Elite Entertainment // 1978 // 100 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // January 16th, 2003
This woman has just chopped, crippled, and mutilated four men beyond recognition...But no jury in America would ever convict her!
Read the charge again. Need I say more?
Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) is a New York City magazine writer who's decided to spend some "quality time" in the tranquil beauty of nature. Her plan is to write her first novel in a small cabin by a lake. Unfortunately, the locals in this particular town have watched the film Deliverance one too many times -- as soon as Jennifer runs into a few rural boneheads with a collective IQ of six, she finds herself the victim of merciless torture and a brutal rape. After she's able to mend back in NYC, Jennifer returns to the hellish town with only one thing on her mind...revenge!
If ever there was a movie undeserving of a coveted "Millennium Edition" DVD, it's Meir Zarchi's I Spit On Your Grave. I did not like this movie. Not one little bit. It is a violent, soulless film that doesn't pass as entertainment on any level. As most of you know, I love horror movies. Friday the 13th Part 2, John Carpenter's The Thing, A Nightmare on Elm Street...there's something intrinsically fun about those wacky slasher movies.
But not I Spit On Your Grave.
I guess you could lump this film in the "slasher" genre, though I'd consider it more exploitation than horror (it could also be seen as a distant cousin of Wes Craven's Last House on the Left). There isn't a single smile to be found in I Spit On Your Grave. Though one character (Matthew, one of the rapists) could be seen as the comic relief, the story and actions are so intense, so undeniably god awful, that to laugh at any point would be like tickling a lion -- you're more than welcome to do it, but you're not going to feel very good about it afterward.
The plot of I Spit On Your Grave consists of two elements: Jennifer getting raped and brutalized (with seemingly more nudity than a Ron Jeremy film), and Jennifer exacting her revenge upon the backwoods yahoos (total number of teeth: three). That's quite literally it -- there are no subplots or various characters to complicate the story, if we can really call it that. I can't readily comment on the performances -- Camille Keaton (who is apparently married to Zarchi, the poor woman) runs around almost the whole film butt naked and covered in dirt and blood; the rest of the cast yells their lines with such grating zeal that my ears started bleeding. There's not much to be found in the way of characterization -- it's as if Zarchi delved deep into the vast bounty of community college talent and came out with this mess of a cast.
For you gorehounds (and if you're reading this review, I'm guessing you're in the group), there's the requisite blood and guts, though it's all done in such a vile, tasteless manner that it practically made me sick to my stomach. If any of you out there actually enjoyed watching any of the horror in this film, please turn yourself in to the local authorities. The scene where Jennifer castrates one of her attackers in the bath is particularly harsh -- after fondling his dingleberries and making him giggle, Jennifer whacks off his manhood in a geyser of blood and shrieks. Not content to just yank off his willie, Jennifer then proceeds to lock him in the bathroom as he moans, twists, and expires on the floor. Talk about coitus interruptus.
Now, I realize that many consider this a feminist film (it's known as "Day of the Woman" in other countries). I guess you could say it's a comment on the rape and torture of women throughout the ages, but does it need to be so freakin' hateful? Every single male in this film is portrayed as an evil being with only one thing on his mind -- forced sexual intercourse. Geez, let's give the male of the species a break. While I agree that there are horrible men doing horrible things in the world, we're not all minions of Satan. I'm not siding with the rapists at all; I just think that the movie is one-sided in its storytelling (and tasteless to boot).
So far this is the second film I've seen by Zarchi, the first being the so-bad-it's-really-boring Don't Mess With My Sister!. After sitting through I Spit On Your Grave, I am inclined to never ever watch another film by this talent-deprived writer/director. While witnessing I Spit On Your Grave, I kept wondering: At family get-togethers and holidays, what does Mr. Zarchi tell his grandkids about his life?
Little Joey, precious Jenny, I did so much as a young man. I climbed the highest mountains. I rode through raging rivers. And in 1978 I made a movie about a girl who gets gang-raped, then hacks off the penises of her attackers.
I'm guessing Meir doesn't get invited to many family reunions.
I Spit On Your Grave: Millennium Edition is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a decent transfer considering the source material. The image is often fuzzy and messy with plenty of dirt, grain, and other defects throughout. I guess it's nice that Elite Entertainment has given this film an anamorphic transfer (and cleaned it up as well as can be expected), though that just means you have to watch this mess in pristine detail. My guess is that I Spit On Your Grave looks as good as it's going to get, and that's not all that great.
The soundtrack is presented in three options: Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono, DTS 5.1 Surround, and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, all in English. The original mono soundtrack is what you'd expect from a film of this caliber: distorted and clunky. The new 5.1 mixes are a bit better, though the surrounds and directional effects sound forced due to the original source's limitations. The dialogue, effects, and music are better, though not by leaps and bounds. No subtitles are included on this disc.
Welcome to the "Millennium Edition" of I Spit On Your Grave! For those of you who were able to keep your lunch down after watching this debacle, here are a few supplements. Consider this your just dessert:
Commentary Track by Director Meir Zarchi and Cult Film Guru Joe Bob Briggs: I will admit here and now that the only reason I wanted to review this film was for the commentary track by Joe Bob Briggs, my very own "personal hero." Thankfully, Briggs did not let me down -- he knows what kind of movie he's watching, and wastes no time in making off-the-cuff asides and gags at the characters' expense. On nature: "Harmonicas and banjos: always bad news in the woods." On violent films: "Hell, if watching violent movies made you violent, I'd have committed 97 murders by now." If I can recommend anything on this disc (and technically, I really can't), it's this commentary track. The second track is by director Meir Zarchi. I am sure fans have been waiting eons to hear what this guy has to say about this stinky dog mess of a movie. Surprisingly, Zarchi comes off as a well-spoken individual who actually had halfway decent intentions while making this film (he wanted to make a movie that "put you in Jennifer's place" and "made you feel her suffering"). While I can sympathize with his intentions, I can't say his execution was very good. Interestingly, there are moments when even Zarchi seems to question the crap he's put in this film.
Four Theatrical Trailers: The announcer on these trailers sounds as if he's more disgusted by the film than I was. Each is presented in anamorphic widescreen, and that's about all you need to know.
Three TV Spots: One of these spots features that same announcer saying the words "I Spit On Your Grave" over and over and over...and over again. Chilling. Each is presented in a full frame aspect ratio.
Three Radio Spots: "After it was all over, she waited. Then she struck back in a way only a woman can." And so goes one of these enthralling radio spots. And remember moms, "Under 17 not admitted without parent."
Posters: Now you too can see the thrilling artwork from I Spit On Your Grave translated into multiple languages and cultures.
Reviews and Articles: This was one of the more enjoyable things about this disc. I loved reading Roger Ebert's review, who called this film "a vile bag of garbage." Well put, Roger...well put.
Filmographies: You'll be shocked to learn that almost no one in this cast went on to make any other movies...ever.
Also included inside the DVD case is a small bag of saliva that originated from actress Camille Keaton's mouth. Ha-ha! Just kidding.
I'm somewhat conflicted about this disc. On one hand, I truly think this movie is lacking in any value whatsoever. On the other hand, the two commentary tracks are both fascinating and humorous. I can almost recommend this as a rental just to hear Briggs and Zarchi speak. Almost.
I Spit On Your Grave: Millennium Edition is found guilty of...well, just about every crime in the book! Now it's time to wash my hands clean of this mess on eBay...
Review content copyright © 2003 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Elite Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 1978
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Commentary Track by Director Meir Zarchi
* Commentary Track by Cult Film Guru Joe Bob Briggs
* Theatrical Trailers
* TV Spots
* Still Photo Gallery
* Foreign and Domestic Art
* THX Optimizer