Directed by Bob Kelljan (Count Yorga, Vampire & Scream Blacula Scream) and written by H. R. Christian (Black Mama White Mama), this is an awesome film from the ultimate era of exploitation cinema. This movie does not have insane gore or disturbing rape. It is not an ultra violent revenge film that will leave the viewer squirming. It does, however, have all of these things on a very small-scale. It is a fun movie that will take you back to the old days, or teach you about an era of cinema from which you are too young to recognize. Either way, I think this is a great film. Click “Read the rest of this entry” to see why, and to find out how you can find the film.
This film is about an insane rapist who stalks women in the night. When his hunt is finished, he makes his victims sing Jingle Bells as he takes out his sexual aggression on them. He also carries out disturbingly nonchalant conversations as this goes on. As he tells the women how good this will be for them and how he is the best, the viewer gets a short psychological profile of the rapist. It is also interesting to look at the first rape scene in the film in context with film history. He, for one, is wearing a hockey mask. Is this where the idea for Jason came from, one may ask upon viewing? There is also the rape singing of course. I was instantly thrust back to the rapes scenes from A Clockwork Orange. Later on in this film, he even cuts off a victim’s clothes with scissors. Unlike Friday the 13th and A Clockwork Orange, however, this film twists you around and focuses on the victims. It is told through their eyes and their frustration with the world around them.
The women, blocked from every attempt to find their assailant due to the misogynistic society in which they live, have no one to go to for help. Coming from two filmmakers from the Blaxploitation and Women-in-Prison sub genres, it is no surprise that the themes in this film deal with a section of society that was being held down at the time. The women are constantly being held back from their quest for vengeance by the police, men they meet, and even their husbands. It is because of this struggle that they need to take matters into their own hands, and form The Rape Squad.
Their revenge tactics are fun to watch. They plan numerous ways to lure rapists into their clutches. Once captured, they develop their own forms of group revenge. Throughout the scenes of vengeance, you are also thrown some great slices of seventies cheese. For instance, the hand-to-hand combat expert seemingly has to wear her black belt everywhere. She also develops super strength when she needs to kick an abusive pimp’s ass. Also common in many films of this variety, you have to put up with a very abrupt ending. I was having tons of fun with the revenge scenes and then all of a sudden the movie just stopped. Basically, if you think back to your school days and try to remember the story-line chart that has climax, falling action, resolution, etc.; these movies usually, and hilariously, end right after the climax.
This film is a great example of seventies era film-making. It covers many areas of exploitation cinema. There are hints of the blaxploitation, sexploitation, and revenge sub-genres. You also get the feminist perspective. This is reminiscent of the powerful female characters represented in the women-in-prison movies. Like these genres, the film is full of politically incorrect conversation, laced with hilarious slang terminology from the time period. What really stands out is the aspect of low-budget film making that I spend most of my time ripping, the acting. Now no one is winning academy awards in this film; but, it has consistently decent acting throughout. The characters aren’t annoying and the story has a great balance of suspense and comic relief.
This film really makes me wonder what kind of reception it received upon its release. I’m sure it was made for a limited audience, and probably not appreciated by the mainstream. In fact, it was probably ripped by the mainstream critics and considered a cult film. This makes me think about the underground and cult films being made today. Which movies are coming out now, that will get ripped by the industry and tossed into the underground. Plenty I’m sure, but which ones will collectors be clamoring to find thirty years from now. It reminds me of my VHS exploits in which I can’t help looking for films like Dreamaniac, Spookies, and Headless Eyes, no matter what format I have to use to watch them. Thankfully streaming media does give us some gems once in a while. Although I won’t be able to find The Mutilator streaming anytime soon, I can watch Rape Squad. This film is an excellent example of cinema from a very strong era of cult film-making. I give it an 8/10. It’s hard to find on DVD, so check it out on Amazon by clicking the pic below.