Friday, September 30, 2011

A rant and request

Part of the description of this site is that it includes rants, but I try to refrain from doing it too often, because just rambling is an easy trap to fall into, and I'd like to avoid that particular trap. However, this is an opinion blog, and oh boy do I have an opinion to share at this juncture. So if you want to avoid this particular rant, don't follow the cut, kay?

Still here? Alright, off we go.

Roughly a year or so ago, a film called The Human Centipede was released and it became something of a cultural phenomena. Oh don't look at me like that, you're here on an obscure movie blog, you have to be aware of it. I'm not going to recount it, I don't need to. If you don't know and you're that curious, look it up on wikipedia.

From where I'm sitting, the film was less a phenomena due to it's own dubious merits (protip: It had no real merits) and more as a form of 'endurance horror,' that has plagued the genre for quite a while. The attraction of endurance horror is simply being able to say that you've sat through the horrible things appearing on screen, instead of taking your instinctive route and bolting from the room. This sub-subgenre has included both genuinely good films (Teeth, The Last House on the Left) and terrible films (I Spit on Your Grave, Hostel) and The Human Centipede had the worst aspects of the bad forms of the subgenre, especially since once you get past the 'OH GOD WHAT'S HAPPENING' aspect of the film, there's really nothing underneath it.

I'm more or less immune to Endurance Horror film, or rather the terrible ones. Done well, even minor horrors can be a trial to sit through, but when all you have in the way of context is 'here is some horrible things happening to people, are you impressed yet?' everything loses it's weight. Without context, story and good presentation, I don't care who's doing what to who. I get more of a visceral gut reaction to Carl bloodlessly shooting Wade in Fargo then I did to every onscreen horror in both of the Hostel films combined. And The Human Centipede was already at a bad place to shock me: I saw Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom at 17 and that pretty much hit the bar of onscreen horror, especially in Centipede's department, but that's neither here nor there.

So I firmly expected Centipede to fade into obscurity, like all of the endurance horror films eventually do. But I forgot that there's a second path that endurance horror films can take: The Saw route, where you get a fuckton of sequels of gradually declining quality (and since Centipede was already WELL below Saw when it started, quality wise, there's very little hope for sequels). So what with making a stupid amount of money off the 'endurance horror' market, a sequel was inevitable.

And something strange happened in the interim. I dunno, maybe this was always the director's plan, maybe he resented having to put in the aspects of the film that I could honestly say were good (the notable restraint shown in the gore department, the interesting layout of the scientists house, the aspect where the scientist seemed to have been spawned from out of nowhere, inflicting horrors without rhyme or reason ala Mike Meyers from Halloween...that's more or less it for my praise). But for my money, in between the release of part 1 and now, a film called...well A Serbian Film was released that managed to be even MORE pointlessly disgusting and tasteless than Centipede (for those of you out there already searching for A Serbian Film, please, please, please don't, which is more or less the point of this rant) and director Tom Six decided 'Hell, no one's going to outdo me in the pointlessly disgusting and tasteless department.' And this the plot of the next movie is...such as it is. Again, not gonna recount it, go look it up if you must know.

Now I want to be clear: I'm not against gore and guts and horrors being visited on people in film in general. As I said, I've seen Salo, and I recommend it with reservations to people who might be interested. Irreversible contains a 9 minute long rape sequence and I point to it as one of the best foreign films in the last 10 years. Some of the best movies of the last decade, like No Country For Old Men and Pan's Labyrinth contain horrible acts shown up close and personal. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is still one of the best horror movies ever made in my opinion. I could go on and on listing horrifying movies I think are good, but you get the idea.

So what sets the movies I listed above from things like Centipede and A Serbian Film? 2 things. 1: They have a POINT. There are themes and thoughts and messages behind the horrors in those films, not just gore for gore's sake. Secondly and much more importantly...well I have to misquote Zero Punctuation on this: The way the gore is presented in some of these films is the exact same way someone would film a cumshot.

Torture Porn is one of the most apt names applied to this genre, because it films the gore in such a way that I start to worry that I'm supposed to be aroused by it. Hostel 2 and A Serbian Film are especially guilty of this. Now there's no reason that this has to be a bad thing: When going over the top and silly, gore can be fun to watch like in the Jason films, or more recently Machete especially in an action context. And even when you're not going over the top, Funny Games used this aspect as part of it's filmmaking and as part of it's overall point (side note: If you've not seen the original 1997 Funny Games...SEE IT!) But when it's just used for it's own sake, it starts to actually irk me.

So this leads to my overall point, which will probably get ignored: Please, please, PLEASE do NOT see The Human Centipede 2. Not even ironically, money don't know the difference. This is overall damaging the horror genre, as one of the worst offenders (the Saw series, especially when they got past 3) essentially killed the horror genre during October because no one wanted to go up against it during the traditional horror month. If you MUST see it...well I'd never advocate doing something illegal, like torrenting, bootlegging, pirating or sneaking into the theater but...well just don't pay money to see it, kay? I'm tired of this sort of garbage clogging up the horror genre when it used to have intelligent, well made films, ESPECIALLY when it overshadows much better films like Trick 'R Treat or Splice. If you must see pointless violence inflicted, go track down the Guinea Pig films (look it up) and stop making terrible movies successful.

And congratulations to me for getting through a *checks* 1200 word rant about The Human Centipede without once using the word 'shit.'

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