I Spit on Your Grave is a movie you should decide for yourself whether you want to see it and if you do, whether or not it is a volatile piece of film or one of the best exploitation movies ever made, I can only say that it wasn’t to my taste (very few in the genre do) but I can say that the Blu-ray does has a good video transfer, adequate audio given its source and OK features.
Genre(s): Horror, Suspense
Anchor Bay | NR – 101 min. – $24.97 | February 8, 2011
Directed by: Meir Zarchi
Writer(s): Meir Zarchi (written by)
Cast: Camille Keaton
Features: 2 Feature Commentaries, Featurette, Trailers, TV Spots, Alt. Main Title, Poster Gallery
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH
Disc Size: 27.3 GB
THE MOVIE – 1.5/5
Just to note, I go into more detail into my opinions on exploitation movies in my review of the remake so check that out as this one will just be my initial thoughts on this movie in particular and why I didn’t care for it all that much.
Plot: Jennifer Hills (CAMILLE KEATON) is an attractive city woman who rents a backwoods cabin to begin writing her first novel. She is soon attacked by a group of local lowlifes and dragged screaming into a nightmare of violence, Left for dead, she devises a horrific plan for revenge.
The 1978 cult classic I Spit on Your Grave (a.k.a. Day of the Woman which gives the movie a proper context) is every bit as controversial as people have been saying. There’s little wiggle room as to whether it’s the quintessential exploitation movie or a piece of vile cinema, whose biggest advocate seems to be critic Roger Ebert who famously stated (and it’s on the back cover) that it is “sick, reprehensible and contemptible… this movie is an expression of the most diseased and perverted darker human nature.” I can’t entirely disagree with the man since the rape scene, unlike the remake, seems to go on for an eternity because after her initial assault, she manages to escape, get accosted again, run away and gets one more piece of humiliation before her trauma and complete removal of innocence is stolen.
That said, and while I pretty much hated this movie, I would never go so far as to say it should’ve been banned. Rather, I think if someone wants to see what the deal is with this movie, they should be able to do so and make up their own minds. In fact, save for a snuff film, most pieces should be made available if the attendee so chooses. The choice was mine, despite my hesitations, to see this film and in all honesty there is no reason I will ever see it again.
For me it goes beyond the rape scenes and the shock value that contains. Instead the second half, the revenge portion if you will, doesn’t hold much emotion either way. While indeed I should be rooting for her to kill every one of them and I should hate them, I actually didn’t care what happened to any of them. And there’s the rub. Yes, the rape scene(s) were horrible yet at the same time I wasn’t emotionally invested into her situation but instead at what I was seeing the graphic nature of it. So when Jennifer seeks vengeance in creative but meaningful ways, I was just waiting for the movie to be over.
The other issue I had, and this is through no (or perhaps very little) fault of writer/director Meir Zarchi is the acting. While indeed Camille Keaton was very brave for her participation, even with the rape scenes, it’s a one-note performance. And it’s only worse for the supporting players who seemed to come out of every 1970s indie movie I’ve ever seen. Now, the reason I don’t place much responsibility is due to the era it was filmed. For its time and the genre, it was pretty much on par so you’re not going to get well rounded actors and instead people who have rarely or never acted that comes across cheesy more than anything else. For instance, throughout the movie, the bad guys are seen whooping and hollering in the woods (both just having fun amongst themselves as well as taunting Jennifer), whenever they did this I could only get a confused look on my face than feel these guys were actually menacing. You then add in characters that aren’t that interesting, save for the mentally challenged fellow in which that actor seemed to be channeling his inner Woody Allen and you’ve got quite the movie going on…
As I was saying before, despite its depravity, I Spit on Your Grave has a place in cinema but be warned that what people are saying is true – I think even my own expectations didn’t foresee how graphic the scenes were – so if you’re not into exploitive movies like I am not, then this isn’t the movie for you. The only “highlight” (for the lack of a better word) is that Camille Keaton was certainly brave for her performance but otherwise this will remain nothing more than a movie made (and seen) for its shock value no matter what Zarchi might say pertaining to it being a movie he made about the abuse women endure at the hands of men and the ultimate empowerment to take their lives back (at least that’s how I understood it).
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3/5
Feature Commentaries – There are two tracks available (via the audio sub-menu). The first is with Writer/Director Meir Zarchi and the other is with Author/Historian Joe Bob Briggs. Each track offers something for the fan; I’m sure, though Briggs, with his Southern accent, provides a far more upbeat track and thus a bit easier to get through versus Zarchi who’s a bit more laid back.
The Values of Vengeance: Meir Zarchi Remembers I Spit on Your Grave (29:00; SD) – This retrospective features the writer/director discussing the controversy surrounding the film, its origins and just some general insights mixed in with footage from the movie or trailer.
Alternate Main Title (0:16; SD) is the original title card for Day of the Woman before it became I Spit on Your Grave.
Along with theatrical trailers, TV Spots and Radio Spots, there are also previews for I Spit on Your Grave (2010), Frozen and Altitude.
VIDEO – 3.5/5
A lot of times when you get a catalogue title dating back to the 80s or earlier you could get a mixed bag of video transfers and I wasn’t too sure what to expect from I Spit on Your Grave since its 30+ years old and was an independent film; however, colored me surprised as for the most part, it’s a good looking transfer. The detail levels on foreground objects or characters were particularly sharp while background images, albeit softer, still looked decent enough. When comparing this video with that of the trailer on the disc, it’s truly impressive what they’ve done.
AUDIO – 3/5
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track acts more like mono or stereo surround than an immersive 5.1 surround sound experience. There’s some audio, like ambient noises, coming through the rear channels but most of the sound from dialogue and screaming primarily make use of the front and side channels.
OVERALL – 2.25/5
Overall, I Spit on Your Grave is a movie you should decide for yourself whether you want to see it and if you do, whether or not it is a volatile piece of film or one of the best exploitation movies ever made, I can only say that it wasn’t to my taste (very few in the genre do) but I can say that the Blu-ray does has a good video transfer, adequate audio given its source and OK features headlined by a fantastic commentary that mixes information with Southern humor.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.