I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

Unlike Last House on the Left, Cannibal Holocaust and several other early infamous shock films of its kind, I Spit has the smart sense to leave out the hokey, contradictory music and allow a challenging film to resonate effectively. This means that the precise revenge murders, each unique and somewhat elaborate, are much more powerful. Aside from the bloody mayhem, there is a great, simplified suspense scene where an uncivilized redneck is deciding whether or not to pick up a bag of groceries he’s asked to deliver to a woman he helped gang rape and leave for dead. But the victim is a strong woman and no one is going to stop her from writing her book as well as patiently slaying the depraved goons. We have a winner. [rating: $9] –Kenyon

Last House on the Left (1972, 2009)

For a film that created so much controversy at the time of its release, the original Last House on the Left had a wild and corny soundtrack. A happy traveling song fit for Benny Hill (with kazoo, no less!) precedes the violent murders of two young girls who lack escape skills. By now Wes Craven and company must realize that the film would be a million times better with no soundtrack at all. And it’s not only the music that is a problem. There are a couple of moronic local cops who waste time and comically fail to hitch a ride with a stereotypical southern black woman driving a truck load of chickens. All of this equates to around 20 irrelevant minutes.

Better to get to the heart of the story. A ragtag, ruthless group of criminals (plus the leaders’ son who, in the original, dreams of being a frog) murder two girls and then coincidentally that same night wind up at the home of one of the girl’s parents.

While the film received much criticism for its realistic depiction of rape and murder, the most interesting aspect of Last House is the change in the parents of the victim. Early in both films, we see a lighthearted, gentle couple. When they realize the people who tormented their daughter are in their home, they turn as sadistic as the villians.

The remake actually does a better job working into that transformation, and the parents’ blistering savage revenge has several moments that deserve literal applause (squeeze a nose that merely an hour ago you stitched up? hell yea!). At the same time, however, the remake goes soft by allowing two characters who perished in the first film to survive. [rating: 1972 – $6, 2009 – $8] –Kenyon

VHS IS THE SHT: Avenged (1977)

VHS IS THE SHT. rare, valuable finds based on global market value.

Avenged (aka Tomcats aka Deadbeat, 1977)
Sold on eBay for $75 This very obscure and very hard to find “sex and violence” flick is akin to revenge classics such as I Spit on Your Grave and Last House on the Left. Released in big box by Continental, it’s so unknown there’s not even an entry for it on wikipedia and on youtube there’s only one video, which is the trailer. A trailer that doesn’t seem to take the film seriously enough. In fact, the trailer focuses on the group of villians and disregards any revenge story. To make it even more difficult to find, it goes by two other titles! –Kenyon