Right. Let us briefly stop by the 80s before moving closer to the present day: in 1981, The Evil Dead was released upon the world, and plasticine would never be the same again.
Now, dear readers, I must admit that I've only seen this film once and the order in which things happen are a bit unclear to me at this moment. However, what I am sure of is this: a girl gets raped by the forest. That's right, not just IN the forest, but the forest itself rapes her. It's pretty special, to say the least. (Check out this spoof video if you will.)
Now, what I don't remember is if it's after this that the girl turns into a zombie? I kind of hope that it is, because that would open up for some pretty interesting interpretations, going along the lines of how rape and its consequences seem to be commonly represented in a lot of Western culture. As I mentioned in Part 1, in some films the experience of being raped appears to be almost likened to death. In this case (if the girl does indeed turn into a zombie after being raped by the forest... If you want to leave a comment and refresh my memory, it would be very welcome), it appears to be worse than death. Mari in The Last House on the Left got to walk quietly into a lake and then get shot (I can't believe I just made that sound like she was lucky to die in such a way) – this one (again, if my memory serves me) has to go through being a zombie as well, an evil dead, a truly terrifying shadow of a person. Her friends fear her and hate her, though at some level recognising that it isn't really her. If this is the case, one could take this as a comment on how some cultures or societies might respond or relate to a person being raped: I have no exact sources here but isn't it true that some people might end up viewing the rape victim differently? In societies where chastity is a virtue, is not a rape victim often seen as unclean? In this case, she is seen and represented as truly monstrous.
Evil Dead is not a typical rape-revenge film, so it might seem weird to have included it here. However, I simply found it impossible not to include it because of this particular scene. Also, the fact that there is a rape, but no kind of revenge inflicted upon the rapist (in a way, there isn't one) certainly helps to build up my argument which is hinted at in the titles of these two posts. I believe there has been a sort of a boomerang movement when it comes to where the focus has been placed in this sub-genre of slasher films which are built around a very simple plot: a person is raped, and wants revenge. In a way, the fact that there is no direct revenge being exerted in this film speaks volumes in itself. The rape is a spectacle, the rapist is near non-existent and impossible to punish for its deeds. The rape victim is defeated and turns monstrous as a result.
Fast forward to the very beginning of the 21st century, and it's a thoroughly new breed of rape-revenge films that makes its appearance. (I apologise for being unable to offer any examples at all from the 90s – I've never much cared for the 90s and as a result of that, am completely uneducated about anything that went on in that time.) In 2002, cinema audiences were exposed to a French, multi-award winning take on the sub-genre, which includes a brutal, 9 minute steadicam shot rape scene. This is certainly not for the faint-hearted, and although the rape scene itself is as brutal and upsetting as any such scene in earlier films, I still feel that the main focus has shifted onto the revenge by this point. This is mainly due to the reverse chronology technique which is used to tell this story: the beginning of the film makes you familiar with the results of the furious search for revenge, and it takes some time before you are even made acquainted with the motif for revenge. This is also assisted by turning to the older plot structure of having someone other than the rape victim take care of the revenge part of it. In this case, it is the victim's (Alex') boyfriend and her former lover who track down the alleged rapist.
This is very notably a new time of filmmaking. The decision to bring rape-revenge films into the mainstream is almost as bizarre as the existence of the phenomenon itself. But this doesn't have that same feel of being genre that most of the traditional rape-revenge films do: it isn't dodgily shot on a $30 budget, for a start. The characters are believable and it genuinely hurts to watch Alex's rape, as well witnessing her boyfriend's quest for revenge. Furthermore, this film actually includes scenes that depict a happy couple (Alex and her boyfriend) having sex and behaving much like a normal couple. This is rare for a film with this type of focus, and I suppose one of the things that make it so horribly effective.
I have mentioned Hard Candy (2005) on here before. It's one of those really annoying films in the way that I didn't enjoy watching it, but it's very useful for making certain points. Just so that you won't have to watch it, here's what happens in Hard Candy: the girl who played Juno agrees to meet up with someone she's been chatting to online, whom we realise is a tricksy, grown man (while she herself comes across as a very sweet, impressionable young girl), played by the guy who's Lynch in the A-Team movie. They go back to his and it turns out that she's the one to have him fooled all along, because she is convinced that he is responsible for several girls of her own age going missing, and she has very clear ideas about what he has done to them. And of what she is going to do to him. So the man never gets so far as to take any kind of advantage of the girl; instead, she ties him up and physically abuses him for a while and gets him to admit that he did indeed abduct and sexually abuse those other girls (I don't remember if he actually killed them or not. But he probably did). In the end, through all sorts of psychological manipulation in addition to the physical punishment, the girl gets him to hang himself before the police arrive at his house.
Hard Candy is, I would argue, a rape-revenge film with no sex scenes. There is not a single sexual act taking place for the duration of the film. In this respect, it's almost the opposite of Evil Dead: all revenge, no rape. Except, we learn that there have been rapes that we have not witnessed.