Reviews

Reviews

I Spit on Your Grave

I Spit on Your Grave

Day of the Woman

Meir Zarchi

USA, 1978

Credits

Review by David Carter

Posted on 11 July 2004

Source VHS

Exploitation films were being churned out by the hundreds in the Seventies, however few are as widely known (read: notorious) as I Spit on Your Grave. Despite being easily the most famous of the exploitation films, its plot was standard fare for the genre. It is what is known as a “revenge movie.” It was sort of an “Easy-Bake Plot” in the 70’s; just add nudity and violence and stir. These films were especially popular in Italy, and even Dustin Hoffman got in on the revenge film boom in Pekinpah’s Straw Dogs. The plot of these films, as well as I Spit on Your Grave’s plot, revolves around the main character being attacked, harmed, or oppressed by an outside agent, usually a group of more powerful people. These films always have the underdog being victorious in the end, sort of a macabre twist on Rocky.

A young female reporter goes to upstate New York to be able to write in seclusion in a rented cottage. The locals, mainly just these four guys, “don’t take to kindly” to outsiders and begin harassing her the second she arrives. The four men then surprise her, beat her, and rape her repeatedly. For approximately 30 minutes she is chased for miles, only stopping while each man takes his “turn.” It is admittedly hard to watch. The camera does not blink. The woman manages to survive the attacks, and after about two weeks begins to seek her revenge. She lures each of the four men to their doom in increasingly brutal ways. One guy gets his head chopped off with an ax, one is hung, one is castrated with a pair of scissors, and one of them gets run over by a power boat. The camera does not blink here either.

To say this movie isn’t for everybody would be ridiculous; that should be clear. No one in his or her right mind “likes” this movie. It is very depressing to watch. “Siskel and Ebert” spent almost an entire episode reasoning that this film should not be watched. However some feminist groups have curiously praised the film. The woman stood up for herself, took revenge, and was actually the “hero” of the film — a rarity in those days. Those who are disgusted by these types of things should probably avoid this film. If you are fan of horror movies and are bored with men in rubber suits, you may want to check it out because the terror is real and doesn’t let up. Feminists and film students also should probably see it just for the historical merit that I Spit on Your Grave has for both of those groups.

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