The Best Blaxploitation Movies Ever Made, Ranked - Featured (1)

Blaxploitation films comprise one of the many sub-genres that fall under the “Grindhouse” umbrella — exploitation films made throughout the late ’60s and ’70s. The term “blaxploitation film” itself is a portmanteau of the words “black” and “exploitation.” Black exploitation films were arguably the most important sub-genre to come out of the entire Grindhouse film movement. The films of the black exploitation movie era hold a special place in history. Join us in celebrating the best blaxploitation films ever made.

Blaxploitation horror movies

10. Ganja and Hess (1973)

Updated trailer for the 2018 re-release

Within the broader blaxploitation movie subgenre, there exists a number of blaxploitation horror movies. Ganja and Hess is not just an important film of the blaxploitation genre, but also undeniably important to black horror as a whole. The film is a creative twist on the tropes and archetypes of vampire films.

Be careful when selecting which version to watch as there are many alternate cuts and titles. Heavily edited versions of Ganja and Hess can be found going under the titles of Blood Couple and Double Possession.

For a more modern take on the story you can look to Spike Lee’s maligned 2014 remake of Ganja and Hess titled Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. The remake brings a fresh take to the material and is one of Spike Lee's best movies.

65%
craft
85%
creativity
60%
legacy
75%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Creativity
  • Imagery
  • N/A
  • Editing
  • Unfocused
  • N/A

Best blaxploitation movies of the 70s

Conclusion

Ganja and Hess is an atmospheric pseudo-vampire film bursting with creativity.

Blaxploitation movies list

9. Blacula (1972)

In the mood for 70s sleaze yet?

Blacula might be rougher around the edges than the most popular Dracula movies, but don’t let that scare you off. The character of Blacula, played brilliantly by William Marshall, was African royalty in the 1700s until he was bit by the one and only Count Dracula. Now he stalks the streets of modern day Los Angeles in search of fresh blood.

If you’re in the mood for more horror, be sure to check out our list of the Best Horror Films of All Time.

75%
craft
60%
creativity
80%
legacy
78%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Lead Performance
  • Gripping Cinematography
  • Some Impressive SFX
  • Super Cheesy
  • Weak supporting cast
  • N/A

The best 1970s blaxploitation movies

Conclusion

Blacula is given serious gravitas but William Marshall’s performance and through notable cinematography for the time and budget. One of the overall best blaxploitation horror movies.

70s blaxploitation movies list

8. Cleopatra Jones (1973)

The film grain is complementary

Cleopatra Jones is one of many blaxploitation films that cast black women in badass starring roles at a time when Hollywood was still largely hesitant to offer major roles to women or African Americans.

The film follows the titular character as a U.S. special agent taking on the war on drugs with violent flare. Cleopatra Jones isn’t particularly well made on a technical level, but it is a classic example of an empowering message elevating a film as a whole.

55%
craft
70%
creativity
75%
legacy
80%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Strong Messaging
  • Fun action
  • N/A
  • Technical qualities
  • N/A
  • N/A

The best classic blaxploitation movies

Conclusion

Cleopatra Jones, "the soul sister's answer to James Bond," is action-packed and delivers a worthwhile statement.

Top blaxploitation movies

7. The Mack (1973)

Featuring Max Julien and Richard Pryor

The Mack tells the story of an ex-con who rises to the top of the pimping game. The narrative is wrapped up in socially relevant issues including prostitution, drug use, street crime, and even the Civil Rights Movement. The Mack is sometimes called the crown jewel of pimp movies, a subject often featured in other blaxploitation films of the era.

70%
craft
75%
creativity
80%
legacy
81%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Stylish
  • Subject matter
  • Early Richard Pryor
  • Rough edges
  • Low budget
  • N/A

Blaxploitation films

Conclusion

The Mack is an exciting classic of the 1970s blaxploitation movie genre. This one is definitely worth checking out.

Black exploitation movies

6. Truck Turner (1974)

Tell ‘em you been hit by a truck

Legendary soul singer Isaac Hayes stars as Mac ‘Truck’ Turner, a ex-football player turned bounty hunter who carries out his brand of justice on the mean streets of Los Angeles. Though best known for his music career, Isaac Hayes’ connection to blaxploitation cinema runs deep. See him in action again in Tough Guys or hear his dulcet tones in the iconic theme song for Shaft.

80%
craft
80%
creativity
70%
legacy
83%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Isaac Hayes
  • Action
  • Cool factor
  • Simplistic story
  • N/A
  • N/A

Black exploitation movies list

Conclusion

With solid action and dynamic characters, Truck Turner’s cool factor is through the roof.

The best blaxploitation movies

5. Dolemite (1975)

Dolemite is my name!

Dolemite is Rudy Ray Moore’s endlessly entertaining pimp vs. police action comedy. The film recently received a signal boost from the Eddie Murphy led Dolemite is My Name biopic, which is also worth watching. Dolemite is quite poorly made, but in the best possible way.

The shortcomings of Dolemite add immensely to the film’s already overwhelming sense of charm. Rudy Ray Moore’s other efforts in the blaxploitation genre are also worth seeking out; The Human Tornado, Petey Wheatstraw and a number of others.

40%
craft
100%
creativity
85%
legacy
84%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Wild plot
  • Pure entertainment Factor
  • N/A
  • Technical aspects
  • Jarring tonal shifts
  • N/A

1970s blaxploitation movies

Conclusion

Get together with some friends and have a Dolemite marathon. You are sure to have a good time.

List of blaxploitation films

4. Coffy (1973)

This is the end of your rotten life

It would be a crime against cinema to make a blaxploitation movies of the '70s list without a high-ranking Pam Grier entry. Coffy is one of many '70s Pam Grier vehicles that could land a spot on this list. A few other Pam Grier blaxploitation films worth seeking out are Foxy Brown, Black Mama White Mama, and Friday Foster among at least a half-dozen others. Coffy tells the violent revenge story of a nurse seeking vigilante justice for the death of her little sister.

85%
craft
80%
creativity
90%
legacy
86%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Pam Grier
  • Brutal violence
  • Pulls no punches
  • Script
  • N/A
  • N/A

Blaxploitation movies of the 1970s

Conclusion

Pam Grier is in top bad-ass form as the titular Coffy, long before her mainstream breakout in Tarantino's Jackie Brown.

The best blaxploitation movies

3. Super Fly (1972)

He ain’t just fly, he’s Super Fly

Super Fly is a classic story of a man vs. “the man.” Ron O’Neal plays Priest, a coke dealer on the run from the mob and up against the powers that be, scrounging for “one last score.” Easily one of the most iconic blaxploitation films of all time, and a great representation of the genre’s best qualities.

80%
craft
80%
creativity
100%
legacy
88%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Distills genre staples
  • Curtis Mayfield Soundtrack
  • Stylish beyond belief
  • Some goofiness
  • N/A
  • N/A

Blaxploitation movies list

Conclusion

Super Fly functions as a great blaxploitation film and a complete time capsule of an important moment in history.

Top blaxploitation movies

2. Shaft (1971)

Can ya dig it?

Gordon Parks’ classic story of New York private eye John Shaft taking on the white mafia. Richard Roundtree is perfect in the iconic role that spawned two direct sequels AND two reboots. This is a character that is deservingly engrained in popular culture and transcends the common trappings of the blaxploitation genre.

90%
craft
85%
creativity
100%
legacy
89%
OVERALL SCORE
  • John Shaft
  • Soundtrack
  • Breaks barriers
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

The best blaxploitation movies

Conclusion

From the moment the opening credits roll under Isaac Hayes’ iconic theme song, you know you’re in for a good time.

The best blaxploitation movies

1. Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song 

Melvin Van Peebles reflects on Sweetback

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971) is often considered the progenitor of the entire blaxploitation film movement. Every single blaxploitation film of the 1970s owes a debt to Sweet Sweetback. Hitting grindhouse theaters just months before Shaft, Sweetback broke new cinematic ground in a number of areas. A great deal of cinematic history stems from and is owed to Sweetback. Melvin Van Peebles didn’t just star in the film, he also wrote, directed, produced, edited, and composed the soundtrack.

The film is wildly assembled and has a somewhat experimental aesthetic, but it is impossible to overlook how important Sweetback was to cinematic history. The director’s son, Mario Van Peebles, would go on to make Baadasssss more than three decades later, a half-biopic, half-tribute to his father and the making of Sweetback. Baadasssss also comes highly recommended.

75%
craft
100%
creativity
100%
legacy
92%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Groundbreaking
  • Historically important
  • Entertaining
  • Roughly assembled
  • N/A
  • N/A

Classic blaxploitation movies

Conclusion

Much is owed to Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. As worth watching for the history behind it as it is for the inherent entertainment factor.

UP NEXT

Best Crime movies ever made

Blaxploitation movies often fall under the larger Crime Movie genre. Despite Blaxploitation's lower budgets and production values, the themes of vigilante justice hold true. Up next, we'll dive deeper into the seedy underbelly of the best Crime Movies ever made from directors like Scorsese, Tarantino, and Coppola.

Up Next: Best Crime films →
Solution - Shot List and Storyboard

Showcase your vision with elegant shot lists and storyboards.

Create robust and customizable shot lists. Upload images to make storyboards and slideshows. 

Learn More ➜

38 Shares
38 Shares
Copy link