There are some very good reasons why the phrase, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" has endured. For one, it's just a cool expression. But a much better reason is that women have been in the revenge business for a long time and we're very good at it.
In polite society, women have always been discouraged from letting their baser natures rule, and if someone offended your sensibilities, you didn't challenge them to a duel, you just plotted and schemed in the background. But revenge isn't just about mind games -- it's a primal emotion we all experience, and on the big screen it has endured as a theme for that very reason. Besides, it's just so damn satisfying to see the bad guy (or gal) get what they deserve, and usually the bloodier the vengeance, the better.
This week the remake of Meir Zarchi's controversial horror flick 'I Spit on Your Grave' is hitting theaters and it reminds us that in the world of big screen revenge, vengeful women are born from one of two major themes; defending hearth and home or avenging a sexual assault (occasionally, it's both). It's not clear if this is because audiences need an obvious justification for a woman to turn to the dark side (and for most women, there is no more horrifying threat than rape and there isn't a woman alive who doesn't gets a cheap thrill watching a dirt-bag rapist suffer), but revenge is a tricky business in the movies; the originating offense must be so great that we are comfortable with our protagonist and their plans for murder and mayhem -- otherwise what makes our hero different from any other bully?