Horror Movie A Day: Quint is violated by I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978) It won’t stop bleeding!!!
Published at: Oct. 12, 2008, 3:22 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[The regular A Movie A Day list has been frozen in order for me to do an all-horror line-up for October. I’ve pulled many horror titles from my regular “to see” stack and have ordered many more horror and thriller titles to make sure we have some good stuff. Like the regular AMAD column all the movies I’m covering are films I have never seen, but unlike the regular AMAD column I will not connect each film to the one before it. Instead I will pull a title at random every day and watch whatever the movie Gods determine for me.]
Now going into this movie I was very aware of its reputation. Very, very aware.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE exists in the same group of “not available at Blockbuster” titles that were a kind of holy grail for gore-hounds in my early teenage years. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, CANNIBAL FEROX, FACES OF DEATH, EL TOPO and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. I’m sure there are a couple that I’m forgetting, but those are the major ones that you could only find in the mom & pop owned video stores… usually within close vicinity of the porn section and separated only by a thin, awfully transparent sheet.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (also known as DAY OF THE WOMAN) is about a New York writer (Camille Keaton) who is spending some quiet time in the countryside to gather her thoughts and write a book.
Being a city girl, she flaunts her sexuality a little upon arrival. When she fills up at the gas station, she parades in front of the attendant, when the half-retarded grocery manchild delivers her order, she flirts with him a little. It’s all innocent, of course, nothing more than most of us do in any given social scenario, but it’s all the excuse this group of hicks need to rev their engines.
One day while lounging in her rowboat, these guys come speeding along in a motorboat and hijack her, pulling her to the shore where they abuse her.
The rape in this movie is infamous and I was prepared for it. I’ve seen a lot of uncomfortable movies dealing with the issue. BAISE-MOI, IRREVERSABLE, JACKSON COUNTY JAIL, THE ACCUSED, GATOR BAIT, DELIVERANCE (both of which were parodied on South Park last week… proving George Carlin right, that anything can be funny, even rape), etc.
When the first dude, the gas station attendant (Eron Tabor) who looks like a creepy mash-up of Billy Crudup, Vincent Gallo and James Caveziel, finishes his deed, I was thinking that either something was wrong with me or the movie wasn’t living up to its extreme reputation. I can’t say I was disappointed, more relieved.
The group really just leave after the brief scene. It wasn’t comfortable to watch, but it definitely wasn’t as extreme as I was expecting…
But then I realized it wasn’t over. Oh no. No-no-no-no. Poor naked Camille Keaton wanders around the woods naked, crying, and then comes upon the group again, as if they knew where she’d end up.
It was then that it hit me that the rape scene was still going on and was going to keep on for a while. And then I realized why the movie has the reputation it does.
Because as each of the four have their turn the violence is turned up. That’s the real shocking element of that plot point, just how brutal it feels. Thankfully, the actual sex isn’t as graphic as I was expecting, not much more than gyrations and asses, but what I avoided there is given to me tenfold in the violence.
One character in particular lets the fists fly while violently raping her from behind. That’s when it really started getting to me.
The reason why this scene has the reputation it has is because of how long it lasts. After each member is done, they let her go to wander or arrive at home, thinking she’s in time to get help. They give her that glimmer of hope and relief that it’s over before swooping in again, thus making the rape scene something like 25 minutes long.
Camille survives the encounter, no thanks Eron Tabor’s character, who orders the semi-retarded William (Richard Pace) to finish her off, by stabbing her in the heart. He can’t do it, but also can’t face his friends, so he bloodies the knife on her gaping face wound and leaves her, bloody, naked and ruined.
Over the next couple of weeks Camille heals, but doesn’t go for help. This is too personal to leave to the cops. She won’t get the satisfaction she needs that way, so she becomes judge, jury and executioner, hunting down all four men and making them pay for what they did.
Even William, who is probably the character that really makes this movie stand out from others of its type, extreme ‘70s indie exploitation. He’s about he grayest character of the bunch. Technically, his group uses him as the excuse for doing what they did. He is very simple, slow and has a crush on this girl. He’s also a virgin and they wanted him to get a piece.
They egg him on for the majority of the extended rape scene and he refuses, but also helps the others have at the girl, holding her down. But you can tell he’s genuinely torn.
He finally relents toward the end of things when she’s barely even conscious, so beaten and bloody that she almost doesn’t resemble a living being anymore, but even then he can’t get his rocks off. He also doesn’t kill her when any of the other three would have done so without a hesitation.
But he’s a horrible person for helping in her attack and ultimately becoming a rapist himself.
It’s quite a complex character and what makes it even worse is he’s the first to feel Camille’s revenge.
And her revenge is paid back in full… with interest. Hoo-boy, she goes the extra mile and that gives us some incredible scenes.
The most famous of which and my personal favorite belongs to Eron Tabor in the bathtub. It’s not that the gag is all that graphically shown, but it’s how the scene escalates and escalates and escalates. Camille has convinced this guy that she’s a broken woman, ready to get her fuck on and she “handles” him in the bathtub…
When the knife comes into the situation everybody knows what’s coming and the guys instantly dread seeing what they’re about to see, even if the dude completely deserves it.
It’s a great scene and the way director Meir Zarchi handles it is perfect. You know it’s going to end horribly, but you don’t know exactly when and to what extent. I took today’s subhead from that scene, so I’m sure you can put two and two together if you haven’t seen the movie yourself.
The production values are fairly typical of this type of film. The sets are sparse, with little decoration… cheap. The acting questionable at times, but the film is surprisingly cinematic still to this day. It definitely feels raw and grimy.
Final Thoughts: This movie not only deserves its cult status, but also proves to be atypical of the genre in terms of character complexity. It is hard to watch, but as brutal and horrific as the rape scene is, it all leads up to a great series of paybacks that make you want to stand up out of your chair and cheer. Camille’s final line is one for the record books. “Suck it, bitch!” Classic. If you haven’t seen it and this kind of movie is up your alley, then by all means quit pussyfooting around and give it a spin… just make sure your grandparents/parents, young siblings or wife/girlfriend aren’t watching along with you or you might have to guard your junk and apologize for being a man.
Interesting double feature, there. I expect NAKED YOU DIE to be a different kind of movie, but I’m sure there will be other, interesting parallels. See you tomorrow for that one!