Friday, September 14, 2007

Horror Movie Double Feature: 70s Torture Porn

After Hostel 2 bombed at the box office, the death knell of so-called "torture porn" rang out loud and clear. So why is it that I just viewed a Saw IV trailer? The answer is simple, these flicks aren't going anywhere. They may go underground for a while but they'll resurface. Films depicting extreme violence weren't invented by James Wan and Eli Roth, remember this Wes Craven masterpiece...

Them shits'll make your stomach turn. Last House is probably the most effecting movie I've ever seen, a horror rite of passage, if you will (but you may not want to). If you judge a film by its ability to create a reaction in the audience, then Craven's film is right up their with Old Yeller (didn't you cry?). Different reaction, but you get the point. Craven wasn't the first, either. Mario Bava, the Maestro of the Macabre, pulled off some serious torture in Black Sunday. In it, he had a mask nailed onto the face of his lead actress, the B-eautiful Barbara Steele. Gruesome, and that was 1960.

In the 80s, the decade of the slasher film, there was another rite of passage, at least amongst my friends, and it came in the form of a series of videos, far too disturbing to excerpt here. Guesses? Yep, Faces of Death: scene after scene of fatal accidents, executions, dead bodies. I'm not sure whether all the stuff portrayed on those tapes were real, but they looked real, and that was enough to leave me cold and clammy.

As the second half of today's ode to the evil in men's hearts, we take a look at one woman's revenge...

I Spit On Your Grave isn't going to win any prizes, but it follows a pattern that Craven designed. It takes an average individual and pushes her to a point where she turns into the aggressor. Now, the question is: Where have we seen that formula since?

Here's a start: The Hills Have Eyes (Craven again)


Joe said...

When I saw a grainy I Spit dub as a 14-year-old it immediately made me feel like going to take a shower afterward. Somehow the grade-Z fx made it even more unsettling -- I still remember how rubbery the flesh looked in the axe-in-the-back scene, oddly red, like a baked bunt cake (though it may have been just a bad copy). And the bathtub castration scene ("You've got great hands...God bless your hands...ARRGGGHH!") -- Fuck. But somehow for me the most disturbing scene of all is the last scene where the battered female protagonist goes flying off in the boat with a weapon raised victoriously over her head and the film just seems to jerk to a stop with all the abruptness of a baby playing a shotgun.

Mark said...

A while back, Caroline and I had the bright idea to watch Last House again. We thought, eh, in the age of SAW and HOSTEL, I bet LHOTHL doesn't hold up.


We were wrong. I felt even more nauseous this time. Something about those movies was so disturbing. Is it that the graininess made them seem like snuff films?

j.elliot said...

one starving musician came by to say: Congratulations, man! I'll be looking for the book!


Mark said...

Hi J.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you'll remember that come February.


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