I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE
For many years, director Meir Zarchi had planned a sequel, although this never emerged. Now, a remake I Spit on Your Grave 2010 comes out amid the 2000s fad for horror remakes that began with Marcus Nispels reworking of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003). This has seen almost every horror property of the 1970s and 80s resurrected in one way or another with the likes of Toolbox Murders (2003), Willard (2003), Dawn of the Dead (2004), The Amityville Horror (2005), Assault on Precinct 13 (2005), The Fog (2005), Black Christmas (2006), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), The Omen (2006), Sisters (2006), When a Stranger Calls (2006), The Wicker Man (2006), Halloween (2007), The Hitcher (2007), April Fools Day (2008), Day of the Dead (2008), Its Alive (2008), Long Weekend (2008), Prom Night (2008), Friday the 13th (2009), The Last House on the Left (2009), My Bloody Valentine (2009), Night of the Demons (2009), Sorority Row (2009), The Stepfather (2009), And Soon the Darkness (2010), The Crazies (2010), Mothers Day (2010), A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Piranha (2010), Dont Be Afraid of the Dark (2011), Fright Night (2011), Straw Dogs (2011), The Thing (2011), Maniac (2012), Carrie (2013), Evil Dead (2013), Patrick (2013) and Poltergeist (2015). Ironically, while one argues that I Spit on Your Grave 1978 was not an exploitation film, the very idea of remaking it as a property with some name recognition value automatically makes I Spit on Your Grave 2010 an exploitation film by virtue of doing so.
I Spit on Your Grave 2010 is made by Steven R. Monroe, a regular genre director who has since the early 00s been churning out cheap movies that have mostly aired on the Sci-Fi Channel with the likes of The Contract (2002), House of 9 (2005), It Waits (2005), Left in Darkness (2006), Sasquatch Mountain (2006), Dual (2008), Ogre (2008), Storm Cell (2008), Ice Twisters (2009), Wyvern (2009), Mongolian Death Worm (2010), Jabberwocky (2011), MoniKa (2012), End of the World (2013), Grave Halloween (2013) and The Exorcism of Molly Hartley (2015).
Though most of Steven R. Monroes other films have been cheap genre hackwork, he gives the appearance of having put some effort and professional polish into I Spit on Your Grave 2010. It is only the second of Steven R. Monroes films to obtain a theatrical release. The great irony is that despite thirty years difference, the more conservative censorship standards of the 00s have made this version of I Spit on Your Grave a tamer film than the original. The rape scenes are much more curtailed, not the long, protracted 30 minutes or more that we had in the original. More bizarrely, the film barely gets Sarah Butler undressed. Most of the rape scenes take place with her nudity artfully hidden or just a bare butt showing and it is not until the rape scenes are over that we see a couple of brief shots of her frontally naked. Not that one is trying to argue in favour of excess nudity but in a film like I Spit on Your Grave, it represents a crucial tameness of spirit to show the central event so tastefully watered down.
In fact, in the remake there now seems more intensity put into the revenge scenes than there is any brutality of emotion conveyed during the initial rape scenes. Steven R. Monroe places far more emphasis on psychological torment than he ever does on the sexual assault. There are some nasty scenes with the rednecks forcing Sarah Butler to fellate the barrel of a gun and then a bottle of alcohol. The nature of Jennifers revenge has also changed. Now there is a great deal of mystery created during the middle of the film about what happened to her with she vanishing off stage and becoming an almost supernatural figure disappearing in and out of the woods as she returns to play a series of taunting games that turn the men against each other before she kills them.
The revenge scenes certainly propel I Spit on Your Grave 2010 well into Torture Porn territory a la the likes of Hostel (2005) and the Saw sequels. Daniel Franseze is tied up to a tree with fish hooks through his eyelids and fish gut splashed in his eyeballs for crows to peck his eyes out; Rodney Eastman is tied up hanging face down over a bath filled with acid where he is eventually unable to hold himself up and forced to let his face fall into the acid; Jeff Branson is tied up, his teeth pulled out with pliers and then his dick cut off with a pair of shears and shoved into his mouth; while Andrew Howard is tied up with a shotgun up his ass and a string tied to Chad Lindbergs wrist that he is set to pull when he wakes up.
One of the more interesting new additions in the remake is the character of the sheriff played by Andrew Howard. His introduction comes rather well where Sarah Butler flees the initial assault, runs into him and he calms her down, insisting on taking her back to the house to check out what has happened. His initial sympathy then turns on her after he finds bottles of wine and a joint, including easily picking apart that it was something that she had smoked, and he goes to arrest her before his back-up arrives and it turns out to be her tormentors again. From this point, the film becomes dominated by Andrew Howards nasty performance. Moreover, he is given a character of decided ambiguities such as being interrupting in the midst of raping and brutalising Sarah Butler by a cellphone call from his daughter wondering if he is going to come and make her Sunday breakfast. This is an especially good performance from Andrew Howard who is in actuality British yet does a highly convincing job of adopting a Louisiana backwoods accent for the role. During the initial scenes, lead tormentor Jeff Branson gives a macho and domineering performance that casts a dangerous shadow over the entire film.
Steven R. Monroe subsequently made a sequel I Spit on Your Grave 2 (2013) starring Jemma Dallender and this was followed by a further sequel I Spit on Your Grave III: Vengeance is Mine (2015) from a different director but with Sarah Butler returning to the role.