Mar 2, 2009

Rape Squad

Supporting a collective of multicultural femme fatales and heavy misogynist themes throughout, Rape Squad is an exploitation piece of unnerving potential but never fills through. The depictions of rape aren't well executed in the slightest but the scenario of being forced to sing "Jingle Bells" while getting sodomized by a man in a hockey mask is enough to leave women scrambling for a registration sheet for self-defense classes. Rape Squad was filmed 9 years before the title Friday the 13th even became synonymous with hockey masks and slashings so a bit of horror legend is originated within the confines of this pre-Charlie's Angels feminist classic. Director Bob Kelljan even went as far as to direct numerous episodes of Charlie's Angels. Maybe to wash away the shame of directing a film called Rape Squad.

Taking a film called Rape Squad and marketing it as such is a rather risky move. A title like this is sure to offend everyone from rape victims to mothers to even rapists themselves as the film highlights a rape-busting group of women in shades with Dolemite-worthy martial arts moves. The "men are scum" philosophy doesn't entirely work in this film allowing for a gap in themes. It's almost as if Kelljan directed the first half, went on a brief hiatus, then came back after experiencing a life-altering situation. Rape is a fickle act and offers much beauty behind the curtains of cinema if filmed correctly. In place of portraying the lustful act of love as something glamorized and fluorescent, Kelljan films the act of rape to be fueled by cowardice, lack of machismo, complex-driven, and sleazy beyond comprehension. With all fairness to victims, this is how it should be displayed. Or should it?

After a man in a hockey mask and orange jumpsuit rapes an innocent and beautiful girl, she goes to the cops with a profile looking that of an ex-member of Slipknot. Rather than providing any help because cops are evil in film and never "really try," Linda meets with the other victims and decides to put together a rag-tag anti-rape squad that erupts with the film's only true moments of color: Scenes in which the group humiliate sexual deviants by way of embarrassingly choreographed martial arts. I take that back; to even call this a form of "arts" is a rash decision by itself. The fight sequences go as far as to appear improvised. The resulting experiment is a film that flip flops between gender politics faster than "Madonna's reinventions". In one scene, women will be domineering their lovers and practicing misandrism boldly but then will pull a 180º and begin to glorify the act of sexual assault and apply more texture to these men as being an innocent gender fueled mostly on humor. In the end, It feels like the women come out below the rapist. This blame can be laid on a scene where two men joke about rape in front of a victim. Harmless joke, right? Who knew that the female would "flip a shit" in what would soon become the most ridiculous scene ever to try and squander sympathy votes.

For Tarantino's "ode" to the grindhouse cinema, the troupe of stuntwomen featured in Death Proof can be traced back to the malnourished presentation of Rape Squad. For an exploitation film, my standards weren't particularly high for Rape Squad but this demonstration of "How far can I go?" proved to be an amusing experience, one that I can recommend to fans of anything that would have the gusto of featuring "rape" in the title. I don't regret watching Rape Squad but the idea of watching this film again doesn't exactly appeal to my senses. Rape is filmed as an act in acts. This is only a taste of the irony delivered in Rape Squad. Some women get over it faster than others and with good reason. The struggle for growth subsides and the female psyche seems to shut down. Over-exaggeration might be the case but Rape Squad is the last film you'd want to use as an analytical piece to research rape. Overall, this experiment in bad taste speaks of many subjects but doesn't really shine on any one. Expect a cluttered mess of enjoyable sleaze and over dramatic acting. Thank god for the nudity.


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