SWEET REVENGE, 70s STYLE
5 GREAT SEVENTIES REVENGE FILMS
PUBLISHED 11 JULY 2016
THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT
WES CRAVEN / 1971
“I want you to take the gun, and I want you to put it in your mouth, and I want you to turn around and blow your brains out.”
Before he gave the children of Elm Street something to dream about, Wes Craven’s directorial debut was this exploitation horror. A gang of ruthless escaped convicts torture and murder two teenage girls. When the parents hear of the ordeal the killers put their child through, they scheme a plot to avenge her. While the violence is not as glamourised as other films of the genre, Craven’s skilful mastery keeps the film raw and exciting. The revenge in this film is savage although audiences will applaud the sight of the neanderthal killers get a taste of their own medicine.
Sam Peckinpah / 1971
“Ok, you’ve had your fun. I’ll give you one more chance, and if you don’t clear out now, there’ll be real trouble. I mean it.”
Timid academic David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman) and his wife Amy (Susan George) are subjected to abuse at the hands of the locals they have hired to carry out construction on their home. After the thugs rape Amy, David confronts the vicious harassment. His home becomes a war-zone and the night turns into a game of survival. This is a shocking portrayal of just how far an ordinary man will go to protect his home and family when pushed to the edge of sanity.
Brian De Palma / 1976
“He’s gonna laugh at you. They’re all gonna laugh at you!”
Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a shy and quiet 17-year-old, subjected to abuse both at home and at school. After learning she has telekinetic powers, Carrie snaps and uses her newfound potential to get her own back on her tormentors, resulting in an shocking finale with buckets full of pig’s blood. Adapted from a Stephen King novel, this unsettling film provides a powerful look at the effects of high-school harassment and the troubles of a broken home. However horrifying it might become, our sympathy for Carrie is there from start to finish.
Michael Winner / 1974
“What about the old American social custom of self-defence? If the police don’t defend us, maybe we ought to do it ourselves?”
New York architect Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) turns into an urban anti-hero vigilante when his wife is murdered by street punks and his daughter is left in a comatose state. Paul wanders the streets looking to exact his revenge upon the scum that plagues his city. DEATH WISH resonated with US audiences at a time where crime rates were rapidly increasing but, with its commentary on private gun laws, it is just as relevant now.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE
Meir Zarchi / 1978
“That’s so sweet, it’s painful.”
Short story writer Jennifer (Camille Keaton) heads to a riverside cabin to finish her first novel where she is brutally raped and humiliated by four local men. She manages to escape and later returns to seek revenge on each member, hunting them one by one in violent acts that range from castration to hanging. An important contribution to the rape/revenge sub-genre of exploitation cinema, the film is every bit as nasty as the events that take place in the film. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is about as exploitive as exploitation gets.