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lurtz6

Torture Porn, Serbians, and Underground August: Taking Horror Too Far

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
I have a confession to make:

I saw Hostel for the first time the other day, and I felt sick to my stomach.

I have vowed to never watch A Serbian Film, Cannibal Holocaust, or Necromantik.

Human Centipede 2 made me want to throw up.



Now, this is coming from a guy who can laugh in appreciation of Tom Savini's work, loves Rob Zombie movies, and is generally not creeped out by blood. I'm no gorehound, don't get me wrong, I appreciate violence, but not to the depths it has been taken recently with the advent of the "Torture film."

When we are watching a classic film from the 80's for example, Pieces, it is a fun time. Pure escapist fantasy, as people are killed in gratuitous ways in generally unrealistic situations. As the genre and special effects have evolved, new ideas are constantly introduced to revitalize horror.

One such idea was the concept of a gritty, nihilistic movie, where unrelenting, realistic violence abounds. The idea can really be traced back to movies such as Cannibal Holocaust, where the director was accused of murdering the actual cast members; and Snuff, the 1976 movie that marketed itself as an actual Snuff film.

In recent years the idea of unrelenting, extreme realistic horror has resurfaced. In Eli Roth's Hostel, we get to see people getting tortured by other humans in agonizing detail. In all honesty, i find it hard to root for the kills in that movie. "Yeah, sever his tendons so he can't run away, now shove the drill down his throat! What a kick-ass scene!" I don't know about the reader of this blog, but my idea of a good time is not watching someone get tortured for a half-hour.

Tom Six's Human Centipede had a sickening concept, but the film was relatively bloodless, making for an effective and good movie. The sequel, however shows ever single detail of how to make an amateur centipede, with sledgehammers to teeth, nailguns to people, and fetus's going splat. When our horror films have come to the point where babies are being killed, what does that say about the audience?

Now, these examples I've given certainly are full of realistic gore and violence, and some of you might be calling me a wuss right now. But when a movie like August Underground appears, where realistic home video footage shows realistic looking murders of people, that's is definitely F***ed up. The point of the horror film, at least for me, is that is provides a little slice of unreality and unrealistic horrors to entertain in a world where far worse things happen every day.

A Serbian Film. Almost an art film, that deals with necrophilia, pedophilia, rape, and suicide. What makes this movie really screwed up is that this must be true in at least some part, because I would like to think that no one could dream up the concept for that movie. So the question is, did that movie have to be made for the world to see?

Oddly, enough extreme levels of violence are becoming the norm in horror today. Just compare the latest incarnations of Friday the 13th and Scream to their predescessors and notice how much more brutal they are. Saw, with its yearly segments, really made extreme violence part of the genre.

I guess the point to all of these ramblings is that sometimes, horror is taken into realms of the most extreme. In my opinion this should not be the case, leading to the question: do movies need realistic violence in realistic situations? Yes, it is scary, I think a little too much. I for one, don't want to feel like throwing up when I want to be scared.

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Updated 02-16-2012 at 07:41 AM by lurtz6

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Comments

  1. Boomer's Avatar
    Dude, I couldnt agree with you more. I already said enough on how I feel about mondern day horror, but you said every point i ever had. I cannot think of a single horror film in the last 25 yrs that is really truely scary, and lives up to the genre of "horror". I as well like to be scared, not sickened when watching a horror film, which is why films like Paranormal Activity, and Insidious were a breath of fresh air. Horror films nowadays are trying to push the envelope with gore, then giving us the next great movie that will be on somebodys "top 10 horror films" 10 yrs from now.
  2. lurtz6's Avatar
    Exactly, I prefer a good old Jump scare over a castration anyday.
  3. dawnkatdead's Avatar
    Awesome article Lurtz! I am a fan of Hostel, I used to be a huge gore hound, but recently Hostel II is as far as I'll go. After having my daughter I find it really difficult to watch a lot of uber gory/torture porn/extreme horror, I haven't even seen Inside yet (although I do eventually want to see it). I would rather be scared by something that goes bump in the night, not something that is going to smash the back of my skull in and sew me to someone's anus. I think that these film makers want to push the envlope, just to see how far they can push. But in some cases, like Cannibal Holocaust, it comes back to bite them in the ass. There will always be an audience for movies like this, and if that's what kind of movies they dig on then more power to them, but I just can't bring myself to watch this stuff anymore.
  4. Butcher's Avatar
    I can't wait to read this when I have the time. Thanks for posting Lurtz!!!!
  5. Gronith's Avatar
    I am kinda on the fence here, I like both types of horror. I do agree though a lot of these gross out points seem like one ups man ship not to be scarier but gross'r. Reminds me of all the gross out moments injected (out of place usually) in comedies since There's Something About Mary. Doing something just to be controversial is getting old. What made torture horror good in my opinion is that they really brought back suspense into horror. The drawn out long gritty tension scenes are awesome, just leave the gross out gags on the cutting room table.
  6. cducharme's Avatar
    I am probably considered a gorehound. As a little kid, I watched the faces of death series and was bored because people weren't dying fast enough. Yet, I love a good suspenseful horror film even if it's got zero gore. I guess as far as I'm concerned there's a place for EVERYTHING in horror (except those stupid PG-13 movies that are cut JUST enough to get that rating, either go balls out or PG-13 it up, don't take a rated R movie and chop it to hell) and I'll enjoy it!
  7. action_can_do's Avatar
    I have to disagree with most of what the author has said. I went into both Hostel and Saw with some trepidation due to the fierce reputations they had. I was very surprised at how unimpressed I was with the gore in both films. I've seen episodes of CSI that were gorier. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen a movie that could top the gore in Day of the Dead or the cringe inducing power of Last House on the Left (originals of course). If the author thinks that modern horror films are "too scary" than perhaps his tastes have changed. Perhaps he has simply lost his love of the genre. It happens.
  8. Canadian Psycho's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by action_can_do
    I have to disagree with most of what the author has said. I went into both Hostel and Saw with some trepidation due to the fierce reputations they had. I was very surprised at how unimpressed I was with the gore in both films. I've seen episodes of CSI that were gorier. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen a movie that could top the gore in Day of the Dead or the cringe inducing power of Last House on the Left (originals of course). If the author thinks that modern horror films are "too scary" than perhaps his tastes have changed. Perhaps he has simply lost his love of the genre. It happens.
    I think you may have missed the author's point. It's not about the gore, it's about the sadistic and real nature of the violence. I think he's saying that the problem is the movies aren't scary. That they go for the cheap and easy thrill of extreme violence. The scary part is that some people enjoy watching people suffer in agony.

    Having said that, I don't totally agree with the author. I would agree that August Underground is junk. I don't see anything redeeming in it. Human Centipede 2 - also, not my thing. Buuut, if you couch the violence in beautiful film-making or a story that warrants extreme violence because it's taking you someplace dark and to get the full experience the violence is needed, then I get it. In fact I need it. Could you imagine Martyrs without the violence. It wouldn't have made the same lasting impression. Or Inside. Or Irreversible. Serbian film is in my opinion incredible. Take the baby scene out, but leave the rest in. I just watched the Burning Moon last night and even though it looked like my 3 year old filmed it on a Fisher-Price camera, that final 20 minutes of complete madness took me someplace insane and it was a trip. Wouldn't have worked without the violence.

    So point is, first you can't lump all these extreme movies together. And second, sometimes the violence is needed to take you out of your comfort zone and go on a trip to a darker place. The trip isn't for everyone, but personally I like exploring the sadistic side from time to time from the comfort of my living room. For many, that is what makes horror so interesting - it take you places other genres don't. But someone tied to a chair being tortured for 20 minutes straight with no other context? No thanks.
    Updated 02-24-2012 at 06:50 PM by Canadian Psycho
  9. Dusty B's Avatar
    While I completely understand lurtz's points, which were really well stated by the way, I agree largely with Canadian Psycho. I think it depends on what the gore's purpose in the movie is. I really don't enjoy films like Hostel because of the worthless characters and long stretches of torture for the hell out of it. But I've found other films can utilize the violence for a proper effect, making them hit home even harder. Films such as Inside create almost an artistry out of their violence while treating it seriously and raising the stakes within the story. And even Cannibal Holocaust justifies its use to me when you consider its comment on humanity's obsession with marketing and watching violence. So there is a place and time for such violence, but it needs to be handled properly for it to have any merit. And at the same time, there's more than enough room for subtler films such as Paranormal Activity. Variety is what's always made the horror genre so fascinating.
  10. lurtz6's Avatar
    Dusty, Canadian Psycho, I understand your points and agree that when used effectively, violence can work wonderfully in a movie, just look at natural born killers. The point I'm trying to make is that brutal realistic violence, in such films like hostel or august underground doesn't scare, or entertain me, it just makes me feel like I want to puke. That is the point where horror crosses the line. My whole point can be summed up by: Watching someone get realistically tortured for a half-hour is not horror, it is pure explotaition and I am not entertained by that.
  11. grlhorrorfan's Avatar
    lurtz I think your post was really well-written and I agree with everything you said. I am someone who just happens to watch movies for pretty much an escape. I personally don't care for torture movies of any kind. So I just choose not to watch them, but have no problem if someone else wants to watch it. As horror fans, I think that we are a little more tolerant of each other within our community, which is one of the things I love about loving horror.
  12. lurtz6's Avatar
    Exactly. This is a pure opinion piece, from my mind.
  13. Christie1's Avatar
    When I first saw Hostel I was stressed out, mainly at the hopelessness and isolation of the situation and people being sick with pain. In other movies they usually carry on with escaping with series wounds etc. But being a massive horror fan, I always wanted to go one step further, so i hunted down August Underground. When I finished watching I was repulsed but exhilerated, a film had finallly "gone there" and shoved it down the viewers throat. I really should have stopped there but I went to Snuff 102. Mordum, Serbian Film, Grotesque, Guinea pig films ,Vomit Gore series. Now i kind of wish i could take back some of that viewing. Yes they probably have gone as far as they can without really killing anyone but I did choose to view them with a bit of prior knowledge to what Id be watching. I find now Ive stopped watching things with prolonged torture etc and have gone for more light hearted or story heavy movies. Ive reached my limit with the genre( torture/porn)