R0BTRAIN's Bad Ass Cinema: Defending Torture Porn – The Bloggish Followup…

So a couple of weeks ago, I bought a present for my buddy Shaun, who I think I’ve probably mentioned before in this column at some point. He’s one of my closest friends and his favorite movies are Horror movies, so when I saw a copy of Joe Bob Briggs’ book Profoundly Disturbing: Shocking Movies That Changed History!, I went ahead and got it for him. Well, apparently the book has an extensive passage about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and inspired Shaun to go out and watch a bunch of Horror movies along the same lines that he hadn’t seen.

One of those movies was Wolf Creek, Greg Mclean’s Australian Horror film, which has a very TCM feel to it. The movie feels more real than most Horror, which is one of the reasons Tobe Hooper’s original film had such a profound effect on Horror in the first place. It humanized the Horror and made it so you identified with the people in it. But the film also can have a completely opposite emotional response from people.

I found this out first hand while Shaun was showing me Wolf Creek. My fiancée, Erin, who is generally a level headed person and also likes a lot of the same Horror movies that I do (she even introduced me to Dario Argento, for which I am eternally grateful) had a profoundly disturbed response to the movie. Even in the next room while trying to avoid the movie, Erin caught glimpses and could hear the screams of one of the ladies in the film and was truly disgusted, not only at the movie but at Shaun and me as well.

Now, Wolf Creek wasn’t particularly gruesome at this point in the movie, but I do know that many people and critics have had the very same response to the film, including Roger Ebert. While I was sitting there distanced from the film, Erin took it as an experience that seemed too real and vivid. In her mind, we may has well have been watching a snuff film, and I can understand where she’s coming from. If things like this happen to real people, why would I want to watch a realistic looking film portrayal of it? As pertaining to this column, I think this is probably a lot of the same reaction for many of the films that have been categorized as Torture Porn.

Now, I think that there is a distinct difference between films like TCM and Wolf Creek and movies like the Saw sequels. While many will just group them all together, the original Chainsaw (not the remake and prequel to the remake) and its ilk are trying to present movies that seem to take place in a real world. Saw’s sequels and the Hostel films present movies that take place in a distinct stylized movie universe. These are places with ridiculously complex traps and impossibly gorgeous women. Yes, these movies are still very gory and could bring about disgust in viewers, but at the same time I think it’s easier to distance yourself with these movies than it is in the other category.

At any rate, I’m going to hold off on coverage of the Hostel films and the last Saw movie for a while. My heart’s just not in it at the moment and I’d like to mull over this issue in my mind for a while before I keep going and spewing out my love for these movies. I kind of feel like that cop that won’t give up on the case that’s ruining his marriage, but I really want to dwell on this a bit. Besides, there’s a time of year for this sort of thing and really this isn’t it. Anyway, there’s a Jackie Chan/Jet Li movie that comes out next week, and honestly, I can’t wait to get back into some hardcore Kung-Fu movies. So until next week…

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