I love brutal films from the 70´s. There were some wonderful releases during that time period, that still work well even today. Sure, some practical effects may look a bit cheesy at times, but there are film makers from this time period who could construct powerful films. I could easily name at least 10 films that i can watch over and over again, that were all released during the 70´s. But i thought i should bring one specific title up instead, that have been very controversial for many years, and that is the 1978 revenge horror film I Spit On Your Grave, from director Meir Zarchi. I remember the first time i saw this film on VHS, and that was in 1999. A friend of mine had been to London for a weekend trip, and found the film for sale in a store. We watched it together, and i still remember how brutal i thought the rape scene was. Let me explain the plot a little bit so you understand what it is about. This film tells the story of Jennifer Hills ( played by legendary actress Camille Keaton ), who is a fiction writer. To write her first novel, she decides to go to the countryside, where savage local men decide to attack her. I Spit On Your Grave is not a film for you who is sensitive, especially with violence towards women. This film is definetely one of the few in this genre that does not hold back on violence. One of the reasons why i enjoy this film, is because it is very effective as a revenge film. It is a very brutal film in certain moments, but there is a reason for why this woman makes sure these men pay the price for what they did to her. This is one of those 70´s films that i feel you should see, because this is a true classic from this era. Try and get the uncut version, since there are several versions released ( where some scenes are cut down ). Even if this genre still exist and do show up in a small amount of titles, we don´t get to see brutal revenge films released very often, especially not influenced by films of the 70´s. So when i noticed an independent film called Ravage on VOD, i knew this could be something in my taste. The question is, did this film turn out to be better than i expected, or is Ravage doomed to be forgotten?
Nature photographer Harper ( Annabelle Dexter-Jones ) is out on the countryside to take pictures of beautiful locations and of wild life. She starts hearing noices from one location, and notice that locals of Watchatoomy Valley are savages, and capture their brutal crimes with photograps on her camera. They notice her and the hunt is on, and Harper have no other choice, but to do everything she can to survive.
I have to admit that my expectations for Ravage was not very high, just because it sounded like a film in my taste. When you have seen a lot of films, you learn not to have too high expectations, just in case you might end up feeling disappointed. But this film is actually one of the better revenge horror films i have seen in recent years, and there are several reasons why this film works well. First of all this film looks really good, with cinematography from Christopher Walters. The bright colors and the atmosphere of the redneck countryside is captured so good, you can sense the fear in the air. Another detail that this film does great is to give a strong portrait of a very disturbed redneck family, who clearly have some really disturbing mental issues. Lead actress Anabelle Dexter-Jones gives a really solid performance as photographer Harper who is attacked by these savages. Once she start her revenge journey, this film becomes a fun ride, to see her give these pigs what they deserve. Is this film original in any way? No, but that´s ok, since i do enjoy seeing films in this genre still being made, since it does not happen very ofte, especially when they are clearly inspired by the films of the 70´s. There are some brutal scenes in this film, but i would not call them extreme in any way. There is a reason to why some scenes need to be brutal. Legendary actor Bruce Dern gives another strong performance as Mallincrkrodt ( very odd name right? ), and he have no problem giving you a creepy atmosphere. One performance i have to mention is actor Robert Longstreet ( that some of you might recognize from Netflix TV mini-series The Haunting Of Hill House ) as the savage leader Ravener. A very good performance, with a character you won´t forget. Director Teddy Grennan manage to balance all ingredients in this horror/thriller in a professional way. Ravage ( also known as Swing Low ) is definetely worth checking out if you are looking for a great film, especially if you are a fan of revenge horror films. One thing is clear though, im not going to visit any Redneck country for quite some time. If i hear any banjos start playing, don´t be suprised if you see me running ( i will most likely only show up if i hear the Hanson christmas album, only then i can feel safe ).