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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

TORTURE PORN!!! or How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Genres and Loved the Movie


DISCLAIMER: IF YOU ARE FAINT OF ANYTHING (HEART, LIVER, KIDNEYS, LUNGS, MIND), PLEASE DON'T READ AN ARTICLE WITH THE WORDS "TORTURE" AND "PORN" IN THE TITLE.

You're 12 years old. Male. You are looking through your dad's sock drawer looking for the nail clipper and what do you find? Maybe a magazine with questionable material or a video or a snap shot or a deck of obscene playing cards... but that's not what we're here to discuss today. Today we are going to discuss the finer points of TORTURE PORN (or pornografic tortura in Spanish). Even writing the word porn makes me a bit jittery. Slightly paranoid. Like I'm doing something wrong perhaps.

Torture Wiki!!!

I think the most obvious thing here is that barely anyone outside the horror-speaking world knows what the hell I'm talking about when I make reference to this sub genre of horror film. It's pretty easy to spot one. I think it's important to consult the Urban Dictionary on modern day sub genre identity because it evolves by the movie/minute. U.D. provides this rather illuminating nugget:
1. Torture Porn An ignorant, degrading, condescending, judgemental and hypocritical phrase asserted by fuckwit Bible-thumpers and conservative critics to films like Hostel and Saw and The Devils Rejects. The logic behind Hostel and Devil's Rejects being pinned such an ignorant term, maybe I could see. But the Saw films don't deserve that condescending shit.

'Torture porn' is a term that doesn't apply because it's BEEN applied by assholes, to films that have violence and nudity. Said assholes like to assume fans of these films are sadists who jerk off to this kind of thing or something, which in reality is fucking bullshit propaganda at it's finest. Most people who label Saw torture porn have never even SEEN the goddamn film, and just listen to what the media tells them about it, because they're fucking stupid. Not one fan of Hostel or Saw that I've ever known in my entire life has gone to see it because they wanted to jerk off to pain and suffering. They went to see it because they wanted to see a story, and use intellect to read between the fucking lines and see a film for what it is.
So from what you just read, the definer (and he's obviously a wordsmith) feels the name assumes a "negative" connotation. The definition straight out of Google states, "A splatter film or gore film is a sub-genre of horror film that deliberately focuses on graphic portrayals of gore and graphic violence. ..." When Mr. David Edelstein coined this phrase what was he trying to do? Was he trying to excommunicate a series of movies? Was he trying to re-open 42nd Street to the grindhouse film school? Coining a horror sub genre is as important as the labeling the master genre as horror genre itself.

Lades and Gentleman: The Great Fedelstein!!!
You can't go home again, but you can go back to 42nd Street

As a doctor of terror it might impugn you to know that I have my own theory about the label torture porn. It's a whole lot of nothing new in the media spectacle, carnival barker, Barnum and Bailey's school of promotion. Take something wholly normal, that's existed for years, give it a new name (no matter where the name came from), make that name something exotic or worse... make it something that SHOCKS YOU!!! Torture Porn is the modern day circus, the freak show, the thing you pay a nickle to gross out the other kids with. The name drips off your tongue like... well like any number of bodily secretions that shall not be named here. Torture (think bad thoughts)... PORN (think good thoughts).

History of the Freak Show

I was reading Edelstein's article that provided the coronation to this new genre and he mentions Make Them Die Slowly (or Cannibal Ferox for all you purists). I remember the first time I saw that movie all I could say to my friends was, "Did you see that girl get her boob speared with a meat hook?" Of course they hadn't. My parents didn't know what I was watching which I thank them for to this very day. My friends never got to see that boob (or the intrusive meat hook), but I got to tell them all the voluptuous details and that damn movie was made in 1981! Enter TORTURE PORN :extra echo when you say that word from here on out in the blog:

Lloyd Kaufman discusses Torture Porn (that's the head of Troma people)
TROMA... Godfather of Filth

Let's face it, kids today have seen everything on network TV. Cable Television blurs nudity leaving just enough to the imagination to get kids hungry for more. Premium cable let's it rip and it's everywhere. Video games are laden with zombies, aliens, viruses, sex and... all the good stuff. So what hasn't a kid seen? What hasn't Johnny found in the shoebox behind the bookshelf in the closet? Well in the revolution of modern horror known as T.P. we have Saw and Hostel and Wolf Creek and The Devil's Rejects and High Tension and we can even trace it back to the 70's and 80's exploitation films and retro label them. We have a veritable Pandora's box of slaughter for pleasure that every adolescent boy is going to open, tell his friends about and with which to gross the girlies out. It's the new rite of passage. We give Godzilla toys to kids and give away Goosebump books in kid's meals. Upping the bar is necessary and happening.

Cannibal Holocaust Trailer (Eating Tortoises never seemed so appealing
Cannibal Ferox Trailer (get your own meat hook)
Bloodsucking Freaks Trailer (distributed by Troma... see above)
Hostel Trailer (Eli Roth is so Dreamy)
SAW Trailer (I am the Dread Pirate Roberts)
Wolfcreek (Australian for Blood)


Obviously torture porn isn't for the faint of heart or those under 17 (or whatever age you can sneak into the theatre). I went to see Snakes on a Plane and got carded, so I can't imagine too many young-ins are actually getting into these things. When they do I know a fresh generation of Bloodsucking Freaks loving, ghouls is born every time.

How to Sneak into an R Rated Movie
An Even Better How to Sneak into an R Rated Movie

If pornography is the peephole to the soul then torture pornography is the glory hole to the soul. It's the big bad that you can watch with a group of people not wearing raincoats. You can have the experience of 42 Street without leaving your house. I want to reiterate something before I leave you drooling and sticky. The only thing new about torture porn is THE NAME ITSELF. The name is pretty darn cool and makes for terribly amusing banter on horror message boards... just run into a chat room... yell "TORTURE PORN" and run out. They'll be bashing you for days and talking about how Saw X sucked, but how great Cannibal Holocaust was (we love you Ruggero Deodato :heart heart heart:).

-Dr. Sardou Roth

2 comments:

  1. First of all, you make me feel old seeing as how you got carded for snakes on a plane. Second, nicely put. What the f has horror (in the last amount of reasonable years anyway) been without some sort of exploitation. I enjoy the Saw movies for their psychological strangeness and puzzles. And then the at-the-end moment when you're like, "duh!!! dumbassess!". Hostel though, I, in my opinion, sucked. Unless they are just trying to honestly say that Europe is full of dumb girls with their boobs out ALL them time, about an hour coulda been cut out of that movie. My kid could've made it more believable and still kept a boob or two in there. You've done by bashing that term...it should be left solely to snuff movies and the like.

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  2. I think the beginning of Hostel... boobs and all is a great false start for a movie. The end sequence is amplified by just how long you had to wait to get there. Then again, I do appreciate a nice rack... over and over and over and over and over and over... but Eli Roth is a pretty smart guy. I don't think he made a movie just to show how bimbo-ish the girls in Europe are. I think he was trying to bring highschool boys to the point of elation right before showing them some of the sickest shit possible. Yum.

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