Movies surrounded by controversy due to supposed shock value are often a reason to seek them out. Their popularity is only gained from the controversy, maybe seen as some kind of dare to form a declaration that you’ve seen it and survived. The last movie that comes to mind for me is A Serbian Film, where an aging porn star finds himself involved in the filming of a snuff film. The requests for his scenes range in depravity depending on who you ask (and what they find to be the most disturbing). Still, it remains one of the most discussed films in recent decades when it comes to extreme horror. Social media didn’t start taking off until after I graduated high school, but I often heard of “hardcore” movies via customers at the video store I worked at.
While mine was a mainstream family oriented store, we would often get the R-rated, censored versions of some controversial films. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE was not one we carried. I didn’t find a copy until I was away at school at a comic book store in Normal, Illinois. I shelled out the $25 for the standard definition DVD. I took it home, only hearing of it’s banned status and a supposed gruesome castration. I watched it, fascinated, but confused by the reaction to the end. While it was indeed nasty, I was more curious why no one mentioned that the movie’s majority running time consisted of a graphic gang rape that’s violent and long, which the camera never shies away from showing.
What’s interesting in Ronin Flix new three disc set of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is that there was an immediate reaction upon release to her violence towards the men. Roger Ebert famously loathed the movie, utilizing his influence to get the film out of theaters. However, the included documentary, Growing Up With “I Spit On Your Grave”, includes clips of Ebert discussing his initial reaction. It’s here that Ebert shares that a fellow audience member was cheering on the rapists, seeing Camille Keaton as the same object the antagonists do. Directed by Terry Zarchi (son of Meir Zarchi, director of the original film), there are plenty of interviews with not only cast and crew, but fans and critics. Footage included is both old and new, with the older footage being the most fascinated as it gives us a better glimpse into the cultural impact throughout the decades. Terry has managed to edit together clips from the film, the remake and sequels, as well as when the film was referenced on “Oprah” and “The Simpsons”.
There are three Blu-rays included here: the documentary, the original film remastered with a 4K scan from the original negative, and the 2018 sequel I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: DEJA VU. This set allowed me to finally watch the sequel as it was a fairly recent release and didn’t receive the most promising response. After watching it, I can’t help but agree with the majority.
Decades after Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) survived and killed her attackers, she is now a writer and mother to a successful model, Christy (Jamie Bernadette). Both are kidnapped back in the town where it all happened by the surviving relatives of the rapists. This all plays out at a glacier pace during a 2.5 hour runtime. While DEJA VU could benefit from a severe cut, it wouldn’t help due to the overacting and what turns out to be pretty much another remake. (The 2010 remake is not actually bad).
With that being said, the completist in me is happy to own this in a large sturdy set thanks to Ronin Flix. I feared that it would be delivered in a flimsy, tearable slipcover, but the three Blu-rays arrived in their own thin, clear cases housed in a thick slip box with new cover art. A 44 page book is included, featuring coverage of the movie’s history by Michael Gingold. Meagan Navarro also contributes, focusing on the rape revenge genre and how the film explores that.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE not only has the new scan (which provides an unexpectedly clean look to such a dirty looking movie), but a newly filmed location featurette revisiting the settings (during the Covid-19 pandemic as I noticed the face shield worn by the host). Previously available extras are included such as commentaries by Meir Zarchi and the always entertaining Joe Bob Briggs.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: DEJA VU has a newly recorded commentary by Briggs who clearly seems bored by the film and questions its existence. Previously released material is included such as interviews and behind the scenes footage.
Growing Up With “I Spit On Your Grave” is a must own for GRAVE fans. Everything is covered in this feature length documentary with all aspects covered across several decades. Zarchi also provides a short 8mm film his family made with Keaton (she ended up marrying Meir, eventually divorced) and home movies from their wedding. This disc is full of candidness that few releases can deliver on.
DEJA VU doesn’t add much to the franchise, but belongs here due to not only being a direct sequel, but the involvement of Keaton and Zarchi. While there is another set recently released with the remake and its sequels, film Twitter has used their voice and questioned the lack of unrated versions and cheap slip box. What the Ronin Flix set lacks in quantity, it makes up in quality which makes this worth the price tag for fans. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE Blu-ray Box Set is now available to own and can be purchased here.