Back in 1978 one of the most notorious films of all time sleazed it’s way onto the screens of 42nd St. Ground out in cinemas littered with popcorn, soda cups and needles, smut seekers and cinemanics alike witnessed Camille Keaton, great-niece of Buster Keaton, violated and beaten relentlessly, only to retreat to the relative safety of her cabin to emerge the ultimate rape revenge heroine.
I Spit on your Grave has, until recently been the thing of legends, the sort of film that is usually proceeded by the statement “you can’t really like it, but…” It’s not a film you show your girlfriend (though I did once, that was a mistake). It’s a dark, filthy archival film, important in it’s own way and in it’s time as a slice of our grindhouse past, something we cherish, but realise that time is behind us.
Ultimately, it is a sadistic, misogynistic, hicksploitation pile of revulsion. Even the final playing out of Keaton‘s revenge fights to overcome the hard to stomach exhaustive brutality her original abuse.
When the remake was announced, I, among others were perplexed. How?! How could you remake the ultimate rape revenge film in today’s climate? Fuck how, more to the point, why? Why would you remake what was a fairly pointless exercise in the extreme victimisation of a woman? There is no way that this remake would capture the original grot and unease, those days are gone, the grindhouse is closed.
So it was with great trepidation that any audience of knowledgeable fans would settle in for the initial screenings.
What glistened out of that projector was a slick remake, one of the best. A modernisation of what was previously an relic of time gone by. I Spit on your Grave (2010) is near perfection. If Meir Zarchi sat down to make ISoyG in today’s climate, taking into account the films of the past 10 years, I’m fairly certain this is what we would end up with. It is undeniably a film of it’s time, muted tones, an attractive lead, and a revenge sequence that could only exist in a post Saw world. Tamed to the point you would take your girlfriend to see it.
Did I like it? or enjoy it? I’m not sure, while I still feel it’s a pointless remake of a fairly pointless original, I think that they held true to what a remake ought to be about, modernising the original. Updating it so that today’s fans can enjoy the basic tenets of whatever they are revamping.
Both versions sit together and apart solidly, covering capsules of the time they were made. The updated one showing us we have weakened with age, we are less willing to abuse ourselves, our society and our world quite like we used to. Or at least that’s what we’d like to believe.
I’ll always prefer the original, partly because it is such a filthy and effective film that I had to spend about an hour trying to calm down the girl I was seeing. I don’t see the remake ever having that power.
I Spit on your Grave is out in UK Theatres on the 21st January, take your girlfriend, it’s a date movie.
Official site is here