with the chance to see them acted out. Overall, a fantastic piece of sexploitation cinema.
Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things, 1971.
It’s no secret that the early 1970s were a tough time for the LGBTQ+ community in the US. So in 1971, the release of Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things was nothing short of controversial. The film itself, despite its low budget and low quality, retains a cult following to this day.
The storyline centres around two eccentric male lovers who are also outlaws laying low from the law in a Florida safe house. One of the men dresses in drag as the other man’s aunt, named Martha, in an attempt to fool the authorities.
But when one of the men brings home a lusty blonde girl, she ends up murdered in a fit of jealous rage. What ensues is a descent into sex, violence, and mayhem that you won’t forget anytime soon.
Overall, Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Thing is an iconic piece of early gay cinema. It doesn’t shy away from controversial topics ranging from sexuality to extreme violence. There’s an equal balance between sex and gore in this flick, making it one of the most sought after sexploitation films.
The Mad Love Life of a Hot Vampire, 1971.
Next up we have one of the earliest and most underrated sexploitation films in the form of The Mad Love Life of a Hot Vampire. Made by cult horror director Dennis Ray Steckler, it’s one of his more overlooked movies. But is nonetheless a sexploitation classic.
The story centres around Count Dracula, played by Jim Parker, who has forsaken Transylvania for the less than suitable deserts of Arizona. The amount of sunlight isn’t ideal for Dracula, but this is made up for by his assortment of three vampire prostitutes.
These nocturnal whores are sent out each night to seduce men, suck their cocks, and then suck their blood. Some blood donors would consider it a fair deal, but I digress. If you’re a horror fan with a taste for sexploitation and retro porn, this Dennis Steckler classic is one to watch.
As well as a plethora of horror elements and classic 1970s humour, this film is packed with a lot of vampire sex. But as it’s made by Steckler, the sex scenes are well made and this director doesn’t just focus on the erotic crescendo but includes a lot more bang for your buck.
From gorgeous vampire whores who opt for sucking blood from the crotch rather than the neck (ouch) to a poorly equipped redneck vampire hunter killing people with a knitting needle, it’s a classic. It’s worth a watch just for the scene of Dracula’s hunchback assistant poorly attempting to fuck one of the vampire hookers, alone.
Ilsa, the Tigress of Siberia, 1977.
To round off, we head to the wild tundra of Russia’s Siberia to explore what is, in my opinion, the highlight of the infamous Ilsa trilogy. Who on earth is Ilsa? I hear you ask. Well, prepare yourself.
Ilsa was a character played by U.S. actress Dyanne Thorne. Tall, blonde, and stunning, Thorne also cut an image of a fearsome woman who was not to be messed with. A trait picked up by sexploitation movie producers.
Her 1975 appearance in Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS was notorious. Based on a notoriously evil real-life wife of the commandant of Buchenwald, Thorne portrayed the fictional sadistic and sexually voracious leader of a Nazi prison camp commandant.
Following the film’s controversy and subsequent cult following, the Ilsa character was rebranded as a heinous international dominatrix and mercenary as the creators aimed to move on from Nazi Germany. And after the controversy of Love Camp 7 in the same genre, it’s no surprise.
“From feeding men to Siberian tigers to nightly orgies between Ilsa and camp guards, the balance between sex, slaughter, and sleazy humour makes this 1977 sexploitation flick an unmissable classic.”
After dabbling in sex slave harems of the Middle East and an insane asylum in South America, their final destination was no less controversial. In the 1977 sexploitation film Ilsa, the Tigress of Siberia, she ditched her SS uniform and switched sides to join the Soviets.
In the wilds of the USSR, this mercenary dominatrix is known as ”Comrade Colonel”. In control of a 1953 Siberian gulag, she makes it her mission to destroy her male political prisoners both psychologically and physically.
Following the death of Stalin, Ilsa and her cohorts burn the camp down to destroy the evidence. But one man survives and tracks Ilsa down twenty years later to find she is running a successful brothel. And thus begins a sexploitation tale of violent revenge.
From a big-titted dominatrix in one half to a brothel madam in the other (with her breasts remaining just as phenomenal), the film is a rollercoaster through inventive torture and sleazy erotica.
From feeding men to Siberian tigers to nightly orgies between Ilsa and camp guards, the balance between sex, slaughter, and sleazy humour makes this 1977 sexploitation flick an unmissable classic.
And so, my dear readers, we reach the end of our journey through the classics of sexploitation cinema. Whilst they may often be low-budget, poorly produced, and with bad acting, these pieces of movie history should indeed be cherished.
From Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things challenging gay repression of the era to Sex World confronting bigotry and racial stereotypes, there is much more value to these films than meets the eye.
Who knows, many of them could have contributed to the more open-minded attitudes we hold today. Although, thankfully, mercenary dominatrixes like Ilsa are not prevalent.