review for I Spit on Your Grave on AllMovie

I Spit on Your Grave (1977)
by Buzz McClain review

There's a reason why this one is commonly described as a "cult classic": its smallish audience has maxed out and will not grow beyond the number of admirers it has now. I Spit on Your Grave, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Last House on the Left, will never have the semi-mainstream audience of Night of the Living Dead or Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series because it is too gut-wrenching for the public at large. Look at what happens to poor Jennifer (played with total realistic abandon by Camille Keaton, who made a few B-movies before vanishing in 1989). The harrowing, near-pornographic torture she is put through for the first 30 minutes is excruciating to watch, and to do so requires a degree of third-person sadism few people will willfully admit to. It's disturbing as anything committed to celluloid. But it's all done to set up the revenge motif, and boy does it work. When Jennifer regains her strength and sets out to even the score, it is impossible not to respond with an authentic adrenaline rush of one's own. Shot on a budget of about 87 cents on leftover film stock seemingly hand-cranked through an antique camera, I Spit on Your Grave makes other low-budget independent horror films that came after it seem quaint. While its audience numbers may not expand, it will always remain stable because there is always another crop of budding horror fans who have heard of its reputation and will go out of their way to find out what everyone in their circle is talking about. And once they see it, they'll never forget it.