• Kelly M. Hudson

Feminist Rage!

Carla (Deborah Tranelli) is out having dinner with her husband in a swanky restaurant in L.A. When they leave, they spot a woman about to be raped by a degenerate criminal. Carla’s husband steps in to stop it and gets shot in the chest, killed instantly. Carla barely escapes death as the police arrive and chase the man off. Needing to get over this emotional trauma, Carla drives north to the small California town where she grew up in order to stay with her parents for a while and get herself together. Once there, she runs into old “friends” who envy her success, as well as a number of men who all want to bed her. She spurns their advances, pissing them off. One night, when Carla’s parents are gone, a group of these men gather, get drunk, and decide to go rape Carla to show her a thing or two about “being a tease.” They do rape her, but her parents show up as they are finishing and the men end up killing Carla’s mother and father to cover their tracks. They flee, thinking Carla is dead, too, after a vicious blow to the head. But Carla isn’t dead. She’s feigning memory loss and staying in a hospital to recovery. At night, she’s slipping free, off to hunt down the men who raped her and murdered her parents…

Talk about a movie. My goodness, this one kind of has it all: grit, violence, and a social message, believe it or not. Basically, this is a rough remake of I Spit on Your Grave. The story is structurally the same, only the locations and characters have been changed. What distinguishes this film from others is the brazen and daring way it exposes the realities of our patriarchal world. Carla can’t go anywhere without being leered at by men, or at the very least sized-up and treated like a piece of meat, a treasure to be won. Men don’t interact with her on any level other than wanting to get into her pants. Even the Sheriff, who is ostensibly the “good guy who gets it,” is dismissive of her claims of harassment, asking her if she led the men on in any way, and then excusing their behavior (“just boys being boys”). It is astonishing how this little exploitation film covers all the angles when it comes to the stark truths of how women are treated and what their value is to a male-dominated society as a whole. Carla undergoes it all, the come-ons, the put-downs when they get rejected, the sly moves, the scoundrel moves, the deception and the brash, gross honesty (“I got the best meat in town,” the butcher tells her). She takes them all on and still gets raped (which isn't treated salaciously; it is genuinely terrifying). And when she goes for righteous vengeance, she is hunted not only by the men of the town, but by the police who are trying to protect the victimizers. A mob of men literally gather at a house where she’s hiding, carrying guns, sticks, and torches. They burn the house to the ground to get the “witch.” While hyperbolic, it is a brilliant moment in a film that is a blazing testimony to the power of feminism.

Don’t worry; Carla does get her revenge, even against the man who killed her husband in the beginning. But while this movie is cathartic in that sense, it is more important in another. It is only here, in the low-budget world of exploitation films, where such matters can be dealt with and confronted. Yes, it is an entertaining film, with some exciting action sequences and many gruesome moments of vengeance (one even naked). On the surface, it delivers on what you came to see: revenge. But it delves deeper, much deeper, and is a shining example of truth. Naked, raw, honest truth.


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