Directed by Meir Zarchi [Other horror films: Don’t Mess with My Sister! (1985), I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu (2019)]
This classic in the rape-and-revenge subgenre of exploitation film, generally known under the far-better title I Spit on Your Grave, is oftentimes a difficult movie to watch. Due to the fact it’s a 70’s film, it has that dead serious, gritty vibe that you would expect, making I Spit on Your Grave an awfully grueling viewing experience at times.
While the rape sequences were a bit much (and probably more disturbing than Last House on the Left from six years earlier), the revenge sequences were a lot of fun (and very well-deserved – if you don’t think those men deserved the painful deaths they got, I’d really question your sense of right-and-wrong), the best being a castration. A strong argument could be made that Richard Pace’s mentally-disabled character should have gotten some mercy, but there you go. Definitely gory when it needs to be, more often than not, I Spit on Your Grave just sticks with a bit of build-up and a quick blow, especially near the end.
Camille Keaton does well as a messed up victim of rape, and there was no point in the film in which I didn’t sympathize with her. The four rapists were all well-played too, and while Richard Pace’s Matthew was somewhat hard to hate, the other three (Eron Tabor, Anthony Nichols, and Gunter Kleeman) were as despicable as you can imagine. The only shame is that their deaths weren’t longer. Worth noting, none of the four male actors have been in any other film, before or after, which I found interesting.
The film can be quite tedious. After the first horrific rape, Keaton’s character is raped twice more, and it’s only after she begins to get her revenge that I really feel comfortable watching the film, as it goes more into a proto-slasher feel. Otherwise, the rape sequences were, understandably, deeply unpleasant, and possessed a very desperate, degrading quality to them.
Personally, though I’ve seen this film twice now, I think that I Spit on Your Grave is a hard movie to love. I certainly find the revenge satisfactory, but that doesn’t happen until about an hour in, and dealing with the rape sequences is a bit much. I still find the last forty minutes enjoyable, but it’s a grind getting through the first hour. Probably a movie worth watching, but while it’s certainly good at times, it’s not one that I’d watch multiple times for enjoyment.
This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast, and what coverage it was. If interested, check out below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss and laugh inappropriately at this film.