More than a genre, exploitation is a concept which includes movies in many other genres and subgenres commonly based on society's prohibitions and taboos, themes
such as sex, extreme violence, drugs, rape, torture, nudity and gore.
Though in these days of neopuritanism and victimisation culture, movies exploring forbidden themes are almost extinct, they have existed since the early days of cinema and were popular in the Golden Age of Hollywood of the 1930s, before the Hays Code was introduced. However, exploitation only emerged as a film current in the 1960s, when the social climate allowed for sensitive subjects to be explored by cinema and the audiences were eager for some sex and violence on the big screen. Most US exploitation films were low-budget and quickly produced, taking advantage of events and trends that were making the headlines at the time.
The kind of risqué stuff that major studios weren't disposed to take a chance at, even if there was an interested audience.At the same time, in Europe, producers were more eager to spark controversy: that's how Giallo was born. The exploitation genre has been
tightly connected to "grindhouse", a term which refers to theatres in the United States that specialise in these types of movies.
The term "grindhouse film" is also applied to the pictures shown in such cinemas. Grindhouse theatres were known for their continuous showing of Bmovies,
often presented as "double features".Two (sometimes three) movies were shown, one after the other, for the price of just one ticket. Some of the films were productions commonly shown in drive-in theatres, but in large urban areas that didn't have that kind of facility, the exploitation picture was relegated to old theatres that used to offer burlesque shows in past decades.
During the late 1960s, but especially in the 1970s, grindhouse films emerged presenting a generous amount of sex, violence and perversion.The trend ended by the mid-1980s when the advent of the video market turned grindhouse halls obsolete. By the end of the 80s, those theatres had disappeared from major cities and, during the 1990s, they were almost extinct.
The interest in that kind of movie resurfaced in the 2000s thanks to Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, who directed the double features Planet Terror and Death Proof. Both films used grindhouse elements and guaranteed a new life for old classics.