Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

I Spit on Your Grave!

That got your attention. Didn’t it? No, this is not a post about the makers of Sex and the City 2. It’s a warning about another horror remake that we almost certainly don’t need. Some of the recent disinterments of …

Wed, May 26, 2010, 20:29

   

That got your attention. Didn’t it? No, this is not a post about the makers of Sex and the City 2. It’s a warning about another horror remake that we almost certainly don’t need. Some of the recent disinterments of 1970s and 1980s  shockers have been perfectly serviceable — The Hills Have Eyes, in particular — but, even when they offer decent chills, the shift in context fatally impedes the retreads’ psychological traction. It’s hard to grasp the meaning of Last House on the Left without understanding the legacy of Vietnam and the killings at Kent State University. Virtually all the hyper-low budgeted films that have since been remade actually profited from their their blotched scruffiness. The suspicion that the Texas Chain Saw Massacre (sic) had been filmed by genuine amateurs with crappy equipment on one debauched weekend in the country made  it seem twice as horrid.

However, no film so forcefully demands an understanding of the era than does 1978′s I Spit on Your Grave.

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Now, first things first, it is only decent to own up that the original I Spit on your Grave is a fairly awful film. “It is a movie so sick, reprehensible and contemptible that I can hardly believe it’s playing in respectable theaters,” Roger Ebert said at the time of its release. Whereas Wes Craven, director of Last House on the Left, went on to have a career in mainstream horror, Meir Zarchi, the man behind I Spit, never quite made the leap into respectable society. The picture was, however, at the centre of more than a few intellectual punch-ups. A rape-revenge story, in which an aspiring novelist chops up her abusers with bloody and savage determination, I Spit on Your Grave is — depending upon your view — either an exercise in practical misogyny or a key feminist text. It is said that brainy French novelist Bruce Vian, whose novel of the same name offered vague inspiration, was so shocked by the film version that he suffered a fatal heart attack. That’s right. I Spit on Your Grave actually killed a man. Ban this sick filth!

At any rate, the film existed at the hub of a cultural vortex that took in feminism, socialism, the video-nasty sensation and the resurgence of the moral majority. The remake looks like just another horror film. Is there anything here you haven’t seen before?

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