Rape and revenge film
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Rape and revenge films are a subgenre of exploitation film that was particularly popular in the 1970s.
Explanation of the subgenre
- Act I: A usually female character is (violently) raped and maybe further abused, tortured or left for dead.
- Act II: The character survives and may rehabilitate 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.
The genre has attracted critical attention. 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."
In addition to American and French films, rape/revenge films have been made in Japan (e.g., Takashi Ishii's Freeze Me), Finland, Russia (The Voroshilov Sharpshooter), Argentina (e.g., I'll Never Die Alone; ; original title: No Moriré Sola), and Norway (e.g., The Whore ; original title: Hora).
- Ebert, Roger (2003-03-14). "Irreversible::rogerebert.com::Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
- Clover, Carol J. (1992). Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00620-2.
- Creed, B. (1993). The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-05259-9.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Makela, Anna. "Political rape, private revenge. The story of sexual violence in Finnish Film and Television". Archived from the original on September 7, 2004. Retrieved 2010-01-25.