Movie Discussion: Meir Zarchi’s I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

  • Monthly Theme: Video Nasties
  • The Film: I Spit on Your Grave
  • Alternate titleDay of the Woman
  • Country of origin: U.S.A.
  • Date of U.S. release: November 22, 1978
  • Studio: Cinemagic Pictures
  • Distributer: Cinemagic
  • Domestic Gross: ?
  • Budget: $650,000 (estimated)
  • Director: Meir Zarchi
  • Producers: Meir Zarchi and Joseph Zbeda
  • Screenwriter: Meir Zarchi
  • Adaptation? No.
  • Cinematography: Nouri Haviv
  • Make-Up/FX: Beriau Picard and Bill Tasgal
  • Music: ?
  • Part of a series? No, but there was an unofficial sequel, 1993’s Savage Vengeance.
  • Remakes? Yes. There was an unofficial remake in 1985 called Naked Vengeance. Steven R. Monroe made an official remake in 2010, also titled I Spit on Your Grave. He followed it up with I Spit on Your Grave 2 in 2013.
  • Genre Icons in the cast? No.
  • Other notables?: No.
  • Awards?: Best Actress at the 1978 Sitges-Catalonian International Film Festival.
  • Tagline: “After it was all over… she waited… then she struck back in a way only a woman can!”
  • The Lowdown: A successful New York writer named Jennifer Hills rents a summer house in rural Connecticut in order to write her first novel. However, four local men target Jennifer and perpetrate a horrific series of rapes and assaults against her. They leave her to die, but Jennifer survives and rather than going to the authorities, she plots a series of bloody acts of vengeance against her assaulters.

If you haven’t seen I Spit on Your Grave our discussion will include massive SPOILERS. 

Sean: Are you feeling nasty for our first Video Nasty?

Kristine: Yes.

Sean: Good. How nasty did you find I Spit on Your Grave on a scale of 1 to Filth?

Bubble bath becomes trouble bath

Kristine: It is supremely nasty in all definitions of the word. I can’t give it a Filth rating because I don’t believe the sex/violence was gratuitous (perhaps merely misguided in places). What about you?

Sean: I actually first saw this movie in the context of a graduate school class in 2006.

Kristine: Weird.

Sean: Yeah, it is a weird way to be introduced to this movie, with the overt intention of approaching it academically. That’s very different from the way audiences discovered or encountered this movie during the videocassette era. I’m sure most men/boys watched this movie either alone in their rooms deep into the midnight hour or with beers and friends during some kind of collective “do we dare watch this?” type of hang.

Kristine: Yeah. That’s pretty different. I imagine men of the era trading VHS tapes of video nasties with their buds, like girls did with their copies of V.C. Andrews or Jean M. Auel or Judy Blume books.

Sean: Yes, and being like, “Can I watch this?” and feeling like they’re violating a 1,000 taboos. And then talking about the movies and laughing/dying about them with friends.

Enjoying her agency and freedom – however briefly

Kristine: I feel fairly certain that the large majority of viewers ended up very disappointed if they thought I Spit on Your Grave was going to be some kind of sexy romp. Which is maybe why this movie is widely loathed? I have to say that I think the biggest problem is how the movie was marketed.

Sean: Do you mean the tagline, “This woman has just cut, chopped, broken, and burned five men beyond recognition. But no jury in American would ever convict her!”?

Kristine: Yes, and also the image on the poster/video cover.  It’s not even a de-contextualized still from the film. I think I find it especially egregious because Jennifer is so not the robust Amazon woman depicted on the cover. I found that the reality of her scrawny, pale body accentuated the horror and the pain of the rape sequence. Which is not to say that it would have been less horrible if she were voluptuous, but her broken baby bird physicality was really effective at dramatizing her suffering and also underscoring that these acts are not erotic. So the use of this bodacious Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue ass for marketing the film is a pretty shitty and misleading move.

Sean: Keep in mind that many of the Video Nasties were targeted specifically because of how they were marketed as opposed to what the movies actually were.

Kristine: I see. I’m guessing that it’s similar to Tipper Gore’s stupid “Parental Advisory” campaign, in that most of the powers that be did not actually consume the media being censured.

Chekhov’s gun moll

Sean: Definitely. Mary Whitehouse (the Anita Bryant-esque figure who spearheaded the anti-VN movement in ‘80s Britain) famously claimed to never have watched any of the videos on the list, nor did she intend to ever do so.

Kristine: Wow. I wonder what she would have said if she’d actually watched this movie. But I do agree that everything about the marketing, right down to the title, is pretty disgusting. I read that the original title was Day of the Woman, which is a much better title and also more accurate to the intent of the film.

Sean: Oh I totally disagree. I Spit on Your Grave is an amazing title and Day of the Woman is a stupid title.

Kristine: You’re wrong on this one. I Spit on Your Grave is certainly a better stand-alone title, but it doesn’t match the tone of this film.

Sean: Maybe. But I think the problem with the marketing is the image they used, not the tagline or the title, which I love.

Kristine: I did research the remake that came out in 2010 and they totally used the same image from the original marketing. It’s crazy to me that of all the things to pay direct homage to, you select that dishonest image that was selected by the marketing flacks, not the filmmaker, in order to sell a genuinely dispiriting movie about misogyny and dehumanization as a piece of softcore erotica. I am curious to know how the remake is. Have you seen it?

The best thing that ever happened in the universe

Sean: I’ve seen it. It’s stupid and pointless. The big change is that they dispense with Jennifer’s erotic nymph style of revenge and instead turn the revenge setpieces into big, bloody, horrible Hostelinspired torture sessions. Like, she puts one guy in a bear trap and then skewers his eyelids with fishhooks and smears fish guts in his eyes so that crows will come peck his eyes out. Then she like forces another guy to fellate a gun and then pulls all his teeth out with pliers and cuts his dick off and shoves it in his mouth. If memory serves, they also have Jennifer live in the cabin like an animal after the assaults eating bugs and rats and garbage, before she emerges to exact revenge….. It is terrible. And guess what? A direct-to-DVD sequel to the remake just came out in 2013.

Kristine: Jesus. Ugh! Although putting a guy in a bear trap and then skewering his eyelids with fishhooks and smearing fish guts in his eyes so that crows will come peck his eyes out? That is pretty good revenge. I must remember that one.

Sean: I think it’s safe to say the people behind the remake have no fucking clue about what the original film is or what the specific context of its existence even is. I mean, do you know about what inspired Zarchi to make the movie? I don’t know if you researched it.

Kristine: Yes, I did read about it – that Zarchi and his daughter found a battered and traumatized rape victim in Central Park and brought her to the police and were shocked by how callous and ineffectual the response was. That is powerful stuff. And really helped me understand how/why Jennifer never even entertains the idea of going to the police for ‘legal’ retribution.

Men + booze = sadism and rape?

Sean: So intense and shocking. And made even more interesting that Zarchi made this movie as a kind of response to that experience, and then his film was excoriated upon release (including by noted priss Roger Ebert), but then it was (much later) reclaimed and reappraised as a feminist movie. Starting, I believe, with Carol Clover’s take on the movie in Men, Women and Chainsaws, which I’ve read. In fact, British feminist Julie Bindel, who was a part of the picket lines outside screenings of the movie in 1980, has since recanted and said, “I was wrong – the movie is feminist.”

Kristine: Oh wow, that is interesting. I didn’t realize that it had been reclaimed/re-purposed as a feminist text. But it makes sense.

Sean: It really does make sense, because say what you will will about movie, but I don’t think you can deny that it feels like a polemic when you’re watching it. It is certainly not simply a crass exploitation movie that wants to drag you through the mud, which is how the movie’s opponents characterized it. Do you agree?

Kristine: Oh, absolutely. The thing that people who condemn the movie can’t get past – the excruciatingly long and detailed rape scenes perpetrated by grunting man-beasts – are, for me, what proves this isn’t merely a sleazy exploitation picture. The whole point of those scenes is to show the true, vile reality of men violating women, without any eroticization or cutting away. In depictions of rape I feel like we most often see the initial attack (or sometimes just the rapist unzipping his pants or something) and then the aftermath of the weeping, bedraggled, broken woman. But none of the actual violation. This movie forces us to watch what happens.

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 9.26.21 AM
The phallic boat intrudes

Sean: I think there are several things that let us know the movie is meant as a polemic. For instance, the use of Jennifer’s writing, which starts off as an interior monologue as she writes and is then drowned out by the intruding roar of the men’s speedboat. Then Suspenders mockingly reads her words aloud during the final assault, calling our attention to the fact that her writing is all about her subjectivity. She writes, “Finally after weeks of self-doubt and much deliberation she embarked on a temporary leave of absence from everything that formed the fabric of her life. The big city, her job, her friends, her hectic daily schedule, restless days, sleepless nights…” The emphasis is on the fullness of her life and the stakes involved in her decision to commit to producing a novel. Contrast that against the idleness of the men, their lack of purpose and direction. Jennifer chooses (with agency) a direction for her life. When we first see Suspenders and Baldy playing games with switchblades while Gasstation (barely) performs his duties, I kept thinking, ‘What are these men doing? What are their jobs?’ The movie suggests that their idleness/lack of clear purpose (á la i Vitteloni, etc.) is a part of why the violence occurs. Take Gasstation and put him alone at his job and he probably won’t get up to much mischief. Add Suspenders and Baldy, who are feckless and unemployed, into the equation, and all of a sudden we’ve got a problem. We’ve got a gang of rapists. That’s intentionally contrasted against Jennifer’s work ethic and ambition.

Kristine: I didn’t pick up much of Jennifer’s writing because the audio was difficult to hear. I got tired of rewinding and trying to decipher what people were saying, so I just went with it. I’d contend that, for the most part, the dialogue is not very important (other than Gasstation’s victim-blaming hate speech and also Jennifer’s initial exchanges with the men in the beginning scenes, which I think set up a lot of the movie’s class and gender conflict). I can’t speak to the content of her writing, but I do think the fact that she is a writer is significant. It’s cerebral work that’s associated with cultural capital and the elite/intelligentsia, as opposed to the blue collar work of running a gas station. She is obviously successful and independent, as evidenced by her ability to rent a lake house by herself for the summer. And she is confident and not self-effacing about her success/independence and her sexual liberation. “I have many boyfriends,” she asserts proudly to Matthew. Plus, she’s built her career on publishing short stories in “women’s magazines.” So I definitely think it’s significant that Suspenders mocks her work. They defile everything about her, not just her physical being.

Sean: I was also really stricken by Gasstation’s soliloquy when Jennifer has her gun drawn on him. He says:

You coax a man into doing it to you and a man gets the message fast. Whether he’s married or not, a man is just a man. You come into the gas station and you expose your damn sexy legs to me walking back and forth real slow making sure I see them good. Then Matthew delivers the food to your door and he sees half your tits peeking out at him – tits with no bra. And then you’re lying in your canoe in your bikini like bait.

Idle boyfriends

Kristine: I have that speech in my notes. And let me add that you could not see her tits in the aforementioned scene.

Sean: That speech is all about forcing us to see the way Gasstation’s brain works and the insane, misogynistic logic by which he operates. How he dehumanizes Jennifer (she’s “bait,” she’s tits and legs – she’s not a person). The movie is inviting us to be horrified and revolted by the way he thinks.

Kristine: Gasstation’s speech stuck out to me, as well. And how none of the men were surprised or suspicious when Jennifer came back around pretending like she was into it and wanted more? They are thinking, “Yeah, just like I thought!” It’s really easy – disgustingly easy – for Gasstation to believe that she enjoyed the gang rapes and really does want to take him as a lover.

Sean: And then there’s Gasstation’s amazing wife. I think if the movie had not included his wife and kids, it would be a different movie. That moment towards the end, after Jennifer has killed Gasstation, and his wife is berating Suspenders and Baldy? That moment is really powerful to me and, again, a clear indication that this movie is a polemic. When she rants, “He’s not that kind of a man. He’s loyal to me. He’s a good father and a good husband!” it’s bitterly ironic. The movie is hammering home how disgusting Gasstation is and it is also implicating everyone – including his wife – in the perpetuation of a culture where Gasstation is allowed to exist. I also loved how the wife was like, ‘I will fucking kick the shit out of you if you come back here!’ about Baldy and Suspenders and they retreat from her, cowed and admonished. It is so clear that class issues are animating their misogyny and their attacks on Jennifer… The wife is there to underscore that.

Kristine: I totally agree.

Sean: I was also struck by the use of Manon Lescaut, the Puccini opera that Jennifer puts on as Gasstation slowly bleeds to death in the bathroom. That opera is all about class and sex and the conflict between nature and civilization. It links up with a lot of the themes in I Spit on Your Grave, and confirms that all that thematic work is intentional.

Hair as death shroud

Kristine: I am not familiar with that opera (or 99% of all operas, for that matter) but that is very interesting and pretty awesome. I absolutely agree that two of the big themes in the movie are class conflict and civilization versus nature (similarly to Wolf Creek, Deliverance, Wake in Fright, etc). I think that is the reason the final rape scene in the cabin is so incredibly demoralizing. She should finally be “safe” because she’s made it out of the woods where the first two rapes happened, and inside her the house, in her own environment… Not only do the men violate her body, they also mock her work, and violate the environment (breaking in, stealing her alcohol, etc). It makes the fact that she chooses to “stand her ground” and not flee all the more powerful.

Sean: Yeah. I was surprised by how ideological the misogyny in the movie is, how intensely their hatred of women is fueled by class rage. I think it’s worth noting how Jenny is a woman of means, and her relationships to men throughout the opening are transactional – the doorman who loads her bags into her car for her, Gasstation filling her car up, Matthew the delivery man bringing her groceries (“Here’s a tip from an evil New Yorker!” is a great line, by the way)…. She’s the one with money and capital. She’s the consumer class, they’re the ‘help,’ the ones performing services or providing goods for her. That’s part of why she “must” be raped in their minds. Remember the men’s exchange around the campfire, when one of them claims that “New York broads are all loaded” and another replies, “Yeah, they fuck around a lot. One day I’m gonna go to New York and fuck all the broads there” and the other guy says, “I’m gonna do the same in California.” It seems like the movie is suggesting that their lack of cultural power – because they’re blue collar, not “loaded” and because they’re rural, not urban – motivates their hatred of Jennifer. Her status and capital offends them.

Kristine: I looked back on the films we have watched thus far that contain some sort of rape and revenge plot – The Virgin Spring, A Serbian Film, I Saw the Devil, The Hills Have Eyes and Witchfinder General – and realized that this is the first one where the revenge is enacted by the woman who was raped (other than Marija in A Serbian Film though it’s presented as besides the point). In all other instances, the revenge is carried out by a male figure, either the victim’s husband or father or relative. Like it’s the ultimate honorable act for a man to carry out revenge on behalf of a woman, because he’s affirming his status as a protector. But when a woman does it herself, she is an unhinged vigilante maniac.

Axe-wielding fury

Sean: Here’s where I’d like to share my initial reaction when I first saw this at in 2006. My reaction to the “revenge” portion of the film was very mixed and uncertain. I remember being very annoyed that it involved Jennifer taking her clothes off, getting sexual with the rapists, etc. I was like, ‘Don’t let Matthew lie on top of you ever again!!!’ I was frustrated and annoyed. Though I will say that, this time around, the revenge portion got more satisfying with each act of violence. I hated her scene with Matthew, but then when she castrates Gasstation it’s kind of amazing and by the time she’s in the speedboat being like “SUCK IT BITCH” to Baldy, I was sort of into it.

Kristine: I was really annoyed by how she carried out the acts of revenge, as well. Unlike the rape sequences in the first half, I did think the revenge scenes were eroticized and it made Jennifer seem unhinged instead of simply strategic and hellbent on revenge. I hated how she was naked yet again, and I agree that I couldn’t believe she could bear to be touched by any of those men. And I was also like, what is the point? Why bother going through this faux seduction to kill these dudes? Just shoot Gasstation in the head! Just shoot Matthew from the get-go! But I was thinking about it later and I decided that there is some kind of ideological/poetic reasoning going on. She came to the lake house as a subject and a person, but the men reduced her to a sexual object and mere body. So she uses that same body to get justice against them. That’s my take, anyway.

Sean: That’s very close to what I was reading online. I read some feminist takes on the movie that basically argue that the way the revenge scenarios play out is a macabre and ironic take on the men’s belief that women “ask for it” by the way they dress and how they behave. I have to say I would make one big edit to Matthew’s death scene. I think that once he was strung up in the air, they should have shown semen dribbling into the water below him. I know Jennifer says “He finally came!” to Gasstation, but I think it would have been hilarious to show it.

Penisblood is a great exfoliant

Kristine: Disgusting and amazing.

Sean: I do think Gasstation’s death is pretty fantastic. The way the blood shoots up out of the water like ejaculation? Can I actually ask a question about the rapes? Why the fuck do the men have to take off every last stitch of clothing (except for Matthew and his DIRTY FILTHY SOCKS) in order to rape someone? That is the weirdest thing ever.

Kristine: I noticed that, too. I think there actually is a reason they do it. I think it relates to the whole nature vs. civilization tension. Like, when it is the raping hour, they remove all trappings of civilization, of which dress is the most obvious. Plus I think clothing is pretty important overall for storytelling and characterization in the movie. Think about how different Jennifer’s “NY look” (hair up, dress and heels) is from her midriff-exposing tied-up shirt and distressed bohemian cut-offs when she gets to the lake house. Her clothes are a mode of self-expression – that they strip her naked is part of stealing her personhood away from her. But they also relinquish their own personhood in order to become primal, to become animal…

Sean: I was actually relieved (for once) that Jennifer had super-long hair (which I normally hate) because it allowed her some modesty/protection when she was naked in the woods. When Jennifer is alone and covered in mud and walking in the woods amongst all the tall, thin pines…. There was something striking about that image. I don’t want to say beautiful because it was so horrible…

A mythic moment of nymph and satyrs

Kristine: I totally know what you are talking about and I agree. Also, the day after the rapes when the mist is rising off the lake – this is the tranquil, lovely, isolated nature that Jennifer was seeking when she went to the lake. The wilderness being depicted as both idyllic and horrific reminded me of Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Sean: Plus her name is Jennifer Hills. The name turns her body into a natural place and a “refuge” itself which, ironically, is despoiled. I actually thought the reveal of the men in that second rape (the anal rape) was very well done and terrifying. I kept thinking of the satyrs and nymphs of Greek myth. The harmonica as a pan flute, the men emerging from the woods like dirty goatmen and the lone nude nymph being raped….

Kristine: I really love that. It also gives us a new way to frame the methodology of her revenge. She is turning the woodland nymph fantasy around on them and using the men’s objectification of her against them, i.e. killing them with sex (because that is all women are good for).

Sean: Right. Because the horror of that second rape is this mythic moment, performed as a ritual.

Kristine: I also thought the harmonica playing (very Deliverance) and the way the men stage themselves was effective and well-done. I mean, it is stagey on purpose and very scary. It underscores how much power they have over her. They “belong” to this place and have knowledge that she does not have.

Sean: Yes. And after the rape the way the camera just sits there and she’s in the center, prostrate over the rock, and behind her the men all just fade into the trees….

Kristine: In nature Jennifer thought she’d find tranquility and creative inspiration. Instead she’s reduced to an animal, naked and covered in mud and blood, forced to crawl on her hands and knees. She can’t even walk upright. Remember that earlier one of the men had accused women of being “sex animals” who have to shit like everyone else, trying to convince themselves that women are less than human when actually, as the anal rape in particular points out, they are more like animals.

Sean: Yes.

The true face of horror

Kristine: Want to know which scene made me laugh out loud? When Jennifer goes to the church and, instead of her cut-offs and midriff shirt, she is wearing an all black full-sleeve full-pant ninja outfit and Italian widow’s black headscarf! It made me think the movie was going to go fully into Pam Grier exploitation ridiculousness (which it never really did for me). I think this movie is actually honorable for keeping such a dark tone throughout – because what happened was fucking horrible, and nothing can change that.

Sean: Definitely.

Kristine: I didn’t really dig the church scene. Why would a modern gal like Jennifer go and ask for forgiveness for killing these motherfuckers? But again, maybe it’s about the trappings of civilized modernity having been stripped from her, and we see her revert to the more primal Old Testament way of doing things.

Sean: Prissy Pearlclutching Ebert called out her going to the church as specifically egregious and disgusting (which I think reveals a lot about how secretly conservative he was).

Kristine: The majority of Ebert’s review and negative feelings stemmed from the gross reaction of the audience in the theatre. I can totally sympathize with how effecting and harrowing that can be. I will use my oft-cited example of the students in my film studies class obliviously cheering when Glenn Close is murdered in Fatal Attraction. You feel really violated and upset about human nature. What surprised me is that a professional film critic would choose not to screen the movie again, sans audience, and see how that affected his read. The other thing that is crazy about Ebert is how he doesn’t just say, “I hated it. Don’t see it.” He actually calls for censorship and banishment and throws shade at the theatre chain for showing the film. You know I love the Eebs, but that is some fucked up shit. I really wish Ebert and Meir Zarchi had done a phone interview about this movie and the filmmaker’s intentions. Given the backstory, Zarchi would have been sickened by the audience reaction, too. Or maybe it’s super meta – like, people’s reactions to the film reveals their true nature. Maybe for Ebert it was like, ‘Here it is – the audience’s true animal selves – emerging in the theatre right in front of my eyes!’

Sean: Very Demons. I also had a laugh out loud moment. When Jennifer calls the store to have Matthew deliver her groceries and he gets to her cabin and can’t find her and then she says, “You came super fast, Matthew!” and he lets out this feminine scream of terror and drops his bike. I laughed and laughed.

Kristine: Ha!

Jennifer goes full Carmela Soprano

Sean: Let me ask you a question. Do you think that it would be psychologically damaging for a group of straight 12-year-old boys to watch I Spit on Your Grave a sleepover? Would it warp their brains? Was Mary Whitehouse correct? I mean, they obviously wouldn’t be sophisticated enough to see the feminist dimensions or subtext of the movie.

Kristine: True, but they would recognize that a vile thing was happening. I might worry that it would warp their brains in a self-loathing way, like convincing them that men are disgusting. ‘Look at what men do. Wait, I am a man. I must be a disgusting beast, too. I am going to self-castrate now.’

Sean: You don’t think it would turn them on?

Kristine: I don’t think so, unless they were already conditioned by other things to find sexual violence against women to be erotic.

Sean: See this is one of my questions. Are straight men hard-wired to find sexual violence against women exciting and arousing? Or is that something they learn from the culture? And if you think I’m crazy for asking that, let me refer you to this and this and this.

Kristine: I think it would be profoundly upsetting for a group of adolescent boys to watch this movie. There is a chance that it could negatively affect how they view sex. If I were the guardian of this hypothetical 12-year-old boy, I wouldn’t want him to watch it. But we were all exposed to things long before we could “handle it” and those things do affect us and sometimes stick with us for a long time. It’s kind of just part of the human experience of growing up. Sometimes you bite off more than you can chew. People need to know there is evil in the world. What do you say?

Sean: I think this is a fucking hot potato of a movie. I wouldn’t want anyone under the age of…. say, 17 to watch it. And even then I’d want them to have someone older there to discuss/think through the movie afterwards. But I agree with what you said about how seeing things too soon is a universal part of growing up in the Western world. I, obviously, saw shit I wasn’t ready for when I was a kid much younger than 12.

Kristine: Me, too.

Sean: Totally. Plus these kids have the Internet. Felching videos. 2 girls 1 cup. A woman blowing a dolphin. Etc.

Kristine: Very good point.

If only they’d just fuck each other’s butts and leave Jennifer out of it

Sean: I just want to make my obligatory ‘this is gay’ comment. I really felt like there was a strong homo undercurrent to the men’s relationships and I felt like the elaborate disrobing was part of it. It’s like, they don’t just want to see each other violate Jennifer – they want to see each other’s bodies. They’re fetishizing and eroticizing each other’s bodies as much as they are hers. Remember them hooting and hollering while Matthew did his (nauseating) strip tease as he’s preparing to rape Jennifer? So much of the movie is them gazing approvingly at each other’s naked bodies and hollering with excitement about it.

Kristine: I think you’re right. I have never understood straight men hanging out together and watching porn.

Sean: Plus remember when Gasstation is like “Gimme a smile, handsome” to Baldy when they’re all in the restaurant? And when they find out Matthew lied about killing Jennifer, Gasstation tells him “If I ever see you around here again I’m gonna fuck your ass!” There’s an undercurrent of sexual tension between the men throughout the movie. I mean, Baldy and Suspenders are basically a couple. And when Gasstation is in the tub with Jennifer she asks him about being married and he says, regarding his wife, “She’s okay – you get used to a wife after a while, you know?” Which sounds to me like something a closeted gay man from another era might say. It’s not a ringing endorsement for heterosexual union.

Kristine: That’s true. Though Gasstation also expresses disgust with the Baldy/Suspenders couple also. Remember he says to Jennifer, “They hang onto me like leeches, goofing off all the time. I really despise people who don’t work. They get into trouble too easily, you know?” Which brings back all the class stuff we were talking about before but could also be read as Gasstation trying to distance himself from Baldy/Suspenders’ intense homosocial pairing while he’s with Jennifer and, thus, trying to reassert his masculinity. “I don’t like women giving me orders!” he tells Jennifer right before she pulls the gun on him. Gasstation is just a total misanthrope. He doesn’t like anybody doing anything.

Sean: Exactly. As the movie is careful to point out, he’s no Robert Redford.

Kristine: Right?

Ratings Roundup

The Girl’s Rating: This is horror movie homework – essential to know, but not fun to complete AND More feminist than you’d think AND Maligned and misunderstood

The Freak’s Rating: More feminist than you’d think AND Provocative and problematic AND Sleazesterpiece! AND This film IS America.

One thought on “Movie Discussion: Meir Zarchi’s I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

  1. I did see this movie at about age 12! No it didn’t traumatize me, but I was a pretty advanced/intelligent 12 year old. When I sought this movie out again, when I was in my 20s, I didn’t remember much about it except that I thought it was interesting and that a person got chopped up by a boat motor (which was really cool to a 12-year-old). Now that I have 9 and 5 year old sons, I would NEVER want them to see this until they are at least 18. But that fact that it is part of my dvd collection, means there’s a risk they will watch it prematurely. I better hide it!!

    I wonder what Meir Zarchi thought of the remake? I see that he is credited as EP on the remake, as well as the sequel. I have seen the remake, but it was not memorable at all. I have not seen the sequel. It’s too bad they didn’t make a quality film because I actually think ISPOYG is one of the few films that could benefit from being remade. I think it is hurt by its low budget. The production quality and the acting give it a campy feel at times and I think that one of the reasons why it is treated as an exploitation film.

    It’s funny that Ebert was so disgusted by this movie, but the soft core porn films he made with Russ Meyer were ok?

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