Gore in modern horror films

Based on some other posts:

I thought it was pretty amazingly violent and gory. A shovel into a woman’s mouth, slowly severing the top of her head from the bottom. Multiple pickax kills: one from the back of the head causing an eyeball to jut out at the audience, another through the lower jaw of an old man, who is then dragged around by the pickax handle as the point of it protrudes from his mouth as he screams and blood flies everywhere.

The worst part about it was that there was something artless about the gore, something perfunctory about the kills. They were filmed straight up, very well-lit, with nothing left to the imagination. I understand it was a stylistic choice (or perhaps journeyman-level filmmaking), but it was more upsetting than the ridiculous zombie mayhem of Dead Alive, which had similar levels of appalling gore. The violence in that film wasn’t as awful to me for several reasons; it was more stylized, the context was silly (zombie nurses and babies), and I was in high school when I saw it, and was more resilient.

When I asked the above question, this was the response:

What do you guys think about the levels of violence in modern horror films? How have they changed? Any particularly greivous examples? Any examples where the gore is appropriate and complimentary?

I think we’ve just become more technically proficient at creating gory effects. There have been gory movies for decades.

And then I said that gameoverman’s post deserved its own thread and voila! Yay me!

Though I meant more to deride g.o.m.'s post than to celebrate it.

I am just not down with the torture. That is why I think the Saw/Hostel films are worse (Alnog with the 2 Miike films I have seen portions of). It is not a joyride through wacky killings of people, it is serious pain being inflicted for the purpose of causing prolonged suffering. Granted, maybe those thoughts are scarier to mean as they are too real and therefore I am too old. However, I can still get scares out of April Fool’s Day/Scream/I Know what you Did/Jason/Freddy flicks (Although, the Nightmare films got pretty stupid once they relied on his constant appearances and joke cracking to carry the films).

I have not seen either the new Bloody Valentine or Friday the 13th Films. Cannot really say, specifically about those although there is no doubt that they can better display the brutality as opposed to the arrow going through Kevin Bacon’s plastic-looking chest in one of those early Friday films.

EDIT: just noticed someone mentioned that very scene in the other thread. It was his throat. I still stand by the fact that while it was pretty bad then, those type of deaths are much more realistic today and are drawn out far further.

Gore itself doesn’t usually bother me that much. Oh, some of the more graphic scenes squick me out, but then so do many scenes in ER. Mostly though I tend to think of gory scenes in horror movies as modern Grand Guignol…physical comedy mixed with a juvenile attempt to shock. Not to be taken seriously.

Nevertheless, graphic depictions of people in pain, being tortured or disfigured does not fail to bother me. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything as personally disturbing as the scene in Wolf Creek where the killer cuts off the girls fingers and then stabs her in the spine to cripple her. I don’t find such films to be entertaining, and since they’re also usually poorly-written and not very well-executed technically, I just usually avoid them.

I don’t recall seeing Al Gore in any recent horror films!

This thread confuses me.


Damn you joke thief. I was mocking up a Photoshop as we speak. :P

i find gore to be boring, but then i always have.

i’m more of a psychological horror kind of guy myself.

and torture scenes really bother the hell out of me as does excessive violence against women.

A good example of how it’s changed, from the new F13th:

A character gets a leg caught in a trap. In the old days, pre-F13th part 5, we would have been shown that scene in gory detail. Maybe it wouldn’t have looked as realistic as today’s effects, but we would have gotten a good, long look. Not in this movie. In this movie, you see enough to know what’s going on, but that’s it.

Another example- the first kill(not the prologue). In the first F13th, we see that girl get her throat cut in a clear shot. In this movie we got one of those quick edits right before the money shot. Later the movie did get more graphic, but clearly it’s not possible to show rampant gore in a widely released movie anymore.

Unless you count stuff like Saving Private Ryan. Which I don’t, gore films to me are strictly genre pictures. Spielberg + Hanks + WWII American heroics will give you the power to show stuff at an R rating that Romero + Zombies would get a NC-17 for.

most people prefer to see bush, not gore, in movies.

Where does Ichi the Killer fall?

my heart

Oddly enough, that is the reason I appreciate horror movies like Hostel. They clearly illustrate that being murdered by a psychopath is a horrible, horrible thing. To me, Hostel was scary not because it was gory, but because it could really happen.

The interesting thing to me is that killing/gore in horror movies is (generally) viewed as acceptable if it’s done in the spirit of the Jason or Freddy movies – you’re there to see how spectacularly the filmmakers can kill someone. People cheer, clap, talk about their favorite kills. And yet it’s the same thing that happens in movies like Hostel – characters are being brutally murdered.

While I admit that may be true William, I do not enjoy watching that brand of horror.

Warning horrible analogy: The coyote being tricked off a cliff by the road runner and falling to a horrible death or at the very least remainder of his life as an accordion is entertaining, but watching a serious depiction of birds involved in murderous tricks resulting in coyotes pausing and then falling to their deaths would not be entertaining.

…or something… ;)

On a more serious note, would Poltergeist have been a better movie if they had shown the little girl being psychologically and possibly physically tortured while in TV limbo? I do not think so.

Just cause we cheer over cool kills does not mean there is not fear of being murdered. We all have that fear at some point late at night or when lost in a bad part of town or whatever. Confronting that fear in Hostel makes that fear seem all too possible and is too terrifying. Other films allow you to confront it and then feel relieved that you made it through.

I think the original Halloween and Friday the 13th fall in that category, but very few other slashers do. They’re about setting up cool set pieces that climax with the brutal murder of a character. It’s not about being relieved that you survived the experience, it’s about cheering on the pyschopath, hoping that he dispatches the next idiotic teenager in the most glorious way possible.

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with it (hell, I love horror movies and write horror comics), but I do find the separation in attitudes about movies like Hostel on one hand and movies like Friday the 13th on the other a little odd. If the former is labeled “torture porn”, then the latter has to be labeled “murder porn”, because you’re there specifically to see people get hacked to bits.

And no, Poltergeist wouldn’t have been a better movie if the little girl had been tortured; and it wouldn’t have been a better movie if a masked lunatic was running around with a chainsaw, either. (Of course, Poltergeist was about the dual fear of losing your home and losing your children.)

Well, you are right there. It could just be that the pain in Saw/Hostel is too real for me.

How does the original Friday the 13th compare to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre? I’m curious because the Friday the 13th movies have never remotely interested me (slasher flicks are decidedly not my thing unless they have something else going for them, and usually not even then, as the original Halloween cheerfully demonstrated for me.), but Texas Chainsaw Massacre seemed to have a reputation as a really gory, intense sort of movie. And when I watched it now it struck me as being really quite tame, showing almost nothing of the violence it implies. Not unlike Saw in that respect, actually.

(I watched it because it seems to be widely well regarded and has been cited as a strong influence on Rob Zombie’s first couple of movies, which I liked quite a bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel it lived up to that standard.)

Friday the 13th is definitely more graphic. A lot of the violence in Texas Chainsaw is implied, and I think what audiences reacted to when it came out was the idea of the brutality taking place away from the camera. By today’s standards, it’s pretty tame. But back then, Texas Chainsaw (and Last House on the Left) were considered hardcore horror movies.

The thing I’ve always liked about the original Friday the 13th was that the killer’s identity was a mystery and when you do find out who it is, it’s a middle-aged woman. There’s something pretty damn scary about that.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the Psycho of gore movies- people think they saw a lot more than they actually did. I haven’t watched it in a couple of years, but iirc you only really see chainsaw+flesh gore at one point in the end.

Everything else was suggested but not graphically shown.

The Hostel/Saw type movies are just extensions of the Last House on the Left/Hills Have Eyes type gore= human depravity gore. For me a large part of the repellent nature of the effect is seeing depictions of humans willingly behaving as little better than animals.

In a strange way a character like Jason isn’t bad. He’s like a tiger, he’s just doing what he does, if we let ourselves get within his grasp it’s our fault really.

The people in Hostel though, that’s another matter. They are ‘normal’ people who’ve willingly crossed the line. That’s unsettling because we know people are doing, if not exactly what is going on in those movies, things very similar every day in real life. That’s disturbing.

You have to be pretty tone deaf to not get the distinction. I don’t see how you can compare artless and borderline offensive* trash like the Hostel movies with the relatively cheerful fun of slasher films like Friday the 13th. Eli Roth obviously has a hard-on for grindhouse brutality. Torture porn like the Hostel movies fetishize suffering, but slasher films are just goofy monster movies.

  • Compare this to artful and borderline offensive movies like Irreversible, L’Interieur, the Hills Have Eyes remake, and Wolf Creek.