Saturday, 31 March 2012


Several months ago I selected the remake of I Spit On Your Grave to review. Yet I kept putting it off and off. There was always something more interesting I wanted to watch. Truth be told, I can't honestly remember now why I ordered it.

I have seen the 1978 original -or rather a cut version of the original -one  late night on the Horror Channel a few years ago. My first thought was that if that was the cut version, I shuddered to think what was left out. I'll briefly summarise the story in the unlikely event that you, dear readers whom I know to be sensitive souls, haven't heard of it. A young woman writer moves to a rural area in order to work on a book. She is raped by four locals (one of them subnormal who is forced into it by the others). After the encounter she sets about killing them until all are dead. And that's it.

The devil, however, is in the detail. The rape itself is several rapes. Caught in the woods, she is raped by the men who let her go. She heads for her rented house only to be caught again and repeatedly raped. This may happen a third time, I can't remember. However, on reaching the haven of the house she finds that the men are there and she is raped yet again. This extended sequence, which seems to go on forever (actually an astonishing 25 minutes), is one of the most repulsive things I've seen on film. The later killings, even the genital severing, are mild in comparison. Except for when she hangs the the subnormal rapist (who was supposed to shoot her but only pretended to do so) who is unable to defend himself, possibly because he understands why she's doing it.

This is a very difficult film to watch and it's even harder to decide what the intention of the film-makers was in making it. It has been widely condemned as exploitative trash which glorifies the subjugation of women. Yet writer-director Meir Zarchi has constantly denied this, claiming it to be a moral film. I can see his point: my view of anyone who actually enjoys watching the rape sequence is simply a sick fuck. Zarchi also claimed it to be inspired by his helping a woman who had just been raped by a gang (check the IMDB entry for details). On the whole I tend to go with the view that it isn't exploitation. Zarchi's preferred and original title on release was Day of the Woman (a title which has a different emphasis) and only in 1981 was it retitled and came to wider attention.

Nevertheless, it's a gruelling film to watch but there is an argument to be made that, in its depiction of the experience, it's just about definitive. Which makes me wonder why it was felt necessary to remake an already controversial movie, particularly as attitudes to sex have changed for the better in the thirty years since it was made. The same can be said for Last House On The Left to which it has similarities. Again, I've seen the cut original but not the remake. To answer that question I should, by rights watch the remake of I Spit On Your Grave but I just can't bring myself to do it. I have heard that it's more of a horror movie than the original  which ought to make it more appealing to me but for now, doesn't.

Basically I just don't want to watch a film in which the first half is dominated by an explicit rape. I suppose I could always flick through it to the gory killings. I mean, that's okay, right?

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