Archive for October 5, 2013

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Hey! It’s October! You know what that means around these parts — yup, we’re going to review horror flicks all month just like, oh, every other movie blog on the entire fucking planet does. So — no points for originality, I guess, but I like to think we do it with a bit more style and attitude here at TFG.

Yeah, I know, everybody else says that, too, so I’m really sounding like one of the herd today. Screw it — let’s get to work anyway.

First up on the docket of 2013’s “Halloween Horrors” is the newly-released-straight-onto-home-video I Spit On Your Grave 2, which is something of an anomaly in that it’s a sequel to a remake of a film that never had a sequel of its own. Which means that the first time director Steven R. Monroe made a movie called I Spit On Your Grave (this would be in 2010) he was treading familiar ground, but the second time, ironically, he’s doing something wholly new Even if he’s not.

Confused yet? Allow me to explain :

There’s really nothing at all original that transpires in I Spit On Your Grave 2, unless you count a complete change of scenery and throwing electric cattle prods into the rape-revenge mix “original,” but still — this isn’t a bona fide remake, per se, as its predecessor was.  And it features entirely different characters than the 2010 film did , so it’s not really a direct sequel, either. And now you’re even more confused than ever, I’m willing to bet.

So it’s a good thing, then, that this is such a simple, straight-forward movie, isn’t it? Beautiful young wanna-be model Katie (Jemma Dallender) takes up some amateur photographers on their “free portfolio shots” offer, gets cold feet when they turn out to be Eastern European creeps who want her to git nekkid (as Joe Bob Briggs would say), and then said low-lifes turn up at her apartment, rape her senseless, drug her even more senseless, and next thing you know she’s chained up in a basement in Bulgaria (where the whole film was actually shot despite its first act purportedly taking place in New York), gets roughed up (sexually speaking) some more (enter the aforementioned electric cattle prod), gets locked in a steamer trunk and left for dead, manages to escape by sheer blind luck, and exacts a gruesome revenge, plus interest, on her captors once she gets her strength and wits back.

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A couple things worth pointing out here : yeah, this is tried-and-true territory, but unlike Monroe’s first crack at Meir Zarchi’s — weird as this is to even say — franchise, the comeuppance these creeps get is actually pretty goddamn satisfying. Dallender ain’t much of an actress, it has to be said (nor are any of the guys playing the heavily-accented greaseballs who work her over, so we won’t even bother crediting the full cast here — sorry, fellas), but she does seem to go about her business in the film’s final third with some real gusto, even if her lines are pretty corny. Simply put, it’s a lot of fun to watch her give these (former) Iron Curtain perverts their due, and for that reason alone this is a far more effective — and worthy — heir to the I Spit On Your Grave title than the first — sorry, second — film was. So that’s the good news.

The bad news is that Monroe and screenwriters Neil Elman and Thomas Fenton try to inject some moralistic “is revenge on those who have wronged you really the best way to ?” sermonizing into the proceedings here by way of a Bulgarian priest and cop who each try to help Katie out in their own way and also attempt — thankfully without success — to steer her off the path she’s chosen.

Look, I get it, I really do — here in the real world, getting even has a way of getting even with you if you do it, and sometimes the psychic toll of knowing that your actions make you no better than those who harmed you really just means that, well, they won by forcing you down to their level. But ya know what? This is a rape-revenge movie, and we’re not here to dwell on complex — or, hell, even simple — ethical conundrums. We just want to see this lady kick some ass and spill some blood. Get the fun police outta the way and let her do her job.

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And it pleases — as well as surprises — me to report that, by and large, I Spit On Your Grave 2 does, in fact, do its job, and does it pretty well. It’s far from the “perfect” rape-revenge story, but it’s got everything you want — it’s unsettling, hard to watch, sadistic as a motherfuck, gruesome, agonizing, and just plain fierce. It’s a reasonably worthy progeny to its truly seminal progenitor (I’m referring here to Zarchi’s original, not the remake), and stands out from most other entrants in this genre of recent vintage in that it seems to actually know the difference between being just plain ol’ mean-spirited  —as anyone can manage without much difficulty — and truly going for the throat (and the testicles), which is considerably more difficult to convey.

On the technical specs front, the widescreen picture and 5.1 surround sound on the Blu-Ray (and, I would suspect, the DVD) are more or less flawless, as you’d expect from any new release, and for extras we’ve got some trailers for other Anchor Bay stablemates as well as a small collection of deleted scenes. Hardly a barn-burner package by any stretch of the imagination, but all in all plenty good enough.

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While the same can’t be said of at least one of the inbred ex-commie degenerates Katie exacts her pound (at least) of flesh from by film’s end, I Spit On Your Grave 2 has got balls .It can’t even wuss out when it tries to. It packs a punch, a kick, and a knee to the groin. It might want to force us to think for a few minutes there, but it still has one pretty simple message to communicate : fuck with this bitch and you’re gonna be sooooooooo sorry. Isn’t that all — and exactly — what we want out of  a movie like this?