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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 structure:
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, the original The Last House on the Left and The House of the Spirits. The Virgin Spring is particularly notable as being one of the first in the genre as well as being directed by Ingmar Bergman.
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 regards 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: Hora).
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