From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
The GCDb Projectionists' Personal Favorite Exploitation Cinema Picks are a fine selection of our staff favorites, hand picked (our GCDb Top 20 is the result of a broader voting process and thus contains more 'obvious' choices). If you want to venture further, and want to understand how we tick, check these titles out:
Master of the Flying Guillotine (1976) (Jimmy Wang Yu).
I think this is one of the best martial arts movies ever made! Its also a perfect example of what a genuine "Grindhouse" film is. When you went to inner city Grindhouses, you'd walk up to the huge neon marquee, look up and see titles that would grab you. You'd look over to the one sheets on the theater walls and see colorful exploitation poster art that promised you the sky. It's basically how the distributors got you in the seats. The thing that's awesome about Master is that it totally delivers the goods. ONE: Its got a very cool double title card sequence (Master of The Flying Guillotine & One Armed Boxer Vs The Flying Guillotine), TWO: Some great Kiwi dubbing (New Zealand voice overs). A lot of people nowadays see dubbing as hokey and a bad thing but if you grew up in the 70s and 80s watching martial arts films, dubbing is just another part of the overall experience. THREE: It's got amazing and very artistic direction, special effects (see THE YOGA MASTER!) and stunts put together by two greats of the day: Jimmy Wang Yu & Lau Kar Leung. This movie not only gives you some great martial arts action, it breaks the rules and doesn't even have a hero who fights using his kung fu skills but by being a plain sneaky bastard. But I guess if you see what he's up against (the fatal flying guillotine), it gives him that right. When you see the Grill Hut sequence, you'll know what I mean by sneaky! FOUR: The score for the film is one of the coolest, created by the Kraut-Rock band Neu! The group samples kung fu screams and yells and mixes them into this bizarre rocking techno style that is ahead of its time when you realize that this film came out in the mid 70s. After seeing many kung fu films over the years, Master still holds up against the best. It's a film I can re-watch again and again with sheer delight. Highly recommended! Turn out the lights, get some popcorn and enjoy this Grindhouse kung fu classic! - Pete
I Drink Your Blood (1970) (David E. Durston)
You know you've struck gold once you find out that your expectations have been surpassed when you finally watch a movie and realize that it was better than the trailer---Which is certainly saying something considering the fact that the trailer for this particular classic already kicked all kinds of ass! Director David Durston may not have been known for a large filmography which stands out in a cinephile's mind, but what he did leave behind was what I consider a blueprint for a Drive-In/Grindhouse epic. And what helps make it special was that it was a hybrid of leftover B-movie horror ideas that were widely rampant from the 50's/60's (Think Red Scare or "Body Snatchers") and collided head first with what was left of the flower power age. The result? EXCESS and GORE! It shocks. It entertains. It's got colorful characters. It's got a great soundtrack. It's got it all. And that's all a grindhouse freak needs. - Laydback
Ed Demko's Pick
Cannibal Holocaust (1980) (Ruggero Deodato).
Cannibal Holocaust is in my opinion the greatest Exploitation film ever made. Since it was made in 1980 there has never been a film that has been able to match it's effectiveness as far as trying to literally scare the hell out of you. It's one of the most relentless movies I've ever witnessed and it's just as shocking and brutal today than it's ever been. Featuring footage shot straight in the Amazon rainforest along with real animal killings the movie has remained as a truly historic piece of filmmaking that could never be recreated. Those facts alone are the reason why this is the pinnacle of Exploitation filmmaking at its finest and it's a serious approach to the subject matter which makes it more effective than the numerous ripoffs that have been released since its creation. - Ed Demko
Dawn Of The Dead (1978) (George A. Romero).
A cinematic masterpiece that will leave you craving for more. This jaw-dropping, high-brow zombie romp is without a doubt George A. Romero's best living dead installment out of the four (soon to be five). When I first popped this badboy in my DVD player, my entire life changed in a flash. Never in my life would I look at shopping malls the same way! This film opened my eyes to consumerism and how we nurture our lives by adding these meaningless things and give them value, when in all trueness - they aren't worth a damn thing! Everything from set locations to colorful characters, and a non plot-induced story makes Dawn Of The Dead a unique and artistic experience that will never be matched by any other film in this world. Like Roger so explicitly says, this film is "Perfect, baby...perfect". - Biohazard
Zombi 2 (1979) (Lucio Fulci).
From the first thundering drumbeat of Fabio Frizzi’s synth-driven score to the wonderfully bleak GW Bridge finale, Zombi 2 packs something exhilarating into every moment, officially placing it atop the throne of my exploitation cinema kingdom. Playing like a cross between living dead horror and island adventure, Zombi 2 goes above and beyond the call of duty, allowing the viewer to feast on never-before-seen wonders ranging from an underwater shark vs. zombie battle to a ruthlessly brutal scene of ocular trauma. It also includes the finest zombie onslaught of all-time, culminating in a “barn-burning” finale that is so riddled with bullets, flesh wounds, and Molotov cocktails that it could send even the most seasoned viewer into sensory overload. Not letting up for a minute, director Lucio Fulci manages to pull out all the stops and give his audience as much zombie terror and excitement as 90 minutes of film can hold. His reckless, “all-or-nothing” attitude is something that inspired future filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, giving them a steady diet of unlimited enthusiasm and imagination. - Mdeapo
La Mala Ordina (1972) (Fernando DiLeo).
Manhunt, or The Italian Connection is an amazing little crime film. It was my introduction to the Italian crime genre and to this day is one of my favorites. It also ignited my love for Mario Adorf. He makes for a very unlikely hero (anti-hero) as a pudgy pimp, but he pulls it off extremely well. The film is a great introduction to the possibilities this genre presents and is in the public domain in the US. The public domain version (not the best one) can be found on many public domain sites, so you have no reason not to try the film out. - Helu0302
They Came To Rob Las Vegas (1968, Antonio Isasi-Isasmendi)
It's not really a genre, but it is in my world, sort of like sorting your collection autobiographically - I'm calling it a midnight movie because I got to discover and love it watching it on TV late at night. Same with Rollerball by the way. It's a Euro-flavored heist film with an all star cast, the classic look of the era, a cool soundtrack (by the way the composer Georges Garvarentz has over 100 credits under his belt including for example That Man in Istanbul), silly ideas and some ballsy premises. Director Isasi-Isasmendi's best movie if you ask me, way better than Summertime Killer. You got Elke Sommer, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Palance and Gary Lockwood. What a cast! There are few movies for me that capture the crime movie vibe of the era like this one, another one maybe being Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, but not in the same way this one really pulls out all the stops. - Seb
Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959, Ed Wood, Jr.)
Famously inept, illogical, cheap-as-can-be, unfairly and inaccurately labeled "the worst film ever made," Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space is a masterpiece, the best bad movie ever made. You have bad actors delivering bad dialogue, bad science ("Solarite bombs!"), Wood's wife's chiropractor running around with a cape over his face (because Bela Lugosi had died before Wood had figured out how to work his final footage into a film) doing nothing that has anything to do with the plot...You either love Plan 9 From Outer Space or you hate it, there is no middle ground. It's not that Ed Wood deliberately set out to make bad movies, it's that he simply couldn't make good ones. It's sort of like that old saying, "A friend is someone who knows you but likes you anyway." If you disagree, well, as Eros (Dudley Manlove) says, "ALL YOU OF EARTH ARE IDIOTS!" - JKData