I Spit on Your Grave: Collector's Edition (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Nov 12, 2020
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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I Spit on Your Grave: Collector's Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Director

Meir Zarchi

Release Date(s)

1978/2019 (November 10, 2020)

Studio(s)

The Jerry Gross Organization/Deja Vu LLC (Ronin Flix)
  • Film/Program Grade: See Below
  • Video Grade: See Below
  • Audio Grade: See Below
  • Extras Grade: A-
  • Overall Grade: A-

Review

Shocking the world as one of the rawest and most intense rape and revenge films ever made, I Spit on Your Grave was an infamous and legendary film throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Initially released in 1978 under the title Day of the Woman and later re-released in 1980 under its more famous moniker, it disturbed and sickened critics with its almost documentary-like approach, allowing scenes of sexual violence to play out mostly in medium and wide shots with no score and no cutting away from the brutality. It also inadvertently made a horror icon out of Camille Keaton. She gives an amazing performance as the unfortunate Jennifer Hills, who drives to the country for isolation, is gang raped by four local men, and later takes her revenge on them one by one. The film would eventually be championed by the likes of Joe Bob Briggs, who saw beyond its content and recognized a skillful filmmaker (Meir Zarchi) at work, but I Spit on Your Grave is still an aggressive and unflinching piece of cinema that has rarely been equaled.

Forty years later, Meir Zarchi and Camille Keaton came together once again to make I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu, a direct follow-up that would ignore the remake and its subsequent sequels. In the film, Jennifer is now a best-selling author and parent to her successful fashion model daughter Christy (Jamie Bernadette). Unbeknownst to them, the relatives of Jennifer’s victims are coming for her for their own revenge. That same year saw the release of Growing Up with I Spit on Your Grave, a documentary that chronicles Meir Zarchi and the making of the original film by his son Terry. Featuring interviews with many of the people involved with the film’s production, including various cast and crew members, as well as film critics from all over the country, it fully explores the making of the film, the vitriolic reaction to it, and its ensuing legacy.

Ronin Flix brings all three films to Blu-ray in a Collector’s Edition boxset. I Spit on Your Grave has been given a new 4K scan from the original uncut 35 mm camera negative. It excels in high definition with a tight grain structure and high levels of fine detail. The color palette is surprisingly lush with bold greens and reds popping off the screen, as well as deep blacks with terrific shadow detail. Overall brightness and contrast levels are also satisfactory. The overall image is mostly stable, though there is occasional jitter, albeit brief and mostly imperceptible. There are also a couple of minor density fluctuations that last for no more than a couple of seconds. Otherwise, it’s a beautiful presentation, besting all previous home video releases by a country mile.

Shot digitally, I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu is technically proficient compared to its film-based counterpart, but is less interesting to look at. It’s relatively flat with little to offer in terms of depth, though the presentation itself is pixel perfect in the way that modern digital intermediates tend to be. The color palette is also varietous, supplying many hues within city and country environments. Blacks are deep with great shadow detail, though contrast is dialed a tad too high. The film also uses flashbacks to the original film, which are digitally altered to appear like the past stylistically.

Growing Up with I Spit on Your Grave is a mix of various bits of footage, many of them HD-sourced. For the most part, it’s solid, though frame rates are a tad off when utilizing older footage. The interviews themselves are well lit and all of the subjects are in good focus.

The audio for I Spit on Your Grave is included in English 2.0 mono, 5.1, and 2.0 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. The mono track is pretty straightforward. Dialogue, overdubbed or otherwise, is mostly clear. Sound effects, such as the sound of water dripping, drawers opening, and ambient city and country activity, all have decent life to them. The surround and stereo tracks improve upon these things, even allowing for panning activity when the motorboat zooms by. Since there’s no score, sound is very important, and all of the tracks do this justice. There are also no major instances of crackle, distortion, or dropouts, though a light hiss remains.

The audio for I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu is included in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. Both are fine tracks, though the 5.1 opens the rear speakers up to allow for a much fuller experience. Ambient and low frequency activity gives the film a bit more teeth. Dialogue exchanges are clear and precise as well.

Growing Up with I Spit on Your Grave features the same selection of tracks, though unnecessarily since having multiple channels of audio does little to boost the documentary’s sound capabilities. Most of the soundtrack sticks to the front, occasionally boosting in the rear when clips from the films are shown. All of the interviews are satisfyingly discernible.

I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/A/A-
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: DEJA VU (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): D-/B/B
GROWING UP WITH I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C/B/B

The following extras are also included on each disc:

DISC ONE: I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978)

  • Audio Commentary with Meir Zarchi
  • Audio Commentary with Joe Bob Briggs
  • The Values of Vengeance: Meir Zarchi Remembers I Spit on Your Grave (HD – 29:01)
  • Jennifer’s Journey: The Locations of I Spit on Your Grave (HD – 11:08)
  • Day of the Woman Alternate Opening Title (HD – 0:16)
  • Theatrical Trailers (HD – 2 in all – 6:22)
  • TV Spots (SD – 3 in all – 1:39)
  • Radio Spots (HD – 3 in all – 1:15)
  • Rare Photos From Set (HD – 137 in all – 9:32)
  • Still Gallery (HD – 21 in all – 1:51)

The audio commentary with Meir Zarchi is very educational as the director flies solo, providing plenty of information about the film as he watches it. The audio commentary with Joe Bob Briggs is a classic. He defends the film tooth and nail, but also gets plenty of laughs out as well. In The Values of Vengeance, Meir Zarchi discusses his inspiration for the film, meeting and working with Camille Keaton (and eventually marrying her), his process for shooting and editing the film, deciding not to use a score, trying to find distribution, editing the film, and fighting with home video distributors. Michael Gingold takes us on a tour of the filming locations in Jennifer’s Journey. The trailers for I Spit on Your Grave are HD recreations. Two TV spots for I Spit on Your Grave and one for Day of the Woman are included while three radio spots for Day of the Woman are included. All of the still galleries contain a total of 158 behind-the-scenes photos, stills from the film, script pages, posters, and personal photos.

DISC TWO: I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: DEJA VU (2019)

  • Audio Commentary with Joe Bob Briggs
  • Cast Interviews (HD – 11:04)
  • The Making of I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu (HD – 43:51)
  • Behind-the-Scenes Footage with Director Meir Zarchi and Cast (HD – 2:44)
  • Theatrical Trailers (HD – 3 in all – 3:00)

Predictably, Joe Bob Briggs’ audio commentary for the film is better than the film itself. Like the commentary for the previous film, it’s both hilarious and informative in a way that only he knows how to provide (old school fans of Monstervision and his new show on Shudder The Last Drive-In fully know what to expect). The Cast Interviews feature Camille Keaton, Jamie Bernadette, Jeremy Ferdman, Jim Tavare, Maria Olsen, and Jonathan Peacy on the set. The Making of is a mostly fly-on-the-wall look at the production, though the cast and crew occasionally speak to the camera as well. The Behind-the-Scenes Footage is more of the same.

DISC THREE: GROWING UP WITH I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (2019)

  • Deleted Scenes (HD – 7 in all – 9:26)
  • Terry Zarchi’s 8 mm Film Starring Camille Keaton (HD – 2:50)
  • Home Movies: Camille and Meir’s Wedding (HD – 1:53)
  • Trailer (HD – 1:29)

The Deleted Scenes feature seven brief outtakes from the main documentary, including Terry Zarchi addressing the subject of Meir Zarchi and Camille Keaton’s love affair more fully. Since they’re silent, the 8 mm footage and the home movies feature commentary by Terry Zarchi.

Also included is a 46-page insert booklet containing I Spit on Your Grave Liner Notes by Michael Gingold, Day of the Woman: Meir Zarchi’s Ultimate Act of Revenge by Meagan Navarro, a set of Blu-ray credits, posters, and still photographs. Each film is given its own thin amaray case and everything is housed within a sturdy slipcase featuring new artwork. Ronin Flix also provides some swag with this release, including a large cardboard housing with their logo on top to protect the boxset during shipment; a pair of magnets featuring each film’s original poster art; and two posters—one featuring the original poster art for the first film and the other featuring the poster art for the second film on one side and the new artwork for the boxset on the other. It’s worth noting that a few extras from the 101 Films Region B Blu-ray release haven’t been carried over, which includes an extended audio interview with Meir Zarchi, an additional still gallery, and the original film’s Spanish trailer. Minor losses, but worth a mention.

I Spit on Your Grave is not an easy film to recommend, but there’s much more to it than its exploitative poster and reputation would lead one to believe. Ronin Flix’s amazing boxset release, offering the film and its sequel in top of the line quality, as well as the documentary and extras, is definitely the finest release of the film since the heyday of Elite Entertainment and Anchor Bay.

I Spit on Your Grave (Blu-ray Disc)

- Tim Salmons

(You can follow Tim on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel here.)

 

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