This Friday, Robert Rodriguez’ faux Grindhouse trailer turned feature film Machete slashes its way to theaters. To give thanks to all things bloody and vengeful I’ve prepared a list of some other great vengeance stories that are sure to deliver the goods and have you rooting for payback. There are tons of revenge movies out there and this is just a few of the better ones to whet your appetite. Enjoy!
Kill Bill 1 & 2
Quentin Tarantino’s revenge opus is so epic it had to be split into two parts. Uma Thurman stars as The Bride, a member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, who is shot and left to die on her wedding day after she leaves the squad to care for her unborn child and pursue a normal life. In the hospital and in a coma, The Bride awakens four years later with a plate in her head and the discovery that she has lost her baby. She sets out to exact revenge on the squad that sabotaged her and left her for dead, one by one. The stylistic violence, nods to kung-fu movies of the past and the sheer pace of the two movies make for a fun and entertaining ride. With its cast of characters, vibrant colors, silly dialogue, gratuitous violence and straight forward premise it’s easily Tarantino’s most audience friendly film and one of the most fun revenge films on the list.
The second film in Park Chan-Wook’s vengeance trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Lady Vengeance) and the most shocking. Dae-su is taken on his daughter's birthday and imprisoned in a hotel room with nothing but a television for 15 years. Suddenly he is released with no reason or motive. He begins to search for the people that imprisoned him and the reasons why they locked him up for so long with no answers. His quest for vengeance leads him down a path of violence, love, betrayal and eventually a shocking truth. The film is just oozing with style and the story is so harrowing and frantic it’s hard not to be glued to the edge of your seat. We are rooting for Dae-su to find out the truth because we want to know it just as bad as him and this is what makes the third act so shocking. The film boasts an ending so ambiguous that it can be discussed for hours. It's one of the best movies to come from Korea and certainly one of the more memorable revenge films to this day.
I Spit On Your Grave
One of the most controversial of revenge movies, I Spit On Your Grave tells the story of Jennifer, a novelist writing her first book. She decides to spend the summer at a friend’s cottage so she can write in a quiet place. Three locals stalk her and sexually assault her and leave her for dead, though the attacker can’t follow through with killing her so he pretends to have stabbed her ultimately leading to all of their deaths. Once she recuperates, she sets a plan in motion to exact revenge and boy does she get it. She single handedly outsmarts and lures the attackers into her various traps and they all meet a deserved demise. The movie is not for the faint of heart. It has one of the most graphic and disturbing rape scenes and is still controversial to this day. It also boasts one of the greatest final lines in a movie ever, “Suck it, bitch!” Since then, movies like Last House on the Left and Irreversible have mimicked similar themes, all thanks to this small movie from the 70’s.
Note: A remake of director Meir Zarchi's notorious 1978 horror classic I Spit on Your Grave will be hitting select theatres October 8, 2010. See trailer below.
This classic revenge yarn helped Mel Gibson become a household name for reasons other than being drunk and angry. The movie centers on Max, a cop trying to rid the streets of a notorious motorcycle gang. When his partner and family fall victim to the renegade biker’s wrath, Max is determined to avenge his friends and family. The movie takes a little bit to get going but once it does, it is downright awesome. Gibson donning a black leather police get up, a sawed off shotgun and a supercharged black pursuit vehicle takes out the baddies in glorified fashion. Explosions, fantastic car chases and plenty of spilled blood litter the screen and the final act is pure intensity. See if you can tell what movie ripped off the final death scene. I’ll give you a hint. It involves handcuffs and a hacksaw.
Combine Alex Proyas’ visionary skills with Brandon Lee’s haunting performance and we have another wonderful revenge movie. Eric and Shelly are attacked in their house the day before they are to be married. Shelly is sexually assaulted and beaten, while Eric gets stabbed and thrown out a window. Neither of them survives the ordeal and a year later Eric rises from his grave after a crow taps on his tombstone. Flashbacks of their death help Eric remember the thugs that attacked and killed them. Now impervious to pain and injury, he seeks to avenge their deaths and The Crow is born. Based on the 1989 comic of the same name, The Crow is also famous because it was actor Brandon Lee’s last movie as he was killed in production by a dummy bullet accident. Dark, dingy and violent, this is one of my favorite movies and a cult classic. Definitely check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.