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By Emily Booth, Wednesday 30th April 2014 Torture porn is a phrase or sub-genre of Horror that was coined after the release of Eli Roth’s Hostel, and it has since been used to reference films that revel in set pieces involving human torture, like Horror’s version of a money shot, but instead of – well you know, you get a squishy visceral close up of an eye plucked out while the victim screams in pain, and you can kind of get off on it!
In my opinion the term Torture porn is no longer really used in a flattering light! Only a defamatory one since this more gruesome end of the horror spectrum has come under fire in various moral panic type documentaries (I myself was guest speaker on Colin Murray’s Radio One show all about the ‘boom’ in torture porn – obviously I was there to defend the little nasties!)
So it’s a nasty little phrase really, but to be fair it does help sum up the type of film you’re talking about. OK there are some films that perhaps go too far, but to be honest it’s not the level of gore shown that has the potential to be nasty and offensive at all, it is the way it’s done – for me anyway. In fact, while it is horrific to look at, there is just something compelling about the anatomy of a human being, about seeing it ripped open, on a slab for you to explore. For me it’s nothing but natural fascination of our fragile internals. I love a bit of anatomical horror myself! In fact the hardest scene I think I have ever endured and one I don’t think is good or clever (and I know I will upset a few horror fans here) is in Martyrs.
I hate the fact that this film has me so divided! I LOVED the first half so much; it was clever, disturbing, original and had two amazing strong female leads. Then the story devolves into pointless grim nastiness, in particular the one scene that went on for far too long where a man hits a poor tortured girl in chains repeatedly in the face. Now was it gory? NO. It was brutal and just reminded me of the countless acts of domestic violence that go on every day in the UK, I just felt sick watching it. However, there’s one scene in Eli Roth’s Hostel 2 that enraged so many people, I feel I have to dissect it.
A naked girl is hung upside down into a sacrificial chamber, 2 men then light blow torches – at this point I wanted to look away for fear they’d use them on her which really would be going too far! But they light candles instead. Slight sigh of relief. A regal woman comes in, takes off her robes and lies down beneath the girl and proceeds to slash her open in order to bath in and drink her blood. Possibly based on Countess Elizabeth Bathory’s exploits a few hundred years ago! OK it’s not particularly nice of course! But don’t you think it’s way too theatrical to be ‘offensive?’ Does this really happen or encourage people to set up incredibly elaborate traps in order to kill people in this Grand Guignol fashion?! No. It was a bit drawn out, but it did not disturb me the same way the ‘relentless beating up of a girl tied to a chair’ did. You see the difference?
Sorry I really went off on one there – but it’s a subject that does get me going!
I know people will disagree; we all have our different reactions to a film. But for me, there are many entries into the ‘torture’ genre that are well made and dare I say it – fun. Which brings me on to Horror Channel’s Trapped and Tortured Season! For we explore all dark alleys and avenues in this genre for your viewing pleasure! If like me you feel this is one meaty controversial subject in horror, take a look at these films and get your own opinion!
This unflinching season see’s three film premieres. First up comes the star of 24 Elisha Cuthbert screaming for survival in the network premiere of Captivity.
Written by Larry Cohen (It’s Alive, Phone Booth) this movie sees arrogant model Jennifer drugged, kidnapped and held hostage in a room rigged up with torture technology designed to push both her body and mind to their absolute limits. Is there a message in here somewhere?
Captivity, Saturday 3rd May at 10.50pm
Next up The Loved Ones, a movie that first graced UK audiences at FrightFest back in 2010 to rapturous applause, this Australian Horror takes the ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ notion to devilishly dark levels. When Lola asks hot stud Brent to the prom he turns her down. Big mistake. Demented Daddy and loopy Lola kidnap him, chain him up and force him to partake in a gruesome Prom Night all of their own! The Loved Ones Saturday 17th May at 10.50pm
Mother’s Day: This remake stars the brilliant and convincingly demented Rebecca De Mornay (The Hand that Rocks the Cradle) as the mad mamma in a performance that has to be seen. A botched robbery goes wrong and three brothers head to where they thought their mother lived, except it’s now owned by middle class yuppies. After a spot of humiliation and torture, the murderous matriarch comes round to whip her psychotic siblings into shape. And then you learn who the real psycho is! Home invasion horror at its best. Mother’s Day (2010) Saturday 31st May at 10.50pm – UK Premiere
Other films in this season are the brilliant Wolf Creek and Inhuman Resources. Trapped and Tortured Saturdays throughout May.
So get out your chains, whips and blindfolds people, for this unforgiving season…..Let the Nightmare Begin!
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