A few weeks ago saw the release of Ronin Flix’s massive special edition box set of Meir Zarchi’s Rape/Revenge duology of 1978’s I Spit on Your Grave and its sequel, 2019’s I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu. The two films were supplemented by a third film, Meir son’s documentary on his father’s masterwork Growing Up With I Spit on Your Grave, which added an unparalleled level of context and background on the making both films. Ronin Flix was kind enough to send along a copy of the film to review and I’ve been digging into it over the last few weeks here at Cinapse and here are my final thoughts on the set.
Its really hard to write something about I Spit On Your Grave, that hasn’t been written before. The transgressive masterpiece is story of Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton), a writer who goes to the country alone to write her first novel only to be gruesomely raped by four men. Originally titled Day of the Woman, after the rape, we then witness that day as Jennifer exacts her gloriously gory revenge one by one. I’ve always landed on the side of the film as a feminist masterwork, inspired by the day when Meir found a young girl who has been the victim of rape one day while walking with his children. I feel like that very real origin infuses the film, which rose above simple exploitation with its unflinching brutality and an uncompromising emotional performance by Camille Keaton.
I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu picks up four decades later with Jennifer Hills having just released her best seller I Spit on Your Graves, chronicling the infamous murders for which she was both tried and acquitted. After an afternoon brunch, both Jennifer and her daughter Christy (Jamie Bernadette) are kidnapped by the kinfolk of the men who raped her in the previous film. Led by Becky (Maria Olsen) – Johnny’s (Eron Tabor) wife, the group of revenge crazed, religious fanatics believe the men were innocent and were simply seduced and killed by Jennifer. They take the women back to the small town where it all began, and as the title implies, Christy is brutally raped and then sets out for vengeance on her own and like mother, like daughter.
Growing up with I Spit on Your Grave is equal parts documentary and home movie as Terry not only delivers the backstory and factoids you’d expect in a film doc, but intimate perspective on his family and their relationship with the film as well. It’s this mix that makes this a must watch for the casual and hard core fans, since Terry candidly chats with not only his father, Meir, but his then-stepmother Camille Keaton, who delivers some fascinating anecdotes on her time with the Zarchi family. It’s a near perfect companion piece that’s not your traditional fan doc, but a son examining his father’s legacy and how one horrific event has shaped all of their lives both for better or worse.
Here’s my initial unboxing:
The packaging here is immaculate and the presentation of the discs was impressive, all films come on their own 50 gig Blu-ray and housed in a sturdy box set with new artwork by Adam Stothard. You also get two posters, two magnets and a 44 page book in the package with interviews and essays on the film. Check out my pics of the unboxing below:
Ronin boasted “A New 4K Scan From the Original Camera Negative”, and I was excited to check it out given the previous release was almost a decade old at this point.
For ISOYG, The first thing you notice about the Ronin transfer right off the bat is the color correction, skin tones (primarily our lead’s) on this new transfer appear more natural and pleasing to the eye. The colors aren’t as washed out or murky as the Anchor Bay disc tend to be, with reds most definitely bright red. The image also doesn’t look as blown out or artificial in brighter scenes and there’s a pleasing contrast throughout. The film grain is thankfully left intact, with little to no DNR visible. This coupled with the film’s original restored mono track, only hammer home what Ronin was going for with their restoration here, delivering the closest thing you’ll get to seeing a new 35mm print unspool for the first time.
Here’s my FULL comparison post on the picture quality comparing it to the Anchor Bay Disc.
For ISOYGDV, this was shot digitally in Redcode RAW 4K and is presented here in 1080p BD-50. Being pulled right from the digital file, Deja Vu looks as good as it can get short of an UHD release, which would be a nominal upgrade to be honest. For those the picked up the previous on demand release this is definitely a bit of an upgrade. On Growing Up with I Spit on Your Grave, the inserts have been upgraded to HD and that really adds a polish to the doc.
This is accompanied by a host of extras both old and new that help deliver even more context and background to these films. The most noteworthy is for fans that have probably still have their Elite DVDs is the new Joe Bob Briggs commentary on Deja Vu, which is by far worth the price of admission alone. Given the subject matter, Joe Bob is giving off some serious Monstervision vibes as he delivers his traditional brand of irreverent insight on the film clocking in at two plus hours.
Check out the full rundown of extras below:
- DISC 1 — I Spit on Your Grave (1978): NEW 4K SCAN AND RESTORATION FROM DIRECTOR MEIR ZARCHI’S 35 MM ORIGINAL CAMERA NEGATIVE, NEWLY RESTORED DTS-HD MASTER AUDIO MONO, DTS-HD 5.1, NEW Jennifer’s Journey — the locations of I Spit on Your Grave featurette hosted by writer Michael Gingold, Audio Commentary with writer / director Meir Zarchi, Audio Commentary with Film Critic Joe Bob Briggs, The Value of Vengeance — Meir Zarchi Remembers I Spit on Your Grave, Alternate Day of the Woman Opening Title, Theatrical Trailers, TV & Radio Spots, Still Gallery and NEW Slideshow with Rare & Behind-the-Scenes Photos from the Set, Reversible Cover
- DISC 2: I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu (2019): DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround, NEW Audio Commentary with Film Critic Joe Bob Briggs, NEW Cast Interviews, EXCLUSIVE The Making of I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu, Behind-the-Scenes footage with director Meir Zarchi and cast, Theatrical Trailers
- DISC 3: Growing up with I Spit on Your Grave (2019): New DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround, EXCLUSIVE Deleted Scenes, NEW Terry Zarchi’s 8mm film starring Camille Keaton, NEW Home Movies — Camille and Meir’s wedding, Trailer
While these films are filled with bloody carnage and tons of nudity, the overall theme of this set, if I had to give it one, is strangely enough “family”. I’m not just talking about the kids who appeared in the original, who would later appear in their dad’s sequel, and help out in various roles. But thanks to Growing Up we get an amazing amount of context, like genesis of the script of the film, which started on a family walk when the Zarchi family discovered a woman who had been raped. That idea birthed a script, that gave way to a film that would result in a relationship between Meir and his leading lady Camille, who were eventually married. Once that perspective is put in place by Growing up, it becomes very evident these films were very much shaped a family. Who then came together again 40 years later for a sequel with many of the same folks involved.
That being said, Ronin Flix has delivered a truly definitive package here of Meir’s original duology. ISOYG is a classic, and Deja Vu is brilliantly uncompromising — and both are presented here in the most comprehensively definitive package possible. Growing up with ISOYG offers a rare insight that couldn’t be achieved simply with a commentary or a featurette and it truly completes this trifecta of a package.
Available at Ronin Flix:
$5 OFF through January 1!