Thursday, September 27, 2012

Movie Review: I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

 I Spit on Your Grave is one of those iconic horror films that I had always heard about, but had never actually seen.  It is a sex-and-gore exploitation film, cut from the same cloth as Last House on the Left and I Drink Your Blood.  In these films, there are no "monsters", nothing overtly supernatural, just the potential depths of brutality and depravity of the human psyche being displayed on film.

 In 1978, when this film was released, it was probably difficult to sit through.  By today's standards, it is brutal, but no more and less than what rates an 'R'.  Jennifer Hill is a young author leaving the hustle and bustle of New York behind to spend some time in the country writing a book.  She runs afoul of four local hooligans who stalk, rape, brutalize, and humiliate her.  They fail, though, to kill her, sending in the village idiot to do her in.  Despite his being a participant in the raping and beating, he cannot bring himself to plunge a knife into her heart, telling his friends who waited outside her home that the deed was done.  When Jennifer recovers, she sets out to hunt and kill each of her attackers in as sadistic and brutal of fashion she can devise.

So much for a relaxing summer vacation...
 The story is well done, with only a few leaps of logic to get the viewer into the film.  Jennifer demonstrates, for example, that she is an idiot.  She is a city girl who drives into the country to a summer home in the middle of nowhere, a place we have every indication she has never been and has no familiarity with, yet in the first 10 minutes of the film she strips nude and goes for a skinny-dip in the river by her residence in the middle of the day.  Later, two of her victims are so overcome with there lust or confidence in the prowess as men that they think that Jennifer's seduction means that the rape and beating was forgotten and forgiven, allowing themselves to be lulled into a vulnerable position that results in their demise.  Finally, one of these country bumpkins, who has lived near the river we can assume all his life, never got around to learning to swim.

This man is an idiot...
 There wasn't much required as far as special effects were concerned.  I hope that the mound of pubes you see throughout the film was a merkin and not Camille Keaton's (Jennifer) natural state.  The bathtub scene was done effectively, although I was under the impression that she had cut his femoral artery, and not that she severed his penis as I would later read.  The axe scene was clearly a fake back, but was a quick enough shot that it doesn't take away from the film.

...and idiots get their wangs cut off.

 The acting was well done, with the characters being believable, if not sometimes over-the-top.  Robert Ebert considered this film the worst ever made, and it has the notoriety of having the longest rape scene filmed (25 minutes).  For fans of exploitation horror, this is a must-see.

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