Posted in: Review

Worst Movie Ever? I Spit On Your Grave

Welcome to the first installment of “Worst Movie Ever?,” where every month we’ll examine a universally panned movie to determine if merit lies in its critically deposited scorn.

With the recent passing of Roger Ebert, this first choice, Meir Zarchi’s I Spit on Your Grave (originally titled Day of the Woman) is fitting. The great critic called it “an expression of the most diseased and perverted darker human natures.” That blurb wasn’t a compliment, but it still found its way to the DVD box anyway.

At least the film’s marketers know what the film is. I’m not sure about Zarchi.

The plot.

Writer Jennifer Mills (Camille Keaton), working on her first book, leaves New York City for the quiet and solitude of a small country town. Unfortunately, she attracts the attention of four bored townies who apprehend her, rape her in three different locales, brutalize her, and leave her for dead.

That the young woman gets her revenge is almost an afterthought, sadly.

Is I Spit on Your Grave really that bad?

The movie left me emotionally battered. I was sad for Keaton, especially when she was naked, covered in dirt and splayed over a rock. I felt sad that Zarchi found that women’s value and allure came from being sex objects. I also felt sad for the cast and crew, who I imagine now view their participation as some kind of minor felony.

Two possible reasons exist for enjoying I Spit on Your Grave (1978): as camp and as a feminist empowerment tale. The first doesn’t work because rape is one act — unless you are a brilliant satirist — you can’t joke about. And camp can’t survive when Keaton, at best a mediocre actress, appears to be in genuine anguish during the endless rape scenes. As for the “I Am Woman” platform, come on. Mills is a writer and an intellectual, but the first thing she does upon arriving at her bucolic retreat is strip off her clothes and go for a dip. We don’t know how she feels or acts or what her motives are. She’s there solely as a blow-up doll to fulfill, at worst, an erotic fantasy; at best, she’s the central figure in a campfire tale for morally reprehensible teens.

Mills’ revenge involves having sex with one of her tormenters, while another is lured into a bathtub for a Lorena Bobbitt-style revenge. And, in an example of Puritan restraint, killing the others while wearing a two-piece. In Zarchi’s world a woman is an object who doesn’t hurt or feel or think. She only expresses herself — as a hero, as a victim — through fucking. It’s the reason the four men laugh at Mills’ writing and why she tells one of the characters, mentally-challenged delivery boy Matthew (Richard Pace), that she has multiple boyfriends.

The fatal appeal of femininity has a long history in film noir, where sex is frequently used as a weapon. But in movies like Double Indemnity and The Last Seduction, sex was used as a means to an end. Or the director painted a world where morality was negotiable and cold cunning ruled. I Spit On Your Grave runs on testosterone-fueled nastiness. It would be an honest approach — if Zarchi didn’t spend the time conceiving ways to undress and humiliate his future wife.

Is there anything good about I Spit on Your Grave?

There’s this notion that notable low-budget films belong to forward-thinking auteurs who scrapped and saved and sacrificed to get their vision seen by the public. I Spit On Your Grave takes that message to another, almost democratic, level: anyone, regardless of intentions, can make a film. And viewers have the right to like it or hate it.

Any other comments?

I could not bring myself to see the 2010 remake. The blurb on the DVD case advised that viewers should watch it only if they could handle it. After watching the original, I don’t think I’ll be in that position anytime soon.

Comment (1) on "Worst Movie Ever? I Spit On Your Grave"

  1. This is going to be long. So sorry.
    “I felt sad that Zarchi found that women’s value and allure came from being”
    You’re wrong actually. A women can be confident, smart and beautiful. The character is indeed confident in her own looks and wears what makes HER feel beautiful. As we see throughout the movie she doesn’t look for any male attention. The attention falls upon her because she is classically beautiful. She is a smart person who works for a magazine and wants to write her own book.
    “Two possible reasons exist for enjoying I Spit on Your Grave (1978): as camp and as a feminist empowerment tale. The first doesn’t work because rape is one act — unless you are a brilliant satirist — you can’t joke about. “

    And camp can’t survive when Keaton, at best a mediocre actress, appears to be in genuine anguish during the endless rape scenes.
    Yes the scenes were meant to be horrifying, shocking and will make you sympathize with the victim. The film doesn’t downplay the rape instead shows its true form. Even The rape that happen in her house (her own sanctuary) is shown from her perspective and how she sees the men who raped her. This time we see what happens through her eyes. Proving how pathetic this “men” are. Like the “I can’t c**” line.

    As for the “I Am Woman” platform, come on. Mills is a writer and an intellectual, but the first thing she does upon arriving at her bucolic retreat is strip off her clothes and go for a dip.

    Why should she cover her body? Is it shameful? Is it odd? I would have done the same to be honest. if I lived in a big city my whole life then I saw the clear lake.

    We don’t know how she feels or acts or what her motives are. She’s there solely as a blow-up doll to fulfill, at worst, an erotic fantasy; at best, she’s the central figure in a campfire tale for morally reprehensible teens.

    Blow-up doll? Really?

    Mills’ revenge involves having sex with one of her tormenters.
    This scene actually you can see the whore/saint complex. A women can be only one of these choices so they say (this is also a misogynistic view towards women). She is wearing white yet she is presented sexually can be argued that scene breaks it. Also she is a kind of weak women she can’t be jumping and attacking them. She has to weave her web for them to come. This cause contrast to how the “men” brutally jumped her while the woman is playing it smart and waiting her time.
    while another is lured into a bathtub for a Lorena Bobbitt-style revenge.
    This tormentor if you actually focused is victim blaming. This was common back then and still to this day.
    Also this is the original planner who started this whole thing after learning about the generous tip that she gave him which most likely more than what most of them make in 4 hours. This is also a misogynistic view that this guy have where he wants to be the alpha of his group and the women. That tip indicated that he saw that women shouldn’t make more money than men.

    “And, in an example of Puritan restraint, killing the others while wearing a two-piece.”
    Again she couldn’t take two man. Also important to note that we never see these two “men“alone. They were always together. So sets the bait and then go for the one of the men then the other.

    In Zarchi’s world a woman is an object who doesn’t hurt or feel or think. She only expresses herself — as a hero, as a victim — through fucking .It’s the reason the four men laugh at Mills’ writing”
    I never understood this scene to be honest. My best believe is they are assaulting her intellectual idea after assaulting her body.

    “She tells one of the characters, mentally-challenged delivery boy Matthew (Richard Pace), that she has multiple boyfriends.”
    So having multiple boyfriends/lovers is a bad point? She is a care free, confident and beautiful woman. She never stated why she enjoyed having multiple boyfriends. It might range from being just intellectual thinking to great sex for all we know.
    “The fatal appeal of femininity has a long history in film noir, where sex is frequently used as a weapon. But in movies like Double Indemnity and The Last Seduction, sex was used as a means to an end. Or the director painted a world where morality was negotiable and cold cunning ruled. I Spit On Your Grave runs on testosterone-fueled nastiness. It would be an honest approach — if Zarchi didn’t spend the time conceiving ways to undress and humiliate his future wife.”

    It’s an honest approach. He did this for a woman he discovered. The girl was gangraped and left for the dead. He questioned himself on where to send her police or hospital. He went with the police where they grilled her. The woman had a broken jaw and they grilled her for her own rape. This is way they are no police involved in the plot.

    Thanks for reading this wall of text

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