During the primary era of civil rights, Black Americans were incensed with passion to make films that really spoke and appealed to their own culture; so much of that dealt with the embellished life within an urban environment. Blacks were portraying life as they knew it, in a lot of cases; crime, drug dealing, poverty, and most importantly, the Uncle Toms and crooked whites that worked against them; namely, “the Man.” Too many people focus on black exploitation films as being full of sex, crime, and violence, –but really, black exploitation films were celebratory of finally having a foothold in the film community. Black exploitation films were made by blacks, for blacks.
We’ve listed a few of our favorite examples of 70s blaxploitation cinema, –some horror, some action.
Blacula, 1972 – One of the most obvious examples of great black cinema, Blacula featured an African prince turned vampire, terrorizing modern L.A., –later, this film would inspire Vampire in Brooklyn, with Eddie Murphy as a black vampire wreaking havoc in where else, but Brooklyn.
They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!, 1970 – Silly title, but it’s got some serious subject matter, –it’s also an excellent example of pre-Shaft black cinema. It’s a sequel to ‘In the Heat of the Night.”
Super Fly, 1972 – The last film directed by Gordon Parks, Jr., Super Fly is probably one of the most popular blaxploitation films out there, and is often referred to even today. The film follows Youngblood Priest, who gets caught up in even more violent crimes as he tries to leave the drug world.
Coffy, 1973 – Pam Grier’s opus, in most fans’ opinion, is her portrayal of Coffy, in the film with the same title. She goes nuts after some dealers turn her 11 year old sister into a heroin addict. Grier basically plays the same role in Foxy Brown, a year later.