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Rape and revenge films are a subgenre of exploitation film that was particularly popular in the 1970s. Rape/revenge movies generally follow the same three act structure:

  • Act I: A woman is raped/gang raped, tortured, and left for dead.
  • Act II: The woman survives and rehabilitates herself.
  • Act III: The woman kills all of her rapists.

In some cases, the woman is killed at the end of the first act, and the "revenge" is carried out by her family (as in Last House on the Left). Notable rape/revenge movies include I Spit On Your Grave, Baise Moi, Lipstick, Thriller - A Cruel Picture, Death Wish, Ms. 45, Sudden Impact, ¡Dispara!, Steel and Lace, I Drink Your Blood and South Korean film The Naked Rage .

Notably, 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, Irreversible cannot be classified as an exploitation film, as no exploitation of the subject matter takes place[1].

Although rape/revenge films may imply a moral that the rapists "get what they deserve", the genre is frequently criticized for using that moral to justify creating exploitative and lurid rape scenes, followed by exploitative scenes of gruesome violence.

The genre has attracted critical attention.[2][3][4][5] In addition to U.S. films, rape / revenge films have been made in Japan (e.g., Takashi Ishii's Freeze Me) and in Finland.[6][7]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Clover, Carol J. 1992 Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691006202.
  3. ^ Creed, B. 1993 The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN 0415052599.
  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." (accessed 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. ^ Makela, Anna (no date). Political rape, private revenge. The story of sexual violence in Finnish Film and Television
  7. ^ (viewed as HTML; accessed October 6, 2007).

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