Happily never after: reality, fantasy, and cultural dissonance in rape-revenge horror cinema

Kaye, Bradley, author
Chung, Hye Seung, advisor
Diffrient, Scott, committee member
MacDonald, Bradley, committee member
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This thesis examines the "ultra-low brow" exploitation films of rape-revenge horror in order to locate the cultural discourses inherent in all cultural artifacts. The films follow a two-part, formulaic narrative wherein a young woman is stalked, raped, and either killed or left for dead. The result of the first half of the films dictate their second halves. If the woman lives she takes personal revenge on her assailants and if she does not her parents become avengers in her stead. The genre itself provides fertile ground for examination as a number of generic conventions and archetypes are at work in creating the personage of the woman-as-avenger. Adaptation and simulation of social ills is at the heart of these cultural artifacts as they simultaneously address and deal with a social problem, but do so in a way that fails the real victims of the real social problem. The resulting torture of the rapists has been seen as having feminist connotations similar to the "final girl" in Carol Clover's analysis of slasher films. This is problematized as the films recreate, often shot-for-shot, the woman (or parents) taking the place of the rapists - enacting Sisyphusian-like, ironic punishment. The violent, masculine paradigm used in the attack is thus appropriated for vengeance. The viewer may sympathize with the goals of the avenger(s) but is ultimately be left with a false consciousness surrounding the real social problem of rape.
2014 Fall.
Includes bibliographical references.
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cultural artifacts
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