I Spit on Your Grave

Year:  1978
Director:  Meir Zarchi
Cast:  Camille Keaton, Eron Tabor, Richard Pace, Anthony Nichols, Gunter Kleemanns

Review by featured writer David Harlequin, Editor-in-Chief of STIFF Magazine

During the late 1970's, exploitation cinema was everywhere, these films were usually low budget, and always focused on shocking audiences with controversial and disturbing topics. Of course as times changed, so did what the public deemed shocking and so most of these films either became cult-classics for audiences to simply make fun of, or were forgotten altogether. However, regardless of the era, some things are simply too horrific to ever fail to be shocking or disturbing; hence even 34 years after the film's release, I Spit On Your Grave remains one of the most controversial and talked about films of all time.

Originally released as Day of the Woman, I Spit On Your Grave is a rape/revenge film that makes Deliverance look like a Saturday morning cartoon. The film is very graphic in nature and contains notorious moments where the lead character, Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) is viciously attacked and brutally raped for nearly the first half hour. These horrific scenes are surely the source of the film´s original controversy and with very good reason. This film takes every opportunity to unsettle its viewer, and is easily one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen. The overtly graphic scenes of violent sexual abuse are enough to turn the stomach and rattle the nerves of even the most well-seasoned shock-cinema veteran.

Those that made it through the first horrifying half hour are rewarded by the backlash of the left for dead heroine. Jennifer's revenge is quite brutal and she devises an interesting scheme to murder each of the four men who attacked her. The most vicious and entertaining demise is easily the one where she seduces one of the rapists and proceeds to amputate the same body part that caused all her suffering. While these revenge scenes do leave some things to the imagination and aren't quite as graphic as they were considered in 1978, they're still very violent and bloody and help the film achieve its goal of continually disturbing its audience. It's pretty safe to assume that even today, every man watching that particular scene still clamp his legs shut and cringe when viewing the infamous bathtub castration.

Overall, 1978's I Spit On Your Grave is not a perfect film, but it delivers. Director Meir Zarchi provides us with a true cinematic train-wreck. While the acting, camerawork and general plot are certainly below average; the film never strives to be anything more than what it is- a shocking, disturbing, exploitation flick showcasing the brutality of rape and forcing viewers to deal with this very real issue, while outright asking them:
“what would you do?”  Perhaps the only thing not shocking is that this film is still being talked about to this day. Much like any train wreck, for some reason, no matter how horrific it is- we just can't look away! All things considered, it’s still very much a must-see for any horror fan, which gets it an (admittedly very low) ‘A’ from me.

Fright Meter Grade (Courtesy of Dave Harlequin):  


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