Rape and revenge film

Rape and revenge films are a subgenre of exploitation film that was particularly popular in the 1970s.

Explanation of the subgenre

Rape and revenge films generally follow the same three-act structure:

  • Act I: A usually female character is (violently) raped and maybe further abused, tortured or left for dead.
  • Act II: The character survives and/or rehabilitates themselves.
  • Act III: The character exacts revenge and/or kills their rapist(s).

In some cases, the character is incapacitated or killed at the end of the first act, and the "revenge" is carried out by their family, as in The Virgin Spring, I Saw the Devil, Nocturnal Animals, the original The Last House on the Left, The House of the Spirits, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

In Gaspar Noé's 2002 film Irréversible, the structure was reversed, with the first act depicting the revenge before tracing back the events which led to that point. Roger Ebert argues that, by using this structure as well as a false revenge, Irréversible cannot be classified as an exploitation film, as no exploitation of the subject matter takes place.[1]

The genre has attracted critical attention.[2][3][4][5] Much of this critical attention comes from feminist critics examining the complex politics involved in the genre and its impact on cinema more generally. More recently, a broad analysis of the rape-revenge genre and concept was published in Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study, by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas. The book argues against a simplistic notion of the term 'rape-revenge' and suggests a film-specific approach in order to avoid generalizing films which may "diverge not over the treatment of sexual assault as much as they do in regard to the morality of the revenge act."[6]

In addition to American and French films, rape/revenge films have been made in Japan (e.g., Takashi Ishii's Freeze Me), Finland,[7] Russia (The Voroshilov Sharpshooter), Argentina (e.g., I'll Never Die Alone; [2008]; original title: No Moriré Sola), and Norway (e.g., The Whore [2009]; original title: Hora).

Examples in film

See also


  1. ^ Ebert, Roger (2003-03-14). "Irreversible::rogerebert.com::Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
  2. ^ Clover, Carol J. (1992). Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00620-2.
  3. ^ Creed, B. (1993). The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-05259-9.
  4. ^ King, Claire Sisco (2003). "Review of "Thelma & Louise" by Marita Sturken and of "The New Avengers: Feminism, Femininity, and the Rape-Revenge Cycle" by Jacinda Read". Retrieved October 6, 2007.
  5. ^ Read, Jacinda (2000). The New Avengers: Feminism, Femininity, and the Rape-Revenge Cycle. Manchester, UK and New York: Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-5905-4.
  6. ^ Heller-Nicholas, Alexandr (2011). Rape-Revenge Film: A Critical Study. New York: McFarland. p. 230. ISBN 978-0-7864-4961-3. Archived from the original on 2013-03-19.
  7. ^ Makela, Anna. "Political rape, private revenge. The story of sexual violence in Finnish Film and Television". Google.com. Archived from the original on September 7, 2004. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
  8. ^ "13 Assassins (2010) - Takashi Miike - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related". AllMovie.
  9. ^ "Savaged (2013) - Michael S. Ojeda - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related". AllMovie.
  10. ^ https://www.allmovie.com/movie/bloodrayne-v312877
  11. ^ a b c d e Schubart, Rikke (2007). Super Bitches and Action Babes. McFarland and Company Inc., Publishers. pp. 83–104. ISBN 9780786429240.
  12. ^ https://www.allmovie.com/movie/grave-of-the-vampire-v20533
  13. ^ Krischer, Hayley (June 6, 2014). "The Maleficent Rape Scene That We Need to Talk About". HuffPost. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  14. ^ "A Serbian Film (2009) - Srdjan Spasojevic - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related". AllMovie.
  15. ^ https://www.allmovie.com/movie/skin-trade-v617224
A Gun for Jennifer

A Gun for Jennifer is a 1997 rape and revenge film thriller film directed by Todd Morris and starring Deborah Twiss. It follows a feminist vigilante group who castrate suspected rapists and batterers while a female police officer attempts to stop them. It is shot in a retro grindhouse style and premiered at the Fantasia Festival in July 1997, where it was sold-out an hour before screening and received a standing ovation. The film has not left the festival circuit; Fangoria reported that it had been picked up for distribution by Mondo Macabro, but the release never came to fruition.The movie was covered in the documentary In the Belly of the Beast, which detailed Morris and Twiss's discovery that their financier (whom Twiss had met while working as an exotic dancer) had been embezzling money.


Baise-moi (Fuck me) is a 2000 French crime thriller film with elements of a rape and revenge film written and directed by Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi and starring Karen Lancaume and Raffaëla Anderson. It is based on the novel by Despentes, first published in 1993. The film received intense media coverage because of its graphic mix of violence and explicit sex scenes. Consequently, it is sometimes considered an example of the "New French Extremity."

As a French noun, un baiser means "a kiss," but as a verb, baiser means "to fuck," so Baise-moi (pronounced [bɛz.mwa]) means simply "Fuck me." In some markets the film has been screened as "Rape me," but the French for "rape me" is "viole-moi." In a 2002 interview Rape Me was rejected by the directors.

In 2000, The Film Censorship Board of Malaysia banned the film outright because of "very high-impact violence and sexual content throughout." Later that same year, the film was banned in Singapore owing to "depictions of sexual violence [that] may cause controversy." In Australia, the film was allowed to be shown at cinemas with an R18+ (adults only) rating. Then in 2002, the film was pulled from cinemas and television and after that, banned outright. The film is still banned there because of its "harmful, explicit sexually violent content," and was re-banned in 2013. However, an edited R18+ version was screened on 23 August 2013 on the World Movies channel of the Australian state broadcaster SBS, as part of the World Movies "Films That Shocked The World" season.

Blood squirt

Blood squirt (blood spurt, blood spray, blood gush, or blood jet) is the effect when an artery, a blood vessel in the human body (or other organism's body) is cut. Blood pressure causes the blood to bleed out at a rapid, intermittent rate, in a spray or jet, coinciding with the beating of the heart, rather than the slower, but steady flow of venous bleeding. Also known as arterial bleeding, arterial spurting, or arterial gushing, the amount of blood loss can be copious, occur very rapidly, and can lead to death.

Carne (1968 film)

Carne (English: Meat) is a 1968 Argentine sexploitation film written and directed by Armando Bó. It stars Isabel Sarli as Delicia, a worker in a meat-packing factory where she becomes the victim of rapists.

Death Weekend

Death Weekend (released in the USA under the title The House by the Lake) is a 1976 Canadian horror/thriller film. It stars Brenda Vaccaro and Don Stroud and was one of the first films from Canadian director William Fruet. The low-budget production was shot in rural Canada and at a studio in Kleinburg, Ontario, Canada.

As of April 2014, the film has never had a DVD release. The VHS was seized and confiscated in the UK under Section 3 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 during the video nasty panic.

Emanuelle's Revenge

Emanuelle's Revenge (Italian: Emanuelle e Françoise le sorelline, lit. 'Emanuelle and Francene, the Sisters') is an Italian film directed by Joe D'Amato. Unlike the French Emmanuelle series, this entry has been described as being closer to a sex-themed giallo, or as a combination of several genres: the rape and revenge film, the splatter film, the erotic film and the thriller.

The film was written by Bruno Mattei and D'Amato.

Femmes de Sade

Femmes de Sade is a 1976 adult rape and revenge film directed by Alex de Renzy.

The film shows the parallel adventures of Rocky de Sade (Ken Turner) and Johny (John Leslie). Rocky de Sade is a 7-foot-tall (2.1 m) ex-convict who terrorizes San Francisco's prostitutes, while Johny is a sex shop worker who has wild sexual fantasies. The two characters' stories meet in the last scene, a costume sex party. At the party Rocky de Sade is chained to the floor, where he is urinated and defecated on by prostitutes in revenge for their treatment by him.

In 1988, the film was one of the first to be inducted into the XRCO Hall of Fame.

Handgun (film)

Handgun is a 1983 English vigilante thriller, starring Karen Young, Clayton Day and Suzie Humphreys. It was written and directed by Tony Garnett.

Her Vengeance

Her Vengeance is a 1988 Hong Kong film directed by Lam Nai-Choi and starring Pauline Wong. It is a remake of the 1973 rape and revenge film Kiss of Death with elements taken from the 1978 American film I Spit On Your Grave.

Margaux Hemingway

Margot Louise Hemingway (February 16, 1954 – July 1, 1996), was an American fashion model and actress, known as Margaux Hemingway. The statuesque Hemingway earned success as a supermodel in the mid-1970s appearing on the covers of Cosmopolitan, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, and TIME.

She signed a million-dollar contract for Fabergé as the spokesmodel for Babe perfume. She was the granddaughter of writer Ernest Hemingway. Her later years were marred by highly publicized episodes of addiction and depression. She died by suicide by drug overdose in 1996 at the age of 42.

Run! Bitch Run!

Run! Bitch Run! is a 2009 American rape and revenge film emulating the style of grindhouse-era productions. It follows two Catholic schoolgirls who, selling religious paraphernalia door-to-door to fund their education, are brutally raped and left for dead. One of them, surviving the affair, returns with a shotgun to exact revenge on her tormentors.

Savage Vengeance

Savage Vengeance is a 1993 American slasher-rape and revenge film written and directed by Donald Farmer. It stars Camille Keaton, under the alias "Vickie Kehl".

The Ladies Club

The Ladies Club is a 1986 rape and revenge film directed by Janet Greek (under the pseudonym A.K. Allen) for New Line Cinema. The script by Fran Lewis Ebeling and Paul Mason was based off Casey Bishop and Betty Black's novel, The Sisterhood.

The Virgin Spring

The Virgin Spring (Swedish: Jungfrukällan) is a 1960 Swedish rape and revenge film directed by Ingmar Bergman. Set in medieval Sweden, it is a tale about a father's merciless response to the rape and murder of his young daughter. The story was adapted by screenwriter Ulla Isaksson from a 13th-century Swedish ballad, "Töres döttrar i Wänge" ("Töre's daughters in Vänge"). Bergman researched the legend of Per Töre with an eye to an adaptation, considering an opera before deciding on a film version. Given criticism of the historical accuracy of his 1957 film The Seventh Seal, he also invited Isaksson to write the screenplay. Other influences included the 1950 Japanese film Rashomon. Max von Sydow played Töre.

Isaksson and Bergman explored a number of themes in The Virgin Spring, questioning morals, vengeance, and religious beliefs. The rape scene was also subject to censorship in screenings in the United States.

The film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1961 Academy Awards and other honours. It was also the basis for the 1972 exploitation horror film The Last House on the Left.

Titus (film)

Titus is a 1999 film adaptation of William Shakespeare's revenge tragedy Titus Andronicus, about the downfall of a Roman general, the first theatrically-released feature film adaptation of the play. Starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange, it was the directorial debut of Julie Taymor, who co-produced with Jody Patton and Conchita Airoldi, and wrote the screenplay. The film was a co-production of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Italy; produced by Overseas Filmgroup and Clear Blue Sky Productions and released by Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Vigilante film

The vigilante film is a film genre in which the protagonist or protagonists engage in vigilante behavior, taking the law into their own hands. Vigilante films are usually revenge films in which the legal system fails protagonists, leading them to become vigilantes.

In United States cinema, vigilante films gained prominence during the 1970s with "touchstones" like Death Wish and Dirty Harry, both of which had sequels. The Los Angeles Times reported, "Vigilante vengeance was the cinematic theme of the decade, flourishing in the more respectable precincts of the new American cinema even as it fueled numerous exploitation flicks," referring to Taxi Driver as a respectable example of the genre. It reported in 2009 that such films were making a comeback after "the comparatively prosperous and peaceable 1990s", with examples like Walking Tall (2004), Death Sentence (2007), and Law Abiding Citizen (2009).

Voroshilov Sharpshooter (film)

The Voroshilov Sharpshooter (Russian: Ворошиловский стрелок, translit. Voroshilovskiy strelok, named after a badge for markmanship) is a 1999 Russian action and drama film directed by Stanislav Govorukhin based on the book Woman on Wednesdays (Russian: Женщина по средам translit. Zhenshchina po sredam) by Viktor Pronin. The concept loosely resembles the rape and revenge genre. The film became successful with numerous awards given for the film including the prestigious Russian Guild of Film Critics 1999 for best actor by Mikhail Ulyanov. It also has 1 win and 3 nominations for Nika Awards.

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