(aka Act of Vengeance)
Original release date 1974
Directed by Robert Kelljchian
Written by Betty Conklin
& H.R. Christian
Jo Ann Harris as Linda
Peter Brown as Jack
Jennifer Lee as Nancy
Lisa Moore as Karen
Connie Strickland as Teresa
Patricia Estrin as Angie
Lada Edmunc, Jr. as Tiny
Tony Young as Bud
Steve Kanaly as Tom
Ross Elliott as Sgt. Long
John Pickard as Dr. Schefman
Ninette Bravo as Joyce
Stanley Adams as Bernie
Joan McCall as Gloria
Our sweet heroine Linda is a hard-working, carefree girl with a nice boyfriend. However, when she's left alone at a stable at night while she is tending her horse, she's attacked by a man wearing an orange jumpsuit and a ski mask. Those of us who listened to Peter Brown sweet talk women as the southern talking Chad Cooper in Laredo recognized him by his voice long before he took off his mask. Definitely Chad Cooper's evil cousin Clyde (or something like that).
Linda fights back and is slugged for her trouble. The rapist is a moderate sicko, insisting that he's the best lover she'll ever have and making her sing Jingle Bells while he rapes her. (Nothing graphic about the rape. Generally bare breasts are the most graphic thing in the show. And at least we're not talking about any sadist torture.)
The police, while not unsympathetic, are less that equipped to properly conduct a rape interview. No female interviewers, no privacy, not much to be done despite the fact that there have been four other victims of "the jingle-bell rapist." The rape exam is cold and clinical.
The rapist doesn't wait to long too take on his next victim.
Linda decides they need to take more direct action. She gets all the women together. They start a hot line for rape victims, pass out flyers and then start martial arts training. While soaking in a hot tub after training, they meet a woman whose rapist was set free after a jury trial with a slick defense attorney. This leads to their first vigilante action. Bud is going down.
In the meantime, the boyfriend starts out seemingly supportive, but starts asking what she did to lead on the attacker. The police call all the victims in to look at a lineup. Not a very fruitful avenue.
A few of them dress sexy and go to Bud's club where Linda catches his attention. When he invites her to his place on some pretext, she makes it very clear there will be no sexual activities. Bud, of course, won't take no for an answer. And when she yells for help, the karate instructor beats the crap out of Bud and holds him while the others trash his place. When they pour some blue liquid on his private parts, he screams at first, thinking it's acid, but it's just blue dye.
Jack the rapist (his name is never used but it's Jack in the credits) is watching the girls and is amused to see them getting together. When his next victim is killed, the stakes go up. The police try to get them to desist, but they are just more determined.
They take on Bernie the obscene phone caller and beat up a pimp who was beating one of his women. Linda's less than supportive boyfriend calls her a diesel dyke and they part company.
Jack in the meantime is stalking his next victim and taking her picture from all kinds of angles. He even visits her apartment, passing her on the sidewalk without being recognized. Hard to tell if he's casing the joint to better break in later or just being voyeuristic as he checks out her underwear. At least at this point we get to see Peter's face and he looks like he's wearing clothes brought from home, not supplied by wardrobe.
However, when he goes back that night to finish the deed, he finds his proposed victim has called the rape squad and is being escorted to a safe place. Talking to himself via a tape recorder, Jack comes up with a plan to deal with them all at the same time. He adopts a beard disguise and leads the rape squad on a little chase using notes directing them to different places, the last being an abandoned zoo.
It is here where if there ever was a script, they abandoned all hope of making any sense. They all drove to the zoo in the same van. It was a long drive as shown by the fact that it was broad daylight when they got into the van and pitch black when they arrived at the zoo. Their karate instructor was inconveniently out of town so they're on their own. After starting their hunt, one of the girls chickens out. She tells the others she's going home and walks away. Now they all came in the same vehicle and she wasn't driving, so we have to wonder whether she planned to hitchhike. Of course, that's moot because we know a woman who walks off alone in the dark in a place where a killer rapist is lurking about is not going to get far. The next domino to fall is weaker yet. One of the women stops to fix a shoe and the others just go off and leave her without any protest on her part.
Jack captures Miss Broken Shoe and tells the others he'll kill her unless they lock themselves into a cage he has picked out. Linda tries to call his bluff but he points to where Miss Want to Go Home is hanging with a broken neck. Linda decides to lure Jack into one-on-one combat by insulting his sexuality. He takes the bait, first ripping off his mask and then coming out to take her on.
In the end, little Linda manages to bash Jack dead with a shovel for a relatively happy ending.
NiteOwl Review: HATED THIS. Figuring why most of us hated it so much is a little difficult. Sure it was a cheesy, low budget, badly plotted revenge flick, but our NiteOwl group watches plenty of those and we have fun doing it. Probably we just hated Peter in this part. Most of us babyboomers are big Westerns fans so Peter has a healthy following amongst us. It's not that we hate him as a villain; we loved him in Foxy Brown, a far superior flick produced by the same company. And he played a lot of sleazy villains in other movies and TV guest shots. He creeped us out in this. Of course, he was supposed to be creepy, but our reaction went beyond that. The fact that the few of us who didn't grow up with Peter in westerns didn't have the same reaction may show that there was just something embarrassing about watching Peter in this movie for those who liked him so much in the far superior western genre and many other genres. It could be that this movie had a different script to start with.
The publicity shot below had the following written on the back: "Greg (Peter Brown), a young husband, is in a state of shock when the police inform him that his wife has been raped and murdered by the notorious Jingle Bells in American International's shocking contemporary drama Act of Vengeance which also stars Jo Ann Harris." Neither the scene depicted below nor the character of a victim's husband was in the movie.
Cast Note: We panned Tony Young in Chrome and Hot Leather and promised a better review here. In Chrome we would have replaced him in the lead with Peter or Robert Fuller. So turn about is fair. We'd have been happy to see him play the lead in this movie with Peter taking the little supporting part as Bud the date rapist. We really wanted to like Tony because Peter likes him so much. He was in a lot of things including guest shots in westerns like Lawman, Bonanza, etc. He was also an early shortlived series called The Gunslinger (1961), but somehow he's never made much of an impression on any of us. He was fine in his little part here.
More publicity materials. The poster in the center was distributed in the U.S. while the one on the right is an Aussie playbill.
Official Peter Brown Fan Site