Friday, 3 May 2019

Day of the Woman: Feminist Revenge Exploitation in I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

Independently distributed by writer, director, editor, and co-producer Meir Zarchi in 1978, 'Day of the Woman' drew little attention on its limited rural drive-in circuit run. Zarchi pulled it due to hardly making anything back on the marketing costs, and it was quickly forgotten. Then a few years later in 1981, legendary exploitation producer/distributor the late Jerry Gross gave the film a wide release. He re-titled it to 'The Rape and Revenge of Jennifer Hill', and 'I Hate Your Guts', before settling on the now notorious 'I Spit on Your Grave', named after Michel Gast’s 1959 film noir, an adaptation of Boris Vian’s 1946 crime novel J’irai cracher sur vos tombes ('I Spit on Your Graves'). Meir Zarchi hates this title. Its infamy then went through the roof, garnering the attention of mainstream critics and their scathing narrow-minded views. “A vile bag of garbage”, proclaimed the late, often great, but sometimes imprudent, especially when it came to genre cinema, Roger Ebert. He and partner in pomposity, but at times great as well, the late Gene Siskel, led a misguided campaign against films featuring women in danger, with this as its leading example and prime target. Ironically, this became positive publicity, as it generated even more box office revenue, because the horror crowds lap up this kind of controversy.

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