Saturday, 4 September 2010



Can we please stop remaking our way through the video nasties and key exploitation and horror movies of the 70s? This, The Last House On The Left, Cannibal Holocaust (kind of semi-remade as the tedious Welcome To The Jungle), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Toolbox Murders.... Any day now I half expect to see a new version of Driller Killer or Don't Go In The House. And sooner or later someone's going to have a bash at Tenebrae or The House By The Cemetery, and that's when someone has to call the police.

But let's get one thing straight right from the start: the original I Spit On Your Grave is a loathsome and despicable piece of hateful garbage that frankly deserved to be banned as a video nasty. I think it's getting off on its hideous 40+ minutes of sexual humiliation and rape and I think it's wanting the audience to get off on it as well. If I'd been on its jury during its trials for obscenity in the early 80s, in all honesty I'd have found it very difficult to acquit. That goes for The Last House On The Left and The House On The Edge Of The Park as well.

Not that there's anything wrong with the story of I Spit On Your Grave: a woman at a secluded cabin is assaulted and raped by a group of local scum, and she takes bloody revenge. With the original, the revenge sequences are almost perfunctory, and feel like an afterthought. This big shiny remake is very similar in terms of the narrative, but the rape is over mercifully quickly (in film terms, and by comparison) and the focus of the film is more on the individual punishments tailored to the participants' behaviour. So the guy who kept filming her on a camcorder has his eyelids held upen with fishing hooks so crows will peck his eyes out, the one who held her head underwater is dunked in an acid bath, and so on. The principal narrative difference is that in this remake one of her attackers is the sherrif so she can't call the police for help.

Back in 2001, the BBFC hacked the original film down for home viewing by about seven minutes (although it appears that the most recent submission has suffered less), all from the rape sequences. And, in a rare move, the BBFC have demanded cuts to this remake's theatrical release - a total of seventeen cuts totalling 43 seconds. In all honesty I'm not as bothered about those cuts as I am for other movies such as the upcoming A Serbian Film, which looks to be losing more than four minutes - the graphic material is supposed to have a serious political point to make (though I'm sceptical) - and having seen the cut version of I Spit On Your Grave I don't believe the film is compromised in its intent or its effect.

It is, for its second half, a crowd-pleasing revenge movie in which we're happy to cheer the spectacular fates of its repugnant antagonists while chomping on the popcorn. But for its first, shorter, half, it is suitably grim and unpleasant and I had to look away. Give me zombies ripping people to pieces, or slasher maniacs decapitating cheerleaders with a fireaxe, and I'm reasonably happy, but make any of the violence sexual and I'm deeply uncomfortable. Maybe I'm just sensitive, but what's so wrong with that?


No comments: