Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Media Studies


Dr. Alison Hearn


This thesis examines the horror film sub-genre of ‘rape revenge’ for the ways it reflects and helps to constitute broader public debates about women and feminism. In order to do so, it examines two well-known representatives of the sub-genre, Last House on the Left and I Spit On Your Grave. Both of these films were initially made in 1972 and 1978 respectively and were recently remade in 2009 and 2010. This thesis examines both the originals and the remakes of these films within and against their socio-historical context, with a specific focus on dominant discussions about feminism and women taking place at the time. The thesis also examines the films in terms of their narrative structure and general aesthetic elements. The combination of textual, historical and comparative analysis allows this thesis to examine the way the films express cultural fears and anxieties about women and traditional gender relations. The thesis concludes that the rape-revenge sub genre acts to condition the ways in which common perceptions of femininity, feminism, and sexual assault are portrayed, and indeed reproduced, in the social world at large.