Posts Tagged ‘gore’

grotesque; the necessary horror movie

September 18, 2009

Hot on the heels of love. If love were a badly constructed rant against a surprisingly popular 90 minute waste of celluloid. Yes, today I am here to this time defend a piece of torture porn. Isn’t this blog just such a pleasant place?

The BBFC – you wonderful organisation of people so much more reasonable than I am in determining whether or not I should see a piece of cinema – you happy band of censors – decided this year to ban a Japanese horror movie, Grotesque, on the grounds that it is nothing more than an hour of sadism & torture for sadism & torture’s sake. I wonder how you get a job at the BBFC. I wonder, do you have to prove that you’re statistically more normal, more sane, than the majority of people out there watching movies; are they certifiably morally superior to the rest of us? Or just conscientious Nazis.

So, okay, what essentially sounds like the infamous Guinea Pig movies of the 1980s (gory exploitation mondo-style documentaries, allegedly showing real murders & deaths on screen – though in retrospect, with a sane view, clearly not) – what sounds like a Guinea Pig movie probably isn’t going to add a great deal to the great canon of cinema. Plotless & directionless as it reportedly is. Which must surely make David Lynch’s spiralling, looping, time-warping mind-fuckingly plotted movies essential viewing. Perhaps banning it isn’t just to censor the graphic, sexually-heated torture, but to save the public from watching another waste of celluloid – were it not, by appearance, a digitally-filmed movie.

Well, you know what, fuck you BBFC. I put off watching Grotesque for nearly two weeks because after recoiling before both Martyrs & Inside this holiday, I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to unnerve myself for another few days. So thanks, BBFC, for making me put it off for so long, so unnecessarily. Because, you will be shocked & horrified to learn – & the faint of heart amongst you may do well to prepare yourself to swoon ever so slightly – I watched Grotesque two nights ago. Shocking. Illegal. Perverse. I live on the edge, baby. Except, no, I don’t. & neither does Grotesque.

An hour of your time. That’s all it takes; it is a very short movie. At least twenty minutes of that is taken up by dialogue. Yes. Normal everyday horror movie dialogue. Badly constructed, mostly laughable, but definitely not pornographic or gory. Halfway through the movie we learn the recent back-story of the two unfortunate victims, later on we learn the motivation behind the killer (not even Saw reveals the true motivation of Jigsaw until three or four movies into its increasingly-homogenized structural mess of a series), there is even an epilogue of sorts. It isn’t much, but it’s there, the faint heart-beat of a plot. It just needed a few more incubated months & it may have been compelling stuff. Indeed, the final few lines of the female character reveal almost tantalising details about the killer’s past – she seems inextricably linked with him, & if that were only taken a littler further, just a few baby steps more.

The gore itself, by today’s so often anatomically accurate, surgically scrupulous standards, is pretty bloody tame. Saw. Hostel. Martyrs. All available in your nearest good movie stockist, & all infinitely more realistically graphic & disturbing – in this sense – than Grotesque. Grotesque has more in common with Evil Dead than The Devil’s Rejects. Even Passion of the Christ comes off better than this in the gore stakes. There is a scene – I kid you not – when a disembodied head, literally & entirely disembodied, attacks the executioner. Sound familiar? It’s all a bit reminiscent of the fight Ash has with his own hand, prior to the epic replacement-chainsaw segment. It doesn’t get more b-movie than that.

The low-budget clearly had an effect on the gore. I’m presuming it was indeed low-budget, because they certainly mishandled any kind of large monetary fund at their disposal. The cuts & angles are such that anything that could by remotely graphic is obscured by weird lighting or an extreme close-up. A scene in which an eye is impaled with a skewer is covered up by the hand shielding the eye. But recall Audition. Recall Zombi 2. No flinching from the eyes there.

There is far more emotion in the Hostel movies alone than you ever experience once in Grotesque. Without the emotionally connection to these characters, how can we sympathise with them? I am obviously not saying they should be tortured – it is, after all, just a movie – but the deaths resonate so much more in Hostel than in Grotesque. Hostel has an entire organisation devoted to the unhappy suffering of young girls & boys at the hands of rich business-men. Grotesque has one bloke in a basement. Oh, so, Grotesque presents more of a threat because it could happen? No. It doesn’t & it couldn’t. The hospital scene alone will confirm that for you; it’s just one generic stupid horror movie decision after another. If Hostel gets through, Grotesque gets through.

I will sympathise with the BBFC on one note. There is a ‘rape’ scene. The girl, followed by the boy, are manually jerked off by the psychopath. But trim it, BBFC. Remember – like you did with Last Cannibal World? It isn’t difficult. Even by horror-rape standards, it’s tame. Nothing of the genitals are shown whilst the act is in progress – everyone remains clothed & concealed. It’s unpleasant. It’s unnecessary. But a short cut – which I would inevitably oppose for other reasons – would remove the offending problem & allow people to at least see some kind of butchered version of the movie.

Twenty years ago, a whole host of horror was being banned. Video Nasties. Clearly the public weren’t trusted with their own judgement then either. But watch them now &, trust me, so many of them are near laughable. It makes you really wonder how the BBFC works – how do some truly disturbing thrillers get through, but tame, low-budget horror is told to go back to where it crawled from at the border because of some seriously over-the-top gore. Gore which, I may remind you, is never ever, NEVER EVER real.

By this reckoning, in twenty years, we’ll all be sat around with popcorn laughing at the cornball effects of Grotesque.

Interestingly, everyone I’ve spoken to about Grotesque has presumed I’ve been talking about Antichrist. The genital-mutilating, baby-killing, blood-ejaculating movie that’s in cinemas RIGHT NOW. That’s right, folks, catch it before it’s too late. So. Whoops, BBFC. Looks like you banned the wrong movie.


It’s post-script time! Today, I encourage you all to gawp, slack-jawed at the BBFC’s page on Grotesque;

Go on. Gawp. Gawp at the reason they give for banning for movie. Gawp at it! Oh. Wait, you can’t. They haven’t given one.

the unnecessary horror movie

September 8, 2009

Torture porn has many detractors. I am not one of them. They are the extreme descendants of 80s grindhouse/slasher flicks. Nude, crude & blood soaked. Having said that, the ‘torture porn motif’ has been around since at least the 70s; I Spit On Your Grave, anyone?

They are by no means cinematic gold, but they’re watchable. Done well, they’re truly unsettling – though I’m of the opinion that when they become structured & plot-orientated they aren’t so much torture porn but a different kind of extreme horror. Martyrs & Inside (& much recent French horror, although I wasn’t too keen on Frontiere(s)) fall into this category. They are unsettling, ooze torture porn themes, but are actually good (subjectively) cinema.

Last night I decided to watch one particular movie that had been raved about. Eden Lake. It had been raved about by articles, it had been raved about by petite pink-clad girls who are still scared by the opening sequence of Nightmare Before Christmas, it had been raved about by teenage horror addicts. & the question I found myself asking whilst the movie flickered dimly on my computer screen last night was ‘why?’.

Eden Lake, I’m afraid to say, was not a good horror movie. I’m not even sure it can be called ‘horror’. Some of it was horrific, certainly. But to include it in the grand pantheon of titles – Rosemary’s Baby, Wicker Man, the …of the Dead series, Halloween, Psycho, Ring, The Shining, Alien, Audition, Tokyo Gore Police, Cannibal Holocaust, Braindead, & on & on & on – just seems inappropriate. It seemed unnecessary. Even Hostel didn’t feel unnecessary.


Eden Lake tried to be several altogether entirely noble (in a cinematic respect) things at once. It wanted to be a psychological thriller – the dementia displayed by the lead antagonist could really have been something, were he not just blindly violent & general gobby little twat. It could have made some wishywashy social commentary with the happy-slapping style phone camera recording their crimes. But it didn’t. The girl with the phone ran away, in some kind of mute protest, before being run down by the car – incidentally, the moral message of the movie is: if you have a conscience you’ll probably die, if you’re a mean fuck you’ll kill all the nice, well-to-do ladies & gentlemen & get away with it because all your friends are also all complete psychos or conscientious people who’ll die soon anyway. It could have been a lost-in-the-woods horror. It’s been done to death, but there’s always potential for putting a new twist in the old dog. It could have been torture porn – no problems with that, it would have just been as dull as the Hostel series.

The attempt at, or the perceived attempt at, realism was just a bit too distracting. It kept rubbing itself in my tired face like an absurd rag. Okay, so there are some troublesome kids in England. Rather blatantly the stereotypical troublemakers are quite clearly ‘chavs’, or ‘pikeys’, in that time honoured way of generalising a demographic, labelling it, & blaming it for all society’s ills. But, Jesus Christ, they don’t burn people alive! Literally living, alive, breathing people. This is what spoilt the horror & torture porn. Zombies aren’t magical, they have potential realism, but they never will be real! There’s never going to be a hotel in deepest, darkest Europe that lets you murder nubile girls! There’s never going to be a sect that tries to push people to the utter extremities of pain so they can see into the ‘other side’! Torture porn is just as implausible as other horror sub-genres. Yes, Eden Lake was implausible, but I got the feeling it was pretending not to be. & not in a ‘oh no, the zombies are coming, the zombies are coming!’ sort of way, in a ‘oh look at our clever social commentary, aren’t the youth just ghastly’ sort of way.

Ohh, & didn’t that ending just rile you something rotten? She may have been dazed from serious blood loss & a great gaping hole in her foot, but she knew that house, she knew at least one of the kids (& thus their equally unstable parents) lived there. & the adults – the grown up folk we trust with running our tiny little lives – were just pathetic. Angry, angry people. Irrational & incapable of reasoning with this woman. & it didn’t help she’d irrationally killed two of their kids either. But they believed the ‘sick’ things the lead antagonist said of the two middle-class campers so unbearably willingly you just wanted to vomit their stinking senselessness back into their inexplicably hateful faces. It makes you angry. The desired effect, I imagine. But an intentional effect accidentally accomplished, I also imagine.

Besides, you’re in a fucking town! GO NEXT DOOR! It’s not Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s not Cabin Fever. It’s not even Wrong Turn. It’s a fucking business-orientated development park in the middle of a fucking town! You’d think there’d be a fairly intelligent, reasonable business-man somewhere nearby, or it wouldn’t be worth building the park, would it? But no. Everyone staggers around in an almost visible cloud of anger like monstrous inbreds better suited to a backwoods cannibal flick than a movie set in a fucking ENGLISH TOWN IN ENGLAND IN A TOWN, A TOWN! But plot holes aside for now, since most movies have them anyway.

There was perhaps only one sympathetic youth. Even the reserved bullied kid is a total dick in the end – although, he is somewhat unfairly done-in near the end. This reflects badly on our youth. Obviously all horror reflects badly on those it’s vilifying, but these kids were not anomalous kids, they were the standard bearing representatives. That is, they were the only kids portrayed. Yes, they were the product of equally odious families, so again – all the adults become evil. So our conclusion? They Daily-Mail-satisfying reaction of ‘TEENAGERS; BURNING THE MIDDLE CLASSES ALIVE”. It just isn’t.

Frankly, if I were a teenager, I’d be thoroughly offended at how my generation is being portrayed. In fact, I’m considering returning to teenage-hood for a few days just to wallow in indignation a little longer.

I’m sorry this blog has lacked the relative elegant loquaciousness of former entries, that it wasn’t doused in the pleasant waters of rhetoric, smeared in the comforting goo of verbosity. I had to take a break from that to relay this tedious dribble of opinion.

Expect a return to pompous oratory soon enough.


Today, your post-script comes courtesy of paragraph four. You’ll notice I ranked Tokyo Gore Police & Cannibal Holocaust alongside classic horror. I felt I should note that I too noticed the absurdity of that. But feel no need to justify it, so there, I’m afraid, my post-script ends.