I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
By: J.R. McNamara on August 26, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Force Entertainment (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1. 97 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Meir Zarchi
Starring: Camille Keaton, Eron Tabor, Richard Pace, Anthony Nichols and Gunter Kleemann
Screenplay: Meir Zarchi
Tagline:'This woman has just chopped, crippled and mutilated four men beyond recognition… But no jury in America would ever convict her!'
Country: USA
In 1973, Mier Zarchi encountered a frightening situation. Along with his daughter and a close friend he comes across a rape victim, stumbling through a park on a rainy day, naked, bruised and jaw broken, they assist this girl to the police station. This image was to haunt Zarchi for a long time. This event was the inspiration for the bare bones, shock-fest rape/ revenge movie Day of the Woman aka The Rape and Revenge of Jennifer Hill aka I Hate Your Guts, but most well known as I Spit on Your Grave. Writer/Director Zarchi created a movie that has such a history of scandal that most people will not see it just because of its notoriety. Of course, this is all the more reason too see it!

Jennifer Hill (Camille Keaton, granddaughter of Buster), an upcoming writer from New York has decided to spend the summer in the country to work on her first novel. Upon arriving she meets a group of local bumpkins (Eron Tabor, Richard Pace, Anthony Nichols and Gunter Kleeman) who decide it is time for one of their own to lose his virginity, and decide to take Jennifer by force. Of course this being a rape/ revenge flick, Jennifer must avenge herself…

Zarchi's film is an unusual one in the exploitation sub-genre of rape/revenge. It doesn't just show the abusive elements normally seen in this type of film; it also shows how these abhorrent actions can desensitize the victim to violence and dehumanize all involved. Zarchi's direction is full of long lingering shots, stark environments, and the lack of musical score create such a feeling of unease that the film becomes quite unsettling to watch. The rape scene goes for over twenty five minutes, and is almost documentary-like in its frankness. The male actors, all amateurs, really hold their own in this film, but the stand out performer is Camille Keaton, who spends most of the film nude and stumbling through a forest. She is as convincing as they come, and her victim turned aggressor role is the key to this film.

Banned in Australia in from 1997 until June 2004, Force Entertainment took on the Office of Film and LIterature Classification to get this important cinematic gem released in Australia uncut, and succeeded.
Video
For it's age an amazingly clear picture, a real credit to the restoration process. The colors of the Kent, Connecticut countryside (where Friday the 13th part 2 was filmed a few years later) are so fresh it is almost like being there. The region 4 disc is an anamorphic 16x9 picture. On one of the commentaries, Joe Bob Briggs mentions the colors seem to get washed out towards the end of the movie, and they do, but whether this is accidental or deliberate I am not sure.
Audio
The audio in this feature is highly unusual. There are no musical breaks as such, sure a record might be played by a character, but there is no incidental music to speak of. The mood of the film is all brought on by the creepy loneliness of the stark soundtrack. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is so clear that in the scene when a speedboat appears, you can hear it come from all the way at the bottom of the river.
Extra Features
There are two excellent commentaries on this disc. The first, by director, Meir Zarchi, has carefully recounted tales of both the filming as well as interesting anecdotes surrounding the production. His commentary is very carefully calculated and sounds as though he is reading pre-written tales rather than spouting off-the-cuff comments.

The second is by dedicated B-movie freak Joe Bob Briggs, whose commentary is actually like a single sided debate on whether or not I Spit On Your Grave is pro or anti feminist. His commentary is amusing, and love of movies is apparent and refreshing.

US and UK Reviews and Articles are a text selection of cuttings from such sources as Variety and The Daily Mail and others regarding subjects associated with the film. From an excerpt from the novel Half Moon Street by Paul Theroux to articles about Mary Whitehouse's attack on what became referred to as Video Nasties in the early eighties, this is an excellent insight into the gossip that surrounds this film.

The Australian and New Zealand text content starts off with a review of I Spit on Your Grave by our own CJ from this very site to articles from The Melbourne Age, again highlighting this film's infamy. Basically it is more or less similar to the US and UK content but more recent.

The Stills Gallery is a selection of film grabs and behind the scene photos of I Spit…

Posters and Cover Art are a series of stills from the numerous worldwide covers of the VHS release of this film plus a few posters.

Filmographies are a selection of career highlights of the director, producer and five main stars. Interestingly, only one of the male leads ever made another film.

'Who is this Kid?' is an interesting article written by Zarchi about his life during World War 2 in Tel Aviv. This is interesting to an Australian audience as he and his family encountered many brave Australian soldiers who showered gifts upon him as a surrogate to their own loved ones at home. This essay thanks the Anzacs for defending his home and for the warmth they showed to a 4 year old boy.

TV Spots are three TV adverts of dubious quality advertising the film both as Day of the Woman and I Spit on Your Grave.

There are three radio spots for Day of the Woman. Again the quality is showing its age, but you gotta love those voices.

Three Theatrical trailers: one for Day of the Woman, one for I Spit……, and one for Day of the Woman with Spanish subtitles.
The Verdict
Not a movie for the faint of heart, but one that should be watched by all, as an example of how powerful cinema can be. This is a thought-provoking movie to be absorbed and discussed. Is this film pro or anti feminist, or is it blatant exploitation? Watch it and decide.
Movie Score
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