Exploitation films are typically low-budget movies that exploit popular trends, niche genres, or controversial topics to appeal to a specific market. Horror exploitation films often combine elements of horror, thriller, slasher, and splatter genres, and sometimes incorporate themes of cannibalism, torture, rape, and revenge.
Some of the characteristics of horror exploitation films are:
- Excessive and realistic gore: Horror exploitation films use special effects, makeup, and props to create scenes of bloodshed, mutilation, dismemberment, and death. These scenes are often prolonged, graphic, and detailed, showing the suffering and agony of the victims. Examples of films that use excessive gore are The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Cannibal Holocaust, and Saw.
- Sexual violence and nudity: Horror exploitation films often feature scenes of sexual assault, rape, and torture, usually involving female characters. These scenes are meant to shock, disgust, or titillate the viewers, and sometimes serve as a motivation for the characters’ actions. Examples of films that use sexual violence and nudity are I Spit on Your Grave, The Last House on the Left, and Hostel.
- Controversial and taboo topics: Horror exploitation films often deal with themes and issues that are considered taboo, immoral, or illegal in society, such as cannibalism, incest, necrophilia, snuff, and human trafficking. These films challenge the norms and values of the mainstream culture, and sometimes offer a critique or commentary on social problems. Examples of films that use controversial and taboo topics are The Human Centipede, A Serbian Film, and The Green Inferno.
- Low production values and amateur actors: Horror exploitation films are usually made with low budgets, limited resources, and inexperienced actors. These films often have poor lighting, sound, editing, and cinematography, and sometimes use documentary or found footage style to create a sense of realism and authenticity. Examples of films that use low production values and amateur actors are The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, and REC.
Main image: Tenebrae (1982)