thriller

GETTING EVEN: A HISTORY OF THE RAPE REVENGE FILM

Date/Time
Date(s) - Mon. Jun. 6, 2011 - Mon. Jun. 13, 2011
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Location
Blue Sunshine

Instructor
Kier-La Janisse

Admission

Monday June 6 + Monday June 13 – 6-9pm

No genre gets a worse rap that the rape-revenge film. Cited as unrelentingly misogynistic, and viewed as perpetuating real-life violence against women, rape-revenge films are considered the bottom-of-the-barrel even among exploitation fans. Alternately (and often facetiously) referred to as the “women’s revenge picture”, I maintain that rape-revenge is just that: a cathartic and empowering vehicle for female cinematic rage. A rape scene is the single greatest justification for anything else in the film that follows – no matter how illogical, unbelievable, sadistic, misanthropic, graphic or tortuous. Rape-revenge films, like horror films in general, prize vigilante justice, and the audience will accept any direction the story takes because culturally, rape is worse than death.

This course traces the history of the rape-revenge genre from its roots in the 4th century Swedish folk tale that inspired Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring through the genre’s peak period in the 70s + 80s, to contemporary rape-revenge films such as Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible and the remakes of Last House on the Left and I Spit on Your Grave. Utilizing numerous clips from rare films and a complete screening of Abel Ferrara’s seminal rape-revenge film, Ms. 45, this course will examine the evolution of the woman’s revenge picture, assessing its tragic character trajectory, its common narrative and tonal structure, and its controversial place in pop culture.

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