Rape has been a long-standing aspect that is used within horror films to cause repulsion and shock. Regardless of if you’re a female or a male, it’s a viewing experience that is uncomfortable and exceptionally upsetting, which is why filmmakers use it to their advantage. But how can such a sickening topic ever be satisfactory? One word: revenge. From a female point of view, seeing these women brutally mutilate the men and women that abused them is a powerful feeling and one that makes rape revenge films a battering of emotions, that culminate in a sense of relief.
I Spit On Your Grave
The most classic and well-known rape revenge film that exists, which has since spawned a franchise, really encompasses the meaning of this sub-genre. Meir Zarchi‘s I Spit on Your Grave has often been considered as one of the worst films ever made due to the context, however, it seems the #MeToo movement has shown that this movie and similar actually hold a lot of power for women. Trying to find inspiration for her writing, a young woman isolates herself in the woods only to find she’s being watched by a group of plotting men. The men subject Jennifer to a prolonged and brutal gang-rape, and then leave her for dead. The first half of the film can only be described as one of the most harrowing sequences, one which leaves the audience reeling and raging. Although beaten and brutalised, Jennifer uses her fury to get the revenge she deserves on the scum that committed the acts against her.
Best scene: When Jennifer seduces one of the disgusting men and brings him to near climax, only to ensure his manhood is stolen from him, just like he tried to do with her dignity.
A little more underground that it’s predecessor, The Woman from independent horror filmmaker Lucky McKee shows what happens when a man tries to tame a woman and keep her as a pet. When a family man discovers a naked and wild woman living in the wilderness, he decides to capture her and keep her for his families entertainment. Originally a novel written by Jack Ketchum, who you’ll also know for his disturbing The Girl Next Door, this film adaptation has an outstanding performance by Polly Macintosh (The Walking Dead) as our strong, powerful and aggressive protagonist that is subjected to sexual abuse by both the father of the family and the underage son. After being treated like a dog by the entire family except for the young daughter, the woman uses her strength to show these pigs exactly what happens when you poke a rabid animal.
Being directed by a female, Coralie Fargeat, makes this one all the better, and as suggested in the film’s title, Revenge, we get to see a lot of bloodshed at the hands of our protagonist. Jen is indulging in a little secret yet romantic getaway with her wealthy but very married boyfriend in a remote and desolated house situated in the middle of the desert. Tension starts to build when his friends arrive, and they have more than just eyes for Jen. Although Revenge doesn’t offer anything different from the likes of rape revenge movies, as a woman I always relish in watching a wronged female brutalise the men that treated her like meat to throw out to the vultures. Jen is brutalised in horrific ways and is discarded in the dust for dead. She claws her way through her ordeal to ensure she slaughters every man involved.
This film has garnered quite the reputation for having a b-movie esque plot to it, however, Teeth from Mitchell Litchenstein has a much darker meaning behind it and probably makes many of us females wish we had “vagina dentata”. Dawn is a normal teenage girl who is entering the world of sexuality and discovering what the men in her life really want from her, and that happens to be sex. When she realises they will stop at nothing to get what they want, she unleashes her teeth and really does bite the hands that try to force feed her. Teeth has a peculiar reputation, but it shows how often young women are put in to sexual situations that are not enjoyable for them. When Dawn is physically abused by nearly every man in her life, she realises that her downstairs issue could be more of a blessing than a curse, and learns to use those incisors to dismember all who deserve it.
If you want to hear more about Teeth, you can listen to my chat with Mitch and Andy on the Strong Language and Violent Scenes podcast.
You might not regard Takashi Miike’s Audition as a revenge, but once you analyse this film it is obvious that it plays out as a revenge film, and one that helps to empower women. Aoyama has recently become widowed and after some convincing from his young son, he decides he should embark on finding a new bride. He has a very clear definition of what he expects in his bride, and puts in place an interviewing process with potential suitors for him to make his decision. When he meets the shy yet seductive Asami, he is immediately smitten with her. They begin dating but it soon becomes apparent that Asami is too good to be true. Although Asami is in all respects “cute but psycho” it’s clear she has suffered abuse in her past when Aoyama sees that she has burn marks all over her body. Audition has been helmed by many as a feminist movie; during the first act women are treated like trophies and needed only for the purpose to marry and serve men. In the second two, particularly the third, Asami takes her revenge in some of the most brutally obscene ways.
I Saw The Devil. Why wasn’t this film included? It’s not a film about a female getting revenge, but her fiancé who makes it his prerogative to ensure a lengthy and painful experience of vengeance. Although it is not the woman that gets to destroy the monster of the film, she is still a powerful driving force behind her fiancé who was so dedicated to her that he will not stop until she is avenged.
What’s your favourite female revenge film? Let me know over on Twitter @ZoboWithShotgun