It’s hard to say who I Spit on Your Grave is for. For the demented followers of snuff films, this one almost counts. For the followers of the feminist movement, maybe it could be seen in their favor. For the film fan, it’s a disaster. For the mainstream audience, it’s appalling.

Grave is stupidly simple, a blatant excuse to strip Camille Keaton of whatever dignity she had. She plays a city girl, relaxing in the middle of nowhere to write her first novel, now caught up as the locals savagely beat and rape her for what seems like eternity. Strangely, it gave her a career, maybe the only time in cinematic history where a woman being forcibly raped multiple times on screen landed her additional jobs.

If the goal was to get a reaction, director Meir Zarchi succeeded. It’s impossible to watch and not have some gut feeling, disgusted or otherwise. Keaton’s attackers are disturbingly casual about their actions, almost playing with this girl. The script, if one can call it that, doesn’t establish any sort of character. Grave puts them on screen, assumes the audience knows they’re scumbags, and moves on.

If Grave has any success, and that’s a term used loosely, it’s derived from a delivery of groceries. Matthew (Richard Pace) is called to Keaton’s house, Matthew fully aware of the address. That’s where he tried to kill her earlier, and consequences are near. Grave begs the question of why there is any tension. Maybe it has more to do with anticipation, knowing Keaton will unleash all of her vengeance. If the film had no boundaries before, surely Grave won’t hold back when it comes to the slaughter.

Unsurprisingly, Grave doesn’t disappoint, if that’s the terminology that suits this mess. Last House on the Left presented similar material seven years prior, and as it goes in Hollywood, the bar is constantly being raised even if it has nothing to do with morality. Call the second half a slasher movie if you want, but there’s grisly intentions behind each action here. This goes beyond simple blood and gore as the camera relishes the death of each victim, as if to satiate the audience’s hunger.

Grave isn’t looking for respect or acclaim; this isn’t a movie that deserves any either. I Spit on Your Grave fulfills the goal it is seemingly out to achieve, showing a woman coming back from the lowest point in her life and striking a chord with anyone who views it. Whatever the case, this is the bottom of the barrel for cinema, a term that is hard to even use when discussing something like this. Grave was photographed, and that’s as close to a compliment as it deserves. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Movie]

Anchor Bay is respectful to a source that many would debate doesn’t even deserve to be seen in the first place. The AVC encode is transparent, a natural film grain adequately resolved without any artifacts. There are no grain spikes or other general anomalies for it to handle either. The source carries a natural film-like softness to it, not enough to fail when reproducing a staggering level of definition with regards to the plant life dotting the area. As Keaton leaves the city and enters this thickly grown forest, Grave will continually impress.

A rather consistent flicker is present over many scenes, a slight hint of judder as well during some of the more static photography. Print damage is routine yet limited. Impressively, it is free of any distracting lines or discoloration, the worst of it coming in the form of tiny specks or scratches. Black levels are typically firm, save for the nighttime fishing sequence where they lose a part of their luster. Everywhere else they remain deep, naturally rich, and keep the image depth intact.

The restoration has also given additional life to the color palette, greenery now bolder than it’s probably ever been. Keaton’s fluorescent bikini is hard to miss, and flesh tones are not worse off. In fact, they remain surprisingly natural, no apparent attempt to elevate them as opposed to the scenery. The obviously fake blood is now more so with the saturation, Keaton’s body covered with it after the men stop assaulting her. The bright pinkish hue is hardly convincing.

Everything comes back to the detail though, close-ups resolving an exquisite amount of facial definition. A scene inside the grocery store reveals the labels on the items in stock, while the few exteriors of the house resolve every piece of wood. I Spit on Your Grave looks amazing in HD, even if the material itself is beyond ugly. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]

Much of the dialogue sounds as if it were recorded in a tin room, carrying a hollow, echo-laden quality that would be suitable for barren indoor environments. Outdoors at a gas station, it’s just distracting. There’s not a scene in the movie where it sounds natural, undoubtedly the fault of the cheap source and not this TrueHD mix.

Eliminated is any hiss, popping, or heavy distortion that might have been present. The same consistency that applies to the video rings true for the audio as well.

Split into 5.1, the mixers focused on adding ambiance to the surrounds, the various wildlife chirping into each speaker. The strength lies in the stereo channels where it’s sternly focused. The effect is not immersion, although not some overdone distraction either. The finale as Keaton takes the motorboat out features some minimal tracking to the sides, the split minor. Everything sticks to the center channel, the lackluster fidelity present no matter which speaker it’s coming from. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Audio]

There are two commentaries here, one from the lively Joe Bob Briggs, and the subdued (and hard to understand due to his accent) director Meir Zarchi. The Value of Vengeance is an interview with Zarchi that runs 29-minutes, but is heavily padded with film footage. The alternate main title, Day of the Woman is here as a kind of deleted scene. Trailers, radio spots, posters, and a still gallery are here too. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Extras]

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

One thought on "I Spit on Your Grave (1979) Review"

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  3. iain says:

    “For the followers of the feminist movement” ?
    I can’t *begin* to fathom what this phrase means.
    And re: ISOYG, I suggest you read (re-read?) Carol Clover’s lengthy analysis in her essential book ‘Men Women & Chainsaws’.

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