“Rape-revenge movies — from Wes Craven’s “Last House on the Left,” Meir Zarchi’s “I Spit on Your Grave” and Sam Peckinpah’s “Straw Dogs” in the 1970s to Niels Arden Oplev’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2009) — are made almost exclusively by men.”
Yet again, Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs gets lazily lumped into the Rape-Revenge category. There is a rape in Straw Dogs, but it’s never avenged, either by the victim or by her husband, who remains unaware of the crime throughout the story.
Straw Dogs isn’t about revenge…
I’ve written about this film, one of my favorites, and its distinctions a few times here before:
…it’s about a passive-aggressive misanthrope who jumps at the first opportunity (shielding a suspected child killer from a lynch mob) to go to war with guys he doesn’t like, all in the name of “not allowing violence against” his house. That’s not revenge.
As far as any criticisms of the film’s alleged misogyny, the most sympathetic character in the film turns out to be the passive-aggressive misanthrope’s long-suffering wife (Susan George). Hers is the most interesting character in the film and the only one that truly feels three-dimensional. Just my opinion.
Criterion produced a terrific Blu-ray of this just last year, which I highly recommend.