The original 'I Spit On Your Grave' caused quite a stir when it was first released, being banned in a few countries, and winding up on several 'most shocking movies of all time' lists. Let's explore to see if it would get modern audiences all up in arms.
Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) retreats to an isolated cottage in the woods so she can make progress on her novel. Matthew (Richard Pace), the mentally-challenged grocery delivery boy, notices Jennifer and tells his “friends” local ne'er-do-wells, Johnny (Eron Tabor), Andy (Gunter Kleemann) and Stanley (Anthony Nichols). These four begin to stalk Jennifer.
One day, Jennifer is out on the lake in her tiny boat when the men approach in a speed boat, towing her to shore. They chase her until she is caught and raped by Johnny. She escapes but is caught again and...you know what? To save time, let's just say the process repeats itself a few times and all four of the guys are guilty.
After some time to recover, Jennifer decides that a little payback is in order.
Given the limited resources, this wasn't put together too badly at all. The plot requires very little that would cost much outside of a few murderous props. It has a gritty look that is indicative of the time period, but it doesn't look overly cheap. There are a few scenes that are rather gory and though there isn't much suspense, that's not what it is going for. This was one of the defining films of the rape-revenge subgenre. There is little uncertainty to how this movie ends.
For as unpleasant as the film is, it eventually gained enough of a following to inspire a slew of knock-offs, a sequel of sorts, and a remake. Whether you find the film's violence against Jennifer to be exploitative or whether you focus on and find her revenge as being empowering is entirely up to you.
Keaton gives a daring performance, especially considering all that the role asks of her. Most of the men seem to be on the amateurish side.
Special features include: TV spots, photo gallery, interviews and art.
You should only seek out either version of 'I Spit On Your Grave' if you aren't especially sensitive to on-screen violence and are curious to see if the notoriety is warranted. It exists best as a document of controversial, low-budget '70s cinema. Most people will still find it distasteful while others have been sufficiently desensitized.
Add an extra half star to this rating.
Not Rated 101 minutes 1978