I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: The Transgressive Masterwork Hits 4K UHD

Ronin Flix Unleashes a 4K UHD of One of the Most Notorious Big Boxes of the VHS Era

In a rather bold move by a distributor, a few months after the release of I Spit on Your on Grave on Blu-ray, courtesy a new 4K transfer — a 4K UHD was announced by Ronin Flix. To lessen the blow on physical media collectors, the distro offered an upgrade option for those that recently purchased the Blu-ray, allowing them to upgrade at a discount. Being a collector myself the incremental 4K double dip is fast becoming the rule rather than the exception. I found this proactive approach a great middle ground for both collectors and labels, since I understand there are limited facilities producing UHDs and the whole pandemic thing mucking up supply chains. This was also an interesting exercise given I recently reviewed and was understandably floored by the previous Blu, and I was now reviewing the same transfer with no compression, and with added HDR.

I Spit on Your Grave is possibly one of the most notorious films from that period in 70’s drive-in/grindhouse cinema, that pushed the boundaries of sex and violence — fueled in part by cynicism and anger. This was no doubt thanks to the end of the “free love” of the 60s and the Vietnam War dividing the country and bombarding our televisions with wartime atrocities. The gritty 1978 rape/revenge masterwork stars Camille Keaton as the idealistic New York creative Jennifer Hills, who is brutally raped by a gang of rednecks after traveling to a remote cabin in the country to write her great American novel. Watching the film again for this review in my DIY screening room, something occurred to me that I felt was probably lost on most contemporary audiences, who have primarily experienced the film on home video. For those who debate the original intention of the film as either a “sleaze fest” or “feminist work”, enduring that 30 minute assault in a darkened room, alone, left me about as vulnerable as our protagonist to this graphic and unrelenting assault.

The camera’s shots of graphic rape, linger on Jennifer long after the act, for what feels like an eternity. It’s that choice to show not only the act, but also focus on the aftermath that takes the 30 minute ordeal and strips away any titillation, as you witness all three assaults along with the all too realistic injuries to the victim. After this collection of scenes, an emotional connection is forged in that cinematic space, that would be broken otherwise, if say you got nervous and walked away or fast forwarded the film to break the spell. But it’s not only the act and how it’s presented, but the toll on Jennifer that we can see in Keaton’s stirring performance. The psychological damage that Keaton portrays allows us to empathize with and take this journey of vengeance with her, as we then give her carte blanche and accompany her to get her bloody vengeance.

44 years later the film hits as hard today as it did when it first screened at drive-ins and 42nd street. The film here is presented in 4K, from a new 4K transfer, and I was surprised at how much detail was now available on this new release. That is because of two factors, first being the added resolution and the second being the HDR that adds a broader contrast, larger color spectrum and improved clarity throughout. I didn’t realize how much red this film had in it, until I viewed it for this review and was impressed at how the HDR allows those garish scarlet hues to seep through the very film-like transfer. Like previously, there was also thankfully little to no DNR present, with the look of the source maintained. The 4K UHD disc comes paired with that original Blu-ray, which is packed with special features, which I previously reviewed here.

I am going to say this is the definitive, definitive edition of this particular version of the film. With older genre films like these sometimes Blu-ray is the absolute limit and anything else just highlights the shortcomings of the source. But here thanks to the added resolution it adds more breadth to the image with the HDR allowing a more warm film-like presentation that feels like you’re watching that print unspool for the first time. I have to say we live in exciting times where films that were once regulated to the dustiest corners of the video store, are now restored and given the respect they finally deserved.

Special Features:

NEW 2021 4K HDR REMASTER done by Ronin Flix, English SDH Subtitles (Feature Presentations Only) and all of the historical Ronin Flix Blu-ray special features:

DISC 1 — I Spit on Your Grave (1978) 4K UHD Blu-ray: 4K ULTRA HIGH DEFINITION BLU-RAY 2160P WIDESCREEN PRESENTATION (HDR10) (1:85:1) UTILIZING THE NEW 2021 4K HDR REMASTER done by Ronin Flix, RESTORED DTS-HD MASTER AUDIO MONO, DTS-HD 5.1 SURROUND, DTS-HD 2.0 STEREO, Audio Commentary with writer / director Meir Zarchi, Audio Commentary with Film Critic Joe Bob Briggs

DISC 2 — I Spit on Your Grave (1978) Blu-ray: HIGH DEFINITION BLU-RAY 1080P WIDESCREEN PRESENTATION (1.85:1) UTILIZING THE 2020 4K SCAN AND RESTORATION OF DIRECTOR MEIR ZARCHI’S 35 MM ORIGINAL CAMERA NEGATIVE done by Ronin Flix, RESTORED DTS-HD MASTER AUDIO MONO, DTS-HD 5.1 SURROUND, 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 Slideshow with Rare & Behind-the-Scenes Photos from the Set

DISC 3: Growing up with I Spit on Your Grave (2019) Blu-ray: HIGH DEFINITION BLU-RAY 1080P WIDESCREEN PRESENTATION (1.85:1) OF THE ORIGINAL FEATURE LENGTH DOCUMENTARY, DTS-HD 5.1 SURROUND, EXCLUSIVE Deleted Scenes, Terry Zarchi’s 8mm film starring Camille Keaton, Home Movies — Camille and Meir’s wedding, Trailer

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