The house where the rape takes place was owned in real life by Meir Zarchi's friend Nouri Haviv, who was also director of photography on the film. Zarchi had visited his colleague when he was developing the script and was influenced by its location.
Meir Zarchi said that he was inspired to do the film after helping a young woman who had been raped in New York. He tells of how a friend of his and his daughter were driving by a park when they witnessed a young woman crawling out of the bushes bloodied and naked (he later found out the girl was taking a common shortcut to meet with her boyfriend when she was attacked). They took the girl with them, took his daughter back home, and talked with the friend on whether they should take her to the hospital or to the police. They decided to take her to the police first, which they soon afterwards discovered was a mistake - the officer, whom Zarchi described as "not fit to wear the uniform", delayed taking her to the hospital and instead insisted she answer questions about her assailants, even though her jaw had been broken and she could hardly talk. Finally, Zarchi insisted to the officer that they take her to the hospital right away. Zarchi said that soon afterwards the girl's father wrote him a letter of thanks for helping his daughter, and wanted to give him a reward, which he turned down.
One of the production crew quit during the filming of the second rape scene as he simply couldn't stomach any more of the violence. The film's make-up artist also quit the production halfway through as she too had been gang-raped and couldn't relive the horror of her attacks.
Camille Keaton wore her own wardrobe, and had no problem with the amount of nudity involved. She did have some problems with walking and running barefoot through woods and being attacked by mosquitoes. At one point she had to be taken to hospital as she'd been bitten so much.
The four male actors all asked to appear naked in the film to (a) remove any awkwardness or embarrassment about their own nudity and (b) to show solidarity for Camille Keaton who spends much of the film nude.
When this film was first released in 1978, the original title was "Day of the Woman" and was poorly received at the box office. In 1981 distributor Jerry Gross renamed it "I Spit on Your Grave" - after a 1959 French drama - for re-release. Under the new title the film received greater publicity and became a key target of Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel's campaign against films featuring women in danger.
A poster's tagline mistakenly says, "This woman has just cut, chopped, broken and burned five men beyond recognition." There are only four men she gets revenge on and she does not burn any of them. In the remake I Spit on Your Grave (2010), a fifth man is added.
The scar displayed on the left side of Jennifer (Camille Keaton)'s face in the post-trauma scenes is real, the result of an automobile accident in the actress's youth. In these scenes, it was exaggerated by the make-up artist, and in the opening and closing scenes, it was hidden under a thin layer of foundation.
Filmed under the title of "Day of the Woman". It was also shown under the title "I Hate Your Guts" and "The Rape and Revenge of Jennifer Hill". The title "I Spit on Your Grave" was first used for the 1980 re-release. It was not a film title that Meir Zarchi liked but it helped make the film a controversial success. Zarchi now insists that the subtitle "AKA Day of the Woman" be attached to all posters and DVD sleeves.
The film has no music score. Director Meir Zarchi intended to add some library music to his film, but found none that was suitable, so the only music we hear in the film comes from the church organ, a snatch of Giacomo Puccini on record, background music in the store and a few stray riffs from Johnny's harmonica.
There is a hidden easter egg on the Special Edition version [UK.] On page three of the special features, go to 'main menu' then hit left, and you can highlight the knife that Jennifer holds. The easter egg reveals a selection of stills from the movie.
The film was submitted to the Motion Picture Association of America several times before it was passed. It was originally rejected due to the nature of its violence, although the MPAA did not specify which violent sections should be trimmed. After several re-submissions, the film was passed after Meir Zarchi had removed all references to anal rape.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
Actor Richard Pace (Matthew) unintentionally worried director Meir Zarchi filming his death scene when he started to convulse while hanging. Zarchi initially thought he was just doing some really good acting, but realized that something was wrong. Pace wasn't choking, but was afraid of heights and was having a panic attack.