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DVD review: ‘I Spit On Your Grave’

Harry Potttrer

Friday, 11 Feb 2011 08:14

Few reviews become as famous as the film being reviewed, but Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert’s 1980 assessment of “I Spit on Your Grave” on PBS’ “Sneak Previews” became legendary for the sheer volume of hatred directed at that sloppy, vicious rape-revenge bottom feeder from the toxic end of the “grindhouse” pool. The response to that film, originally released in 1978 as “Day of the Woman,” virtually ensured that the shocking schlock would be revisited, especially at a time when nearly all the iconic cheapo horror of the 1970s and ‘80s is being remade.

As expected, enhanced production values and significantly better acting are on display in director Steven R. Monroe’s remake, but “I Spit on Your Grave” is still an intolerable piece of exploitative garbage that possesses some key attributes that make it harder to watch than the original. In the new version, Jennifer Hill (Sarah Butler) is a writer who goes to a secluded cabin to work on her novel but is tortured and raped by four backwater sadists and their ringleader, the local sheriff (Andrew Howard). In this version, she reappears a month later and systematically tortures and kills the rapists using elaborate “Saw”-like methods.

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How is this version more repulsive? It comes down to the lurid, torture-porn methods of attack and death. During her time in the wilderness, Jennifer somehow became a Jigsaw-like genius at devising baroque killing operations. Granted, unlike the original “Grave,” this one does not look like amateur actors filmed by drunks, but the new version is perhaps more risible because the violent acts, whether perpetrated against Jennifer or by her, are being played for sick visual thrills on top of the film’s contemptible ethics. It’s understandable being curious about a notorious film and its remake, but actually enjoying either version of “I Spit on Your Grave” is something else entirely, and merits serious self-reflection.

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