Growing Up with I Spit on Your Grave (2019) - full transcript

For the first time ever, explore the myths behind this controversial film with the all new and only feature-length documentary on the movie, Growing Up With I Spit On Your Grave. Five years in the making, Terry Zarchi's exhaustive analysis of the history of the film, packed with never before seen before footage and exclusive interviews, is what every I Spit On Your Grave fan has been waiting for. As director Meir Zarchi himself once said of I Spit On Your Grave - this movie is indestructible.

Take off your clothes.

I don't like women giving me orders.

I Spit on Your Grave.

What you are about to see did happen.

It was 1976, I was nine years old,

and my sister was all excited,

telling me how we're gonna
be in the movie,

and I was scared.

After being approached by
several hippie crew members

trying to convince me
to do the scene,

I finally agreed to be in the film,

after I was offered 10
bucks from my dad.

Little did I know that my
father was in the process

of making what many
consider to be

one of the most controversial

and disturbing films in
cinematic history.

In July of 1976, Camille Keaton

landed the role of Jennifer Hills,

and Meir Zarchi wrote the screenplay,

directed, and edited the feature.

Here's the story of
how it all began.

Stop it!

I'm gonna get you, ah!

So what made this film so
controversial back then,

and equally so today?

Did my father have any
idea of the impact

this film would have,
not only in the U.S.,

but around the globe?

Completed in 1978, and
originally titled

Day of the Woman, this saga
of rape and revenge

has been labeled as an extremely
graphic and violent film,

and one of the most disturbing
movies ever created,

yet it has become a cult
classic of epic proportion.

The original uncut version
of I Spit on Your Grave

has long been called too
ugly, too violent,

and too terrifying to watch.

Others have called it a
powerful and superb cinema.


Until today, decades
after it was made,

the film still has the power

to disturb and divide audiences.

Is this a misogynistic film
or a truly feminine one?

Are women empowered or exploited
by the revenge fantasy?

While many consider it as nothing

but a degrading exploitation
piece that sensualizes

the treatment of sexual violence,

others assert that beneath

all the brutality, blood,
and breasts

is pure brilliance and
proclaim it to be

an important milestone
in cinema history.

Can there be any value in
depicting a woman

being raped repeatedly?

Why should the viewer
be forced to share

the torment and degradation
she goes through

in such graphic detail?

Is the situation redeemed
in a film

where the victim is allowed an
equally monstrous response?

Stay where you are.

There has been a lot
of speculation

regarding the filmmaker'
s intentions

in I Spit on Your Grave.

You're kidding!

So what exactly drove Zarchi
to make this movie?

And this was back in the mid '70s

when video rentals and the
internet were nonexistent.

The only way to see a
film in those days

would be in a movie theater,

so I ask again.

What exactly drove Zarchi
to make this movie?

It all comes down to one
October day.

What they witnessed and
encountered that afternoon

certainly impacted all of them,

including the face of cinema.

Well from my recollection,

we would go often on weekends
to play tennis.

My father and his best
friend Alex and I

would go play tennis.

I just remember that we were
passing our local park

that we always passed on
way to the tennis courts.

We see a naked woman coming
out of the park,

a naked woman, looks like
she's muddy and bloodied.

October 1974,

in an area called Jamaica Hills,

a rainy day, Sunday,

and every weekend Alex Pfau,
very dear friend of mine,

now deceased, would usually
come on Saturday or Sunday,

both days we would play tennis.

Obviously at that day
when it came,

we couldn't play tennis
because the ground was wet.

So Alex told me Meir, how about

going for a jog?

Let's jog. Run around

the running course of
the high school.

My daughter Tammy was eight
years old at the time,

said Daddy Daddy can I join you?

I said sure, come on over.

We had to cut through a little
beautiful neighborhood park

to get into the high school.

As we were cutting
through the park,

Alex suddenly looks through
my window

and says is she naked,
is she naked?

I said Alex what do you mean
naked, who is naked?

My dad immediately
stopped the car.

He said stay in the car,
and him and Alex got out.

I saw out of the bushes,

a girl 18 or 19,

totally naked.

Bleeding, mud, dirt,

walking like zombie.

Immediately I jumped
out of the car,

I ran toward her,

and she fell on my shoulders,

trembling, shaking,
could hardly speak.

I asked what happened,
what happened?

Could hardly emit the
words I was raped.

At that moment, Alex
arrived also.

He took off his plastic parka

and we wrapped it around her
and I said don't worry.

He held her on one side,
I'm on the other,

I said come we take you for help.

We help her into the car.

She sat right next to who?

To my eight years old daughter
in the back seat.

I'm watching and all I see is them

covering this woman
with their jackets,

and they put her in the
back seat next to me,

and said Tammy, this
woman's been raped.

We're dropping you off at home.

Go inside and tell your mother,

and we're going to take her
to the police station.

She get's out of the car,
and we watch her

climbing the stairs,
ringing the bell,

to make sure that
she's safely home.

The door opened,
I saw my wife there

letting her in, we sped off.

I immediately ran into the house

and got my mom and told her that...

Mommy Mommy we found
a girl who was raped!

A woman had just been raped.

I didn't know what rape was,

and my mother had to explain

at that time to me what rape was.

Mommy what is rape?

Tomorrow, my daughter,
eight years old daughter,

will play in the park,

those guys can do the
same thing to her.

And maybe they're still around.

Maybe the police can't capture them.

First thing that went
through my mind

is I'm never going to
that park again.

That was the scariest
part for me

is I'm at that park all the time.

Oh my god, there's someone
that does this over there?

And I was actually scared for
my own safety at that point.

Then after that I probably
was more vigilant

about being careful
wherever I was.

We came to the police station.

The sergeant sits behind the desk.

He hardly pays attention to her.

Yes what happened?

She was raped, we found
her in the park.

Oh yeah, what's your name?

Yeah I wasn't aware of
how she was treated

at the police station
at that time.

I wasn't aware of that 'til
years later actually.

You've got to speak louder.

What's your name?

Why were you going
through the park?

All kind of questions like this.

And finally we said
to the sergeant,

sir, officer, cop,

call the ambulance right now.

But of course it's a horrible thing

and it shows the times
at that time in the '70s

when people just didn't understand

that it had to be a woman's
fault to be raped,

and of course that's not
the way our society

of course sees things
today, thank God,

and I'm hoping that we keep
moving forward with that.

And they came and they
took her away.

It was just a horrible incident,

and I remember when
Meir got home

and immediately started
at the typewriter

and decided he was going to
write a script about this.

Born on June 3, 1937, my
father grew up in Israel

with his older brother
by three years,

and his younger sister by 12 years.

Well I was born in 1937,

that's 11 years before Israel
became the state of Israel,

and I had a wonderful, wonderful

interesting adventurous childhood.

We're living in a street
near the beauty parlor,

not more than half a
block away from it

in the heart of Tel Aviv
in an apartment

which was approximately let me see,

about 16 feet by 16 feet, no more.

Four of us.

My mother, father,

my brother, and I.

And we lived there since I was
two or three years old

until the age of 11.

As a young child, Meir
was influenced

by many films including
American, British,

Italian, watching movies

from all over the world
with subtitles.

At the age of 12, Meir was
greatly influenced

after watching Bicycle Thieves,
and when he came out

of the local cinema with tears
in his eyes, he said...

And I said when I grow up I
want to be a movie maker.

That's what drove me.

One day I'll be a movie maker.

Then as a teenager, he
saved some money

and bought a camera and a projector

and started to make short
home movies with his friends.

For my bar mitzvah when
I was 13 years old,

whatever money I got as gifts

I went to the photo shop and bought

a Magic Lantern.

You put 16 millimeter film
and move it by hand,

crank it by hand,

and you see movies, silent movies.

Eventually at the age of 15
I had a room of my own,

and I bought a typewriter
and I was writing stories.

And I was writing a lot
of articles and stories

for children and youth magazines.

At 17 I went to write an article

about a newcomer who came to Israel

by the name of Yuri Haviv.

We became very friendly.

He invited me to the set
to see how he shoots

some scenes from his movie.

The friendship with Yuri
Haviv and me in Israel

spawned also two movies
that we shot

that I wrote the screenplay for.

So the first screenplay I wrote

I may have been no more than 18,

and later when I was 21 or 22

after the service of the Israeli Army,

and eventually we got together
to shoot Day of the Woman,

I Spit on Your Grave.

In 1975, shortly after
that fateful day

when he crossed paths with the
girl who had been raped,

Meir Zarchi's production
company's primary focus

became the making of his low budget
film, Day of the Woman.

July fourth of 1975 we went to

stay for the holiday at Yuri's
home in Connecticut.

It's a new home he just bought
a few months earlier,

and when I saw the place,

maybe it was at that time
that I said well,

there is a story.

She's coming to this house
for summer vacation

to write her first novel.

To be in solitude and secluded.

And the entire vista.

The lake, the woods, the
endless forest,

so weary and I was inspired

just by the feel of the place.

That's how the story at that
moment came alive.

It took me four months
to write the screenplay,

and I think I wrote it
from December of 1975

to about March of 1976.

On the subway I used to
write with a pencil,

pen on a yellow pad.

And your mother was
typing it clean,

and obviously giving me some
grammar suggestions

if I was misspelling or had
some grammar mistakes.

Joseph Zbeda with whom I made
two movies in Israel.

In 1975 he came to the United
States looking for me,

and saying Meir let's
work together,

let's make a movie together.

I put my own money, he
put his own money,

and we had a few,

a few investors also

invested in the production.

So what I did, I just put an ad

in two trade magazines, weekly
papers in New York City,

and we got a few thousand stills

for man, a few thousand
stills for women.

Among them were obviously the
one from Camille Keaton.

It was 1976 and I was going through

the trade paper backstage,

and I saw this ad so I
followed up on it,

went and auditioned.

It took a lot of rehearsals,
a lot of auditioning

day in and day out

to put all the five
actors together,

the four men and the one girl.

Until I found the right chemistry
between all of them.

It was in one of the trade papers,

and when I went in for the audition

I talked with Meir and he
explained the incident

where he had rescued someone
who had been raped,

and the difficulty that he had,

or they had going to the police,

and the fact it was very ineffective.

This was an answer to that,

which appealed to me.

Well I found out about the audition

from Meir's film through Backstage.

Went into his office, sat with Meir.

It was one of the most
relaxed interviews I had.

I think Meir and I kind
of struck a bond.

Maybe he strikes that
with everybody.

He's a friendly, affable guy.

It was very cool.

I got some callbacks.

Meir had us read with
different actors.

I started looking at the script

and I thought wow, this
is a great opportunity

to show my range of emotions.

I can start out as
a normal, happy,

and then I become a victim,

and then I can play a villain.

I almost turned it down.

It's so far removed from
who I am as a person,

but I thought that,

when are you gonna
get another chance

to do a lead role in a movie?

I wanted that part.

I said, you have to
give me this part.

You'll always wonder in the
back of your mind,

you know maybe you might
be sorry later.

You will think in your
head that oh,

I should've used Camille.

Yuri had all the equipment.

Camera, lighting, sound.

Other than the equipment,

now we needed people to
operate those equipments.

So we got a lot of volunteers.

A lot of volunteers who come to us.

Bright guys, early to
mid to late twenties.

Yuri taught them how to light,

how to use the GE sound recorder,

how to do everything else.

So we had about 15
people on the crew

other than Yuri and myself,

including a professional
makeup girl.

In the beginning when we
first got there,

I was actually supposed
to be rooming

with the first makeup girl
and I said to Meir,

I said please I need my own room.

I have to have my own room.

I had to put my foot
down on that one.

Kent, Connecticut is a very
quaint little town, beautiful.

Dwelling in tranquility.

With a river cutting through it,

cornfields, but the people were
wonderful, accommodating.

They didn't see us, we
didn't see them

because most of the time
we were on the water,

but nobody was there.

The river, nobody was there.

Or in Yuri's home,
nobody was there.

We almost were hidden
from everybody.

The only time when we
went to someplace

where there were people
was the diner.

Hot fudge, nuts, cherry on top?

And the diner, they gave it to
us for the whole night,

provided that we have
dinner there

and pay for it, which
we did of course,

and some of the diners appeared
in this scene as well.

We took over Kent.

Kent, Connecticut's a
great little community.

You really have to take
into consideration

coming from the city,
this in itself

is an environmental experience.

We realized that we
needed to make a raft.

We found a carpenter in
Kent, Connecticut

who we gave him the
design and the weight

and exactly what we need,

and we told him we need this raft
to hold a lot of weight.

Camera, equipment, lights,
8, 10 people, 15,

and according to our specifications

he created this raft for $800.

And then we also bought, in a
boat store we bought the canoe

and I remember he showed us a
red, blue, and yellow canoe.

I decided to take the red,
because the river

that flows in our veins,

the color is red.

When you're shooting
on the water,

you gotta have extra
people making sure

that the raft was integral
part of that platform

that you shoot the canoe
and all the other scenes.

And Yuri was terrific with that.

He knew exactly what
needed to be done.

I never heard oh-oh we got a problem.

It was kind of, something's
not right,

okay let's fix it.

Let's see what we can do to fix it.

The very first shot was Matthew

driving the bike into the
house looking for her,

with his bags of items
from the supermarket.

The very first day I arrived,
it was the scene

where I was lying on the stairs

going down into the basement.

I remember driving the car
that I was driving

to the cabin that we use,

which belonged to the director
of photographer, Yuri Haviv.

And I got out of the car,

you know I twirl around and
I look at the place,

or something like that, and
then I run out to the river

and I decided to go for a swim.

Well yes, I had done some
nudity before,

but not to the extent that
I did in I Spit on Your Grave.

When I first got to
look at the script,

and got to see what
we might be doing,

it was a little shocking.

So I looked at this
and I said ooh,

some of these scenes
are a little eugh.

I went back and I grabbed
that script

and I said okay, I really gotta
read this again you know?

So I was reading it
and I was thinking

how are they going to film

this scene or that one?

How in the world are
they gonna do that?

The whole shoot took about
5 1/2, six weeks,

so for the first three weeks

was the rape sequences,
and the second half,

the other three weeks was
the revenge that she's taking.

As far as I remember we did it

pretty much in continuity.

He probably didn't want
to lose his lead,

so he got that out of
the way you know?

So I would say that Camille
as she used to say

all the time she had 50% torture.


And 50% joy.

Your clothes.

I don't like women giving me orders.


That little shot

between Johnny's feet
was a firecracker?

It was a firecracker
buried in the ground.

It was well done in terms
of that it was

a definite surprise for me

when the firecracker went off

it got a real response from me.

That was my CZ .32 caliber,
Czechoslovakian pistol.

When Eron Tabor came to the set,

and he goes to the edge
of the Housatonic

and I mean he just throws

takes everything off,
throws it off,

and takes a swim.

I went to Meir and I said,
did you see that?

He took off all his clothes
and went for a swim.

I had done a Playboy
layout in May '73.

I was comfortable being nude.

Let's put it that way,

and I wanted to lighten
up the atmosphere

because it was a heavy scenario

that we were about to undertake.

Together they become explosive,
they become dangerous.

Maybe each of them by itself

would be a decent guy.

Together, they become
a pack of dogs.

We had another guy that
I have selected

to play Johnny's role.

They were good for me equally,

each of them in a different way.

Your mother said to me Meir,

take Eron Tabor.

And I said why?

He's more handsome
than the other guy.

Eron Tabor was great!

You came to a nice place.

How could I as the character

get to the point where I would
do something so heinous?

I did what is called a
lot of backstory,

a very detailed history

that I was raised normally

but went into the Vietnam War.

The war did some things
that were not good,

and got comfortable with it,

and was very distraught
at my position in life

after coming back.

I enjoyed working with him.

Very professional, just focused.

Part of it was getting the
physicality of it down,

and I got engineer boots

that were a size too big to
give me a lumbering walk.

I cut the heel so that

it had my walk in it,

but it was a very lumbering walk.

I got a pair of overalls

which would be like my uniform

to simulate being in the service.

I had a Marine cap.

I smoked Erik cigars to
deepen my voice.

He was playing the big
brother, the older guy.

Fucking idiots you guys are.

It's been two weeks, man!

Two 90 degree weeks!

We were goofballs under
his influence,

and if I remember we assumed

that his character had
come from Vietnam.

He was, you know, he had been
around a little bit more,

so that was also

I think professionally
what happened.

His character was more
experienced than we were,

and I think professionally
he was more experienced

than we were, and so
we worked off of that.

Richard Pace, I love this guy.

He came to my office
the first time,

and I let him then do some
scenes from the screenplay.

He's a great guy to work with,

really just a kind person.

Where I come from,
people weren't that

enthusiastic about their place.

Where's that, New York City?


You come from an evil place.

Richard and I commuted back
and forth to the city.

When we had those opportunities,

and I know I freaked him
out a couple of times

'cause he let me drive.

He didn't want to drive.

He didn't like to drive,
I liked to drive.

And one time we were driving back

and I went into pass a car

and a car was coming up to me

and I waited almost
to the last second,

'til he like ah, freaked out.

Gunter Kleemann, we used to
call him one-take Gunter,

'cause he was so good everything
was one take with him.

Didn't need to take another take.

We didn't talk too much.

I'm gonna get you ah!

I figured his guy was
probably a young kid,

that wasn't too secure in himself,

but he had a lot of capabilities.

At that time, I had suspenders.

I don't know why, I mean city kid.

What am I gonna do with suspenders?

But for some reason, I think
I brought those suspenders

and of course everything
had to be approved

for the characters, so Meir
said yeah, it distinguishes you.

It makes you a little different
from the other guys.

Nor did I talk very much with Anthony.

Come on, please?

Help me!

Great guy, Anthony Nichols.

Anthony Nichols and I really
became closest friends

because we were also
friends on screen.

Him and Meir had a fun kind of

teasing type of relationship,

so Tony was fun, he was
fun to be around.

The only thing I remember that
they were very good

only at the last day or the
last two days of shooting,

and we had to shoot the scenes

where she hits him on the back

and obviously with the propeller,
the motorboat propellor.

It wasn't my idea.

I didn't want to do it to
you, I'm sorry, I really am!

It was Johnny, Johnny
talked me into it!

And the water was cold, and
they both came to me

and they said look, the water is cold.

We cannot do this scene.

Johnny made me do it.

I didn't want to do it,
he made me do it!

And I said look, what
can I do you know?

They said why didn't you
schedule it in before,

you know two weeks before
when the water was warm?

And they were a bit angry about it,

but then they understood and
they did what they did.

Whenever they came out of the water,

immediately we gave them a
towel to dry themselves,

so they were very good.

Everybody was excellent.

I enjoyed that scene.

That was my favorite day,
the one in the motorboat?

They were on a raft,
and I tried to go

as close as I could to them.

I wouldn't be able
to do that today.

Close as I could to them

and one time they all
went like that.

Well that was a dangerous
thing to do,

because if I had been off

by this much, we wouldn't be
here talking about it today

and that was, you know,

if you do things like that,

you think back on it and think oh,

how could I have done
that, you know?

But I did.

Oh I just loved the power of
handling the motorboat,

and making the circles.

You know I climbed into the
motorboat by myself.

I don't know how I did
that, but I did it.

I just climbed right on in,

and right on the boat,

and you were the one
I really wanted,

or something, whatever I said,
and then you know.

I talked to Meir about it
before the scene was shot,

and I said you know,

why don't I just say
suck it bitch to him?

He said it to me.

Suck it bitch!

In the scene before,
in the rape scene.

I mean it made, it seemed
like it was logical,

or made sense to me.

Suck it bitch.

There was a time in the movie

during one of the rape scenes

where I actually took a kick
in the side, right here,

that was in the cabin

and with Stanley.

Tony was, he had reservations

about the propeller, but
I took the propeller off,

took out the spark plug.

I disconnected the gas line.

I went to a local dive
shop down the road,

there's another town down the road,

and I rented a scuba tank, air tank.

I connected guess what?

Garden hose, ran on the other side,

so when she pulled on
the starter rope,

I turned on the valve.

And the air came out and everything,
the water turned red,

and bubbles bubbled up and it
looked scary as hell.

It was Anthony's day to be killed,

and he knew I was gonna be learning

how to use the motorboat, learning.

I was sitting there having
a little sandwich.

He grabbed my sandwich or something

and he said you should be out there

learning how to ride,

how to operate that motorboat.

I reacted to him and you
know we're like,

almost in a scuffle
I guess you could say,

and I realized that he must
be so frightened,

especially in view
of what happened

and he kicked me.

I think I told him, I said
it's gonna be okay,

it's gonna be all right.

At least that's what I felt.

So I went out there and learned

how to run the outdoor motorboat.

I would have been afraid if
I had been in the water,

seeing a motorboat come towards me,

and I would have to put
a lot of my faith

into that person doing that.

That's gotta be really
difficult from his POV.

- Well the motorboat
experience was fabulous.

I did have a lot of
experience sailing,

and motorboating and all of that.

I really, really loved the idea

that I'm gonna be able
to do my own stunts.

The whole thing with the boat
cutting back and forth

was I was getting a hard on for her,

so the more I was able to dig in,

the higher the boat would
come up in front.

And that was the whole
fun with that.

I was showing her I had a
hard on for you, you know?

We had the camera man
who was like 6'2, 6'3.

He was sitting at the tip
of that little boat.

That man was 220 pounds at
that point, I believe, big!

Big hands, big head.

He was professional, he was great.

He knew what he was doing.

He sat there as lightly as a bird.

I was shocked, and it helped
me balance the boat too

as we could go, and he said

don't worry about me,
just do the scene.

I loved him, I think we all did.

Yuri Haviv was a wonderful
part of the filming process.

He was very much a part
of inspiring us.

He was funny and then Meir
is this little guy.

He would go

and he would go "Hey, Meir,
what are we gonna do?.

You know so you had this big
guy and this little guy

and it was kind of comical
in its own way.

You know he was wonderful.

I really enjoyed working with him.

And the famous saying,
I'll never forget it.

After you know, we were working,

Meir was pushing us, pushing us,

and he wanted this scene
and he wanted this

and he wanted the perfection,

and Yuri came up, Meir,

I am not an animal.

We all died, we laughed.

It was, it was all from the heart.

What happened on the rock rape,

they cut out a piece of foam rubber,

white foam rubber.

It was contoured to my body

and it was about, I want to say

five or six inches thick or more,

and they put that between
me and Gunter.

That was the most difficult
scene for me.

It made me confront the whole
reality of actor and part.

I knew that I was digging
deep with this,

you know, that I'm not this at all,

and yet I've gotta do it.

And so I gave myself the
freedom to let go with it,

but I paid a price for it, my back.

And after those takes
the next three days,

I couldn't hardly move.

I just remembered it
being very intense,

and after I'm not sure if we did

more than one take on it or not.

I think we probably did.

We were all very concerned
about Camille

and that she was okay,

and she was a real trooper.

She didn't want to
do another take

when she was sodomized on the
rock, the rock scene.

The angle that I wanted
to do to take

is of her after the sodomizing

and they go away, her rolling
down off the rock,

banging against a tree.

And that's what she
didn't want to do.

I said you want me to what?

You want me to,

you want me to do what?

And she said I'm not
gonna do it anymore.

That's it.

By this time my emotions were so,

I was so stressed out, everybody was.

Camille was freaking out.

This was not styrofoam rock.

This was a real rock.

And she got very very mad,
went into the van

where we had all the
lighting equipment

and movie equipment,
and started to

break things and throw things.

I guess I threw a
little temper tantrum,

and ran off to a van,

climbed in the van, and
just cried and yelled

and screamed what seemed
like a long time,

maybe a half an hour
or 45 minutes.

But when she came out after

45 minutes or an hour from the van,

she said to me--

I want you to show me how
this scene is gonna be done.

You do it.

Let me see you falling
off the rock.

So I went to the rock,
and ah ah she said,

take off your clothes.

And so he was taking
off his clothes,

took off his shirt, he
took off his pants,

he was gonna take off his underpants.

In front of everybody
I took off my clothes,

I was about to take off my
underpants she said oh no no,

the underpants you can leave.

I said no no no, stop there.

So I went on the rock with
my underpants only,

and I rolled down slowly,
banged against the tree.

I was upset and I cried

and then I asked Meir
to demonstrate it,

and then I think I said
something like all right,

let's take this in one,
do this in one take okay?

Let's get this over with.

This was not easy for her.

She was a trooper, I gotta
tell ya, she was a trooper.

We did all the stunt work ourselves.

Well I didn't know that
bump movement

was actually coming until it did.

I was running through
the woods barefoot,

and finally I just ran into Johnny,

he just appeared out of nowhere.

That was very clever actually,

and I went oh,

and the only thing that
worried me and bothered me

was I hope they don't hurt me
when they're holding my arms

like they did to not
hold me too tightly.

That kind of worried me.

She was very much concerned with it,

and I'm sure that she must have

experienced a couple of bruises.

We wanted to make sure that Camille

never was hurt, and it
was a lot of joking

and having fun.

As a matter of fact, when
I saw the footage

I was shocked at the editing

because what we were experiencing

doing it was a lot different

than what was captured and edited.

That set was a set that
there was so much going on,

and it was really,
it was difficult.

We were there to do a job.

It was hot, we got up really
early in the morning,

we worked hard, and
I think for the most part

we got along very well,

and there was a lot of
respect for each other.

The place was infested

with mosquitoes, especially
at night.

I know there were mosquitoes there

that looked like they
belonged in a zoo.

I was probably thinking and
focusing on other things

other than the mosquitoes.

They were a nuisance, but
I wasn't really dwelling on that.

When they were looking
for the snakes,

I didn't know what that guy
was doing out there

with that pole and
going like that.

I thought that's weird.

I was concerned when
I was doing that scene

more about losing my footing

than anything else,

but I didn't think,
it didn't occur to me

there might be snakes there.

My husband fucking never
disappears on me.

He's not that kind of a man.

He's loyal to me.

He's a good father and a good husband.

All these people came
around and said Terry,

come on be in the film

and I just didn't want
anything to do with it,

and finally I got the word that
Meir was gonna pay me money,

and I said okay, well
you know, for 10 bucks

when my allowance is like
40 cents a week, you know,

I'll take the 10 bucks you know?

Why you hang out
here all the time?


That's what convinced me
to be in the film.

Do you remember Mom was
in the picture too?

- Yeah, the supermarket scene.
- Right yeah.

And then the lady who played
our mother in the movie...

- Alexis.
- Yeah Alexis.

I heard that it was supposed to
be somebody else that day.

The woman who was supposed
to play Johnny's wife

somehow got sick on that day.

She couldn't come from New York City,

so a last moment decision,
Alexis, the script girl.

I asked her if she could take it,

she did it, and she did a
wonderful, wonderful job.

- She was fantastic.
- I thought she was great.

Yeah, she was amazing.

She was really great.

Get outta here!

And she caught really the mood,

the essence of the mood of the crew.

Get the fuck out of here!

I mean it just came out,
you know perfectly.

And she made it easier
for me, you know as well.

And we knew her, and
that felt good too.

We knew her, yeah.

The memories of them, sweet kids.

Ah they were just wonderful,
sweet kids and--

Daddy, Daddy!

I enjoyed playing their father.

Hey, hey hey hey!


During the scene, I was
actually nervous

that I kept pulling my pants up,

you know out of just pure nervousness,

but it actually worked for the scene.


At the time there were
two gas stations,

1976 in Connecticut.

One was too modern.

And then I saw this one.

I came to the guy and
I said to the guy

can I shoot here
and the guy says sure.

How much shall I pay you?

He said give me $50 a day.

And we shot it for a
few days for $50 a day,

and by the way this
same man I heard

that a few years
later in the cold

of the winter in Connecticut

which become very cold
there, they found him

sitting behind his
desk in the office

in this very same gas
station, frozen to death.

For the back in which
he hits the axe with,

I think it was the back of a cow.

I went to a butcher shop,
and I got some spare ribs,

and then we had some extra
floating blocks from the raft,

and I put the ribs
onto that platform.

We practiced the axe mark in my back

and my death scene on land.

And I remember also
that it was around

the last few days of the shoot,

and the sun was coming down early,

so we didn't have much time

and Yuri said let's
get the back hit

with the axe very fast,
or I'm gonna lose the light.

Yes I do remember
I had a hard time

with the axe, because
it was not a real axe.

It was very lightweight.

And then you know, it was
a hot September, August,

it starts to get a little rank.

So I was hurrying Meir.

Come on, we gotta do this.

They said that you have
to hold onto it

a little bit stronger, so
it looks like a real axe.

And then as I was like
swimming back to shore

and she was coming after me.

So I remember we did
it very first.

We put the piece of
meat on the ground

and we hit it with the axe.

And they may have had a real
axe at some other point.

Obviously they did when they
put the axe into the meat.

And there was blood
sacks, just baggies

full of blood, and that's all it was.

I just remember holding my breath

and playing dead, and then cut!

That was a pretty good
effect actually.

And that was how the
shot was taken.

The hanging scene, Richard...

he was a terrific kid.

He was very nice.

Very pleasant, very quiet.

I found a harness at the surplus,

the Army surplus store.

It was a parachute harness,
and we adapted it.

The noose was actually
just rope wrapped around.

There was no way you could hang.

I think I come from behind
the tree and I say,

you came super fast, Matthew.

And he looks around
and there I am,

and then I play kind of a cat
and mouse thing with him,

where he chases me down to
where the other tree is.

Matthew, over here.

That was my set up, mhmm.

I have no friends in town!

I thought we were friends,
remember, you asked me?

One of the hardest things
in that hanging scene

was the seduction part, for me.

I could've given you a
summer to remember

for the rest of your life.

Even though we'd already
done these other scenes

where there's rape
and all of that,

I still had to take my
negligee thing like that.

You know I was like a little
stressed about that.

I don't know why after
all the other scenes.

But you don't realize that
the human body is very heavy.

How many grips did we have,
we had three or four guys.

It took four of us
to hoist him up.

Otherwise you would
need something

like a pulley or something like that.

And he jerked, and he was terrific.

The infamous bathtub scene.

Yes, that has become infamous.

In the bathtub, I believe
we gave Eron Tabor,

who plays Johnny, a little
pump under the water

that he just presses, squeezes,
and the blood comes out.

We had red dye number two

was used with Karo syrup
and water diluted

to make blood out of it,

so we had a gallon bottle of milk.

We drank the milk.

We had the bottle.

There was a hose running.

Joan Puma, the makeup girl,

we ran a little line, a hose,

behind Eron's butt.

I had a real butcher knife.

We didn't mess around, we
used the real stuff

and I told Eron I said
I'm gonna put my hand

between you and the butcher knife,

because I certainly didn't want
to cause anybody any harm.

It was more technical.

It was about getting the
blood pump hidden with suds

and executing that.

I was not concerned about her
hurting me in the least.

There was another two words
I put in the film.

You've got a weird, weird,
sense of humor.

Do I?

And when Meir said cut,
I said oh sorry

I didn't mean to put those
two words in there,

and he said no no no no, that's
fine, that was beautiful!

Part of what I thought about
who the character was

that I was deluded into thinking

that everything was fine,

and that we had gotten
away with rape.

Come on, I'll give you a hot bath.

When Beriau, the assistant director,

when he had the bottle below,
there was no blood,

and as soon as he raised it,
it started pumping.

It was squeezed and the blood
squirted all over the place.

So when Eron stood up, oh my god,

and as soon as Beriau said,
I took his hand

and went up like this,
up and down,

so the blood started squirting.

And it came out so
beautifully, so naturally,

that we didn't expect
it to be so good.

Just out of his groin,
splashing all over him.

I don't remember if we did it
in one take or two,

I don't remember, but you know,

we just did it.

It was almost like he was
in a meditative state,

and he wasn't nervous or scared,

or if he was he didn't show it.

I felt nervous.

Well the makeup guy that we had,

he wanted to have a condom with
something stuffed in it

thrown in the sink with the knife,

and that's what that guy
had the idea of doing,

and to me, with Meir's blessing,

it just, what for?

Well, there's much more power
to the theater of the mind.

Yeah it's in the head.

Theater of the mind, that
it's in your imagination

rather than having it
thrown in your face.

You and I talked about that scene

and I said you don't need

anything like that,
you really don't.

It's basically like
you said, three shots.

Boom, knife goes under,
then knife goes

in the thing, and then--

She walks out.

Did you come with me to the church

when I came to speak
with the priest?

I remember you speaking

with the priest yes,
with the minister.

I think there was something, the
rumor spreading around town

that it was a porno,
pornographic film or something.

We had a production manager

that we hired before we hired you.

I know who that was,
I remember the guy,

I know the guy yep yep yep yep yep.

We let him go.

Now we are on location, we hired you,

you came in, everything was wonderful

from you know first day.

I had almost no prep time at all.

It was kind of very short.

- Yeah you came--
- But it worked.

You came yeah--

We did get a lot of prep work too.

Right, and we are on location.

We shot the scene in the church,

and a few days later we get a call.

The pastor on the phone.

Mr. Zarchi, why didn't you tell
me you're shooting a porno?


I remember coming over,
and I came into his room,

into his office, and I said to him

how did you get this news?

He said well somebody's in town

spreading the word that
you're doing a porno.

Who is the guy?

And he gives me the name
of the guy that I fired.

So imagine...

I remember he was in town.

I think he sat down with
me in that restaurant,

and he was really very bitter.

I told him the story, what is
the story about briefly,

and I ended by saying it's
an eye for an eye,

- you know tooth for a tooth.
- It's a biblical story.

Eye for an eye, it's a
biblical story exactly,

and I said to him if
you would like to,

I'll come this afternoon,

Or come to our office and I will show you

all the scenes that we shot in the church,

or anything else you want to see.

The entire movie,

you know there's many many
hours to see of dailies,

and if you don't like it,
I'll give you back

the footage of the church
and you can burn it.

He stood up with a smile
and he said I trust you,

I believe you, and he added,

listen he said, if from now on

anybody bothers you or
if you need any help

or you have any
problem in this town,

have 'em call me.

So now we got the church
behind us as well,

the blessing of the
church as well.

We started the editing
mid-September 1976.

Immediately a few days after we
came back from Connecticut

from the location,

and we finished editing and mixing

and everything else in February of 1978,

so it took about a year and
four or five months

to get the movie fully edited
and in the can, as they say.

We showed the film to the distributors

and film buyer in New York City.

And there were independent
distributors there,

and obviously some representatives

of the major motion pictures.

Paramount, et cetera.

One woman ran out of the theater,

yes when the rape on
the rock took place.

One distributor offered me $10,000

as a minimum guarantee

if I'll give 'em distribution,

and I didn't want it.

I rejected him, and that was it.

Nobody else was offering
anything else.

And I don't know if
I mentioned it to you,

when everybody rejected it,

including the lady who
came from Paramount.

When I called her and asked her why,

she rejected it she said,

I was insulted by it.

With no one interested in this film,

Meir with Camille in full support,

continues to search for a US
distributor with no success.

Was there a romantic
affair going on

between Camille Keaton
and Meir Zarchi?

My sister would tell me
that there was,

but I was too young to
really understand

what this all meant anyway.

Then, in May of 1978 and
to my total delight,

my dad and Camille tied the knot

in the New York courthouse

and celebrated their
marriage at an event

with many attendees
shortly afterwards.

Camille was wonderful to me.

She became my stepmom,
and I really enjoyed

showing her off to my friends.

Low on cash and still in
need of a distribution deal,

Meir decides to take the film

to the Cannes Film
Festival in May of 1978,

shortly after their marriage,

and by his side and supporting him

and the film is Camille Keaton.

And together, they created a buzz

and the film made sales to countries

such as Japan, Greece,
Scandinavia, Holland,

and a few other territories.

Camille had a successful career

in the Italian film industry
in the early '70s,

so this certainly helped
the foreign sales market

for Day of the Woman,

but now he's back in the US

and although Day of the Woman
made some decent money

from the foreign sales,
his biggest territory,

the United States, still remained

without a single distributor
who wanted his film.

Not giving up, Meir decides
to invest his own money

and hires a sub-distributor
in the south

to book about 20 screens
with the hope

to further release the
picture in more theaters

and larger cities
across the country,

and finally in November of 1978,

the film was in the general
public's hands

for the first time in the United
States as Day of the Woman.

But, without having the proper
budget for advertising

to get people into the seats,

Day of the Woman was short-lived

and eventually faded from
the big screen.

First of all, there was no money
for publicity whatsoever.

Only we made commercial, TV spot,

less than about 50 seconds.

Day of the Woman.

A mature subject for mature
audiences only.

We ran this the night, or two nights

before the movie opened in
about 20 movie theaters

in the south, and at that time

in all the other movie theaters

around the area, Halloween
was playing.

That's right, Irwin Yablans.

Yeah but Halloween had money.

And I had nothing.

You have to remember
there was a day

that we didn't know if the film

was ever gonna get a release.

Now, still without a single

in the US that was interested
in Day of the Woman,

and not succeeding at

an entire year would go by,

but throughout this time period

Meir doesn't give up on hopes to
find the US distributor,

and in November of 1979
he travels with Camille

to the Miami Film Festival,

and there his luck would
finally change.

A couple of distributors,
including someone

from the Jerry Gross Organization,

took notice of Meir's film.

Jerry had an associate of
his by the name of Mary,

and Mary had seen the film,

and she put the producer
together with Jerry

and they set up a meeting.

And that's how Jerry became
aware of the film.

Then, in January of 1980,

Meir visits Jerry
Gross at his offices

in Century City to discuss a
possible distribution deal

for Day of the Woman.

And I sat there and he said
Meir, give me this movie

and then he stood up and he said

this movie shall get the Oscar

for the best independent
movie ever made.

We just really didn't know how
it was gonna end up.

But Meir never gave up.

Jerry Gross was very smart.

He had the ability to see a film

and immediately in his own mind,

understand how the film
was to be marketed.

He understood the benefit
of producing a film

and getting it out there,

and bringing the audience in
through advertising,

and it's highly unusual for a
distributor to pick up a film

that has already failed,

and having the foresight that
the audience was out there,

but they needed to be drawn
in with a new title,

new campaign, and enough

to get the people interested in it.

In March of 1980, Meir Zarchi
and Jerry Gross

signed the distribution deal,

and Jerry Gross had the right

to change the title and the
design layout of the poster

to anything he wanted.

When Meir heard the news
from Jerry Gross

about the new title,
I Spit on Your Grave,

his face dropped.

Meir hated the title then,

and he's not a big fan
of it still today,

but nonetheless he was thrilled
to have a distribution deal.

I Spit on Your Grave, it seemed
like it was a little dirty

and it almost demeaned it.

I was horrified with it.

But now, I realize that

it energized it.

As I Spit on Your Grave it
became a horror film,

and so it attracted that audience,

which seems to be the
audience that embraced it.

That I think was a hook that
hooked a lot of people

into the film, and once they
saw it and passed it along,

it just brought that uniformity in,

you know it added that final refinement

to the whole product.

I think the original, the
I Spit on Your Grave title

came from one of Jerry's employees

by the name of Billy Fine.

Billy Fine told me personally

how the title came about.

He said Jerry Gross went to the beach

to be reclusive and by himself

to get the inspiration,

and suddenly the title came to him,

I Spit on Your Grave.

I thought oh my lord,

I Spit on Your Grave?

What has that got, what
does that mean?

What has that got to do
with the movie?

I didn't like it very much.

With the new title in place,

and a new campaign in the works,

Jerry Gross begins booking
I Spit on Your Grave

at theaters in the Chicago area.

I was told that there was
25 prints available,

and that we could use those prints.

The only problem that we had to fix

was we had to put a new title

being I Spit on Your Grave

on all of those release prints.

They were the exact same prints

that had failed before,

but now it had the new title,
new print campaign,

new trailer, new radio spots.

Doing away with the old
campaign and title,

and putting his creative mind
to work on the new campaign,

in May of 1980, Jerry Gross
hires a young model

and off they go to Griffith
Park in Los Angeles

for the photo shoot for
the now iconic poster.

I think it was probably
a combination of Jerry

and the ad campaign company

that did the shoot.

They had a number of girls come in,

and they selected this girl.

Yeah I said to Meir I said why
didn't they ask me to

do the poster?

I'm in the film.

Why wouldn't they call me to do it?

Rumors have been widespread

that it's a young Demi
Moore who modeled

for the cover of
I Spit on Your Grave.

I know for a fact that is Demi
Moore's butt on the poster

because she told me so.

Meir has never cracked about it.

He's never really said
who's in the poster,

so I don't know.

You know I met her when
she was a model

and she wasn't famous.

She had a really great
modeling career.

The camera loves her.

You know I'd always be
looking at her book,

and there was always
new stuff in it,

so one day I'm sitting there

across the table from her,
across the kitchen table

and I'm flipping through the book

and these flattened video
boxes came tumbling out,

and it was I Spit on Your Grave,

and I was like, why do you
have these boxes in your book?

She's like oh yeah, I posed
for the poster,

and I was like oh okay,

and it just kind of always
stuck in my brain.

I am a DVD and Blu-ray producer

for Anchor Bay Entertainment,
and Anchor Bay

picked up the rights to
I Spit on Your Grave

and we did a little bit
of color correction

and work on those masters.

And then when RJ and
I started dating,

I started seeing more
exploitation movies

and I Spit on Your Grave
was one of 'em,

and just offhandedly one day
I was like oh yeah,

and you know that's Demi Moore's
butt on the cover right?

When Meir was there
looking at the master,

I had a poster of
I Spit on Your Grave,

like a mini poster and I asked him

kind of sheepishly like

would you mind autographing
this for us?

So he was autographing it

and he said you know this is

Demi Moore's butt that
I'm signing here.

And I recognize it, like I
said I've seen her butt!

I've been to the gym with her,
I showered with the girl,

it's her butt, trust me.

That's Demi Moore's butt okay?

Trust me.

We had put out a DVD for a
film called Spread,

about a year and a
half prior to that.

Spread stars Ashton Kutcher.

He came in to do the
audio commentary,

and in order to get him to come in

I had to go through his agent.

So I figured oh there's,

I actually have sort of a
direct connection

to that family because he and
Demi were married at the time,

so she was kind enough to
actually pass it along

to Demi's people and I got a
very nice email in response

saying hi RJ, Kelly forwarded
along the below request,

and although she
remembers doing it

and certainly finds the
humor in this,

she unfortunately is not
able to participate.

Thanks for sending this
request along.

Wish you all the best on
this project, Lisa.

With the new campaign in place,

Jerry Gross releases
I Spit on Your Grave

in 27 theaters in Chicago
in July of 1980,

with plans of opening
in larger cities

and more theaters
across the country.

It did very well.

At that time, we were also
playing a lot of drive-ins.

The drive-in grosses were very good,

the theater grosses were very good.

It wasn't the easiest film to get
booked into the theaters,

but Jerry was able to do that.

The violent nature of the film

drew the attention of film
critics Roger Ebert

and Gene Siskel, because
of their belief that

it glorifies rape and will
drive men to rape women,

they dubbed it the worst
movie ever made,

and spearheaded what became

a global campaign to bury the film.

I dread going to these
kinds of movies.

It really has become the
most depressing part

of my job as a film critic.

And there we are in total agreement

as far as I'm concerned.

Siskel and Ebert,
I know we had trouble

more with Roger Ebert because
he wrote a couple of reviews

that weren't very flattering
about the film.

I went to see I Spit on Your Grave

and I was sitting next to a
fairly nicely dressed

middle aged man maybe in
his fifties or sixties,

who was talking back to the screen

with lines like boy, she's
really asking for it now

or you know there's a
rape scene coming up,

this will be a good
one and so forth.

This guy is, to my way of thinking,

a vicarious sex criminal.

Their vigorous campaign,

including standing in front
of the movie theater

encouraging ticket buyers to
stay away from this film,

resulted in the movie being
pulled off the screens

only a week after opening in Chicago.

It also prompted many other theaters

to decline its booking.

But you know Meir was
always there for me,

and very supportive and he said

don't take offense.

Well how can you not take offense

when two guys, or I don't
know if it was both of 'em

or one of 'em, stands in
front of the theater

telling the people don't
go in and see this movie.

Well, we just pushed ahead.

I mean we kept booking it into areas

that we were allowed to.

With Jerry Gross no longer booking

I Spit on Your Grave theatrically,

and all the negative
reviews from many critics

including Variety Magazine,

the film could have
easily been buried,

until a new industry began
called the home video market.

It was just the start of
the VHS, the video market.

It was just beginning.

It might have been the beginning

of the video industry,
but December of 1980

was the end of Meir and
Camille's marriage.

Their relationship was
completely crazy.

They, the two of them would
get into these fights

and it would be screaming
and throwing things.

I mean their fights were pretty,

pretty out there and
everybody heard it,

the neighbors heard it,
so it didn't work.

Well somebody called
me one day

and said Camille, your
movie is out on video.

I said no, it can't be,
it's impossible.

You must be joking.

She showed me a copy of Billboard

and I said well there it is.

The movie quickly climbed

to the Billboard's top 40
bestselling video cassettes list

for 14 consecutive weeks.

Billboard included
I Spit on Your Grave

in their number one
award for the

100 bestselling video
cassettes of 1981.

Now, thanks to the breakthrough
of the home video market,

I Spit on Your Grave was
being viewed by audiences

across the United
States and Canada,

within the comfort of
their own home,

and the controversy
surrounding this film

was just beginning to
see the daylight.

What is the worst movie
you've ever seen?

Worst movie you've ever seen,
that'd be hard 'cause you...

I always just give the same
answer to that question,

I Spit on Your Grave is
usually my stock answer.

Siskel and Ebert may have
been successful

at convincing and
influencing theater owners

to pull the movie off the
screen and refuse its booking,

but they could not hold back
the public's curiosity

to see for themselves what
two of America's top critics

were shouting and
screaming about.

People flocked to their
local video store

searching for I Spit on Your Grave.

Here for example is an
innocent sunbather

in I Spit on Your Grave,
watch what happens to her.

Siskel and Ebert's plan

to bury this film backfired
with a vengeance.

All this hysteria caused a run
on local video rental stores

for copies of Meir's film.

With the title now successfully
selling all over the world,

the controversy grew even stronger.

Certain territories at
their own discretion

distributed the film

under the title of
I Spit on Your Grave

or Day of the Woman,
and some territories

gave it an entirely different
title altogether,

but regardless of the title,

the film found its audiences,

or the audiences found this film.

Mrs. Joan Austin was so convinced

that watching video nasties

led to her 17 year old
son committing rape.

The censorship board
in many countries

started taking notice of
these types of movies,

and many countries ended up
banning I Spit on Your Grave

due to its graphic depiction
of sexual violence.

In the United Kingdom,
I Spit on Your Grave

was number one on the
video nasties list.

The term video nasties

characterized motion pictures
on video that the

British Board of Film
Classifications banned.

Simply possessing a video cassette
of this film in Britain

was a crime punishable by law.

Quite a few people
received stiff fines,

and were sent to jail for even

keeping a copy in their own homes.

In September of 1983, Friday Live,

a popular British
primetime television show

that deals with current topics

devoted its entire
90 minute program

to a discussion on the subject
of video nasties,

after a 17 year old teenage
boy raped two women,

blaming his actions after
viewing I Spit on Your Grave.

Meir was invited to London
to meet face to face

with the mother of the
accused teen on live TV,

and Meir accepted the invitation.

Would you consider perhaps the case

of Mrs. Austin's son an extreme case?

Because you've heard her very
personal, very powerful plea

for something to be done

about the accessibility
of violent videos.

She herself told me that
she's not quite sure

this is the real answer
to her son's acts.

The film has since been the focus

of frequent comments in the media,

and has been reviewed,
written about,

and analyzed in scores
of books, magazines,

and newspapers throughout the world.

I was over at some people's house

and they happened
to have the TV on

and all the sudden they said
and I Spit on Your Grave

is the most disgusting
film ever made.

While some critics
categorized the film

as anti-feminist, others
among them

movie critic Joe Bob Briggs
claim it to be

the most feminist movie ever made.

Ebert the wimp and Siskel the simp,

they call this the most
disgusting movie

in the history of mankind.

As soon as they say that doesn't
that induce them

to want to go see it even more?

Oh absolutely!

The popular TV cartoon
show The Simpsons

has made references to the film
in two separate episodes.

Or when I want to see drive-in
movies for free.

Sometimes I was hoping that
it would not come out,

I have to admit, because my parents,

and especially my grandmother,

you know she was very religious

and, but it did come out.

It stayed out.

In 1984, my father was working

on his second independent feature
film, Family and Honor.

What made you make this
film after you did

a film that was in a
different genre?

Oh I pay my dues, all right.

I married your sister didn't I?

Is that why you rushed to
make our sister pregnant,

so you could buy your
way into our business?

So you went from doing a
so-called revenge movie

to a complete different ballgame.

What made you do that?

Why didn't you do another
horror movie?

Because I Spit on Your
Grave was not a horror movie.

It's a horrifying movie.

It's completely out of the
box of a horror movie.

Just because it has revenge
in there, it's a horror movie?

I just wanted to tell a good story.

Story is the thing.

Story is the one that matters
more than everybody.

More than the big star, more
than the big production,

more than the money.

Simple, good story.

Through the beauty of
modern social media,

I reached out to many viewers

from around the world to get
their point of view

on I Spit on Your Grave.

The cover on the VHS box
just sprung out at me,

I mean you see a half-naked
chick on there

carrying a big buck knife,

holding it by the blade with
half her ass hanging out.

Is it unfair that it
was widely known

by Ebert and Siskel that it's
the worst film ever made?

Is that like totally unfair?

I wouldn't say it was unfair

if anything that those quotes
catapulted that film

to levels way fucking beyond.

Started to get around as being

one of the worst films ever made.

I know people say it's the
worst picture ever made.

I mean at least that's according
to Siskel and Ebert.

It's the worst picture ever made.

The best publicity that's
ever said about this movie

is that it's the worst
picture ever made,

so everybody was curious
to see the movie.

Of course.

But I think that his
review definitely

did the opposite probably
of what he wanted it to,

because I think that
review became so famous,

and I know it brought so
many people to the film

and I think it still does.

I did run into Roger
Ebert a couple times,

and I approached Roger

about the review that
he gave the film.

He says well I may have been

a little harsh on it at that time.

There was a lot of
controversy about it,

but that's what helped
stimulate the attention,

and even the negative
publicity that was created

helped to make it what it became.

Telling people oh this
will make you rape,

or putting these terrible, awful

red flags in front of it,

I think that that was their way

of trying to get people to
just not watch it at all

to protect them from having

to witness something so horrific.

The fact that he took
on this attack,

he made it so personalized
I think is part of

what created the aura
around the movie.

Without trying to
promote the movie,

he was the biggest
promoter of the movie.

Oh Roger Ebert,

I met him at a function and I said

I did the picture that he's
responsible for its success.

Which one?

I said yeah, that's the one.

No, yes, no, yes.

Yes, that's the one.

I Spit on Your Grave?

I said yes.

Did they really fuck on that rock?

You know people would
ask me sometimes

well did you really get raped?

You know, no, I did not

and those guys are not dead,

I didn't really kill them.

I never saw it as an
exploitation film.

I mean, when you ask
about exploitation?

No that never crossed my mind.

I think it is a feminist film

and that's what it was
designed to be.

So yeah if anybody
thinks negatively,

hey they're not seeing the story.

You know, even calling it horror,

it's really not horror.

You know it's more revenge genre.

I think sometimes we
tend to broadbase

and put things into categories.

It's, there are movies
that are being made today

because Meir made this movie.

You know people ask me
these questions.

They say, did you
know that you were

making a cult film at the time?

Well I didn't even know what a
cult movie was at that time.

The first time we ever saw the film

was a matinee on a Sunday.

The rape scene was chilling
enough to just view it.

But what made it even more
unbelievably frightening

was the fact that people
in the audience

were cheering on the rapists.

They were hooting, howling,

get her, fuck the shit outta her!

Fuck the shit outta her,
beat the shit out of her!

This was like different guys
throughout the theater

were screaming these things out.

I cannot tell you how loud
it got into that theater.

If guys want to howl and
love watching a scene

of a girl getting raped, then
they equally have to

enjoy the comeuppance of these guys.

Then, once she got the first guy,

and got him back,
it was dead silence

like we were sitting in an empty
movie theater on our own.

It's so sweet it's painful.

Like they themselves had just
been castrated or something.

Oh shit look what she's done to me!

Oh god!

It's in your face, and it actually

assaults the audience in my opinion.

Oh she's a wild one!

And provokes them into all
kinds of feelings

running from the theater,

having the men cheer the rapists on,

and the women feel some
gratification too

when she comes back and gets revenge.

They did everything to her

that they would do to an
animal, and probably more.

Broad's all yours, come on!

Come on!

Not now, not now.

Asshole, we got her for you, come on!

I saw I Spit on Your Grave about a year

after I myself had been raped.

I went on this huge binge,
I was fortunate enough

that I grew up next to

one of those old ma and
pa video stores.

They gave me I Spit on Your Grave,

I took it home, and I
probably watched it

by myself six times in
a two day span.

I kept watching it and
kept watching it.

Like to me the movie was
almost like a porno movie.

It was you know the girls
are walking around

95% of the time totally naked.

And when you watch it
you will understand,

and can understand why
it was successful

because your interest in
the girl and the story

moves along at the right pace.

I also thought that the overall
pacing of the movie

was like very very slow.

And it hits all of the really
good screenplay spots.

The setup, the conflict,
the revenge,

the resolution to the problem.

It just is a very very
well structured screenplay.

Linda Sommers?

Linda Sommers?

Linda Sommers.

The name doesn't ring a bell.

Oh, fake name as if a girl

by the name of Linda Sommers wrote it.

A woman wrote these graphic scenes

so nobody will question her motivation,

a woman writing about rape, et cetera.

Look at this, oh my gosh!

Would you look at this?


And then we went on location

and quite a few times they asked me,

Linda Sommers is she coming?

I mean well, we want to
meet Linda Sommers,

we want to meet Linda Sommers,

I said she'll be here, she'll be here.

Wow you know, that's something
that I don't remember.

Yes, Housatonic Revenge,
now that it comes back

I think is how we kind of,

how we got familiar with it

and then he said well,
just a working title.

Finally I said to them
Linda Sommers

is coming today, she
is here already.

They said who is she,
where is she?

It's me I said.

And the writer is probably
very macho

and has sort of a macho
attitude towards women.

That would be my impression.

Just based upon what
I see in this movie.

He doesn't really
understand women per se,

and I think that's why it
causes this controversy

you know, among feminists

because that's not what
they see as you know,

how a woman is empowered

by being like a man.

It's an incredibly well made film,

especially again with the editing,

the choice about the soundtrack.

I mean to me, those decisions
make it more an art film

than just the typical
exploitation film.

Makes you squirm in your seat

what with the film having no music

and your focus is entirely

on your other senses, your hearing.

What they're saying or
the sound effects.

What you're seeing, and feeling.

You don't have any music
at all in that picture.

Not at all, no music at
all in the whole movie.

Yeah, and it's a very rare
thing with a movie,

especially a suspense movie.

No music at all.

For three consecutive weeks,
I was looking for music

and sat for hours every day

trying to match it to the movie,

and everything was rejected.

Spoiling the visuals--

It would take away from the...

Yeah, it took away so at the
end of the third week Alex,

who did all the sound effects,

wonderful sound effects
in the movie,

Alex told me Meir, the
screen tells you

that you don't need the music.

So don't put the music,
just forget it

and I said Alex you know
what, you're right.

And no music.

It was just a little riff.

♪ Da nah nah nah

♪ Wah wah wah wah wah wah

Meir picked up on that and said hey,

why don't we use that there?

I think I must have
heard it somewhere,

but I had been playing with
that tune in my head

for some time, just as a warmup

kind of little way I get
myself warmed up.

It was just something mysterious
about it and I liked it.

I feel like the whole film kind of,

from that great opening shot
where she's in the city

and you have all of
the street sounds

and then boom, there's
that quick cut

and she's in the country driving

and you just have the sounds
of nature and the trees.

He made it on you know,

as an independent filmmaker.

I think independent
filmmakers have an edge

because they're making
it in their style

and they're telling their story.

They're not dictated
to by a studio.

When this movie was made,

movies were not being
made like this.

You have to understand that.

You know you look back in time,

and you see a film now
that so many people

in so many ways have
copied or emulated,

but at the time that
Meir made this movie,

people weren't doing this,

which is why it was so
gut wrenching

and it kind of grabbed you by
the throat and didn't let go.

It created such an audience uproar.

You know people either loved
it or they hated it.

I love the sequence where she's
crawling back to the house

and he has that quick cut where
she's no longer outside nude

but she's inside clothed,

and she's kind of crawling
toward the camera,

and you don't know she's crawling
towards a phone yet.

It looks like she's crawling
toward the audience,

almost as if please let
me climb out

of this place that I'm at.

You know I want to be back in
the world where you are.

I want to be back in
the modern world

where I'm safe again.

I do try to call the cops

where I'm struggling to
get up there,

you know from A to B.

And, I'm starting to make
the phone call

and I finish making the phone call,

and that's when the
phone is kicked.


Every time that I've
seen that scene,

I go like oh!

It holds the audience riveted

on what's going to happen
to this female,

and don't forget it's a film where

very very few films existed

where the female gets revenge.

The fact that most movies
that are of that genre...

Take off your clothes.

You don't have to force me!

There's usually the male,
someone who is a friend

of the person who gets
taken advantage of

will come back

and seek revenge,

and this was done
with the woman,

and that had never really
been done before

and I liked that very
much about the film.

I thought of it as a revenge film,

like a vigilante that's going back

and taking justice into
their own hands.

I noticed that what he
did with Camille

was very very directorial.

She would be removed pretty much

as just part of the
technique of directing us.

I got the sense a
Svengali type thing

happening with Meir and her.

You know on set you
think oh my god,

he's telling her to do everything.

Look left, look right, look
shocked, look surprised,

open up, blah blah blah,
look here, look there.

And she would do it, but
then in all honesty

once I looked at the
footage I thought, wow.

You know?

She had a nice relationship
with the camera, and it worked.

Restless days,

sleepless nights.

They never sexualize
Camille Keaton.

She's nude, but it's never
framed or designed

where you would think this
is an erotic experience.

It's a very violent,
ugly experience.

It was more so because for
the first time I felt

that a film had really
genuinely captured

the horror and the
different emotions

that a victim goes through
after being attacked.

One of the key shots
for me in the film

is after the second
rape sequence

where she's left sprawled
out over the rock,

and he just lingers on that shot.

That's like 20, 25 seconds.

You know and a lot of people
have complained about that,

but to me it's like he's
asking the audience,

just think about what
you've seen,

let it sink in, and let the
horror of it sink in.

A young woman came up to me
and started talking to me

about the film, and she said

you have no idea what
this film meant to me,

and she started to cry.

To think that okay,
it is appreciated

by women that have been
victims themselves.

And it was the first time
that I ever saw a woman

come out of a situation like this

as anything more than just
this broken, fragile creature

that you should be
giving your pity to.

There's a great shot
at the beginning

that I absolutely love where
she's going skinny dipping,

you know and he starts it out
kind of in exploitation mode

where she's taking off
her clothes

and you think okay, here we go.

I think the writer is exploiting
women in this movie,

because you know he has
like a five minute shot

of her walking nude
into the water.

Why is that there?

That's at the beginning.

But then he suddenly cuts
away to a long shot

so you can't see her anymore,

and then there's this
weird zoom back

which is great, and
again just lingers

and you never get the edit
back to her that you expect.

You know, you never get
the typical exploitation

okay here she is swimming around.

He just sits there, so
you get the idea that

you know is somebody watching her,

or are we here to just watch her?

I mean it just points out
kind of that male gaze

that's almost always in movies.

Now this writer I think
was looking at a woman

from the point of view of a man,

and his interpretation of
the female character

was what would a man do
in a situation like this?

And so she was very masculinized

because the writer didn't
understand women.

I will firmly believe that it is

the most painfully misunderstood film

that is in existence.

If I want to see a horror movie,

I want to see a horror
movie that makes me

jump out of my seat screaming.

Shocks me.

I think people get so distracted
by the length of the rape

that they fail to see the
real important message

underneath it of the empowerment.

The fact that you know,

victims of rape are not necessarily

victims, they're survivors.

I definitely think
it empowers women.

There's gonna be violence
towards women

until the end of time.

If you survive breast cancer,

you survive yes, and
it's wonderful,

and everyone's happy for you.

If you're a rape survivor

it's not polite dinner conversation

and you're not gonna find a
rape survivor magnet ribbon

that you can put on the
back of your car.

That's when I began
to see the movie

as having well, it must have
some redeeming qualities

and that wasn't the first
or the only time

that women have come up to me

and there are some female
fans out there big time.

Just watch and listen and
learn something from it.

In class we're taught about
various different theories

and one of the main theories
in the horror genre

is called the final girl.

I do think it makes for some

controversial discussion
topics, which I understand

that it's being used in

to talk about feminism,
which I think it has

some interesting aspects to it.

So when I had to apply the
final girl to a paper,

I thought I Spit on Your Grave
is absolutely perfect

because Camille is the
epitome of a final girl.

These are one of the kinds of
things that we talk about.

What makes for a good story?

What makes characters
have more depth?

This film has a lot of hate,

and it has a lot of love,

and so I decided to take a stance,

my own personal stance on this film

regardless of my grandfather
being the director of the film.

I really saw it as a feminist film.

When I was about six months old,

I guess I auditioned for the
role of baby Stephanie

in the film Jason Goes to
Hell, Friday the 13th Part 9.

Well at the time, of course
I don't remember it,

but I do know that my uncle
Terry was involved

in casting, and he was
a casting director.

He helped me get the part
as baby Stephanie,

and I guess they had to have
a baby that didn't cry

very often and I was that baby.

Little girl?

She's beautiful.

When we first started out,

we were talking about
doing a sequel.

It could have gone either
way, as a remake,

but initially it was a
sequel for years.

Being independent, we felt
that we had to find

the right deal that would
give us what we wanted,

and it took 15 years to
do that remake.

Sarah Butler, I give her credit

for taking on the role
of Jennifer Hills.

I've always believed that
what Meir created

is more than one movie.

He created a concept,

and to take that concept
and to roll it out

took somebody with vision.

Through Gary and because of Gary,

we got the deal with CineTel Films.

And we were very fortunate
that CineTel,

yeah they had the backing
of Anchor Bay,

but you know, Paul Hertzberg
and Lisa Hansen

are creative people, they'
re independent people.

They saw a vision, but it's
more in the vision that I had

and perhaps Meir had, he
has to answer that,

but I've always felt that
this is a franchise.

The revenge scenes were like

a little bit too much for me to watch.

It's like ooh.

I think he did a very good job.

I think he deserves the
credit he's gotten for it.

I think he's a really
good director.

He understands the genre.

I think he understood what
he was dealing with.

I don't think he just came in cold.

I think he did his homework.

He understood what
Meir had created,

and he also wanted to
treat it with respect

because there was a respect factor.

The new movie was not
made by Meir, okay?

Although he had input into the movie.

Meir's movie is Meir's movie,

and that's why when
you compare them

there were certainly
comparable aspects

and elements to the movies
in terms of the storyline,

but the way it's executed
is totally different.

They wanted to just change
it enough a little bit

to make it more a little
bit contemporary

to today's kind of
feel in movies.

You gut them.

And that's what Steven
brought to the party.

And I said I have to
direct that.

Mostly being in fear of it
getting in the hands

that would not do it
justice for the fans.

I can't wait to hear
you and see you

after the movie is over,

because I'm not the most
important thing here, you are.

We made the remake with them,

we made the so-called sequel,
I Spit on Your Grave 2.

I say so-called which is not
actually an extension

of either the original
or the remake,

but yet the second in the series.

It's date night.

Yet we still have the original
sequel that I've written

the rights which I didn't
give to CineTel.

The sequel written by
me that eventually

I know we'll do it.

It's been over 20 years
since Meir Zarchi

and cinematographer Yuri Haviv

have been in touch with each other.

A phone conversation was arranged,

and I recorded their
reunion on camera.


I love you too.

Oh Nuri I miss you.

I miss you, you are
part of my life.

You're a part of my blood,

and you're part of my flesh.

Thank you very much, thank
you I love you too.

I'll never forget that
when we shot the scene

of the character of
Jennifer being raped,

sodomized on the rock.

Yes yes yes I remember.

And one of the gaffers
or the chief gaffer...


Suddenly threw whatever
tool he has in his hand,

he said I'm quitting,
I can't take it anymore.

Yeah yeah yeah yeah.

And I'll never forget
how you turned to me

and you whispered into my ear

and you said the sequence works.

You remember when Tony
on the top of me,

and he is pressing on
me, he's killing me,

and I am shooting him
and shooting him,

his face coming woo woo woo,

but I am shooting.

it's okay, it was beautiful days.

I hope we can repeat it together.

I hope we will be together again.

And I enjoyed every minute from it.

The story I have goes back
to Kent, Connecticut.

Should I go back to Kent,
Connecticut to do it there?


Under one condition.

You shoot the movie.


- You will, you will?
- No problem.

- Oh I would love it.
- No problem.

Meir, do it again.

And if you need me, I would love to.

As for Richard Pace, Anthony Nichols,

Gunter Kleemann, and Eron Tabor?

My father always spoke very
highly of all four actors.

I was brought up in
the Mennonite culture,

which meant no television, no movies.

Yes, my parents were very unhappy

that I went into show business,

and it is the reason
that I changed my name.

My parents knew, they were
really cool with it.

Yeah you're an actor, you're
doing an acting film.

I thought it would open
possibly the door to

being a film actor.

My expectations out of this
movie were experience.

I'm actually decently
proud of my work,

but what it has become,

I don't want my kids
to see it really.

To see me like that.

So I do have some regrets
for taking it on

and that it became what it became.

I didn't expect it to become
what it turned into.

I never had any regrets
taking on this role.

I found that it pegged me in a,

as a character that I am
so far removed from

that I did not want to pursue
it any more after that.

It was work, and it was fun.

No I have no desire to revisit this,

even to look at my own performance.

It gives me a legacy that say,

that yes I committed my
life to acting

but I got a little
product that stays,

that became something.

So of all of the people who came
and went in this industry,

I can say I'm a part of a film
that became a cult classic.

And I can carry that
with me to my grave.

Look at this guy, a youngster.

A youngster.

- 39.
- He looks like a rabbi.

- Look at him.
- He does right?

So he started without a beard

and he ended up with the beard huh?


What memories come to your mind
when you see that picture?

I don't know if I can
say this on camera!

I have nothing but fond
memories of this man.

Well, there might have been
a couple exceptions.

This is when we were
on our honeymoon.

We were in Italy, wow!

Look at this one, oh my gosh yeah.

When did you marry Meir?


Was there a spark on the actual set?

Was there a romantic spark then?

Or was the spark a
little bit after?

Tell me about that.

Well, you know how one thing
just leads to another

on a rape and revenge movie.

I read that somewhere.

No, we just became really
good friends

and there had to be a spark there,

and you never know.

I may have just--

There's gotta be a spark
right there as well.

Who is this, who is this woman?


- Who is...
- There he is!

You didn't tell me.

Look at him, here he is right here!

What a surprise!

You're playing a trick on me.

They didn't tell me.

- How are you?
- Hey!

- What a surprise.
- Yeah!

What a surprise.

And I said to Camille, we'
re walking on the beach,

hot summer day,


but not discouraged.

And I said to Camille,

one day they'll discover
what kind of a film it is.

We'll make it, we'll make
it, just patience,

But I think that Camille

was a little bit more
pessimistic than I am.


Yeah I was worried.

Her father Glenn, Glenn Keaton

was a pilot.

He was a Navy pilot during
the second World War.

He was a Navy pilot on
an aircraft carrier,

and he was doing also night
flights and night bombing,

and her mother was a very
beautiful woman, Janice.

Very gentle, spoke with a
deep southern accent.


Both of them are gone, my
parents are gone also.

Did they ever see the movie?

My parents?

If they would see this movie,
they would disown me.

What about that last shot

of you just riding that motorboat

with a real serious expression,

but you give that little smile?

Now was that Meir's direction?

- Yeah I told her to do that.
- Yeah.

To just give me a little
little little smile,

- very little.
- Yeah.

No more than that.

Just an ounce.

And they repeated that
little smile

in the remake, and they
repeated it again

with the so-called sequel,
I Spit on Your Grave 2,

when she at the end
the last scene she

walks toward the gates of
the American Consulate,

the American Embassy in
Sofia, Bulgaria,

that little faint smile.

Camille did this movie
need to be remade?


Was it good that they did?


Okay tell me why, in your opinion.

Well, for my I guess
selfish reasons

it brought more attention
to the original

I Spit on Your Grave,

and also gave a different
slant to it

and I don't think it really
had to be remade.

We can keep on talking for hours

on you know, but basically--

But this is really the story.

I mean what we said to you

is the story of how
this all evolved

and became what it became.

This movie is not going away.

50 years from now,

people can walk by my grave

and the epitaph will be you
can spit on my grave.

And on that grave there will
be a 3D representation

of Meir telling you people that.

So what's my father up to nowadays?

After three marriages
and three divorces,

Meir is enjoying the company
of his fiancee, Tsipi,

and the two of them have been
together for over 20 years.

When you saw his movie
for the first time,

many years ago, did you change
your opinion about him,

what did you think?

No it was a little bit shocking.

- A little bit?
- Yeah.

But you told me once that
when you saw the movie

for the first time you
said my goodness,

this is a dangerous man.

What kind of a man am I meeting--

- Can I say this in the...
- Of course you can say it.

I want to say how good man you are.

No no no I'm a bad man.

I don't want to say that!

I'm evil, bad, say the truth.

Aside from executive
producing the films

involved with the growing franchise,

and seen here at the premiere of

I Spit on Your Grave Part 2,

and here in 2015 on the set of
I Spit on Your Grave Part 3

with Sarah Butler, Meir
is always keeping busy,

and has some new and exciting
projects in the works,

and toward the end of
making this documentary,

I had to put it on hold to help
continue my father's legacy

by producing I Spit on Your
Grave Deja Vu,

bringing back Camille Keaton
as Jennifer Hills

with Meir Zarchi directing.

Okay stay on him, and a
little bit more, little bit more.

Just in case, and cut.

It was a long journey

trying to get Deja Vu produced,

but that's another story on its own,

and in 2018 David Maguire's
newly released book

I Spit on Your Grave
examines why the film

still continues to provoke
fierce debate 40 years on,

and the very first paragraph of the

introduction in this book

pretty much sums it all up.

There is no denying that
I Spit on Your Grave

deserves to be considered

the most controversial film
to hit the world,

the most talked about film
in cinema history

from its unflinching subject matter,

its battles with censors
and mauling by critics,

the picketing of screenings
by feminists,

and the politicians who deemed it

a corrupting influence on society.

It is a film that continues
to divide opinion

and inflame passions.

It is, depending on your
point of view,

either the most powerful
or repulsive

rape revenge melodrama ever filmed.

Let's see if I can still
kick up that little...

That's it.

I Spit on Your Grave.

I Spit on Your Grave.

I Spit on Your Grave.

I Spit on Your Grave.

I Spit on Your Grave.

I Spit on Your Grave.

Day of the Woman.

Day of the Woman.