Cinetel set for ‘Grave’ remake

1978 female revenge film reviled by critics

CineTel Films has acquired rights to remake “I Spit on Your Grave,” the 1978 female revenge film that was reviled for its depiction of sex and violence.

The remake rights were owned by Meir Zarchi, who directed, produced and wrote the original. Though the majority of CineTel’s releases are straight-to-DVD titles, the company will make “Spit” for a theatrical release.

In the original, a woman is abducted, brutally attacked and raped and then left for dead. She survives, hunts her attackers and dispatches them in graphic ways. Critics, especially Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, hated the film, much to Zarchi’s delight.

“The more the film was attacked, the more money shot into my pocket,” Zarchi said. “The two persons who contributed most to that, especially in the beginning, were Siskel and Ebert. … I wouldn’t change a frame of it, and I hope the remake is just as controversial.”

Pic will be produced by CineTel prexy-CEO Paul Hertzberg and Lisa Hansen, with Jeff Klein, Alan Ostroff, Gary Needle and Zarchi as exec producers.

As reviled as it was when originally released, “I Spit on Your Grave” was a precursor to a slew of female revenge film hits, Hertzberg said. Contemporary genre fare has become so graphically violent that the original doesn’t seem as outrageous as it did 30 years ago. Hertzberg is listening to pitches from writers on how to ratchet up the shock factor.

“After seeing what was done with an R rating on films like ‘Saw’ and ‘Hostel,’ we think we can modernize this story, be competitive with what this marketplace expects and not have to aim for an NC-17 or X rating,” Hertzberg said.

Contacted by Daily Variety, Ebert said only that his hope is that this time, the result is a better film.

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