on November 5, 2003
Well, now all the folks who wish writer/director Meir Zarchi would explain his controversial, infamous, and disturbing rape and revenge film can get their wish for the price of this Millennium edition DVD, which includes a feature-length commentary by Zarchi. In this commentary, Zarchi confirms what this film's defenders (including me) have been claiming all along -- that his intention was definitely not to promote rape to his male viewers, but rather to expose the true ugliness of the crime. He talks at length about the real-life encounter with a rape victim that inspired the film, and about the people he worked with in making it. He also discusses the technical aspects in enough detail to prove this is not the shoddy, haphazard production some folks want to claim it is. I also learned a few interesting facts about the film business in general. For example, when you submit a movie to the MPAA, they'll tell you it has to be cut to get an R rating, but they won't tell you WHAT to cut.
Besides answering your questions about the film, Zarchi's commentary also provides a clue as to what sort of person he is. Overall, he comes across as intelligent, articulate, and even compassionate.
However, he also comes across as a bit egotistical, which is why the second feature-length commentary by Joe Bob Briggs is useful for its more balanced perspective. Although Briggs defends the movie, pointing out specific scenes that exemplify its anti-rape viewpoint, he's objective enough to point out flaws where he sees them. For example, why on earth did Johnny send the mentally-challenged Matthew back to the house to kill Jennifer, when Matthew was almost certain to bungle the job? Briggs also addresses two ethical questions that have always bothered me. The first is whether Matthew deserves to die, and the second is whether Johnny's wife and children deserve to have their husband/father respectively taken away from them.
This DVD also includes various trailers, TV spots, and posters, including some promoting the movie under its original title, DAY OF THE WOMAN. There are also posted from a wide assortment of countries, in a wide assortment of languages. I wish the extras had also included the original version of the opening, with the title DAY OF THE WOMAN in the credits, but maybe there are no prints in existence.
So, if you want to own this movie on DVD, this is the edition to buy. If you own an earlier edition, you might consider selling it to raise part of the price of this one.
on October 31, 2003
This is a five star film with brutal honesty and is the product of the director's real life encounter with a rape victim. Other open minded reviewers have done this film justice, I just wanted to point out a few things about the small minded review put foward by PETER below:
1. The scenes are extended to make the audience feel as though they have gone through an ordeal and to fully express the pain and horror of the crime! But you seem to think a PG rated sequence lasting 10 seconds be more honest?!
2. This movie deserves royal DVD treatment more so than any of todays mainstream garbage as it clearly makes more of an impact than any major studio's tame market friendly drivel which is put out as modern horror. Many companies such as Anchor Bay, Blue Underground, Shriek Show ect have made it their buiness to put uncut lavishly produced DVD's of films like this out as there is a gap in the current market that can only be filled by classic genre films. Don't belive me? They have remade Texas Cahinsaw Massacre!
3. I'd like to know how you can critize the intelligence of other reviewers when in another review you gave a CD by boyband FIVE 4 stars?! There is a lot of sybolism in this film and if it went over your head then no one else is to blame but yourself! You show your true intelligence by quoting a previous review which is clearly written by another small minded reviewer who hates the film and is satirical mocking the films fans as an example of a 5 star reviewer?! Try reading that review again and this time you might get that they are against it too! Unfamiliar with the concept of satire are you, Peter?
4. As an international customer I found your xenophobia (get out the dictionary Peter) quite distasteful to say the least. If you don't like foreign film directors then stick with Titanic and Pearl Habour and write reviews on how brilliant and important those films are and leave the genre films to true genre fans!!!
I just hope that I've helped any one else who is reading these reviews and is deciding on whether or not to give this contraversial film a chance. Ignore condesending reviews like Peter's and see for yourself. This film is definitely not for everyone and I am sure that there will be intelligence people who won't like it due to it's confronting nature. It's best that you take a look for yourself, make up your own mind and please do not let the ideals of a very vocal and dim witted group who have continued to persecute this film from it's initial release to this day lead you to dismiss the other level to this film beyond it's harshness.
on October 30, 2003
I really have to question the intelligence of anyone who would rate this movie five stars. But i think i got my answer when i read one of the five-star reviews: "There were sum really kewl scenes in it, like when the lady was naked and screaming".Yeah, that guy probably watched the movie instead of studying for his grade eight finals. I'm a HUGE fan of horror movies and have seen tons of them. But this one is totally pointless and tedious. If you took out the rape scene you would end up taking out about 40 minutes of the movie. The rape scene is extended way too long in this movie and it's unnecessary to have it dragged out this much. We get the point!! She gets raped and now she wants revenge. The other scenes after the rape and leading up to her revenge are boring and stupid. I hate how people are analyzing this movie as if they were writing some kind of thesis for film school or psychology class. And the fact that this is in widescreen and given more dvd features than most Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures dvds is a sin of the biggest kind. I mean do we really care if this crap is in widescreen or not?? There is nothing enjoyable about this film and no redeeming value to this whatsoever. This is exploitational garbage of the worst kind. It's not even a B film. It's a grade Z film. Anyone who feels the burning need to own this dvd and to watch an extended rape scene needs serious life reflection time. There are about 200 other horror movies out there that are more important than wasting your time on this stupid turd.Figures that a foreign director who's not even from North American would come up with an idea for a film like this. Every American actor associated with this movie should be ashamed. I hope their careers all went down the toilet after doing this. If you still want to see this movie, i'd recommend keeping fresh battieries in your remote so you can fast-forward through most of it.
on October 1, 2003
This flick has what so many other great flicks have; nudity and blood. I think this is a great movie, perfect 70's drive-in camp if you will. Camille Keaton plays her role wonderfully. She played both the victim and the avenger perfectly.
This movie is most famous for it's bathroom scene when Camille kills one of her perpetrators. I also like when the idiot gets hung by his neck and gets dumped in the lake. The only complaint I would have with this movie is that while the first two kills were fabulous, the last two seemed rushed. While the first two were killed separately, the last two were killed together, I admit the ax in the back was great, but the boat motor's slicing and dicing was not that realistic. I mean who would climb into a boat on top of the motor?
You would almost think that this film was written and directed by a militant feminist. I mean the four men are just so dumb. Would they really expect a rape victim to suddenly come on to them and want their company? And why would the four men discuss rape, murder, and body decomposition in a tiny and crowded ice cream parlor at a volume where everyone can hear?
People can say what they want about this film, it's trash, it has no value, etc. But how many of the thousands of movies over the last thirty or forty years can claim the same? I believe it's the majority. This story could really happen I think, not in the exact way of course, but a story like this is entirely possible, and it wouldn't be pretty.
on September 24, 2003
Apart from that, a work of genius. I love it. A see once movie really, as it does not and cannot have the same impact twice. Very Andrea Dworkin, even the humour. Looked Scandinavian and reminded me of Bergman (Virgin Spring?) Has a memorable Boudica like climax only missing the Ride of the Valkyries on the soundtrack. Just great stuff.
A writer at the time related the polarized reactions in the theatre. "Kill the b***h!" Reposted on the distaff side with "right on, sister!" Unfortunately, certain parties didn't want things out in the open and the film suffered censure. There's a book to be written on the moral questions raised by the retarded guy alone, but I'll focus on a couple of things. The pivotal moment when Jennifer lowers her gun when she has her tormentor at her mercy. Does he have a point? Yes and no. At that moment it's like she reaches an understanding with nature and Keaton's enigmatic performance nails it. Is Jennifer's transformation too sudden or was she like that from the start? Another unexpected aspect is the ridiculing of her writing. In an odd way this really gets to you more than the rape. In a stroke of genius that makes the film, Jennifer seems to become 'Mary', a fictional character or characters in her own writing, descending upon the men like some incubus and getting poetic revenge for that particular sleight. In fact, I can't make up my mind if the film is merely (?) didactic, or a poetic lament. What it has to say about sexual politics is true.
Director's commentary: Unsurprisingly, Zarchi appeared to be European, and eccentric to boot. "Listen to the bird, she is saying: Peace on earth....peace on earth." He constantly quotes critics but is frustratingly parsimonious with his own impressions. He distastefully describes a real life rape while the fictional one is playing out but if this tragedy motivated him to make the picture then he should elaborate. We are left hanging as to his real motives. When he quoted 'hell hath no fury', he drew unflattering comparisons with Criswell in 'Plan 9'. There is an enigmatic moment when Jennifer types after the rape. Not a peep from the director on this. Zarchi's observations of male attitudes in the film are perceptive. The guy with the axe almost hiding in fear of Jennifer at the climax. The constant references to their mothers and calling on them in crisis. Many men will recognise themselves in these attitudes and excuses so I'm not surprised to see such fervent condemnation of 'Grave', but from the director, we get less than the dicky bird he is so fond of quoting. He appears to side with the poetic aspect, but he left me feeling puzzled and uncomfortable.
Briggs: Appears puzzled by the plot. Why didn't the men go in the house with matthew? Not difficult, if they want Matthew to be the fall guy, then they can't be in the same room when he's committing murder. Briggs considers the wife by the pumps scene superfluous. Surely this is one of the most telling moments in the film? I don't agree with his assertion that men shouting mysogynistic comments during theatrical performances of 'Grave' don't really mean it. It just proves to me the film was accurate in it's observations. Get it out in the open, I say. Perhaps Biggs sees the film as a lampoon, four burly men never really standing a chance against a smart cosmopolitan women from New York. Either way, I found his commentary to be largely superfluous.
on July 21, 2003
This is not a pullpit. This is not a soundoff for people with issues telling me to be horrified for being a part of the male species that commits the crimes depicted in this movie. Yes, sadly, some poor maligned soul actually wrote as much in one of the reviews here. This is a review of a horror movie. On to the review then shall we?
This is a somewhat disturbing film in that rape, for most, is a disturbing subject. As a graphic,. bloody horror movie, its pretty ordinary. The personal violence inflicted upon the main character, however, elevates the terror. A female writer decides to finish a book in a secluded cottage. Only its not so secluded. Close by is a small town inhabited by a bunch of red neck good old boys. They decide to savage the woman one day while she enjoys some time out boating. The scenes that follow are overly long and graphic. I'm sure the audience could have got the message with shorter and less revealing clips. Alas, the makers of this wanted to deliberatly create a stir. And so they have. They leave the woman for dead but she comes back and plots her revenge. The kill scenes are pretty lame. Nothing to creative here. A hanging. A stabbing. Creative use of boat propellers. but not enough of the red stuff. The killings are implied more than shown. Sometimes this works. In a movie like this, it doesnt. This is the kind of film that should run red in rivers. The movie spends to much time on the sodomy of the woman and doesnt know if its a horror pic or a drama. It tries to be both and fails.
on July 17, 2003
Surely you've heard the hype, but does this film live up to its reputation? Well that depends on whether you are expecting a sleazy trashy exploitation flick or a shocking cult classic.
Is it a good movie? By conventional standards like budget, dramatic acting, star power ect, this film is a dismal failure, a cheap exploitation flick nothing more many will tell you. Most people would read the title and just assume it's bad. But really this film is brilliantly directed, does it matter how much it cost to make? Is it still an exploitation flick when the director married the actress who is being 'exploited'? Why is it that films like this which use more naturalistic acting as opposed to dramatic acting are automatically classed as being poorly acted? Weren't the cast convincingly real especially Camille Keaton with her brave and harrowing performance? So what if everyone involved never went on to bigger projects or never appeared in any other films, this film will live in infamy forever and the stunningly beautiful Camille Keaton is already an immortal icon in cult horror. If it was better known under the more noble title "Day of the Woman" and not "I Spit on Your Grave" (which is about as campy as titles "Surf Nazis Must Die" and "Nude for Satan") would it be treated more seriously.
The real question isn't whether this is a good moive, but is this good cinema? Love it or hate it, how can you deny the power of a film that has such an effect on it's audience. The realism in the rape scenes, the lack of any musical score and voyeuristic yet artistic camera work deliver the kind of shear visceral power that big budget movies these days can only dream of possessing. So yes, this is undeniably spectacular cinema.
Why do people hate it? Roger Ebert would have you believe it's sick and pure garbage. However read his initial review and you will find he largely justifies his views by reactions from nonthinking audience members which he found appalling and not what was happening on screen. Still there is no shortage of people who call this film sick. Even more sad is how some people out there want to censor or ban this film (book burning religious zealots no doubt) just check, theres like two yahoo groups dedicated to this childish cause (pathetic though as they only have about a dozen members between them). This film is not made to be an enjoyable viewing experience, it pulls no punches, just because you don't like it does that mean it must be sick? Rape is a horrible crime, would it be more acceptable to portray it any other way?
What would posses someone to make such a film? Meir Zarchi wrote and directed the film after a real life encounter with a rape victim who he took to a police station (in retrospect he admits she should have gone to the hospital) and the cops were unsympathetic. This genuine horror he saw which existed in the real world which doesn't require werewolves or zombies, is the inspiration for the film. The revenge half of the film obviously an expression of the rage he felt at how the victim was treated, in the real world justice is rarely served. He uses in your face realism to get his message across. Just because his story is simple doesn't mean it's unintelligent. He dodges the one dimensional rapist stereotypes seen in other movies early on by humanising them with crude but still humorous personalities, one even has a family, the message: villains are real people too not comic book characters. One rapist while pleading pathetically tells Jennifer she asked for it by he way she walks and dresses, a damning criticism of some real life attitudes which state women are themselves to blame if they are attacked. The sequence of Jennifer after the attack is brilliant in displaying the traumatic detachment and loss of self suffered by real victims. It's the inclusion and excellent handling of the small details that elevate this movie beyond its low budget limits.
Why would anybody like this film? I personally admire powerful films, films that are unique whether they are shocking or thought provoking. One reviewer complained that the violence wasn't disturbing in comparison to some other films, hey if you have seen Dead/Alive like you claim (although I own and prefer the uncut version called Braindead) then you must know that the most goriest movie ever is a comedy. The gore isn't the real focus of this film anyway. I own uncut copies of Cannibal Holocaust, Men Behind the Sun, Cannibal Ferox, Anthropophagous, Flowers of Flesh and Blood and just about every notorious gore film out there. The only gore films more disturbing than ISOYG are Cannibal Holocaust and Men Behind the Sun, simply because like ISOYG these films are made by talented directors. Besides how could any amount of gore be disturbing when you want Jennifer to carry out her vendetta?
So does it live up to the hype? This film is something you experience not just another movie. It's definitely a well deserved cult classic and one of the original cornerstones of the video nasties. While the more jaded viewer might not find it as disturbing as some, this is still a film you won't soon forget. The Millennium Edition DVD is outstanding, the film has never looked better and you get two excellent commentary tracks. It's a shame they didn't get any input from Camille Keaton when putting the extras together on this DVD, but you can't have it all I guess. I wish I lived in the USA so I could go to a horror convention and ask Camille Keaton for her autograph.
Final thoughts? This is a challenging and outstanding cult masterpiece, it's a shame that this genuinely great piece of cinema is so universally misunderstood and under-rated.
on May 7, 2003
Much has been made of this movie for all it's violence and sadisam, but when all of the hype is out of the way this is just a bad film.
The movie is about a women who travels into the woods to stay at a house on a lake is attacked and brutally beaten and raped by four men. After they leave her for dead she recovers and comes back to get her revenge.
The movie is just a revenge movie plain and simple but that style of movie has been done befor and with much better results than this one.
One thing I will give the film is that the four men never at any time feel anything for the four men becouse we saw what awful things they did. However it's just an excuse to show sickness in all it's glory. Compared to some movies this sick film is not one of the worst in violence (remember though i'm talking about movies like Cannibal Holocaust, Zombie, and Dead Alive) but for it's time it must have been very shocking.
I Spit never lives up to the hype. Roger Ebert said this was the one film he hated and I must agree with him on that point.
on March 19, 2003
I get a chuckle out of many people's reaction to this movie, as opposed to Deliverance. While Deliverance had a higher budget and better acting, the plot is roughly the same - out of towner is raped by some yocals, who then pay for their crime with their lives through an act of revenge.
In this movie, viewers are more shocked that a woman is raped instead of a man. Anyone who has seen Deliverance will forever remember the words, "Squeal like a pig." Viewers of I Spit On Your Grave are not treated to the same physiological thrills; only, raw and brutal images.
I found the low-budget flick very refreshing from the usual Hollywood glitz and horror film cookie-cutter format. The plot was no worse off than, say, Friday the 13th for example. And, it was so unusual to see an abundance of gratuitous sex and violence in an American film.
Worthy of note - this film has been banned in several countries, including the UK, while Deliverance received no more than an R (18) Rating. I take this to mean that it's more socially acceptable to rape a man than a woman.
Aside from all the controversy, sex, and violence, I put it on par with Pink Flamingos. You don't need a billion dollar budget to tell a story or make a good shocker film.
on March 12, 2003
One of the most controversial and notorious movies to come out from the 1970's was Meir Zarchi's I Spit On Your Grave. Jennifer Hill, a New York writer, decides to go to a cabin in the country to finish her novel. Much of the plot is already given out on the back of the video box. She is sunbathing in her boat out in the lake when two locals in a motorboat, the blond Andy and dark-haired Stanley, lasso her boat to the shore and chase her through the woods. They are joined by two of their friends, Johnny, the local gas station attendant, and Matthew, the nerdy-looking half-retarded grocery delivery man who has a crush on her. She is stripped, raped and beaten bloody three times, twice in the woods, once in her cabin. Having survived this traumatic ordeal, she gets a well-deserved revenge on all four of them.
The way Jennifer is attacked and chased is the way one would treat a hunted animal, especially as Andy and Stanley yell like rednecks in heat, adding to the fear she felt. Hunting is probably one of the pastimes country hicks like them enjoy, and to them, she is no different from any deer.
There are some issues still relevant today. One is the motivation of the men who attacked Jennifer. Johnny thinks she was asking for it, as she showed up at the gas station walking back and forth in her summer dress, showing off her legs, and later, when she was in her bathing suit. This is the "she's asking for it" defense. In fact when he and his friends are out fishing at night, he says that women from the city come to the country for one thing...sex. While I far from condone rape, there is something to be said for Jennifer's cut-offs and other revealing clothes. Perhaps the men felt exploited, being turned on like that. It's the same argument used in selling adult magazines and videos: doesn't it exploit men as well, since they are the target market and they have to pay for it? Similarly, I'm not advocating that women wear chadors as in Iran or burqas in Afghanistan, but something more middle-of-the-road.
This was also the time that most women did not report rape because of the ensuing humiliation of a police investigation and the myth that it was her fault--hence her taking the law into her own hands. The attacks on Jennifer are unflinchingly graphic and unsettling, which may lead many to believe that the film glorified rape, but in fact, the brutality of it serves to justify her revenge.
Camille Keaton pulls in an ace performance as Jennifer in an agonizing role. Her slight resemblance to Tori Amos reminded me of how the latter was assaulted as well.
Apart from the ordeal and the revenge, much of the remainder are lulls in the drama, such as the scene at the camp sight and diner. The only other thing I quibble is the title. Surely, the original Day Of The Woman would have been better?