Film / I Spit on Your Grave

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"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 Detective Kirill and Father Dimov, who try to help Katie Carter.
    • Also averted in the third film with Detective McDylan, Oscar from her support group and her office coworker.
  • And This Is For...: Jennifer: This is for Marla, show horse.
  • 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. She does the same to a step-father who was raping his step-daughter in the third film, only using a pipe and sledgehammer.
  • 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.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The three brothers are this in the second film, especially their mother Anna, who was a victim of sex trafficking herself and was repeatedly raped until after one of her sons was born. They have a family friend too who likes using a Cattle Prod.
  • Blood from the Mouth: The film averts this — while Jennifer has horrible injuries, she ends up surviving. It's played straight in the second film with Katie who is badly beaten up.
  • Break the Cutie: Jennifer's rapists do this to her in the worst possible way. So do Katie's rapists in the second film.
  • Call-Back: The third film has a few.
    • Jennifer carrying a locket with a picture of Chastity from the first film. This leads the police to identify her as Jennifer Hills.
    • Jennifer calls Marla's ex-boyfriend "show horse" just before beating him to death.
    • The murder of the step father has several parallels to the Sheriff. Especially his plea that he "has a family" (which pushes Jennifer's beserk button) and being anally assaulted and killed (with a pipe instead of a gun).
    • Bolton, the lead investigator, says that Sheriff Storch was killed in a murder-suicide along with the others from the first film. Further, the investigators wanted to question Jennifer about the matter.
  • 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...
    • In the second film, Katie was kidnapped and smuggled into Sofia, Bulgaria. Given her story, clear medical evidence of her ordeal and lack of evidence of murder (and a cop willing to cover for her), she'd probably never get charged.
    • In the third film, Jennfier's past comes back to bite her in the ass, though she does manage to avoid life in prison or the death penalty due to lack of evidence, her own clear insanity and a sympathetic Detective who shoots her; stopping her from committing a murder in front of him.
  • 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 Kirill in the second film and Detective McDylan 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.
    • The traffickers from the second film are brothers who clearly care for one another and their mother who is a victim of trafficking herself and now is complicit in their crimes cares for them as well.
  • 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. The sequels carry on that tradition.
  • 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.
    • Katie in the second film is an aspiring model.
    • Jennifer in the third film dresses up as a goth, a school girl and in a very sexy red dress to help lure her victims.
  • Femme Fatale: Jennifer pulls this on Matthew and Johnny.
  • Gorn: Johnny's death in the original, all the rapists in the remake.
  • Forced to Watch: In the second film, one of Katie's neighbors tries to save her, only to be fatally stabbed. Katie is forced to watch her neighbor bleed to death in front of her while he watches her get raped in front of him and not be able to do anything to help each other.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Horribly averted.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Jennifer delivers one on Johnny (in both versions).
    • Katie does the same to two of her rapists in the second film. She uses a cattle prod on a guy's genitals (who was victim to the same cattle prod before escaping). She also crushed a guy's testicles with a bench vise. Ouch.
    • That is topped in the third film Jennifer outright obliterates a guy's penis with a knife while fellating him. "Ouch" is an understatement in that case.
  • 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.
    • Katie becomes this too. However, unlike Jennifer, Kirill manages to actually stop Katie from killing her last victims and seemingly pulls her back from the edge.
  • He Knows Too Much:
    • The reason the sheriff murders Earl.
    • What Katie's antagonists try to do by beating her nearly to death and burying her alive. It didn't work. The box she was put in was buried too deep and she fell through the ground into the city's catacombs.
  • 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.
    • In the second film, Katie was able to escape the basement she was held in and talked to the police. Sadly, Kirill left her in the hands of Anna, a woman he knows from Church, who turns out to be the rapists' mother. She leads her right back to the very basement she escaped from.
    • In the third film, Jennifer becomes friends with a fellow survivor Marla who stands up for her when she gets sexually harassed and we see her start to get better. Sadly, Marla is murdered, causing Jennifer to slip back into darkness.
    • 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.
  • Hypocrite: In the third film, Jennifer is kidnapping, torturing and murdering people she perceives as rapists and child molesters while blaming the police for caring more about the rapists than their victims. Yet the police are entirely right to investigate the murders and Jennifer clearly has no business dispensing "Justice".
  • 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. It's implied that she is still alive in the third film.
  • 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.
    • Katie does the same to her rapists in the second film.
  • 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 My Fault: In the third film, despite killing three people and being responsible for Oscar's death, Jennifer blames the police for their incompetence while investigating Marla's murder.
  • Never Trust a Title: The movie does, in fact, not contain any graves or any spitting thereon.
    • Well, it is metaphorical.
  • Nice Guy: There are a few people that deserve a mention.
    • In the first film is Earl, the man who rented the cabin to Jennifer. He's a nice, honest and decent guy who was friends with the Sheriff. Sadly, that doesn't stop the Sheriff from killing him when it becomes clear that he's a witness against him.
    • In the second film is Father Dimov, a priest who confronts Katie after catching her breaking into the Church. He gives her clothing, food and a Bible and says she's welcome at the Church. He recognizes that she has been a victim of abuse and is nothing short of kind, patient and respectful.
    • 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.
  • Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers: Averted in the third film. Jennifer actually is guilty of what she was brought in for. But she wisely invokes her right to remain silent and asks for a lawyer when it becomes clear that she's a suspect. She may be crazy but she's not stupid.
  • 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:
    • Played straight in that Storch is a Dirty Cop who joins in on Jennifer's rape, torture and attempted murder. Naturally, when her publisher calls Earl over a month later to report Jennifer missing, she's ignored.
    • Zig-zagged in the second film. After Katie escapes the first time, a uniformed police officer approaches her relatively quickly and Kirill interviews her. It's somewhat played straight in that Kirill doesn't quite believe Katie's story and turns her over to a friend from Church who he thought was a counselor but was actually the mother of Katie's rapists without any verification. Fortunately, he realizes his mistake later on, calls the US Embassy and saves Katie's life in the end.
    • Averted in the third film. See Reality Ensues below. McDylan 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. The police in general are shown to be competent and quickly connect the victims to the Rape survivor group that Jennifer was a part of.
  • 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: For a horror film, there's actually quite a bit that's Truth in Television
    • In the first film:
      • Saying you're sorry for raping, torturing and trying to kill your victim doesn't really cut it. In Jennifer's words: "It's just not GOOD ENOUGH!"
      • Even if you're a cold-blooded murderer and rapist, if you're a parent and find that your kid has been kidnapped, you're going to panic.
    • In the second film:
      • After Katie's second escape, having been horribly raped and tortured, even the simple act of standing is painful for her at first. Injuries take time to heal, and by the end of the film, Katie still has visible scars on her face.
    • In the third film:
      • Yes, it has been several years and she apparently got away with her revenge. But that doesn't mean you automatically get better. Jennifer is shown to have nightmares and flashbacks. She eventually decides to seek help.
      • No longer being a successful writer means you have to find other means of employment. She works in an office, lives in a low-rent apartment, and doesn't own a car. Building a new life is not easy and involves a lot of work.
      • Even if someone has a history of domestic abuse, if there's no evidence that someone killed their ex-girlfriend, you have to release him.
      • No matter how careful you are to leave no traces behind, killing two people (and attempting to kill a third) that have clear connections to the Rape Support group you're a member of is guaranteed to bring the police right to you.
      • Even if you try to be nice and talk someone down, if someone pulls a knife, you get out of Dodge fast, which is what Jennifer's office co-worker did.
      • Sure, you've been able to torture and kill two men and had killed another five in the past. That doesn't necessarily mean that following a guy who is larger and physically stronger with no real plan is a good idea. It ends with her being beaten to a pulp, sexually assaulted and nearly raped and killed.
      • The lead investigator tries to bluff Jennifer into confessing after questioning her about the incident in the alley. Jennifer wisely clams up, asks for a lawyer and gets out on bail. Just because police say "we've got you" doesn't really mean that they do. Plus, her answers to her questions about what lead to being attacked in the alley are perfectly plausible and reasonable.
      • Walking long distances in heels isn't very comfortable. Jennifer removes hers and walks barefoot at one point.
      • It doesn't matter how sympathetic you are or what has happened to you. If you're armed with a weapon and about to stab someone to death, you're gonna get shot if you don't follow a police officer's orders to stop.
      • Just because the court orders you to attend therapy doesn't mean it'll make you better as Jennifer demonstrates after her last session.
  • 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.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Chief. Sure, a woman in a sexy red dress with clear bruising on her face, who seems slightly off-kilter offering you a blowjob is perfectly legit.
  • 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


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