The original I Spit on Your Grave has continued to arouse passionate and polarised responses from audiences since its release in 1978. Banned in nearly every country at some stage and with numerous versions still censored today, it may come as a surprise to many that it’s being released once again as a Collector’s Edition. I Spit on Your Grave follows Jennifer Hill (Camille Keaton), an aspiring young writer, who retreats to up-state New York to work on a novel. She encounters four local men who repeatedly rape her, beat her, and then leave her for dead. These horrific events are the catalyst for Jennifer’s revenge upon her assailants.
It is the nature of these choreographed kills, along with the intense and prolonged scenes of rape that precede them, that have made this film so notorious. The vast majority of I Spit on Your Grave is a stark account of rape and violence, and in turn explores how such terrible events affect their victims. The lack of music and standardised filming techniques only make the content of the film more difficult to watch for an audience as there is nothing standing between them and what unfolds on-screen. For many people such stark reality is unbearable and unnecessary and as a result it fails as a means of entertainment.
I Spit on Your Grave certainly tests one’s emotions, and it does so whether we like it or not. It makes us witness the pain and humiliation of rape, and encourages us to embrace a darker side of human behaviour in revenge. All of this may be too much for some and may well be excessive in its depiction of such vile acts, but if we are to document the sometimes despicable reality of our world, why is it repeatedly glossed over and made safe? Is it to ensure that we are entertained?
Appreciation of this film comes down to whether an audience wants merely to be entertained or whether they want more from film, and to be taken on a journey? The inclusion of footage previously unseen in the UK reinforces the already provocative impact that I Spit on Your Grave has on people. It is truly unforgettable. Don’t expect any Oscar-worth acting performances – just expect to be affected.