1993’s SAVAGE VENGEANCE is one odd duck. It’s supposed to be a merely a tribute to the classic revenge film I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978), yet it has the star of that film Camille Keaton reprising the same “Jennifer” role and vaguely referencing events from that film. With that in mind, I finaly got a chance in 2006 to speak with the director, the prolific Donald Farmer (who also took an acting role in the movie).
Why did you decide to make Savage Vengeance?
This project was the idea of Mel Lieberman of the Canadian company Lettuce-Entertain U. He has been the Canadian distributor of my earlier movie CANNIBAL HOOKERS, and he had the idea for SAVAGE VENGEANCE and put up the seed money.
How did you get the project up and running?
It was made back to back with another movie I did called SCREAM DREAM, and the two movies used the same projection crew and studio facility. Rick Gonzales, who had worked for Tom Savini on DAY OF THE DEAD, did the effects make-up on both movies, also.
How did you get Camille Keaton to star?
I’d met Camille when I lived in Los Angeles and she was working as a hostess for the Amtrak train line, after just breaking up with her actor boyfriend (who had starred in the cult horror movie CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS). At the time she hadn’t done a movie since CONCRETE JUNGLE, so I tried to look around and help find Camille a new movie to do. About a year after meeting her, I was hired as projection manager and casting director for a 35mm theatrical action film called NO JUSTICE (which played theatres and drive-ins in the southeast in 89/90). One of my jobs was to cast a couple of names, so I called Camille and offered to fly her out from L.A. to Tennessee where NO JUSTICE was shot. The other names in NO JUSTICE were Cameron Mitchell, Bob Orwig (from PLATOON) and Susan Ashley Pohlman (who was the female host for one year on Adam Sadler’s MTV Game Show REMOTE CONTROL).
Instead of showing footage from I Spit On Your Grave when Jennifer talks about her past, you shot your own flashback footage – what was the reason for that?
This wasn’t an official sequel to I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. . .just a movie in the same genre. . .so obviously no footage from that movie could be used.
What were the limitations and/or benefits of shooting on video?
Since I’d just worked with Camille on the 35mm theatrical film NO JUSTICE a few months before starting SAVAGE VENGEANCE, we obviously no nowhere near the production value of NO JUSTICE by shooting on video. But the meager budget promised by Lieberman (which he never fully came through with) didn’t afford enough to shoot on film. The next year I found a little more money to do VAMPIRE COP with, so that was shot on 16mm.
How was distribution worked out? It seems to pop up on many budget labels and compilation packs.
All of the distribution has been with only one company, Magnun Video. They created the poster art of the girl in shadows holding a chainsaw, and they put it out on DVD under their separate DVD division called Eden DVD. But it was all the same company, really.
Some consider your movie to be the a valid semi-official sequel to I Spit On Your Grave, others dismiss it as a homemade tribute movie or remake. How do you see it, all these years later?
It’s definitely not a sequel to I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, but a movie inspired by that earlier film. I didn’t even want to make a movie in the rape-revenge genre, but Liberman insisted that was a requirement for his backing the movie (and then he only came up with a small amount of the money he promised). That’s why the movie was never distributed by his company, but went to Magnum (who also agreed to become the American distributor of CANNIBAL HOOKERS, even after Lieberman got his Canadian edition of that title into a big chunk of U.S. video stores in the late 80’s.
As an interesting side note, years later Camille was reported married to Sid Luft, the father of Liza Minelli’s half sister, Lorna Luft. So in a strange way, Camille is now part of the Liza Minelli family!!
Donald Farmer: MySpace