15 Sleazy ’70s Movies That Don’t Need Your Respect

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Welcome to the wild ride through the world of ’70s cinema, a decade defined by boundary-pushing films that demanded attention. These movies, often dismissed as sleazy or disreputable, dared to explore the unorthodox, shocking, and scandalous.

Filmmakers took risks, treating audiences to an exciting and unpredictable cinematic feast. So buckle up for 15 sleazy ’70s movies that defied norms and reveled in audacity!

“Caligula (1979)”

15 Sleazy '70s Movies That Don't Need Your Respect
Helen Mirren in Caligula (1979)

Caligula is a controversial Italian-American film directed by Tinto Brass and starring Malcolm McDowell as the notorious Roman emperor. It follows Caligula’s rise to power, reign of terror, and eventual downfall. It has been lauded for its artistry and condemnation by some for its graphic depictions of se x and v!olence.

“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)”

15 Sleazy '70s Movies That Don't Need Your Respect
Marilyn Burns in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is a renowned horror film directed by Tobe Hooper. It revolves around a group of friends stranded in rural Texas and hunted by a family of cann!bals headed by the fearsome Leatherface.

“Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS (1975)”

15 Sleazy '70s Movies That Don't Need Your Respect
Dyanne Thorne in Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975)

Known as one of the sleazy movies, “Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS” is a Canadian film directed by Don Edmonds. The plot revolves around an evil Nazi warden’s attempt to prove women’s endurance in Hitler’s cause through questionable “experiments” on scantily clad women.

The film even caught the attention of renowned critic Gene Siskel, who famously labeled it “the epitome of moral depravity.”

“The Driller Killer (1979)”

15 Sleazy '70s Movies That Don't Need Your Respect
Abel Ferrara in The Driller Killer (1979)

Abel Ferrara has made some real cinematic gems in his career, but his debut feature, “The Driller Killer,” was a total showstopper. He directed the film and made a memorable appearance in it.

This thought-provoking piece dives into the life of a tormented NYC artist who channels urban angst through a power tool, finding solace in the process. The movie caused quite a stir in the U.K. as it landed on their infamous list of “video nasties” with its provocative content.

“Dolemite (1975)”

15 Sleazy '70s Movies That Don't Need Your Respect
Brenda DeLong, Rudy Ray Moore, Terri Mosley, Marilyn Shaw, and Lynell Smith in Dolemite (1975)

We can’t deny that we adore Dolemite, but when the main guy in the flick is a p!mp, you know you’re in for a bit of a shady flick.

Rudy Ray Moore’s captivating Blaxploitation legend was born out of his raunchy standup comedy acts: he’d spin tales of a street-smart hustler named Dolemite who proudly proclaimed, “Dolemite is my name and messing up folks is my game.” Hats off to Dolemite for making our lineup of films that depict se x work as fun and thrilling.

“A Cruel Picture (1973)”

15 Sleazy '70s Movies That Don't Need Your Respect
Christina Lindberg in Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1973)

Regarded as an exceptional exploitation film, this Swedish masterpiece by director Bo Arne Vibenius features Christina Lindberg as a silenced protagonist who undergoes an incredible series of traumas. Armed with a double-barrel shotgun, she embarks on a mission of well-deserved revenge against her tormentors.

“The Last House on the Left (1972)”

15 Sleazy '70s Movies That Don't Need Your Respect
Sandra Peabody and Lucy Grantham in The Last House on the Left (1972)

Filmmaker Wes Craven introduced himself to the world with his directorial debut, “Last House on the Left.” The story follows two teenage girls on their way to a rock concert, attempting to obtain marijuana.

Unfortunately, they find themselves in the clutches of a gang of sadistic convicts subjected to brutal treatment.

“I Spit on Your Grave (1978)”

15 Sleazy '70s Movies That Don't Need Your Respect
Camille Keaton in I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

Upon release, “I Spit on Your Grave” garnered significant criticism. The controversial exploitation film, masterfully crafted by Meir Zarchi, follows Jennifer Hills, an aspiring writer who rents a cabin in rural Connecticut.

Tragically, she falls victim to a brutal gang sexu@l assault by four local men. Resolute in her determination, Jennifer embarks on a relentless quest for revenge against her attackers.

“Salo (1975)”

15 Sleazy '70s Movies That Don't Need Your Respect
Sergio Fascetti in Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

Inspired by Marquis de Sade’s writings, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film explores the disturbing tale of a totalitarian regime that subjects a group of adolescents to unimaginable torment over 120 days. Just think of the grossest things you can imagine – we promise they’re all in Salo.

“Saturday Night Fever (1977)”

15 Sleazy '70s Movies That Don't Need Your Respect
John Travolta and Karen Lynn Gorney in Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Saturday Night Fever delves into the complex character of Tony Manero, offering a thought-provoking exploration. It fearlessly confronts themes of rac!sm and sexu@l violence. Tony’s portrayal challenges idealized notions of heroism.

“Mandingo (1975)”

15 Sleazy '70s Movies That Don't Need Your Respect
Perry King and Ken Norton in Mandingo (1975)

Another controversial movie of the ’70s, this one examines race relations in America. It tells the story of an enslaved person on a plantation who is pitted against his master’s son in brutal fights to the death. It shows how racism and bigotry can devastate both victims and perpetrators.

“Faces of Death (1978)”

15 Sleazy '70s Movies That Don't Need Your Respect
Faces of Death (1978)

This cult classic is not meant to be taken seriously – it’s a tongue-in-cheek exploration of death and its various faces. It features gruesome scenes of natural deaths, as well as simulated ones.

Despite its macabre premise, the movie contains subtle messages about society’s attitudes toward death and violence.

“Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Song (1971)”

15 Sleazy '70s Movies That Don't Need Your Respect
Melvin Van Peebles in Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Song (1971)

This groundbreaking movie was one of the first “blaxploitation” films. It follows Sweet Sweetback, a Black man on the run from the law who is determined to fight for his freedom.

This film inspired many later black filmmakers and challenged stereotypes about African Americans in Hollywood.

“Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)”

15 Sleazy '70s Movies That Don't Need Your Respect
Photo by Stanley Bielecki

Russ Meyer’s cult classic follows the adventures of an all-girl rock band as they navigate a wild and dangerous world filled with hedon!sm, dru gs, and v!olence. The film was an early example of self-aware satire that pushed boundaries in its depictions of sexu@lity and gender roles.

“Cann!bal Holocaust (1980)”

15 Sleazy '70s Movies That Don't Need Your Respect
Salvatore Basile and Robert Kerman in Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

From the infamous director, Ruggero Deodato, comes this gruesome horror film. It follows a documentary film crew that encounters a tribe of cannibals in the Amazon rainforest.

The movie is renowned for its striking visuals and was banned in some countries due to its use of natural animal death scenes. Despite this, it has become a cult classic among horror fans.

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