Thursday, August 11, 2011



Was it really the day of the woman? This little exploitation movie dreamed up by expatriate Mier Zarchi has remained among the most controversial of all horror films over the years. Sharply dividing fans over it’s vile content. You want to start a fight in a room full o gore loving horror fans? Get them talking about I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. Inevitably it will turn to gender politics and soon feminist tracts. Without fail people will be accuse someone of sympathizing with rapists and it is all done for.

I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is a volatile time bomb of a movie that, even today even after a crappy remake, and several decades of nasty rape scenes in other films it still holds an edge. 

What I intend to do here today on Exploitation Nation is what I did on our first day out the gate. Explore the movie with some depth, and then I have invited a host of writers, artists and filmmakers that I know and respect to chime in with their views. Mostly I wanted them to recall their first encounters with the film. But I am sure a movie this excitable will draw out far more than just the recollection of whether or not they saw it on VHS or beta.

I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE began life as a film called DAY OF THE WOMAN written and directed by an Israeli filmmaker named Mier Zarchi who was living in New York city. He claims he was moved to create such a violent and savage film because he encountered a badly beaten rape victim in Central Park. On the commentary of the film he recounts a story of meeting a young woman in New York City that was nude, bloody, beaten and had a broken jaw. He took her to the police to which she was treated not like a victim, but like someone who had committed a crime herself. A crime of being a woman, and that being raped was something that just came with being female. This horrific outrage was what fueled him to write and create the story.

The film was shot in upstate Kent Connecticut which is a very picturesque small town. Zarchi chose very wisely to shoot the film is long takes and with almost no music. Something that is almost inperceivable on the first viewing because the imagery is so strong. But the long stretches of silence really make the film very haunting. This technique forces things like body gestures, and looks from actors to stand out much more, accentuating the menace.

Camile Keaton, fresh off her turn as Solange in the Italian thriller WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO SOLANGE? stars as Jennifer Hills a struggling writer who has gone to her family cabin for the summer to write her novel. She quickly inflames the libido of the rednecks in the small town who are simply not accustomed to seeing liberated women of any sort. So her more city like ways of wearing skirts, bikinis and talking back to the menfolk are taken as flirting at best and as a sexual affront at worst, to these boneheaded, boner wielding savages. To try and temper their monstrous behavior they have the town mental defective as their mascot, a kid named Matthew (Richard Pace)  who they use as their whipping boy. When Matthew takes a shine to Jennifer, it is their way to justify the oncoming sexual assaults. They can claim it is all to get Matthew laid, when it is all to act out their worst bestial qualities. To destroy what they do not understand. To fuck away that which sexually threatens them. 

The worst part is that Jennifer is actually very nice to Matthew and tries to not be unkind.  But before you know it the most infamous scenes of the movie are afoot. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is infamous for the rape scenes. They are not only graphic, but last a long time. Far too many sources will quote erroneous times, Anywhere from 35 to 50 minutes, The actual time is actually around 25 or so, as there is a goodly amount of cat and mouse lead up that often seems to get lumped in to the actual assault. She is assaulted several times over by each one of the greasy thugs and Matthew (who's scene is frankly a bit ridiculous who him yelling "I can’t cum" over and over into the camera). Many critics have contested that these scenes are gratuitous, and meant to be titillating to the most base viewers in the audience. That the reason the film exists is to elicit a sexual reaction from viewers who like to watch women being debased.

I contend that is simply not the case, if it were the scenes would be handled very differently. In fact the entire movie would be. There were plenty of movies at that time in the exploitation world that used rape as titillating and they always end with the women being raped loving the experience or falling for her attacker. The old she had to get over the experience to realize she liked sex thing. That is clearly NOT what is going on here. At no point during these scenes is it portrayed in anyway that Jennifer is compliant, or complicit with what is happening. She is clearly being shown as a victim of these men. She is also pretty carefully photographed, though there is nudity, it is not lingering. No close ups of her nipples or crotch, and the nudity doesn't just hang there ogling her. Only when she gets up after being raped to walk away does the camera stay on her for any significant amount of time. Then  it is a shot he emphasizes how dirty, beaten and hollow her face looks.This is a woman taken to the point of destruction.  More often than not the point of view of the rape is hers. The camera is shown to be getting attacked by the men and we the audience as the ones sharing in the horror through her eyes. NOT the other way around. Which is what the detractors fail to notice again and again. There is no distancing device, ala a flashback like say THE ACCUSED. Instead we are right there next to her down in it.

Matthew is told to kill her but instead leaves her for dead and she survives. The second half of the movie is Jennifer finding ways to get the men alone and killing them off. The movie isn't always as strong as it could be in the second half especially considering the year it was made, and leaps and bounds in technology film has come since then. But there is an undeniable frission in many of the scenes where she seduces the men into a moment of vulnerability only to do them in. The movie’s most famous being when she calmly castrates Johnny (Eron Tambor) head of the gang and then goes downstairs to listen to music while he dies. This is easily one of the finest moments in all of the era's exploitation movies.  The scene is indeed sleazy as she seduces the slimebag into the bathtub. Yet once she has him bleeding out and he is screaming in pain the scene reverts to something altogether more. The movie follows HER as she sits downstairs just listening to him die. It is an effective moment of POWER for the Jennifer character and one of the strongest moments of revenge in all of the cannon of these types of films. Not because she castrates him, though that is satisfying, but because the film stays with her and we watch HER satisfaction at listening to the man who violated her die a horrific and painful death.

It is also Johnny who has the most interesting and most repeated bit of dialogue in the film as well. When Jennifer catches him and has him at gunpoint he launches into a rather sleazy justification of why he and his buddy’s did what they did, explaining to her  that her being a woman, and showing the sexiness she did was too much. That “a man is just a man, and you can’t give a man ideas like that”.  Johnny as the ringleader and the voice of all rapists GETS WHAT HE AND THEY DESERVE.

In fact the movie doesn’t really top this moment as the other death scenes with a hatchet and outboard motor don’t deliver the same gut charge this scene does. But what the movie does deliver is a final moment of triumph for Jennifer as we see her ride off in a motor boat, victorious. There is no moralizing, no casting her in a light as some sort of criminal for taking the law into her own hands. No cops show up to arrest her. She is ever so slightly smiling when she rides away, knowing she did what she had to do, and we are invited to feel she did the right thing. 

Contrast that with the much better reviewed, much better loved LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT which was without a doubt the first to land on the scene with the rape/revenge deal. But LAST HOUSE takes a very moral approach to the savagery, with the bad guys punished, the parents in the story are forever tainted by the violence. At the end the bumbling police show up and the Parents are arrested for the killings.  

While I respect LAST HOUSE it is this very distinction that has always made me prefer I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.  I find the lack of moralizing to be preferable and less false. After watching what is essentially the first half of the film where the main character is abused, I prefer to see the bad guys punished and not be told I should feel bad about it. And honestly I feel that I SPIT is simply a better made film than LAST HOUSE. A distinction I am sure few fellow critics and fans share. 

The movie was originally released in 1978 to no business under the title DAY OF THE WOMAN. Camille Keaton won an award for Best Actress at the Cataloninian International Film festival while it still bore this title.  In 1980 the movie was bought by the Jerry Gross Organization who created the brilliant and aggressive ad campaign we know and love today. He changed the title to I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (even though there was already an obscure race hate movie by the same name  in existence) and launched the movie with the ad line “This woman has just cut, chopped, broken and burned five men beyond recognition, and no jury in America would convict her!” Never mind that only FOUR men attack her in the film and not one of them is burned at any point! The poster of a scantily clad, bloody and bruised woman clutching a knife BY the blade is now etched into the mind of horror fans the world over. Anyone who grew up as part of the Fangoria generation remembers seeing this in the ads in the mag, or the poster at drive ins and grindhouses across the country. Under this new ad campaign the film became a blazing success.

But with that success came major controversy. The controversy that still chases the film in some ways. In the United States the hounding began with Siskel And Ebert who devoted an episode of their syndicated PBS show SISKEL AND EBERT AND THE MOVIES to the growing trend of violent slasher films. More specifically to the slasher films they seemed to feel “hated women” such as  DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE, THE TOOLBOX MURDERS and most viciously I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. On the show they particularly ripped into the movie and those who seemed to go to see the film as people who enjoyed watching women being abused and raped. They recounted an experience of seeing the film with a crowd of vicious folks who were shouting at the screen cheering on the rape on screen. While that certainly sounds unpleasant and offensive, it doesn’t in my mind reflect on the film as much as a few dumb-asses in the audience. Sounds to me like they had never seen a horror/exploitation film with a grindhouse/urban audience before. And they really should be smart enough to see that for what it is. I have always been curious about the fact that Ebert places LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT highly on his list of revered films with a three and a half star rating yet finds the I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is a zero star movie. I can’t help but to wonder if his first viewing experience had been different if his opinion would be as well. Or is the film just simply too amoral for his tastes?  The two of them campaigned hard to get people to, if not ban the film, to at least show some moral fiber and good taste in simply not going to the movies that they detest on that show, It didn’t work of course and only alerted a whole lot of other people to a few movies they otherwise wouldn’t have known about.


in it's entirety. 

Over in the UK things were much worse. The Video Nasties scare had begun by the early to mid 80’s where it was actually illegal to own movies on the list of banned videos. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE was chief among those. So if you were caught owning a copy of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE after 1984 you could actually go to jail. There was no cut version, no seeing it at a revival house, simply jail time for owning it. Finally in the early 2000’s that was lifted and a cut version was released on DVD.

But the strong content of the movie coupled with the media backlash put this movie on a radar that even among horror fans made it persona non grata for some people. Even though it was a huge hit on home video and a staple at mom and pop video stores across the country, it was the movie that people loved to hate.  You would be hard pressed to find a positive review of the movie, or even a horror fan willing to admit they liked. At least previous to the ELITE Laserdisc release in the late 90’s.

In my opinion it was finally the remastering of the movie that convinced people that this movie was not some simple piece of awful trash. This laser release, followed by the special edition DVD in 2003 went a long way to show people the movie was far most artistic and well Intentioned than people originally thought. The beautiful and well mounted photography could finally be appreciated, instead of the murky VHS mastering. The clean sound awakened people to one of Mier Zarchi’s most brilliant cinematic choices, which was to forgo using music in the film. There is no score In I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, just ambient noise and some very faint on set music. Otherwise the movie is all natural sound, which adds to the sense of isolation.

The DVD has a great commentary from the director and a second even more appreciated commentary from Joe Bob Briggs,who at first many feared would deliver a “funny” commentary. Instead he delves in deep delivering a fact filled exploration of the making of the film and the controversy around it. It is easily one of the best commentaries recorded for an exploitation release.

Last year there was a largely useless remake of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE released, The biggest problem being that the original film was such a vicious ground breaking release, that how could you even hope to top it. Or even have the same cinematic footprint, You can’t, so instead they just go for more involved gore and violence. But in the process loose the important elements of the story, which is the focus on the character of Jennifer. The remake literally lets her go off screen for almost a third of the film's run time after she is raped as we watch the rapists twist and worry over the fact they might get caught. There is an addition of class distinction added, and the filmmakers drop how she becomes a sexual predator herself, which is maybe a good thing. But once the movie loses the focus on her, it loses the focus completely. The film becomes just another torture driven gore fest, not terribly different than a dozen other genre offering that stain the table these days. There was an unofficial "sequel" by zine editor Donald Farmer in 1993 called SAVAGE VENGEANCE that did star Camille Keaton but reportedly it was majorly unfinished and many on set problems left the final project with a lot to be desired. 
Especially for a low low budget, basically backyard production.

Cirio Santiago mounted his own "remake" in 1985 called NAKED VENGEANCE which is a largely berzerk action, sleaze exploitation fest that uses a lot of the same structure,but goes far into left field typical of Philipino exploitation fare. 

I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is one of those rare films that is still as shocking today as it was when it was made over thirty years ago. Very few movies mange to hold the power to shock, enrage and make people argue three decades after they are released. But I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is one of the few that can claim that honor. While many people will want to claim it is an inferior film for many reasons, the very fact it is STILL DOING ITS JOB stands to reason otherwise.

And Now what the friend's of EXPLOITATION NATION had to say

Allen Richards
Webmaster of
 Those gams. Boy, oh boy, those gams. That rump too...

Summer, 1985, and I'd just turned 12 but didn't own a VCR yet. That didn't stop me from swinging by the video store after my weekly excursion to the dollar movie at New Carrolton Mall - really a strip mall with one enclosed end that housed an AMC multiplex, Sears, a comic shop where I spent the rest of my allowance, and that video store. That video store was always the last stop before the 2 mile walk back home. I can't remember the name, and the mall was razzed years ago to make way for urban sprawl, but there was nowhere else where me and my pre-pubescent friends could get a look at some tit. Sure, the DAWN OF THE DEAD box had some boobage, and the slack-ass working the register didn't seem to give two spits if we ducked into the Adult Isle for a minute or two, catching our first glimpses of Betamax Beaver, but there was just something about that I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE box art that I couldn't help but to keep coming back to. Oh, yeah, it was those gams. That rump too.

42nd St. Pete
Legend, Smut-Master, DVD host and New York Grindhouse Historian
Saw it on a double bill with the original Boogeyman in a grindhouse in Hackensack NJ called the Oritani. I had higher expectations than the film delivered, but the poster sucked me in. All the rape scenes were brutal and the audience dug it as the patrons consisted of dustheads , homeless guys, and drunks(me). I felt that all you needed to make this a hardcore roughie would have been a couple of insert shots.

The revenge payoff wasn't that great either as it was four guys killed instead of the five advertised on the poster. Every guy in the place grabbed their junk during the castration scene. Now fast forward a couple of years as it was released on video by Wizard. I had a store then and it cost me $50 to get it. It rented out almost every night as word of mouth was great advertising.

 Footnote: The Oritani crowed was more into Boogeyman than I Spit on Your Grave. If my decayed brain remembers correctly, we also had Blood Beach and Zombie that summer too, all courtesy of Jerry Gross.

Rachael Deacon
Artist, Filmmaker (A FEVER AND A RIVER), and  Musician (THE BEASTING)
I don't remember where I was or who I was with the first time I saw I
SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. It feels like it's always been in my memory bank.
Having an incredibly soft spot for rape/revenge films, I ravenously
sought them out after seeing LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT as a teenager. But
honestly, I am not particularly moved by the film. I never was. I feel
as though the bulk of its themes have been explored to a much better
effect in films that came before it. I respect it and recognize it as
a solid work. I have watched it and enjoyed it a handful of times. I
have had wonderful conversations with friends about it. It's just not
one of my favorites.

My personal relationship with I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE - and the source of
my respect for it - lies within its sexual politics. Or, arguably, its
lack thereof. This is an extremely unpopular viewpoint. For as long as
it has existed, film theorists, journalists and enthusiasts have
demonized it for its main character's exploitation of her own
sexuality in exacting her revenge against the men who brutally and
repeatedly raped her. She doesn't seek them out and simply execute
them. She seduces them before slowly and painfully ending them. This
aspect of the plot is rare even within the rape/revenge sub-genre and
has inspired countless articles, essays and rants against it. And it's
exactly what I like about it. It's exactly why I think it isn't
completely overshadowed by far stronger entries of its kind.
Countless others would say that the victim's seduction of her rapists
reduces her to nothing but the sexualized object they mistake her for.
I say that it's a reclaiming and repurposing of something powerful
that was stolen.

It's naive to say that rape is all about sex or all about power. It's
a murky bastardization of the two that only someone capable of such a
horrific act can understand entirely. But we can understand that one
of the most basic aspects of human nature is sexuality. It's messy and
complicated and mysterious, but it's always there. Even after rape.
Sometimes even more so. Is it not conceivable that a traumatic sexual
experience would cause the victim's sexuality to take a dark and
violent turn? And is it not a fitting and human response for the
victim to then channel her violent sexuality in the hopes of relieving
her resulting anguish? WHY IS THIS A PROBLEM? I have a sneaking
suspicion that it's because you think too fucking much.

Recently I stumbled across a quote by David Cronenberg that made me
want to vomit all over myself it rang so true. He said: "An artist
does not have the social responsibility of a citizen. He has, in fact,
no social responsibility whatsoever." The people who are stumbling
over the politics of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE are putting too much
emphasis on the politics of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. This movie was not
conceived as a political statement, and should not be read as such.
It's a story about a woman under extreme emotional and physical duress
who snaps. Then she cuts off one guy's penis in a bath tub and hangs a
retard from a tree. It's a sometimes-effective, sometimes-boring,
mostly-plausible piece of art. I may not love it, but I will always
defend its integrity.

Shade Rupe
Legendary Interviewer, writer and promotional guru, Author of DARK STARS RISING and FUNERAL PARTY 1&2
I am not sure I ever saw the original I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE in a theater. I do remember that large Wizard video box though. Those early years of VHS and those oversized boxes carried such menace. For those wishing to see evil on our television sets, those Wizard titles would undoubtedly provide the chills and screwdrivers in the eyesockets we were hoping for. What I didn’t realize is the artistry I would find nestled in that black plastic tray enfolded by that colorful box depicting a women’s trashed backside, with a knife held tightly in her hand.
      My first exposure to the film came the way it did for a lot of people, through Siskel & Ebert’s At the Movies. This was a time well before the internet spouted out any manner of ‘important’ upcoming films every three seconds. Movies meant something and it was much easier for a down-and-dirty feature to get released in those days. William Lustig’s Maniac is a success story of this era, and I remember sneaking into a screening of Chained Heat with Linda Blair. Although these films were rarely discussed with any form of interest beyond a nasal snubbing by film critics, they were available to multiplex and drive-in crowds who had a hunger for a more extreme form of cinematic entertainment. 

            I had been watching At the Movies for some time as did most movie-heads of the era. They really did provide the information we needed for upcoming releases, and their back-and-forth repartee added to the fun of choosing what to see. None of us were quite prepared for the pair’s reaction to Meir Zarchi’s film. Ebert was horrified to his core. He was shaken. His exclamation to the world that the film was ‘a vile piece of garbage’ and that the ‘film is without a shred of artistic distinction’ gave more props to the release than it would have had otherwise. Ebert went on to say that he hoped his protestations would act as a deterrent to viewers rather than an excitor—his plans most definitely went awry.

            I Spit on Your Grave became an instant classic before it had been seen. This was well before the days of instant internet access. This was something discussed at school, on the phone, and in the pages of Fangoria magazine. The local Fotomat video hut didn’t carry it. Once Wizard Video released it, it was ours. I was still somewhat of a lone geek at that point. Geek once meant ‘loser’ rather than today’s ‘rockstar’ meaning, and it wasn’t so easy to find folks to share these films with. I believe my first viewing was watching it alone, seeing those scenes that Gene and Roger showed us, warning us against the film. And I’ve never ever forgotten what I saw.

            I hate to spoil, so please skip if you haven’t seen. You must see these images without my direction. The scene of Ms. Keaton lying nude on the floor while the crew disparages her existence. Wow. Total debasement. It wasn’t anything I could know from reading De Sade, which was more humorous, or any other film, though Bergman’s The Virgin Spring would come close. Last House on the Left had its soul-crinkling shivers, but not as strong as this. Last House had its moral judgments and the attendant punishments. I Spit was just mean. Yet I always felt it was a feminist film. Camille butches up pretty fast after her survival, and she takes no prisoners. None at all. All are guilty. 

            On a later VHS viewing, shared with two women friends, it was a wholly different experience. Women often have a different reaction to rape than men. The girls had some shock in them, yet they were my friends so they had some kind of preparedness. One scene that has always struck me with poetics rather that disgust was the rape over the rock. As Camille slowly makes her nude way back to her cabin, we see her in a long shot, sun streaming through trees, birds singing their songs. The scene is reminiscent of Sir John Everett Millais’ The Death of Ophelia, with its deflowered beauty amidst nature, even if the image itself conjures Mari Collingwood’s water-drenched demise in Last House. I exclaimed out loud to my female companions: “This is so beautiful! This is pure sublimity!” Although Coe was a bit horrified by my praise, Kelly ‘got it’ a little more. Both girls did stay until the oxide particles had danced their dance. Coe made her way out into the citified sunshine immediately. I think it took her awhile to forgive me for that day.

            I still find beauty in the piece though I would assume the director did not have the word ‘art’ in mind when composing his film.

Dave Kosanke
Creator, editor and writer of the constantly awesome zine LIQUED CHEESE, frequent contributor to HORRORHOUND magazine

 The first time I ever heard of I Spit on Your Grave was back in 1984 when I was 13 years old.  I had just sent off for a subscription to Fangoria magazine, and my first issue had arrived in the mail (#39).  Lo and behold it contained an interview with director Meir Zarchi on the making of his controversial film.   Right off the bat the editor's note stated that the film was so notorious that Fango didn't even know how to handle it, and also called it the "most criticized movie of recent years."  I didn't think about the film too much then, mainly because it seemed out of my league for a budding horror fan and the idea of brutal rape scenes were NOT my idea of a good time.  Once I started reading more magazines I found that just about everyone hated it.  Issue #4 of Demonique has a review which includes this passage: "Anyone who defends I Spit on Your Grave must be hopelessly perverted and/or very limited in their exposure to film in general."  However when Chas Balun unleashed his book Horror Holocaust, it contained a chapter on both Last House on the Left and I Spit on Your Grave.  He at least gave it some good ink, even stating "It has a strange, mesmerizing drone to it; and by the time the woman turns the tables on her rapists, a queer sort of repulsive satisfaction with the product is achieved."

     Throughout all of this I was still unsure if I really wanted to see the film, so the years went by with no I Spit on Your Grave in my collection.  Finally when DVD hit, the announcement that I Spit on Your Grave would get released in 1998 sealed the deal for me.  I felt I was now old enough (and had read enough material on the film) to comprehend it.  After all the negative press the movie got, after watching it that first time I didn't see what the fuss was all about.  Sure the rape scenes were hard to watch, but I felt that was the point, to make sure the viewer understood how awful this act really was. I also felt the lack of background music really helped to give the film this weird and unsettling edge that kept the viewer off guard since there were no musical "stings" to alert you that something bad was about to happen.  Also since she did get her revenge, the film worked extremely well to punish the bad guys which is really all I wanted to see.  I became a fan right then and there and never looked back.  Sure I would like to tell people I saw the film many moons ago, but hey I can't lie, and truth be told if I had seen it with younger eyes I doubt I would have been able to appreciate it.

     I had the chance to meet Camille Keaton twice, and found her to be one of the best guests I've ever had the pleasure to chat with.  Not only that, but I bought one of the ultra rare Day of the Woman one-sheets from her which now hangs, signed and framed, in my office to show my support for this unjustly maligned film.  Like the late, great Chas Balun said "Like it or loathe it, I Spit on Your Grave must always be reckoned with when discussing contemporary horror."

Eric Stanze
My memory is a bit foggy, but let me try to piece it together.  I was either on the brink of entering my freshman year of high school, or I had just entered high school.  My family was living in Pittsburgh at the time.  I was devouring every horror movie I could rent at the local video store.  I purchased the book "Horror Holocaust" by Chas. Balun, and while I was aware of the title, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE before this, I believe it was Mr. Balun's book about ultra violent horror flicks that brought into focus for me what Meir Zarchi's film was all about.

I cannot remember how soon I saw the movie after being educated about it by Balun's book.  I have no memory of renting the VHS, but I do remember my reaction to the film upon first viewing.  One word sums it up.  The film was stark. 

The movie seemed to not give a shit about anything - including, it appeared, the physical or emotional comfort of the actors.  Where a mainstream film would pan away, Zarchi's camera stayed fixed.  Where a mainstream film would dress it up, Zarchi's film left it filthy and gross.  Where a mainstream film would soften things for a potentially sensitive audience, Zarchi's film said, "Nope, this is simply fucked up and you're gonna swallow it." 

There is no music score in the film, and the violence takes place in the harsh light of day - almost certainly decisions based on the tiny budget - but these aspects do much to achieve the starkness I found so memorable.

Many revenge flicks - of that era, as well as more recent films - provided a brief jolt to my system, only to be forgotten about a few days later.  I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, however, managed a tone that made it stand out, and hold up well to this day.

Andrew Shearer impresario of GONZORIFFIC FILMS
I've watched "I Spit on Your Grave" several times, but I've only seen the rape scenes once. I rented it from Video Library in Athens in the mid-1990s during my initial spree of finally getting to see films like "Trap them and Kill Them" and "Short Eyes" that I'd read about for years. There's a lot I love about "I Spit". The camera work is wonderful (the opening title sequence in the car is usually what immediately springs to mid when I think of the film) and its non-use of music sets it apart from pretty much all its peers from that era. Some of the performances are goofy, but everyone looks appropriately sleazy and authentic. Camille Keaton reminds me of a more sexually confident Sissy Spacek from "Carrie". Wikipedia calls me a feminist, so I suppose I should have some sort of strong opinion about "I Spit". Truth is, I don't. In my opinion, the worst thing a movie can do is misrepresent itself, making promises it can't keep. And when we're talking exploitation cinema, that happens more often than not. "I Spit" lives up to its legendary title, pulls out all the stops and, like "Last House on the Left", gives you little room to breathe once the brutality sets in. Still, there is calmness and even corny-ness in between to make it all go down a little easier.. Camille Keaton's performance is high-caliber stuff, unforgettable and affecting. I don't think for one second that she's being raped for the sake of giving the viewer a thrill. In fact, my biggest criticism of the film is that the revenge murders don't have near the same level of intensity and impact as the rape. The bar is set too high and there's not a satisfying enough follow-through (though Keaton's character is able to find her power after it has all been taken from her, I always felt like it wasn't quite enough).. But realistically, how could there be? These guys get off easy because they get to die. Know what I mean? The true testament to the value of "I Spit on Your Grave" is that it is still being seriously discussed all these decades later, and people still have very strong opinions about it.

© Andrew Copp and other contributors 
Pics and screenshots are grabbed from the following (mainly because I'm too lazy to rip pics myself)