Killer cleaning products, oily maniacs, death-by-fishtank and mop-twirling mutants – these payback killers will satisfy your lust for justice
With gore-epic Sword Of Vengeance in cinemas today (and DVD on Monday) featuring a Norse prince going on a rampage of revenge following the murder of his father, we've put together ten more intense payback movies to help satisfy your lust for justice. The following flicks range from straight-faced serious to wide-eyed ridiculous, but they all feature someone getting their own back, via the medium of murder, violence or madness. So, whether it's sword-swirling vigilantes or mop-twirling mutants you're after, you'll get what you want, and much more, below.
DEATH ON A RAINY SUNDAY (1986)
French thriller Death On A Rainy Sunday plays like a middle-class grindhouse flick. It features a married architect, a record producer, and their kid being terrorised by a working-class family (made up of an insane one-armed patriarch, a child-abusing matriarch and a near-mute daughter) who seek revenge for an industrial accident covered up by the man of the house-designing. The revengers insidiously integrate themselves into the lives of the middle-class wine-sippers, with mad dad taking a job as a gardener on the (post-modern) estate, and dumb mum on babysitting duties. It might initially look like the sort of thing you'd catch on a Sunday afternoon on ITV 2, but Death gradually grows into easily the most disturbing film on this list – with one scene in particular being jaw-wrenchingly dark / genuinely horrible. The following montage sums up much of the movie's odd atmosphere, but be warned – it does contain spoilers.
LONE WOLF & CUB: SWORD OF VENGEANCE (1972)
At first glance, Lone Wolf & Cub: Sword Of Vengeance might look like any other 70s samurai revenge flick. A disgraced sword-swinger goes on a honour-filled journey to pay back the people who killed his wife. So far, so Kurosawa. But the (fairly significant) difference here is that our lead has a kid, the cub of the title, who our Lone Wolf hero pushes around in a tricked-out babycart, packed with weird weapons. It's amazing. A lot of people prefer Shogun Assassin, the version re-edited and re-released for the American market that added a voice-over from a child actor and extra gore-scenes ported over from the sequel. But those people really are fucking idiots. The untouched original is incredible, a stylish mixture of murder and mayhem that'll stay with you long after the credits have rolled. And with six films in the franchise, all of a consistent high-quality, this is probably the most essential entry on this list.
THE SILENT PARTNER (1979)
Despite being rarer than a smile on Drake's face, The Silent Partner is well worth seeking out for fans of well-written Canadian thrillers. Following bank teller Elliott Gould's attempts to rip off a sadistic bank robber, and the extreme lengths that robber goes to take his revenge, Silent Partner is a constantly twist-filled tale with an extremely clever lead-character driving the narrative. It's basically as satisfying as a really long game of chess against a masterful opponent, but far less boring than that description makes it sound. Oh, and it contains the most brutal death-by-fishtank scene I've ever gawped at, so there's that. Warning: the below clip features one of the most sinister Santas in cinema history.
THE WITCH'S MIRROR (1960)
This mad Mexican horror movie is essentially like three films shoved together against their will, a process which has somehow resulted in one of the greatest films ever made. It goes straight into the action, opening on a scene in which a rich wife is shown a vision of her own death in a magic mirror belonging to her Satanic maid (seriously, this woman talks to Satan more often than I phone my mum). The film then becomes a murder mystery for about 10 minutes, before quickly transforming into a ghostly revenge flick, as the wife haunts her husband and his new girlfriend. I won't go into the next stage of this film's mental narrative, but it's literally impossible to predict what happens in the third act. Which, when you've seen as many films as I have, is a really great thing.
THE OILY MANIAC (1976)
The elevator pitch for Oily Maniac – a magical tattoo enables our hero to transform into a monster made of oil – is so ridiculous I'm surprised it was made into a movie and not an explanation for why the writer needed locking up. Our lead uses his oily powers to get back at the gangsters who framed his uncle onto death row, via the medium of terrible special effects and a score that sounds a bit like the Jaws theme if John Williams had been high when he wrote it. It probably goes without saying that this Chinese monster movie is beyond brilliant, but you can watch the trailer below if you need more convincing.
THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984)
Basically Oily Maniac's American show-off cousin, Toxic Avenger sees a nerd plunged head-first into a barrel of toxic waste by a gang of bullies whose hobbies include having sex in gyms, and deliberately running over children so they can take Polaroid pictures of the corpses whilst laughing. Luckily, the toxic waste turns our mild-mannered hero into a muscle-bound monster who wears a pink tutu and wields a mop like its the most efficient weapon known to man, which he uses to protect the innocent and take his revenge. He embarks on a fairly imaginative murder-spree, pausing to seduce a blind blonde bimbo love interest on the way. Toxic Avenger is film factory Troma's greatest achievement, managing to be terrible and incredible in equal measure. Check out this clip, and wonder how this thing didn't win a Best Picture Oscar.
BLACKER THAN THE NIGHT (1975)
Another relatively obscure Mexican movie, this is an essential inclusion on any revenge film list, but it'd be a fairly major spoiler to tell you why. But I can say the plot involves a young woman inheriting a house and a cat from her recently dead aunt, a house which she fills with her female friends. Passing the Bechdel test with flying colours, the majority of the film features the women hanging out and having fun, before they start being killed one by one. The reason they're being taken out is AMAZING, so I won't ruin it, only insist that you track this film down immediately (or just watch the whole thing on YouTube below)
ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN (1967)
The original and best Kung fu flick featuring a limbless lead, One-Armed Swordsman sees martial arts expert Fang Kang having to relearn his sword skills after his arm is cut off, so he can kill the people who left him for dead. As silly as the high-concept sounds, this is arguably the most serious film on this list. It's certainly the most powerful, and moving. Beautifully shot, with unforgettable production design, costuming and performances, if you haven't seen it, there's a masterpiece in your future.
It's not often you come across a Hong Kong gangster movie centring around a French chef played by the Gallic equivalent of Elvis Presley (Johnny Hallyday), but Johnnie To's Vengeance isn't any old movie. With our hero travelling to Hong Kong and enlisting the help of three local hitmen to track down the monsters who killed his daughter's family (fatally wounding her in the process) Vengeance is a strange mixture of male bonding and insanely stylish action sequences. You can see all of that in the trailer here.
THE MAD BOMBER (1973)
Otherwise known as The Police Connection, The Mad Bomber definitely isn't the greatest movie on this list, but when the director of Attack Of The Puppet People and Earth Vs The Spider (Bert L Gordon) decides to take on social realism, it's worth discussing. When a bereaved father decides to destroy the city he blames for the overdose of his daughter, only a vile rapist is able to identify him, so a grouchy cop is tasked with tracking them both down. Preposterously violent and sleazy, it'll entertain anyone with slack morals, low standards and a penchant for (extremely) guilty pleasures. This is the kind of film no-one makes anymore. That's probably for the best.