I Spit on Your Grave (1978) … Better on Paper


This is a classic Grindhouse poster!!

[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 f**k 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 f**k sticks will make you run to the shower and scrub until your skin is numb.

Camille Keaton as Jennifer, and her revenge is sweet!!

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.

He’s about to have a 2nd circumcision!!

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 gonna put a stop to his misogyny!!

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.

My Summary:

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

Stay Bloody!!!

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26 Responses to I Spit on Your Grave (1978) … Better on Paper

  1. Pingback:The giantELF’s Best Movie titles. [Not Movies.] | the giantELF's Blog

  2. Pingback:Arts Blog: I Spit on Your Grave (1978)- One Dose of Old-School Revenge, Please : SMU Daily Mustang

  3. Jonesin says:

    Wow this movie looks intense, it reminds me somewhat of Last House on the Left… strong female roles are always great for horror movies. Pig Hunt has a pretty strong female figure from the looks of it, I’ve added it to my netflix for when its released on dvd.

    • This is an intense flick that just makes you feel flat out dirty … i shower every time I finish watching this one — in VERY hot water.

      It is comparative to LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT but definitely stands on its own. I’ll have to check out PIG HUNT.

      • I don’t know about Netflix but Blockbuster has Pig Hunt already. I have it in my queue as the next one to ship. Hope it’s good!

      • I’ve been hearing mixed reviews on PIG HUNT …. let me know how it is!! Have you had the chance to see LONG PIGS yet? Put it in your queue so the douche bags at Netflix start carrying it!!

  4. l3pr3chaun says:

    You do real justice to an underated and overlooked movie that is very influential and important to the genre. I also appreciated your objectivity in the review. This movie suffers from over analysis and is very polarizing but if just taken on its face value can be appreciated for its simple brilliance. Man does this movie ever pack in the gore for its time. It is amazing how powerful “suggestions” can be in illustrating the brutality in this movie. It is the perfect entry drug to then get lost in “Martyrs”!

    • I was always amazed at how over-analyzed this film has been over the years. IT’S A FUCKING EXPLOITATION FLICK!!!! I dare ya to watch the director’s other flick and then still believe he was deep enough to put together an exploitation flick that has a social message!!

  5. Deggsy says:

    Damn, your article has been sitting here for too long without my responding to it; damn you, Real Life! 🙂
    Ahem… anyway, I Spit was one of the first Betamaxes I’d bought with money earned from my first summer job, along with a shitty Italian so-called comedy called Super Fuzz, and an obscure British number called Virgin Witch. I remember the neighbourhood videoshop owner proudly informing me that it starred the grand-niece of silent-film great Buster Keaton, whom I’d known because the local TV station went through a stint of showing his filoms, along with Harold Lloyd and Laurel and Hardy. However my adolescent mind couldn’t bridge a connection between the inncoent antics of Keaton and the ordeal his relativer’s character underwent during the course of the movie.
    No, it wasn’t gory per se, but that minimalist approach added a realistic edge to the overall grindhouse feel that most movies from the 70s achieved naturally, and which modern films have to really struggle to duplicate (that little spurt of blood beneath the bathwater, right after Keaton’s character castrates him, is more effective to me than if the walls were coated in bright red splatter). The villains were scumbags, indeed, but had characters developed enough to contribute to the realism; unlike the faceless gunfodder in the Death Wish films, these losers could live down your street – if you’re unlucky. Keaton was certainly brave to take on what was required of her in this, and despite the movie’s critics, I didn’t feel like there was anything exploitative in the direction. Indeed, her ordeal was unerotic and uncomfortable to watch, as it should have been.
    The remake, I know, will be slicker, but I hope that doesn’t mean it will make it more palatable for the audience.

    • I sure hope you still have I SPIT on betamax Deggsy!! If there was ever a movie that was MADE for betamax it’s I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE!! I agree; some critics say I SPIT was made to titillate the audience. Really??!!? When I watch it the last thing I get is “turned on”. There is nothing sexy or erotic about Keaton’s ordeal …. she is brutalized and essentially tortured. I think this is the best of the revenge sub-genre that’s part of the grindhouse body of work. It still gets under my skin to this day. I totally agree about the “gore” here; that little spurt of blood speaks volumes and does more that the blood-filled elevators in THE SHINING!!

  6. Demian says:

    I was also young when I saw this , i wasn’t quite descentized yet either so it did bother me. I revisit the movie every few years and it may be dated but it still holds up pretty well. I like it better than Last house on the left. I am still impressed how this movie can still make me feel dirty and disgusted after watching it with very little gore;)

    • That says it all Demian …. this movie is still able to make me feel dirty to this day too!! That says something. I like LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (the original, of course) … I also saw these 2 flicks around the same time (about a month a part). I think I SPIT is more effective, but LAST HOUSE also has the ability to get under my skin and make me feel dirty.

  7. Hi Scott! Great review! I enjoyed very much reading it and I hope I get to see this movie (I will look for it in the internet) because I don´t think video rentals will have it down here. Your review made me think that it is a movie like kill Bill but with a lot more gore and obviously with an infinitecimal budget. Thanks for sharing this review with us!

    • Thanks Alejandro!! Don’t get me wrong; I SPIT really isn’t all that gory. It’s more of a disturbing, “I can’t believe I just watched that and liked it” kinda film. It definitely has that exploitation feel to it that the KILL BILL flicks imitated so well. Let me know what you think of it after you see it.

      • Finally I saw it and well, your review makes a lot more sense now. The actors are great and Camille Keaton is just gorgeous! After watching this movie, I see her character in Sella Turcica a bit different. I still think movies like Kill Bill were influenced by these type of older movies. Again: Great review!

      • There’s no doubt that these grindhouse, exploitation flicks greatly influence the KILL BILL flicks.

        Glad you liked the review and the film!!

  8. Adam says:

    Cunt-tards! One of the best words I’ve heard in years

  9. trioxin says:

    Great review, and it’s nice to read one that doesn’t overanalyze the movie. You’re right, it’s just good old-fashioned exploitation revenge, and the best of it’s type too. The only rival really is Last House on the Left, and that’s more cartoon revenge bordering on the ‘Home Alone’ boobytrapped house rather than the deserved revenge that ISOYG provides.
    One criticism of this film is that the revenges tend to dwindle down to nothing towards the end, where they should really ramp up from the first to the last. The film makers got the order wrong here, so the film sadly peters out to a kind of damp squib of an ending.
    However it is a good fun movie, with some well deserved revenge scenes. I’m actually looking forward to the remake just to see how they pitch it – will it be exploitation, or will they actually try for a the feminist empowerment angle that gets tagged to this original?

    • That’s a really good observation about I SPIT Trioxin!! The revenge scenes start off really strong and get weaker as the film goes on. I think they blew their load (pardon the pun) on the 1st setup!! I love the original I SPIT and LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT!! They just don’t make ’em like this anymore!!

      I’m actually really looking forward to the remake. The potential is high with this one. Wouldn’t it be a novel idea to just promote the I SPIT remake as simply a “horror movie”???

  10. Katie says:

    I completely agree with autumnforest. It’s good for the time period that it came out. It is a bit rough, but I didn’t expect it to be action-packed because of the decade it came out. Besides, I’m a big fan of the build-up and then bam! I had heard they were going to do a re-make, but I didn’t realize it was coming so soon. I’m sure it won’t be as good and merely be a bloodfest that won’t have near the meaning the original has. I’m not sure I will watch the re-make (unless, of course, I find reviews and sneak peeks that change my mind).
    I also have not seen the re-make of Last House on the Left. The original was so poignant for me. It was the first movie of it’s kind I watched. I was exhilarated and disgusted at the same time. I skipped the re-make because I feel that nowadays the viewer is very aware that it is a movie (all that glossiness), whereas the original (Spit included) has a realness about it that makes you feel it really happened. (And on a side note, I watched Cannibal Ferox soon after Spit and was hooked on exploitation from then on).

    • I hear ya loud and clear about the original LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. The original was the 1st movie of its kind that I watched and I still love it to this day. I was gonna ignore the remake until some reputable horror reviewers started giving it pretty decent reviews. I hated the remake. It recaptured none of the feel or atmosphere of the original.

      From what I’ve seen, read, and heard 1st hand, I think the I SPIT remake has the potential to be gorier and more disturbing than the original. I sure hope so!!

      • Knowing Chad Lindberg has a little to do with my “opinion” of the new I SPIT. I haven’t seen it yet but given he is so psyched about it, I have to take him at his word that it’s gonna be a fun ride! We’ll see!!

      • You were at the Texas Frightmare Weekend, right?? Did you catch the I SPIT remake panel? After hearing what the cast and crew had to say and seeing a few clips, I’ve been really excited to see it. I think its a great film to remake, and it sure sounds like they are keeping the “helled up-ness” intact!!

  11. autumnforest says:

    I’m glad you reviewed this, buddy. I know what you mean about callng it a good movie. It’s really the best in its genre–I think for that kind of shock sexploitation type of genre, it’s the pinnacle. It kicks Billy Jack’s butt but has the same sort of feel to it. I think it’s a classic and I just adore this film, but then I’m a gal and there’s something about giving a guy his comeuppance that is so attractive. I think it works for the time period too because women were becoming “liberated” and doing things on their own and threatening to men for their new-claimed strength. The remake they’re working on nowadays-will not have the same poignancy as this one. It will just seem like pure exploitation and titillation whereas for the 70s, this flick was a social commentary like “Night of the Living Dead” was for the zombie genre in the time period it was made. Does that make sense???

    • I agree with ya to a point AutumnForest; I love I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE for its pure exploitation. I can see why you read the feminist subtext into it (especially since it was made in the late 70’s), but after watching director Zarchi’s other flick, DON’T MESS WITH MY SISTER, I don’t think he really intended SPIT to be the new feminist manifesto. I think he simply set out to make a hardcore exploitation-grindhouse flick and got really lucky. LOL

      As far as the remake goes, I think director Steven Monroe has a great opportunity to make a really kick ass update of the original. Like I mention in the review, the original SPIT really ain’t that great of a movie technically. And from the panel discussion at the Texas Frightmare Weekend, it sure sounds like the cast and crew behind the remake are really pulling no punches or toning down the rape scene. Time will tell!