Monday, March 27, 2006

The Nation's Sick Obsession with Horror

Yesterday I read this article about the recent re-emergence of gory horror movies in America. Horror movies have been around since the invention of celluloid, but they are, if possible, getting worse.

One of my first blog posts in November 2004 was called "Current Films." I wrote:

The movie industry is one of the enemy's primary indoctrination tools for the US and for people around the world who embrace American pop culture. Movie theaters are like temples for postmodern worshipers. Inside these places of "idol" worship (isn't that what many stars are called?), audiences are exposed to everything from serial killings, rapes, incest, adultery, and much more...all in the name of entertainment, the pop culture's god.

I then quoted a review of Saw from Plugged In Online, a Christian review site affiliated with Focus on the Family:

'Touting torture as a treat becomes the heart of Saw--something that should automatically send most morally minded moviegoers running for the exits. And yet, sadly, it won’t.

In all honesty, Saw's perverse pictures weren't the most disturbing things I saw while reviewing it. It was disconcerting enough to sit in a theater full of mothers with their 8-year-old boys in tow and groups of 12-year-old girls chaperoned by solitary adults. It was nearly intolerable to witness them--kids and adults--applauding when a man onscreen got his brains bashed in. And laughing when Lawrence sobbed helplessly on the cell phone while his wife and daughter struggled at gunpoint with their kidnapper.

So in the end, Saw may say even more about the people who see it than it does about the people who created it.'

Saw II came out not long ago, distributed by Lion's Gate, the same studio that gave us the Oscar-winning Crash.

I found the new MSNBC article fascinating for a couple of reasons. As I wrote above, horror films are nothing new, but:

1. More horror films are being made (perhaps as many as in the 80s).

Lions Gate's "Saw" franchise, the genre's current kingpin, has rung up $250 million worldwide; a third film is planned for Halloween. Three more creepfests are scheduled for the next month, starting with Universal's "Slither" this Friday. Even Disney has gotten into the act with the PG-13 flick "Stay Alive," which, alas, is not about the systematic slaughter of disco fans. "In 1990, I had to pull my hair out just to find a movie to put on the cover," says Fangoria magazine editor Tony Timpone. "There were only three or four major horror releases a year. Now there's three or four a month. We're like pigs in slop."

2. The way the audience experiences the movie is different than ever before. Filmmakers are taking pains to make everything more realistic, and I don't just mean the dismembering.

It's not jokey violence, either. 'Filmmakers now have the ability to put viewers directly into the shoes of the victims going through these horrible things, in an almost documentary way,' says Bob Weinstein, whose Scream franchise for Dimension Films launched the last horror fad in 1996. Some critics--smart ones like New York Magazine's David Edelstein, not just nervous Nellies--argue that the trend verges on 'torture porn.' Even people within the industry are torn. 'It's not the violence that bothers me so much as the tone. A George Romero movie was so political and funny and subversive,' says Picturehouse Films president Bob Berney, who marketed The Passion of the Christ. 'To me, these newer movies are purely sadistic.'

Even the industry insiders can see clearly that these movies are sick.

Did anyone hear James Dobson's interview with Ted Bundy? Bundy was forthright about the link between porn, his fantasies, and ultimately, his actions. Studies have shown that, no matter what Hollywood wants the populace to believe, what people imbibe through their eyes and ears has an effect on their thoughts and behavior. It's pathetic that such things need studies, actually; they should be self-evident. You are what you ingest, in more ways than one.

Oh, by the way, check out the audience for these films:

Sixty-five percent of the audience for "Hostel" was younger than 25, which is par for the genre.

I watched a lot of Friday the 13th-type movies when I was a kid, and I didn't emerge unscathed. Once you put images in your mind, did you know you can never erase them?

...People passed out during previews of Hostel. 'I feel bad that some people had such an extreme reaction,' says Palen, 'but as a marketer, it was an opportunity to alert people who relish that kind of movie that we've got one for them.'

Well, that's dandy. Let's make sure we give people who relish realistic gore just what they're looking for. And never mind the consequences.