Monday, May 21, 2012

What is Extreme Horror?

The term Extreme Horror is a bit ambiguous and it means different things to different people. Merriam Webster Dictionary defines extreme as "A. Existing in a very high degree B. Going to great or exaggerated lengths, or C. Exceeding the ordinary, usual, or expected."

After looking at a bunch of different lists online put together by movie buffs, I have found that many movies that are listed as extreme horror are actually fit in the Splatterpunk or torture porn category. To help define extreme horror I have come up with five elements that most, if not all extreme horror movies have in common.

5 Things that Extreme Horror Movies have in Common:

1. More Gore!

Extreme horror movies often contain literal buckets of blood on their sets. In fact, the more blood and guts, the better. Most extreme horror movies actually fall under the splatterpunk category. According to the New York Times, splatterpunk is a horror term that was created by David J. Schow and refers to horror fiction or movies that are graphic and contain gory depictions of violence. Splatterpunk is not the art of subtly creating an atmosphere of dread and suspense, but of bringing everything out into the open and showing in as much detail as possible (whether it is factual or not) how a person is dismembered, or the amount of blood that can actually spray out of a jugular vein when it is cut wide open. Nothing is off limits as far as the gore factor is concerned. "Evil Dead" is an example of extreme horror that is Splatterpunk.

2. What Taboo Do You Do?

Some extreme horror movies tackle social or cultural taboos and sexual taboos, such as incest, sexual molestation or fetishes. The underlying theme of sadomasochism in "Hellraiser" (which is considered by some people to be a sexual taboo) is represented by Julia and Frank's relationship and the fact that the Cenobites worship pain and pleasure. Even the Cenobites costumes are based on leather fetish gear used in bondage play.

3. Controversies Abound

Controversial topics that make most people uncomfortable to discuss, are played out in graphic detail and often serve as a sort of catharsis for the audience. For instance, "The Last House on the Left" provides an unflinching view of the kidnapping and rape of two young college girls, and the brutal retaliation and murder of the rapists by on of the girl's parents. "Teeth" is about chaste girl living with her sexually aggressive step-brother who has the one thing men fear most: vagina dentata.

4. Eww! Gross!

What would you do if you found your flesh rotting while shaving your legs?
Me? I'd scream like a little girl and run to the hospital.

Many extreme horror movies contain gross-out scenes. Gross-out scenes often involve body mutilation, insect or animal infestations and eating exotic foods or items that are not meant to be eaten-- the latter is usually forced on the victim by the sadistic killer. Gross-out scenes can also include graphic depictions of horrific diseases, such those found in "Cabin Fever."

5. Torture for the Sake of Torture

So, anyone else up for a trip to the hostel?

In extreme horror movies, there usually isn't a motive for the sadist that is torturing the victim, which more often than not is a woman. If there is a motive or a reason why the killer is slowly cutting off the victim's limbs, it's often trite or shallow and typically unbelievable, and not something that impacts that actual story in any way. This is also why extreme horror movies are often called torture porn, because porn movies tend not to have a real plot other than pizza guy "delivers" to frisky house wife.

The original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" for instance, has no real motive for why those crazy rednecks love choppin' up them crazy college kids other than the fact that they are cannibals. The extreme horror movie "Saw" on the other hand, does have a motive for the Jigsaw killer, he wishes to make suicidal people and others want to live by throwing them into elaborate death traps.

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