Exploitation Revenge Classics! Vigilante Rules!

In the mood for a little…revenge? Sure, we can all get a little “vigilante” at one time or another. And remember:

“Revenge, like Sauvignon Blanc, is a dish best served ice cold.”

revenge quotes

Or, as my friend Bill Shakespeare said:

“If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?”

To that end, how about this!

“Give me a hammer and I’ll take care of it myself…”


We’ve all felt a little bit like this, haven’t we? A little “ballpeen hammer justice?” Well, if you love a great revenge movie, then this “Film Fight Club” is for you!

The best revenge movies give the audience a outlet for their anger against the world at large – and probably their neighbors in particular. In the darkness of a movie theater – or the privacy of your own home, you can cinematically don a crazy mask and let the world know that you are “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!”


Do “Revenge Thrillers” Release Tension Or Exacerbate It?

Time to explore the darker recesses of your inner soul and see what stares back at you – as this film fight club wants to know: are these the BEST revenge movies ever made? Or are they just TOO brutal?

Time to showcase the challengers and see what you think!

I Saw The Devil. 2010. This is an instant classic tale of revenge, bloodshed, and…well – more revenge and bloodshed! This Korean shocker blew me away when I saw it: a brutal, unflinching look at revenge.

best revenge films

Here is the plot: when his pregnant fiancee becomes the latest victim of a serial killer, a secret agent blurs the line between good and evil in his pursuit of revenge.

Korean director Kim Ji-woon first garnered a reputation for the thriller “A Tale of Two Sisters” and the spaghetti Western “The Good, the Bad, the Weird.” For this film, he puts it all on the line, and then crosses it.

best revenge films

As the young cop says to the serial killer he captures – on his own, outside the law:

“I will kill you when you are in the most pain. When you’re in the most pain, shivering out of fear, then I will kill you. That’s a real revenge. A real complete revenge.”


“I Saw The Devil” is an INTENSE look at revenge…and says clearly that, if you are wronged, you have the right to seek vengeance…is that too much? And what about this very controversial offering:

most contrverisal films

This is one of the most shocking and controversial films ever released – still argued about today – a grindhouse classic that still shocks the viewer today…

I Spit On Your Grave.

Warning: revenge is sweet, but getting there in this case is tough to watch. It is also the ultimate story of a woman’s revenge…

“I Spit On Your Grave” tells the tale of Jennifer Hills, a magazine writer from New York City who retires to a secluded cabin in the woods to write her first novel.


There she is brutally assaulted, raped and left for dead by four country boys. BUT JENNIFER IS ALIVE...and she will exact her revenge on those who left her for dead.


This shocking film was also known as “Day Of The Woman”, which speaks to the revenge aspect of the film in a milder tone than “I Spit On Your Grave” does, but the point is the same – Jennifer is going to hunt down those who violated her, and she will exact revenge in the most cruel terms.

Day Of The Woman revenge classic

This is a grindhouse classic – and of course, extremely controversial for its depiction of rape and revenge…too brutal?

Quentin Tarantino has praised this classic shocker from Europe…starring “the Queen of Artsploitation”, Christina Lindberg…

Thriller – A Cruel Picture

I’ve written about this grindhouse classic before. Christina Lindberg stars in the ultimate tale of revenge…when it was released in the US in the 70’s, it was also known as “They Call Her One Eye”, for reasons you will soon see…

Growing up mute after a childhood sexual assault, a young girl (played by beautiful cult starlet Christina Lindberg) spends years working on a remote farm. After missing the bus one day, she is picked up by a suave young man who takes her out to dinner, drugs her and forces her into a life of drug addiction and prostitution.


After trying to rebel against her captor, Christina has one of her eyes gouged out as punishment (in a scene rumored to have been filmed with an actual corpse). But once she escapes, the tables are turned…as Lindberg trains herself for the ultimate acts of revenge!

Christina Lindberg is a cultural icon – a deserving of so much more credit in this country than she gets…for such a short career in film, she made quite an impression, perhaps never more memorably than in this grindhouse classic!


This film is as unpleasant and difficult to watch at times as “I Spit On Your Grave”, but both give the audience the chance to cheer wildly as both women exact bloody revenge on their captors…isn’t that what a classic revenge movies is supposed to do?

To that end, here is one of the wildest revenge thrillers released in the last twenty years…


After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in 5 days.

“Oldboy” is a brilliant exercise in film making. Imagine being imprisoned in a hotel room for 15 years – for reasons you are never told, and then suddenly, you are released – just like that – and are given 5 days to figure out why it happened. You really don’t want to know more than that, but….


In a bravura scene, Oh Dae-Su battles a group of men in a hallway – armed only with a hammer…about this ballpeen hammer scene: The famous one-take corridor scene was shot in three days. No CGI was used – the scene was shot in one take.

This is a pure revenge film – and a terrific example of the danger of seeking the truth – which is far worse than what you DON’T know. A classic film.

Now, here’s a revenge classic that is very obscure…

Dead Man’s Shoes.

This little-seen English thriller is about a hot-wired ex-soldier played by Paddy Considine…you may recognize him from “The World’s End”…he also co-wrote the screenplay for the movie…

best revenge thrillers

Considine returns to his sleepy Irish village to dole out revenge upon the booze- and drug-sodden hoodlums who abused his mentally handicapped younger brother.

dead-mans-shoes-revenge classic

Director Shane Meadows (Once Upon a Time in the Midlands) doesn’t shy away from delivering scenes of gripping suspense and brutal violence…

dead_mans_shoes revenge classic

“Dead Man’s Shoes” is a psychological thriller as well, and a unique one at that – at a certain point in the movie, the film shifts its point of view from Considine to the men he is stalking…

This shift in focus is beautifully done, and it gives you a chance to see how the “bad guys” react to this unknown person coming after them…

dead mans shoes

The “Godfather” Of Revenge Movies!

All of the films I showcased are classic revenge thrillers, all brutal in many ways, but there is one that stands above them all!

Death Wish!

This is the “Vigilante’s Godfather”…a controversial, 1974 drama that exploited urban paranoia and presents vigilantism as a form of cathartic release, thanks in part to a mesmerizing performance by Charles Bronson.


A mild-mannered New Yorker turns violent vigilante after a horrific crime strikes his family…this is the ultimate revenge film, as it shows Bronson brutually taking the law into his own hands – over and over again – even against people who had nothing to do with the crime perpetrated upon his family – and the film celebrates even time he kills!

Charles Bronson stars as the vengeance-seeking urban warrior who goes on a punk-killing spree after his wife and daughter are attacked by intruders. Watch for a very young Jeff Goldblum–in this, his second movie–as one of the assailants of Bronson’s family.


This really is the ultimate revenge movie – a horrific crime causes Bronson to seek revenge against those who harmed his family – nothing will stand in his way – and clearly, this is how the movie thinks we will all react to violent crime – by becoming all-out killing machines!


So there you have it – are these the greatest revenge thrillers of all time? Do any – or ALL of them go too far? Is a little “vigilante release” good for us?

Go to the “filmfightclub” website to see more movie battles:


Leave a comment and let me know what you think!


Categories: Artsploitation, Asian Cult Cinema, Books / Media, Camp Cult Classics, Christina Lindberg, Classic Horror, Cult Classics, Euro-Sleaze, Exploitation Films, Extreme Cinema, Grindhouse, Horror films, Japanese Exploitation, JRsploitation, Nudity, Sexploitation Films, Talent / Celebrites, Uncategorized

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