31 DAYS OF SPOOKY STUFF – Day 13 (Journal #75) – I Spit On Your Grave, Also

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In today’s Journal, 31 Days of Spooky Stuff continues with a look at two sequels that are sequels in name only. These follow-ups to 1982’s SUPERSTITION and 2010’s I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE don’t have any story connection to the original films. But do they deliver the same effect?

 

RATING SYSTEM

The Best – Reserved for the absolute cream of the crop.
Highly Recommended – Very good. Far better than your typical film and one that I will remember for some time.
Recommended – Just what it says. This is a good film and earns a recommendation. Don’t think that because it’s not one of the top two categories that these films aren’t worth your time. The “recommended” tag is a winner and nothing to sneer at.
Barely Recommended – The middle of the road. Those films where I didn’t feel it was a complete waste of time, but it didn’t set my world on fire either. Not bad, but leaves me feeling bored and/or apathetic.
Disappointing – Close but no cigar. Does a few things right but is ultimately a whole lot of wasted potential. Not recommended.
Awful – A bad movie. Pure and simple. Not worth your time.
The Worst – The Britta Perry of ratings, though not as entertaining. The bottom of the barrel.

CRITERIA

What was the film trying to accomplish and how well did it meet those goals?
In addition to (or sometimes despite) that, how does the film hold up on sheer entertainment value?

 

FILM GEEK JOURNAL – ENTRY 75

(31 DAYS OF SPOOKY STUFF – DAY 13 – OCT. 13, 2013)

 

superstition2_10

 

superstition2_postSUPERSTITION 2 (a.k.a. STREGHE, WITCH STORY) (1989) – You may be familiar with the 1982 film SUPERSTITION. Austin, Jesse and I all reviewed it on our Films of 1985 podcast. Also, I dedicated an entire episode of my web series Moviocrity to the film. The reason I did this is that the film is wacky as hell. Other countries caught on to this. When this happened in the 1980s, that meant that there was a good chance of a completely unrelated European film being marketed as a sequel. It happened with films like TROLL and THE CURSE and it happened here too.

SUPERSTITION 2 does share some similarities to the 1982 film. Both films involve a haunted house and the ghost of a little girl. This time, it’s a brother and sister taking their friends to check out the sweet house they just inherited. That house turns out to be possessed by demonic spirits. A Satanic woman was burned at the stake while her daughter watched. Later that night, the daughter killed herself when her mother’s ghost appeared to her. Since then, both have been making sure everyone who shows up at the place meets with a bad end.

As I said, this is unrelated to the original SUPERSTITION. It’s actual title in its native Italy is STREGHE and in other areas it is marketed as WITCH STORY (just as SUPERSTITION was marketed as THE WITCH in the U.K.). It does manage to capture the same mood of that film, that is being completely batshit crazy. There are surprisingly gory deaths, an anything goes approach that makes everyone expendable and lots of goofy special effects. Unfortunately, it’s not quite the blast of SUPERSTITION. After a nifty prologue, there is a painfully slow build-up until things really start to take off. Also, some of the characters really do grate on your nerves. Still, SUPERSTITION 2 makes for some Saturday matinée fun, as long as you check your brain at the door.

This is ordinarily the point where I would link to a trailer from YouTube. One problem, I can’t seem to find any trailers of this film on YouTube.  Barely Recommended.

 

I Spit On Your Grave 2, Set Photography - Day14

 

I_Spit_on_Your_Grave_2I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE 2 (2013) – Katie (Jemma Dallender) is a model struggling to make it in New York City. Even as she has been told she is “too Midwestern” in her professional life, she struggles to accept the apathy of her fellow New Yorkers in her personal life. Rats roam the hallways of her building and she has to listen as a verbally abusive relationship plays out endlessly in a neighboring apartment.

She takes a flyer and makes the mistake of agreeing to a photoshoot by a trio of unsavory men of slavic descent. When she refuses to undress for the pictures, she leaves. Of course, her gullibility in looking into the job does not mean she deserves what is to come. Nobody deserves what is to come. One of the men, who are all brothers, breaks into her apartment and rapes her. Worse yet, he leaves a bloody crime scene which means the other two brothers intervene. She is drugged and wakes up in Bulgaria (Ah, so that must be where the budget cut comes in!), where she is repeatedly molested and tortured before being buried alive. Katie does not die however and instead finds herself living in the subterranean jungle under the city of Sofia. This is where she decides to hunt the brothers down and get her revenge.

I have made a case in a previous review that Mier Zarchi’s 1979 film I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (original title: DAY OF THE WOMAN) is actually a feminist anthem. The brutality Camille Keaton suffers in that film is unflinching and horrendous, but even worse is the idea that such things happen several times a day. What doesn’t happen is the revenge fulfillment the second half of that film is dedicated to. Most women do not get the chance to hold a blade in the air victoriously while running down their cowering assailants. When the inevitable remake was announced, I dreaded that the director, Stephen R. Monroe, would miss the point. He did not. He did show the brutality of the crime as well an even more graphic revenge scheme, some of which seemed inspired by the SAW movies and their ilk. It was not the original film. Mier Zarchi’s film was left alone and exists as its own animal. The remake did introduce a greater criminal element to the proceedings as the ringleader of the brutes turned on his colleagues to save his own image of normalcy.

Monroe’s sequel does not have such lofty intentions, making it harder to defend to people who find the entire rape revenge subgenre deplorable. There is a little bit made of human trafficking, but by and large this is a different story with a similar model. It’s not a gender film, it’s a film about discovering the predator within and trying to make it back to sanity again. Fortunately, I am not judging this film on any basis of morality but whether it is an effective film or not. And Monroe once again creates an effective film, if just slightly less than his 2010 film. Monroe has a real talent for direction. His shots are smooth and his paints an evocative picture with his lens. Aside from these gigs, Monroe does a lot of gigs for Syfy Channel with films like ICE TWISTERS and MONGOLIAN DEATH WORM. But with these films, he has shown himself to be a serious and talented filmmaker. I would be very interested to see some of the other projects he’s done, such as the $70,000 drama COMPLACENT.

Props should also be given to Jemma Dallender, who in only her second film role, completely owns the character of Katie. As a viewer, we feel her pain and her drive to not simply move on from this tragedy.

There are quite a few plot holes that make this film a little pulpier than it should be. One is the glaring plothole of why they bothered to bring Katie all the way to Bulgaria in the first place, if they were just planning on killing her anyway. Still another is a twist that should have been one of the film’s most effective and disturbing points but instead turns into just another obstacle.  Recommended.

 

 

Number of films covered in the Journal so far: 315

Miss any of tShe previous Journal entries? Check them out here!

And tune into my new web series, Moviocrity! New episode now available!!!



Categories: 31 Days of Spooky Stuff, Scott W. Davis, Scott's Film Geek Journal

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