[[caption-width-right:350:[[ComicallyMissingThePoint Perhaps it's a light family-friendly comedy?]]]]

->''"It's almost as if this movie is some kind of exploitative piece that likes showing violence and naked women for no reason whatsoever. There really should be a name for this genre. Exploit...? Exploitate...? Ahh, I'll think of it later."''
-->-- '''WebVideo/TheCinemaSnob'''

A film which focuses on morbid elements a lot, the type of morbid elements that fascinate or excite people. For example, a crime movie which focuses more on the details of committing the crime or its effects on the victim, rather than the efforts to solve it. Or a movie that's excessively violent for no real reason. In fact, that - excessive violence or sexuality - seems to be the main definition of an exploitation film. "Raw" is the name of the game. Bonus points if the production has that "low-budget" feel to it, though it isn't strictly necessary.

In the past, such films were sometimes made featuring lurid scenes with the supposed intent to be educational, such as ''Film/ReeferMadness''. However, the lurid scenes were often meant to be the main source of entertainment.

In TheSixties and TheSeventies, these films reached something of a Golden Age--perhaps in response to the "arty" mainstream films of the [[UsefulNotes/NewHollywood Hollywood Renaissance]]. This was the era of drive-in "grindhouse" double-features and limited releases touring around the country with crackly prints and at times missing reels. It was also the era of {{Blaxploitation}}.

It's sometimes debatable as to whether a given film is an Exploitation Film or not. If there's a heavy emphasis on plot and background detail, yet at the same time the visceral elements are emphasized and played up in detail, then people will disagree on whether or not it fits this category. For example, ''Film/ThePassionOfTheChrist'' goes into a ton of detail in watching {{Jesus}} be tortured. Yet, many churches were turning out in droves to see it, despite it being a film that consists of two hours of torture followed by the death of the lead character. Due to the movie's theme and background material, some argue that it isn't exploitation at all, since Jesus's torture was not intended for the audience's excitement, while others argue precisely the contrary.

That's part of the dividing line. Is the violence or sexuality contained within a movie gratuitous, meant largely for entertainment? Or is it used to enhance the plot or theme? Since ''Literature/TheGirlNextDoor'' is a fictionalized story based on a true crime involving a real girl who was systematically abused by her family, what is it? Is it exploitation because the story itself is fictionalized and involves made-up characters instead of literally retelling the story of the crime? And even if it did retell the story of actual crime, would it still be exploitation?

Because one person's "gritty realistic drama" is another's form of entertainment in the "grit" itself, the line can sometimes be pretty thin.

Most exploitation films, by their nature, tend to be [[BMovie B-movies]].

A SuperTrope to {{Blaxploitation}}, CannibalFilm, {{Mondo}}, and {{Nazisploitation}}.

Compare VideoNasties ([[YouCanPanicNow moral panic]] about these films that occurred in Britain in TheEighties), {{Gorn}}, TorturePorn, {{Euroshlock}} (which is commonly accused of this).
!!Examples will be subjective:

* ''Film/TheKiss'' (1896): This movie features a couple kissing and gives the audience exactly what it wants to see within the 18 seconds of its length. Rather tame according to today's norms, but at the time it was considered daring and caused moral outrage. Many people felt this picture was "disgusting" and "pornographic" and tried to have it banned.
* ''Film/TrafficInSouls'' (1913), about "white slavery" (forced prostitution) is probably the UrExample.
* ''Film/ReeferMadness'' (1932) is an odd case. It was originally created by a church in an attempt to warn about the dangers of marijuana, and was titled ''Tell Your Children''. A company specializing in exploitation films bought the rights to it and spiced it up with extra scenes and a new title, changing it into an intentional exploitation film.
* ''Film/ChildBride'' (1938) was a rather infamous one back in the day. It was ''supposed'' to be an indictment of irregular marriage laws in the Appalachian Mountains. So why the extended scene of a naked 12-year old girl going swimming?
** This one is infamous for being a movie the ''[[Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000 MST3K]]'' crew ''[[EveryoneHasStandards refused to riff on]]''. (and WebVideo/TheCinemaSnob had a difficult time reviewing it as well!)
* ''Film/MondoCane (1965)'': A "documentary" showing bizarre scenes filmed at various places across the world. Became a series that inspired various rip-off movies, all featuring shocking imagery of sex, nudity, violence and death. Sometimes staged. Sometimes not.
* ''Film/GoodbyeUncleTom'' (1971) is a {{Mondo}} film showing the degrading conditions in which black African slaves used to live. The film is far from subtle and notorious for creating walk-outs and riots among viewers.
* ''Film/TheLastHouseOnTheLeft'' (1972): Wes Craven's debut film about a group of girls who get kidnapped, raped and murdered by a bunch of psychopaths [[spoiler:who are then killed off by the girls' parents]].
* ''Film/IlsaSheWolfOfTheSS'' (1974) is a erotic film set in a Nazi concentration camp, featuring the most famous example of {{Nazisploitation}} ever.
* ''Film/ISpitOnYourGrave'' (1979): A woman gets raped in a long sequence and then takes revenge on her former attackers.
* ''Film/CannibalHolocaust'' (1979/1980) is a film within a film featuring a documentary team's ill fated journey into the "Green Inferno" of South America. It sparked murder charges in Italy when it was released due to the graphic portrayals of violence onscreen leading to accusations of being a SnuffFilm, as well as charges for animal cruelty due to the onscreen deaths of real animals. It also was banned in Britain as one of the VideoNasties.
* ''Film/{{Caligula}}'' (1979): This infamous adaptation of the life of Roman Emperor Caligula is rather odd for an exploitation film, as it had a relatively large budget and featured A-List actors (including Malcolm [=McDowell=], Peter O'Toole, and Helen Mirren). However, it also featured enough controversial imagery, including strong violence and ''extremely'' hardcore sex, to make it a definitive example of this trope.
* ''Film/MadMax'' and its sequel ''The Road Warrior'': "Low-budget" Australian thrillers making use of the Outback desert, trucks, cars, leather, and garbage. The films that made Creator/MelGibson famous. The third movie, ''Film/MadMaxBeyondThunderdome'', doesn't have the low-budget "feel" to it and isn't nearly as "raw".
* ''Film/MenBehindTheSun'' (1988), a Chinese film about the war crimes of ImperialJapan's infamous Unit 731, which blurs the lines between exploitation & docudrama. Which is quite appropriate, considering it's about a bunch of people who made their living not so much blurring the line between scientific research & sadistic torture, as [[{{Metaphorgotten}} injecting horse urine into its kidneys & feeding it to its cellmate...]]
* ''Film/TheUntoldStory'' (1993) is a supposedly true story about a restaurant owner who killed a family (and a few employees) and fed them to his customers.
* ''The Candy Snatchers'' is a crime movie about the kidnapping of a Catholic schoolgirl (called Candy, hence the name). The movie focuses heavily on her plight, and the things that go wrong with the kidnapping. Meanwhile, the poor kidnap victim is seen BoundAndGagged an awful lot throughout the entire movie. [[DownerEnding It does not end well.]]
* ''HardCandy'' is about a teenage girl who knocks out and ties up a pedophile photographer whose house she visits. The entire movie is pretty much about her trying to extract information and confessions from him, using threats and torture.
* ''Film/TheGirlNextDoor2007'' is about a teenage girl who is held captive and horribly mistreated by her adoptive family. It's based on a novel which in turn is inspired by a similar horrible real life case.
** ''Film/AnAmericanCrime'' (2007 film, as there is another film with the same name!) is based on the case more directly, but goes out of its way to humanize the characters and go into detail about other things, leaving most of the tortures implied rather than shown. Yet, ironically, perhaps because it's directly based on the real life torture case and not simply being inspired by it, some reviewers accused ''this'' movie of being exploitative, even though it held back in the portrayals of violence.
* ''Film/{{Grindhouse}}'' (2007) was an AffectionateParody of the exploitation films of the 1970s. ("Grindhouse" being a slang term for the type of theater that specialized in showing actual films of this Trope.)
** And both of the films spun out of ''Grindhouse'' [[RealTrailerFakeMovie Fake Trailers]], ''Film/{{Machete}}'' and ''Film/HoboWithAShotgun''.
* ''Teenage Mother'', everything that ''Film/{{Juno}}'' was not.
* ''Film/TokyoGorePolice'' (2008). The main page says it all: "What ensues is almost two hours-worth of decapitations, dismemberments, disembowelments, katanas, chainsaw duels, penises that double as guns, vagina monsters that eat people, breasts that squirt acid and people propelling themselves into the air with gouts of blood among other things."
* ''Film/ASerbianFilm (2010)'': Infamous Serbian film about a porn actor forced to commit all kinds of depraved sex scenes.
* ''[[Film/TheHumanCentipede The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence]]'' is a somewhat notorious example, delivering the much-anticipated gore that was missing from the original, upping the victim count from 3 to 12 and including gems such as [[spoiler: barbed wire rape, sandpaper masturbation, newborn stomping, tongue extraction and laxative-induced coprophagia.]] Some of it's scenes were extreme enough for it be [[BannedInChina Banned In The UK]] and, allegedly, converted to black-and-white to allow for a wider release.
* A lot of the {{Spaghetti Western}}s were either these or interpreted as these, although by the standards of nowadays they seem quite tame and kind of arty.
* ''Film/SinCity'' is exploitation-noir, which is probably a bit of a rarity.
** It may be that exploitation films are what FilmNoir evolved into, since Noir represented the first push against the restrictions of UsefulNotes/TheHaysCode, and exploitation films broke the Code down completely. Exploitation films tended to deal with material [[IncrediblyLamePun much darker even than Noir]].
* Current exploitation films tend to be very tongue-in-cheek and revel in the genre. Such examples include ''Film/{{Machete}}'', ''Film/HoboWithAShotgun'', and ''Film/BigTitsZombie''. All three movies are filled with over-the-top violence and nudity and are mostly PlayedForLaughs.
* Many of Creator/TheAsylum's movies, especially the horror rip-offs, would fit right in here, to the point that they wouldn't seem ''that'' out of place playing in a 70's Grindhouse theater. This is largely due to them being direct to [=DVD=], and therefore able to get away with a lot more sex and violence than [[TheMockbuster the movies they're ripping off.]]
* ''Forced Entry'' is said by some to be the first "deranged Vietnam veteran" film, and follows an unnamed former soldier as he stalks, rapes, tortures and kills random women. It features a lot of actual war footage, so we're shown women being abused alongside shots of gun battles, the wounded and dying, mass graves, bombs being dropped, etc. Oh, and it's a hardcore porno.
* ''Not Quite Hollywood'' is a documentary on UsefulNotes/{{Australia}}'s exploitation film industry of the 1970s and 80s, dubbed 'Ozsploitation'. Films featured include ''Film/AlvinPurple'', ''Barry [=McKenzie=] Holds His Own'', ''Film/DeadEndDriveIn'', ''Film/LongWeekend'', ''Film/MadMax'', ''Film/TheManFromHongKong'', ''Film/{{Patrick}}'', ''Film/{{Razorback}}'', ''Film/RoadGames'', ''Stork'', ''Film/NextOfKin1982'', and ''Film/TurkeyShoot''.
* ''[[Anime/{{Mnemosyne}} Rin Daughters Of Mnemosyne]]'' features so many lesbian sex scenes, [[AttemptedRape attempted rapes]], [[ColdBloodedTorture torture scenes]] and gore that it feels very much like the anime version of an exploitation movie.
** There were also a large number of [=OVAs=] and anime movies in the 80's and 90's that were exported across the pond (mainly because of MangaEntertainment picking them up because they were so bad that you could get the license to them for a song) that practically reveled in graphic violence, nudity and sex. For every ''Franchise/GhostInTheShell'' or ''Manga/{{Akira}}'', there was a large handful of ''Manga/MadBull34'' and ''Anime/{{Genocyber}}''. And who the hell knows which category ''Anime/NinjaScroll'' belongs to.
** Related to above, Hentai OVA adaptations of gorn-tastic PornWithoutPlot {{Eroge}} tends to head into this way. The original source materials are no better.
* As seen in the page quote, WebVideo/TheCinemaSnob reviews z-grade exploitation movies, and even made [[WebVideo/TheHookerWithAHeartOfGold his own exploitation mini-series.]]
* Pretty much anything made by Creator/{{Troma}}.
* The ''Film/FacesOfDeath'' series, which was pretty much just a bunch of allegedly-real graphic footage strung together (though some of the footage ''was'' real...though the real footage slowly disappeared from the movies as the series went on.)
* The 2004 film ''Film/{{Paparazzi}}'' features a celebrity who's family is hospitalized after a car wreck caused by over-the-top evil {{Paparazzi}}, and turns into what feels like some celebrity's revenge fantasy when he starts going on a paparazzi killing spree.
* The early Creator/PamGrier movie ''Film/BlackMamaWhiteMama'' starts in a women's prison and then follows the two protagonists as they escape and have to make their way, still chained together, across a tropical island while hunted both by the police and two criminal gangs. It contains a fair amount of graphic violence but is notable mostly for the enormous amount of FanService and female nudity.
* ''Film/TheClonesOfBruceLee'' is one of the most notorious of the so-called "Brucesploitation" movies, made to cash on the late Creator/BruceLee's popularity. Three {{Bruce Lee Clone}}s work together to stop a MadScientist from [[TakeOverTheWorld Taking Over the World]].
* ''Film/{{Savaged}}'': A young woman is raped and murdered by rednecks, possessed by an Apache ghost, and seeks revenge. Features a man being disemboweled [[GrievousBottleyHarm with a broken bottle]].