The Devilish Sexploitation Films That Combined Satan and Sensuality

“Sexploitation” films were mostly made between the 1950s and 1970s. All Illustrations: Natalie Zarrelli

A man sits in his living room, quietly watching a Disney show on television in the 1960s. Suddenly, the devil, dressed in a red onesie and sporting a forked tail, pops up behind the man: now he’s watching a burlesque routine—a woman dancing in a bikini. After her pasties bobble back and forth, the man watching gets visibly uncomfortable and turns to devil. “I wanted to watch a Walt Disney show!” shouts the man. “I didn’t even care when you dug graves in my backyard, but this is enough!”

So goes part of the plot of the 1964 movie, My Tale is Hot. It’s one of many similar films of the time, and the story of a man being pranked by the devil is wholly secondary to the main focus of the movie: gratuitous nudity. My Tale is Hot is a sexploitation film—a type of B-movie which alludes to sex and nudity as a selling point, though the content is not necessarily explicitly pornographic and actual sex may or may not be shown. These films, many of which were made in the 1950s through the 1970s on a very low budget in many different countries, feature sin, vulgar images, and extremely tenuous plots. The acting is sometimes so bad it’s good. Sexploitation films, needless to say, have a cult following.

Sexploitative and pornographic films have been around since the 1910s, but a new spin on the genre emerged in the 1950s and ’60s with supernatural elements. Technology allowed for more home-taught directors, like Russ Meyer, who became popular for his campy humor and big-breasted stars in titles he directed, like Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Mondo Topless and The Immoral Mr. Teas. Some actors and actresses who got their start in cult and fringe films, including sexploitation pictures, continued to hone their skills and appear almost exclusively on the cult circuit.

These movies often featured the devil as a plot device or character.

Since 1930 in the…

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