Added: June 22, 2013 – Last updated: August 1, 2015


Author: Martin Barker

Title: Embracing Rape

Subtitle: Understanding the Attractions of Exploitation Movies

In: Controversial Images: Media Representations on the Edge

Edited by: Feona Attwood, Vincent Campbell, I.Q. Hunter, and Sharon Lockyer

Place: New York, NY

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Year: 2013

Pages: 217-238

ISBN-13: 9780230284050 (print) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781137291974 (EPub) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781137291998 (PDF) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | English History | Representations: Films / House on the Edge of the Park


Link: Google Books (Limited Preview)

Link: Palgrave Connect (Restricted Access)


Author: Martin Barker, Department of Theatre Film & Television Studies, Aberystwyth University


»In the fourth and final part the focus moves to various kinds of engagement with controversial images, an engagement that is often understood as dangerous and harmful.
Martin Barker offers a provocative alternative to this kind of thinking through a case study of audience responses to House on the Edge of the Park (Ruggero Deodato, 1980), an Italian exploitation film cut by the BBFC for its scenes of rape and sexual violence. Barker emphasizes that audience members approach films, even disreputable ones like this, with different and unpredictable expectations and varying degrees of cultural and subcultural capital. Unexpectedly, audience members often responded to the film on the level of its ideas, which spoke to them in class terms. House on the Edge of the Park pitches working-class Others against arrogant and complacent representatives of the middle class, so that the rape of middle-class women becomes a sort of class revenge, as in other 'home invasion' films such as Straw Dogs (1971) and A Clockwork Orange (1972). These viewers read the film as political rather than simply slavering over or recoiling from the gendered violence that worried the BBFC. Barker goes on to analyse the enthusiatic response of one male viewer, a committed fan of exploitation horror thrillers, whose intense engagemen with the film's offer of visceral pleasures would for some mark him out as a 'vulnerable' and therefore 'dangerous' member of the audience. 'Exploitation films like House', he concludes, 'create terrains of intensified reflection', though this '"doubling" of arousal and reflection, of excitement and horror, will never be comprehensible to nervous critics'. But Barker suggests that the fan's rapt engagement with the film actually enables him to understand it more fully than 'properly' distanced viewers who, unfamiliar with the tropes of exploitation cinema, are unable to frame the film within the genre's physically and intellectually arousing expectations and pleasures.« (Feaona Attwood, Vincent Campbell, I.Q. Hunter, and Sharon Lockyer. »Introduction: Media Controversy and the Crisis of the Image.« Controversial Images: Media Representations on the Edge. Edited by Feona Attwood et al. New York 2013: 12-13).


  Researching audience responses to sexual violence (p. 221)
  Audience viewing strategies for 'exploitation films' (p. 227)
  Conclusions (p. 235)
  Notes (p. 235)
  References (p. 237)

Wikipedia: Exploitation film: The House on the Edge of the Park