‘Lisa’: Teenage Sexuality, Rape, and the Downfall of Damsels in Distress

Staci Keenan stars as the teen protagonist in Lisa

I’ve recently taken to revisiting some of these forgotten (or culty, depending on who’s looking) classics with a new, more grown-up and feminist eye, and I’ve been examining the lessons that each of these gems showed us. One of my recent new/old film crushes is a 1990 film called Lisa (starring Cheryl Ladd, Staci Keenan, and DW Moffet). It has all the teen angst that a gal could hope for. At first glance you expect this to be a typical thriller, but this film is so much more. It is an open exploration of a young woman coming into her own, exploring her sexuality, rebelling against traditional convention, and if that weren’t interesting enough, Lisa’s story runs parallel to the exploits of a serial rapist/killer. One of the things that makes this film so different is the point at which these two stories intersect, and Lisa proves herself more capable than imaginable and saves herself and her mother from the killer’s clutches. The ending of the film flipped the traditional damsel in distress cliché on its head.