« Happy Halloween, Pt. 2 | Main | Pinky swear »

November 01, 2006




Julie Canada


I love you, just love you! I started reading your ANTM and Project Runway recaps last season, and thank you - they are beyond hilarious. And to learn of your adoration of horror (loved the Beyonce/Beyond) was an unexpected surprise. I am jealous of your friends; they're extremely lucky to enjoy (more often) the shit that comes out of your mouth. Thank you so much for sharing your brilliance!


Rich, I felt the same thing while sitting in Saw III. At one point during another flashback on top of another flashback, I found myself wanting to hurl my Twizzlers at the screen.

I know due to the weekend box office, they are going full throttle with Saw 4, but I think it's time to let sleeping dogs DIE.


Hmm, I see your point about not wanting people to get upset over these movies, and that perhaps even sickos (pardon my post-PC terminology) who get off on vicious rapes are being appeased by the films and therefore the films are, in their own way, serving a larger social purpose. But to me the upsetting thing is that, at the core, this is meant to be entertainment: not for catharsis of perversion, not for horror or film buffs, but for mass consumption. What that says about the popular sentiment regarding violence against women is what upsets me. I'm not going pay for it - or even sit through it.


People are pussies-American horror films are tame and always divertive of 70's horror. I have yet to see Saw III-but I can wait as Saw was so-so.

If you want to be shocked see Takashi Miike or Gaspar Noe films.


ps-High Tensions was pretty good...


While I actually liked Saw and Saw II, it was only for the suspense/mystery elements of their "plots." I could watch all of Saw, had to look away during the first scene and the scene in the needle pit (which got me to stop shooting up smack for at least a week) in Saw II, and will not see Saw III. I just want to know the mystery/twists, I don't want to have to see people get dismembered in order to get to that. I like my horror movies scary; I don't like to see unnecessary and detailed killing. Give me creepy ambiance and you-know-something's-about-to-pop-out-at-you-it's-just-a-matter-of-when camera angles or even a vampire. We saw The Prestige at the big cineplex in SF the weekend Saw III opened and most of the people I saw going into that theater were definitely not 17 or older. Kids today are violent enough what with all the gangbanger chic, I don't think they need these kinds of movies. I don't think most teenagers have the capacity to create a disconnect with torture porn or movies like Jackass. Yes, I am a fusty curmudgeon.


Thank you, Rich. When I went to rent Hostel a couple of months ago, two different video store employees expressed disgust and made sure I knew it was about TORTURE, and when I cheerfully acknowledged that I knew that, thanks, they eyed me like I was some kind of freak. I wonder whether males who rent the film are regarded in the same way? I rather doubt it. In the end, I found the movie to be driven mostly by pretty conventional—and yawn-inducing—narrative and suspense, getting to the torture scenes relatively late in the game. Even then, FREAK that I am, I didn't find the sequences nearly as intense as the movie was hyped to be.

The first Saw movie was similarly more hype than substance. As a result, I haven't been drawn to either of the sequels. It seems to me that as the novelty of explicit gore wears off, the pack will be thinned—as has happened with the reality show genre—and writers and directors who know how to make an effectively scary movie will win the day.

The Descent, for instance, was far more effective than most of its "peer" films at instilling horror, but it succeeded in this not so much in its wielding of gore as through manipulation of the viewers' claustrophobic anxieties. Implicit trumps explicit almost every time.

Have you ever listed a top-10 list of your fave horror films?


Rich, what do you think of "Passion of The Christ" as an example of torture porn? There was something salacious about the length and detail of the torture scenes.


I second the Takashi Miike suggestion.


This was a fascinating read, Rich - thanks for this. I really do like your point about these films being a reaction to the recent "horror" films rather than some post-9/11 bullshit. No one is conscious of 9/11 when they are making these films, I can guarantee it.


I also want to know what you think about Passion of hte Christ as torture porn, Rich. Good question.

Penny Woods

Thank you for the Saw III recap--I saw the first Saw and thought it was the most awful/funniest thing I ever saw. As a result, I stay away from the other two Saws although the movies sound interesting through their Wikipedia writeups.


You're right on all counts, Rich.

I won't be seeing Saw III anytime soon, if I can help it.

I only watched the last one to see the killer get his just desserts.
He didn't, and I was infuriated.

It's hard to get angry at killer psychos, or cannibals or ghost-children because they're just doing their thing.

But Jigsaw is a big fat fucking hypocrite who deserves a world of pain for his self-pitying "poor me/screw you" worldview.

Every time he launches into one of his tiresome, fatuous and obnoxiously preachy justifications for his behavior, I just want
to beat him to a frothy pulp with a copy of Nietzsche's Ecce Homo.

But you can't kill Jigsaw, oh no!
Must. Protect. Franchise.

On the Hostel commentary track, Tarantino and Roth are discussing the merits of giving the audience what they paid for -- release. (The porn analogy being explicit).

In a horror movie that involves ethical and moral consequences such as Hostel and especially Saw, I quite agree.
But unless the next (and mercifully last) installment features two full hours of Jigsaw being lovingly and graphically taken apart piece by fraudulent piece, the audience will never get the release that they paid (four fucking times!) for.

hmmm...i dont know....hmmm


While I completely appreciate your views, and, to a lesser degree, Roger Ebert and douchey Edelstein, I still feel that most of today's horror/gore porn (gorn) films panders to the LCD. There is still some sort of narrative that justifies the grotesquerie, rather, justifies a theatrical release (true, Chaos had a small release).
Real gorn eschews the trappings of traditional storytelling and is able to lower the "art form" to new depths so that hacks like Eli Roth and, to a lesser degree, Zombie have material to make palatable for the masses.
Go rent Slaughtered Vomit Dolls because your take on that movie is needed for this dialectic.


These films aren't post-9/11. They're post-Abu Ghraib.

I'm pretty sure that while very few of these writers or directors have much political awareness, they are avid consumers of all of the online images and videos of prisoner torture, suicide-bomber body parts, and beheadings (not to mention all of the Brazilian car crashes and Pakistani homicide scenes). None of this stuff is new (Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Pol Pot, Dr. Josef Mengele, the Russian Mob...) but what is new is the widespread awareness Americans have about some of these events in Iraq.

Recently in a small town here in Oklahoma, an elementary-age girl was killed by a neighbor, who intended to eat her later. The details of his desires and methods were all over the news here, with just enough 'is the media crossing the line' bullshit to make it hypocritical. Or the German girl, held hostage for years in a basement. This stuff is everywhere we look, whether real or fake.

I also think included in this is the whole 'CSI' popularity trend that has made fiftysomething housewives comfortable with seeing an autopsy or two every weeknight. The only episode of 'NCIS' I ever watched was about a 'meat puzzle', which was carefully described as a coroner's term for discovered body parts.

Add to that the general angry mood in our culture, and rebellion hunger among many liberals and libertarians, and the trends you described of Ironic Meta-Horror and PG-13 Ghost Stories.

I think '24' and the really sick stuff happening on shows like 'Criminal Minds' and 'SVU' is also part of this, albeit less explicit. And if network television is taking it that far, then movies need to up the ante. No horror movie will succeed if it is no edgier than what's on 'Law 'n Order.'

I enjoy these movies every so often, when I want to stop thinking and just have a visceral experience, not unlike the self-cutting phenomenon. But I have pretty high standards for my serial killers: if a movie is going to have a genius killer with an elaborate agenda, I want Kevin Spacey in 'Seven', not logic-hole maniac Jigsaw. Sometimes even Hannibal Lector got really lame.

No genius serial killer character should be more intelligent than his screenwriter. Because when he is, it shows.


you know, i actually really love horror movies, and i hate having things spoiled before i see them. however, i will make an exception and read this recap before seeing the films for one reason. rich, your recaps are the shit! well worth ruining the story line. thanks for all your hard work.


I'm just going to put myself on my own bandwagon. Gore is boring as hell.

There I said it. Once you know what is coming gory horror movies have no rewatchability factor, other than to show them to other people who haven't seen them yet and to freak them out.

The problem with these gory horror movies is that they are uncreative in their creativity. They go to such far extents to make sure that no two deaths are exactly the same (the same logic applies to Final Destination) at the sacrifice of a concrete plot and truly interesting moments.

While its hard to find a movie that is truly scary upon each rewatching, there are plenty of movies that you can watch over and over again for the plot, narrative structure, etc. Once the eye candy has been seen, there needs to be a chewy tootsie center, thats all.

So while I appreciate some blood and gore, I also appreciate something else. There is a reason The Beyond is a classic horror movie, and its the same reason that in 3 years people will be wondering what the hell that Hostel movie was all about.


These latest torture porn films are laughably bad. I think it's something to do with how film has changed over the years, how they are produced and edited and acted. Everything is so overly stylized today. MTV has destroyed everything subtle about this genre. Teenagers expect something slickly produced and I'm sorry to say, but that's not scary.

I was very young when I saw 'I Spit on Your Grave' and I was traumatized by it because it was so realistic and sadistic. Seeing it 20 years later, it was just as disturbing. When I saw the first 'Saw' I was literally laughing out loud. It just seemed so fake and the acting was so dreadful. The sound design, the editing, the sets, everything...

I recommend disc 2 of Criterion's "Videodrome" for some commentary on torture porn...that movie makes me feel dirty in a way that "Hostel" and these other films don't. That said, I actually really liked the "Hills Have Eyes" remake.


Did you see this yet?!



I don't have the energy to go through the whole "Kids today have no imagination, so movies HAVE to be explicit.." and instead will just sit quietly and hope Grindhouse doesn't disappoint.


On point. I enjoy horror movies to the fullest, and your written words are music to my eyes. I would like your top ten horror flicks. The fact that you have Texas Chainsaw Massacre on the banner just makes me smile. Thank you for your insight and commitment to your craft- keep doing what your doing my friend.


Thank you for making the distinction of appreciating a horror film for what it is on it's own and how that doesn't automatically make you a sadist!

P.S. You rule as always.

movies like this are sick. we wonder why our world is so fucked up. we can't see bare breasts in a tasteful ad, but we can see people tortured and terrorized. priorities?????

Kilty Monroe

Truly. The world would be so much more peaceful and understanding if we just gathered up all the exploitation movies ever made and burned them.

And put up tasteful ads of bare breasts everywhere!

The comments to this entry are closed.