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I tried to watch this film once before and made it up to the second
rape scene before leaving the room, believing I was seriously about to
throw up. I finally forced myself to watch it all the way through
recently, and I'm glad I did.
Jennifer Hill is a young, hip, free-spirited woman of the 70s, who leaves her home in New York City for a long vacation in Connecticut, where she plans to write her first novel. Jennifer soon attracts the attention of four lowlife scumbags as she sunbathes in her bikini. The semi-evolved thugs kidnap Jennifer, drag her into the woods, rape her, beat her, sodomize her, beat her some more, follow her home, rape her again, kick her when she's down, make fun of her manuscript, rip it to shreds, rape her with a bottle, beat her up one last time and leave her, bleeding and unconscious on the floor of her vacation home. Damn. They send the retarded Matthew back into the house with a knife and instructions to kill her, but Matthew can't bring himself to do it. He tells the guys that he has killed her, and they stupidly believe him and leave. But Jennifer is alive, and as she heals from her hideous wounds and recovers her strength, she plots revenge against her rapists.
Roger Ebert called this the worst film ever made and feminists damned it to hell for all eternity, but you know what? I'm a woman and I liked it. Jennifer is no weak, whimpering, helpless little victim. She tries her best to fight back. When threats and violence fail to work in her favor, she uses the only other weapon she has: sex. The men are all stereotypical slobs, disgusting pigs who are clearly already emasculated and use Jennifer as an outlet for their frustration and rage. The rapes have nothing to do with sex and are portrayed most realistically - they are ugly, brutal, violent, nasty and completely devoid of eroticism. The sodomy scene was the one scene that horrified me the most, as Jennifer emits the most bloodcurdling scream of pain ever heard. It is very difficult not to flinch from that sound. Jennifer's revenge is every bit as bloody and painful, and nowhere is it more sadistic than in the infamous "bloodbath" scene. These guys all get what's coming to them, and Jennifer makes sure that the punishment fits the crime, turning the men into the helpless, pleading victims and feeding their own sadism right back to them.
Okay, so not all of the plot points make sense, and not everyone is going to agree with Jennifer's decision to kill the men, but it's still a powerful film. It's told primarily from Jennifer's point of view but it never takes sides. It simply tells the story and lets you decide - is Jennifer an insane psycho-killer who ought to go to jail for her crimes, or is she an angel of vengeance delivering poetic justice?
Scaredy cats like me might prefer to watch this film with the audio commentary by Joe Bob Briggs turned on. Joe Bob provides a lot of interesting information about the making of this film, and also supplies some much needed comic relief throughout.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978) is one of the most notorious pictures ever
released during the seventies. Along with LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and
Thriller: A cruel picture, it's one of the greatest revenge flicks of
that era. A feminist writer goes out to the country so she could have
some peace and quiet whilst working on her first novel. Instead she
runs into a group of male locals who decide to have some fun with her.
Unlike many other movies of this ilk, I.S.O.Y.G. is not like
other"exploitation films". There is nothing sexual or provocative in
this picture. The director wanted to show what it's like to be raped
and the after effects of such a traumatizing event. He went through
great lengths in research and from his own personnel experience. I
found it to be a very different film than all of the others that deal
with the same subject matter. The film-making (for a first time
director) was very well done and for the most part the acting was up to
par. I am proud to admit that I have this film as part of my
collection. Don't believe the hype. This is a good movie.
P.S. The subject matter is real graphic, but rape is not enjoyable. The director did an excellent job of portraying the true horror of it instead of hollywoodizing this dirty, degrading act.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is a straightforward rape/revenge drama with the tone
of a documentary.
The coverage is plain, there is no music, there are no "stars", there are no concessions to a mainstream audience.
The exploitation film audience may be served, although the rape sequences are neither dynamic nor stylish.
Camille Keaton (Buster's granddaughter), a writer, drives to the country to stay at her house on the river. Local losers stalk her and rape her and rape her again.
The rest of the film details the victim's bloody revenge.
Labeled rubbish by the ignorant, this is very restrained exploitation that is often perversely effective and confronting.
The rape sequences are nasty and ugly, not enhanced by camera moves, rich sound effects or lurid angles.
On the other hand, the revenge sequences are more cinematically manipulative and poorly executed.
An intriguing document of merit.
I Spit on Your Grave is a film that will never be accepted as a serious
piece of film-making. This is thanks in part to the gratuitous rape and
murder scenes, which don't exactly hold back the shocks; and it's also
due to the time in which it was made. These days, as proved by the
likes of 'Irreversible', films tackling rape in a shocking and
disgusting way are more readily accepted, and even gain a strong
reaction from many critics. This film was unfortunately (albeit for
good reason) caught up in the 'video nasty debate' in the early
eighties, and as such it's reputation has been diminished to such an
extent that the likes of Roger Ebert have labelled it 'the worst film
ever made' (even though The Blair Witch Project is the worst film ever
made) and it's reaction in general tends to be of the bad variety. For
some reason, we have found ourselves in a world where it's more than
acceptable to give praise to 'A class' rape themed dramas such as
Irreversible, but woe betide thee who labels this as a good film. Well,
woe betides me then.
For a 'video nasty', I Spit on Your Grave has surprisingly good production values. While the acting often lets it down, the cinematography and even the script are more than decent and this helps the film in it's bid to get the praise it deserves. The story, which follows a New York writer who moves to a backwater part of the USA to work on her new novel, shortly before being horribly raped and beaten, is just a plot device for the more important elements of the plot. The main theme on display seems to be a comment on the male sexual ego and the way that women can have power over them. The film plays out like a revenge thriller, with the protagonist getting her own back on the men who raped her. This disrupts the main argument against this film; namely, that it's misogynistic, as much of the violence in the movie is actually directed against men. Of course, the rape scenes are the main crux of the film; but most of the gore comes later. Don't get me wrong, this is hardly an uplifting feminist drama; but it's not the worst film ever made either. Content caution though; it gets a bit extreme. A certain scene in a bathroom takes the prize for being one of the sickest sequences ever to grace the silver screen.
Of all the films that were implicated in the absurd and sickening
tabloid-fueled "video nasties" witch-hunt in the UK, some were demonised
more than others. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE joins a select few as being one of
THE films cited for causing the most problems at the time. Certainly, the
title and advertising campaign (in classic exploitation fashion) was garish
and contentious, but unlike some other films that suffered the same fate
(such as SS EXPERIMENT CAMP), Zarchi's film is extremely powerful and
disturbing... not to mention widely misinterpreted.
I've read a large number of reviews of this film. A worryingly high percentage of them accuse this movie of somehow advocating rape, and being sexist and demeaning. That is the last thought that crosses my mind whilst watching this. The whole "rape/revenge" genre is one that is fraught with moral contradictions. In essence, films of this type ARE exploiting the subject of rape (and sadly, often presenting it in a sexually ambiguous way) but does this mean that they are not able to condemn the subject matter, or offer a powerful criticism of the behaviour of many men towards women? The same school of argument is used against critical film-making like CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST- can a film truly condemn what it exploits? I believe so, and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is a triumphant example of this, putting forward more powerful a message about violence of rape and the attitudes of some men towards it than any other movie I care to mention. However, it goes even deeper than this in this particular case. Zarchi doesn't praise the rapists- nor does he condemn them. Similarly he offers no moral judgment on the revenge that is carried out by the female protagonist. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE offers a truly subjective message in that it presents gritty reality and leaves the viewer to make up their mind on the matter.
Much is made of the fact that the rape scenes last for around forty minutes. It seems that a lot of critics think that by proxy, long scenes of violence equal pure exploitation. In this case, this is far from the truth. The scenes are horrific, grueling and ugly. There is no kind of glorification of rape here. The scenes are shot practically real-time which brings home the gritty and sickening nature of what is being displayed. Furthermore, a lot of the scenes are shot from the victim's perspective. The revolting sight of sweating, grunting men is absolutely anti-sexual and anti-erotic, which is of course EXACTLY what it should be in this context! Rape has little to do with sex, and a great deal more to do with violence and power. This is expressed superbly in the sequences in this film. Sanitising the scenes that are supposedly "exploitative" would trivialise the very serious issues at hand.
The men presented in I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE are nothing to emulate. Nothing is even said about the backgrounds of their characters- they are totally faceless within the context of the film (other than one long shot later on which shows one of the men with his family- merely proving him to be a liar and cheat as well as a rapist). The point here is that they don't even NEED character building- they represent the threat and actuality of sexual violence that women face every day. The final and most telling twist is that these men are then so gullible and arrogant that they could be seduced and murdered by the person they had attacked. If Ebert and all his sniveling comrades are really right about this film "promoting sexual violence", they must see something appealing in the behaviour of these men.
Despite what you might read elsewhere, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is a tightly constructed and well crafted piece of film-making containing some powerfully symbolic imagery. Scenes such as Keaton sitting broken and alone in her house after her attacks or her swimming costume limply floating in the river are extremely effective. There is also practically no music in the entire film. The viewer can almost feel the sense of isolation at every stage of the story- initially it is liberating but it quickly becomes frightening as events unfold. The simple cinematography reflects the isolated feel of the locations that frame this film.
Many horror films can be fairly accused of being misogynistic. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE takes these concepts of misogyny and totally turns them around. This film is EMPOWERING, and whilst it does have the cynical production of an exploitation feature, Zarchi took this and created a powerful, bitter and dynamic story with many issues being explored therein. It's great. Check it out if you haven't already, and if you've watched it before with the wrong approach to it, I demand you have another look. This is one of the pinnacles of the genre but sadly it is (in)famous for all the wrong reasons.
This is not a fun film. This is not an easy film to watch. But this is certainly not a film without merit. The first half of this film takes the audience through a terrible descent into a hell most of us can only imagine. The horror of rape. And this film treats this subject with a frightening realism. No fancy lighting. No mood music hanging in the background. Simply, the horror of rape. The horror of having one's life violated in the most unspeakably vile manner imaginable. That is the purpose of this film. This film does not want to entertain. It wants to repulse. And it succeeds! This film is as sickening as the rape it depicts. Why make a film like this? One might jump to the conclusion that the film was aimed at the prurient interests of perverts who enjoy viewing the degradation and violation of women. But that is an unfair conclusion. This is a film with a purpose. A message. And this film seems to be carefully designed to send that message loud and clear to every viewer: RAPE IS A TRULY HORRIBLE CRIME! Horrible beyond what most of us could ever imagine.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I Spit On Your Grave has the worst title in history next to Attack of
the Clones! This is not the campy, horror, gore fest you expect, it's
an angrier, nastier take on deliverance.
A you writer goes to a secluded cabin for the summer to write her first novel.
Three local twenty-something's and the town idiot snatch her in the woods, take turns rapping and tormenting her, and in an obviously moronic move, put the dumb guy in charge of killing her. Well, he just can't do it and when she recovers she gets even.
What's working here is that there's a true emotional bond between the character and the audience. She's harassed a bit at first, then when a couple of the guys try for her attention and she turns her back they decided she's a tease and just needs to be getting some to come around. One by one they take her, let her go, then surround her again. The rapes are brutal, but honest, clumsy, messy, bloody affairs, her situation is tragic and hopeless and her revenge more than justified.
She has a gun, she could waste her time and ours being Chuck Bronson and just shooting them, but instead she plays them. She draws them back, seduces them, then Hangs, Castrates, Axes and out-board motor's them. The tag line says there's five men, they can't count, there's only four.
There's a genuine film under all the gore and fact that our protagonist spends nearly 80% of the film completely naked. However her emotions are as exposed as her body, her transformation from normality, to victim, through recovery and finally as executioner.
First at all, this movie is not for all the audiences, but the fans of Wes
Craven's "Last House on the left", Sam Peckimpah's "Straw Dogs", or Jorge
Grau's "Coto de Caza" can find a good piece of sexual horror in "Day of the
The story is simple, Jennifer, a beautiful girl came from New York to a cabin in the Connecticut woods with the intention of writing a novel in the summer. Three rednecks and a delivery boy (a retarded) rape her and humiliate her in very horrible ways (about 40 minutes of . Then, she takes revenge in unexpected ways too. The atmosphere, the silence, and the loneliness of the character and the absolutely explicit scenes of the rape, and a great amount of blood are the elements for creating the tension and the sensation of anguish that makes this movie special. No music, a lot of violence, briefs dialogues and an evident low budget becomes this film in a controversial cult movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I first got wind of this film when I was about 16 years old and I bought a
book about horror films. It told you about what they considered were some
of the best films out there, some of the sickest and some of the worst. I
Spit..... made the list of one of the sickest and one of the worst. But
this film was nowhere to be found in suburban Ontario. As it was in most
places, it was banned. It's funny, Last House On The Left was still
available in London Ontario at the neighbourhood Blockbuster and I Spit....
was banned. To me, Last House is a much more disturbing film but it was
still there. It doesn't make any sense. But that's how things are these
days. So it has taken me almost twelve years to track this film down but I
did. I had to order it off of the Internet, but I finally found some guy in
Northern California that would sell it to me for almost $30.00 Canadian.
Quite a hefty price for a film like this one, but when curiosity gets the
best of you, nothing can stop the wheels of determination from running their
So, was all the fuss warranted? I don't think so. Not only is this film really not all that sleazy, it really isn't much of a horror film and it is not as horrific as people will have you believe. Where all the controversy comes from is that the woman gets raped six ways till Sunday in the film by some local idiots, one of them who happens to be somewhat retarded. So people get up in arms about it and say how bad it is and how determental towards woman's rights and the woman's movement and so on. When really what should have happened is, if people really wanted this film to be ostracized from the annals of film history, they should have just left it alone. I can guarantee you that if there wasn't such a push to ban this film, then no one would really give a damn about it. After all, it really is a poorly made film. In all seriousness, anyone with a video camera could have made this. It's really just soft core porn and then it transgresses into a sloppy revenge piece. There is no suspense, no drama, no shocks. What we have here is a woman that gets raped for a half an hour and then recovers enough so that she can extract revenge on her rapists. There is one scene that everyone talks about as being hard to stomach and that is the castration scene. But there is nothing to it. Just like there is nothing to any of the other killings. You don't see anything, all you get is a prosaic take on what is happening to the rapists. By the time this happens in the film, you are at least cogitating her revenge for her. You are thinking of all the things that she could do to the perverts and then she actually does some of them but you get no satisfaction in the action. You have to think and imagine what is happening. Now I can enjoy a film like Blair Witch and Texas Chainsaw Massacre and even Halloween where you have to use your imagination to some extent. But those films were at least scary, this one isn't.
I Spit On Your Grave is an over-hyped film given it's reputation by stuffy, repressed, squalid people that are just looking for a reason to hate something like this. I don't think this film is good but that does not mean that I think it should be banned. People should be able to make up their own minds and decide whether or not they want to watch it. After all, it is only a movie.
Deal with it.
6 out of 10
In summertime, the aspirant New Yorker writer Jennifer Hills (Camille
Keaton) rents a lakeside cottage in the woods of the peaceful Park Hell
Lane, Connecticut, to write her first novel during the vacation. A
couple of days later, she is successively and brutally gang raped by
three local bigoted rednecks and one retarded delivery boy from the
supermarket. The humiliated and abused Jennifer does not report the
sexual assault to the police and a couple of weeks later, she is
physically recovered and has just plotted revenge against the rapists.
"Day of the Woman" is extremely realistic and violent; therefore the simple and scary story is absolutely credible. The unknown Camille Keaton has an amazing performance, especially in the impressive long sequence when she is repeatedly beaten and raped. However, this gore movie is only recommended for very specific audiences and prohibited to sensitive persons due to the savagery of most of the scenes. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "A Vingança de Jennifer" ("The Revenge of Jennifer")
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