Nato And Remy’s Last Stand: “Torture Porn” Horror, What’s Wrong With Us?

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Nato And Remy's Last Stand: "Torture Porn" Horror, What's Wrong With Us?

Alright, before you jump the gun and judge Remy and I based on David Edelstein’s over-reactionary yet sickly fitting genre-describing term, just know “torture porn” doesn’t exactly depict the actions on-screen with exact duplication. No, we aren’t watching people fornicate and kill each other simultaneously. Well, at least I’m not, can’t exactly speak for what Remy does in his free time, but the term “torture porn” is more of a horror sub-genre description which focuses mightily on artistic visual gore over deeply rooted story material. Stress on the torture, soft on the porn, depending on the film that is.

Remy:  So, you’re telling me “torture porn” ISN’T when my girlfriend and I…

Nato:  No, whatever you’re about to say, no.

The History

“Torture porn” isn’t new by any means, but like other recent movements, the past decade has seen a large resurgence of sub-genre specific films. Critic Michael Arnzen might have said it best, describing the sub-genre as “self-consciously reveling in the special effects of gore as an art form.” These types of films aren’t heralded for brilliant script work, proper exploitation of fears, or phenomenal acting, but instead the physical torment and mutilation of the human body. Sick, twisted, demented, and going for visual “pleasure,” this isn’t a movement for the weak of stomach.

Dating back many decades, some of the most notable genre films have been created during the recent sub-genre influx starting during the 2000s. With the massive box office success of films like Saw and Hostel, horror fans have seen a tremendous explosion of “torture porn” to satisfy the sadist in all of us.

Vastly criticized by critics for being depraved and uncensored gore-fests not fit of a cinematic classification, films like I Spit On Your Grave put controversial “torture porn” front and center, making audiences question what value such disgusting and provocative visuals are worth.

Let’s take a look at some mainstream examples before discussing our favorites.

The Good:

Let’s list Saw and Hostel again – the originals, not the sequels. Both films stress crazy-intense violence and wicked acts of physical abuse, with Hostel trumping in gore while Saw outwits with story. So effective are the moments of unflinching horror created by masterful realism, and there’s a reason both Eli Roth and James Wan were deemed part of a new generation of horror called “The Splat Pack.”

Other classics like The Last House On The Left and I Spit On Your Grave grant a more old-school look at the genre.

The Bad:

Just like any genre, there will always be films which have no understanding on what makes said films successful, sacrificing quality for exploitation. Hostel: Part III and Captivity are just two of many tensionless and uninspired hack “torture porn” efforts. These films get too lost in the torture effort to create an overall enjoyable experience, showing that an actual story is needed to back up the meat and potatoes gore. Blood and guts only win half the battle here.

The Weird:

You’d be absolutely correct in assuming the “torture porn” genre also gifted viewers with some of the most psychotic, revolting, “holy sh$t, these directors should probably be psychologically evaluated” types of films.

Most recently, and famously, director Tom Six brought his ass-to-mouth fetish to horror fans everywhere, grossing out audiences with The Human Centipede. Following a crazed surgeon who dreams of connecting three people’s gastric systems together, Six shows us why Dante Hicks is so adamant about never going ass-to-mouth.

But that wasn’t enough for Six.  He then followed his cult “hit” with The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), where he connects 10 people into an even larger poo-guzzling beast. Different maniac, a totally self-aware and meta story, but the same old sh*t – literally. Whether you like this garbage or not, Six took the “torture genre” somewhere new. Whether it should have gone there or not, that’s a completely different story.

Srdjan Spasojevic’s A Serbian Film deserves a mention in “The Weird” section by actually creating “torture porn” material in such a twisted visual representation of the phrase “In Serbia, you’re f%cked from birth to death.” Following an aging porn star who accepts one final job for a boat load of cash and a happy life for his family, he soon learns the project he signed to is much more than your typical art house porn. Dealing with anything from pedophilia, necrophilia, snuff porn, torture porn, sodomy, incest, child cruelty, and rape in plain view, A Serbian Film is harder to swallow than Ron Jeremy’s…well…you know. There’s no enjoying what Spasojevic created, but f&ck, what he did create is inexplicable, being the only film I couldn’t bring myself to assign a solid rating to.

But OK, time for Remy and I to sound like we should be monitored by the FBI at all times…

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