Savage Vengeance (1993)

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Also known as “I Spit On Your Grave 2”.

I was a bit conflicted about even reviewing this. I love Donald Farmer and his wonderfully odd shot-on-video work, but there’s really not a lot to like here, although it’s got such a weird story to it that I had to cover it. Camille Keaton had the fortune / misfortune to star in the original “I Spit On Your Grave”, a grindhouse piece of filth from 1978 with absolutely no redeeming features whatsoever. She barely worked after, the odd appearance at the bottom of credit lists notwithstanding, until 2010, when she got hired by a new generation of filmmakers who wanted some of that old-school sleaze kudos.

 

This movie represents her one and only starring role for over 30 years, and by all accounts she didn’t enjoy it, walking off the set before the end of filming (resulting in a rather oddly edited denouement). Meir Zarchi, the director of the original “I Spit On Your Grave”, sued, causing it to sit on a shelf between 1988 and 1993 and forcing several changes to be made. The main character’s surname was altered, resulting in some rather clumsy dubbing, Keaton herself had her name taken off it, and some re-editing had to be done (presumably to remove footage from the original movie). This scrabble for extra footage, though, does give us the rather wonderful opportunity to see a scene lifted directly from “Scream Dream”, Rikk-O-Shay (with Melissa Moore on vocals) performing “Ball Buster”. But more on that later.

 

As if to add an extra layer of weirdness to proceedings (and to give evidence to the idea this went unreleased for a long time), this has the pre-title title “I Will Dance On Your Grave vol. 1”. “Cannibal Hookers”, released 4 years before this, was vol. 3! I do sort of admire that level of laziness, and will report back when I find out what vol. 2 was, or why entirely unrelated movies were made part of this non-series.

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Jennifer (SURNAME REDACTED) decides, one day, to drive into the middle of nowhere, take her magazine on a walk into the wilderness, then sit and read it. For reasons which never become apparent, a car full of four guys (see their album cover pose above), one of whom looks a little familiar, also drive to the same spot, track Jennifer down and rape her. But this rape isn’t the average traumatising, violent screen depiction of rape – everyone keeps their clothes on (although Jennifer does get her top ripped open at one point); so you get the curious image of a guy with his jeans on rubbing against the upper thigh of a woman with her jeans on, which is clearly supposed to be a full-on penetrative rape. One of the men, all of whom are unarmed, even forces Jennifer to give him oral sex, which seems a risky proposition given you’ve just brutalised the poor woman. She’s left lying on the ground, sobbing, then…

 

Five years later! Jennifer is now a student at law school, despite being 41 at the time of filming (although she aged remarkably well). The professor in one of the classes talks about her crime as an example of vengeance being an admissible defence in court these days, and makes a few “hilarious” jokes about rape and revenge murder, which naturally upsets our heroine. She decides to take her friend Sam (Linda Lyer) off for a trip to some other wilderness somewhere, to get away from it all, and after she agrees to buy the beer, Sam agrees.

 

At the same time, a woman rejects a man’s advances in a bar (Tommy, played by Farmer himself), so he waits for her to leave and then brutally butchers her in the car park outside. His performance is, to put it mildly, over the top, and here’s a screenshot:

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The band in the bar is Rikk-O-Shay…hold on! Their curly haired backing singer, the “star” of “Scream Dream”, was one of the rapists at the beginning of the movie! To see him bouncing about in the background, five years after he had his penis chopped off, is an odd moment, and these two performances represent the entirety of Nikki Riggins’ career in the movies. I can’t get bogged down in the details, though, we’ve got plenty more movie to get through.

 

Unlike the rural idyll it’s portrayed as in many movies, the wilderness here is just overgrown and ugly, and much more believable as a result. Stopping off at a gas station for supplies, they run into Tommy, who makes an inappropriate advance on Sam, only to be stopped by the guy who works there, Dwayne. Dwayne acts like a gentleman, but it turns out he’s the good cop to Tommy’s bad cop and they’re a rape gang! Now, I don’t know a lot about the world, but to completely accidentally fall foul of two different rape gangs in the space of five years seems the worst luck perhaps ever, or just incredibly lazy writing.

 

Later, Sam decides to go for a walk in the woods, gets lost, and happens upon Dwayne’s house. Bad move, Sam. She is raped, killed by Tommy in a fit of rage, then the two men have their way with her corpse before eating her. All this happens with clothes staying on, in case you were wondering. Jennifer waits til the next day before trying to track down her friend, but luckily Dwayne is at the store again and offers to take her to where Sam is. I appreciate I’m a bit of a cynic, but if I’d been the victim of a crime as horrific as Jennifer’s, I’d be much slower to trust a couple of sleazy scumbags who I knew nothing about. But we’ve only got 64 minutes, so those sort of niceties are right out of the window.

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So there’s yet more rape, and another long chase through the woods, culminating in what looks like Jennifer’s death…although it turns out when our two villains go back to the store to gloat over what they’d done, that she was fine, and didn’t have a scratch on her. It’s at this point that they clearly didn’t have Keaton for filming, as someone else has to tell Dwayne that she’s been buying chainsaws and guns and wants to meet them tomorrow. All this, given that the police would almost certainly believe her (they appear to be looking for an excuse to arrest the gruesome twosome), really makes no sense. Tommy’s degenerated into a full-blown necrophile by this point, although the impression is ruined somewhat by one of the corpses blinking several times while the camera focuses on her.

 

This is a horrible movie. Given how short it is, a really large portion of its running time is women either running away from rapists or being raped, and there’s nothing to distract from the grim spectacle of that. It’s poorly shot (on video, naturally), poorly lit, the acting is shocking, and there’s barely a script; plus the music, never a strong suit in Farmer’s stuff, is unbearable, tuneless noodling from beginning to end. I really don’t understand what Farmer was aiming for here – there’s nothing particularly graphic, with everyone being fully clothed at all times, and apart from one fantastic effect when Dwayne gets his head split open with a chainsaw there’s not any gore either. There’s no sense of humour and precious little sense of humanity.

 

Rating: thumbs down

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4 thoughts on “Savage Vengeance (1993)

  1. Pingback: Death Blow: A Cry For Justice (1987) |

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  4. Pingback: Shocking Dark (1989) (aka Terminator 2) |

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