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Hint: It wasn't what was on the screen
September 14, 2007 9:57 AM   Subscribe

"The Scariest Thing I've Ever Seen." A psychiatrist sees Rob Zombie's remake of horror classic Halloween.
posted by Pastabagel (203 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Rome, here we come. Bring your kids to see the gladiators hack each other's limbs off! Free pretzel for children under 7!
posted by tehloki at 10:03 AM on September 14, 2007


Yeah, I saw Hostel in a theater with a family that had brought their kid, who looked about 4 years old. That was a little distracting.
posted by squarehead at 10:08 AM on September 14, 2007


Meh. Outrage fatigue. So, there exist bad parents? Shocking.

I defy anyone to get an erection within a week of this movie.

Oh, a challenge? It's ON!
posted by mek at 10:10 AM on September 14, 2007 [13 favorites]


Everybody I know who ever watched horror movies as a little kid is a fucking psychopath.

wait, no they're not.
posted by shmegegge at 10:11 AM on September 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


Alarmist hyperbole crap.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:11 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Mefi's own, as it happens.
posted by cortex at 10:12 AM on September 14, 2007


I don't care how good the blowjobs are, he's got to stop casting his wife in these things.

More on topic, habitually poor judgement doesn't go away when the umbilical is snipped (or eaten).
posted by CynicalKnight at 10:13 AM on September 14, 2007


The punchline is a completely indiscernible cameraphone pic the author was too lazy to brighten up somehow?! C'mon pastabagel, you can do better than this.
posted by exogenous at 10:13 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


To be fair, the children may have been soulless psychopaths who forced their parents at gunpoint to bring them.
posted by DU at 10:14 AM on September 14, 2007 [6 favorites]


My point has always been that it doesn't matter: you butcher 40 people, and that's pretty much all I need to know.

DISCLAIMER: "psychiatrist" in TheLastPsychiatrist does not refer to degree or occupation.
posted by yerfatma at 10:18 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I love* how he slipped in that they were "obese" as if that explained something about why they would bring toddlers to a slasher pic.

(*No, love is not the right word here ... )
posted by Kimberly at 10:19 AM on September 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


AND KIDS SEATS ARE STILL JUST FIVE BUCKS
posted by potch at 10:20 AM on September 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


The punchline is a completely indiscernible cameraphone pic the author was too lazy to brighten up somehow?!

I'm sure this says something unsavory about me, but at first I thought it was a picture of a guy masturbating. I still can't see the strollers.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:21 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have to admit, when I'm walking down the sidewalk, a double stroller heading towards me can be pretty scary. Where do I go? What do I do? What if I'm forced out into the street in front of a truck? What if one of the kids gets out and kneels behind me while the other pushes me from the front? What if one of those giant stroller tires rolls over my foot? IT IS TERRIFYING.
posted by brain_drain at 10:22 AM on September 14, 2007 [12 favorites]


You have to relax your eyes, then let them cross. It takes a minute but you should see a guy masturbating... in 3D.
posted by basicchannel at 10:23 AM on September 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


The punchline is a completely indiscernible cameraphone pic the author was too lazy to brighten up somehow?! C'mon pastabagel, you can do better than this.
posted by exogenous at 1:13 PM on September 14


The picture isn't the punchline, this is :

"So I'll tell you: it's a double stroller.
I'll also tell you that after the movie I waited in the lobby to see-- what did I expect? It was a five year old girl and a three year old boy. And an infant. "

I thought this was interesting, because he highlights that the key difference between the remake and the original is the emphasis on the killer's childhood, all the brutal violence he was exposed to (which is shown on screen), etc. And the irony is that the writer watches kids little kids and their parents leave a the movie in which they were exposed to graphic violence.

I appreciate shmegegge's sentiment above, but ther eis something weird about this case. It seems more like the parents (probably the dad) wanted to see the movie, and dragged the kids along. I think in shmegegge's case, the kids wanted to see it and the parents went with them, though these are my assumptions.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:23 AM on September 14, 2007


I keep going back to thinking that it would have been more scary if Michael Myers' home life were more "normal."

It did make me want to see the original Halloween again, and Carpenter's take on The Thing as well.
posted by SentientAI at 10:25 AM on September 14, 2007


It's so nice that everyone hates everyone now.
posted by blacklite at 10:30 AM on September 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


I guess I don't think you should take kids to see a bloody-ass horror movie for the same reason you shouldn't give your kid his/her first joint. Part of the point (as a kid, at least) of participating in these activities is because you know you're not supposed to, but you do it anyway.

Watching horror movies as a young'un obviously doesn't automatically turn you into a serial killer, but what the parents did is still pretty shitty. They probably desensitized their kids to on-screen depictions of violence a few years earlier than it would have otherwise happened, but they also sorta ruined horror movies for them. If the kids manage to remember that time mom and dad took 'em to see Halloween then the scary, transgressive, and straight up wrong aspect of similar films wont' really get through to them. Again, I don't know what that means for their likelihood to shove a pointy object through me, but it does mean they're missing out on something that's pretty fun.

And that sucks.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 10:37 AM on September 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: quiet quiet quiet DEATH!!!!!
posted by phaedon at 10:38 AM on September 14, 2007


This article was fairly weak - who hasn't seen kids in non-age-appropriate movies because they were brought in by their parents? I was hoping for more insight from a psychiatrist.
posted by agregoli at 10:39 AM on September 14, 2007


Am I right to think that 'obese' is a codeword for something to do with social class? One of the comments on the page mentions some similar parents, 'both obese smoking pigs'.
posted by Mocata at 10:39 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Let me start by saying the movie is brutally graphic-- torture porn. The cursing alone-- it's diarrhea, flowing, disgusting, even I was a little shocked.

This term is loaded, kneejerk, and sensational. It's a weak argument-by-analogy at best, and a word-association trick at worst.

I dub it argument porn, and you a pornographer of words. Is that okay?
posted by kid ichorous at 10:41 AM on September 14, 2007 [5 favorites]


Also, Last Psychiatrist has some good posts on that site. This isn't one of them.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:42 AM on September 14, 2007


But as I walk down the steps, I see something that literally makes me freeze: for a second, I actually die.

I call shenanigans.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:42 AM on September 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


I keep going back to thinking that it would have been more scary if Michael Myers' home life were more "normal."

This is really true. I think Zombie's a good director, but he needs someone else to write his scripts. (and I support him casting Sheri Moon in all his movies, because I like to look at her).

I happened to see The Devil's Rejects in a theater with several children in it. It was a little disturbing. My girlfriend wanted to offer to sit outside the theater with the children until the movie was over.

I was shown Sleepaway Camp by a babysitter, and it scared the shit out of me. I still think that movie is scary, even though I know intellectually that it is a piece of shit. But still, hissing bloodstained naked boygirl will scare a ten-year-old.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:46 AM on September 14, 2007


Pro-wrestling is much more gladiatorial than horror films.

That said, I don't see the point in making a psychological thriller into a gore-fest. I appreciate Zombie's vision (and obvious Italian horror influences), but I also think Halloween is better without the gore (same with Chainsaw Massacre).
posted by krinklyfig at 10:47 AM on September 14, 2007


I thought Hostel was "torture porn." It seems a lot of horror movies are going this way these days, and I don't really get it. I always thought the fear was better in a slow chase with an inevitable murder (focus on the dread of being caught) vs. the being caught and then being slowly subjected to many different types of pain. The latter might be gross, but we can't all comprehend those different types of pain - I think the feeling of dread that accompanies being chased has a far more primal and universal appeal.
posted by agregoli at 10:49 AM on September 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Best outraged comment to the original article about the shock-horror punchline:

"What's a double stroller, I don't get it?"
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:49 AM on September 14, 2007


The worst experience I ever had in a movie was watching the first Blade movie while sitting in front of a whimpering 4 or 5 year old who kept begging, pleading to be taken out. This wasn't "give me a candy-bar" begging, this was quiet desperation, makes me sick just thinking about it, that kind of low, mournful whine that is usually accompanied by fever or a broken limb.

So now, whenever I am sitting in movie that is not intended for children and I see parents bringing toddlers(and now the ever more present carseat full of infant) I say really loud, "Are you kidding me? A kid at THIS movie?"

I get dirty looks and at least they don't sit near me so I can't hear their kids' whimpering.
posted by M Edward at 10:53 AM on September 14, 2007 [5 favorites]


This term is loaded, kneejerk, and sensational. It's a weak argument-by-analogy at best, and a word-association trick at worst.

I dub it argument porn, and you a pornographer of words. Is that okay?
posted by kid ichorous at 10:41 AM on September 14 [+] [!]


Nope. It's torture porn. You are watching people getting tortured for titillation. Own it. Don't reject it.
posted by basicchannel at 10:54 AM on September 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


They probably desensitized their kids to on-screen depictions of violence a few years earlier than it would have otherwise happened, but they also sorta ruined horror movies for them.

The same logic applies to why I often choose to expose millions of my unconceived children to erotic movies.
posted by flarbuse at 10:55 AM on September 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


Mocata writes "Am I right to think that 'obese' is a codeword for something to do with social class? One of the comments on the page mentions some similar parents, 'both obese smoking pigs'."

Yeah, exactly. Smoking, overweight... the American class signifiers of the 21st century.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:55 AM on September 14, 2007


basicchannel writes "Nope. It's torture porn. You are watching people getting tortured for titillation."

Hopefully not erotic titillation. If you're jerking off to the money scenes in Hostel, you've got a pretty serious problem.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:57 AM on September 14, 2007


Rob Zombie drive a cab or something. He has absolutely no talent when it comes to entertainment.
posted by Sailormom at 10:57 AM on September 14, 2007


I defy anyone to get an erection within a week of this movie.

Oh, a challenge? It's ON!


Yessiree -- I'm the "Master of My Domain!"
posted by ericb at 11:03 AM on September 14, 2007


basicchannel writes "Nope. It's torture porn. You are watching people getting tortured for titillation. Own it. Don't reject it."

I'm something of a political junkie. If I read the op-ed page for the sheer entertainment value, is that political porn?
posted by krinklyfig at 11:04 AM on September 14, 2007


Rob Zombie drive a cab or something. He has absolutely no talent when it comes to entertainment.

Bah. If you don't like the horror/slasher aesthetic, that's fine; avoid his films and avoid the genre. But Rob Zombie is a horror geek of the highest degree, and has a tremendous appreciation for the genre he works in. He's got a lot of growing to do as a director/auteur, but for comprehension and presentation of grossout horror idioms the guy is an inspired new addition to the field.

You not liking it is not the same thing as it lacking entertainment value in the general sense, any more than the standard "...except country and rap" caveat says anything about those genres other than that person foo doesn't have an appreciation for 'em.
posted by cortex at 11:05 AM on September 14, 2007 [7 favorites]


I once had the same experience at a Woody Allen movie. I guess I'm too optimistic to think that four-year in front of me was permanently damaged by exposure to obvious borscht-belt quips and an old man obsessively leering after women forty years his junior, but in my quieter moments, I pray for that child. I hope he's OK (i.e., not in film school)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:05 AM on September 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


I dub it argument porn, and you a pornographer of words. Is that okay?

ME: Oh yeah baby. I love it. Give it to me. Yeah, that's it: modus tolens, oh yeah! Oh Straw Man! Call me names! Tell me what a dirty sophist I am! Call me specious! Right there! There's the fallacy! That's it! That's it!

YOU: Take it. Take it. Take it all, you red herring son of a bitch. You love arguments like a professional arguer! You're a lawyer! You're a White House speechwriter! You'd make arguments for free, you polemics fetishist you! Come on you quarrelsome blogger, you'd get into a scrap for the google ad revenue, wouldn't you! I knew it! You'd argue with homeless people, you word slut!

Risible ad hominems are so very, very hot.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:06 AM on September 14, 2007 [49 favorites]


Not working, which is fine because now I don't have to read it.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:08 AM on September 14, 2007


agregoli writes "I thought Hostel was 'torture porn.' It seems a lot of horror movies are going this way these days, and I don't really get it."

What scares us is a pretty good indicator of our own collective psychological issues. I am not surprised at all that torture is showing up in horror movies made in the last five years.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:11 AM on September 14, 2007


I believe in age-appropriate content for kids, and what the hell ever happened to bedtimes, but there's a cloud of self-satisfaction and smug judgment that has nothing to do with the children hanging over this article.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:12 AM on September 14, 2007


Self-righteous wanker self-righteous wanks.

blog post at "1015p"

The visceral disgust this guy has for "obese-- and since you're asking" and "degenerate" people is just annoying.

I'm not saying it's a good thing to take your kids to this kind of movie, but yeah.
posted by delmoi at 11:14 AM on September 14, 2007


basicchannel writes "Nope. It's torture porn. You are watching people getting tortured for titillation. Own it. Don't reject it."

I'm something of a political junkie. If I read the op-ed page for the sheer entertainment value, is that political porn?
posted by krinklyfig at 11:04 AM on September 14 [+] [!]


No. Entertainment value does not necessarily involve titillation. Stop reading so many op-ed pieces, it makes you sound like a douchebag contrarian.
posted by basicchannel at 11:14 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well if you've ever had to sit through a 'My Little Pony' movie you'd know that this is justified payback.
posted by mazola at 11:15 AM on September 14, 2007 [6 favorites]


I haven't seen the movie, but it sounds to me like a little a little outrage is justified. You really shouldn't bring stroller-aged kids to a splatterfest. I'm not suggesting that it's going to turn the kids into psychopaths or that the children should be taken away from their parents. But that's some pretty irresponsible parenting right there.

No laws need to be enforced or changed here. Just a little public shaming.
posted by Loudmax at 11:19 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hopefully not erotic titillation. If you're jerking off to the money scenes in Hostel, you've got a pretty serious problem.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:57 AM on September 14 [+] [!]

...so it's okay to enjoy torture, just not sexually? (Keep your pants on, CIA interrogators!) You know, the Japanese have an entire genre which is just waiting to make your head explode.
posted by mek at 11:21 AM on September 14, 2007


basicchannel writes "No. Entertainment value does not necessarily involve titillation."

And titillation is not necessarily erotic. Pornography, however, necessarily is.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:21 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


basicchannel: Nope. It's torture porn. You are watching people getting tortured for titillation. Own it. Don't reject it.

Sorry, is that an argument, or a declaration? Does art become "porn" based on whether someone, somewhere, decides to jerk off to it? If someone masturbates to a book like "Clockwork Orange," does it suddenly become violent porn? If I see thought-provoking art where someone else sees mere titillation, am I suddenly wrong?

I feel that "porn" is too often used as a mentally lazy, categorical dismissal for all the art and speech we see things we dislike in.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:21 AM on September 14, 2007


Not a big fan of the Halloween series and haven't seen Rob Zombie's incarnation. However, I will note that the original was a better than average horror movie because of the way Carpenter handled the camera and played around with P.O.V. I don't think any of the sequels bothered to do that; they just sorta made a bee-line for the gore.
posted by RavinDave at 11:23 AM on September 14, 2007


mek writes "...so it's okay to enjoy torture, just not sexually?"

I don't know about "ok", but it's definitely less indicative of a personality disorder.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:24 AM on September 14, 2007


You say "torture porn" like that's a bad thing.
posted by localroger at 11:25 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lately I've been watching a lot of porn porn.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:25 AM on September 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


cortex : You not liking it is not the same thing as it lacking entertainment value in the general sense,

Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes! Just because you don't like something does not diminish it's value or impact. I hate mob movies and think that the Godfather is entirely overrated.

But I would be foolish to say that I think Coppola is a hack, or that people who watch mob movies are all going to become sociopathic career criminals.

Enjoy what you enjoy, and let the rest of us do the same.
posted by quin at 11:27 AM on September 14, 2007


the way Carpenter handled the camera and played around with P.O.V.

There's a great anecdote about the opening scene of Halloween from Carpenter's commentary on the DVD release; that slow, instense, wobbly climb up the stairs of the house from young Michael's point of view wasn't really intended to be quite so, you know, slow and wobbly, but the guy operating the steadycam had a hell of a time not falling backwards down the stairs. Those rigs aren't light. So you get some classic cinematic horror gravitas thanks to a logistical fuckup. Heh.
posted by cortex at 11:31 AM on September 14, 2007


What scares us is a pretty good indicator of our own collective psychological issues. I am not surprised at all that torture is showing up in horror movies made in the last five years.

Fair enough - I hadn't considered that angle. I do find it of strangely limited appeal as opposed to "traditional" horror movies.
posted by agregoli at 11:34 AM on September 14, 2007


Lately I've been watching a lot of porn porn.

Ah, porn porn. The connoisseur's choice.

I'm partial to that myself. Although I slip in a bit of porn porn porn when I'm feeling extra indulgent.
posted by Dr-Baa at 11:35 AM on September 14, 2007 [4 favorites]



And titillation is not necessarily erotic. Pornography, however, necessarily is.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:21 PM on September 14


From the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

3 : the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction the pornography of violence


"Torture porn" is a perfectly valid description of these movies. These films get you excited about violence, because that is what they promise. Their primary selling point is a particular kind of violence, which they deliver in abundance.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:36 AM on September 14, 2007


Well if you've ever had to sit through a 'My Little Pony' movie you'd know that this is justified payback.

So that's why my mom made me sit through Seven Days in May when I was eight.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 11:37 AM on September 14, 2007


That said, I jerk-off after every kill.
posted by basicchannel at 11:38 AM on September 14, 2007


If it's not too late, I'd like to ask what people think the age is when you need to stop bringing your babies to these movies.

I know for a fact that my parents took me to whatever movies they wanted to see when I was stroller-age, probably including the original Halloween and similar shows. And I don't think it had any effect on me. In fact, I'm a complete wuss when it comes to horror movies.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:39 AM on September 14, 2007


He's got a lot of growing to do as a director/auteur, but for comprehension and presentation of grossout horror idioms the guy is an inspired new addition to the field.
posted by cortex at 2:05 PM on September 14 [3 favorites +]


I can't disagree with this. The problem is that he makes movies in that idiom and somehow got the rights to direct a remake of one of the few modern day horror films that managed to be very good without also being gory. I have seen his movies, and I do appreciate that if you stack them up against hostel, etc. he is much better at that kind of movie. I just wonder if those kinds of movies are crowding out the other kind of horror movies that are more like the original Halloween.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:41 AM on September 14, 2007


Also, I prefer the term carnography over torture porn, but that's just me.
posted by SentientAI at 11:42 AM on September 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


WTF does being overweight have anything to do with these cretins and their reprehensible decision-making/parenting?

Years ago, my svelte sister let her 8yr old watch all kinds of horrible films, and tried it at my place one night. I threw my weight around and told her we'd watch developmentally appropriate fare or nothing at all. She had a tantrum and left.

Somehow, it seems like maturity was more the issue there than weight.

Man. I was so looking forward to responding to this based on its own merits...why does type-ism have to ruin everything fun?
posted by batmonkey at 11:42 AM on September 14, 2007


If it's not too late, I'd like to ask what people think the age is when you need to stop bringing your babies to these movies.

Well, for starters, infants have incredibly sensitive hearing, much more so than older children or adults, and movies are very loud, so you risk damaging a baby's hearing.

Beyond that, there are some studies that suggest that memory formation is tied to language acquisition, so when a baby/toddler is learning words, you might not want them to see anything that you wouldn't want them remembering. Personally, I remember things form when I was a young 3, so other people probably have memories before that.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:45 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow. If I'd seen a movie like that as a kid, I'd have been traumatized for a long time.

I'm with the writer, myself. Is it really the case that most of you don't think this is seriously negligent parenting?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:45 AM on September 14, 2007


I think everyone agrees that the parenting sucks; they're just snarking the writer on his style.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:47 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


kid ichorous typed "If someone masturbates to a book like 'Clockwork Orange,' does it suddenly become violent porn? If I see thought-provoking art where someone else sees mere titillation, am I suddenly wrong?"

But is it really so cut-and-dried? In my opinion, the really disturbing books and movies are the ones that teach you something about the kinks in your own psyche--your ability to be titillated or manipulated by terrible things.

They talk about this very succinctly in This Film is Not Yet Rated, in the part about American Psycho.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:47 AM on September 14, 2007


Although I saw THE SHINING at age five (along with LIQUID SKY. ERASERHEAD and CAFE FLESH when I was under 10), I was still horrified when there were two kids under 5 in footie pajamas at KILL BILL in IMAX.

It disturbed me more than the kid who sucked his bottle faster during the scary parts of HALLOWEEN H20. Maybe it was just the IMAX factor. The woman screaming, "No, you go home. IMAX is for everyone!" made me think someone had already let their opinion on kids in the theater be know.
posted by Gucky at 11:50 AM on September 14, 2007


I am literally frozen in a bored-like state by the writer's anguish.
posted by psmealey at 11:52 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Gucky typed "IMAX is for everyone!"

That's bizarre. Did she think she was going to an educational film about whales, but was too embarrassed to admit her mistake?
posted by roll truck roll at 11:53 AM on September 14, 2007


Pfft, this is nothing. I went to see The Passion of the Christ in theatre. I felt like the only one who didn't bring a child. By the end you could barely hear the film over the wails of children begging to be let out, and the scolds of parents demanding that their children continue watching.

The moral of this story? If you are fat and bring your children to a slasher flick, you are worst human being ever. Bringing your child to a snuff film and telling them not only is it real, but the victim is being tortured to death because Jimmy likes to touch his doodle in the shower? That's good Christian parenting.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:53 AM on September 14, 2007 [14 favorites]


But I would be foolish to say that I think Coppola is a hack, or that people who watch mob movies are all going to become sociopathic career criminals.
Well, I've watched a porn. I now moonlight as a pizza delivering plumber.
posted by substrate at 11:55 AM on September 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


Pastabagel: Exactly!

That's one of the points I was way more interested in. I have memories from when I was crawling, and my mom used to take me to see all kinds of inappropriate films, thinking I'd not remember anything about them or understand what I was seeing.

Imagine her shock when my language skills caught up to what I'd experienced and I told her how much I hated being dragged into "nono movies".

Anecdotes aside, I think we should assume that kids remember everything on some level and will process it in ways we don't expect. For that reason, choosing entertainment (and other points of exposure to the world) should be done with careful consideration and a lot less selfishness ("But I never get to see movies anymore!" "Maybe you shoulda thought about the effect of having a kid on your future viewing choices, then").

I don't mean to shield kids completely from any difficult subject matter or anything, but, really, they'll happen upon that soon enough just in living out daily life. I really don't get why parents are so willing to trade the tiny shreds of innocence their kids would otherwise get to enjoy for a wee bit longer.

Is it envy?
posted by batmonkey at 11:56 AM on September 14, 2007


pfff... If you want to scar a five year old, make them watch Return to Oz. I had trouble touching sand for a year after watching that. Damn wheelers.
posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 11:57 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


We saw the movie "See No Evil" in Jr. High, but they left out the middle reel where the slasher kills the whole family, so basically the move consisted of:

1. set up, with blind girl

2. blind girl returns to home. Nobody suspects anything. In the background, as she moves through the house, are dismembered bodies. In the bathtubs, etc. Everytime a body would crop up as the main character made her tea, or whatever, every single person in the auditorium began screaming.

3. the obligatory killer chasing the heroine denoument.

After the show was over I had to go to my custodial job, cleaning the empty school while watching for psychopaths. Later the news crews came and interviewed traumatized children.

By the way, that yahoo link is hosed.
posted by mecran01 at 11:57 AM on September 14, 2007


The problem is that he makes movies in that idiom and somehow got the rights to direct a remake of one of the few modern day horror films that managed to be very good without also being gory.

Ah. I can totally understand where you're coming from on that; I'd probably have similar feelings if James Cameron ever took a shot at remaking 2001. (And, look, I hate to say this because I want to be wrong about it, but someone, someone with balls the size of the Deathstar, is going to do that eventually.)

As for the corrupting influence of violent films (on genre tastes at least, perhaps, if not on fundamental human empathy): I saw Terminator in the theater when I was four. My mom didn't really know how violent it was, and it was an improvised night out with an old friend, and so on. I covered my eyes a lot, but loved it. Some early exposure to horror and sci-fi no doubt helped me develop such a long-term fondness for that field.
posted by cortex at 11:57 AM on September 14, 2007


Was I the only person who initially thought double stroller was a euphemism? I even googled.
posted by Peter H at 11:58 AM on September 14, 2007


I'm not sure anyone is making the argument that it is perfectly fine to bring stroller-age kids to a loud, violent, bloody, cussword-laced movie, except for the sidebar discussions of "how young is too young" and "how much do kids remember." I think there's some "why is this metaworthy" since it's not exactly news that some parents don't give a rat's ass about what's best for their kids, or genuinely aren't smart or aware enough to realize that bringing little Johnny to Halloween might, you know, not be the greatest idea. And people are carefully avoiding the discussion of what exactly should be done about it. Public shaming doesn't work; anyone who hasn't thought that it might be a bad idea is obviously not going to care what you or I think about it. We have enough laws already, and considering how poorly the gummint is conducting the business we already vouchsafe it, I'm not really about giving them the right to regulate who goes to what movie (any more than they already do via the rating system; see also yesterday's discussion about dads being questioned at lunch with their kids for setting of some nervous nellie's pervo-radar).

The writing is poor, the picture is worthless, and the topic isn't newsworthy. However, some of the comments here are priceless.
posted by jennaratrix at 11:59 AM on September 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I get error 999 when I try it
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:00 PM on September 14, 2007


Ironic juxtaposition:

Well if you've ever had to sit through a 'My Little Pony' movie you'd know that this is justified payback.
posted by mazola at 12:15 PM on September 14 [3 favorites +] [!]


I haven't seen the movie, but it sounds to me like a little a little outrage is justified. You really shouldn't bring stroller-aged kids to a splatterfest. I'm not suggesting that it's going to turn the kids into psychopaths or that the children should be taken away from their parents. But that's some pretty irresponsible parenting right there.

No laws need to be enforced or changed here. Just a little public shaming.
posted by Loudmax at 12:19 PM on September 14 [+] [!]

posted by blue_beetle at 12:03 PM on September 14, 2007


I'm sure the parents in question are morally squalid overeaters who cheat the federal income tax system and are probably defrauding their employers out of long term disability benefits, but at the root of all of this is the fact that the writer is an asshole. Look,

1. A lot of people are really shitty parents/drivers/employees/musicians/bosses.
2. There are few things mores tedious than some self-important douchebag going on about what shitty parents/drivers/employees/musicians/bosses other people are.
posted by psmealey at 12:06 PM on September 14, 2007


holy christ, people. calling it torture porn is an expression. it's growing in frequency for people to attach porn to the end of a thing they get a sort of visceral glee from. this is why when I worked on a cooking show we called it "Food Porn." It's not a sexual thing, and it's not a guilty thing, and it shouldn't be a judgement thing. Please back off. Plus, porn is good, you bastards.

I appreciate shmegegge's sentiment above, but ther eis something weird about this case.

No doubt. I would never say that there's something wrong with a parent not wanting a kid to see this type of movie. I'd sure as hell wait a while before showing it to my kids, if I had any. But on the other hand, if someone else wants to show it to theirs I figure "eh, they're your kids, and my friends came out ok." It's not the scariest thing I'll ever see.

Bah. If you don't like the horror/slasher aesthetic, that's fine; avoid his films and avoid the genre. But Rob Zombie is a horror geek of the highest degree,

This is true.

and has a tremendous appreciation for the genre he works in.

Also true.

He's got a lot of growing to do as a director/auteur,

Truest so far.

but for comprehension and presentation of grossout horror idioms the guy is an inspired new addition to the field.

This is like saying that your xerox machine is an inspired new author. I fucking love slasher flicks, and I hate his god damn movies. He's a guy who would never have gotten a job directing a damn thing if he weren't already famous as a musician, and who happens to hire talented cinematographers and fx artists to work on horrifically poorly written and intensely derivative scripts that he writes himself. The only thing worse than Devil's Rejects was House of a Thousand Corpses. Now that he's made his bank on ripping off Chainsaw Massacre, he's moved on to simply remaking old films, which must be easier than trying to rip them off and pass it off as original.

That said, I still want to see the new Halloween. Looks sick, yo.
posted by shmegegge at 12:06 PM on September 14, 2007


If it's not too late, I'd like to ask what people think the age is when you need to stop bringing your babies to these movies.

Um, you shouldn't bring babies to non-kids movies ever. Not for them. For me.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:07 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does the remake have a black-garbed girl dancing to Stigmata Martyr? Because I'm having a lot of trouble envisioning a "Halloween" without that.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:07 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I dunno; I thought House of a Thousand Corpses was a pretty great bit of enthusiastic new-kid filmmaking. All kinds of problems with it, yeah, but that's kind of the spirit of old school slasher stuff. Obviously the dude has leveraged his musical success to get into filmmaking, but he seems to be a genuine horror nut; and messes though his films may be, for their earnest genreness they beat the tar out of kind of cynical bullshit that, say, Uwe Boll puts out. I'll take Corpses any day over that.
posted by cortex at 12:13 PM on September 14, 2007


Does the remake have a black-garbed girl dancing to Stigmata Martyr? Because I'm having a lot of trouble envisioning a "Halloween" without that.

God help me for knowing this, but I believe you're mixing up Halloween with Night of the Demons.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:13 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just remember that once, when I was very young I saw Aliens (on betamax!) at my dad's place. And being absolutely terrified of the 'dinosaurs'.

When I saw the movie again later it was still scary, but not so much so. So I wouldn't want to show little kids very scary films because they actually get scared. I don't think it causes problems later on.
posted by delmoi at 12:14 PM on September 14, 2007


Also, Last Psychiatrist has some good posts on that site. This isn't one of them.

Ditto. Bad post, bad write-up. As always, decent discussion, but whatever...
posted by mrgrimm at 12:14 PM on September 14, 2007


shmegegge writes "holy christ, people. calling it torture porn is an expression."

OK, but here's a quote from the FPP: "Let me start by saying the movie is brutally graphic-- torture porn."

I don't think he's using it in the same way you are, or at least not with a positive connotation.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:16 PM on September 14, 2007


Hi. I wrote the above referenced article on Halloween. A few points:

1. I suck at writing. Some of the criticisms of my points are really the result of this. Not an excuse, just an explanation. If I wrote better, I think there would have been less disagreement.

2. The point of the lat sentence was NOT that horror movies make kids into ADHD serial killers-- that's up for debate. My point was that these kids are growing up in a family/environment where obviously there is so many negatives-- taking them to Halloween is simply an example-- that for psychiatry to be spending so much time and effort on nonsense-- food additives and ADHD-- misses the whole context of the "ADHD" child. Psychiatry focuses on that because it's easier.

3. I tried to juxtapose the bad childhood of Michael Meyers with the (IMHO) bad childhood of these kids, not to imply they will become serial killers, but to suggest that maybe, oh, I don't know, once in a while, how we parent affects how the kids turn out. Just saying.

4. The "obese white parents" comment. You know what? I have no idea why I wrote that. It's factual, but I regret writing it now because it highlighted things that have no relationship to the topic at hand.

4b. Except those attributes did have some relationship, otherwise it wouldn't have been on my mind. I'm going to tread carefully, and I hope you'll appreciate what I'm going to say: I recognize that my thoughts were wrong-- i.e. a prejudice, a stereotype, but they came from somewhere-- even if that somewhere is an attribution or information bias. This speaks to the whole problem of prejudice, where it comes from and how we combat it. Here's an example: when I wrote that comment, my thoughts were exactly this: "I better let everyone know they were white, or else they're going to assume they were black." Strangely, it never occurred to me not to write they were obese-- another prejudice on my part, that, frankly, scares and frightens me that it was so unnoticed (by me:) "Wow, what the hell was I thinking?"

5. "Torture porn." I'm ambivalent about the term as well. As a working definition, porn can be anything that causes sexual excitement in the absence of the fetishized object. Think of it like this: porn leads to masturbation. There's no naked coed there. What about when porn leads to actual sex, with, say, your wife of 15 years? It's still masturbatory, in that your sexual energy is directed at the porn (e.g., how her hip looks like that pic, or how she moans the same way, etc.) Your mind fantasizes around the reality of your wife, so that the wife becomes a prop for masturbation. (This is an example, don't yell at me.) All of this is narcissistic-- it's about you. (for example: you want her to have an orgasm because you want to see it.) It's power. Torture porn is the same: it's about you, and making the other simply an extension of your own emotional ("affective") needs. That's why torture porn is never about revenge, or crime, or any obvious overt purpose. The purpose is the exertion of your power. If there was a purpose to it, it wouldn't be masturbation.

That said, thanks to anyone who liked the article, and thanks also to those who had intelligent criticisms-- I learn a lot from them.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 12:18 PM on September 14, 2007 [16 favorites]


oooooh, you had to bring up Uwe Boll. Fine, fine. I will happily watch anything while swallowing razor blades rather than ever see Alone in the Dark again.

speaking of which, has anyone seen that video clip of the sex scene from Boll's BloodRayne? The one where they're supposed to be locked in a cell together, but as they're shtupping up against the cell door it keeps opening and closing? Classic.

Or better yet, Boll's appearance at the PAX convention?
posted by shmegegge at 12:19 PM on September 14, 2007


substrate : Well, I've watched a porn. I now moonlight as a pizza delivering plumber.

I stand corrected.

Do you bring the wacka-wacka soundtrack, or does that just happen to always be playing when you are working?
posted by quin at 12:21 PM on September 14, 2007


Regarding the writer's point about giving Michael Meyers a childhood: I felt similarly when Thomas Harris gave Hannibal Lecter a childhood.
posted by ltracey at 12:22 PM on September 14, 2007


I dunno; I thought House of a Thousand Corpses was a pretty great bit of enthusiastic new-kid filmmaking. All kinds of problems with it, yeah, but that's kind of the spirit of old school slasher stuff. Obviously the dude has leveraged his musical success to get into filmmaking, but he seems to be a genuine horror nut; and messes though his films may be, for their earnest genreness they beat the tar out of kind of cynical bullshit that, say, Uwe Boll puts out. I'll take Corpses any day over that.

I'd contend that Zombie and Boll are both retched filmmakers, just differently retched. Boll is slick but unimaginative; Zombie is inventive but technically clumsy. I stopped watching "Corpses" after about twenty minutes because of the quality of the film itself, not out of squickishness over the gore. If he hones his craft over the years, I'll give him another shot. I definitely agree with you that understanding the spirit of the genre (as Zombie does) is more important than production quality, but lacking the latter can still cripple a movie's appeal.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 12:23 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't remember 95% of the actual movie, but I to this day remember when I saw The Rock in a movie theater and saw a mother and her five-year-old two rows in front of me. And, about fifteen into this high piece of culture during a critical-to-the-plot moment of Nicolas Cage's girlfriend who would not appear in the rest of the movie lovingly riding his cock into the sunset atop the roof of their apartment I thought "the irony here is Mom will probably be more perturbed with this than the seventeen guys I bet will be murdered in the next hour and a half in increasingly horrific ways." I think the last bad guy had a ball of napalm shoved into his mouth... am I remembering this right?

Thinking of that moment ten years ago and the consideration people have for the MPAA rating system- one which was originally a voluntary action- I look at the FCC and MPAA's handle on culture and law today and can only think "Well, yeah. This is why we can't have nice things."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:23 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Obviously the dude has leveraged his musical success to get into filmmaking, but he seems to be a genuine horror nut

That's actually what makes me sad about Rob Zombie: There's no doubt in my mind his motives are absolutely pure, that he's wanted to make movies ever since he was a kid and couldn't be happier now that he's finally doing it. Unfortunately, he's just god-fucking-awful at it on every level. He's no Uwe Boll, but he's pretty close to being Ed Wood. That "thousand orgasms in reverse" comment was exactly how I felt during and after House of 1000 Corpses. It made me feel like the Luke Wilson character in Idiocracy. Ugh. Just ugh.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:23 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ugh. Again, pornography does not necessarily have anything to do with sex.
posted by basicchannel at 12:24 PM on September 14, 2007


Has any film been rated NC-17 for gore? Or is it just sexy bits that are bad for kids?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:27 PM on September 14, 2007


Also, I prefer the term carnography over torture porn, but that's just me.

Hardcore carnography: They're Made Out Of Meat!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:27 PM on September 14, 2007


Enjoy what you enjoy, and let the rest of us do the same.

Just don't be smoking in the apartment below me!
posted by ericb at 12:30 PM on September 14, 2007


basicchannel writes "Ugh. Again, pornography does not necessarily have anything to do with sex."

I'd contend, from a descriptivist standpoint, that, used unmodified, the word "pornography" always refers to sexual or erotic depictions (word, photo, or film). You can add modifiers to the word "porn" to give it a nonsexual sense (e.g. "food porn" or "torture porn"), but this usage is rare with the word "pornography".
posted by mr_roboto at 12:30 PM on September 14, 2007


The point of the lat sentence was NOT that horror movies make kids into ADHD serial killers-- that's up for debate.

And so are evolution and climate change!
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:32 PM on September 14, 2007


it was a ball of VX nerve gas.

Meh, some people are bad parents. I can't work up a lot of outrage over this one. I'm about all-outraged-out at this point.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 12:32 PM on September 14, 2007


In other words, if you described Zombie's latest movie as "pornography", you would be universally misunderstood. To get your point across properly, you'd have to call it "torture porn".
posted by mr_roboto at 12:32 PM on September 14, 2007


Boll is slick but unimaginative; Zombie is inventive but technically clumsy.

Yeah, that's fair. I think I tend to like clumsy enthusiasm enough that I'm happy to sit through a not-very-good movie if I think it's an interesting failure, but that's definitely a personal preference. I associate clumsy inventiveness with a lot of my positive feelings about the horror genre in general, I think: an indie crew throwing together a scary movie as best the can with limited resources just kind of makes my day. That's partly why I think so fondly of Blair Witch still—and Blair Witch 2 is a perfect contrast of money and resources but no spirit. Those two films are a case study in losing your way when you get a little success.
posted by cortex at 12:36 PM on September 14, 2007


TheLastPsychiatrist: I've seen others get more or less lambasted here and come in to defend themselves. Your's was a classy comment.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 12:39 PM on September 14, 2007


You know what it was that drove me nuts the most about zombie's films? The fanboy impulses he doesn't curtail. For instance, when we were all in junior high, i'd imagine we all thought that the coolest thing a person could do would be for them to have a slo-mo gunfight to the death to our favorite rock song ever! But actual film makers of any quality do things like say "no, we are not putting the entire 16 minute long version of freebird in the ending of the film, and no we are not going to have 12 minutes of slow driving just to give us time to get through the slow part so they can go down in a blaze of glory when the drums kick in."

oh, and spoiler alert.
posted by shmegegge at 12:49 PM on September 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


"At some point the grossness level of these trailers for Saw IV started, like the US space program, competing against themselves in a game no one is watching anymore. This one features ol' Jigsaw getting all sorts of organs and things yanked out of him in a graphic autopsy. I can't wait for the next ad, where I hear someone fills Jigsaw's now-empty body cavities with vomit, blends the whole thing, feeds it to a midget, cuts open a giant, stuffs the midget inside the giant, then walks the giant/midget cocktail into a bear trap, all while a man with his eyes gouged out eats a bowl of human feces and baby heads. It's totally awesome."
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:50 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I started writing a post on his site (not this particular post) for MeFi User Sites this morning, but then had to stop in order to do some actual work. When I came back to it, this was on the front page.
posted by OmieWise at 12:58 PM on September 14, 2007


Armitage: That sounds like the next episode of Will it Blend.
posted by localroger at 12:59 PM on September 14, 2007


Gucky - I'm just sorry that anyone else saw Liquid Sky, child or adult. For years I tried to write it off as a hashish-induced hallucination, but God help me, it really was a movie.
posted by malocchio at 1:00 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]




Sounds like the Aristoctrats to me, Armitage Shanks.
posted by psmealey at 1:11 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I hope you'll appreciate what I'm going to say: I recognize that my thoughts were wrong-- i.e. a prejudice, a stereotype, but they came from somewhere-- even if that somewhere is an attribution or information bias.

Why do you automatically think your thoughts were wrong?

To paraphrase from another author ... we are drowsily accustomed, by now, to the fetishisation of “balance”, the groundrule of “moral equivalence” and our 100 percent and 360-degree inability to pass judgment on anyone else.

Screw 'em. Judging fat stupid people for being fat and stupid isn't a tragedy. But it isn't wrong, either. Bring back the shame!

it's not exactly FPP-worthy, but there you go...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:14 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does every single thread really have to devolve into boring grandstanding about fat people?

If it's impossible for everyone to just get along and enjoy judging peoples' poor parenting skills, can we subdivide into Metafilter Regular Flavor, and FATTYFILTER.COM, "The Best Of The Web That's Related To My Incessant Need To Talk About Fat Folks"? Thanks.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:27 PM on September 14, 2007


I recognize that my thoughts were wrong-- i.e. a prejudice, a stereotype, but they came from somewhere-- even if that somewhere is an attribution or information bias.

That somewhere is Wal-Mart.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:41 PM on September 14, 2007


Shakespeherian, not many movies have actually gone out with an NC-17 rating for gore, since distributors generally prefer to release those movies "unrated" for whatever reason. However, there are plenty of gory movies that would have required cuts to secure an R rating, including: The Evil Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Braindead (aka Dead Alive), Re-Animator, the just-reissued-on-DVD From Beyond, and the list goes on and on. Kill Bill Vol. 1 had to be cut to avoid an NC-17. The director's cut of Scream got an NC-17. Heck, the MPAA gave a reissue of The freakin' Wild Bunch an NC-17 until Warner Bros. raised holy hell about it.

Lately, it seems like the MPAA just got tired of taking shit from filmmakers for forcing cuts to their horror movies. Hard to imagine any other reason why stuff like Hostel Part 2 and the Saw movies would suddenly start getting a rating. Then again, I'm continually amazed by the grisly stuff I see flipping past network crime drams in prime time these days.

The MPAA's movie ratings Web site is a fun place to research stuff like this. I mean, would you believe Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968) got a G rating?
posted by Joey Bagels at 1:45 PM on September 14, 2007



5. "Torture porn." I'm ambivalent about the term as well. As a working definition, porn can be anything that causes sexual excitement in the absence of the fetishized object.



See the thing I think people are missing is that in all probability the kids were brought to this movie involuntarily. I don't think a five year or a three year old wants to see Halloween and the parents grudgingly take them. I think the parents go, and bring the kids along. Meaning that the kids don't really know what they are going to see. And then they see a kid killing people on screen.

Now imagine a parent drags a kid to a run-of-the-mill porno movie - no fetish thing, just basic guy girl, etc. Is this as bad, worse, or not as bad as taking same to Halloween?
posted by Pastabagel at 1:52 PM on September 14, 2007


Interestingly, my child never had the typical fears about monsters in the closet or under the bed, until I let her - probably when she was in fifth grade - watch The Ring. Then I had to check her closet for Samara (the girl with the hair hanging down her face ) in the closet at night for a year. In retrospect, perhaps puberty or just before might be a better time to let kids see horror films. Obviously letting three or eight-year olds into these movies is poor parenting.
posted by kozad at 1:56 PM on September 14, 2007


Then I had to check her closet for Samara (the girl with the hair hanging down her face ) in the closet at night for a year.

Hell, I had to check my own closet for that chick for a year after seeing the Ring. That movie scared the crap out of me.
posted by psmealey at 1:58 PM on September 14, 2007 [3 favorites]



The MPAA's movie ratings Web site is a fun place to research stuff like this. I mean, would you believe Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968) got a G rating?
posted by Joey Bagels at 4:45 PM on September 14


From one bagel to another, I never really understood this. Most people will have hot dirty sex in the their loves. Most people, the overwhelming majority of people will never see a brutal killing.

My paranoia/politics-as-mechanism-for-social-control thinking leads me to wonder if this is the case because they know watching violence does make people more violent, who therefore interact more with police and whose victims require more protection from the police, and which ultimately provides an excuse to exert authority and control. Or it could be some patriarchial view that violence raises boys to men, and screw the girls.

On the other hand, as anyone who has ever read 1984 knows, sex, eroticism, etc. is a form of resistance to social authority, and therefore needs to be suppressed.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:58 PM on September 14, 2007


Joey Bagels, I'm more surprised by Gilliam's Jabberwocky, which got a PG despite full frontal nudity. But anyway, thanks for the info.

I would like to point out that the MPAA isn't forcing anyone to cut their movies; they're forcing folks to cut their movies in order to get a specified rating. Tarantino can hack off as many heads as he wants if he's willing to have his movie labeled NC-17, a rating which, among other things, can connote that there are a shitload of heads getting hacked off.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:59 PM on September 14, 2007


I'm more surprised by Gilliam's Jabberwocky, which got a PG despite full frontal nudity.

I think that's acceptable if it's just hanging there, not doing anything.
posted by psmealey at 2:00 PM on September 14, 2007


Nope. It's torture porn. You are watching people getting tortured for titillation. Own it. Don't reject it.

People onscreen aren't actually being tortured & killed. People in naked-people-sex-porn actually, y'know, ejaculate and stuff. There's a bit of a difference there. Food porn involves actual food, etc. What you're calling torture porn here? Not so much.
posted by juv3nal at 2:01 PM on September 14, 2007


Most people will have hot dirty sex in the their loves.

Obviouslym that should have been "in their lives." Talk about a Freudian slip, and of all the threads to have one in...
posted by Pastabagel at 2:01 PM on September 14, 2007


here's a bit of a difference there. Food porn involves actual food, etc. What you're calling torture porn here? Not so much.
posted by juv3nal at 5:01 PM on September 14


Food porn does not involve porn. A buffet is not food porn, it's food. Food porn is depictions of food for the purpose of stimulating excitement. Torture porn is precisely the same thing. Depictions of torture for the purpose of stimulating excitement.

Think about it. The torture and brutality is there because the director knows the audience finds it exciting. They don't find it repulsive or boring or upsetting, they find it exciting. They like watching the brutality, that's the point.

In other words, we all know the Halloween story can be very scary and a great movie without gore because we've already seen it done. The original wasn't a case of "a little gore is good, so a lot will be even better," because the original had none.

So why make it extremely gory now? Because this isn't supposed to be a scary movie. It's an action movie with the car chases replaced by brutal killing.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:07 PM on September 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Food porn does not involve porn. I meant to say, food porn does not involve food. MY BRAIN IS BROKEN.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:08 PM on September 14, 2007


People onscreen aren't actually being tortured & killed.

I wonder how much that changes things. They are being tortured and killed in the story, and what I am seeing is their torture and death. Has anyone done a study on the effects of watching torture porn (I think the term is useful, and it's in wide use anyway) vs. seeing video of actual graphic deaths?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:14 PM on September 14, 2007


Then I had to check her closet for Samara (the girl with the hair hanging down her face ) in the closet at night for a year.

Hell, I had to check my own closet for that chick for a year after seeing the Ring. That movie scared the crap out of me.


Oh yeah? I hid in the dryer for a day and a half.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:15 PM on September 14, 2007


Man, I will choose self-important douchebaggery over being a fat-torture-porn-loving-child-abuser every time.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:17 PM on September 14, 2007


My cousins showed me Natural Born Killers when I was 9 or 10. Maybe 11. I have no idea why.
posted by schroedinger at 2:18 PM on September 14, 2007


Real porn does not always include actual sex, such as softcore stuff you'll see late at night on cable movie stations. It's still called porn.
posted by shmegegge at 2:28 PM on September 14, 2007


Man, I will choose self-important douchebaggery over being a fat-torture-porn-loving-child-abuser every time.

130 comments later, that pretty much sums it up.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:28 PM on September 14, 2007


A buffet is not food porn
It's an orgy of food.

cortex If you don't like the horror/slasher aesthetic, that's fine; avoid his films and avoid the genre.
I have no problem with the genre whatsoever. I just think Rob Zombie hasn't added anything new or entertaining to it.

quin Enjoy what you enjoy, and let the rest of us do the same.
By all means. I would never try to keep you from enjoying whatever it is you enjoy.
posted by Sailormom at 2:32 PM on September 14, 2007


The worst experience I ever had in a movie was watching the first Blade movie while sitting in front of a whimpering 4 or 5 year old who kept begging, pleading to be taken out. This wasn't "give me a candy-bar" begging, this was quiet desperation, makes me sick just thinking about it, that kind of low, mournful whine that is usually accompanied by fever or a broken limb.

Every day of my life, I live with a small and insidious fear that I will accidentally, unintentionally expose my children to something that makes them feel the way the child you described likely felt: tiny, terrified and completely vulnerable, surrounded by adults that could previously be trusted to protect you, but now were acting as if they couldn't hear you.

I'd like people from both camps -- the "this will make your kid into a psychopath" camp AND the "this cannot make your kid into a psychopath" camp -- to think for a moment that the future is a bit secondary to the here and now in these situations. If you're dense enough to bring your children to one of these movies without concern for how they might be impacted about it in the moment, then you might also be too dense to notice that they're literally immobilized by fear -- you might even interpret it as them "being good" whlie watching the movie. Please try not to make this mistake.

A good rule of thumb is, if your child is transfixed, that's bad whether they're terrified or simply unable to tear themselves away. A healthy movie or television show (if such a thing exists) for a child should involve them interacting with you to talk about what they're viewing -- pointing out the airplane on-screen, or asking questions, or just laughing. If you're getting a dull stare and no movement, you've either got a kid who's way too deep into what you're watching, or is so afraid that they can't even move any more.

Oh yeah? I hid in the dryer for a day and a half.

After we watched The Ring, that night the house got a little cold and my wife asked me to turn up the thermostat. I said "why don't you do it?" and she said "I'm scared to get up."
So I said "Okay, I'll do it...would you come with me?"

That movie really got into you, eh?
posted by davejay at 2:34 PM on September 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


I will choose self-important douchebaggery over being a fat-torture-porn-loving-child-abuser every time.

Unfortunately, you don't have to choose. In life, the latter is avoidable, the former is not.
posted by psmealey at 2:34 PM on September 14, 2007


Oh, and:

Sex in a film about something else: not porn, although it might be graphic.

Sex in a film that is about the sex itself and nothing more: porn.

Violence in a film about something else: not porn, although it might be graphic.

Violence in a fillm that is about the violence itself and nothing more: porn.

So does the movie exist to show the sex or violence, or does the sex or violence exist to further the plot of the movie? I'd say that's the line, but that's just me.
posted by davejay at 2:36 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why am I so hungry after reading this thread?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:36 PM on September 14, 2007


Are these parents considered terrible parents for taking their kids to this (and similar) movies just because the movies these days are so much more graphic than in previous years? I just find it surprising how people in this thread seem to be universally agreeing that the parents are bad because they took their kids to a horror flick... where they go after that differs, but nearly everyone (who's addressing this particular issue, not haggling over the definition of porn or the talent of Rob Zombie) seems to assume that they're bad parents. I'm in my 30s now, and my parents took me and my similarly-aged sister to R-rated movies when we were young. Some of my earliest memories were of sitting on the roof of the car at the drive-in and seeing The Blob and Horror Express... I remember that (at the time) I was scared.... but not scarred. Experiencing scary things is fun. In fact, I think I have more lasting PTSD from a certain particularly unpleasant carnival ride, or the visceral dread and elevated pulse that I still get thinking about climbing the rickety stairs to the top of St Paul's cathedral 20 years ago. I'm still delighted by John Waters' Polyester, which we saw in the theatre in glorious Smell-o-vision when I was 6.
When I was a teenager, a colleague of my parents who was very strict about only exposing their children to the "age appropriate" fare touted by some in this thread, asked about the effects of my parents' practice of not doing so. My mother paused and said, "Well, they [me and my sister] are pretty cynical, but then so am I." We were honors students throughout school, didn't grow up to be fuck-ups, we still are pretty cynical, but then so is everyone these days. I think I agree with the one person way up the thread who said that these people presumably know their own children, know their personalities, know their level of emotional maturity. So maybe my parents exposed us to movies, books, magazines, and beverages* that are not age-appropriate to *your* kid, but were perfectly fine for us. So I guess I disagree that any of this "age-appropriate" stuff is anything other than crap; unless the argument is that maybe the stuff that's shown today is, in its violent excesses, not appropriate for anyone.
In 10th grade, when I was on student council, we went down to the elementary school to talk to the kiddies as part of the DARE program. When asked if any of us had ever had alcohol, I was the only one who raised my hand, as my parents had been feeding us sips of their beer or wine since we were babies, and it never occurred to me that this was not normal. I was also, however, the only person up on that panel who didn't attend movie-style high-school drunkfests, perhaps because it held no mystique. That experience really brought home to me that the kids whose parents were really strict and controlling, the same kids who went to church and Sunday school every week, were also all the biggest liars and hypocrites. And when I went to my 10-year reunion a few years ago, they were all divorced neurotics. So whose parents were worse?
posted by Hal Mumkin at 2:40 PM on September 14, 2007


acting in all those Almodovar movies hasn't made Antonio Banderas become gay, so I guess that guy's kids will be OK. Me, I'm in favor of some law that makes it illegal, even with parental supervision, to take small children to movies that have adult content, but mostly because I bet they'd be fucking annoying in the movie theatre, crying and all that stuff. let them go see Shrek 3 in a theatre full of other children and their unfortunate parents, but leave them the fuck out of the movies I go to, thank you very much. the more you fuck one's moviegoing experience up, the more people will stay at home and watch downloaded movies on their plasma TVs


Rob Zombie is a horror geek of the highest degree, and has a tremendous appreciation for the genre he works in

so does the Goth kid who works at my local video store, but it's not enough to let him direct a major motion picture
posted by matteo at 2:41 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah but: There was a stroller. These kids aren't old enough to walk a couple of blocks. But maybe they're old enough to see people flayed alive?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:45 PM on September 14, 2007


Think about it. The torture and brutality is there because the director knows the audience finds it exciting. They don't find it repulsive or boring or upsetting, they find it exciting. They like watching the brutality, that's the point.

If this is all you see, I feel you're not looking deeply enough. Torture is there it's integral to the theme of the work. Hostel is a morality tale about a simple, easy to recognize leftist touchstone: commodification. The deeper joke was that the audience was, in a sense, "in" on it.

Many people also didn't acknowledge the heavy references to Goya (e.g. Saturn/Chronos devouring his offspring) in Pan's Labyrinth, so they probably thought that it was inexplicably violent too. But the violence had a purpose, and it wasn't just to jerk you out of the magical realism.

It becomes very easy to set one's threshold of squeamishness and prudishness to dismiss just about any art as prurient or void. But, again, if some people, somewhere in the world, decide to jerk off to something, does that mean nobody else can learn from it?
posted by kid ichorous at 2:45 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Are these parents considered terrible parents for taking their kids to this (and similar) movies just because the movies these days are so much more graphic than in previous years?

I'm gonna go with "yes".
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:53 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Most people will have hot dirty sex in the their loves.

Yep...and I'm sure I'm not the only one to own up to such!
posted by ericb at 3:02 PM on September 14, 2007


Hmmmmmm. Honestly, I wouldn't take my very young child (say, between four and twelve) to see something like Ichi the Killer or Hostel -- it wouldn't even occur to me to do so. (My stroller-age child I wouldn't take to anything, as the best you can expect is that the kid will sleep through it, and the worst is that they'll shriek and bawl until everyone in the theater wants to light you and your child on fire.) By the time they're entering junior high, though, I think most kids are capable of dealing with anything they want to see -- I was. Seventeen seems like a ludicrously high bar to me for entry into an R-rated movie. Through the magic of Betamax, I saw The Terminator when I was about eleven, and Blue Velvet when I was about fourteen, all to no immediately apparent lasting damage. So I think we're a little too prudish in that regard.

As far as taking a little little kid to something like this movie goes, though, not only would I not do it, but I think it kinda raises a red flag vis a vis any parent who would. If you can't be bothered to get a sitter (or not go!) for a movie that is clearly not appropriate for your kid, how reckless a parent are you in other regards? It's because it is such a minor thing, and so easily avoided, that it sets off an alarm bell for me. In and of itself it may not be such a big deal, but it does seem symptomatic of a larger problem at home.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:18 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Then I had to check her closet for Samara (the girl with the hair hanging down her face ) in the closet at night for a year...
posted by kozad at 1:56 PM on September 14 [+]


On the plus side, you've probably never had to worry about your kid asking to have a TV in her room.
posted by kosher_jenny at 3:29 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Food porn does not involve porn. A buffet is not food porn, it's food. Food porn is depictions of food for the purpose of stimulating excitement. Torture porn is precisely the same thing. Depictions of torture for the purpose of stimulating excitement.

Think about it. The torture and brutality is there because the director knows the audience finds it exciting. They don't find it repulsive or boring or upsetting, they find it exciting. They like watching the brutality, that's the point.

...
Real porn does not always include actual sex, such as softcore stuff you'll see late at night on cable movie stations. It's still called porn.

That's fair I guess, but I still feel there's something fundamentally different about the experience. I think there are a lot more people that would enjoy porn and also get excited in front of a live stripper than you would find who enjoy torture porn and also get excited in seeing someone being tortured live, right in front of them. Or at least I hope so.
posted by juv3nal at 3:46 PM on September 14, 2007


kittens for breakfast : I saw The Terminator when I was about eleven, and Blue Velvet when I was about fourteen, all to no immediately apparent lasting damage.

Apart from your proclivity to eat juvenile felines as part of your morning repast, that is. Right?
posted by quin at 3:54 PM on September 14, 2007


Don't judge me, man!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:57 PM on September 14, 2007


Joey Bagels, I'm more surprised by Gilliam's Jabberwocky, which got a PG despite full frontal nudity. But anyway, thanks for the info.

That's one of the reasons the PG-13 was instituted, actually -- it was meant as a category for movies that featured full-frontal nudity in a non-sexual context. Even so, precious few PG-13 movies have featured nudity (probably as much for marketing reasons -- Disney is not having Keira Knightley get her kit off in one of the Pirates movies -- as because of the rating) and lots of people are shocked to see it in older PG movies like Swamp Thing, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Kramer Vs. Kramer, etc.

I would like to point out that the MPAA isn't forcing anyone to cut their movies; they're forcing folks to cut their movies in order to get a specified rating.

Well, fair enough. Of course Tarantino, like any other filmmaker who wants a big budget and theatrical distribution, made a small but essential artistic compromise as soon as he entered a relationship with a Hollywood studio. Once that happened, he was contractually obligated to deliver a film that was rated anything but NC-17. What's maddening about the process for directors is that the system puts their film in the hands of an anonymous rating board, rather than the studio people that they've chosen to go into business with.

NC-17 movies are still exceedingly rare. Ang Lee's Lust, Caution is the only recent example I can think of, and good for Focus Features for letting it go out that way. (Of course, if Brokeback Mountain had been released 10 years ago I have little doubt the MPAA would have required cuts for an R rating.)

Back on topic, I'm generally not in favor of increased age-specific restrictions on moviegoing, but I do promise increased personal patronage of any theater chain that imposes an all-out ban on young children in R-rated films. (I don't think this should be an MPAA mandate, or, choke, a legislative one.) It's as much an issue of age-appropriateness as it is comfort for the adult filmgoers who'd like to see an explicit movie without worrying about the well-being of — or listening to the wailing of — Stroller Johnny. I think AMC Theaters in Colorado used to disallow kids under the age of 4 or 5 from R-rated films altogether. I don't know if they still do this, but my guess is it's awfully unlikely that theater chains will institute any policies that will make it likely that they will selll fewer tickets/concessions.
posted by Joey Bagels at 4:08 PM on September 14, 2007


Also, on the subject of defining porn: Somebody up top mentioned Cafe Flesh, a hardcore sex movie that takes place in a near-future where the majority of the world's populace are unable to copulate (it'll kill them), and the few "sex positives" who can are drafted into service performing for the celibate masses. It's a terribly depressing film, and it seemed to anticipate the AIDS crisis. It's an interesting film, because it's pretty clearly a porn film, but it's also "something more." I'm not sure porn always has to be a pejorative term, though it may be useful to use it that way as shorthand, and I feel that's what the vast majority of references to "torture porn" are trying to do to the current crop of horror movies — reduce them to the status of something you should be ashamed of enjoying. (I like Hostel and dislike Hostel 2, but I think both films have something on their minds besides the mindless titillation suggested by the sobriquet of "torture porn".)
posted by Joey Bagels at 4:15 PM on September 14, 2007


I'm reading this discussion about porn and all my brain mentions to me is that this entire concept - porn as shorthand for 'item that people find interesting to watch for their own enjoyment, even if others think they should be ashamed of it' - was predicted by Pat Cadigan in her book 'Synners', where watching people fuck is called 'sex porn', pictures of food is 'food porn', obsessive pictures of sports is 'sports porn', et cetera.

I think I have a column to write.
posted by mephron at 4:21 PM on September 14, 2007


People used to bring the family to lynchings. Hell they'd have picnics. There are stories of public officials making sure tall people wouldn't block the views of shorter people (IE: the kids) at public executions — however it was OK to have your kid on your shoulders.

Did this effect kids? Turn them into psychos? Did it, by virtue of simply being REAL, make MORE rapists.

I bet not.

But public executions were the norm for thousands of years. Obviously the practice was seen as instructive some how. The participatory nature of them perpetuated the idea. It sure made for a more coarse ugly culture with some fucked up ideas that were hard to shake.

All horror, gore, and violence, even graphic gore and violence, are not created equally.

There is a drastic and dramatic difference thematically from your typical slasher film and lets say the cartoonish violence of a monster movie or other thrillers.

The problem is deeper than the graphic nature of the films but rather in the theme — particularly the depictions of women as targets for rage and worse, blubbering victims. And sheer glee in which it is demonstrated.

The world did not need another movie depicting naked teenage women being tortured to death. Did it? A formulaic cynical remake none the less?

Will watching it turn kids into psychos? No. Because society is already so bent what is there left to be anomalously pathological about? When even the most liberal among us so easily dismiss this consumerist torture shit as just harmless fantasy how do we know who the psychos are?

Sure. Serial rapists are pretty easy to spot by their actions. But are we not just a bit concerned that we are all STILL so entertained by these virtual executions? That we have not grown much beyond getting off on watching lynchings. Simulated or not. I'm not sure it's a good thing.

We spend billions on advertising every year. We are fairly certain that images and virtual depictions influence behavior. But some how "your favorite movie genre" must be some magic exception? You SURE about that?

In a couple hundred years we may look back on this like we today look back on bull baiting, dog fighting, and public executions.
posted by tkchrist at 5:14 PM on September 14, 2007 [5 favorites]


When I was about 11 or 12, my cousin showed me a copy of Juggs that he hid under his mattress. Those ladies sure had some tig bitties.

About the same time, I saw an unedited zombie movie at another cousin's house -- I forget the name, but it had some guy getting his face eaten off, disembowelment, de-braining, etc.

As far as I'm concerned, both of them were "p0rn": the first one (obviously), and the second one too, after a fashion. The funny thing is, I found ladies with big boobs to be much more agreeable than hideous violence, yet my cousins had purchased both items. The nasty zombie movie wasn't forced on them (at least, in the way that it was forced on me): they bought it because they liked it and wanted to watch it over and over again. To me, thats p0rn, no matter what the object might be.

And, yeah, the violence mentally fucked me up waaaaaaay more than naked chicks ever could.
posted by Avenger at 5:39 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Most criminal violence in movies just makes people more paranoid and afraid of their own shadow.
posted by Brian B. at 5:39 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


There is a drastic and dramatic difference thematically from your typical slasher film and lets say the cartoonish violence of a monster movie or other thrillers.

No one has invoked the term "strawman argument" here in a while, so I may as well give it a whirl. The problem is not that there are no mindless blood n' guts films that exist only to give the mouthbreathers among us something to do over a few beers; the problem is that the difference between a "your typical slasher film" (that would be the strawman) and "other thrillers" is really just a matter of opinion. That is to say, it's obvious to me that there is a very strong difference between Hostel and the remake of The Hills Have Eyes -- that one is cynical, exploitative trash and the other is an honest to God movie that just happens to employ blood n' guts as a necessary tool in telling its story -- but if I don't bother to tell you which I think is which, someone who's seen both may draw his/her own conclusions, and be certain they must be my own, so sure is s/he in his his/her critical judgment, and not have my number at all. Criticism isn't science, but art. I may think it's an objective, fact-of-the-universe truth that the Gwyneth Paltrow vehicle View from the Top is the death of human civilization unfolding right in front of your very eyes, but I'm sure there's some total fucking moron out there who loves it. Every movie is some poor fuck's favorite movie. In order to point to particular films and judge them unwatchable by anybody, ever, we have to declare ourselves unimpeachable critics. You may think you're one; everyone thinks they're one. But you're not.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:46 PM on September 14, 2007


No one has invoked the term "strawman argument" here in a while

You need to visit more often.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:49 PM on September 14, 2007


(Well, I haven't seen it in a while!)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:53 PM on September 14, 2007


If this is all you see, I feel you're not looking deeply enough. Torture is there it's integral to the theme of the work. Hostel is a morality tale about a simple, easy to recognize leftist touchstone: commodification. The deeper joke was that the audience was, in a sense, "in" on it.

posted by kid ichorous at 2:45 PM on September 14 [1 favorite +] [!]


These are not "deep" films by any strained stretch of one's imagination. They are surprisingly conservative "morality tales" if you want to call them that.

What we can learn from these films is:

1. It is bad to have pre-marital sex
2. It is bad to do drugs
3. It is bad to assume that people who are non-American or are elderly or have a misshapen limb or want to be left alone or don't own an iPod aren't out to rape/torture/mutilate/obliterate you

Eli Roth once said something about the first Hostel having to do with the war in Iraq. When I hear such clumsy apologies for one's interests it makes me think either he thinks everyone else is stupid or he is very delusional.
posted by basicchannel at 5:53 PM on September 14, 2007


Um...have you seen Hostel?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:00 PM on September 14, 2007


Yes. People buy young men (now young women) to torture and kill them. Americans cost extra. Like... deep, man.
posted by basicchannel at 6:25 PM on September 14, 2007


Does it really have to be deep to have a meaning? It seems to me that things like that work best when they're at their most transparent. The symbolism of playing chess with Death in The Seventh Seal is...well, shit, it's not even really symbolism because Bergman literally had Max von Sydow playing chess with Death. Should he have maybe made the whole thing a little more obscure? Would that have made it more meaningful? I don't follow your thinking at all.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:33 PM on September 14, 2007


(Also: men and women are purchased in both films, Americans cost more than most but Japanese seem to cost the most of the all, and...dude, you were the kind of kid who read the back of the book for his book reports, weren't you? Seeing the trailers is not the same as seeing the films. For shame!)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:00 PM on September 14, 2007


...the original was a better than average horror movie because of the way Carpenter handled the camera and played around with P.O.V. I don't think any of the sequels bothered to do that; they just sorta made a bee-line for the gore.

Surprisingly, Halloween H20 is a pretty darn solid movie. Jamie Lee Curtis comes back after that one, and plot-wise they ignore basically all the sequels and all of those storylines. So you're best off watching the original and H20. Then stop.
posted by zardoz at 7:41 PM on September 14, 2007


He wears a mask, but that's basically his real face.

Actually, it's Shatner.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:52 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


That experience really brought home to me that the kids whose parents were really strict and controlling, the same kids who went to church and Sunday school every week, were also all the biggest liars and hypocrites.

My experience was the same. That's why I'm taking a firm "everything in moderation, unless it hurts you or other people whenever you do it" with my two-year-olds. That includes swearing, although I'm trying like the dickens to get 'em to say "Great Caesar's Ghost!" (they've got "Awwwww NUTS!" down pat already.)
posted by davejay at 8:49 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


shakespeherian: I'm more surprised by Gilliam's Jabberwocky, which got a PG despite full frontal nudity.

Probably because the 12 people who saw it were either asleep by then or had already walked out.

worst.movie.evar
posted by RavinDave at 9:11 PM on September 14, 2007


Yes. People buy young men (now young women) to torture and kill them. Americans cost extra. Like... deep, man.

Yeah, that barely scratches the surface, and lends support to my theory that some people who categorize these films as simple "pornography" just aren't willing to understand them further than that.

And, in case you're wondering, The Ring wasn't about scary little girls. It was about fertility, techno-panic, and the notion that information itself can take on a facsimile of self-perpetuating life. The image of a mother throwing a child into a well, and the dead child crawling out again, are so clearly birth in reverse and in forward. And the image of a corpse crawling out of a vcr/tv is a kind of rebirth into an information-age virus. This is all very basic stuff, but it's amazing what you can miss when you're covering your eyes and reaching for the smelling salts, and that's what frustrates me about people who only look at horror on the ugly surface.

And zombie movies? They're often about mob conformity. Why else do you think they're after your brain?
posted by kid ichorous at 12:06 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


I gotta speak up in defense of the Halloween remake here. (It's starting to sound like I'm one of the only people in this thread who's seen it -- ? Am I wrong?)

It's not torture porn. Not even remotely in the same way that Hostel is. Sure, the violence in it is extremely brutal, but the camera never really lingers on it that same voyeuristic way. It's just treating violence like it's something horrible -- which it is. But there was nothing in it that seemed particularly gory.

(Also, I have to say, Halloween is countless light years better than House of 1000 Corpses was. Mr. Zombie really seems to be figuring out this whole "directing" thing.)
posted by webmutant at 12:07 AM on September 15, 2007


With regards to pornography in its various guises and the argument that there's nothing wrong with any of them, for some reason I am put in mind of how many people mistakenly think the phrase is 'Money is the root of all evil' rather than 'Love of money...'

I'm not Christian by any stretch of the imagination, but I reckon one of the downsides of the deChristianization of most of the modern world is that people seem to have thrown away the concept of a soul along with all the rest of the old claptrap, forgetting that some metaphors are just that, and useful in living a life and cultivating a mind that isn't hipdeep in the muck.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:27 AM on September 15, 2007


I saw Hellraiser when I was a kid. I also saw The Jungle Book. I liked both. And I was reading The Kama Sutra, as in, with real couples, when I was 12. I saw Bond, Beavis & Butthead, Crash (the NC-17 version where people get turned on by car crashes), Showgirls, and all this well before I turned 16. Natural Born Killers when I was 11.

What fucked me up more than anything was how strongly my parents resisted this. I still can't stand it when someone tells me something is for my own good. Mom cried when she found my porn stash.

And now I hate people. Because most of them are idiots. <3
posted by saysthis at 4:39 AM on September 15, 2007


it's not even really symbolism because Bergman literally had Max von Sydow playing chess with Death.

I'm imagining a post post modern comedic remake of The Seventh Seal with Jason Lee in the von Sydow role.

LEE: (comes out of character and looks into camera). Dude! I am literally playing chess with death. How fucked up is this?
posted by psmealey at 6:13 AM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


[Halloween 07] is just treating violence like it's something horrible -- which it is. But there was nothing in it that seemed particularly gory.

I'm with you on that. (I thought it was a fairly bad movie, though.) When I was thinking about ratings, I briefly considered Zombie's Halloween as an NC-17 candidate. If it had been made in the 1980s or even the early 1990s, I'm pretty sure the MPAA would have required cuts. One moment that stands out is the first throat-slashing -- it probably would have been reduced to just a flash of blood/gore on screen. And I'm fairly certain the later sequence in which one of the girls is seen topless on screen for two or three minutes, before during and after her slash attack, would have caused them all kinds of troubles because of its fusion of titillation and violence. They hate that.

Ironically, I think that a slightly de-fanged version of Zombie's Halloween would be even worse for Double Stroller than the more brutish version that was released. At least Zombie's movie is appropriately unpleasant. If you whitewash the effects of violence to make a more smoothly entertaining experience, I think the risk of desensitization is probably greater. Paul Verhoeven observed something similar with regard to Robocop. He was going for over-the-top violence that would clearly be a satire on Dirty Harry-style bloodthirstiness, but when the MPAA got done trimming it for an R rating (yes, I know the MPAA didn't literally trim anybody's movie; I'm just using a shorthand for what really happened) the effect was more brutal and less easily recognized as irony.
posted by Joey Bagels at 6:49 AM on September 15, 2007


I am cracking up over the "deep" description of The Ring. I'd have loved it if the movie had reached those aspirations, honestly, I would have. But it came off so cheap, to me, instead. I wish these movies WERE more than they are but I can't help but feel it's a terrible reach.
posted by agregoli at 5:09 PM on September 15, 2007


The image of a mother throwing a child into a well, and the dead child crawling out again, are so clearly birth in reverse and in forward.

I think you need to reevaluate your theory, since it was Samara's "father" who threw her in the well, not her mother.
posted by Snyder at 6:00 PM on September 15, 2007


I think you need to reevaluate your theory, since it was Samara's "father" who threw her in the well, not her mother.

Nuh-UH...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:42 PM on September 15, 2007


See here's the thing: You have a kid, you have to change some stuff. Honestly it is just is that way. After our daughter was born, I think my husband and I went to two movies in 4 years together . We took the Bean to her first movie (Nanny Mcphee) after she turned 4. It was a kid's movie and she was able to sit still and keep her voice down for the most part. She enjoyed it, we enjoyed watching her watch her first movie and we didn't piss anyone off. It is a great memory for all of us.

Somethings and places are just not appropriate for kids. And somehow or other we managed to remember after we spawned how much we disliked kids in adult movies, it's just bad manners.

You can know your kids and make some decisions on some borderline things, for example: The Bean plays world of warcraft (a carefully supervised version with her Dad right there) and enjoys Star Wars and every spooky thing she can find (I think having ex goths for parents probably has something to do with that). But honestly some things are just wrong--it's rude to annoy others by bringing kids into such an obviously adult space. And it's unkind to speed up your kids development by having them experience things they are not ,could not be ready for. A stroller?! Yeah, I'd be hard pressed not to say something. The same way I'd do if I saw someone hitting their kids. It's violence of another kind.
posted by pywacket at 9:10 PM on September 15, 2007


I think you need to reevaluate your theory, since it was Samara's "father" who threw her in the well, not her mother.

You might be thinking of Ringu. Anyways, the themes of fertility, cycle, and rebirth as information are not just present in the various films; they're expounded upon in the book series on which the films are based. Also, in the books, it's a doctor who throws her in after raping her, she's 19 at time, and she possesses a set of both male and female genitalia which she later uses to inseminate herself and become a conduit for rebirthing the dead as her children. Yes, it gets really, really freaking bizarre, almost like the Dune series does.

You can't really get too much more vaginal in your choice of imagery than the well. The book belabors the point, describing how the conditions of the well create a psychic womb in which the virus develops.

The American film was the third generation of the story, and played up the fertility and motherhood angles much more than the Japanese film. Also, the Japanese Ringu refers to the ringing of a phone; the American movie is called The Ring, dropping the pun to focus on the theme of cycle and rebirth. The bizarre and nihilistic character Ryuji also gets completely erased in the transition from book to movie to remake - he has a great line in the books, about "watching the end of the world as he ejaculates into a hole in the ground."

Suffice to say, there's quite a lot of strings being pulled in the imagery of the books and films, and it gives the unconscious something to gnaw on, which is probably why so many people find it compelling and scary.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:55 AM on September 16, 2007


By the way, the Grudge didn't have any of this going on. It's a much, much simpler piece of writing, and was full of easy decisions for the filmmakers.

But translating the Ring books to screen must have been fraught with hard decisions - which themes to play up, and which to cut? It reminds me, again, of the difficulties Lynch in had working with Dune. How do you translate a riff on everything from ecology to Asimov's Foundation series to the screen? And how do you condense all of that down to two hours? I think the American Ring does an admirable job of distilling the imagery of the books.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:08 AM on September 16, 2007


basicchannel writes "Eli Roth once said something about the first Hostel having to do with the war in Iraq. When I hear such clumsy apologies for one's interests it makes me think either he thinks everyone else is stupid or he is very delusional."

Really? When I watched Hostel, I thought it was precisely about the inhabitants of poorer nations repressed desires regarding American imperialism, globalization and overconsumption -- and US fears of what these people will ever do to them if they get the opportunity.

And I've never even heard of Eli Roth, let alone having ever seen an interview with him. I don't even watch horror movies -- I just happened to catch it on cable one night when I was bored and nothing else was on.

On the whole horror/kids thing -- I recall being about ten and pleading with my parents to let me stay up and watch Psycho. They'd seen it on the movies some years earlier. I'd been envious that they hadn't let us kids go with them, so when it first screened, we begged and begged until they relented.

The shower scene was just meh, but when they revealled mommy in the attic, I just about shat my pants. I suspect that I would have found it much scaryier than today's gore-fests, because of Hitch's skill as a director.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:21 AM on September 16, 2007


davejay writes "That's why I'm taking a firm 'everything in moderation, unless it hurts you or other people whenever you do it' with my two-year-olds. That includes swearing, although I'm trying like the dickens to get "em to say 'Great Caesar's Ghost!' (they've got 'Awwwww NUTS!' down pat already.)"

What is it about parents that makes them so deluded about the limits of their influence? As soon as your back is turned, they'll be screaming 'Fuck you, cuntface', just like every other kid in their class does.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:31 AM on September 16, 2007


I don't know about the 'deep' interpretation of The Ring, but I do know that there's a difference between being able to come up with a thoughtful explanation for a movie and there actually being one. I have friends who defend the vigilante-type violence of Boondock Saints by saying that during the ending credits, there are man-on-the-street interviews in which folks say that vigilante-type violence is bad, and therefore the movie is supposed to make you think about whether you really support that sort of thing. And I'm sure people are going to make that sort of argument here, too, but let's all be honest: The reason you watch Boondock Saints isn't to explore the issue of vigilante-type violence, it's to see some awesome shootin' accompanied by kick-ass Irish brothers intoning Catholic prayers. All the social-criticism excuses for violence, in my opinion, don't work if the whole reason anyone watches the movie is actually for the violence.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:44 PM on September 16, 2007


All the social-criticism excuses for violence, in my opinion, don't work if the whole reason anyone watches the movie is actually for the violence.

Uh...but the thing is, I don't think you're qualified to judge why anyone who isn't you watches any movie.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:29 PM on September 16, 2007


I don't know about the 'deep' interpretation of The Ring, but I do know that there's a difference between being able to come up with a thoughtful explanation for a movie and there actually being one.

Exactly my point but said a lot better. World of difference between the two and I didn't see anything to indicate the movie The Ring successfully communicated anything postulated above.
posted by agregoli at 6:43 PM on September 16, 2007


I don't know about the 'deep' interpretation of The Ring, but I do know that there's a difference between being able to come up with a thoughtful explanation for a movie and there actually being one.The reason you watch Boondock Saints isn't to explore the issue of vigilante-type violence, it's to see some awesome shootin' accompanied by kick-ass Irish brothers intoning Catholic prayers.

I'd agree about Boondock Saints (it was no Natural Born Killers), but I watched The Ring for the story, and not to be titillated. Again, I think it helps if you've read Koji Suzuki's Ring series of books. They tackled the theme of information viruses more cleverly than Snowcrash did, IMO.
posted by kid ichorous at 7:46 PM on September 16, 2007


Uh...but the thing is, I don't think you're qualified to judge why anyone who isn't you watches any movie.

Call my psychic, but saying 'It was totally awesome when that one guy's head got ripped off!' is usually a tip-off.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:52 PM on September 16, 2007


Call my psychic, but saying 'It was totally awesome when that one guy's head got ripped off!' is usually a tip-off.

Eh, most people seem to enjoy the Sopranos and Pulp Fiction for these same puerile reasons. I hope we can at least agree that there's more to them than that.

The dismissal of horror as insubstantial gratification (or porn) is similar to the critical panning of science fiction and fantasy that went on long ago, when authors of these genres were pretty much relegated to the children's section. Critics were simply unfamiliar with the subtleties of these genres - their traditions, their vocabulary - and were distracted by the loud surface elements. (Spaceships? Talking animals?)

Someone who couldn't care a damn about Mallory's Death of Arthur might think White's Once and Future King is just childish escapism, rather than a calculated literary homage. Someone who associates CS Lewis with talking animals might not grok a masterpiece like Till We Have Faces. Fantasy's all just a bunch of sword-waving, nature-worshipping, escapist power-fantasy claptrap, after all - mental candy.

The problem with horror is that it, too, projects a loud and colorful and distracting exterior. Horror shouts. It's too loud and ugly and grotesque, precisely the same way that fantasy is too picturesque. However, I feel a deeper look is rewarding in many cases - so many, in fact, that I simply recoil at the cut-and-dry torture porn as a criticism. It's too often made by Americans with a decades' worth of world cinema to catch up on.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:12 PM on September 16, 2007


So the thrust of your argument here is that you're smarter, more cultured, and so much more able to plumb the depths of artistic vision than other folks, that you've seen and simply revelled in the glories of world cinema and literature to such a greater extent than the unwashed Joe Sixpack masses of Metafilter and the wider puerilosphere that you simply must be right?

Jeez, that's kinda weak.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:52 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Stavros: man, that's a hell of a way to twist it around. I'm not the one making proclamations about the wholesale shallowness of anyone else's art, general or specific. I'm pointing out that such proclamations can be based on a misunderstanding of the genre, just as with fantasy and sci fi, and I'm also trying to provide supporting examples instead of gut verdicts. If that strikes you as arrogant, I'm both sorry and surprised - surely, it would be much more arrogant to reason that "because I don't see the value, this art has no value. You're arrogant for seeing value where I don't."

Let's suppose that two people had traveled to Rome and were recounting their experiences. One remembers seeing a clock tower there, and one doesn't. Asserting that "there are no clock towers in Rome, because I didn't see one" is different from asserting that "I remember seeing a clock tower, therefore there is a clock tower in Rome."

Nowhere did I attempt to make an argument from personal authority or cite any credentials. Nowhere did I intend to characterize anyone on this board as a Joe Sixpack. I know better than that. In hindsight though, I would take back that last sentence about Americans, because I was speaking my frustration about certain conservative film critics, and not people in general. Hell, where this genre is concerned, it's my belief that the majority of the people do "get it" where the critics do not, Filmfreak being an exception.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:52 AM on September 17, 2007


Well, OK, I shouldn't be all judgemental and stuff, but your arguments do still kinda whiff a little elitist to me... then again, the eternal problem, one of 'em, when talking about 'art' is not coming off sounding that way, so no big deal.

I guess I disagree that your arguments really do push back against the 'violence-porn' label in a useful way.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:47 AM on September 17, 2007


So the thrust of your argument here is that you're smarter, more cultured, and so much more able to plumb the depths of artistic vision than other folks, that you've seen and simply revelled in the glories of world cinema and literature to such a greater extent than the unwashed Joe Sixpack masses of Metafilter and the wider puerilosphere that you simply must be right?

Jeez, that's kinda weak.


I'll actually be a lot less diplomatic than KI here and put forth the suggestion that many of these "critics," here and elsewhere, are talking about movies they haven't even seen, and so don't have much of a critical leg to stand on anyway. I highly doubt there's a whole lot of "I thought it must be violence porn -- so I had to watch it to be sure!" going on. I think it's mostly a case of people making snap critical judgments on the basis of commercials and histrionic ohmyJesuswe'reancientRomesaintspreserveus articles. Now the odds are that you really wouldn't like these movies, and don't need to see them to know that (any more than I need to see, say, Transformers to know I'd be bored senseless for three hours), but actually you kind of do need to see them in order to judge their worth accurately. And it'd also help to judge films on their individual merits, rather than assuming that any given film is representative of every film made in a genre. I mean, I thought Hot Fuzz was hilarious, and it's a comedy, and that thing where Adam Sandler gay-marries the guy from King of Queens is also a comedy, so naturally I'll love it, right? Naturally, they're of equivalent quality? No. Not really.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:21 PM on September 17, 2007


Then I'll actually be less diplomatic, too, and say that you're off on even more of an elitist wanktour than kid ichorous was, kittens.

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public, that's true, but a lot of people have looked like asses doing the same thing about Metafilter.

Chances are you're not only not as smart and not as well-read as Metafilter, you're not even on the same chart.

Now the odds are that you really wouldn't like these movies

Who the fuck you talkin' to, Willis?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:23 PM on September 17, 2007


Chances are you're not only not as smart and not as well-read as Metafilter, you're not even on the same chart.

Seriously, is that necessary? Who's being elitist now?

If someone points out a landmark in Rome you didn't notice, chances are it's only because they've spent more time in Rome than you. Maybe they live there. Maybe you live in Austin, Paris, or New York. Maybe you know everything there is to know about Nashville, and couldn't be brought to love any other city nearly as much. Or maybe your travels are more exotic and further afield, and Rome is too mundane.

In any case, it would be incorrect to respond that Rome is a lousy city, devoid of culture, because the Colosseum is an ugly and violent eyesore, the streets are strangled with smog and decibels, the gypsies are... well, gypsies, and all of them conspired together to ruin your honeymoon in Italy. That's closer to elitism. People who do live in Rome will probably take offense, don their togas, purse their lips, and drink limoncello and listen to shitty Disco Italiano in protest.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:28 PM on September 17, 2007


I wanted to state for the record I have indeed watched both The Ring and Hostel and feel quite comfortable talking about those movies. And the first did not reach for me the artistic depths postulated here (I have yet to see Ringu, perhaps that is better?) and Hostel I feel quite comfortable calling torture porn with no higher redeeming message or value that was well-communicated or expounded upon. But to each their own.
posted by agregoli at 3:08 PM on September 17, 2007


Obviously, I am quite comfortable. Pfft. Long day.
posted by agregoli at 3:08 PM on September 17, 2007


Agregoli, this is a good side-by-side review of Ring and Ringu, if you're interested. There are actually four books in Suzuki's series and six film versions and remakes, all of which explore the same subject matter with varied success.

I understand if you feel that certain themes from the books weren't effectively communicated by the American remake. I can't erase the books from my memory and watch it fresh, but I can at least point out that Filmfreak (which usually has thorough, literate reviews) gives a similar reading, whatever that's worth. Then again, they kindof disagree with me on Hostel (1, 2), so that may support your take on it.
posted by kid ichorous at 3:32 PM on September 17, 2007


Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public, that's true, but a lot of people have looked like asses doing the same thing about Metafilter.

Oh-ho! Talk about a generalization. Plenty of people on MetaFilter are not terrifically bright at all; I myself am often one of them!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:26 PM on September 17, 2007


Then I'll actually be less diplomatic, too, and say that you're off on even more of an elitist wanktour than kid ichorous was, kittens.

Incidentally, I choose to read this whole thing as some bizarre attempt at irony. I mean, the alternative is that you somehow believe my defense of what are basically popcorn movies makes me an elitist, and your bit of braggadocio there about how much more intelligent and better-read than you are than am I makes you, I suppose, the voice of the common man, or something. That'd just be wacky!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:40 PM on September 17, 2007


I am nothing if not wacky.

However, on this occasion, I am also quite serious.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:38 PM on September 17, 2007


Fair enough. Then I will say that your definition of elitism is interesting, and that your elite-o-meter may be require a little bit of recalibration.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:29 AM on September 18, 2007


That's not my only meter that's outta whack, by gum.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:05 AM on September 18, 2007


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