As I sat down with my homemade hot mocha and Jiffy Pop popcorn (that I always have for my home theater experience), I didn’t initially realize the sweet and salty treat that awaited my eyeballs from these two movies, based on the story “Day of the Woman” called “I Spit On Your Grave.” The original and remake share the basic plot similarities, however the original’s heroine exacted sweet revenge and the remake’s executed that of a salty kind.
The plot basics go as such: An attractive young writer from the big city rents a country cabin to get away and write a novel. The locals are the worst kind of welcoming committee who resort (definitely no pun intended!) to physical violence (which is VERY hard to watch) that prompts a deadly showdown between the locals and the writer.
The original “I Spit On Your Grave” (1978) directed by Meir Zarchi mildly develops the plot and characters to derive emotional attachments or detachments while watching. The villains are Johnny (Eron Tabor), the married ex-marine gas station owner and leader; Stanley (Anthony Nichols) and Andy (Gunter Kleeman), the two guys who hang out at Johnny’s gas station; and Matthew (Richard Pace), the reluctant slow-witted grocery store delivery guy. Their ignorance, language, and negative sexual attitudes are skin-crawling and laughable today. The calculating, clever heroine is Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton). This version features the commonplace nudity for movies of the time which adds to the realism of the film. The use of sexuality by heroine and villains become the balance of the plot. The acting, lack of special effects, and location in the movie injects true suspense and horror that can be found in another original classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Sweeet!
The Steve R. Monroe remake (2010) adds the obligatory modern touch with darker, smarter characters. Also, it increases the population of the town with cabin rental administrator Earl (Tracey Walter) and new villain, leader, and family man Sheriff Storch (Andrew Howard). By doing this, it ups the ante of dismay and horror with an authority figure involved in the mayhem. Johnny (Jeff Branson), Stanley (Daniel Franzese), and Andy (Rodney Eastman) appear like Larry the Cable Guy’s evil, sadistic stalking stooges. Matthew (Chad Lindberg), on the other hand, almost draws sympathy for appearing more disabled than the original Matthew. The remake’s Jennifer (Sarah Butler), although she’s a writer, suddenly becomes MacGuyver, Rambo, Jigsaw, and a fairly good harmonica player all rolled into one when the action heats up. The uneven lighting/timelines and sometimes implausible or unexplainable happenings fortunately do not reduce continuity. As with most modern suspense/horror movies, the “I Spit On Your Grave” remake has plenty of gross-out scenes that make up the majority of the film. Don’t pass the Jiffy Pop.
Watching these movies back to back leaves a question besides the typical “Which is better?” The new question is, “Which one to watch?” The answer lies with the horror/suspense viewer’s taste due to the subject matter and how the heroine carried out her revenge. If you prefer a heroine who likes her revenge served seductively cold so much that it will make you cheer, the original would do. If you prefer hot, face-wincing, and unrelenting revenge, go for the remake. By the time I finished both movies, I was glad all my parts were intact.