Posts Tagged ‘joe bob briggs’

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In this blighted age we live in, there are sooooo many films that are basically nothing but gimmicks. The Hobbit. The Star Wars prequel trilogy, as well as the upcoming Disney-fied sequels/spin-offs of said franchise. Tron : LegacyTexas Chainsaw 3-D. The list is virtually endless.

The thing is, these flicks all try very hard to convince you, the viewer, that they’re not just quick, gimmick-y cash-ins — hell, they spend millions, even hundreds of millions, trying to dupe you into thinking that they’re something more than that. Something necessary.

Back in 1966, when legendary director William “One Shot” Beaudine made the movie under discussion here today, there were plenty of gimmick-based flicks as well, to be sure, but damn — at least they were upfront about it. It’s right there in the title, after all : Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter. And if that ain’t enough for ya, it was paired on drive-in double bills with another Beaudine naked cash-grab, Billy The Kid Vs. Dracula. Both  titles positively scream “we’re here to separate suckers from their money.”

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Maybe it’s just me, but hey — I find that kind of honesty pretty refreshing. It’s almost enough to make a fella nostalgic — and no, I wasn’t around back in ’66, but it’s okay for me to miss those days all the same , isn’t it?

It almost feels like a plot recap for a flick such as this is an exercise in redundancy — after all, the title tells you all you need to know. And of course it’s gonna suck. But so what? Honestly, if this movie was good in any way, shape, or form, I’d feel cheated. Fortunately for us all, it’s every bit as rancid as you can imagine, maybe even moreso.

Here’s the deal — legendary outlaw Jesse James (John Lupton) and his pal Hank Tracy (Cal Bolder), the last of the infamous James Gang, are on the run from an American posse — in Mexico. Hank gets wounded in a shootout, and they seek help from the only doctor in the village, who lives in a haunted castle high atop an ominous mountain (of course). The doctor in question is one Maria Frankenstein, granddaughter of — well, you-know-who. She shoos Jesse off by sending him into town to get medicine , and while he’s away, she performs a brain transplant on poor ol’ Hank that turns him into a hulking, imbecilic monster that she names — wait for it — Igor. Her task for her new brute? Kill her fellow-mad-scientist brother, Dr. Rudolph Frankenstein, who she’s got a beef with.

Can Jesse resuce Hank/Igor from Maria’s clutches and return him to normal before it’s too late? Can an outlaw match wits with an evil scientific genius? Will Jesse and his new-found Mexican gal pal Juanita (Estelita Rodriguez) live happily ever after south of the border? Does any of it really matter ????

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Of course not. That’s the beauty of the thing, you see. Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter isn’t even about what it says it is, since it’s Frankenstein’s granddaughter that Jesse meets up with. Making sense doesn’t matter here, nor do acting, story, production values — any of that high-fallutin’ stuff. The goal here is a simple one : make this thing as quickly and cheaply as you can in order to turn the highest possible profit because you know that there are bound to be some yokels dumb enough to get drawn in by the title. What you throw up on the screen doesn’t matter in the least — only the name you put on the poster. If you want something more than that, shit — this is the wrong movie for you, friend.

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Admittedly, beyond its brazen marketing, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter doesn’t have much to offer. Hell, it doesn’t have anything to offer. Nor does it need to offer anything else — this is the rare movie that has won the battle merely by existing. That’s a concept that, if you really sit down and think about it, is almost mind-blowing in its simplicity. I wouldn’t recommend doing so, though — poor Igor got his mind blown and look how he turned out.

JESSE JAMES MEETS

Don’t expect the “outsider art” charm of, say, an Ed Wood film here. Or the paranoia of Ron Ormond. Or anything that reeks, even accidentally, of auteurism. There are no hidden meanings to be drawn from this, or any interpretation that can be offered to make it sound, or seem, like anything other than what it is. Hell, whether or not you even like this movie is absolutely immaterial — William Beaudine didn’t care if you did, why should you? Thanks for your money, sucker. See ya in a few months with another one. Haw, haw haw!!!!

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Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter has, as you would expect, lapsed into the public domain, and is therefore available in several iterations on DVD, including on an “Elvira’s Movie Macabre” release. I caught it in a version from Elite Entertainment that features a commentary from the one and only Joe Bob Briggs which is, needless to say, far and away the best thing about it. The picture’s been remastered, is presented full-frame, and looks pretty good, and the mono sound is just fine, too. It’s probably — okay, certainly — a better release than this thing could ever deserve or hope for, but what the hell — I’ll take it. The original theatrical trailer’s included, as well.

Honestly, though, if you give a single, solitary damn about the technical specs for a film like this, you’re living in the wrong universe. Just kick back, relax,  and let William Beaudine rip you off. At least he knew how to do it with something strangely akin to — dare I say it — integrity.

Around here at TFG, Ray Dennis Steckler is one of our (okay, my, who are we fooling?) all-time heroes. Seldom in cinematic history has one man accomplished so much with so little. And yet, I find his films difficult to review (in fact, in nearly three years of blogging this is the first time I’ve ever gotten around to writing about one of them) because, frankly, his “plots” are so uniformly paper-thin that there’s just not that much to talk about without delving into the minutiae of the production itself, which is rather redundant when it comes to Steckler because the DVD releases of his film Media Blasters/Shriek Show cover all of that so well already (in the case of today’s subject, 1971’s Blood Shack, for instance, there’s not one but two commentary tracks, one from Steckler himself and one from the always-awesome Joe Bob Briggs, an on-camera interview with Steckler about the making of the film, an extensive gallery of still photos from the production, an interview with the film’s star (and former Mrs. Steckler) Carolyn Brandt, a couple different versions of the trailer, and an alternate, 70-minute cut of the film (the “official” cut being a mere 35 minutes) under the title of The Chooper — the list is endless. Needless to say it’s a comprehensive and essential purchase) that there’s really nothing to be accomplished by my regurgitating any further behind-the-scenes information for the umpteenth time. And yet —

The hows, whys, and wherefores of a Steckler production are pretty much inseparable from any analysis of the on-screen “product” itself because there’s simply no way to appreciate any of this guy’s work without actively realizing what an absolute fucking miracle it is that any of these films were made in the first place. Blood Shack was made for $500 and stars his ex-wife and kids. Everybody else in front of and behind the camera was a friend of his and the bleak desert locale was property owned by an acquaintance. It’s truly a labor of love, and Steckler himself never harbored any illusions about getting rich off any of these flicks. All his stuff was strictly third-and fourth-billed filler material at the drive-ins and the fact that any of his films, much less all of them, even survive to this day is testament to this guy’s perseverance in the face of odds longer than those of picking the winning numbers for this week’s Powerball.

One thing you can certainly count on from any Steckler production is a raw and authentic sense of locale that the biggest Hollywood productions could never match in their wildest dreams. Case in point — the setting for Blood Shack is a dingy, abandoned, piece-of-shit Nevada desert lean-to that MGM could spend millions trying to replicate  yet never match because this is no fancy studio set dirtied up and trashed to give it an air of realism, it’s the actual fucking deal. And while it’s admittedly absurd to consider that some black-clad killer of local legend known as “The Chooper” can sneak around in a totally flat, arid and open landscape where you could see a wild coyote from ten miles off, you can’t let things like gaping plot holes and suspect (at best) “acting” deter you from enjoying a Steckler film because, hell, you couldn’t do any better with 500 bucks and a half-dozen or so friends and relatives and your finished product would never make it onto any screens at all, much less have a cult following four decades later.

Yeah, okay,  I just gave away the whole plot with a shrug — woman inherits a disused piece of land in the middle of nowhere and a mysterious (and supposedly legendary) killer called “The Chooper” shows up and starts offing people in an attempt to drive her off — but so what? Complexity isn’t exactly the name of the game here, either. On Planet Steckler, the normal rules of what makes for “good” cinema just don’t apply, and you’re either gonna appreciate what this guy was able to accomplish or you won’t, simple as that.

Look, I’m not here to convince you that Blood Shack is some unheralded masterpiece of low-budget horror. It’s got a complacent and austere vibe all its own that I enjoyed tremendously but that I can easily see many folks finding at the very least off-putting, if not downright dull. What is is, however, is a testament to the sheer bloody-mindedness of one lone individual who just wanted to make this movie because he could.

Call me crazy, but I’ll always have a healthy amount of respect for that.

"Deadly Weapons" Movie Poster

“Seeing Is Believing! 73-32-26” reads the tagline for this Doris Wishman “classic,” and for once, the ad doesn’t lie. But after seeing star Chesty Morgan’s — ummm — “assets,” you’ll wish it did.

In 1974, veteran sexploitation director/producer Wishman — a true trailblazer for her time, who carved out a fairly successful career in the almost-entirely-male-dominated field of low-budget independent exploitation films, primarily with “nudie cuties” like “Nude on the Moon” and “Blaze Starr Goes Nudist,” but also ventured into the realms of the truly bizarre with flicks like “The Amazing Transplant” and, later, the must-see “shockumentary” feature “Let Me Die A Woman” decided that a new angle was needed to part the more lecherous members of the moviegoing public from their hard-earned dollars. And she certainly hit on a new angle here.

Enter Polish-born burlesque entertainer Chesty Morgan (real name Ilana Wilczkowsky, try saying that one three times in a row really fast — or even really slow — and billed in this film under yet another pseudonym, “Zsa Zsa”), whose strip act was, for reasons I honestly cannot discern, apparently quite popular (freak shows always are).

Apparently, Chesty wanted to break into the acting business in order to save up enough cash for a painfully obviously necessary breast reduction, and Wishman offered her not only a way in the door, but a star vehicle, to boot. Who could say no to that?

There was only one problem : Chesty can’t act. I mean, she really, well and truly, absolutely cannot act. The sound for this entire film was dubbed in later, but even still, it’s apparent that Ms. Morgan is literally being told exactly what to do at all times. She looks forlorn and confused for a moment before she does anything, and then whatever she does end up doing, be it walking across the room, picking up the phone, sitting down at the table, or even taking off her shirt, which she certainly had plenty of experience doing, she approaches it with visibly cautious, almost unnerving hesitation. Apparently she actually knew very little English (another actress’s voice was dubbed in over hers and since she’s got the majority of lines in the film it just made sense to dub all the voices for the whole picture — and hey, it’s cheaper to record without sound, to boot, so that never hurts), a fact that’s hysterically evident from start to finish. To make matters even more difficult, Chesty’s enormous endowments exerted so much strain on her back that she was apparently hopelessly hooked on pain killers — again, another fact that her strained attempts at “acting” make quite obvious.  And finally in the difficulty department, Wishman claims that Chesty was an absolute prima donna who, even when she understood what the fuck was going on, often intransigently refused to take direction and made it clear she hated what she was doing and was only in it for the paycheck. Oh, and she was apprently late to the set all the time, too.  Wishman has called her the most difficult actress she ever had to work with, which is really something when you consider that working with  untalented non-professionals with no experience and no clue was a staple of her career!

Russ Meyer, of course, is considered the king of big-breasted “B” movies, and rightly so, and given Chesty’s mind-numbing measurements, you’re probably wondering why she never appeared in one of King Russ’s pictures. It’s not like dubbing over a lady’s voice was anything new to R.M. — after all, he did it for both Kitten Natividad and Uschi Digard, among others. And it’s not like Russ required his ladies to be great actresses, either, although some of them actually did display old-school, almost vaudevillian-style comic ability. So why did Chesty never hook up with Russ?

Well, let’s be honest — even if the more buxom ladies aren’t your own particular cup of tea, the ladies in Russ’s films were almost invariably good-looking. Uschi, Kitten, Raven de la Croix, Haji — these were all attractive women, and would be considered so even without their obvious “special features.” Chesty — well — Chesty just isn’t. Period. She sports a bad platinum blond wig, has a glassed-over look in her eyes at all times, and as for her boobs — well,  the liner notes on the old Something Weird VHS box for this film say that her ponderous endowments “look more like tumors than tits,” and that’s absolutely right on. They’re almost painful to look at. They’ve got deep bluish/purplish veins running throughout and I swear to God you can even see some cellulite in there. They really are, well — freakish, sorry to be so blunt. Even the world’s biggest breast fetishists would more than likely find these monsters to be too damn much for their liking.

Chesty's deadly weapons

It’s just as well, then, that Wishman makes the wise move to eschew titillation (no pun intended) here, since it really wouldn’t be possible anyway, and instead play up Chesty’s downright bizarre appearance as a bludgeon used against the stupidity of the male of the species and our collective obsession with the size  womens’ breasts, a genuine genius move that makes this movie incredibly watchable even though gawking at Ms. Morgan’s mams by all rights should get extremely old extremely fast, and certainly would in the hands of a less shrewdly sensible director.

Which brings us, finally, to the story itself. Chesty plays Crystal, supposedly a “successful advertising executive,” who’s dating a guy named Larry (Richard Towers, best known as the dad in the original “Last House on the Left,” and who is according to this film’s dialogue “pushing 40,” even though it looks a lot  more like he’s pushing 60), who happens to be employed, unbeknownst, apparently, to Crystal,  as a mid-level organized crime hood. One day after a hit on an underworld rival, Larry comes across a little black book in the now-dead man’s belongings containing names, numbers, transactions, dates — and decides to use it to blackmail his own boss by calling him, pretending to be someone else, and saying he’s got all the dirt on him and wants X amount of cash dropped off at X location in exchange for the black book’s safe return.

Larry’s boss, whose face we never see but who has a visible tattoo (or is it a scar?) on one of his hands (another move of improvised-out-of-necessity genius on Wishman’s part is that she doesn’t show the character’s mouths that often, focusing instead on things like the mystery crime boss’s hand and Chesty’s — well, chest, in order to conceal how awful the dubbing is for this film) figures out who  is behind the blackmail real fast and has Larry taken out by a couple of his other goons.

The boss thinks that things will probably be too hot for Larry’s killers in town (wherever that “town”  may be — the film was apparently shot in Florida), and flies sends them packing to various parts of the country for a little “vacation” — one from which, little do they know, they’ll never return.

You see, through the lamest and most obvious plot device possible this side of the mad villain giving away his entire scheme to the captured hero just before said hero escapes, Crystal finds out exactly who Larry’s killers are, where they’ll be, and , well, what guy could resist her charms, right? Ummm —- right? She’s especially mad because Larry, it turns out, was planning to take the cash he made from his “one big last deal,” fly her off to paradise, marry her, and live happily ever after. Now she’s got revenge on her mind, and do you care to venture a guess as to what she’s going to use to kill the guys who bumped off her sweetheart? You got it, my friends — they don’t call this movie “Deadly Weapons” for nothing.

Cue in the stock footage of airplanes taking off and landing and various locales ( I have a theory that almost all of this film was actually shot in the same house — it’s painfully obvious that all the various dwellings for each of the characters are in fact the same place, and the scenes at the “hotel bar” and “hotel pool” are also readily identifiable as being shot at a house as well) as Chesty goes about the business of tracking down Larry’s murderers (one of whom is played by Harry Reems of “Deep Throat” and congressional porn hearings fame) by any means necessary (including going “undercover” as, shock of all shocks, a stripper — again, the “strip club” appearing to be little more than a pole and mirrors set up in the finished basement of the house where I thik almost all of this was made), luring them to their doom with her supposedly-irresistible flesh torpedoes, and suffocating them with them!

At this point I simply have to mention the sound effects, dubbed-in as they are, for this film. Whenever Chesty reveals her “deadly weapons,” the “unveiling” is accompanied by cheap fuzz guitar and the sound of crashing bowling pins, once again stating in the most obvious terms that the intention hear has nothing to do with titillation (again, no pun intended). Yes, these boobs are meant to be gawked at — face it, how could you not? — but not as objects of lust, but as deadly (and freakish) forces of nature!

The soundtrack features appropriately cheap and cheesy music, as well, with the title song “Hard-Selling Woman,” repeated over — and over — and over — and over — again. The film is only 75 minutes long and frankly moves along at a nice little clip, but I swear to God that somehow, in defiance of laws of temporal possibility, the theme tune plays for at least 90 minutes, even if the movie itself isn’t that long.

The big finale has Chesty taking on the mystery head honcho of the criminal underworld himself, only to find herself in for a rude and unexpected shock when she learns his true identity! Never mind that we’ve seen this guy’s hands in other scenes and neither one of them is marked, you’re not in this for plot consistency. Or rather, you shouldn’t be, and if you are, then you’re missing out on the real point of this film.

“Deadly Weapons” is a freak show with a feminist undercurrent throughout. Yes, the entire film is essentially nothing buy gratuitous nudity, and yes, Chesty’s body is displayed like a bearded lady or the Lobster Boy or any other circus sideshow attraction, but it’s done to make drooling idiots of the men, who can’t shut off their desire for the biggest boobs possible even when confronted with the fact that the object of said lust is not only hideously unattractive, but downright deadly. In short, yes, the woman in this movie has enormous tits — but she beats the guys by outsmarting them, even if she’s obviously dumber than a bag of hammers. Sure, that doesn’t paint a very nice picture of Ms. Morgan, but the picture it paints of us guys even uglier, since apparently we can’t stop thinking with the wrong head even when it’s about to lead us to our death.

I don’t know if Chesty ever got her breast reduction or not. Besides appearing in another Wishman film less than a year after his, “Double Agent 73,” in which she plays a spy with a hidden camera surgically implanted into one of her gazongas (there’s plenty of room).  Apparently she also appeared in Fellini’s “Casanova,” but her scene was cut from the film. That was 1976.  I hope she was able to get herself to a doctor sometime soon after that. It’s possible, since that was her last screen credit.

"Deadly Weapons" DVD from Something Weird Video

“Deadly Weapons” is a film whose rights traded hands several times back in the VHS days, even landing in an edition hosted by Joe Bob Briggs as part of his line of grindhouse and drive-in classics, before finding a permanent home at Something Weird Video in the 90s. It’s been released as a stand-alone “special edition,” featuring the original theatrical trailer, a 1950s “educational” short on “breast development,” a gallery of stills and advertising material for this and other Doris Wishman fare, and an archival short on making a plaster cast bust of burlesque legend Tempest Storm’s — ummm — bust.

Or better yet —

"Deadly Weapons"/ "Double Agent 73" Two-Disc Set, also from Something Weird

The kind folks at SWV have also seen fit to package “Deadly Weapons” and “Double Agent 73” together into a two-disc set titled, appropriately if obviously enough, the “Chesty Morgan Double Feature.” It’s the same price as buying either one alone, so it’s self-evidently the way to go. “Deadly Weapons” is definitely the better of the two flicks, but both are worth a look — it’s just that you really only absolutely need to see this act played out once.

Okay, I use the term “absolutely need to” lightly, but really, if you’re any kind of B-movie fan and for some reason you haven’t seen this, you’re  missing out on a movie that for better, as well as for worse, you certainly won’t ever forget.

"I Spit On Your Grave" movie poster

"I Spit On Your Grave" movie poster

In the storied annals of exploitation cinema, few films have ever stirred as much controversy as Meir Zarchi’s rape-revenge masterpiece “I Spit On Your Grave.” Originally released in 1978 under the title “Day of the Woman,” which is actually much more appropriate to the movie’s content but far less—shall was say—noticeable, the story of Jenny Hill(played by Camille Keaton, veteran of Italian exploitation fare such as “Tragic Ceremony”), sophisticated but mild-mannered Manhattan author who rents a cabin on the Husatonik river in Connecticut for the summer in the hopes of getting some peace and quiet so she can write her first book only to be descended upon savagely by a gang of four local, and absolutely merciless, it must be said, redneck rapists(played by Erin Tabor, who turns in a fairly solid performance as the group’s ringleader, Richard Pace , who features as the dim-witted virgin buddy who the others are trying to  “get laid” that summer by any means necessary, Gunter Kleeman and Anthony Nichols) before pursuing her own brand of justice, came and went from the drive-in and grindhouse circuit pretty quickly while only kicking up a slight bit of outraged dust from the morality police. When Jerry Gross picked it up for wider distribution a couple years later with a new and more provocative title with an ad campaign to match that played up the film’s subject matter in the most prurient way possible, though, audiences took note. And so did the critics.

It wasn’t just the Jerry Folwells of the world who objected to “I Spit On Your Grave”‘s shockingly brutal sexual violence, or the purported film sophisticates like Pauline Kael who jumped on the supposed exploitation of its audiences most base “urges”—even perfectly mainstream critics like Siskel and Ebert were appalled and outraged by what they deemed on “Sneak Previews” (remember that?) as “the most sexist movie ever made.” The passing of time has cast things in a new, and in this case proper, light, though, and I have to say that your friendly neighborhood TFG agrees with B-movie aficionado par excellence Joe Bob Briggs, who, in his superb commentary on Elite Entertainment’s  “Millennium Edition” DVD of the film released in 2002 declared it, rather, to be quite possibly the most FEMINIST movie ever made. Let’s take a quick look at why I think this is the case and explore why it is that this flick retains its power to shock and disturb even now, over 30 years after its original release.

Things start out pleasnatly enough for Jenny---

Things start out pleasantly enough for Jenny---

The standard feminist line, as I understand it, is that rape is not a crime about sex, but about violence—about power, control, and the objectification and dehumanization of its victim. Seems like a fair enough analysis to me. It’s not anything to do with using violence to to obtain sex, it’s about using sex as a tool of violence. Well, there’s no question that “I Spit On Your Grave” absolutely shows that to be the case—a little too absolutely for most audiences, truth be told. There’s no “rape scene” in “I Spit On Your Grave”—there’s a long, harrowing, maliciously brutal SERIES of rape scenes strung together that take up nearly 45 minutes of the film’s 100-minute run time. It’s well and truly excruciating stuff to sit through and there’s nothing even remotely “kinky” about any of the proceedings. Each is more savage and relentless than the last. And you know what? For the purposes of the story being told here, that’s the way it’s got to be. This isn’t a story about the better angels of human nature. It’s not about love and forgiveness. It’s about a brutally violent crime followed by brutally violent revenge. Given what Jenny does later—freeing her attackers from the bonds of this mortal coil with extreme prejudice—the crime perpetrated upon her needs to be shown in all its repulsive barbarity or else the methods by which she chooses to dispatch these guys is going to seem like some serious overkill. “I Spit On Your Grave” is about the deadly consequences of psyche-and spirit-shattering attack. Skimp out on the details and the story itself loses most of its meaning and all of its power.

---but quickly take a turn for the worse---the FAR worse.

---but quickly take a turn for the worse---the FAR worse.

Unlike the film, though, your humble critic is going to spare you the details of both the attack on Ms. Hill and her vengeance in case you, dear reader, haven’t seen this movie yet and would like to.  Suffice to say neither are pretty, but if you’re a properly-morally-hardwired human being, one will leave you disgusted beyond words while the other will have you high-fiving whoever you’re watching the movie with (assuming they, too, have standard human moral codes—if not, get some new friends. Fast.). Which is where the shock and disgust of the Siskels and Eberts of the world once again come into play. Apparently they stated that when they went to see the movie in the theater, some audience members were literally cheering during the midst of Jenny’s ordeal. I have to admit, that’s sick—really sick. I just don’t see how any honest analysis of the film can lead a person to conclude that was the reaction Zarchi was aiming for in any way, shape, or form, and a director really I can’t help who buys a ticket to see his or her work.  I’m also willing to bet those some assholes were probably sitting there in stunned silence, clutching at their balls to make sure they were still there, when the animals they were whooping and hollering for get their comeuppance. Let’s just say guys out for payment in blood for the wrongs done to them or their families like Charles Bronson (no disrespect to Chuck, TFG loves the guy) could learn a lesson or two from our girl Jenny(apart from her one mistake—she kills the group’s head honcho— a guy, by the way, shown as having a wife and kids, therefore destroying another myth of rape, that it’s perpetrated by masked intruders and not “decent family men,” therefore making another very feminist, and sadly accurate, argument about sexual violence, namely that it can be perpetrated by people in all walks of life for any reason or no reason at all— second, rather than saving him for last—but hey, it’s understandable, you gotta kill these guys in the order you come across them, you may not get a second chance).

Revenge is a dish best served cold---

Revenge is a dish best served cold, even if it's not at the table---

Your host isn’t terribly fond of the idea that cinema, literature, or music can somehow “influence” somebody to do something they wouldn’t have done otherwise, and frankly I find the idea that critics of “I Spit On Your Grave” advanced at the time that this film would somehow “inspire” anyone to go out and rape somebody is absurd. Those buffoons that Siskel and Ebert heard cheering obviously had problems to begin with. But in truth this film does nothing to “encourage” them, rather it shows the unbearable ugliness of rape in the coldest and most clinical light possible and shows the rapists themselves as being mindless thugs who get exactly what they deserve. This is movie isn’t told from their point of view, it’s told from hers — it’s quite apparent that in no uncertain terms, as far as Zarchi is concerned, these guys are inhuman monsters.

---just be prepared to clean up the mess afterwards. And don't be afraid to get your hands dirty.

---just be prepared to clean up the mess afterwards. And don't be afraid to get your hands dirty.

The critical reevaluation this film has seen over the years is finally waking some folks up to the fact that they had it wrong the first time around and what we’ve got here is not a prurient piece of irredeemable garbage but, in truth, probably the best entry into the “rape-revenge” subgenre of all time. Sure, classics like “The Last House on the Left” still stand out in this tiny cinematic ouevre, but the crime itself and its aftermath are much more personal, and therefore immediate, in “I Spit On Your Grave.” No family members getting even for what was done to their daughter or wife here. This is a woman settling the score for what was done to HER, personally. It’s not flashy or stylized or in any way “glamorous”(another great point Briggs makes in his DVD commentary is that, sure, there’s some gratuitous nudity early on—it’s an exploitation film, for Christ’s sake—but Zarchi doesn’t dwell on extreme close-ups of Keaton’s naked breasts as one would expect, rather it’s all shown from quite a considerable distance). It’s raw, authentic, and unvarnished. And yeah, that makes it ugly, but it’s an ugly crime — is it even right to portray it in any other way?

Elite Entertainment's "Millennium Edition" DVD Release of "I Spit On Your Grave"

Elite Entertainment's "Millennium Edition" DVD Release of "I Spit On Your Grave"

There have been a few different DVD editions of “I Spit On Your Grave” over the years (and incidentally, this was one of the films on Britain’s infamous “video nasties” list, movies which were literally BANNED by the UK government during the early-80s VHS boom), but the “Millennium Edition” from Elite Entertainment is the way to go here. In addition to the fantastic commentary from Briggs referenced a time or two above, there’s also an insightful commentary track from writer-director Meir Zarchi (who would go on to to make one other film, “Don’t Mess With My Sister,” which also centers on a revenge them—guess he wasn’t too terribly interested in other types of stories. Oh, and he married his leading lady from “I Spit On Your Grave,” Camille Keaton, so I guess she wasn’t too convinced herself that he’d made some “pro-rape” movie here),  a selection of outraged (and outrageous) text reviews from newspapers and magazines from around the time of the film’s release,  and the theatrical trailer and a sampling of TV spots are thrown in for good measure, as well. The digitally-remastered picture and THX sound are great. An essential addition to the home video library of exploitation film fans everywhere.