Day of the Woman, 1978 – ★★½

Absolutely brutal, gratuitous, horrifying, appalling, and, very occasionally, good. Taking basically the same situation that Last House on the Left did from Bergman’s The Virgin Spring and following the train of thought toward a different conclusion. It is far better than the weirdly idolized Last House, which cannot, for the life of it find tonal balance. I Spit on Your Grave fancies itself a feminist treatise, giving us the cathartic revenge movie that could result from the appalling opening rape. It plays all the hits as well, especially “how you were dressed – you were asking for it.” The argument, I would think, could be made that they used her sexuality against her, so she used it against them, and here and there, I buy it. That doesn’t change the fact though that this is an ugly movie, from an ugly time in exploitation cinema, and one that makes you feel dirty just for watching it. All that said, I’d love to see a powerful female writer/director do their own adaptation of The Virgin Spring. Star Camille Keaton, though, gives a fearless if not wide range performance, and is a riveting presence. The men have clearly missed the point.

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