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Steve Chibnall


Exploitation films

This paper discussed one of the critically marginalised aspects of 1970s cinema, the British sexploitation film. The first section highlighted the problems of defining the side-range of exploitation films as a cohesive genre and discussed the importance of such films as examples of successful, cost-efficient filmmaking which could be seen to have 'saved' the British Film Industry in a period of financial instability and economic fragmentation. The production context and changing culture of permission which led to the creation of these films was also briefly outlined.

The paper then discussed the different types of sexploitation films, from serious documentaries, such as The Language of Love and Love Variations to 'Mondo' films which took a more serious approach, the consumerist, popular approach typified by the Confessions of series to the drama documentaries which aimed to expose vice and highlight youthful misdemeanours such as Take an easy ride (1976).

The second half of the paper focused on audiences and the way in which different types of exploitation films were aimed at specific audiences and in doing so crossed over into mainstream cinema. Films such as Groupie Girl drew on the counter-culture movement, whilst The Wife Swappers depicted a new sexual subculture of the bored housewife and the suburban swinging couple.

Overall the paper argued for the reconsideration of sexploitation films due to their centrality and importance within 1970s mainstream cinema. The variety of sexploitation films was again highlighted to reflect the diversity of audiences and the shift in sexploitation from the margins to the mainstream in a way not seen before in British Cinema.