Revenge (2017)

Revenge (2017)


Revenge (2017)

I Spit On Your Grave (1978)

Martyrs (2008)

Very Bad Things (1998)

NOTE on Content

A note from Marshall about this and the episodes of Collective Nightmares focusing on rape-revenge films.

The representation of particular real life horrors has long been an interest of mine. Monsters, ghosts, haunted houses, and the other fantastical elements of scary films are clearly interesting to me and Laura. My entry point to the conversation of the politics and problematics of representing real horror began with representations the Holocaust. That conversation in turn was started for me by Lynne Dahlgren who taught Maus in my 20th century novel class at CU Boulder. She was an incredible teacher. More recently, and by that I mean several years ago, I became fascinated with the Sonderkommando after being forwarded this article by a different friend regarding the film Son of Saul (2015). More on that later. The Holocaust and sexual assault share similarity in that they are not the fantastical. So much discussion of horror films is intellectually interesting or just entertaining. For me, representation real horrors, of historic genocide that is (unbelievably) still doubted, of sexual assault that is a enduring threat and experience of a tragic number of people on this planet, these are things that matter.

Of all the horror films I watch and re-watch precisely because they are horrify me, depictions of sexual assault are difficult for me to process on a different level. Sexual assault in films, whether as plot device, threat, or assault, is by far the most upsetting to me. My areas of focus for my PhD included gender and sexuality. I have taught these classes in colleges and universities for many years. The rate of sexual assault in the U.S. and globally, and the lack of will and action to address it, is offensive, infuriating, and sad beyond words. That these rates of assault have remained remarkably stable in so many places for so many years is an utter failure of humanity and modern civilization. These are very personal and serious topics for me.  

There are justifiable reasons for including sexual assault in media. But this must be done with respect for victims, survivors, advocates, allies, and everyone impacted by the experience and threat of sexual assault. It must be done with thought, care, intention, and concern for how any representation of sexual assault will be distributed and interpreted out in the world. 

With all that in mind, we have decided to approach the sub-genre of rape-revenge films. Should our discussion cause you concern of any kind please let us know your thoughts. 

– Marshall


National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673

This episode in particular was inspired by this article from Vice written by Sarah Fensom ( I sent it to Laura when it came out and she just recently turned it around and agreed that the film was something we should address. So now here we are, leaning in to sexual assault in horror for better or for worse.

As always, thanks for listening (if anyone actually is listening). Please let us know if you are!

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“Horror films are our collective nightmares.” Robin Wood.


Films mentioned:

Revenge (2017)

I Spit On Your Grave (1978)

Martyrs (2008)

Very Bad Things (1998)

TOPIC INDEX – Revenge (1978)

00:37 – The article that inspired our re-visiting the film

00:51 – About Laura and Marshall, and why our podcast offers  a different perspective on films.

6:12 – Our podcast will always have SPOILERS 

6:38 – Our focus on the sub-genre of rape-revenge films

7:33 – Issues with media representation of sexual assault

10:50 – Continuing from I Spit On Your Grave (1978) with the question is the assault “horrific enough?”

15:29 – Laura’s overall take

19:19 – comparison to I Spit On Your Grave (1978) beginning with sexualization of Jennifer

22:55 – symbolism in the film, especially tree as phallus

25:02 – Rape revenge film or revenge film?

30:11 – Foot vagina. This should be foot vulva, my apologies!

31:16 – Back to the depiction of the rape

33:22 – This episode’s Martyrs (2008) reference

35:25 – Character culpability continuum

38:50 – Bad guys

42:00 – Escalation of problems film versus rape revenge film? 

             Very Bad Things SPOILERS

43:00 – Depicting rape, teaching rape, and balancing privilege with re-traumatization

48:37 – Who is this film for?

50:48 – Laura weighs in

57:36 – Men’s nudity

1:00:42 – Peyote

1:04:00 – The abuse women survive at the hands of mostly men they know

1:09:45 – Comparisons to I Spit On Your Grave (1978)