MovieChat Forums > Hardcore (1979) Discussion > The death of Ilah Davis

The death of Ilah Davis

Some checking around the internet has finally revealed some answers about Ilah Davis:

She passed away in September of 2007, under the name of Ilah Rogers. There are a bunch of photos of her posted on an internet site, called Flickr. She appears to have had a happy life, and may have had children. There are even three photos from HARDCORE included in the set of photos.

She joined a modern-day hippie group (cult?) that call themselves The Rainbow Family, an inclusive/pro-marijuana/anti-government movement. I know nothing about them, so I'm not trying to oversimplify their focus. The New York Rainbow Family submitted a couple of brief obituaries for her which indicate that Ilah died of a lengthy illness.

Despite my earlier speculation, Ilah did indeed work in the sex trade before HARDCORE. She was a New York stripper who posed for nudie photos for the magazine Cheri. The magazine shelved the pictures--until Ilah suddenly surfaced in the cast of HARDCORE. When the magazine found out about Ilah's casting, they published those photos of her, and called the article "The Girl From HARDCORE."


Bravo on your Internet sleuthing! If Jake had you to track down his daughter 30 years ago, he wouldn't have had to deal with sleazoids like Andy. Of course, there wouldn't have been a film either.

Did you just search under "Ilah Davis" and "Hardcore" via Google (as I tried), or did you use a more advanced search? Regardless, you uncovered a fascinating and very unconventional life.

I'm very sorry to hear that Ilah has passed on. Do you know what was the nature of her illness? There's a very lovely photo of her on the Rainbow Family Web site; I'd provide a link, but it froze my screen a few times, and I suspect it's infected.

It does appear that the Cheri pictorial and "Hardcore" role were somewhat connected, regardless of which came first. And as I've said earlier on this board, her acting was rather awkward in "Hardcore" so I didn't expect she'd have a big film career.

Regarding the Rainbow Family, it appears they are indeed communal and leftist and stoned most of the time (according to Wikipedia, for what that's worth), but I'm not sure if they're a cult. I'm not really sure what a cult is anymore. Their name is similar to other cultish groups like the Family International, formerly the Children of God, though I don't want to tarnish them based on a similar-sounding name. It's certainly an unconventional group, and if they help each other (and helped Ilah) without hurting others, more power to them.

Thanks again for your diligence in tracking Ilah down. RIP, Ilah Davis, aka Ilah Rogers.


The site with the pictures is what got me going. I found a bit more about her under the name Ilah Rogers. There's an incredibly long hippie site that mentions her death, but you have to wade through endless rants against Bush to get there. Don't mind that, except that the aging hippie also asks for financial donations while he's trashing the materialism of Bush. Can't have it both ways.

Since the only obits I could find for her were submitted by members of the Rainbow Family, I wonder if her birth family rejected her when she entered the Family? It doesn't sound as though the Rainbows are one of those "To join us, you must renounce your worldly goods and give everything you have to the Family" cults. In fact, they sound to me like the equivalent of Wicca (white magic, rather than black magic). They seem to be inclusive, open to anyone who will accept their principles, such as their pro-marijuana stance. I'm not here to either condemn or praise them.

Ilah seems to have found herself when she joined the loose-nit Rainbow Family. Ironically, in the film HARDCORE, the daughter seems to have found a family with Ratan. After all, when Scott finally finds her, she isn't tied up in a dungeon, but is comfortably sitting at a nightclub table with Ratan and perhaps other members of his entourage. Ratan's entourage may have become a kind of "family" for her, until Scott and Peter Boyle blow that away, literally.

Some feel that the film has a "happy" ending, but I do not. It wouldn't surprise me if the daughter, after having returned to Grand Rapids with him, eventually bolts again and ends up joining a "Rainbow Family" kind of hippie group. We'll never know, since there was no HARDCORE TWO, but the real-life Ilah Davis seems to have blazed that very trail. RIP Ilah.


Excellent post, Jobla!

I think you may be on to something when you raise the issues about how Ilah was cast. Watching her scenes early in the film, it was apparent to me she wasn't a trained actress. It's entirely likely she may have been cast based on her connections to the porn industry and Paul Schrader's, uh, "research in the field." Mr. Schrader has been very open about his past vices and addictions, so this could have been where Ilah entered the picture. I'm not looking for gossip so much as an explanation about how she was discovered, and why she vanished just as suddenly afterward.

By all accounts, Mr. Schrader wasn't really pleased with this film, though, so I suspect he wouldn't care to revisit the issue of Ilah 30 years later. And of course, all this is speculation because we don't know.

It is entirely likely that Ilah was estranged from her family. Often that's the case when someone does porn or joins a commune. As for the Rainbow Family, their Web site was very hard to read both for its design and its inflammatory tone, and frankly, any group that is so polarized (be it left or right) alienates me. There is great room to follow your muse in this wide world of ours, but I don't think demonizing the opposition elevates yourself.

You are right on the mark in questioning whether the ending of this film was indeed happy. As I've said previously in other posts on this board, it wasn't clear to me why the daughter leaves home because her character is so thinly developed in the first place. But I suspect that whatever problems existed in this home would have lingered after her return. In some ways, I think Mr. Schrader wanted to create another fabled Jodie Foster-type character from "Taxi Driver" here (which to me does have a happy ending, at least for her), but in the case of "Hardcore," the ending is the equivalent of placing a band-aid on a gaping wound.

Thanks again for your thoughts and your research. We can only hope Ilah would be flattered by the interest in her. Sadly, we'll never know.



Many thanks for your excellent detective work here.



Anybody else think she looks like a young Kylie Jenner?


That sounds like a reasonable assessment of the Rainbow Family. "Cult" is a very loaded word and gets tossed around too often, particularly for groups outside the mainstream. The Rainbow Family sounds more like a loosely based group of individuals focused on environmentalism and fellowship. If people are free to come and go as they please without anyone telling them what they should or shouldn't do, it doesn't sound very cultlike to me.

I wonder if others in the Rainbow Family knew of Ilah Davis' involvement in this movie, or whether they even cared? I suspect that either way, it was a nonissue with them.



Thanks for the tip about her non-professional name, Ilah Rogers. I found her Flickr tribute website.

I'm not a huge fan of her art work but I'm glad to see that she seemed surrounded by people she enjoyed. A happy ending after all.

No two persons ever watch the same movie.


Thanks for the tip about her non-professional name, Ilah Rogers. I found her Flickr tribute website.


Director Paul Schrader said he only hired her because he knew she could do the nude scenes because of her past in softcore films as she was not an actor (and it really shows when she has speaking parts) so her last scene on screen was supposed to be the porno clip in the theatre, then she gets killed in a car crash later on off screen and she's never show again after the porno movie clip, but the studio wanted to change the ending so that she was found alive and she had to be given lines to say at the end. Schrader said no matter how long he worked with her going through the lines she'd have to say at the end, she still didn't do a very good job and he wasn't too happy about that when it was all said and done.