Back in the '70s, blaxploitation ("black exploitation") films catered to America's black audiences, who were craving their own riffs on genre cinema. The blaxploitation genre included campy horror flicks like Blackenstein to kung-fu flicks like That Man Bolt, and introduced beloved fictional heroes like John Shaft, Cleopatra Jones, and Foxy Brown.
Indeed, it was a wild time, an era of anti-establishment filmmaking that split viewers down the middle—some praised these movies for promoting black empowerment, bringing the black community together, and breaking down racial barriers; others felt they harmfully fed into white people's various prejudices of African-Americans. Today, nearly four decades removed from blaxploitation's initial prominence, the films are something else entirely: entertaining, one-of-a-kind time capsules. These are the best blaxploitation movies.