Not just revenge, but REVENGE.
December 16, 2013 1:28 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for stories featuring grand, visceral, over-the-top, self-indulgent revenge. Why not suggest a few?

I like the feeling of satisfaction when the protagonist gets that grinning revenge on the person who wronged him. I LOVE the feeling when the protagonist gets horrible, over-the-top revenge and twists the knife, almost to the point of becoming the bad guy him/herself.

Anyone have some suggestions for such stories? Preferably books, but movies and games would do in a pinch.
posted by Willie0248 to Media & Arts (53 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
The Count of Monte Cristo is the pinnacle of this genre, plus just a damned good book. There are plenty of movie adaptations, too.
posted by muddgirl at 1:34 PM on December 16, 2013 [19 favorites]

Dolan's Cadillac - short story by Stephen King.
posted by parki at 1:35 PM on December 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

The movie "Oldboy".

I'm talking about one from years ago; I think I recently heard that there was a new movie of the same name (maybe a remake?), but I haven't seen the new one.

More generally, "Oldboy" is one of three movies in the director's "Revenge Trilogy".
posted by Flunkie at 1:36 PM on December 16, 2013 [5 favorites]

The Live and Loves of a She Devil, Fay Weldon.
posted by pie ninja at 1:38 PM on December 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

James O'Barr's The Crow? The revenge may or may not be excessive, depending on your point of view, but it's hyper-violent and ever so wonderfully drawn.
posted by xenization at 1:39 PM on December 16, 2013

Related ask about movies.
posted by jsturgill at 1:41 PM on December 16, 2013

The Cask of Amontillado, Edgar Allan Poe

Margaret Atwood has a marvelously troubling story called Hairball in her Wilderness Tips collection. I think of it any time I see anything coated in chocolate powder.
posted by mochapickle at 1:41 PM on December 16, 2013

REVENGE, the TV show which is an updated version of The Count of Monte Cristo?

The second season of Queer as Folk (UK) also scratches this itch for me, if you enjoy Gay Media.
posted by chaiminda at 1:42 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

TVTropes: "Best Served Cold"
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:43 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less made Jeffrey Archer famous, if you like Jeffrey Archer.

The most thoroughly confronting revenge story I have ever seen though is the film Alexandra's Project which is at turns grinningly satisfying, very disturbing and emotionally wrecking.

And naturally, one of the best films ever made about class and race and capitalism in America: Trading Places.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 1:43 PM on December 16, 2013

I was going to recommend Lady Vengeance, which is one of the "Revenge Trilogy" Flunkie is referring to. I've seen all three (of the Korean originals) and while none of them is for the faint of heart, Lady Vengeance is the only movie where I experienced a physical urge to get up and leave the theatre because the action was so intense. That said, I didn't leave and it was an excellent film, though incredibly disturbing.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:44 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

"The Stars My Destination" which is an outer space remake of "Count of Monte Cristo" with some over-the-top proto-cyberpunk revenge that thrilled me.
posted by steinsaltz at 1:46 PM on December 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ian McEwan's "Amsterdam". Lovely writing style, and wicked plot twists and resolution. A nice quick read.
posted by nacho fries at 1:46 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie is a grim, gory revenge tale. It's in the same universe as his other books (including the First Law trilogy), but it isn't necessary to have read any of the other ones to follow it.
posted by Etrigan at 1:47 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]
posted by Area Control at 1:47 PM on December 16, 2013

In the Korean milieu, I also recommend:

I Saw The Devil
The Man From Nowhere
posted by Tanizaki at 1:48 PM on December 16, 2013

A few of the short stories in More Twisted by Jeffrey Deaver fit the bill. The obvious one is called "A Dish Served Cold." There are three other stories in the book that also deal with revenge, but telling you which ones would spoil the twist....
posted by greenmagnet at 1:53 PM on December 16, 2013

The Winshaw Legacy: or, What a Carve Up! definitely has some REVENGE near the end. (The book is a pretty dark political and social satire, so the revenge is somewhat modulated by cynicism and despair...but still.)
posted by 2or3things at 1:57 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Most of Carl Hiaasen's books have some over-the-top revenge sequences for the bad guys. I haven't read all of his works, but can vouch for Skin Tight, Skinny Dip and Tourist Season, among others.

Much longer, but The Pillars of the Earth has a decent revenge scene in it as well. As in, I felt a twinge of compassion for how bad the bad guy's comeuppance was.
posted by ambrosia at 2:01 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

The South Park episode "Scott Tenorman Must Die."
posted by entropone at 2:06 PM on December 16, 2013 [9 favorites]

Dune elevates vengeance to an art form: "Kanly."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:06 PM on December 16, 2013

posted by effigy at 2:20 PM on December 16, 2013

Kill Bill... Pretty much any Tarantino, really.
The end of Dogville.
Once Upon A Time In The West... Actually most Leone.
The Lives and Loves of a She-Devil.
posted by Artw at 2:21 PM on December 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

Two fairly recent ones (books) that I liked are Joe Hill's Horns and Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim. (There are several Sandman Slim novels, but I've only read the first one.)

A movie of Horns is supposed to come out in North America next year. Daniel Radcliffe though was not the person I imagined while reading the book.
posted by sevenless at 2:22 PM on December 16, 2013

South Park link
posted by domnit at 2:22 PM on December 16, 2013

2nd Tarantino

Get Carter (the Michael Cane one)
posted by Dr. Zachary Smith at 2:37 PM on December 16, 2013

The Richard Stark Parker novels often feature strong elements of revenge. Comeback is the first example that leaps to mind, but many others qualify.
posted by smoke at 2:40 PM on December 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Two of my favorites:

The Life and Loves of a She Devil (the book, not the awful Roseanne movie version)
The First Wives Club (book or movie are enjoyable)
posted by cecic at 2:43 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Revenger's Tragedy - it's a 17th century play with etexts online, there's also a pretty good modernized film version with Christopher Eccleston.

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, by Neil Gaiman
posted by phoenixy at 2:53 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ran, Akira Kurosawa.
posted by effluvia at 2:55 PM on December 16, 2013

The Life and Loves of a She Devil (the book, not the awful Roseanne movie version)

If you want it on screen the UK TV series is good.
posted by Artw at 3:11 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

There is a memorably nasty revenge subplot in Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting. Can recommend, though read a sample page or two first. The Edinburgh vernacular can take some getting used tae.

I will add that this does not appear in the filmed version.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 3:26 PM on December 16, 2013

Another potentially relevant AskMe. I'll second my recommendation from my answer to that question: Dorothy Dunnett's House of Niccolo series is full of baroque revenge schemes.
posted by yasaman at 3:30 PM on December 16, 2013

i saw a movie, believe it was titled "revenge", where kevin costner visited his friend "tibie" (shark), a powerful mexican patron, and tibie's much younger wife seduced costner. tibie found out about this and burst in on their tryst, shooting costner's yellow lab, beating up the lovers and sending his "faithless whore" to a whorehouse. costner eventually picked up his shit, rescued the woman from the whorehouse (slightly the worse for wear) and revenged the situation against tibie. i didn't have a big problem with what happened to the people, having seen it in real life in my divorce files, but shooting the lab was over the top and sufficiently provocative that anything could happen after that.
posted by bruce at 3:30 PM on December 16, 2013

The most vicious revenge movie I have ever seen is the Korean film Oldboy. Skip the lackluster US remake.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:48 PM on December 16, 2013

"Revenge," by Stephen Fry, also known by the UK title "The Stars' Tennis Balls." Basically a modern-era UK retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo. Violent, funny, thoroughly vengeful.
posted by blnkfrnk at 3:57 PM on December 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Life And Love of a She Devil by Fay Weldon
The Green Ripper by John D. MacDonald
posted by PussKillian at 4:27 PM on December 16, 2013

If you'd like to read more than professionally written/published stories, you might enjoy these subreddits:
posted by Jacqueline at 4:29 PM on December 16, 2013

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, a film by Peter Greenaway, might fit the bill. Even though I saw it over two decades ago, many scenes still stick with me.
posted by brianogilvie at 4:40 PM on December 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Gone Girl?
posted by barnoley at 5:25 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

"Titus, why art thou attired thus?" (I recommend the visually amazing film adaptation by Julie Taymor.)
The short story 'There are No Snakes in Ireland' from Frederick Forsyth's collection of short stories, 'No Comebacks'.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 5:42 PM on December 16, 2013

The film The Devil-Doll, which is The Count of Monte Cristo if the Count of Monte Cristo contained more crossdressing, mind control, and shrinking people to the size of dolls. Plus, it has a great mad scientist. It is very silly but also totally awesome.
posted by darchildre at 6:22 PM on December 16, 2013

There are several quite vicious revenge stories in the Decameron.
posted by kickingtheground at 7:09 PM on December 16, 2013

tvtropes: Revenge and Disproportionate Retribution
posted by glibhamdreck at 6:16 AM on December 17, 2013

William Goldman's Marathon Man. Both the book and the movie are excellent.

Last time I looked, Old Boy was on Netflix. Without spoiling anything, I'll just go ahead and suggest these two movies as a double-feature.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:04 AM on December 17, 2013

Paper Towns is not really all about revenge but it starts off with quite the revenge spree, covering multiple victims.
posted by mikepop at 7:26 AM on December 17, 2013

Canal Dreams, by Iain Banks.
posted by 8dot3 at 8:47 AM on December 17, 2013

Japanese TV drama Maou (which, I think, is a remake of a Korean drama).
And, of course, the TV show Revenge.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 10:21 AM on December 17, 2013

The Revenge Trilogy is excellent and over the top, and deals in varying degrees with moral ambiguity. One of them in particular struck me as beautifully done (in spite of the extreme violence) in its dealings with character motivations and various grievances.

Also ... you have seen the end of Breaking Bad, I hope. There's some satisfying revenge on show, both physical and psychological. Viewer opinions seem to vary widely on how much sympathy Walter White deserves, if any, though Vince Gilligan didn't consider the situation terribly ambiguous.

These three don't entertain much doubt about who the "bad guy" is, but I thought I'd mention them anyway:

Full Dark, No Stars consists of four novellas dealing with revenge, and parts of it are very much over the top.

The first Nightmare on Elm Street is explicitly about revenge, and then revenge against the people who had their revenge, and is both violent and extreme.

If you like elaborate revenge schemes which aren't violent, you could do worse than The Sting.
posted by johnofjack at 12:16 PM on December 17, 2013

51 answers and nobody has yet suggested K. J. Parker? Nearly all of his/her well-written, blackly humorous fantasy novels are at heart about revenge, though often it takes me nearly the whole book (or trilogy) to figure out the precise details. The act of revenge that features in The Belly of the Bow, volume 2 of his/her debut trilogy, remains the most shocking I've ever read... and the fact that I continued to root for the protagonist makes me wonder about myself.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:58 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Two Clint Eastwood Movies: High Plains Drifter and Unforgiven.
posted by effluvia at 5:08 PM on December 17, 2013

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