Film / I Spit on Your Grave

"Suck it, bitch!"
Jennifer Hills

I Spit on Your Grave — an infamous 1978 grindhouse Rape and Revenge Exploitation Film also known as Day of the Woman — follows the story of Jennifer Hills, an aspiring writer from New York who rents a riverside cabin out in the woods so she can work on her first novel in peace. She catches the eye of four local rednecks (Johnny, Andy, Stanley and Matthew, the last of which seems mentally handicapped) who decide to harass Jennifer while she sunbathes. That night, the rednecks harass her while she lies in bed. The day after that, the rednecks kidnap her from her boat, pull her ashore, and brutalize her in some of the lengthiest, most realistic, and goddamned disturbing rape scenes in film history. (They also mock and rip up her novel.)

After the rapists leave the scene of their crime, they order Matthew — who had previously shown some affection for Jennifer and didn't want to participate in the rapes — to go back and kill Jennifer. Matthew cannot bring himself to do it, so he smears blood on the knife to make it look like he did. Thanks to Matthew's mercy, Jennifer eventually recovers, and over the next few days, she goes on her own personal Roaring Rampage of Revenge. She starts by seducing Matthew before she hangs him from a tree. She then finds Johnny and holds him at gunpoint — and then she invites him back to her house, where she takes a bath with him, castrates him with a kitchen knife, and leaves him to bleed to death. To cap her rampage off, she swims out to Andy and Stanley's boat, pushes them overboard, then axes one in the back and disembowels the other with the propeller — and before she finishes the job, she shouts out exactly what he had told her while he raped her: "Suck it, bitch!".

Director Meir Zarchi reportedly got the idea for the film after he assisted a rape victim in Central Park. Camille Keaton, grand-niece of Buster Keaton and Meir Zarchi's wife at the time, played the role of Jennifer. The film ended up placed on Britain's infamous Video Nasties list, and as such, it carries a certain level of infamy to this day.

Roger Ebert hated this film.

There was a pseudo-sequel called Savage Vengeance, shot in 1988 but unreleased until 1993. A 2010 remake adds a new character, Sheriff Storch, and a stylistic difference from the original: the middle act of the film follows the gang of rapists rather than Jennifer by showing a montage of the rednecks going on with their lives before strange things begin to happen to them (in a way reminscient of I Know What You Did Last Summer). The effect of this change makes it look as if each redneck fears that someone knows what they did — or that one of them has turned on the others.

Roger Ebert didn't like the remake, either. (He probably would have felt the same way about the remake's sequels if he had lived to see them.)

I Spit On Your Grave contains examples of the following tropes:

  • All Men Are Perverts/I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: When Jennifer holds Johnny at gunpoint, he tries to justify his actions with these arguments.
    • The remake adds the character Earl, who rents the cabin to her. He is shown to be a decent man, and is completely unaware of the crime. But the sheriff murders him.
    • Averted in the second film with Kirill and Father Dimov, who try to help Katie Carter.
    • Also averted in the third film with Detective Mc Dylan, Oscar from her support group and her office coworker.
  • Asshole Victim: You're not going to feel sorry for any of them (well, maybe Matthew).
  • Ass Shove: Jennifer pays back Sheriff Storch for anally raping her by sodomizing him with a shotgun, and gets Matthew to fire it, while it's still pointing at his ass.
  • Batter Up: Andy terrorizes Jennifer with a bat. She later returns the favor.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: In the remake, Jennifer throws herself off a pier to deny her rapists the chance to kill her after their assault. She lives.
  • Blood from the Mouth: The film averts this — while Jennifer has horrible injuries, she ends up surviving.
  • Break the Cutie: Jennifer's rapists do this to her in the worst possible way.
  • Chekhov's Gun: While jogging Jennifer comes across a cabin, and later sees some bottle of lye in a shed. It is later revealed she took refuge and nursed her wounds in the cabin. She also kills her rapists there, one of them with the lye.
  • Chick Lit: Jennifer writes this.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster says she murders five guys — but in the synopsis, she kills four. The hell...? And also, no one is burned (at most she tosses Johnny's clothes at the fireplace).
    • At least they added a fifth character in the remake.
    • The Blu-Ray tagline fixes both inaccuracies: "chopped, crippled, and mutilated four men beyond recognition..."
    • What's more, any jury almost certainly would convict her of murder, since she has no (physical) evidence of the previous rapes other than her say so (evidence gathering for rape has become much more advanced since 1976). Maybe if she slipped them a copy of the DVD...
  • Deadly Bath: In the original, Johnny bleeds out in the bath. In the remake, Andy's face melts off in a bath full of lye.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jennifer, after the rape.
  • Dirty Cop: The remake's Sheriff Storch falls under this trope. Averted with the Bulgarian Detective in the second film and Detective Mc Dylan in the third film.
  • Dirty Coward: Johnny pisses himself during Jennifer's revenge. She reacts with extreme disgust, commenting even the other men didn't do this.
  • The Ditz: The film tries to portray Matthew as this — but even the other rapists look dumb. The group orders the one person who had shown some reluctance to violate Jennifer to kill her. One of them even accepts an invitation to hop in her car and take a bath with her, even though she had held him at gunpoint seconds earlier. Ah well, anyone who saw the movie or read this article knows what happens to him.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Johnny seems to really love his children, and when his wife comforts her son while waiting for him to return, it does seem a bit heartbreaking — until you remember that Johnny raped (and nearly killed) a woman.
    • Heartbreaking from the innocent children's eyes who know nothing of their father's evil, unlike the viewer.
    • The sheriff in the remake also has a wife and a daughter, with another baby on the way. He seems to genuinely love them.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Matthew can not bring himself to kill Jennifer, and even seems disturbed by some of the things his friends do to her, not that he does (or can do) anything to help.
  • Exploitation Film
  • Eye Scream: In the remake, one of Jennifer's rapists — who has a distinct voyeuristic bent — films the attack. In her revenge kill, Jennifer puts hooks through his eyelids. She later spreads fish guts across his face, leading to crows eating his eyes.
  • Fan Disservice: The over 20 minute rape scene is famous for being absolutely brutal, rather than eroticized like many other exploitation films.
  • Fanservice: The posters and the DVD cases for the original film depict Jennifer walking around in a torn up shirt and panties — and the poster design for the remake arguably looks even more sexualized.
    • Prior to the attack, Jennifer is shown in a bikini and jogging clothes.
  • Femme Fatale: Jennifer pulls this on Matthew and Johnny.
  • Gorn: Johnny's death in the original, all the rapists in the remake.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Horribly averted.
  • Groin Attack: Jennifer delivers one on Johnny (in both versions).
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Jennifer had to become a monster in order to get her revenge. In the remake, her whole demeanor post-rape changes to show that the assault she endured left her dead inside. That trope continues in the third film.
  • He Knows Too Much: The reason the sheriff murders Earl.
  • Hope Spot: In the remake Jennifer manages to run away before they rape her and runs into the sheriff. The film lets you think he might help her, only for him to turn out to be as bad as the rest.
    • And in the original, Jennifer manages to drag herself back to her cabin and barely musters the strength to get to the phone....only for one of the men to kick the phone away, having already made it back to the cabin, and put her through MORE torture.
  • I Have Your Wife: In the 2010 remake, Jennifer captures Sheriff Storch's daughter to flush him out. What happens to her is never revealed.
  • Ironic Echo: The original gets one with "Suck it, bitch!" The remake raises the number of lines that get an ironic echo to about a dozen.
  • Jerkass: All of the rapists, except for possibly Matthew.
  • Karmic Death: In the remake, Jennifer's revenge upon each of her rapists reflects the manners in which they degraded, tortured, and violated her.
  • Kick the Dog: While it very much pales in comparison to what else they did to her, the rapists mock and rip up Jennifer's novel during her assault.
  • Leave the Camera Running: The rape scene is disturbing particularly because it goes on and on for 30 minutes.
  • Meaningful Name: In the 2010 version, Storch's daughter is named "Chastity".
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Jennifer
  • Never Found the Body: The rapists are smart enough to realize this, and the sheriff even demands that they find and properly dispose of the body. In the remake Jennifer is shown strangling Matthew, but we neither see his body nor her finish it. Turns out she left him alive until the end.
  • Never Trust a Title: The movie does, in fact, not contain any graves or any spitting thereon.
    • Well, it is metaphorical.
  • Nice Guy: Detective McDylan in the third film, who is shown to be a friendly guy who makes an effort to build rapport with witnesses and suspects alike. That Jennifer was the only one of the group (that we see) who willingly talks to him and answers his questions says a lot about the kind of man he is. Even after she becomes a suspect, he's still nothing short of polite and patient with her and even ends up, albeit indirectly, saving her from life in prison or death row by shooting her.
  • Not Quite Dead: The remake plays with this more overtly, but in the original film, the rapists hope — if not completely believe — that Jennifer didn't survive the attack.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Invoked in-universe. After surviving, Jennifer spends time psychologically taunting them, in a similar manner to what they initially did to her.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil
  • Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: Matthew suffers from this, the poor bastard.
  • Police Are Useless: Averted in the third film. See Reality Ensues below. Mc Dylan is seen initially as a bumbling but friendly SVU Detective who by the end proves to be an effective investigator and police officer who is forced to shoot Jennifer in order to stop her from killing her latest victim.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: One that's even the closing line - "Suck it, bitch!"
  • Rape and Revenge: Probably the definitive example.
  • Rape as Drama: As noted, a horrific and realistic version.
  • Reality Ensues: We see a lot of that in the third film. When Jennifer resumes her killing spree of men she perceives to be rapists and child molesters, the police almost immediately zero in on the support group she is in and eventually catch her. Also notable is her going after a man who is (likely) on steroids who easily overpowers, beats, and nearly rapes her.
  • Reality Has No Soundtrack: The (in)famous rape scene has no music beyond the harmonica played by another character, which made it one of the most raw sequences put to film at the time.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: What the above leads to on Jennifer's part, and the main focus of the movie.
  • That Man Is Dead: Bolton: "Why did you change your name?" Angela: "I didn't want to be Jennifer Hills anymore."
  • The Tooth Hurts: One of the torture scenes features this trope in action.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Oh yeah.
  • Torture Porn
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer virtually gives away the entire plot — and repeats I Spit on Your Grave about five times, presumably because they didn't have anything more to show.
  • Tranquil Fury: After castrating Johnny, Jennifer calmly listens to opera music while Johnny is screaming and bleeding to death in the bathroom.
  • Video Nasties