Revenge and Remake: Meir Zarchi's Day of the Woman and Steven Monroe's I Spit on Your Grave
Meir Zarchi's 1977 Day of the Woman was relatively ignored by the public before its title was changed to the more provocative and thus marketable I Spit on Your Grave(hereafter abbreviated as Spit). Appalled reviewers and its inclusion in the 1983 British list of "video nasties" earned the film a cult status that gave rise to a 2010 remake of what had been described as "an extraordinarily difficult film to watch" (Clover 115). Both films possess a typical rape-revenge plot: a young writer, Jennifer Hills, leaves New York to spend the summer in a remote country cabin, hoping to find the peace and quiet she needs to write her novel. She meets a group of local thugs - one of them being "mentally handicapped" (Ebert) - who first harass, then brutally and repetitively rape her. The second act of the film covers the young woman's bloody revenge against her tormentors.
The protagonist's vengeance has been criticised for being "as vicious" (Martin and Porter 704) as the acts of violence committed against her. According to Carol Clover, "that is of course true. It lies in the nature of revenge or self-defence stories […] that the avenger or self-defender will become as directly or indirectly violent as her assailant, and, [...] these films are in some measure about the transformation" (123). The original Spit, however, is often regarded as an exploitation film aiming to bait its audience with unjustifiable and gratuitous violence. In order to address this idea this paper will first consider both movies from the angle of retributive justice and the "lex talionis" (Clover 120) - the law of retaliation - then analyse and compare how directorial choices support and undermine the avenger's position in the 1977 Spit and its remake.
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