We are dipping our toes into October through remarkable stories of revenge. The theme of vengeance can be applied to films of all genres, inspiring compelling plot lines and offering a spectacle for the eyes. Fandor presents a collection of films that retaliate. Our protagonists have been wronged and they refuse to submit. Arch enemies, strangers, opposing communities; plots that aren’t black and white, but grey. The ethics of revenge are not disputed here, these characters live by a different code: If someone fires at you, you clap back.

Top Staff Picks

1. Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Kill Bill: Volume 2

This two-part film by Quentin Tarantino follows The Bride (Uma Thurman) as she seeks revenge on every person on her hit list. The Bride, who recently came out of a four year coma, was an assassin and a member of a group known as the Deadly Vipers Squad. The people on her list are the other Vipers. In this genre-bending film, Tarantino samples from Spaghetti Westerns, Wuxia, Yakuza, and Blaxploitation films. It goes without saying that Kill Bill is packed with violence, but it is the overall way that Tarantino presents this violence that he has become eponymous for: a perfect soundtrack, striking visuals of color, and a superb cast. Watch as Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, David Carradine, Vivica A. Fox, Daryl Hannah, Chiaki Kuriyama, and many other greats get to work.

2. Rhymes for Young Ghouls

Rhymes for Young Ghouls opens with a passage from the Indian act of Canada, which states that children between 5 and 16 must attend Indian Residential School. If they refuse, truant officers are permitted to take absent children by force to school and any person who fails to have a child attend will be imprisoned. After her mother’s death and her father’s imprisonment, teenage Alia is left to fend for herself in the kingdom of the Crow. She sells pot to pay her “truancy tax” to sadistic agent, “Popper,” who runs St. Dymphna’s (more of a prison sentence than a school). When her money is stolen, Alia only has one option: get it back.

3. The Missing

This star studded Western thriller by Ron Howard includes Cate Blanchett, Tommy Lee Jones, Evan Rachel Wood, Aaron Eckhart, Val Kilmer, Jenna Boyd; even Elisabeth Moss has a supporting role. An ideal film to watch to gear up for Halloween. Set in late 19th-century New Mexico in a lawless, cruel wilderness, a daughter recruits the help of her estranged father when a psychopathic brujo killer kidnaps her daughter, along with a group of other teenaged girls.

4. Le Choix des Armes (On Fandor starting October 10th)

A French crime film directed by Alain Corneau and starring Gérard Depardieu, Yves Montand, and Catherine Deneuve. The past of a retired mobster comes back to haunt him when two gangsters, one a crazed convict, show up to him and his wife’s home in the country. The result of the visit turns their lives upside down.

5. Behind the Door

Directed by Irvin V. Willat and produced by Thomas H. Ince, this silent epic from 1919 featuring gorgeous tinted imagery depicts a naval officer who avenges the murder of his wife at the hands of a German officer. Historian Kevin Brownlow refers to Behind the Door as “the most outspoken of all the WWI vengeance films.” This newly restored version thanks in large part to the San Francisco Silent Film Festival is candy for the eyes of any cinephile.  

6. The Girl Who Played Who Played with Fire

In the sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, computer hacker Lisbeth Salander is on the run. Framed for three murders, her ally and journalist Mikael Blomkvist attempts to clear her name. Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson that won several book awards in Sweden, this original version of the film (before the U.S. remade the series with Rooney Mara) is full of action and payback.

 

Watch the full Spotlight: Clap Back