Rape and revenge films (aka rape/revenge, rape-revenge) are a
subgenre of exploitation film that was particularly
popular in the 1970s. Rape/revenge movies generally follow the same three-act
- Act I: A character is raped/gang raped, tortured, and/or left for dead.
- Act II: The character survives and/or rehabilitates themselves.
- Act III: The character takes 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 I Saw the Devil,
the original The Last House on the
Left and The House of the
In 2006, Rogue Pictures finalized a deal to remake The Last House on the
Left. Wes Craven (writer
and producer of the original film) produced the remake, starring Tony Goldwyn and Monica Potter. The 2009
film Run! Bitch
Run! is set in the late 1970s. The controversial remake I Spit on Your Grave,
starring Sarah Butler and
Chad Lindberg, was
released worldwide on Halloween 2010 by CineTel Films; its sequel, I Spit on
Your Grave 2, was released in 2013.
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, Argentina
(e.g., I'll Never Die Alone; ; original title: No Moriré
Sola), and Norway (e.g., The Whore ; original title: