The Blaxploitation movie double feature


The blaxploitation genre is an incredible example of how an idea can happen in cinema, explode in popularity and then disappear quick. It was a corny idea in the first place, really. Built on clichés such as drug dealers, pimp and pros and featuring as many negative white stereotypes as black ones the blaxploitation film is a classic example of how an exploitation genre can explode before trailing away fast under its own weight.

Despite this there is plenty to be said for the genre, which is worth watching just for the style if anything else. Shaft, for example, is one of the prototypes for the genre and still one of the coolest films.

Shaft (1971) features an amazing theme song from Issac Hayes, plenty of tough talk and the seedy side of Harlem life. It also features Richard Roundtree aching with cool as he plays the private detective looking for a gangster’s daughter.

After that let’s take a look at some of the sillier iterations of the genre. It wasn’t all crime, for  example.

The trailers were all classic exploitation fodder. One of my favourites is this one

On to our final feature and this is another classic. Pam Grier was a queen of the blaxploitation genre and made many great B Movies. But it’s here that she really showed the world how cool she could be.

Coffy (1973) story is of a woman who works as a nurse during the day and a vigilante at night, cleaning up corrupt cops and mafia members as she goes. With a funk soundtrack and a strong central performance it is an example of a movie that is more than just style.

After five years the genre was already ebbing away, although there is still a lot to be said for anything this cool.

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