I Spit On Your Grave, AKA, Day of the Woman, is a savagely tough watch. Any rape/revenge based film should be. The primary reason for I Spit On Your Grave being one of the all time toughest films in this particular subgenre is because, for me, I don’t feel like this is specifically exploitation. It doesn’t execute things in the same way a lot of other films in this dangerous category cheaply reach for. I Spit On Your Grave takes this material one hundred percent seriously and unlike a lot of other films, this one has a lot to say about powerful waves of feminism.
I Spit On Your Grave follows Jennifer Hills, a beautiful young self assured writer, who heads out to vacation in the boonies in order to get some piece an quiet – to write her first full length novel. It doesn’t take long to catch the perverse and dangerous eye of a local group of chauvinist men. The group of men slowly stalks Hills, at first harassing from afar, before a full on sexual assault that leaves Hills for dead. Following her traumatic secluded recovery, Hills sets out to take exacting revenge on the group of men that did this to her.
Ronin Flix has gone all out on this blu-ray set. It comes with some fantastic newly commissioned artwork by Adam Stothard. The original 1978 I Spit On Your Grave feature, fully and beautifully restored with a 4K scan. It also comes with the sequel, I Spit On Your Grave Deja Vu; also from a gorgeous 4k restoration. In addition, the blu-ray set comes with a fantastic deep dive documentary titled Growing Up with I Spit On Your Grave. The doc directed by Terry Zarchi explores the film’s themes and all the controversy surrounding it and beyond.
For the die hard collector, the set also comes with two 16 x 20 posters. One with the cover art for I Spit On Your Grave Déjà vu and a reverse side with savage art work by Stothard. The second poster is a one sided print with the original theatrical artwork from the first film. The set also comes with a collectible booklette that features a brilliant piece by author, Meagan Navarro. Navarro quickly gets to the dark heart of I Spit On Your Grave in her writing. It’s a perfect companion piece to the film and a must read.
The duology, comes with a commentary track from none other than movie host Joe Bob Briggs. As you would expect, Briggs comes at you with all sorts of insight. Everything from filming locations, to the tid bits about the actors. Most, importantly, he plays a bit of a game that tries to narrow down one of two things. Is I Spit On Your Grave the most “sick disgusting movie of all time” like Siskel and Ebert said it was? Or, is this actually one of the most feminist movies? The whole commentary is entertaining as heck and gave me a lot to think about when it comes to films that get dubbed “disgusting” for coming out screaming the war cry of feminism from a different approach.
In my youth, I remember picking up I Spit On Your Grave to throw in with Friday the 13th and Nightmare On Elm Street. The box art was that now notorious shot of a half dressed woman in bloodied and tattered clothing clutching a big butcher knife with a lot of her behind exposed. So, I thought it was just another normal weekend of horror movie rentals and fun, I expected this to be a slasher. Except, this time with I Spit On Your Grave’s addition, it wasn’t going to be just another pleasant weekend of horror movies and snacks. This was going to peel back my skin and leave me bear for days.
The Meir Zarchi directed film is a reckoning. It’s a mean fucking movie, but one that gives the audience a chance to experience full on, justified revenge but maybe not for the reason that you think initially.
Zarchi’s film was met with a lot of hate. Audiences were upset with the subject matter, and critics only saw a trash film without any redeeming factors what so ever. In fact, some critics never made it past that infamous poster. There was no need for them to look past that or god forbid, themselves. The majority of male critics simply hated the film and that opinion was one that became a dogpile – as these things sometimes do. Oddly enough, at the same time, there were indeed people going to see the film maybe not a lot, but there were people going and low and behold, some of those people were predominantly women.
Actress, Camille Keaton who plays Hills is a true force. It’s sad that the film drove critics and audiences away from its subject matter alone. Because, Keaton really puts herself into this role. Transcending a vengeful angel by way of villainous Disney Queen. The harder bits of sexual assault and the following trauma are a true raw nerve that you can feel due to Keaton’s depth. More impressively is how that pain is followed by Keaton becoming a harder version of Schwarzenegger’s The Terminator. Keaton has this rare ability to say everything in just one stare. It’s uncanny and is definitely a performance that should be seen more.
Ebert was outspoken in saying that this film makes you side with the rapists. But, I can’t even begin to see that angle. I’m not sure how there is another way to look at I Spit On Your Grave. It has a lot at play and it places femininity and the power of said femininity in the spotlight. Perhaps, that’s the real reason a lot of largely male critics didn’t approve.
The film has gained a cult following over the years and Ronin Flix put together a collection that is fully deserving of all aspects of that cult film. Now, rather you see them as artful and full of meaning or not is up to you.
While there are a ton of exploitation films dealing with rape/revenge, at the end of the day they were exactly that – exploitation. There are a few of them though, like I Spit on Your Grave or Deliverance that do have a lot to say and aren’t just sitting and strictly exploiting the subject matter. Ronin Flix knew that there was a lot to be explored here, and I think that’s why such care was taken in releasing a finished product that is timely, and somehow exists both in the light of important social commentary and within the arena of exploitation horror.
You can head over to Ronin Flix here to get your limited set while they last.