Movie Review: I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
[I’ve decided to review this one due to the upcoming release of it’s remake.]
There is a lot written about this movie. I’ve read articles examining I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE’s misogyny (duh) and about how it can be seen as THE female empowerment flick … you know, over intellectualized bullshit like that. But fuck all that noise and take this for what it is: It’s an exploitive, grindhouse revenge flick. That’s it. I’ll be honest; this has a special place in my heart due to the (very) young age which I saw it (I was 13 years old); it’s one of my “classics” I revisit every now and then (and then quickly regret watching). So I always recommend this one to people who think they are completely desensitized to movie violence. But this movie is also far from a perfect flick.
Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) is a big city writer who rents a cabin away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Unfortunately for her the locals have, let’s call it, “boundary issues.” Johnny, Stanley, and Andy (Eron Tabor, Anthony Nichols, and Gunter Kleemann respectively) are three of the most disgusting male characters you will find in any movie … anywhere. They not only hate women, they view women as toys who couldn’t possibly not like what they are planning. Watching these fuck sticks will make you run to the shower and scrub until your skin is numb.
These cunt-tards start by stalking Jennifer around her property and gradually step up to full fledge assault. Seriously people this flick is not for the squeamish. Besides this being the longest hate-rape scene ever put on film, its also the most BRUTAL gang rape scene ever. This scene is filmed so realistically and raw that it’ll make even the most jaded exploitation fan turn their head away. And yes, it absolutely goes on way too long. It crosses from being an act of savagery to exploitive voyeurism after about the first 5 minutes. When the guys are done they leave her for dead and send in their retarded buddy Matthew (Richard Pace) to finish the job. He doesn’t have the stones to go through with it and leaves her half dead (and of course tells his buddies he killed her). So Matthew is OK with gang rape but draws the line at murder; it’s good to know your limits. Jenny is (obviously) traumatized but she is also fucking pissed. She never goes to the cops but instead recuperates and then sets out to take her own revenge on the fucktards who repeatedly raped her. The following murder/revenge set pieces will have you cheering her on. The most disturbing scene is when she goes back to the leader of the douchetards and seduces him so he’ll go home with her. What’s so fucked up about it is the look on his face; he’s so goddamn smug that you know he doesn’t regret what he did to her for one second. There’s no remorse. Hell, he doesn’t even think he did anything wrong!! The look in his eyes says, “I knew she wanted it and I knew she loved it.” Really creepy and disturbing. The highlight of her revenge is when she cuts off one of her attackers’ vein canes in the tub. You’ll be standing up and cheering her on while at the same time wincing.
But when asked, “Is this really a good movie,” I have to hesitate for a second. It’s a really fun exploitation, grindhouse flick. But it has a lot of continuity and technical problems that would keep me from calling it a “good movie”. We get long, still, uninterrupted shots of Jennifer walking around. Sometimes they work but writer-director Meir Zarchi (who’s only other flick was 1985’s terrible DON’T MESS WITH MY SISTER!) doesn’t have the best eye for setting up a shot. But the performances are pretty damn good. The actors playing the three guys are so fucking convincing that I’d be surprised if they let their real wives watch their performances. And Camille Keaton does a phenomenal job as the victim that refuses to remain a victim. But beware; there’s not one endearing male character in this entire flick, and if you’re looking for a film where the guys learn something about themselves and work at redeeming their acts, well you are definitely NOT at the right flick!!
This is another one of those movies I saw when I was too young. I was 13 years old and that prolonged rape scene really affected me …. oh who am I kidding? By 13 I already saw the original LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972), CANNIBAL FEROX (1981), and a slew of other graphic Italian cannibal flicks. I was already pretty desensitized by the time I was 13. Don’t read too much into I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE; it’s not the manifesto for women’s empowerment. This is just another good old fashioned fun grindhouse revenge flick that wallows in exploitation. Just bring a date (and a bar of soap) and have fun.
Director: Meir Zarchi (and writer)
Plot: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 7.5 out of 10 skulls (actually this is the “violence” rating; not gore)
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer