I Spit On Your Grave: A Remake No One Wanted

If there was a movie begging for a remake … I Spit On Your Grave was not that movie. Most film pundits consider director Meir Zarchi’s 1978 ‘rape-revenge’ film to be among the most controversial movies made. Following its release, critics trashed it while some countries outright banned it. In the 1980’s, for instance, England put I Spit On Your Grave on its infamous ‘Video Nasties List’. But the backlash would eventually give way to apathy. As it turns out, the 2000’s horror remake craze wasn’t going to be put off by decades-old backlash. After all, if they could remake The Last House on the Left, why not another 1970’s Grindhouse movie? And so Steven R Monroe remade Zarchi’s exploitative thriller. Though it avoided the controversy, 2010’s I Spit On Your Grave proved to be as equally vile.

I Spit On Your Grave Remake – Better Production Values, Same Filth

Zarchi’s original movie is a notoriously violent movie. Similar to Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left, I Spit On Your Grave’s major set-piece is an excessively long scene defined by sadistic sexual violence, humiliation, and torture. It’s a scene that needlessly goes on for close to 30 minutes. While Craven was a masterful horror filmmaker, Zarchi a largely talentless director. In addition to low production values, I Spit On Your Grave is a clumsy, suspense-less piece of exploitation trash. Zarchi evidence no craftsmanship or style. It’s an ugly looking movie that doesn’t amount to more than filming awful things being done to people. Acting, editing, picture quality – it’s as ‘bottom-of-the-barrel’ as you can get.

Acting, editing, picture quality – it’s as ‘bottom-of-the-barrel’ as you can get.

Comparatively, Monroe’s remake looks much better. At the very least, the 2010 I Spit on Your Grave does a halfway decent imitation of a professional movie. Moreover, the remake boasts much better acting. And the remake’s ‘Grand Guignol’ revenge finale benefits from better effects and more creativity. That is, Jennifer Hill’s vengeance wouldn’t feel out of place in any Saw sequel. Unfortunately, Monroe’s technical upgrades are pretty much the only improvements. Specifically, the remake wallows in the same excessive sexual violence as the original. In fact, the 2010 movie may dwell on this scene longer than Zarchi’s take. The fact that the remake ‘looks’ better just makes it more complicit in its violence.

Original and Remake Have Nothing Interesting to Say About Their Violence

In 1978, Marchi fancied his Grindhouse movie as something of a ‘feminist revenge fantasy’. Originally, Marchi incredulously called his movie, Day of the Woman. To his credit, Monroe doesn’t try to make the same false equivalency. Neither movie has anything interesting to say about their own violence. Other movies have failed in this regard. Prestige movies like Natural Born Killers and Straw Dogs struggled with the same problem. How do you make a movie that critiques film and/or human violence without indulging in it? To date, Michael Haneke’s Funny Games may be the only movie to pull it off. I Spit On Your Grave doesn’t come close. It doesn’t even really try. The original and remake are the same movie with different budgets. Both movies are content to celebrate the violence against women they claim to repudiate.

The original and remake are the same movie with different budgets.

Yes, horror should be transgressive. But there’s absolutely no artistic merit to running a camera continuously on horrifying acts. Some might argue that each movie’s revenge finale serves as a form of catharsis or makes the movie ‘feminist’. But does either argument justify the sheer length of the rape scene in each movie? Was there really no other way to vilify the antagonists or decry misogynistic violence? By 2010, one has to wonder why remake a badly dated sub-genre if you didn’t have anything new to say. On the other hand, Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge illustrates how the concept can be done right.

Unnecessary Remake to An Ugly Movie

By the end of the 2000’s, filmmakers must have been desperate to dust off I Spit On Your Grave for a remake. Maybe they thought the lurid subject matter might go over better after over 40 years later. And perhaps they had a point. The remake somehow did well enough to justify two sequels. If there’s anything good that can be said about these movies it’s that they’re still better than Marchi’s dreadful direct sequel, I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu. For some reason, Netflix has added the remake and its first sequel to their Netflix and Chills lineup. It’s an odd choice considering all the good horror movies missing from the streaming giant.

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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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