I Spit on Your Grave (4K UHD Review)
Release Date(s)1978 (March 8, 2022)
Studio(s)The Jerry Gross Organization (Ronin Flix)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: A-
- Overall Grade: B+
[Editor’s Note: Although there’s a pre-order up on Amazon for this title, it will not be released until March 8, 2022. It’s currently a Ronin Flix website exclusive.]
Shocking the world as one of the rawest and most intense rape and revenge films ever made, I Spit on Your Grave was an infamous and legendary film throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Initially released in 1978 under the title Day of the Woman and later re-released in 1980 under its more famous moniker, it disturbed and sickened critics with its almost documentary-like approach, allowing scenes of sexual violence to play out mostly in medium and wide shots with no score and no cutting away from the brutality. It also inadvertently made a horror icon out of Camille Keaton. She gives an amazing performance as the unfortunate Jennifer Hills, who drives to the country for isolation, is gang raped by four local men, and later takes her revenge on them one by one. The film would eventually be championed by the likes of Joe Bob Briggs, who saw beyond its content and recognized a skillful filmmaker (Meir Zarchi) at work. Although it was remade in the early 2010s, along with several straight-to-video sequels behind it, the original I Spit on Your Grave is still an aggressive and unflinching piece of cinema that has rarely been equaled.
I Spit on Your Grave was shot by director of photography Yuri Haviv on 35 mm film using Arriflex cameras and spherical lenses, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Ronin Flix previously released the film in a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray boxed set, which also included the 40 years later sequel I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu (which we also reviewed). They return a year later to bring the original film to 4K Ultra HD utilizing the same 4K scan of the original uncut camera negative, now color graded for High Dynamic Range (HDR10 is the only available option).
The previous Blu-ray was hard to top in terms of color and clarity, but the new Ultra HD release is mostly a positive experience. In terms of grain structure and fine detail, there isn’t quite as dramatic an increase over previous incarnations prior to Blu-ray. Sharpness and depth are fairly similar. The new HDR pass squeezes a tad bit more out of the colors and black levels, but it’s not a major shift. The biggest difference between the previous Blu-ray and the new UHD lies in their respective color palettes. The Blu-ray features a lush presentation with bold greens and reds with excellent brightness and contrast. The UHD’s color palette is slightly inconsistent from scene to scene. In certain moments, there’s no change at all, but in others, a less warm and more blue-ish tone can observed, especially during the city-bound opening. There’s also heavy saturation during the scene in which Jennifer burns a victim’s clothing in the fireplace. It’s much more extreme than the previous disc. Otherwise, the overall image is mostly stable with only occasional jitter, as well as a couple of minor density fluctuations that last for no more than a couple of seconds. Do keep in mind that the differences are not that obvious, and most won’t even notice without looking at screen captures. The image is still very strong and worthy of the format.
The audio is included in English 2.0 mono, 5.1, and 2.0 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. The mono track is pretty straightforward. Dialogue, overdubbed or otherwise, is mostly clear. Sound effects, such as the sound of water dripping, drawers opening, and ambient city and country activity, all have decent life to them. The surround and stereo tracks improve upon these things, even allowing for panning activity when motorboats zoom by. Since there’s no score, sound is very important, and all of the tracks do it justice. There are also no major instances of crackle, distortion, or dropouts, though a light hiss remains.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/A-/A-
Growing Up with I Spit on Your Grave is a mix of various bits of footage, many of them HD-sourced. For the most part, it’s solid, though frame rates are a tad off when utilizing older footage. The interviews themselves are well lit and all of the subjects are in good focus. It features the same selection of audio tracks, though unnecessarily since having multiple channels of audio does little to boost the documentary’s sound capabilities. Most of the soundtrack sticks to the front, occasionally rising in the rear when clips from the films are shown. All of the interviews are satisfyingly discernible.
GROWING UP WITH I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C/B/B
This new Ronin Flix Ultra HD release includes three discs: the film on UHD and Blu-ray, and a third Blu-ray featuring the documentary. All three discs are housed in a black amaray case featuring the original I Spit on Your Grave poster artwork featuring young Demi Moore’s barely-clothed backside. The following extras are also included on each disc:
DISC ONE: I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (UHD)
- Audio Commentary with Meir Zarchi
- Audio Commentary with Joe Bob Briggs
DISC TWO: I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (BD)
- Audio Commentary with Meir Zarchi
- Audio Commentary with Joe Bob Briggs
- The Values of Vengeance: Meir Zarchi Remembers I Spit on Your Grave (HD – 29:01)
- Jennifer’s Journey: The Locations of I Spit on Your Grave (HD – 11:08)
- Day of the Woman Alternate Opening Title (HD – 0:16)
- Theatrical Trailers (HD – 2 in all – 6:22)
- TV Spots (SD – 3 in all – 1:39)
- Radio Spots (HD – 3 in all – 1:15)
- Rare Photos From Set (HD – 137 in all – 9:32)
- Still Gallery (HD – 21 in all – 1:51)
The audio commentary with Meir Zarchi is very educational as the director flies solo, providing plenty of information about the film as he watches it. The audio commentary with Joe Bob Briggs (which dates all the way back to Elite Entertainment’s Millennium Edition DVD release from 2004) is a classic. He defends the film tooth and nail, but also gets plenty of laughs out as well. In The Values of Vengeance, Meir Zarchi discusses his inspiration for the film, meeting and working with Camille Keaton (and eventually marrying her), his process for shooting and editing the film, deciding not to use a score, trying to find distribution, editing the film, and fighting with home video distributors. Michael Gingold takes us on a tour of the filming locations in Jennifer’s Journey. The trailers for I Spit on Your Grave are HD recreations. Two TV spots for I Spit on Your Grave, one for Day of the Woman, and three radio spots for Day of the Woman are also included. All of the still galleries contain a total of 158 behind-the-scenes photos, stills from the film, script pages, posters, and personal photos.
DISC THREE: GROWING UP WITH I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (BD)
- Deleted Scenes (HD – 7 in all – 9:26)
- Terry Zarchi’s 8 mm Film Starring Camille Keaton (HD – 2:50)
- Home Movies: Camille and Meir’s Wedding (HD – 1:53)
- Trailer (HD – 1:29)
The Deleted Scenes feature seven brief outtakes from the main documentary, including Terry Zarchi addressing the subject of Meir Zarchi and Camille Keaton’s love affair more fully. Since they’re silent, the 8 mm footage and the home movies feature commentary by Terry Zarchi.
The previously-mentioned boxed set release contained the sequel film and its accompanying extras, as well as a 46-page insert booklet containing I Spit on Your Grave Liner Notes by Michael Gingold, Day of the Woman: Meir Zarchi’s Ultimate Act of Revenge by Meagan Navarro, a set of Blu-ray credits, posters, and still photographs. When purchased directly through the Ronin Flix website, additional swag items included a large cardboard housing with their logo on top to protect the boxed set during shipment; a pair of magnets featuring each film’s poster; and two posters—one featuring the original poster art for the first film and the other featuring the poster art for the second film on one side and the new artwork for the boxed set on the other. It’s worth noting that a few extras from the 101 Films Region B Blu-ray release haven’t been carried over, which includes an extended audio interview with Meir Zarchi, an additional still gallery, and the film’s Spanish trailer. Minor losses, but worth a mention.
I Spit on Your Grave is not an easy film to recommend, but there’s much more to it than its exploitative poster and reputation would lead one to believe. Ronin Flix’s double dip on Ultra HD offers the film in great quality with a nice extras package in tow, making it the release that most hardcore fans of the film are likely to reach for in the future.
- Tim Salmons
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