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I Spit on Your Corpse, I Piss on Your Grave   D

Sub Rosa Studios

Year Released: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Eric Stanze
Writer: Eric Stanze
Cast: Emily Haack, Scot Spookytooth, Shaun Snow, John Specht, Jeff Atwater, DJ Vivona.

Review by Michael Scrutchin

As a nasty throwback to the sleazy exploitation-horror films of the 1970s, I Spit on Your Corpse, I Piss on Your Grave is a shocking triumph. Is that a good thing? Well, it depends on a few things, not the least of which is your threshold for (and enjoyment of) sickeningly graphic violence and depraved sexuality. Even having seen my share of films like Cannibal Holocaust, House on the Edge of the Park, and Last House on the Left, I found this to be a tough pill to swallow. It revels in filth and depravity and doesn't make any apologies, catering to an audience whose main interest is seeing how far over the edge it can go.

So how far does it go? Pretty far. The opening sequence shows a small boy stumbling upon the naked corpse of a woman who has just been raped and murdered. Naturally, the child doesn't know what to make of it and the troubled expressions on his face are positively disturbing. While the thought of filmmakers exposing a child to such a thing is unbelievably upsetting, a disclaimer at the end of the movie claims that the child wasn't actually placed in such a situation. The kid never saw the corpse, but camera and editing tricks make it seem like he's standing right by it.

That's only the beginning. Just wait. A blue-haired girl named Sandy (Emily Haack) is lured by her prison escapee ex-boyfriend (played by director Eric Stanze under the name Scot Spookytooth) to a house where a he plans to kill her along with three guys he has locked up in the basement. I could explain why the ex-boyfriend wants to kill the four of them and what it has to do with the corpse in the opening sequence, but it's not like it really matters. Ultimately, Sandy turns the tables and kills her captor, then snaps and decides that rather than setting the three guys in the basement free, she's going to torture and kill them. Yeah, it turns out that Sandy was objectified and abused by each of them in the past, so revenge is in order. It gets uglier by the minute.

As the first entry in B-movie distributor Sub Rosa Studio's aptly titled Sub Rosa Extreme division, I Spit on Your Corpse, I Piss on Your Grave delivers on its dubious promises. I can't say that's a good thing, although I'm sure many people in the target audience will disagree. You've got full-frontal nudity from nearly every cast member, including a few minutes of sex and masturbation that venture into hardcore porn territory, along with the requisite graphic violence, gore, shit-eating, and masturbating with broom handles (yes, Emily Haack goes all the way). Finally, there's that insufferable scene with Sandy going to work on a guy using her trusty broom handle. Damn, that's something I never needed to see. Ever.

Coming from Eric Stanze, director of intriguing and powerful films like Ice from the Sun and Scrapbook, this movie is a huge disappointment. But this is merely a paying gig for Stanze, a movie that he wrote, directed, and edited under the supervision of Sub Rosa Studios honcho Ron Bonk. As Stanze admits in an interview on the DVD, they weren't trying to create art. Shot on the cheap with insanely short production schedules, the Sub Rosa Extreme movies are made for a specific audience with the intention of raking in a profit. At least Stanze keeps the film interesting on a visual level with good cinematography, creative camerawork, and striking compositions, but that hardly makes it worth sitting through.

In some ways, it's even harder to watch than Stanze's Scrapbook, a great film that also pushed the limits of sex and violence. I Spit on Your Corpse, I Piss on Your Grave doesn't seem as realistic (partly due to its tongue-in-cheek tone), but it's so mean-spirited that it hurts. At least Scrapbook had Clara (also played by Haack), a person I genuinely cared about; no matter how rough it got, I had to stick with it because I had to know her fate. This film, however, doesn't have a single sympathetic character. They're all disgusting. Scrapbook was an unflinchingly honest film that was really about something, but this is just a soulless exercise in depravity made to cash in on the sleaze market. I don't blame Stanze for doing gigs like this (filmmakers gotta eat, too, and I'm not one to call a filmmaker a sellout when they take a job doing a movie for someone else) -- but I hope he gets back to making real movies soon.

Review published 06.27.2002.

Follow Michael Scrutchin on Twitter or Letterboxd.

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