Original / Remake / Sequel / Threequel / Savage Vengeance
I Spit On Your Grave was released in theaters in 1978. The horror film, about a woman seeking vengeance on four men who raped her and left her for dead, sparked outrage upon its initial release due to its content and subject matter.
Despite the backlash and mixed reviews, I Spit On Your Grave developed a cult following in video stores and spawned a series of films. This collection included a remake, a sequel, and several sequels to the remake.
Let’s take a look at the I Spit On Your Grave movies in order to understand the good, the bad, and the ugly about the series. This post divides the films into their respective continuities and includes information for the entirety of the franchise.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE III: VENGEANCE IS MINE
- Alternate Titles:
I Spit On Your Grave: Vengeance Is Mine / I Spit On Your Grave 3
- USA, 2015
- Director: R.D. Braunstein
I wish I could say something nice about the third entry in the “I Spit On Your Grave 2.0”-franchise, but… alas, it’s very, very difficult because contrary to my expectations, and contrary to what it could have been, “I Spit On Your Grave III: Vengeance Is Mine” turned out to be an atrocious threequel that doesn’t get anything right. The 2,5/10 rating is almost too high, but, well, the kills are good and it’s nice to have Sarah Butler back (who starred in the 2010 remake)… but that’s actually where the problems start.
But first things first. Part 3 largely ignores the 2nd part and continues the storyline of the 2010 remake, following rape victim Jennifer Hills who is still tormented by the brutal sexual assaults. She changes cities and identities, joins a support group for rape victims and tries to start a new life, but suddenly her past catches up with her and turns everything upside down.
I so would have loved if “Vengeance is Mine” would have been about Jennifer Hills (part 1) and Katie Carter (part 2) teaming up and creating some kinda “rape squad”, just like in that 70s exploitation classic of the same name. I also think that it could have worked to a) make another variation of the classic ISOYG-storyline with a new character, or b) if Hills simply gets to do another rape ‘n’ revenge ordeal.
Unfortunately, not-so-experienced director R.D. Braunstein (“100° Below Zero”) and first-time script writer Daniel Gilboy (producer of TV crap like “Komodo vs. Cobra” or “Shockwave”) decided to go into a completely different direction that could be described as “Death Wish” for idiots, turning the strong Hills-character into a laughable psycho-bitch who runs amuck and kills every male who’s remotely a rapist asshole.
I think Braunstein and Gilboy wanted to give this movie a more realistic approach which is basically applaudable, but they did it in such a stupid and abhorrent way, you just want to beat them up. The motivations for the women in the previous movies were clear as a bell, but here, there’s almost no motivation. It’s just Ms. Hills going bananas because her past traumatic experiences made her crazy…
I guess? There’s no real explanation for why she’s doing what she’s doing. She’s simply going batshit insane and kills/tortures everyone who looks like a potential rapist. Someone tells her that someone is/might be a rapist = she goes out and kills this person. This could have worked if Steven R. Monroe would have directed it – but Braunstein and Gilboy show no respect for this once-so-admirable character, and simply turned her into a one-dimensional and unbearably unlikable killer machine who is almost as sympathetic as her victims. Needless to say that her victims are all as one-dimensional as her, and almost every male is either an idiot or just a piece of shit. The rapists in the previous movies were human garbage too, but they all felt like human beings. Here, they’re just lazily written, lazily portrayed cardboard cut-outs.
Aside from the poor direction and the awful writing, the movie is also boring, tedious and terribly paced, there’s no tension, no suspense, way too many dialogue scenes that go on and on and *yawn*. The movie looks cheap, the low budget is very obvious, camera work and music aren’t any special. Most of the acting is either mediocre, wooden or ludicrously bad. Surprisingly, Sarah Butler’s performance is pretty lame too. You can clearly spot how fantastic she was under Monroe’s direction, and how embarrasingly over-the-top her performance under Braunstein’s direction is. Pretty much the only one who gives a top-notch performance is Jennifer Landon. [SPOILER] Sadly, her character gets killed after the first half hour… 🙁
The kills are great. One guy gets his dick peeled like a banana, one guy gets assfucked with a metal pipe, other guys get electrocuted or get their throat slashed in really brutal ways. Unfortunately, that’s simply not enough for a movie that somehow tries to be a part of the most notorious rape’n’revenge exploitation franchise in movie history. In fact, it’s just a shitty threequel that annoyed the crap outta me. If you’re a fan of these flicks, I recommend to skip this and watch this year’s “Avenged” or the completely overlooked 2012 gem “Girls Against Boys”. Both these movies are more ISOYG than this lamefest.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE 2
- USA, 2013
- Director: Steven R.Monroe
The necessity of a sequel to one of the most controversial films of the last years is obviously questionable. Even me, a fan of the original and the remake, wasn’t too keen on getting another 1-girl-and-a-bunch-of-bad-guys rape’n’revenge flick under the “I Spit On Your Grave” banner – but you know what? Goddammit, it works!
Of course, “I Spit On Your Grave 2” is not as good as its predecessor, but nevertheless, it fully managed to rock and shock my little world, to disturb and disgust me, and to drag me to a dark and sinister place where there’s only good and evil, life and death [Stop me if you think I’m getting too dramatic ;)]
Steven R. Monroe returned to the director’s chair and once again proves that he’s a damn great filmmaker who knows how to handle the simplicity and brutality of the story in a way that should “satisfy” fans and “curious non-fans” of extreme horror. Story and screenplay by Thomas Fenton (“Saw IV”) and Neil Elman (“Sea Beast”) aren’t exactly original and at times a bit predictable, but as a whole, they’re pretty solid and totally deliver the goods. Also, I loved that they moved from America to Bulgaria during the film, not just for budget reasons, but because the villains are Bulgarians and regularly kidnap women and bring them to Sofia.
The rape scenes are once again really horrifying, at times even more gruesome and repulsive than in its predecessors. Aside from having a somewhat annoying voice, Jemma Dallender delivers a freaking fantastic performance. Not often do you get to see someone suffering and screaming in such an intense way, like she does here. Also, after the ordeal, she slowly transforms into an incredible avenging angel who tortures its victims with ruthless and merciless, but also fabulously imaginative and effective methods. Adore the scene where she aggressively screams “You think that hurts? YOU JUST WAIT!!”
One of the rapists gets drowned in piss and shit (super-disgusting scene), one gets electrocuted in a stunningly vile and extremely painful way (forget “Taken”), one gets tied to a wall, cut and sliced all over his body and fecal matters smeared into the wounds (gross, gross, gross) and – the absolute highlight – one gets his testicles crushed with a bench vise (OUCH!!).
An obvious must-see for everyone who is sick enough to get a kick out of movies like that. I recommend a nice cup of Orange Pekoe Tea while watching. It will soothe your temper and make you relax, as far as that is possible during such a movie.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (Remake)
- USA, 2010
- Director: Steven R. Monroe
This was announced and finally released at a time when I was already so pissed with all the polished money-remakes of classic horror films, that I almost didn’t bother checking it out – but due to the recommendation of an ex-fellow blogger, I gave it a chance… and ended up completely blown away.
I’ve said it before and I say it again: the 2010 remake of “I Spit On Your Grave” is a fucking masterpiece. Steven R. Monroe, director of weird made-for-TV shit like “Sasquatch Mountain” or “Mongolian Death Worm”, was able to create one of the absolute best horror remakes in history, not by simply remaking, but by rebooting the original and/or upgrading it to a higher level of shockingness and unsettling intensity.
It’s actually way more disturbing, way more violent and brutal than the original due to tons of gobsmacking scenes and sequences, but it’s also way more suspenseful and atmospheric, thanks to Monroe’s stunning direction and the captivating cinematography of Neil Lisk (“War Wolves”).
The first act is dark, uncanny and incredibly thrilling. The middle is vile, and upsetting, packed with uncomfortable and frightening moments. The third act is the painful revenge act, packed with shitloads of brutal torture, gruesome kills and gore galore.
Sarah Butler’s performance is amazing, better and even more powerful than Keaton’s. Same for the villains, especially the incredible Andrew “Blood River” Howard as Sheriff slash ‘ass-man’.
There isn’t as much rape as in the original, still, the few scenes where we get to Jennifer violated by 5 men… geez, they are simply horrible and unbelievably painful to watch. There’s also a lot more pre-torturing and humiliation.
Gladly, the revenge… the revenge… THE REVENGE!!! Holy shit, now this is what I call revenge, and this is where the remake clearly exceeds the original. One gets his lids forced upon with fishing wire tied to a tree; later crows peck out his eyes. One gets his face corroded off with acid, one gets his teeth pulled out and his dick cut off, and the ‘ass man’ gets his ass raped with a shotgun.
At the end, you just sit there in front of the screen, shivering, goosebumpy and shocked to the core, but happy because it’s nice to see that there are still a few filmmakers out there who got the balls to make something like that. Bravo!
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE
- Alternate Titles:
Day of the Woman / The Rape and Revenge of Jennifer Hills / I hate your Guts / Horror Weekend / Day of the Woman: I Spit on your Grave
- German Titles:
Ich spuck auf dein Grab / Blood Angel
- USA, 1978
- Director: Meir Zarchi
Meir Zarchi’s directorial debut “I Spit On Your Grave” is one of the most notorious and most controversial, but also one of the absolute best and most brutal rape-and-revenge movies ever made. It got widely panned when it came out in 1978 (Roger Ebert called it “a vile bag of garbage”), but over the years, it became a cult classic and favorite among fans of extreme horror. Various critics and writers nowadays even call it a misunderstood Feminist film.
“I Spit On Your Grave” tells the story of a female writer who gets her revenge on 4 men who raped and humiliated her. It’s hard to describe what this movie really is. A glorification of violence? Pure exploitation? Possible, although the director claims that it wasn’t meant to be exploitative and that it was necessary to tell the story in such a violent way.
Feminist? Again, possible, but… well, the movie is as misandristic as it is misogynistic, which makes a proper classification very difficult.
In the end, it doesn’t matter. It’s a perfect example of a love-it-or-hate-it-movie, aimed at an audience with a strong stomach. If you love/despise films like “Irreversible” or “Last House on the Left”, you wil love/despise this one too. The rape / violence scenes where main character Jennifer Hills gets treated like shit (fantastically played by Camille Keaton) are unbelievably disgusting and disturbing, very uncomfortable to watch. The entire first half is very, very tough to watch.
Gladly, things get more “pleasant” when tables turn and Jennifer gets her revenge on the men: one gets hung, one gets axed, one gets disemboweled by a boat engine, and – best of all – one gets his dick cut off in a bathtub, a long but wonderful and extremely effective scene, especially when Jennifer leaves the bathroom and closes it, goes downstairs, puts a record on and sits down in a rocking chair, while her victim screams and screams above.
Script and direction are both very solid, the cinematography is solid, the editing is neat, and I love how they didn’t use any musical score. Just one character’s harmonica, a Puccini record and a church organ. Almost like in a Dogme film 😉
The acting isn’t great, but good enough, and the characters, as despicable as they are, they’re all believable – okay, aside from Matthew who’s just mildly retarded. The scene where he’s saying “I can’t come! You’re interrupting my concentration!” is giggleworthy. Inappropriate, I know, but I can’t help it.
Only thing to criticise: the revenge is a bit too tame considering what the men
did to her.
No, it’s not a beautiful film, and no, it’s far from being enjoyable, but I can’t help it: I love extreme stuff like that!
- Alternate Titles:
I Spit On Your Grave 2: Savage Vengeance / I Will Dance On Your Grave: Savage Vengeance / I Will Dance On Your Grave
- Working Title:
Return To The Grave
- USA, 1988/1993
- Director: Donald Farmer
Shot in 1988 on video (or should I say shitteo?) as a sequel to “I Spit On Your Grave”, but not released until 1993 because Meir Zarchi sued the shit out of Donald Farmer [director of crap like “Cannibal Hookers” or “Vampire Cop”], and so they had to release it with no relation to the original.
“Savage Vengeance” is pure garbage, and actually one of the worst movies I’ever seen. Only 65 minutes long, but as dull and slow as a slug race. Awfully written and directed, shot at the ugliest and most uninteresting forest/cabin locations I’ve seen in a long time.
None of the actors is actually acting, with the exception of Camille Keaton (yes, the star of the original!) who just appears and tries to put up a brave front, but fails miserably due to her terrible character and the whole shity production. She refused and still refuses to talk about the film. The reasons are unknown, but after seeing this piece of shit, it’s understandable.
The music is so fucking over-the-top, it’s unbearable. Camera work and editing are amateurish as hell. The blood looks terrible and the gore / make-up effects are laughable. Worst: the embarrasingly laughable rape scenes. All of the rapists and the victims are fully clothed, which makes it look like forced dry humping.