As much as I love horror movies, there are a handful that I have purposely never watched because I’ve felt they would be too disturbing for me. I know, I know… when you’re dealing with blood and gore, demons, ghosts, monsters, slashers and torturers, what could possibly be “too disturbing”? How about reality? For me, most horror movies are an escape from reality; but, when you think about a topic such as rape, well… that really happens… every day. And I personally am not entertained by watching a movie that depicts such a brutal reality. Even if I did see a “good” movie with such subject matter, I’m not sure I would ever admit that I “liked” it.

Having said that, I recently watched I Spit on Your Grave for the very first time. Not that it was a pleasant movie, but it turns out it was not as disturbing for me as I once thought it would be. It actually reminded me of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre in that they both are very raw, not particularly well-made and sometimes difficult to endure. It must have been the era: both are products of the 70’s, offshoots of the exploitation genre and made with low budgets by inexperienced filmmakers.

Also known as Day of the Woman (1978), the movie’s name was changed to I Spit on Your Grave for its 1980 re-release. It is the story of a writer (Camille Keaton) who retreats to the country to work on a book. Cue the banjos, the arrival of this beautiful woman arouses the backwoods locals who eventually have their way with her. Repeatedly. When one of them fails to dispose of her, she carefully exacts her revenge. With that little plot, the movie needs some great atmosphere and suspense to be successful. But I Spit on Your Grave is only hit-and-miss.

Extremely slow to begin, the first 20 minutes of the movie is used for exposition, the next 40 for the rapes and only the final 30 for the revenge. Maybe I have a 2000’s Saw/Hostel mentality, but I want to see more time spent on the revenge portion of the movie. (That also whisks us away faster to the unrealistic part of the movie.) The remake of I Spit on Your Grave did not open locally, so I haven’t seen it yet; however, I have a hunch that it takes that approach. 32 years after the original, we all know rape is awful. Why spend so much time on the graphic details of that when you can spend the time on clever and creative ways to depict cruel revenge?

It’s not just that the rape scenes are long, it’s also that they’re just so… matter of fact. The camera doesn’t move and the acting is bad. And as if it’s not already uncomfortable enough, one of the attackers is mentally retarded. Watching his “friends” egg him on is no fun. This all may be the point: to make you squirm. But it is no fun to witness.

And then, the revenge of the victim is not terribly creative. She spends a lot of time thinking about it during her recovery. It was odd to me that after being sexually violated, she would turn around and use sex as her weapon to draw the perpetrators into their traps. Maybe this is the difference between most male revenge movies. Considering the original title of this movie, it could be taken as a statement that women are more calm and collected than men when dishing their revenge.

I can recommend I Spit on Your Grave for only two reasons. If you’re a horror afficianado, there’s no doubt that it carries historical value; I’d watch it simply so you can say you’ve seen it. Or, if you want to see the remake when it’s released on DVD early next year, I’d watch the original so you can compare and contrast. (Again, I haven’t seen the remake, but it might be interesting to see how the filmmakers treat the same subject 3 decades later.) As for entertainment value or a cathartic and satisfying revenge thriller, I’m afraid not. We have too many options these days to squander time with this one.

REVIEW: I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
1.0Overall Score
Creepy Kids
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