Tuesday, 21 September 2010

I Spit On Your Ban

The Irish Film Classification Office has banned the DVD re-release of Meir Zarchi’s notorious 1978 horror film I Spit on Your Grave. The body, formerly known as the Irish Film Censor’s Office, has in recent years actually been quite reluctant to ban films outright, so their decision has come as quite a shock to horror fans. Especially in light of a little something called the internet – which has made it easier to access such banned material. The decision comes a little less than a year after John Kelleher, seen as a liberalising influence on the board, retired. The reissue is (coincidently, surely?) timed to coincide with an upcoming remake of the grimy original which Roger Ebert called “a vile bag of garbage... without a shred of artistic distinction.” Yay.

The IFCO have stated that their reason for declining to issue a certificate for the DVD, was because of the film’s depiction of “acts of gross violence and cruelty towards humans.” Meir Zarchi commented: “It doesn’t surprise me that Ireland have decided to ban the film. It has relentlessly continued to shock and offend audiences since 1978 when it was first released, and it still does to this date. However, with the level of graphic violence and horror available these days, it’s surprising that IFCO sees this 1978 film as more offensive than some of the most daring and empty-of-content torture porn available today.”


I Spit on Your Grave is a low-budget rape-revenge thriller, starring Camille Keaton as Jennifer Hills, a New York magazine writer who heads out to a secluded cabin in the woods for peace and quiet to write her first novel. There she is brutally assaulted, raped and left for dead by four country boys. Days later, a traumatised Jennifer tracks down the men and extracts brutal, bloody and merciless revenge – prompting some critics at the time to declare the film ‘pro-feminist.’ Go girl! Nevertheless, it was at the centre of the first so-called “video nasty” scandal in the early 1980s. At that time, the UK’s Director of Public Prosecutions drew up a list of 72 films that could cause retailers to be prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act. Other films on the list – actually viewed as great publicity by canny distributors – included Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead, Dario Argento’s Tenebrae and Abel Ferrara’s The Driller Killer – films now revered as classics of the genre. 

From the IFCO Press Release:

The Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) has banned the DVD re-release of the highly controversial 1978 horror film I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE starring Buster Keaton’s granddaughter, Camille Keaton, in Ireland. UK fans of the infamous cult film, originally released under the name Day of the Woman in 1978 and later re-titled to I Spit on Your Grave, will be able to purchase the ultimate collector’s edition on DVD and Blu-ray as of today. However, Irish fans of the cult “video nasty” will be prohibited from purchasing locally, forcing them to import UK versions from Internet retailers. The decision to ban the DVD re-release of the cult classic film was due to the film depicting “acts of gross violence and cruelty (including mutilation and torture) towards humans.” I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE has gained a reputation as an extremely graphic and violent film as well as one of the most talked about films in cinema history.


The infamous cult film, originally released under the name Day of the Woman (see? It IS a feminist statement) and later re-titled I Spit on Your Grave, is still available in the UK. Movie fans in Ireland need only head up north to Northern Ireland to pick up a copy of the DVD – which features a substantial amount of extra footage previously trimmed from the cut of the original, and more extra features than you can shake an axe at. Most fans will probably just buy it online though. The movie has also been remade and will be released into cinemas across the UK and Ireland soon. The fuss caused by the DVD re-release of the original will no doubt ensure the remake (most likely a watered-down, glossed-up insipid pale imitation designed to appeal to 'tweens') will be a glowing success.

Eoghan Burke of Lace Digital Media Sales in Ireland said he was disappointed and saddened by the IFCO decision. "I thought we had moved on from these times. It just drives business away from bricks and mortar and into the hands of online, denying much needed revenue to traditional retail.”

Director Meir Zarchi is looking on the bright though, as he believes the ban will just give the movie more publicity. "Since the birth of the internet all censor boards around the world have instantly become irrelevant, IFCO included. Anyone anywhere in the universe can simply push a button on any video website store and order a disc of I Spit On Your Grave. There are no iron curtains in the skies that can stop it from landing at his or her door. Are we going through the "Lady Chatterley's Lover" syndrome all over again? The bottom line - thank you IFCO for promoting the film in Ireland." 


The Original Cult Video Nasty was released on September 20th on DVD and Blu-ray as an ultimate collector’s edition dual format - featuring new uncut material previously unseen in the UK as well as the following exclusive material:

Disc 1 (Blu-ray): Feature Film - new cut
Extras:
UK Exclusive video interview with Director Meir Zarchi • Trailers • TV Spots • Radio Spots • Sleeve and poster Image Gallery • Image Gallery from Director’s Personal Collection • Reviews & Articles from Around the World • In-Depth Essay - What Do People Think & Say About ISOYG • DVD Monthly Interview • Filmographies • Audio commentary by Director Meir Zarchi & Film Critic Joe Bob Briggs

Disc 2 (DVD): Feature Film - new cut
Extras:
UK Exclusive video interview with Director Meir Zarchi • Trailers • TV Spots • Radio Spots • Sleeve and poster Image Gallery • Image Gallery from Director’s Personal Collection • Reviews & Articles from Around the World • In-Depth Essay - What Do People Think & Say About ISOYG • DVD Monthly Interview • Filmographies • Audio commentary by Director Meir Zarchi & Film Critic Joe Bob Briggs

10 comments:

TheGirlWhoLovesHorror said...

Ugh, for real? This is seriously not that violent at all, aside from all the rape, and what is violent is not presented as "glorifying" (even though some idiots believe it does glorify violence against women).

The films that people have a problem with even to this day just confuse the hell out of me. Not enough room here to explain my frustration!

Andrew Green said...

Ah, I Spit On Your Grave....
It remains the sickest movie I've ever seen, outside of Cannibal Holocaust. I'm curious about the remake. Will they actually water it down, I wonder?

Mykal Banta said...

James: I think that Mr. Zarchi is dead on in feeling that this ban is publicity that money can't buy. If I were a film maker, I would do a happy dance if my film got banned. Zarchi thanks the IFCO, as well he should!

Matt-suzaka said...

I am pretty bummed to hear of such a thing, James.

Considering how much of a struggle horror had with the MPAA here in the states when I was a kid and growing up, and how that has really waned over the years, it is a let down to hear about a film getting banned. Especially one that is as old as ISOYG is.

James said...

Yeah, it was a pretty silly thing to do, from their point of view. Those who want a copy can order one online - and like you so rightly pointed out, Mykal - the ban acts as publicity money can't buy. Silly IFCO.

Carl Manes said...

You have to appreciate the fact that Ireland is still one of the few countries willing to make this film even more notorious and noticeable than it would have been if they had let it slide. High five Ireland!

James said...

Absolutely, Carl! ;o)

Terence said...

I still haven't seen 'I Spit on Your Grave' which is weird because I'm a huge fan of Camille Keaton! I've seen all her Italian films and even 'Savage Vengeance', an unofficial sequel to ISOYG (hilariously awful). I guess I'm still a little hesitant to watch it.

I loved Keaton in 'What Have You Done to Solange?' and even more so in 'Madeleine... Anatomia di un incubo' which I personally consider her best role. It also happens to be her favourite film in her career! It's a shame it still hasn't been released on DVD (along with 'Il gatto di Brooklyn', 'Decameron no.2' and 'Sex of the Witch', a truly WEIRD giallo).

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rn7uWEyygRI

James Gracey said...

I loved Ms Keaton in What Have You Done to Solange - one of my favourite giallo titles; Morricone's score is sublime.
Thanks for the heads up on those other titles - I'm not even sure I'd heard of Sex of the Witch! It's on my radar now, and I shall keep my beady eyes open for it. Perhaps it's available online somewhere?

Did you see the remake of ISOYG? Apparently it has a sequel in the works, too.

Terence said...

Sex of the Witch is available on YouTube but you can download it (along with Madeleine) at horror-cult-classics.com (you have to register first). The other two titles are only on YouTube.

Sex of the Witch is a very trashy movie. I like to think of it as a low-rent version of "The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave" but with more sex and WTF (it even has a major character named Evelyn). It's really confusing but it's still enjoyable.

I also haven't seen the remake of ISOYG. I heard it's a LOT more violent!