Though tame and with an admirable lack of emotion in the narration, the trailer reflects fairly honest what we’re about to be served. Sure, just like a good meal – you won’t know what it tastes like till it touches your tongue, but the trailer won’t lie to you. Overall though the movie is more ‘exciting’ than the trailer suggests. But have a look, it will give you a reasonable picture.
So, how do I start off with this? Lets first make clear, just to get it out of the way, that a movie about rape is on iffy territory and that sexual assault in general is, deservedly, a very sensitive subject. For good measure, the movie doesn’t intentionally in any way make fun of or trivialize the subject – which is surprising for an exploitation movie – but it may still upset someone. Bear that in mind before you just randomly put this on in company, you may want to just “casually” pop up the question if its cool to watch a film about this subject – you know because your (girl)friend may have been unfortunate enough to experience such things first hand or they may just feel wildly uncomfortable and awkward with this “delightful surprise”.
Though the scenes aren’t very graphic or anything, we are in fact talking about full on rape – and murder at some points – and not just “Mr. Touchy-Feely” or a situation where someone went a little too far in their excitement. No, this movie is about a serial rapist who enjoys stalking women, raping them and – in some cases – murdering them too.
Alright, so having said that – lets dig into the movie itself. This is a jewel of exploitation, its completely oblivious to its own ironies, the acting is stiff as a board and the plot could be written out on a single sheet of paper.
On the upside the movie carries a hint of “Second Wave” Feminism, tries to get someone genuine ideas forward on how to protect yourself and others, but above all – it’s full of bad ass hotties taking justice in their own hands.
Now, I know that most 70’s and 80’s cult-movies usually feature “babes” that really fit their time frame – today we wouldn’t blink twice at the sight of them. But there’s one particular girl that will melt a little bit of every guy’s stone cold heart – Lisa. Sure, she’s the stereotypical “Hottie in Hot Pants” but she’s also pretty bad ass and beautiful in an ‘approachable’ sort of way.
So what happens in this movie? Well – plot wise not that much, honestly, but there’s a fair amount of action going around but I’ll try to give you the low-down on things.
We start off being introduced to Lisa (Jo Ann Harris), a college cutie who runs a lunch truck as a side gag – she also has a jerk ass boyfriend played by a guy who looks like he’s actually a jerk ass. I don’t know if that’s his acting talent, his true person, or just my smouldering jealousy over his fictional-girlfriend. I’m unprofessional like that.
Anyhoo – after Lisa is done with work for the day she goes to care for her horse at a country side stable. It’s quiet there and nice. Except for rapist Jack (Peter Brown) hiding in her van that is.
As soon as poor Lisa opens the car’s door the orange clad, hockey masked perv jumps out and strikes. What follows is a clumsy struggle with a bare foot cutie running around a hay stack and a masked assailant having to wait at times for her to get far away enough to chase after or for her to wait and ‘voluntarily’ sit still way too long before he binds her.
After our manhandling sports enthusiast has poor Lisa pinned down, he goes to town while making her sing Jingle Bells during the act – yes, really.
It is for this reason, I’d like to re-dub our antagonist “The Jingle Balls Rapist”. You know, because he won’t let the boys out before the merry singing starts.
Once done, and coercing Lisa to call him the best she ever had, the mysterious man in orange jumpsuit makes off into the dark.
Once it’s all over his victim goes to the police, and in many ways, this is where things get worse instead of better. She is forced to brave one humiliation after another – being publicly interviewed by a detective, ill-examined by a doctor and then mocked by men at the station. Sadly, this often isn’t far off from reality, even today. After this experience, something begins to change in the mind of Lisa.
Another one of the victims we follow up close is Karen (Lisa Moore), a cute black girl – with groovy Afro cut! – who finds our needy friend waiting for her in her apartment. Needless to say, he isn’t there to discuss lack of diversity in film, rather he sets out to perform his usual routine: Scare the girl, smack her up the head once or twice, get her to sing Jingle Bells and whip out that junk.
I have to admit that the scene with Karen is actually one of the more genuinely ‘exciting’ scenes, building real tension once a pair of scissors gets involved. Then again, that might just be me, I’m even scared at the barber’s. No, really – I flinch a lot. I don’t like sharp objects near my face.
Soon Lisa, Karen and several other women are called to the station by investigating detectives. There they are presented the world’s worst line up as some sort of demotivating demonstration by the lead investigator – in case they weren’t already by everything that happened. The point the detective is trying to make, to a certain extend, is reasonable – it’s hard to find out the true identity of Jingle Balls. It’s just the way he does it that is worthy of a back alley stomping…
For what it’s worth this movie was made in the 70’s when DNA and other such tools and clues were still off into a far and distant future.
This orchestrated demonstration does have one positive side effect – the women, who are all victim’s of Jingle Balls, decide to organize themselves if the cops won’t. Which is understandable and fair. Soon they form their own “Rape Squad” and the fight to take back the streets, or some of them anyway, begins.
Will our group of Kung-Fu cuties find and take down Jingle Balls once and for all? Will rape forever be a thing of the past? Find out soon! On a television, tablet or computer near you!
If the acting in the movie was a door, it’d be creaking – very loudly. Though this is certainly not the worst acting you’ ll stumble upon in B-movies and exploitation, it’s still not very convincing. But at least the actors are in fact professional actors and can do their lines and scenes without faltering or unintentionally whipping up great hilarity.
That being said there’s only a few actors that are giving a proper performance Lisa (Jo Ann Harris), the rapist (Peter Brown) and Karen (Lisa Moore) all have reasonable acting skills – they wouldn’t win any awards with it but they play their parts sufficiently. Most of the other actors just barely get the job done, but at least they do get it done – unlike many other films of the same era.
Bottom line is, don’t expect any outstanding performances, but the acting won’t annoy you as the movie progresses
Sound(track) & Special FX
This movie lacks any real Special FX, other than a bloody nose here and there – so we’ll skip on that for now. The soundtrack is the usual 70’s style saxophone and trumpets doing their groovy thing like we are used to from the countless TV series and movies of the same period. In a way it’s soothing and nostalgic but exciting or unique it hardly is. But it adds to overall feel of the movie – a strong representation of the grooviest decade.
Though the art-direction of the movie has no special features or theme, it does breathe the dark brooding streets of the 70’s which were a lot more sinister and openly criminal than most are today.
Of course the interior decorations, the fashion worn by the various characters, even the cars outside (including the squad’s geeky Hippy van) are a feast of 70’s design. It’s all orange and brown, baby blues and terrible patterns mixed with wool and wild haircuts. For that alone, this movie might be worth watching.
7/10 – Which really isn’t bad at all! Though the movie in no way stands out for any of its good qualities, it stands out for being a solid token of 70’s exploitation cinema. It breathes the feel, it relies completely on a cheap script and stereotypical characters.
The characters are a “diverse bunch”, they’ve tried to incorporate one of each kind, so to speak including the obligatory black girl in hopes of speaking to a black audience. Not that in itself this a problem, it isn’t, but you can it wasn’t done in a natural fashion. They probably just figured it was a profitable idea.
The rapist, played by Peter Brown, is also an interesting character who’s obsession with “Jingle Bells” isn’t the only fitting Christmas-reference.
Certainly you are familiar with Santa Claus is Coming to Town’s chorus: He sees you when you’re sleeping, He knows when you’re awake, He knows if you’ve been bad or good. Well, there would be no closer fit for good ole’ “Jingle Balls”. He is consistently one step ahead of everyone and up to date on just about everything.
Of course, last but not least, its always fun to see female characters fighting and the movie gets bonus points for Kung-Fu moves, especially when knocking out a mean old pimp. Oh, and there’s plenty of boobies and (semi-)nudity going around to keep you interested. Yes, Lisa’s too.
5/10 – The reasoning behind this is simple, the movie is not going to show you good directing or great acting. Not ever.
But given there are some genuinely terrible movies out there, this one isn’t that bad after all. The movie doesn’t suffer from bad editing, botched performances or an illogical plot – it borderline lacks a plot but it isn’t illogical.
But overall, it suffers from such problems as predictable dialogue, slow pace, stereotypical characters and is even slightly hypocrite. The latter especially because the movie is trying to send some sort of message on one hand for women to stand up and fight, to not be victims yet on the other it’s exploiting those same characters several times throughout the movie show off some naked skin. I’m not saying that nudity in film is a bad thing, not at all, but in this case the messages are kind of clashing. It doesn’t matter from a Cult-B-movie perspective but does on an overall film rating.
Yet, there is a certain quality to the movie that is borderline innocent. It actually tries to promote women standing up for themselves, it suggests ideas on how to protect yourself and support others – despite a sense of hypocrisy as I just mentioned. It seems that the film, even though being an exploitation movie, was made good intentions. In its own silly way it wanted to get a message out there, a universal one, and it does. It certainly won’t have prevented much of the bad things in the real world from happening, but maybe we can just say – it tried.
It’s best to view the movie as some sort of cheap and dirty “girl’s version” of Death Wish, though it lacks the cool of Charles Bronson or the action brought with it, still it may be worth watching because it’s so true to its exploitation genre. It doesn’t get much more 70’s and B-movie then this.
All-in-all the movie is an unintentional homage to exploitation film and the years of funk and groove – it takes you on a ride through the decade and drops you off safely. You will come out unscathed and your clothes still in one piece – which is more than the characters in the movie can claim. So if you’re looking for a wild ride, this isn’t it – but if you’re just looking for a reasonably good time and you ain’t no jive turkey. Give it a shot, cool cat!
How to Watch & After Thoughts
So you’ve decided to watch, huh? Far out! Lets start off with the right attitude, this is probably not going to be your favorite movie from here on out but I doubt you’ll actually come out with a lot of regret. This film is simply cheap entertainment – living up to all those three words: Simple, cheap and entertaining. There’s nothing wrong with that! So sit back, relax and let that movie.
Our main protagonist, Lisa, owns a little food truck with all sorts of snacks. Why not indulge ourselves in some 70’s lunch snacks? A plate full of tasty sandwiches, a small bag of potato chips, maybe an apple to top it off? Oh and don’t forget that Dr Pepper! And if you really want to dig into the 70’s – did you know the company used to push their soda as a hot beverage during the 60’s and 70’s? Really! Give it a try, warm it up in a cup and add a fresh slice of lemon and drink that sweet, sweet elixir. Keep on truckin’!
And if you’re in the mood for something stronger, well lucky you – the girls trash a club owner’s place and there’s more then enough booze for all! Why not go with the classic Manhattan-cocktail? It’s a favorite in any of the cool discos and clubs and will make any hot momma take notice of you! And if you want to go oh so smooth, why not make a Whiskey Sour? Almost no one will turn down one of those. And if they do, turn them down – cause you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life, can you dig it?
Last but not least if you want to go in style – wear something with a migraine inducing pattern on it, colors that contrast like a solar mirror and preferably made out of wool or corduroy! Once that itch starts in uncomfortable places, you know you’re dressed in style. Outta sight!
The movie is known under three different titles: Act of Vengeance, Rape Squad and The Violator. It was meant to be called “Rape Squad” but the production company feared too much controversy and changed the name to “Act of Vengeance” just before release. Unfortunately the movie didn’t do very well and the weasels decided to change the name back, you know – this time to stir controversy and hope the ratings would go up with free publicity. I’ve tried to find out where the lesser known title “The Violator” came in but, unfortunately, I couldn’t really find any solid answers to it.
Another noteworthy thing is that “Act of Vengeance” is ahead of a very iconic slasher favorite in having the antagonist wear a hockey mask. Jason Voorhees, of Friday the 13th, didn’t start wearing a hockey mask until the third instalment of the movie in 1982 – eight years after rapist Jack in Act of Vengeance! Do you think one inspired the other?