The Shocking Truth…

It has to be said that as an avid horror fan, I often get questions from friends and colleagues who are a little less initiated into the genre about films of particular notoriety. The kind of films that torment the gag reflex of more timid watchers. Controversial gross out films. In recent years the main offender is The Human Centipede. Usually just First Sequence, but you do get the occasional follow up question about the second and maybe even the long awaited third film. All seasoned horror fans know the main question about this film franchise; Why would you watch that (It’s disgusting!)?

TheHumanCentipede

I never fully understood why people were so offended by the first Human Centipede film. I understand that it has a particularly grim premise and few outside of certain fetish circles find the idea of human feces entering human mouths anything other than unpleasant. However nothing like that is shown in any level of excruciating detail. The Human Centipede relies more on facial expressions, crying eyes, than anything close to human waste. It uses the age old technique of “Less is more” and lets the audience fill in their own wretch-inducing blanks. Sure Tom Six ramped it up for the sequel, but the first film set the bar.

That still doesn’t really answer that original question. Just because it doesn’t offend me, doesn’t mean I should watch it. The reason that the majority watch it is due to our morbid curiosity. The freak show mentality.

I ain’t never seen anything like that before!

When I first watched The Human Centipede, all hyped up by the squeals of controversy, I have to admit I wasn’t the biggest fan. It wasn’t due to the sick material on the screen but because of what lead up to that point. How you get your characters into that horrifying scenario counts for a lot in my book and I didn’t think this film had it. Lindsay and Jenny had to make a series of blundering mistakes to even arrive at Dr Heiter’s door. I’ve ranted too many times about their lack of logic. Driving to a club? From the city to the country? Don’t even try to fix the car? Walk through the woods rather than by the side of the road? Accepting drinks from strangers? By the end of the first 20 minutes, I’ve become entirely unsympathetic towards the pair.

It’s a common occurrence in horror plots to make the characters easy to hate. We want to see bad things happen to them and we often have our blood lust satisfied. This transaction of sadism comes at a cost, and the cost is usually how scary the film is. We’re not terrified by the horrors unfolding in front of our eyes, we’re begging for them. We need our next fix and each fix of ultra-violence is a little less potent each time. This is the biggest problem with shock-orientated movies.

url

Moving away from Tom Six’s notorious franchise, another legendary master of shock is Japan’s Takashi Miike. Famous for films including Audition and Ichi the Killer, he has a knack for bringing extreme and often perverse imagery to the big screen. However the film I’d like to talk about is 2001’s Visitor Q. Visitor Q has scenes of incest, rape, necrophilia, lactation fetish, as well as frequent violence. Many times these are used from comedic purposes. It ends up not being very big or clever and I felt rather disappointed by Visitor Q. I just wasn’t shocked by it.

A film that did shock me was 2011’s The Woman by director Lucky McKee. I remember seeing it at Fright Fest in London that year and just being left gob-smacked as the credits rolled. There’s some gruesome acts of torture and abuse in that film, not in such frequency as Visitor Q, but it’s all in the film’s delivery. The introduction of the characters and their development from happy family to victims of a maniac really attack you. It left me feeling distraught and it had been a long time since any film made me feel so strongly. McKee made it feel real and that’s what made it shocking. It gave me a strong fix.

Woman_clip7_keepyourdistance

The reason we watch films like The Human Centipede isn’t because we WANT to be grossed out. It’s to see if we still can be. It’s to try and blow away those jaded Been There Done That feelings. We want to transcend to more masochistic pleasures, and sadistically show it to our friends. Plus the third Centipede film is promising a 500 person centipede, of course I’m watching it!

A few more thoughts on See No Evil 2 (SPOILER WARNING!)

Screen-Shot-2014-07-25-at-11.51.25-AM-620x400

A couple weeks ago, after watching See No Evil 2 for the first time, I posted quite a lengthy, gushing rant about what I found so clever about the film. That it was a special gem in the Slasher sub-genre because it subverted the gender associations of horror archetypes. In the couple weeks that has passed I have read quite a few reviews to see what other reviewers made of the film and I have to say I’m a little disappointed that it hasn’t come up in any reviews I’ve read.

I’m not sure if it’s because slasher films have got the reputation of being “turn off your brain and enjoy” kind of movies with little in the way of subtext. We’re here for gore and boobs, right guys? Isn’t that what Cabin in the Woods was saying about appeasing the old gods AKA the audience? We need to hit all the old tropes or it just won’t be good.

I have to say when I first watched See No Evil 2, when Amy (Danielle Harris) died, it hit me like a punch in the guts. Yet there was that uppercut realisation of what had just occurred that left my head spinning trying to acknowledge that Amy wasn’t the final girl. That the genders have been swapped and that Seth is the “Final Girl”.

The-Soska-Sisters-Twisted-Twins-Jen-Soska-Sylvia-Soska-Jen-and-Sylvia-Soska-See-No-Evil-2

Like so many horror fans I am ready to box the characters into their stereotypical roles. In a number of reviews I’ve read, the reviewer has said that the characters were your standard horror fodder. Particularly with the roles of Tamara and Kayla, labelling them as Bimbos or Sluts. However these reviewers haven’t noticed the gender play and that Tamara and Kayla are just acting like horny boys. That’s why Tamara pushes Carter’s head down. That’s why Kayla blatantly checks out Will’s ass when he’s not looking.

Speaking of Will, I’m surprised few guys picked up on his “You’re like a sister to me” line that some might regard as unrealistic male dialogue (not to say it doesn’t happen though). The guys in the film have their gender-reversed moments too. Seth’s wonderful cake he gives to Amy implies that he made it and even if he didn’t, most films would have made it jewellery. As I mentioned in my previous rant, Carter takes on the role of the timid girlfriend who follows Tamara’s morbidly sexy antics.

Katharine-Isabelle-See-No-Evil-2

So many clues pointing to this wonderful play on gender stereotypes that keeps getting overlooked! I’ve watched See No Evil 2 quite a few times now, showing it to friends to see if they pick up on it and largely they haven’t but when you see it, the film’s brilliance is unleashed. OK, rant over. Go watch this film again people!

Thoughts on See No Evil 2 (SPOILERS!)

tumblr_newabyJalX1ry6svwo1_1280

Just watched See No Evil 2. Some more jaded horror fans might role their eyes. “A sequel to that slasher film the WWE made? Puh-lease!” Well fuck you hypothetical jaded horror fan, this film is fucking awesome.

For a while I have been a bit bored with slasher films for one major reason, the roster of characters never really changes. It’s the same interchangeable group of white teens/20-somethings getting hacked to pieces by a guy in a mask. There’s been so many meta-slashers which mock these characters and the rules they have to follow. It’s dull. Show me what happens when you change the perspective, show me old people vs slashers, show me different cultures, show me different genders. Mix it up a bit.

See No Evil 2 does it differently. Characters you see at first and think “well that’s the slut. That’s the final girl…” they’re not who you think they are. Tamara (Katherine Isabelle) who could be mistaken for “the slut” character has more in common with the typical “jock” character. Heightened libido, macabre sense of adventure (“hey babe let’s hook up next to the dead mass murderer”), the confident swagger. It’s more evident with her boyfriend Carter with his “I don’t think this is such a good idea” reactions, normally reserved for the timid girlfriend character.

See-No-Evil-2-Glen-Jacobs-Danielle-Harris

However it’s not just a simple gender swap. Tamara is not a character written for a man but played by a woman. She screams and panics and falls over, because she is scared and reacting as a scared person does regardless of gender. She’s just more fleshed out than the typical slasher movie woman. You care when she dies because she’s fun and likeable.

Seth comes across as your usual love-interest of the final girl character. Waiting for his moment to announce his true love to the final girl, assuming that it’s Amy. Except she asks him out, and suffers the same fate as most characters who ask someone out on a date while evading a slasher. Whuuuuut!? Seth is the final girl!? Amy was the knight in shining armour who fails to save the final girl.

x240-43f

I find this entirely fascinating because the final girl was a tool of female empowerment against horror films which victimised women and made them survivors instead. Even though Amy is not a survivor in this film, she’s still empowered. She takes control over the situation to try and save her friends and does her best. Seth does very little until he’s left no other choice but to face adversity head on. He’s quite the stereotypical final girl.

If you gender swap the whole cast (except Jacob Goodnight) the film would be closer to your typical slasher film, although it’s more than a subversion of gender that makes this a good film. It’s extremely well made and hopefully will gain the cult status that it deserves.

The Horror Begins…

Welcome to Horror Every Day.

Do you like horror?

Like REALLY like horror?

Do your friends and family worry when you handle potentially lethal objects, e.g. knives, spoons, babies, magazines, soft cheeses, etc.? Well this might just be the website/blog for you!

On Horror Every Day I shall be expressing my opinions and feeling about the state of the horror genre, from modern horror cinema to wonderfully disturbing literature to the hidden terrors of the internet. Sharing the scares in anyway I can, because what is horror when you can’t inflict it upon those you care about.

As well as reviews, I also plan to post some original works of fiction from my own demented brain. Like “Are you afraid of the dark?” but less stories of haunted puppets… probably.

Enough chat; Let the Horror begin!

-Your “King of Creeps”

Christopher Stewart

@horror365