I Spit on Your Grave: Original 1978 Director's Cut (Blu-ray) (1978)

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Released 16-Mar-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror None
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1978
Running Time 101:18
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Meir Zarchi
Studio
Distributor
Anchor Bay Entertainment Starring Camille Keaton
Eron Tabor
Richard Pace
Anthony Nichols
Gunter Kleemann
Alexis Magnotti
Tammy Zarchi
Terry Zarchi
Traci Ferrante
Bill Tasgal
Isaac Agami
Ronit Haviv
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $19.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     I would like, if I may, to begin by quoting part of Roger Ebert's review of this film: "Attending it was one of the most depressing experiences of, my life." You can find the full review at this address, if you happen to be interested.

     Ebert's review describes this film as a "geek show" (that is, they show you something so vile it entertains you by making you feel revolted), and states that the film lacks any artistry or decency. All of these charges are true, the charge of no artistry only very slightly less so than the others. I am not going to defend the presence of this piece in my collection by stating it has any artistic merit or brilliance that was overlooked. Rather, I am going to tell you that I myself like to craft and tell stories in various forms. One of the ways in which I like to work on my craft is to study the effects of horrible things upon a person. And I Spit On Your Grave does offer an interesting look at a good person becoming no better than those who abuse them.

     Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) comes out to a place that appears to be in one of the more remote areas of New York State and stops at a very down-market fuel station. After briefly interacting with one hick in the process of getting fuel for the car, she comes to the house she has rented for an unspecified time. Ordering some groceries to be delivered, she meets another hick named Matthew (Richard Pace) whose intellectual capacity is, shall we say, a little less than that of the other three that Jennifer was seen by at the fuel station. Matthew shares the location of Jennifer with the other hicks we saw in the initial fuel station sequence. The fact that these punks barely treat him with the respect due a dog and he fails to notice is pretty much the cue to the audience that he is meant to be retarded. But anyway, after harassing and annoying Jennifer for a couple of scenes, the foursome of little hick boys (the word men does not belong in conjunction with this film) corner Jennifer and brutally gang-rape her for a good twenty or more minutes of screen time. The acting in most of this film is poor beyond belief, but the pain and fear on Jennifer's part is the only thing that comes close to working in this piece.

     After it is all over and Matthew fails to kill Jennifer in spite of being urged to do so by the other three clowns, Jennifer does what everyone else who has been in this situation does and relearns the simple task of looking herself in the mirror. Then she sets about doing what not a lot of others in this situation do, tracking her attackers down one by one and murdering them in ways that, contrary to what the cover art claims, would get her locked away for the rest of her life. None of the murders come close to being plausible, and one in particular involving one of the boys being strung up is so defiant of the laws of physics as to elicit laughter.

     So, you may ask, why would a person whom psychological specialists say possesses an intelligence equalled by few and exceeded by even fewer even watch this garbage? As is unspoken in a lot of film schools, the best way to learn to make a film or tell a story is to look at an example of when it is not done well. And I Spit On Your Grave has that in spades. As I previously indicated, anyone who wishes to engage themselves in the telling of a story that involves a character being brutalised in a manner that is utterly unconscionable can also benefit from an example of when it is done badly.

     And frustratingly, contrary to what Ebert says in his review, there are moments in this geek show where a certain level of technical competence does become evident. Not a great level, but enough of one to make some parts of the film interesting. These moments, like Camille Keaton's performance, deserve a better film to go around them. Then there is the disc…

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The slick claims that I Spit On Your Grave is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 within a 1920 by 1080 progressive window (if only by implication). This is true.

     The transfer is a little variable in sharpness. Indoor sequences are noticeably sharper than outdoor sequences. There seems to be other problems with outdoor sequences, which I will get to in a moment. Shadow detail is very limited, even by the standards of a 1978 film that was shot on a budget of 650,000 dollars. Low-level noise or a similar kind of noise (high-ISO noise is a distinct possibility here) is also evident in night-time shots. Black portions of the image appear to be grey or yellow-grey at times.

     The colours in the image vary between indoor and outdoor sequences, too. Colours are very bright and garish. The carpet and some of the furniture in Jennifer's house is a shade of red that screams 1970s. While there is no bleed or misregistration, the brightness in some sequences, especially early ones, threatens to make that happen. In the first few minutes of the film, we even get an undersaturated and overbright effect.

     The transfer is compressed in the AVC codec. Although there is no real compression artefacting, it does threaten to come out during some sequences. Vague hints of posterisation appear in some backgrounds, but they can be missed with a blink, and may also just be the fault of some distinctly average photography. Aliasing is not an issue here, but the image does wobble slightly both vertically and horizontally for very brief bursts at times. Film artefacts are also visible throughout the feature, but in amounts and sizes that are more than acceptable for a film of this age, budget, and low regard.

     Subtitles are offered in English for the Hearing Impaired. They are in a large, bold font, and are quite accurate to the excruciatingly bad spoken dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     A total of three soundtracks are offered on this disc. The first, and default, is the original English dialogue in Dolby TrueHD with 5.1 channels. The other two are audio commentaries, both in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. I listened to all three of these soundtracks.

     The dialogue, such as it is, is mostly clear and easy to understand. Occasionally, there are voiceovers to represent the other half of 'phone conversations, and there are some sequences in which what is being said is of no importance anyway. In fact, Camille Keaton aside, listening to the dialogue only produces a sensation akin to being stripped down and smeared with faecal matter (look up the band called Pungent Stench and their last album if you do not get this joke). No audio sync problems were evident.

     No credits appear in the film or on the IMDB entry for music. In fact, I cannot recall there being any music in this film.

     The surround channels occasionally get some environmental sound effects sent through them, but as I seem to keep repeating lately, one can turn them off during this feature and not miss them. I must emphasise that this film was made in the late 1970s with the intention of being shown as an exploitation feature. There is very much a one-sound-at-a-time thing going on here, and the transfer is hobbled by that. The subwoofer had the night off. Speedboats and gunshots go by without the subwoofer so much as twitching.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     A large but largely pointless collection of extras is provided. Unless otherwise stated, they are presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Menu

     The menu is animated with excerpts from the film and very quiet harmonica music in Linear PCM 2.0 that gets annoying very quickly. On the other hand, considering the kinds of people we are dealing with in the film proper, it probably sets a good tone for what to expect.

Audio Commentary - Meir Zarchi (Director)

     A Dolby Digital 2.0 commentary, the director tries very hard to make himself out to be an artist with noble intentions. Clearly, Zarchi has never seen films like Blue Velvet.

Audio Commentary - Joe Bob Briggs

     The menu lists Joe Bob as an "author/historian". If this is the same Joe Bob Briggs I think it is, then I did not expect him to have much of interest to say. After having my expectations of hearing him yee-haw disappointed for long enough, I turned this commentary off. He has less than nothing of value to say, if such a thing is possible.

Featurette - The Values Of Vengeance: Meir Zarchi Remembers I Spit On Your Grave

    It was a long time ago, but one reviewer who used to write for this site cited an author who described rules for judging the quality of features solely by their title. One such rule was "the longer the title, the worse the film". This is one long-ass title, as one of the characters in the feature proper would doubtlessly say. At twenty-nine minutes, this is director Meir Zarchi defending his film (badly) and describing how it was made.

Featurette - Alternate Main Title

     Sixteen seconds of footage of Camille Keaton driving in an urban location, with the film's other title (Day Of The Woman) superimposed. While we are on the subject, calling this piece of pisch Day Of The Woman is probably the biggest misnomer I have yet heard of.

Trailer - Day Of The Woman

     Two minutes and forty-one seconds of a hastily-edited-together trailer that, while not really giving anything important away, is difficult to imagine doing anything other than putting potential punters off. Overall video quality is average, although much better than one would expect for a trailer of this age.

Trailer - Day Of The Woman (Spanish)

     A three minute and twenty-three second trailer with subtitles in Spanish burned into the video. Quality is poorer than the previous trailer, although still above what one would expect for a foreign trailer of this age.

Trailer - I Spit On Your Grave #1

     Two minutes, fifty-five seconds. This trailer has one of what I will refer to as one of those Rambo-voiceovers. The quality is about the same as the Spanish-language trailer.

Trailer - I Spit On Your Grave #2

     Two minutes, fifty-eight seconds. Again, the trailer has a Rambo-voiceover, but interesting to note is that this one starts with a red MPAA band. Exactly why, I could not tell.

TV Spots

     This submenu lists TV Spots titled Day Of The Woman, I Spit On Your Grave #1, and I Spit On Your Grave #2. Total running time is a minute and thirty-seven seconds. Each is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

Radio Spots

     This submenu lists three radio spots, Day Of The Woman #1, #2, and #3, respectively. The thought that this film got advertising on television and radio in the late 1970s goes to show just how much narrower and more limited our media has become in my lifetime.

Photo Gallery

     A very small collection of very small stills that unfortunately have a very small interest factor. Very small.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    For reasons best known to themselves, Anchor Bay have locked the Region A disc to Region A. It is otherwise identical to this disc, which is locked to Region B. Reliable reviews indicate that the materials on the two discs are otherwise identical. Even the subtitle and soundtrack options are exactly the same. If you must have this film, then the price you can obtain it for and whether you can playback Region A locked discs are the only real guide of your choice in this case.

Summary

     There is an article about Britney Spears' public meltdown in which images of her during the meltdown phase and doing her Disneyfied version of porn at a later time are shown, the former before the latter. The caption read "it's all about context", or something to that effect. That is the problem with I Spit On Your Grave. There are elements in this film that, if they had been bridged together correctly, would have been very powerful.

     As it stands, the film is basically a great testament to the fact that we live in what some authors have termed a rape culture. I will not kid you that I have any noble purpose in watching this film. To me, it is exactly as Roger Ebert describes: a geek show. The only thing I have to say in my defence is that the entertainment I get from the film derives from seeing the weaklings get killed in ways that fuel my Nazi-like wing-removal fascination with the sight of abusers dying. Otherwise, Camille Keaton is the only thing in it that comes close to a redeeming feature.

     The video transfer is very good when the limitations of the source material are taken into account.

     The audio transfer may as well be in mono, but this is also in part due to the source material.

     The extras are numerous but add up to very little. I mean, very small.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DMP-BD45, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-P50U20A. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR606
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Wharfedale Xarus 1000 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, Wharfedale Diamond SW150 Subwoofer

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