Saturday, March 17, 2007

When Debbie Does Dallas Met Jigsaw

Hey, for all you freaks who love horror movies, here’s some great news: Eli Roth is doing a sequel to Hostel.

Have you seen the poster yet? It was unveiled last week at New York Comic-Con.

It’s a wet, freshly butchered lump of meat.

Animal? Human?

I don’t know, your guess is as good as mine. Ick.

As you probably guessed, I won’t be seeing Hostel II.

I never subjected myself to Cabin Fever, The Hills Have Eyes, Feast, Saw, High Tension or The Devil’s Rejects either. I won’t go to a movie theater to see any type of splatter flick, or rent one from Netflix.

Usually, when it comes to cinema, I try to be open-minded. I’ve enjoyed Dances With Wolves, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Singing In The Rain, Yojimbo, and Bananas. I don’t care how my local Blockbuster chooses to file these films on their shelves. Genres are meaningless to me. Either I like it or I don’t.

However, except for films by the brilliant and subversive David Cronenberg (The Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch), I despise the horror movie genre. Yes, I know I’m prejudiced. As with Cronenberg, there are exceptions. Se7en, for one, comes to mind. It’s unique, disturbing and powerful. Still, after I saw David Fincher’s brooding, gore-splattered thriller, I knew I never wanted to see it again.

Why? Well, because the majority of them remind me of bad pornography. And it doesn’t matter to me whether it’s a big-budget motion picture from a major studio by Eli Roth or an amateurish pile of shit finished in a weekend by a soon-to-be-forgotten hack, there’s a nasty but familiar subtext underneath that I recognize and I don’t like it. What horror movies and pornography have in common is in how much it hates us.

Pornography is misogynistic, clumsy, vulgar, simplistic, and mean-spirited, and doesn't pretend to be about anything else but sex. As long as you're willing to lower your expectations, leave subtlety and genuine human feelings behind and enter an ugly world of anonymous genitalia and meaningless orgasms, you'll never be disappointed.

In horror movies, these same principles apply, except you replace sex with violence. Blood 'n' Gore 'n' Guts is the fuel which runs this infernal machine. In Cronenberg’s oeuvre, there’s nuance and a rigorous intellectual philosophy behind the violence. But for everybody else, violence is all there is. The only artistic utensil to be found in their toolbox is an old hammer encrusted with dried blood and a few blonde hairs from a dead cheerleader.

And most of the time, other than the occasional token male becoming a screaming, bone-splintered lump of hamburger, it's always violence against women, isn't it? Just substitute scenes of women being gangbanged for scenes of women being stabbed and tortured to death. Women are objectified and turned into meat puppets that exist solely to be used as toys for naughty little boys with chainsaws.

Remember that repulsive scene in the beginning of High Tension when the homicidal psycho fellates himself with a women's disembodied head? And how much do you want to bet there were idiots--male, of course-- who probably laughed their asses off? Did they smoke a cigarette afterwards?

At least the guys who sell pornography pretend to try and keep children away. If they’re smart, the more reputable porno movie houses won’t let anyone in without checking their I.D. For those X-rated sites online there‘s parental control software you can use like Net Nanny. Blockbuster Video doesn’t have “adult” DVDs available at their stores, and the ones that do keep them in a separate section.

On the other hand, since horror movies are usually rated “PG” and playing at your local cineplex, they’re wholesome mainstream entertainment the entire family can enjoy. And yes, I swear to God, while I stood in line I’ve seen families wheeling in their baby carriages to see Wolf Creek. I want to punch the parents in the head.

These movies scare the hell out of me. They’re nightmares that don’t go away when you wake up but instead follow you the rest of the day. And what frightens me the most is knowing that there are people who will watch Hostel II and react as though it’s a sitcom. Worse, there are others in the audience who’ll be turned on by it.

So, was it good, huh baby?

Did you come?