Here goes a nice little piece of disturbing, conflicted 1970's exploitation for you… Director Bob Kjellan's 'Rape Squad', originally titled 'Act of Vengeance' as it is known in some circles. Apparently this was retitled 'Rape Squad' because movies with the word 'rape' in their titles sold better. Seriously? Dang 1970's, what the hell was wrong with you? Anyway, where else are you going to find rape victims plotting revenge for getting raped… while sitting naked in a hot tub? When talking 70's exploitation… probably a lot of places.
Linda (Jo Ann Harris) is a hot little number who is going to college, operating a food truck to pay the bills and occasionally goes out with her skeezy boyfriend Tom (Steve Kanaly). One evening while tending to some horses, dressed in a tied off plaid shirt and a pair of Daisy Dukes so Daisy that Daisy herself would be a little shy to wear them, she meets the Jingle Bells Rapist (Peter Brown). Named because he makes his victims sing Jingle Bells. This is one sick dude.
After this unfortunate and lengthy scene finally ends, Linda makes her way to the police station to get further violated by the worthless justice system and some worthless doctors, where one of the cops goes all Bobby Knight on her and wonders why she didn't just lay back and 'enjoy it'. Outstanding. Linda did have a nice little comeback to that though. Then Linda has to deal with her horrible boyfriend who wonders aloud was she asking for it or maybe she was just cheating on him and it got out of hand. If you were of the male species in this reality, you were either a jerk, a rapist, a insensitve clod, a maniac, or an idiot. Or all of the above.
Eventually Linda links up with some other victims of Jingle Bells in Nancy (Jennifer Lee), Karen (Lisa Moore), Teresa (Connie Strickland) and Angie (Patricia Estrin), and these ladies soon realize they are not going to get any justice from the justice system, so they to take matters into their own hands and form the Rape Squad.
First order of business, establish a 24 hour rape hotline. This has to be the worst hotline ever because none of the members of the Rape Squad are ever there to man it. Usually they are out at clubs or in hot tubs or taking karate classes under the tutelage of ass kicking dynamo named Tiny (Lada Edmund Jr.), but they sure as hell aren't checking their hotline. They have also begun to take it to the sexual predators by abusing, dismantling and belittling these dudes, including one scene where they abuse a pimpin' Percy (Jay Fletcher) who probably deserved his ass kicking more so for constantly using his name in the third person than for roughing up the incredible fake prostitute Kathleen (Marie O' Henry).
Regardless of the Rape Squad's best efforts, they haven't gotten close to Jingle Bells who has been keeping an eye on 'his ladies' all the while. Jingle Bells even chokes somebody to death, a feeling he said he didn't like. He lied about that. Jingle Bells has a little surprise for his ladies, a trap so obvious and telegraphed that one have to be a complete dumb ass to fall for it, but Linda is so mad it has made her stupid. The Rape Squad will regret following this nut into battle, even if it does turn out in their favor.
'The Rape Squad', for lack of a better term, is pretty fucked up. I mean this is a movie about female empowerment which then proceeds to exploit these females at every turn. Nancy is putting flyers on cars about the Rape Hotline that nobody ever monitors, but she's doing this in a mini skirt… part of the times I know… but bending over for an eternity with her amazing thighs in front of construction workers… I mean she was having all kinds of trouble putting that one lousy flyer on that one stupid car… who proceed to heckle her with lines such as 'Rape is my Favorite sport!'. Seriously 1970's? But then we have our girls seducing rapist then completely abusing them, which kind of falls in line with what we were expecting, but also we have our girls abusing and belittling an obscene phone caller. While being an obscene phone caller isn't cool, I don't know if my man deserved this kind of treatment, and they weren't even convinced he was the one, not that this mattered I suppose. And I guess it did help the cause that our ladies, all of them very lovely, did most of their planning buck ass naked. Outstanding.
One thing though, for an exploitation movie the performances were pretty good. Jo Ann Harris was completely believable as the obsessed rape victim who we must admit made some awful decisions near the end of this film, but even those made sense in the way her character was portrayed. All of the other ladies were very good and did buck ass naked very well, though we weren't quite sure where Peter Brown was going with his Jingle Bells rapist. The actor himself seemed a little too charming to play the crazed character he was giving us, and he just wasn't crazy enough.
If you've spent some time in the virtual 70's, with I Spit on Your Graves and the litany of Women in Prison Movies that came out during this time… like we have… this kind of thing is par for the course, but 'Rape Squad' was just a little more disturbing than even we are used to.