I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

Director: Mier Zarchi (1978)
Starring: Camille Keaton, Eron Tabor, Richard Pace
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon UK, Amazon US

The greatest romantic comedy of all time, and a dramatic tonal departure by director Woody Al- Oh, wait, Camille Keaton. Silly me, I was thinking of Diane. Along with a certain house on the left, I Spit on Your Grave (Day of the Woman) is amongst the most famous of all the rape/revenge subgenre movies made in the seventies. It follows writer Jennifer Hills (Keaton) as she takes a quiet holiday in small-town America. Only the local neanderthals don't take too kindly to Jennifer and her sophistications, and decide to bring her down a notch or two. Systematic, repeated gang-rape follows. The movie sort of justifies its alternate title by having Jennifer wreak bloody revenge afterwards, but not really as much as you'd like.

See, the trick to good revenge drama is having the revenge be worse than the initial crime. And whilst Jennifer's various vengeances are fairly nasty, there's not much Zarchi can have her do that even nearly approximates the level of evil levelled at her in the movie's first half. She's repeatedly gang-raped by these fellas, and the best she can do is run one of them over with a fucking boat? Sure, she lops off her fair share of manhood, but it's in a climax that comes far too early and doesn't have anything like enough emotional clout.

Like a great many of the infamous video nasties, I Spit on Your Grave is horrible but largely undeserving of its UK ban. Until you start banning movies for being shit, this is one that should be left alone. Claims that it glorifies violence against women are unfounded - needless to say, the violence and rapings are appalling, and Zarchi actually seems to view himself as some sort of feminist messiah - I can even see how one might see it as a 'feminist' horror movie. Day of the Woman though? Any afternoon in which some poor lady gets raped for an hour's screentime is hardly liable to be a 'day of the woman'. It's like declaring Hostel 2 a feminist masterpiece because Lauren German gets out at the end. I generally despise rape/revenge movies anyway, but I Spit on Your Grave is just a terrible, shoddy piece of filmmaking, redeemed in my eyes only because it managed to piss Mary Whitehouse and The Daily Mail off quite so much.


  1. Loved this film but this review rocks.

    Anyone who can write something I so disagree with but still has my respect has a gift, far as I'm concerned.

    Great post.

  2. Watch it with Joe Bob Briggs' commentary. He has some really interesting things to say.

  3. Good call - I watched it with the commentary once actually. It certainly improved the experience for me, to be sure. One of the few reasons I'd revisit this movie.

  4. Sometimes I can't stand to watch it without the commentary - makes the experience a little less intense. Although Meir Zarchi's commentary is kind of boring. His voice is too monotone!

  5. Cool site! I just found it...anyway, the film does seem to get talked about it in feminist circles and writings. The book "Men, Women, and Chainsaws" references it a bunch of times, for example. I guess the film allows us males to feel what rape is really like, and anytime a dude gets castrated in a movie, all the chicks jump up and cheer...or maybe not. Well, I also wrote a review here: http://cinemagonzo.blogspot.com/2010/07/i-spit-on-your-grave-1978-rapiest-movie.html