It's almost as if this movie is some kind of exploitative piece, that likes showing violence and naked women for no reason whatsoever. There really should be a name for this genre. Exploit...? Exploitate...? Ahh, I'll think of it later.
A film which focuses on morbid elements a lot, the type of morbid elements that fascinate or excite people. For example, a crime movie which focuses more on the details of committing the crime or its effects on the victim, rather than the efforts to solve it. Or a movie that's excessively violent for no real reason. In fact, that - excessive violence or sexuality - seems to be the main definition of an exploitation film.
In the past, such films were sometimes made featuring lurid scenes with the supposed intent to be educational, such as Reefer Madness. However, the lurid scenes were often meant to be the main source of entertainment.
It's sometimes debatable as to whether a given film is an Exploitation Film or not. If there's a heavy emphasis on plot and background detail, yet at the same time the visceral elements are emphasized and played up in detail, then people will disagree on whether or not it fits this category. For example, The Passion of the Christ goes into a ton of detail in watching Jesus be tortured. Yet, many churches were turning out in droves to see it, despite it being a film that consists of two hours of torture followed by the death of the lead character. Due to the movie's theme and background material, most argue that it isn't exploitation at all, since Jesus's torture was not intended for the audience's excitement.
That's part of the dividing line. Is the violence or sexuality contained within a movie gratuitous, meant largely for entertainment? Or is it used to enhance the plot or theme? Since The Girl Next Door is a fictionalized story based on a true crime involving a real girl who was systematically abused by her family, what is it? Is it exploitation because the story itself is fictionalized and involves made-up characters instead of literally retelling the story of the crime? And even if it did retell the story of actual crime, would it still be exploitation?
Because one person's "gritty realistic drama" is another's form of entertainment in the "grit" itself, the line can sometimes be pretty thin.
Most exploitation films, by their nature, tend to be B-movies. Blaxploitation, Mondo, and Nazisploitation are sub-genres. See also Gorn for movies that don't bother pretending, and Euroshlock, which is commonly accused of this.
- Cannibal Holocaust is a film within a film featuring a documentary team's ill fated journey into the "Green Inferno" of South America. It sparked murder charges in Italy when it was released due to the graphic portrayals of violence onscreen leading to accusations of being a Snuff Film, as well as charges for animal cruelty due to the onscreen deaths of real animals. It also was banned as one of the Video Nasties.
- The Candy Snatchers is a crime movie about the kidnapping of a Catholic schoolgirl. The movie focuses heavily on her plight, and the things that go wrong with the kidnapping. Meanwhile, the poor kidnap victim is seen Bound and Gagged an awful lot throughout the entire movie.
- Hard Candy is about a teenage girl who knocks out and ties up a photographer whose house she visits. The entire movie is pretty much about her trying to extract information and confessions from him, using threats.
- The Girl Next Door (2007 film, as there are multiple films with that name) is about a teenage girl who is held captive and horribly mistreated by her adoptive family. It's based on a novel which in turn is inspired by a similar horrible real life case.
- An American Crime (2007 film, as there's ALSO another film with the same name!) is based on the case more directly, but goes out of its way to humanize the characters and go into detail about other things, leaving most of the tortures implied rather than shown. Yet, ironically, perhaps because it's directly based on the real life torture case and not simply being inspired by it, some reviewers accused this movie of being exploitative, even though it held back in the portrayals of violence.
- Reefer Madness is an odd case. It was originally created by a church in an attempt to warn about the dangers of marijuana, and was titled Tell Your Children. A company specializing in exploitation films bought the rights to it and spiced it up with extra scenes and a new title, changing it into an intentional exploitation film.
- Grindhouse was an Affectionate Parody of the exploitation films of the 1970s.
- The Child Bride was a rather infamous one back in the day. It was supposed to be an indictment of irregular marriage laws in the Appalachian Mountains. So why the extended scene of a naked 12-year old girl going swimming?
- Teenage Mother, everything that Juno was not.
- Men Behind the Sun, a Chinese film about the war crimes of Imperial Japan's infamous Unit 731, which blurs the lines between exploitation & docudrama. Which is quite appropriate, considering it's about a bunch of people who made their living not so much blurring the line between scientific research & sadistic torture, as injecting horse urine into its kidneys & feeding it to its cellmate...
- Tokyo Gore Police. The main page says it all: "What ensues is almost two hours-worth of decapitations, dismemberments, disembowelments, katanas, chainsaw duels, penises that double as guns, vagina monsters that eat people, breasts that squirt acid and people propelling themselves into the air with gouts of blood among other things."
- A lot of the Spaghetti Westerns were either these or interpreted as these, although by the standards of nowadays they seem quite tame and kind of arty.
- Sin City is exploitation-noir, which is probably a bit of a rarity.
- The Untold Story is a supposedly true story about a restaurant owner who killed a family (and a few employees) and fed them to his customers.
- Current exploitation films tend to be very tongue-in-cheek and revel in the genre. Such examples include Machete, Hobo with a Shotgun, and Big Tits Zombie. All three movies are filled with over-the-top violence and nudity and are mostly Played for Laughs.
- Many of The Asylum's movies, especially the horror rip-offs, would fit right in here, to the point that they wouldn't seem that out of place playing in a 70's Grindhouse theater. This is largely due to them being direct to DVD, and therefore able to get away with a lot more sex and violence than the movies they're ripping off.