I Spit On Your Grave
Director: Meir Zarchi
Cast: Camille Keaton, Eron Tabor, Richard Pace
Review by Brian M. Sammons
Infamy. If you look that word up in any dictionary I would not be surprised if there was a picture of Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson, and then this movie. Yeah, it’s that notorious. There’s good reason for it. The story is deceptively simple. A woman goes alone in the woods, runs into four country boys who resent her uppity city ways, they gang rape her, leave her for dead, but she comes back for bloody and violent revenge against her attackers.
Now there have been violent, disturbing movies before and since, but there was just something that set this one apart from the others. Maybe it was just when it came out? Kind of like how Silent Night, Deadly Night was ravaged by parent groups and critics, but it wasn’t the first or last movie with a killer Santa Clause. Maybe it was the movie’s marketing? I mean, it has one of the most infamous and recognizable grindhouse posters of all time.
Or maybe it was the 25 minutes of uninterrupted gang rape and brutalizing of a woman filmed in such a way that nothing was left to the imagination. So at 101 minutes that means that 1/4 of I Spit On Your Grave is rape porn. Ok, not really porn, but still plenty icky. You know what, maybe that has something to do with the movie’s bad reputation?
Now I’m not going to rail against this movie. I’ve had too many movies that I enjoy wind up in the crosshairs of the self-appointed guardians of moral decency, to do that here. So I’m not going to break out the soapbox, at least not all the way out. I will say that this flick just isn’t for me. However I will defend its existence to the death for those that do like it. The same way I hated the far more deplorable A Serbian Film. I’ll be happy to never see it again, but for those that do want to watch such things, more power to you. Stay the hell away from me, but rock on. So if you are a fan of rape revenge flicks, as I know there is a whole subset of devotees out there for these kinds of films, then you really own it to yourself to get this, the Great White Whale of rape revenge flicks. And hey, now you can watch the brutalizing in High Def!
The Blu-ray just released by Anchor Bay to compliment the release of the remake on Blu-ray (also by Anchor Bay) pretty much has all the special features from the previous DVD release. That means if you already have the DVD then you just might want to pass on this unless you’re a complete Blu-ray-phile.
If you have yet to get this original bit of cinema nastiness, then you might want to get this BD, largely for one reason: Joe Bob Briggs. Mr. Briggs provides an entertaining, and highly informative, monolog that I thoroughly enjoyed. The shear amount of knowledge Joe Bob has on weird, cult films is staggering. You get a brief glimpse of that listening to him as he watches this movie with you, but in typical Briggs fashion, he makes it a fun and funny lecture to listen too. This is easily the best extra on this disc and it’s something I really wish more companies would include with their movies. Joe Bob Briggs is like bacon; he makes anything better.
In addition to that little bit of auditory goodness, there’s a far more dry commentary by director, Meir Zarchi. There is also a fifteen minuet or so interview with Meir Zarchi about his controversial baby. A few trailers, TV and radio spots, and poster and still galleries round out the disc’s extras.
As for the picture on this new Blu-ray, it looks good, but not really remarkable. The daylight scenes look bright and colorful, but the night scenes still have very noticeable grain in them.
Yet even with the really good Joe Bob Briggs commentary, I really can’t recommend this movie, because quite frankly I don’t like it all that much. My dislike goes beyond the subject matter as it’s just not all that well-made or acted, but really that’s completely secondary to the elephant in the room that is the 25 minutes of abuse of a woman filmed in such unblinking detail. If you can get around that fact somehow and want to witness “real life” horror, or you’re just a cinema historian and want to have this slice of infamy in your home library, then you might want to give this notorious film a try. If so, this Blu-ray is the best version of it available and for that reason alone I can sort of recommend this film…if just a little.