I Spit On Your Grave (78), A Timeless Tale of Vengeance Served Stone Cold (Review)
Written by: Tara Mae Jackson
Directed by: Meir Zarchi
Cast: Camille Keaton, Eron Tabor, Richard Pace
There are movies out there that even the most hardened horror fan may have to turn their heads away from, images that make them cringe and anticipate the scenes ending, and things bad enough they wish they hadn’t seen it. The atrocities one may afflict upon another can sometimes really churn your stomach, and to be subject to an onslaught on screen that seems to go on and on, while sometimes pure fun to true fans, can sometimes be nearly too much to bear. Much controversy has been raised when it comes to certain subject matter, horror movies in general always take a lot of heat from those who believe they are useless crap that spurns crime and desensitizes one to violence; groups against the movies have risen up, and in some countries tons of titles have been out right banned. Movies such as The Last House on the Left (72) and Death Wish (74) depicted scenes of humiliation, brutal rapes, and a good dose of revenge, and in 1978 the world was shocked and appalled by I Spit On Your Grave (78) with probably one of the longest and most grueling gang rape scenes to ever be filmed, and a revenge so calculated and cold, no one could forget it.
In the U.K. there is what is known as the “Video Nasy” list, a list of banned titles with content so extreme the censors felt that people should be completely prevented from viewing them. I Spit On Your Grave, also known as Day of the Woman had absolutely no trouble making that list, with its graphic rape scene that seems to go on and on, this alone would have cemented it’s spot on the list, even if the scene had been half as long. Many people, men included, having watched this title admit that seeing the rape scenes bothered them, even made a lot of them turn away, and most women cannot watch the movie at all. While many consider this sick, perverse, deplorable, and trash, I do believe the movie serves a certain purpose, intentionally or not. I feel that in the end, despite the sick amount of depravity this unlucky woman undergoes, her carefully planned vigilante justice displays the result of pushing the wrong person too far. As stated by many, in the end this movie is often hailed as “The Ultimate Feminist Movie” and with good reason.
The movie plot is simply put, a rape/revenge title. Jennifer rents a cabin by a lake in some secluded woods in order to do some writing, and runs into some local lowlifes who decide to use her for their own sick pleasures. The grocery delivery boy is treated rather nicely by her, in turn he tells his scummy friends about how much he wants her, and this is all the fuel they need to launch an attack on this helpless writer who’s completely isolated and alone. After a tense chase through the woods, we are hit with a prolonged sexual assault that eventually leads to Jennifer crawling back inside the cabin in shock and pain, only to find the men waiting for another round. Left for dead, Jennifer decides to plot her revenge on the miscreant rapists, a carefully carried out course of stone cold revenge. The scenes that follow are every bit as brutal as the tortures she herself was subjected to, and after witnessing her defilement we are cheering her on, as the popular tagline on the movies poster and covers state “cut, chopped, broken and burned 5 men beyond recognition, but no jury in America would ever convict her.”
Some comments in response to this film I have heard is that they feel the rape scene is way too long and gets rather uncomfortable, the question often posed as to why it’s so lengthy, that it makes it so hard to get through. In my opinion, without the rape going on so long, without her enduring so much humiliation, her revenge would make her out to be worse than her predators. We have to see how much they deserve this act of vigilantism, and so we must see how far they take it. You get the sense this isn’t their first act of barbarism towards a female, and probably wouldn’t be their last, and given the fact that such a secluded location would lend to lack of interruption, they are free to take as long as they like, so in this sense the overlong violation is actually realistic. While these scenes are far from easy for most to sit through, you come away effected by them, and in turn root for the pure viciousness of what befalls them.
While other movies of this nature have followed, most have not had the audacity to show such a gut wrenching assault on a female that I Spit On Your Grave managed to capture. In 2010 it joined the long and ever growing list of movies to be remade, and this one has so far spurned 2 sequels. It is a movie that never quite leaves our minds once having viewed it, and has really stood the test of time. The themes are just as applicable today as they were in 1978, and despite how much more violent cinema has purportedly become, this movie will still make even some of the gorehounds turn away at times. It is one heck of a viewing experience, it’s unforgettable, well-acted, and pulls no punches. For those of you who say “I could never watch one with a woman raped and treated that way” just know that the revenge is so worth it!
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