The term ‘roughie’ is generally used to denote a particular sub-section of exploitation films that emerged in the mid-sixties; typically black and white, often shot in New York, films like The Defilers (1965) and Aroused (1966) incorporated previously-unseen levels of sexual menace into their brief running-times. With regards to hardcore cinema, the term tends to be used quite imprecisely, and has been applied to such disparate films as The Story Of Joanna and Pretty Peaches. The problem is, a wide array of adult films from the seventies contain coercion of one sort or another but they shouldn’t really be considered roughies; instead, I’d suggest that dubious honour is reserved for the consistently provocative, at times misanthropic films, such as those referenced below.

I should point out that, although softcore offerings like the Olga films seem quaint when viewed today, many of the so-called ‘hardcore roughies’ remain quite gruelling; in fact, some are so transgressive they’re no longer widely distributed.


Dir. Armand Weston. 1974.

Jean Jennings stars as a young girl terrorised by the inmates and staff of two very different psychiatric institutions.

Farmer’s Daughters

Dir. Zebedy Colt. 1975.

Not Zebedy Colt’s best movie, but possibly his best-known. Unwilling Lovers is another of the director’s infamous roughies.

The Taking of Christina

Dir. Armand Weston. 1975.

Femmes de Sade

Dir. Alex DeRenzy. 1976.

Episodic, and less consistent than DeRenzy’s subsequent masterpieces, this legendary film features an ex-con terrorising prostitutes in California. Some truly shocking scenes and an all-star cast, including Joey Silvera, Abigail Clayton, John Leslie, Leslie Bovee, Annette Haven and Linda Wong.

Water Power

Dir. Shaun Costello. 1976.

A visit to a sex club leaves a socially-awkward young man spiralling out of control: This is a remarkable film — compelling and horrifying in equal measure. It benefits greatly from an incredible performance by Jamie Gillis.

China de Sade

Dir. Carols De Santos. 1977.

Intermittently interesting film with pronounced narrative similarities to Apocalypse Now. Unfortunately, this suffers from a painfully low-budget and some uninspired performances.

Expensive Taste

Dir. Joanna Williams. 1978.

One of the most notorious adult features of the seventies, this was actually directed by a woman. A seemingly clean-cut couple are attacked and raped by three masked intruders.