31 Days of Hell: Meir Zarchi's I Spit On Your Grave (1978)

For this post, I'm going to go in a different direction and not review something that is or has been considered an accessible movie for the masses. Instead, I'm going to dedicate this review to the film that I believe is one of the most influential horror films ever produced, Meir Zarchi's original horror film, I Spit on Your Grave. This is a film that many might consider a vacant, violent piece of celluloid, devoid of any true story or moral tale. I strongly disagree. Horror fandom would argue that this is a tried and true classic. I'm with them.

The original I Spit On Your Grave was one of the original/grindhouse/horror/vengeance films that featured a retribution seeking woman in the lead role. Directors of the '90s would finally catch on and replicate this trend and start making movies that not only featured a male in the lead role but started to lean towards female characterizations that were not only sexy but sometimes stronger than their mostly terrible male counterparts. Films like the Underworld trilogy, the Friday the 13th series, and even the Resident Evil films are all spawned from this one simple film that some consider brutal and highly toxic. Obviously, more modern female led films were also spawned by this idea, but are far too many to list. 

The scenes of rape are vile. The male roles are disgusting. The very essence of the film is disturbing to the core. After all, the topic is a volatile one that most would tend to avoid. Yet, the message of the movie is strong and contains a defined message of female empowerment that was needed during the era when this movie was produced. The main character overcomes her aggressors at all costs whether it be bodily harm or death. Striking back, she outwits and demolishes her redneck attackers with a hardcore ferocity that had potentially not been portrayed on screen in the past. 

I Spit On Your Grave or Day of the Woman (as some know it) is a genre defining film that gets glossed over way too often. For some, the topic is too harsh. For others, the name turns them off instantly. For myself, it was one of the first real horror movies I'd ever seen and it will forever be ingrained in me as my introduction to the way horror should be made.

I Spit On Your Grave is a extremely organic film that strives to excel by sticking to the basics. There is no soundtrack. There is only the empty sound of the forest that surrounds Jennifer Hills in her secluded location. And all effects are practical, of course, which creates an even more defined sense of realism. The director, Meir Zarchi, chose to leave out any over bearing soundtrack music because he found nothing fit the tone of the film. The effects that are used in the movie are extremely simple and used to their full extent in a tasteful but believable way.

Men in masks with machetes get old. Freaky men in sweaters with razor blade fingers lose their sense of humor. Old crazy dudes with traps just get lazy. The idea of a strong female lead with a taste for vengeance never tires.

In 2010, this film was remade and still contained the same message. It's not quite as gritty and goes overboard with the violence and gore at times. But, it's based on one of my favorite films and does a decent job at recapturing the essence of the original. Two sequels followed. 

-Chris George