Always loved these films. In a world where the powers at be can't protect the average good citizen we must protect ourselves against all the evil that is out there. Do you have a favorite film or scene in this genre. A genre that can come from many other types of genres, crime, action horror Scifi, etc etc.
DEATH WISH seemed to break new ground. What distinguishes a "vigilante" film from a "revenge" film? I'd say that a "vigilante" film is one where the protagonist seeks revenge not only on the specific individuals (or group of individuals) that wronged him, but on random criminals as well. DEATH WISH seemed to be the first film I can recall in which the protagonist never meted out justice to the specific individuals that wronged him. The "revenge" was ALL against random criminals.
Probably the most powerful vigilantes scene I know of is in THE OKLAHOMA KID. Cagney's Dad (played by Hugh Sothern) is lynched by a vigilante mob incited by bad man Bogie. It was Curtiz at his best and a frightfully shocking sequence. I haven't run the picture in a while but I think Steiner abstained from scoring this sequence.