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Love it Or Loathe It, This Assault On The Senses Will Elicit Strong Emotions: Both Versions In One Set
on January 8, 2012
Note: This is essentially a repackage of the 2010 new release with the 2010 rerelease of the 1978 film in one package. Both discs are exactly the same with all the same features. If you own one or both of these films, this is not an upgrade--but an opportunity for someone who has neither to pick both up at a reduced price point.
With the resurgence of exploitation films, we've really brought some unpleasantly vicious movies into the mainstream. Some are good, some are not--just like any genre--but what is fascinating to me is how commonplace they now seem. When I was growing up, pictures like the original "I Spit On Your Grave," "Faces of Death" and "Last House on the Left" were considered vile films and they had to be discovered. A largely underground, low budget, and independent film community had to support these controversial, malicious films. In many ways, they represented a rebellion against conventional entertainment. However, by today's standards these films, while certainly grim, are relatively subdued compared to the graphic torture, violence and gore that delight audiences at the local mall.
Designed to provoke audiences, one thing is certain--few people will be ambivalent about the new incarnation of "I Spit On Your Grave." I know people who think it's terrific AND I know people who think that it is repellant. Just the latest example of the growing market I like to refer to as "torture cinema," ISOYG will have very few viewers straddling the middle ground. While the original film played to the time it was released--there was almost a female empowerment message in the retribution scenario--this new version eschews a specific societal context. Much more gore oriented than its predecessor, it feels distinctly less real. That is either good or bad depending on your vantage point. The amateurish quality of the original lends it a gritty realism that actually works in the film's favor. Combined with Camille Keaton's surprisingly effective performance, the film had the flavor of something that could actually happen. The new version is decidedly more elaborate and the revenge conceptions are more over-the-top. The enjoyment value, thus, is determined by whether graphic brutality qualifies as entertainment for you.
I haven't said much about the film's plot. I think most people know what happens. A young woman is sexually assaulted by a group of men, brutalized, and left for dead. She reemerges with vengeance on her mind and the men will rue the day they met her. Sarah Butler as the victim in question has some nice moments, but exists largely to service the plot. For me, she lacked the genuineness of Keaton. The men are slightly more developed in this new vision. While barely more than caricatures in either film, they have more shading here and the mentally challenged character is conceptualized more fully in this edition. The film remains unrepentantly bleak and disturbing and pushes buttons for the sake of pushing buttons. There is no grand meaning to be had but, quite frankly, I don't think that's why anyone would be watching in the first place.
Mind you, I'm not claiming either version of "I Spit On Your Grave" is a great movie. I do, however, believe that the original was more relevant in relationship to its time period. But this new film is made with technical prowess and visual flair (however unpleasant). Some may claim these films as a feminist treatise, and some as vile female exploitation. In truth, they are actually a bit of both--but I don't think that they necessarily merit a serious philosophical discussion. Either way, this film was meant to assault your senses and that it does! On it's own merits, it succeeds at what it set out to do. If you like gore, you may well like this. If you don't, by all means, stay far far away! KGHarris, 2/11.
Special Features included:
2010 VERSION: The Revenge of Jennifer Hills: Remaking a Cult Icon
2010 VERSION: Audio Commentary with Director Steven R. Monroe and Producer Lisa Hansen
2010 VERSION: Deleted Scenes
2010 VERSION: Theatrical trailers
2010 VERSION: Teaser trailer
2010 VERSION: Radio Spot
1978 VERSION: Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Meir Zarchi
1978 VERSION: Audio Commentary with Author/Historian Joe Bob Briggs
1978 VERSION: THE VALUES OF VENGEANCE: Meir Zarchi remembers I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE
1978 VERSION: Alternate Main Title
1978 VERSION: TV Spots & Trailers
1978 VERSION: Poster and Still Gallery
1978 VERSION: Radio Spots