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March 28, 2007


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Thought of you when a coworker told me this:

She and her boyfriend were coming out of 300, and they were just letting people in to THHE2. There were families. With 4-5 yr. olds.



Wow. That makes all the hits I get off of "jonathan groff nude" seem much more okay.


That's effed.


I've started to get disturbed by the recent trend in horror movies towards a ramped-up sadism (the "Saw" franchise, "Hostel,", "Hills Have Eyes," etc. Now, horror films have always been gory, I know, but there seems to be no moral context (I can't believe I, an atheist, just typed those words) for the deeds portrayed in these newer films. We are not meant to sympathize with the victims, or see events from their perspective. We are meant to delight in the carnage, and--to the extent that they are the ones who keep the carnage coming--cheer on the killer/rapist/bogeyman. I would love to know how jaded and soul-deadened one has to be before this kind of things seems like fun. I don't demand happy endings, but come on, people!


Uch... how creepy and disgusting.

Any way to track 'em back and expose 'em?

Abe Goldfarb

Isaac, that's fucking horrible.

In all fairness to horror, the only novelty to the "new sadism" is its mainstream acceptance (far more prevalent are the dull J-horror ripoffs that have permeated the multiplexes). For as long as there has been a modern horror cinema, there has been freak show sadism and extreme gore. The seventies, particularly in America and Italy, saw the birth of the template for the most recent examples of the trend. The question, I think, is how a film's philosophies illuminate its content. Interestingly, the original Hills Have Eyes was nowhere NEAR as sophisticated in its satire and social content as its remake (though the sequel, I gather, squanders its Iraq war trappings on something far more idiotic). It's worth watching a lot of these films for a demonstration of narrative subjectivity, and how humane some films are that seem cruel.

I suppose what I'm saying is, it's interesting that people take the graphic content of these films as a new development. It's just that the people who watched these newer films' low-budget predecessors as fanboy nostalgia are in a position to finance and distribute more well-funded versions of them. I'd also argue that some, not all, of these films have serious value as cinema, and may even qualify as deeply humanist.

But I say again...what a sorry fucking sign for humanity that someone threw that into google. I despair more about the audience than about the art.


Abe... here's a question for the readers... which films in this particular subgenre of horror do you think qualify as deeply humanist?

and which ones have serious value as cinema?

Abe Goldfarb

Well, I think that the remake of Hills Have Eyes has real value (I actually prefer it to the original). It's one of the most outrageous portraits yet of the Red/Blue divide, and it can't be insignificant that the hero, a Democrat-nebbish-turned-screaming-avenger, has a Star of David around his neck. The gun-toting Republicans, meanwhile, get eviscerated by nuclear mutants they, by implication, created.

I think Takashi Miike's films have a decidedly humanist bent to them. Audition is a nifty, grisly indictment of the class and gender systems in Japan. Ichii the Killer is almost unwatchably violent, but it's also a howling, tragic portrait of a lost soul. In fact, most of Miike's films are furiously angry at the anti-individual forces at work in his home country, and as grotesque as his work gets (nipple-slicingly, intestine-explodingly grotesque), it's brimming with compassion. The gore-heads can clap all they want, but they're probably missing the point. Miike makes that very easy, of course, but no great artist has ever been an amateur at misdirection.

Most of Wes Craven's pre-Scream work (even the Hills original) had a humane side, now all but forgotten in the wake of his imitators. Check out People Under the Stairs, as radical a social statement as has ever been made in the genre.

When I'm less tired, though, ask me again. For now bed.

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