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Meir Zarchi
Camille Keaton, Eron Tabor, Richard Pace, Anthony Nichols, Gunter Kleemann, Alexis Magnotti, Tammy Zarchi
Writing Credits:
Meir Zarchi

This woman has just cut, chopped, broken and burned five men beyond recognition ... but no jury in America would ever convict her! I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE ... an act of revenge

Some condemned it as 'vile', 'depraved' and 'degenerate entertainment'. Others acclaimed it as 'disturbing', 'misunderstood', and 'the ultimate feminist movie'. Now more than 30 years later, re-experience one of the most hated, debated and controversial movies of all time: Camille Keaton stars as Jennifer Hills, an attractive city woman who rents a backwoods cabin to begin writing her first novel. She is soon attacked by a group of local lowlifes - including one who is mentally disabled - and dragged screaming into a nightmare of rape, sodomy and violence. Left for dead, she devises a horrific plan for revenge. These men will be cut, chopped, broken and burned beyond recognition ... but no jury in America would ever convict her. You may be shocked, outraged or even disgusted. Yet you will never forget the raw impact of the original I Spit On Your Grave.

Box Office:
$80 thousand.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $24.97
Release Date: 2/8/2011

• Audio Commentary with Director/Writer Meir Zarchi
• Audio Commentary with Author/Historian Joe Bob Briggs
• “The Values of Vengeance: Meit Zarchi Remembers I Spit On Your Grave” Featurette
• Alternate Main Title
• Trailers and TV and Radio Spots
• Poster and Still Gallery
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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I Spit On Your Grave [Blu-Ray] (1978)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 4, 2011)

Virtually every list that looks at the most shocking and controversial movies of all-time includes 1978’s I Spit On Your Grave. Though I knew a little about it, I’d never actually seen the horror flick, so I thought this Blu-ray release felt like the right time to finally give it a look.

Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) rents a summer house in the remote country so she can hole up and write a novel. Most of her stay goes fine, but some moronic yokels start to torment her. This reaches a peak when gang leader Johnny (Eron Tabor) decides that he’ll use Jennifer to help deflower mentally deficient virgin Matthew (Richard Pace).

Matthew befriended Jennifer earlier in the tale and resists his “friends’” calls to rape her. That doesn’t stop the others, though. Johnny sexually assaults her first and then lets her leave before he and the others apprehend her again. More rape and violence ensue before Johnny and the others leave Jennifer in the woods.

Jennifer eventually gathers the strength to walk home, but her ordeal doesn’t end there. While she attempts to call the police, Johnny and his boys go after her again. Matthew finally succumbs to peer pressure and rapes Jennifer. He also gets forced by Johnny to kill her so she won’t be able to tell the authorities what they did. Matthew can’t bring himself to actually kill Jennifer, though, so he pretends he murdered her and leaves it at that.

This comes back to haunt Johnny and his gang. When Jennifer recovers, she doesn’t go to the police. Instead, she takes matters into her own hands and exacts a plan to get violent revenge on her tormenters.

As I watched Grave, one earlier movie immediately leapt to mind: 1972’s Last House on the Left. That one also has a reputation as a shocking piece of depravity, and it shares this movie’s themes of rape, violence and revenge. While Grave isn’t a clone of House, it shares enough similarities for me to feel certain that those behind Grave were well-acquainted with the earlier movie.

While I can’t say I like Grave, I will give it credit as a better made film than its predecessor. House alternated moments of shocking violence with campy silliness and suffered from generally poor filmmaking. House boasted terrible acting, poor camerawork, choppy editing and possibly the worst score ever committed to tape. Any potential horror it might inspire got severely undercut by all the bad work on display.

Though Grave suffers from some of the same problems, it avoids most of those pitfalls. Really, its only major weakness comes from the quality of the acting, and that’s an issue mostly during the first act. When Keaton and the others need to portray emotions other than sadism or fear, they seem stilted and artificial. However, they pull off those broader emotions fairly well, and since most of the movie features characters who are either terrified or cruel, the actors do fine most of the time.

Grave could also use better editing – it tends to meander – but otherwise, it provides a surprisingly well-composed film. I definitely appreciate its lack of shrillness, and the fact it omits a score goes a long way in that regard. Grave presents a nearly documentary view of its subject matter, as it doesn’t go for big scare effects or startling editing. The sound remains natural, and we hear no score to tell us how to feel. All of those factors mean that the movie’s violent sequences pack more of a punch, as the usual filmmaking techniques don’t allow us to distance ourselves from the brutality.

Which leads to the movie’s most controversial side: the explicit nature of its sexual and violent content. The extended rape of Jennifer lasts nearly half an hour, and the last act consists of little more than her revenge. Grave spends so much time with the depravity and nastiness that it opens itself up to accusations of exploitation.

Does it deserve these? Probably not. Director Meir Zarchi relates that his experiences with a rape victim inspired the movie, and he appears to think that he needed to create such harrowing violence to accurately convey the real nature of the crime. I understand that viewpoint, but I don’t agree. I don’t think a movie needs to depict its violence in such detail and across so much time to convince us that it’s a horrible offense. No, I don’t think the flick should sugarcoat it, but I also don’t feel that so much graphic content makes sense.

Indeed, in this case, the amount of violence proves to be almost counterproductive, as we threaten to become desensitized. I understand that the movie wants us to go through the wringer with Jennifer so we’ll not question her desire to kill the perpetrators, but I still don’t think we need to see this level of violence. Less would be more in this case.

That’s especially true because the graphic nature of the content more clearly opens up the filmmakers to accusations of exploitation. It’s one thing to feature brutal sequences, but it’s another to linger over these scenes, which is what happens here. I think this tendency relates mostly to Zarchi’s poor editing – he never met any meandering shot he didn’t like – but it still remains a concern/

In the end, I think Grave does what it wants to do in a powerful way, but I can’t quite figure out why anyone would want to watch it. If you embrace the filmmakers’ claims that it depicts a feminist revenge fantasy, perhaps you’ll enjoy it for that side of things. Personally, I think that by the time we get to that point, we’re too overwhelmed by the rape sequences to take any pleasure from the third act.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C-/ Bonus B

I Spit On Your Grave appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Given the film’s age and low-budget origins, this was a pretty satisfactory presentation.

For the most part, Grave seemed reasonably sharp. Some mild soft spots occurred, but I thought it presented more than adequate delineation, as the majority of the movie looked concise and accurate. Jagged edges and shimmering weren’t issues, and edge enhancement remained absent.

Colors seemed good, as the hues were relatively peppy and dynamic. The flick used a natural palette that worked for its country setting. Occasional shots looked a bit off, but most demonstrated more than acceptable hues. Blacks were reasonably dark and tight, while low light shots usually demonstrated nice delineation; a few night sequences seemed a bit dense, but those weren’t a significant concern.

Source flaws were an issue, though not to a tremendous degree. Through the film, I saw instances of spots and specks. These created distractions, but not on a constant level, as most of the film looked acceptably clean. A few issues knocked my grade down to a “B-”, but I still felt fairly pleased with the image.

I felt less happy with the film’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. This was where the movie’s age and cheapness really showed, as the audio quality was often weak. This was especially true in terms of dialogue, as the lines were often muddy and tough to understand. While I could discern most of the speech, enough exceptions occurred to force me to turn on subtitles.

The rest of the track sounded better. Score wasn’t a factor, as the movie featured virtually no music beyond source cues. Effects were a pretty minor matter as well, as they stayed in the background during most of the film. Within their mild ambitions, the effects sounded decent.

The soundfield stayed subdued. For the most part, it concentrated on general ambience; we’d get buzzing and chirping in the woods, and we’d get clinking and chatting in a diner. Some vehicle movement occurred, and a little directional dialogue also appeared. Nothing special manifested itself, though, and the movie really didn’t benefit from the surround treatment; it would’ve been just fine in its original monaural incarnation. The biggest problem here remained the quality of the dialogue, and that meant a “C-“ grade.

This Blu-ray includes a decent roster of supplements, including two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director/writer Meir Zarchi, as he offers a running, screen-specific chat. Zarchi discusses the inspiration for the film, sets and locations, photography and other technical areas, story, script and character issues, cast and performances, editing, the absence of score, ratings/distribution and controversies.

Zarchi clearly reads from notes for his commentary, so don’t expect a track with a sense of spontaneity; the director can seem a bit stiff and stilted at times. Nonetheless, he seems prepared, and the text allows him to ensure that he digs into the movie in a fairly rich manner. Yes, he can come across as a bit too eager to tell us about the film’s greatness, but he still delivers an informative piece that lets us know a lot about the flick.

For the second commentary, we hear from author/historian Joe Bob Briggs. He also offers a running, screen-specific piece that both attacks and defends the movie. Briggs provides a combination of production notes, interpretation and mockery.

This doesn’t turn into a simple MST3K-style attempt to make fun of the flick. Briggs does laugh at the film’s sillier aspects, but he also strenuously defends it against its many critics; he frequently rebuts their complaints. Briggs makes a pretty good case for it; he doesn’t seem to really buy into Zarchi’s pretensions, but he also doesn’t see it as a basic piece of exploitation. Briggs provides a nice contrast to the self-important seriousness of the Zarchi track; he occasionally does little more than narrate the movie, and his frequent use of the word “retard” borders on offensive, but he still makes this an amusing and enjoyable chat.

We find more from the director during the 29-minute The Values of Vengeance: Meit Zarchi Remembers I Spit On Your Grave. Here Zarchi chats about the movie’s influences, casting and his relationship with the lead actress, photography and editing, the absence of score, MPAA concerns and distribution, and the film’s legacy. Zarchi spends about half the program with new material and half with info from the commentary. I can’t say that this ends up as a particularly fascinating piece, though, as most of the fresh remarks seem lackluster. It’s not a bad chat but it’s not especially illuminating.

Next comes an Alternate Main Title. This runs a whopping 16 seconds and differs from the actual main film only in that it uses the moniker Day of the Woman, the flick’s original title. That’s fine for archival purposes, I guess.

Images appear via a Poster and Still Gallery. This includes 19 images that mix ads and shots from the set. Nothing scintillating appears, but I do like the format; you can use your remote to move from one thumbnail shot to the next and enlarge them when you see one that interests you.

The disc opens with ads for I Spit On Your Grave (2010), Frozen, and Altitude. We also get four trailers for Grave, three TV Spots and three Radio Ads.

The controversial I Spit On Your Grave lives up to its billing as a brutal, graphic depiction of rape and violence, but does that make it worth watching? Not really. While I can understand the filmmakers’ goals, I think the movie becomes too unpleasant to achieve them. The Blu-ray provides surprisingly solid picture quality and some interesting supplements, but the soundtrack shows its age. Overall, I think this is a strong release for a movie I don’t want to watch again.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.4 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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