The American Nightmare

Earlier this year, Keith posted a clip from The Morton Downey Jr. Show all about slasher flicks. Meant to get the audience up in arms, a number of 80s slasher flicks are tarred and feathered for their depiction of gore and violence. The editor of a horror magazine and a movie critic who hates slasher flicks share their views, but it's pretty obvious that the disgusted get the final word. As funny as this clip was, I had to catch myself from becoming one of the audience members when I read reviews of Hostel: Part II a few weeks ago.

I'm not going to argue with people: horror movies make for a twisted form of entertainment. They will never be a completely mainstream form of entertainment. You can't get the whole family to watch (and enjoy) the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It's just not going to happen.

I always get up in arms whenever clueless, lowest common denominator people rip apart something based on a surface glance. It's especially the case with people blaming movies, music and video games for the problems in society. Tupac's music murdered a cop? Beavis and Butt-head's stupidity burned a girl alive? I didn't think that stuff had a force so great to lure people into doing unlawful things. I didn't think that then and still don't think this now. What's that David Cross line wondering about which video games Hitler played?

Art is a reflection of society more than society is a reflection of art. In the case of horror flicks, this was made abundantly clear to me when I watched The American Nightmare a few months ago. Juxtaposing newsreel footage from the Vietnam War with footage from The Last House on the Left, Night of the Living Dead and Halloween, I understood the background a whole lot better. Compared to what was shown/mentioned on the news, what was in the theaters was incredibly tame. Then again, there is a vast majority of people who want real life far away from what they view as entertainment. I'm not one of those people.

So, in regards to Hostel and its recently-released sequel, I was rather befuddled at first. Reading various online reviews of both films, I couldn't relate to the ones that seemed to love watching scenes of torture and murder. This was definitely crossing the line for me as someone who can watch horror movies and not really get freaked out. But I had to stop before I started writing rants about this so-called "torture porn." Isn't one of the biggest saving graces about horror flicks is the fact that they can have a deep subtext about society today? George Romero knows quite a bit about this with his movies, so maybe this was also the case with Eli Roth.

Alas, I choose to not watch Hostel or Hostel: Part II. Through no fault in the filmmaking or the story, I'm just not that compelled to watch this stuff. I'm firmly aware of how people want to bag on this kind of entertainment, but it's definitely no match to the horrors in everyday life, especially in our post-9/11 world.


Random Kath said…
My sister, stationed in Iraq, loves horror movies and asks me to send her horror DVDs whenever I can. You would think that since she works in an army hospital, she wouldn't be that excited to see more blood and gore, but she is. I guess the horrors of HOSTEL II and SAW III seem not that relevant compared to what those guys are facing in Baghdad . . .

I'm with you, though. I can't watch the stuff.
Ted said…
Those movies have no appeal to me as well. I'm surprised (but, in some ways, not too surprised) to hear that RK's sister who is in Iraq loves these movies.