Tag Archives: rape-revenge film

Feminist vigilantes, vampires & the forgotten exploitation film career of Bob Kelljan

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US director Bob Kelljan (right), with Timothy Carey in the 1977 Charlie’s Angels episode ‘Angels on Ice’, which Kelljan directed.

On the weekend I unintentionally plunged head first into the lost cultural zeitgeist that was the short but fascinating big screen career of US exploitation filmmaker, Bob Kelljan.

This started Friday evening, when I finally got around to checking out Australian outfit Ex-Films‘ DVD re-release of American International Pictures’ (AIP) controversial 1974 exploitation rape revenge film, Act of Vengeance, courtesy of my friend and film scholar, Dean Brandum. The DVD extras include an excellent essay by Dean on the film’s distribution and the controversy over the original title, Rape Squad, which the company subsequently changed at the last minute to Act of Vengeance.

Lost/unknown/unappreciated exploitation films from the 1960s and 1970s have been hot property for a while now. That said I have little tolerance for watching an exploitation film for the sake of it. But Act of Vengeance, which Kelljan was brought into direct after the previous two directors were fired, delivers on several fronts. 

The plot focuses on a group of women who have been victims of a hockey masked man dubbed the ‘Jingle Bells Rapist’ by the police, because of the song he makes his victims sing as he attacks them.… Read more

Suspiria, giallo cinema & the lure of the sensory: An interview with Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Suspiria 3Alexandra Heller-Nicholas is a Melbourne-based film critic and academic, specialising in cult, exploitation and horror film. Her books include Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study, Found Footage Horror Films: Fear and the Appearance of Reality, and most recently Suspiria, on Italian director Dario Agento’s 1976 film of the same. Alex kindly agreed to talk to me about her new book, the phenomena of witches in film and the ongoing fascination with giallo cinema. And a warning, unless your film collection is as good as hers, it will be hard for you to get through the following interview without making a lengthy list of films you’ll want to locate and purchase.

Drink-&-CameraAlex, You open the book with a playful but terrific quote from US film critic Joe Bob Briggs, that Suspiria is ‘the Gone With the Wind of Eyetalian horror’. You call it ‘one of the most breathtaking instances of the modern horror film’. Why is Suspiria such an important movie, not just in the context of Italian film cinema but horror cinema, generally?

If you forgive my turn to the colloquial, Suspiria is at its very core a film that sincerely does not give a fuck about what a film is ‘supposed’ to be: this manifests in a spirit of true experimentalism, a genuine love of ‘art’ both as a general concept and the very materiality of cinema itself.Read more