I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE 1978 Film- Spoiler Summary

If you've never heard of this American rape revenge film from 1978, let me fill you in briefly. It's a story of a woman, Jennifer Hills, played by Camille Keaton, who is raped multiple times by four men. She gets revenge on all four. It was filmed over six weeks in 1976 but not released until 1978. This film is inspired by true events that happened in October 1974. Read more about that after the spoiler summary. Click on links in the summary to see photos from that scene.

SPOILER SUMMARY: Jennifer is a writer from New York. She's on her way to a cottage in the New York countryside on Park Hill Lane to work on her first novel but stops first for gas. Johnny, played by Eron Tabor, who now goes by Ron Shetler, is the attendant. Later Matthew delivers groceries to her house. Matthew goes and tells the other guys that he saw her 'tits'.

Jennifer's laying in a hammock writing, mere feet away from the river. The river is just behind the cabin. Here come Johnny and his three friends, Stanley, Andy, and Matthew, in a motorboat to harass her. She's watching them as they stare back at her. She's in bed reading one night (the same night?) and hears someone whistling. She goes outside to investigate but doesn't see anyone. She's sunbathing in a canoe in the same river and here comes two of them, Andy (German-born Gunter Kleemann) and Matthew (Richard Pace) in their motorboat. They circle her boat then tie a rope to her canoe and bring her to shore with them. Out jumps Johnny, wearing those awful coveralls. He's wearing them in every scene. He pulls down her bikini top, pushes her down as she's trying to get away and has Andy and Stanley pull her legs apart so he can pull her bikini bottoms off. He calls Matthew over (Matthew's supposed to be mental slow) to rape her first. He won't do it so Johnny rapes her. Afterward, she crawls away, stumbles, gets up and calls them 'bastards!' while she's walking away.

While walking naked through the woods, having just been raped, she encounters Andy sitting on a rock and playing the harmonica. The others are there too. They carry her over to a rock, lay her on it face down and Andy rapes her anally while the others are holding her limbs down. His acting during the rape is terrible. You should see his overly dramatic body movements. During her rape Stanley and Johnny grin. Johnny and Stanley leave, leaving Andy leaning his ass against a tree while pulling his pants up. She's left alone on the rock. She slides off the rock, gets up and crawls away. All four of the men get in their boat and leave, taking her canoe with them. They throw her bikini in the water.

Jennifer's covered in blood and collapses in her yard. She's inside the house wearing a robe, shivering terribly and is crawling over to the telephone to call the police. She puts it to her ear and Stanley kicks the phone out of her hand and she screams. She crawls away and Stanley drags her over to him and kicks her in the face, Johnny smoking and smirking as he and the other two watch. Matthew is now raping her. He's saying, 'I can't come! I can't come! You're interrupting my concentration. I can't finish like that!'

Andy picks up her manuscript, reads some of it aloud and they make fun of it. Stanley goes over to her. He straddles her torso as she's laying there. He's wearing the same brown pants throughout the film. She says, 'I'm hurt. Please, I'm hurt. I'll do it to you with my hand. You'll like it, you'll see.' He says, 'Total submission. That's what I like in a woman. Total submission.' He reaches behind him with his left hand, the hand that's holding a green wine bottle, inserts it in her and she screams. He straddles her face and says, 'Suck it, bitch! I said you're gonna suck it!' He calls her a bitch and a whore and smacks her repeatedly. The guys are yelling at him, telling him he's wasting his time. He says she's laying there like a mannequin and kicks her a few times.

They all leave her and are about to get into their boat when Johnny says they can't let her go. He gives Matthew a knife and tells him to go back and kill her. He refuses. Johnny tells him to never come back and calls him a 'dumb turkey'. Matthew cries and Johnny calls him back over to him. He demonstrates how to stab her and gives Matthew the knife. Matthew goes into her house. She's laying there where they left her. He wipes the blade of the knife in the blood on her face then goes back out to the guys. They assume he's killed her. She's in the tub on her hands and knees, covered in blood, shower spraying down on her.

I guess it's the same or next day when she's piecing together her torn up manuscript and retyping it. Two weeks later the three guys are at a diner. Johnny says its been two weeks and they haven't heard anything about her death and that someone should have smelled her body by now. They drive by her house in their boat and see her sitting in the grass, back against a tree, near the lake. She obviously sees them. They beat the crap out of Matthew for not killing her. Johnny runs him off on his bike, threatening to 'bust his ass' if he sees him again.

She's loading a gun that was already in the dresser drawer (the producer rented it) when she moved in. She goes to church to pray for forgiveness for the revenge she's about to dish out. Same day, she's parked near the gas station spying on Johnny. She sees a car parked by him and his two little kids are out talking to him. Next, she's parked outside the grocery store where Matthew works as a bicycle delivery man. She calls and orders some items and wants them delivered to her home. Matthew is told to deliver them, recognizes the address and is terrified to have to see her. He takes the knife that's laying near the bag of groceries and two huge pieces of cheese, (there's a fly on one of them) puts it in the waistband of his jeans and leaves.

He shows up sporting a black eye from the beating Johnny gave him. She comes out from behind a tree, tells him he got there 'super fast' and walks into the woods, hoping he'll follow. He's scared shitless and is carrying the knife he stole from work. He finds her leaning against a tree. He tells her he hates her, she's ruined his life, all the while holding up the knife. She strips off her semi-sheer white robe/gown and tells him she could have given him a summer to remember. She kneels down and pulls his pants down. She lays back and he gets on top of her. They kiss and as he's humping her she reaches to her right side, picks up a noose and puts it around his neck, him not seeming to notice. She pulls the rope, strings him up and he dies. As he's hanging there she pushes him until the rope comes loose from the tree and he falls into the water. She pushes his bike and bag of groceries into the water. She calls the store and tells them its been an hour and her groceries haven't been delivered.

She goes to the gas station. Johnny comes out and tells her they're closed and were only open a half day since it's Sunday. She starts playing with her hair from the driver's seat and with her head, motions for him to get in. They drive down a dirt road, they get out and she forces him to get naked (you can see his balls from behind when he's leaning forward to take his clothes off and I enjoyed it.)

As he's getting naked he proceeds to tell her that she asked for what she got from them because she exposed her 'damn sexy legs' to him at the gas station when they first met and she exposed her 'tits' to Matthew (which isn't true). She lets him take the gun out of her hand. He throws it and pulls her down to him. She caresses his face and says she'll give him a hot bath. They're in her bathroom. He's in the tub, she's naked, pinning her hair up while talking to him. We see him in the mirror. She gets in the tub facing him and is massaging his neck. He tells her that Matthew has been missing since the day before. She tells him she's killed him and that they had sex and Matthew 'came'. She says that because in the previous scene when Matthew was raping her he was telling the other guys that he couldn't come. He laughs and tells her she's got 'one fantastic imagination'.

She's giving him a hand job in the tub while she's telling him all that. While his eyes are closed, she reaches down beside the tub and gets a knife from under a yellow towel. She cuts his penis off. She calmly puts her robe on, leaves the bathroom and locks it from the outside. He's screaming, saying he can't stop the bleeding. She goes in the living room, buttons her robe/gown while looking back at the bathroom door, puts on an opera record and sits in a rocking chair. He finally stops speaking and she burns his clothes in the fireplace. She cleans the bathroom and what a mess it is. We see a quick flash of where his body is.

Johnny's wife and kids are at the gas station looking for him. Andy and Stanley are there getting yelled at by his wife. She thinks they know where he is. She tells them to 'get the fuck outta here!' and says she'll 'break their goddamn heads' if they come back around there.

Stanley and Andy get in their boat and head to Jennifer's. I think they're suspicious of her because now two of the four men have disappeared. She's in the hammock again. Just Stanley's in the boat and Andy's hiding behind a tree with an axe. The boat stops and Jennifer swims over to it and gets in, surprising Stanley because he didn't even know she was there. I think she tells Stanley that he's the one she wanted, leans in like she's about to kiss him and pushes him in the water. She starts the boat and drives in circles around Stanley to scare him. When she's far away from Stanley Andy swims over to him and helps him swim to shore. Jennifer drives over to them, axe raised high, and puts his axe into Andy's back. Still in the boat, she's near Stanley. She turns the boat off. He's holding on to the engine, telling her he didn't want to rape her. She quotes his earlier words by saying, 'Suck it, bitch!', starts the engine, the blades cut him up and she drives off into the sunset, having now murdered the last of four rapists.


I'll start with the awful event that inspired Meir to make this film. Part of this info is from this video at MovieWeb with Meir and the rest is from his own commentary:

On a rainy New York Sunday in October 1974 Meir, his eight year old daughter Tammy, and Meir's friend Alex Pfau (he's from Poland and died from a heart attack when he was 63) were driving to a nearby high school to use the running track. It was about 6 PM. On the way there they cut through Goose Pond Park ( I think it must have been renamed). Alex saw a naked girl come out from the bushes about 40 feet from them. They got out of the car and rushed over to her. She was muddy. They asked her what happened and with a broken jaw she told them she'd been raped and beaten by two men. Alex put his parka on her, they put her in the car, drove Tammy home then took the girl to the police station. While there, the officer didn't seem to be concerned about the girl. She said she was eighteen or nineteen. The officer asked her why she was in the park in the first place. That angered Meir and he yelled and banged on the desk and they took her to the hospital.

Later he learned that she'd been taking a shortcut through the park to get to her boyfriend's house. She was grabbed from behind, they took her eyeglasses off, punched her and dragged her into the bushes. They ripped her clothes off, yelling, 'Shut up, bitch, or we'll kill you!' and took turns raping, beating, and sodomizing her. One put a knife to her throat and she begged him to not kill her, telling him she couldn't even see them well because she wasn't wearing her glasses. They left her there, taking her clothes and glasses with them.

She was in intensive care for about a week. A female officer contacted Meir and said the girl's father wanted to know if he could have his and Alex's address so he could send them thank you cards. Both men got a card from her parents, dated October 7, 1974, that read:

Dear Sir,

My wife and myself would like to express our heartfelt thanks for kindness (inaudible) help that you have rendered to our daughter after she was so viciously attacked by the two animals that must have come down from the trees. Thank God that our daughter is coming along nicely. The swelling's subsided and she can now eat. The police have a number of suspects but have not as yet with any arrests. Again, our deepest thanks.


Names Withheld

I wrote down what he said verbatim but part of that letter doesn't make sense, like this, '...but have not as yet with any arrests.' I think he's actually going off memory.

They filmed six days a week, 10-14 hours a day, for six weeks with Wednesday being their day off.
Meir's two children are in this playing Johnny's children. They don't have speaking roles.
The town of Kent, Connecticut only had two gas stations and this was filmed at one of them.
The character of Matthew was modeled after a mentally challenged messenger who worked in Meir's office building.
The script took four months for him to complete. He worked on it to and from work while riding the subway in New York.
Camille (Jennifer) wore all of her own clothing in the film.
Meir placed ads in papers looking for one woman and four men in their 20's to be in a low budget film.
Camille told him that after high school she became an airline stewardess then moved to Italy to pursue acting.
Two other women were considered for the role. One was 6'2 and the other was so attractive as to be 'distracting.'
Six months after the film's completion, Camille won a best actress award at a festival in Spain.
The scene where Stanley and Andy harass Jennifer in the boat was filmed with no sound. The whole scene where they're chasing her before one of the rape's was shot with no sound too. During editing the boat motor sounds and dialogue was added.
Before the film, the actors playing Andy and Stanley had degrees in psychology and Gunter (Andy) had worked with emotionally disturbed children.
Gunter knew how to handle a motor boat and taught Camille how to use one in one day.
A lot of the men who auditioned were unwilling to be naked on camera while most women who auditioned were willing.
A male gaffer quit right before the rape scene on the rock was about to be filmed. He was tired of all the violence.
The female makeup artist quit at some point because she too had been gang raped in real life.
Camille's driving Meir's own car, a 1975 Dodge Aspen, which was only one year old at the time.
Matthew (Richard Pace) is almost 6' tall and 180 pounds.
Eron grew up on a ranch in Ontario, California. IMDB has a quote of him saying he grew up Mennonite.
The woman who was to play Johnny's wife got sick before filming so the script girl, I think is what Meir said she was, was asked to fill in minutes before filming.
Meir is seen from behind playing the piano (or pretending to) during the scene where Jennifer enters the church to pray.


This is a great 28 minute documentary with Meir but too much to get into.

MY THOUGHTS: I like this film because it's so harsh and disturbing. It'll definitely leave some kind of lifelong impression on you. I believe it first came out on DVD in late 2002 with the Millennium Edition. I think it was that same year that I first saw it. I owned it on VHS. I can see why it was banned in certain countries.

I wish Camille had had more lines. She doesn't speak much throughout the whole thing. Most of her acting was done with facial expressions, which were well conveyed. I do think Eron does some really good acting in this. It's a shame he wasn't in more films and I wonder why that was.

Three of the men never acted after this. I think Eron/Ron did some theater and now owns his own company.

Meir's commentary was informative, if not extremely hard to understand because of his heavy accent, and Joe Bob's was slightly funny at times. Throughout the whole thing he kept calling Matthew a 'retard', which I find highly offensive, and called Johnny's wife Alexis fat and something like dumpy, which was totally uncalled for. He didn't say one negative thing about anyone else's appearance except hers.

This interview with Meir at MovieWeb is very good and informative and I suggest you watch it.

Both U.S. in-print versions of the original film, here, and the two disc version that has both the original 1978 and 2010 remake, have the same bonus features with Meir and Joe Bob Briggs. I assume the audio commentary with Meir and Joe Bob Briggs (two separate audio tracks) that's on the 2011 release was taken from the 2002 release. I own the double feature from 2012.

Here's a 2009 article about Gunter (Andy). Ron (Johnny) is a vocal coach with his own studio.

Meir has said several times that there's a real-life case where a woman was raped and later killed her rapists with a shotgun but I can't find any information about that online anywhere. I'm dying to know more about that. He never said when or where it took place. If you have some info on this please let me know!

Watch it here.

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