Posted: 01/24/2011

 

I Spit On Your Grave (2010)

by Del Harvey




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February 8, 2011 - Anchor Bay Entertainment releases a grisly tale of revenge with the release of the unrated I Spit On Your Grave – both the 1978 original classic and the state-of-the-art 2010 remake on high-definition Blu-ray™ and DVD.

In 1978, Meir Zarchi’s I Spit On Your Grave shocked audiences all over the world. Critics reviled it, but audiences embraced its “Day of the Woman” empowerment message. Now, three decades later, lightning has struck again with the 2010 remake, which shocked 21st century moviegoers.

I was anxious for the remake of 1978’s notorious “Rape/Revenge” shocker I Spit on Your Grave and a bit concerned that the filmmakers might take it “too far.” The original remains powerfully divisive, with violent detractors seeming to have the majority vote. However, as with any cult classic, the film also has its rabid fans.

But I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at this new take on the dated-looking 70’s model. Yes, there is a horrific rape sequence - but it serves the morality lesson in the story, and it serves the main character’s transformation - so it does have purpose. And I, for one, think the choice to

While anyone who loathes the original film is not likely to have a different opinion of this new take on the same story, it may also turn out that fans of the original may not appreciate the artistic choices or even the fact that a remake exists at all. Whatever the intentions of the filmmakers of the original film, the 2010 model of I Spit on Your Grave is clearly meant to be a “more accessible” take on the “Rape/Revenge” formula.

Knowing that statement to be fraught with potential incentives for argument, let me just say that the choices made in remaking the original show an even more independent female lead whose character lends itself to overcoming horrible life events. And although there is a rape sequence in the film, it is handled - if such a thing is possible - favoring the plight of our heroine. She is strong and free-thinking, but she is not going to take the inumane treatment of such woman-haters lightly.

As in the original, Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) is a writer taking time out of the city to visit a cabin in the woods and work on her new book. She stops to get gas and meets Johnny (Jeff Branson), Andy (Rodney Eastman) and Stanley (Daniel Franzese). There is no question as soon as these men appear on the screen that they are violent, menacing characters.

Soon enough, these backwoods monsters decide they’re going to force a local disabled boy, Matthew (Chad Lindberg) to have sex with Jennifer and take this “city bitch” down a peg. What follows is a very nasty series of scenes of the men menacing, assaulting, and finally raping Jennifer before she jumps into a creek and disappears, presumably drowned.

Except, of course, anyone familiar with the original film even by reputation will know that Jennifer will be back to exact revenge on her attackers. In the original film, Jennifer used her sexuality against the men by seducing and killing them. This aspect of the original film has been removed from the remake, instead showing our female lead’s strength as she traps, tortures, and mercilessly kills each of her tormenters in a series of scenes much more elaborate than those in the 1978 film.

For good measure, this version also adds a fifth man to the ranks of Jennifer’s attackers, presumably to give the audience a little more revenge for their money. What this basically does is split one of the original characters into two, so one remains the cruel, hateful redneck and the other gets to have a family. I found that this choice served to make both characters even more despicable, and it may have been so the audience would not be too put off when Jennifer kills them.

At a very base level, I found I Spit on Your Grave to be quite bluntly effective. There’s no question that the “revenge” part of the film works on that lizard-brain level. Bad men (acted capably so the audience truly hates them) get bad things done to them in a frenzy of pure dramatic catharsis. While it is brutal and unpleasant, the lengthy scenes of Jennifer being attacked by the rednecks were clearly calculated to be difficult - but not too difficult— to watch. Similarly, the revenge sequences are violent, but not appreciably more so than, say, Hostel.

The world was a much different place in 1978, as the original film will certainly attest. To encounter men who harbor such hatred for the opposite sex today is, thankfully, somewhat more rare. And on that level, at least, I Spit on Your Grave certainly succeeds. Anyone seriously troubled by the concept of either rape or revenge as entertainment, though, should steer well clear. But for those who appreciate thematic films or horror movies, I think you will be surprised by the success of the remake.

Bonus features on the 2010 I Spit On Your Grave Blu-ray™ and DVD include a filmmakers commentary track with Hansen and Monroe, an in-depth behind-the-scenes featurette, the original theatrical teaser and trailer, deleted scenes and much more. The 1978 I Spit On Your Grave Blu-ray™ features an all-new high definition transfer, Dolby TrueHD audio and an all-new interview with writer/producer/director Meir Zarchi about the making of this infamous cinematic landmark and its legacy for the past three decades.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.



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