Much like Cannibal Holocaust, there are a lot of opinions regarding this film.Some regard it as a cult classic, others utterly despise it for it’s scenes of extreme violence and gang rape.Some have even gone so far as to call it a “misunderstood feminist film”, as for me I consider it a rape revenge/exploitation film.Some might disagree with me, but the viewing experience is different for everyone.No matter what one might think, it remains one of the most controversial films ever made.
Like a lot of exploitation and horror films released from this time period, the name of the game was to shock and push what could be shown on film to the upmost limit.What greater taboo to explore/exploit than rape? Nothing to be taken lightly and joked about, and yet something that could guarantee a captive audience and ticket sales on the Grindhouse circuit.It’s also understandable why this film would generate such a hatred and disdain for its subject matter.
As far as the plot goes, it’s pretty basic.A young writer from New York named Jennifer is vacationing in a isolated cabin in Connecticut to write her first full length novel.After she meets with a young mentally challenged man named Matthew while on a delivery of groceries to her cabin.After reporting back to 3 of his other friends about the girl he just met, they begin to stalk her.At one point of the film she’s abducted while relaxing in her canoe drifting on the lake.What follows is a grueling scene of repeated gang rape and violence.It goes on for quite a long time during the film.For the average film viewer, it’s somewhat hard to get through.It drags on for well over half an hour, to the point of being overly excessive.
The third act of the film is Jennifer pulling herself together and going about extracting revenge on her attackers.One of which even gives the excuse for the attack for wearing such revealing clothing.They’re dispatched one by one, from means of hanging,castration an axe and an ever convenient boat motor.
Which is one problem I had with the films resolution.The rape scene goes on for a long time as I mentioned before, The revenge almost seems rushed.It doesn’t equal what the viewer, not to mention the protagonist has to go through.It’s a great show of poetic justice seeing the gang of four done in, but I always felt It wasn’t as bleak as what we had to go through during the films climax.Though to be fair, having a prolonged scene such as that instills the audience with more of a desire to see the attackers get their “Just Desserts.”
So how does this film hold up? Well, like so many films released around its time period, it’s a product of its time.A time when excess played out on the silver screen in seedy grindhouse locations all over the United States.As far as it being a misunderstood feminist film, I honestly believe it’s not my place to comment on that.The films director Meir Zarchi, insisted the story was based on true events about a rape victim he and his wife recused in New York.He also insisted the film had to be as violent as it was to effectively tell the story as well as illustrate his point about ongoing violence towards women in modern culture.
In 2010 the film was given a remake, and as with most remakes; it didn’t come close to having the same effect as the original.It’s worth a watch at least once, if for no other reason so you can form your own opinion on a film that continues to provoke controversy even today.