According to Carroll (????), what is the role of torture in the torture porn franchises Saw and Hostel? Using references, explain this in your own words. How do you think these purposes might relate to the socio-political environment of that time period and such events like 9/11 and the Abu Ghraib torture scandal?

One constant in any horror movie or horror novel is that eventually one of the characters is going to end up bleeding out all over the audience. The cinematic horror style Tourture porn is not simply the art of making this violence as real and visceral as possible, but it’s created in a way so that the audience can feel actual pain. The violence in the movie is made so corporeal that we the audience go through the torture alongside the victims in the film. Though this may be a symptom of Torture porn and most likely the reason why its dismissed as nothing more than groteqitise violence, its not the only purpose of this style. Tourture porn and the destruction of the body becomes a narration on some social issues. Broken down, the film in question has themes which relate to current world views or fears. The style of torture and violent dismemberment is used to add to our association with the films themes and our empthay is increased due to the realistic qualities of the violence on screen. 

 Eli Roths film, Hostel, Is about American tourists who travel overseas and become hunted by a group of murders who capture and torture people for money. The film is brutal in its depiction of violence. I wasn’t actually able to finish the movie as I don’t have the stomach for such honest depictions of human suffering. However there is much meaning behind the film and it can be understood when framed with the post 9/11 social landscape and the suggested purpose for why Torture porn breifly existed as a type of horror cinema. The World Trade Centre bombings in 2001 changed the world and will likely stand out as one of the most piviotal events of human history because of what it caused and what it changed. In cinema and specifically Horror cinema it brought about the end of the happy ending. Wetmore Jr (2012) notes that horror movies pre 9/11 often gave some hope to the audience that everything would end well. Even if the bad guys won or some cliffhanger presented further challenges in films to come we were given hope that good, could prevail. Post 9/11 that all shifts to a sense of nihilism and despair. Tourture porn came along to reflect that attitude and Hostel, gives us no hope of a happy ending whatsoever (I checked how the film ends)

Hostel is filled with representations of how foreigners were viewed in a post 9/11 environment, specifically how Americans became distrusted yet valued. This is an interesting point that is raised in Reys (2014) article. America as a nation has only ever been attacked twice. In December of 1941, the Pearl harbor attacks launched the American Pacific war and in September 2001 the Trade center bombings begin the war on terror. In a way, the value of American tourists in the film, as a high priced commodity reflects the almost untouchable and rich nature of American society. America was supposed to be impenetrable. A land of wealth and power. Yet it was vulnerable as history has shown. The American tourists in the film help translate that attitude towards American society and by extension American people. As they are a high priced and sought after body for the people who pay to torture.

The way the body is used in Hostel is simply a reduction of human values and degradation of human beings to nothing more than meat. Post 9/11 thinking brought about much thought of what the American society had done to result in the attacks that nearly killed three thousand people. The body as a reduction of humanity to a monetary value is a lens being held up to the capitalist and consumerist nature of society. Specifically American society. Saw, by James Wan, works in many of the same ways. However, I feel like there is more emphasis on bodily destruction and distortion in the film and its subsequent additions, which is the tool in which the film becomes meaningful for the time it was created. Though there would be many ways in which you could analyse the film, Reys (2014) made a point about how the film critiques the audience for watching it. We, by admission of enjoyment are culpable in the series as it is us that gives the film its audience. If we didn’t enjoy the films they wouldn’t exist. But they do, so we are in a sense the ones subjecting the protagonists to torturer and disfigurement. In 2003, America invaded Iraq and a year later, photographs were released of prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison being tortured and subjected to humiliating and awful treatment. Americans saw first hand the result of the war they wanted. The disgusting nature of war and the capability of your own people to take away the humanity of another person in such a horrific way. The Saw movies, perhaps without meaning to, reflect the guilt that must have been felt by people when seeing those images. If you had supported the war, then perhaps you bore some responsibility for what had happened in that prison? You watch these films. Your enjoyment fuels the machine which creates entertainment out of torture. Aston and Wallis (2013) Describe the films progression as a morality curve. Which begins in a vaguely fair and understandable way and ends with the complete end and destruction of any moral good. The Saw films begin with the antagonist torturing people who themselves are criminals or complicit in some form of criminal act. Jigsaw offers a type of redemption through destruction of your body, which, though violent, has a sort of brutal justification, that we the audience can understand. As the film progress, these justifications become less understandable and the antagonist begin to kill and torture seemingly for enjoyment. Perhaps this is the American people coming to terms with the horrors of violence and warfare?  The shine righteousness and purpose was rubbing off and Seeing the photos from the Abu Ghraib prison brought home the honest reality that there is very really justification for violence.

2. Rose (2017) defines this modern boom of prestige horror as “Post-Horror.” What does he mean by this term? Find and read some critiques on his definition online and respond to both. Do you think Post-Horror is a valid term or not? Using examples and references explain your position.

The term, Post horror is described by Rose (2017) as the new wave of low budget indie horror films that are more existential in nature and focus less on monsters and violence and more on subtle themes and fears that are perhaps plaguing the writer. I would summarize the term as a sort of tombstone. Post horror means we now exploring a new type of horror. Which borrows from the styles and themes of old horror, but adds a new existential element. So, for example, the film It follows by David Robert Mitchell, is a movie about a demon hunting down people and murdering them. But the larger story is the destruction of trust and safety in our communities and between loved ones. 

Old tropes of demonic possession mixed with new elements of personal crisis. 

Post Horror.

The term Post horror has been placed under somer serious scrutiny. One recurring comment  is that the term, Post horror, seems to suggest that this era of horror is the first that should be taken seriously as a style of cinema. Michael Brown (2019) Critiques the fact that elements of family drama and more characteristic plot movitations, something which Post horror leans strongly upon and is often credited for is by no means new. He cites numerous films to support this, which in his opinion destroys the validity of the phrase. McMurdo (2019) Describes this title, post horror as underscoring the rich history of horror. Showing a lack of understanding of the craft. Behi (2017)  dissects Roses article directly, commenting that the phrase shows a simple lack of understanding of horror and says basically that all this term says is that this is the horror which I like and It’s better than the rest. 

I think that the term, post horror does not describe very well the films which are hung underneath its banner. Some of the critiques of the term suggest that the title isn’t just a mistake but it categorically misunderstands the history of cinematic horror. Brown (2019) discusses the history of horror as a peak at whatever cultural boundaries we have been hiding behind. The word post, wants to tell us that these films are a departure from the normal cliques, tropes and styles of horror. But what the films, coined as post horror, really do, is pay homage to their history and then, like all horror before it becomes steeped in the socio-political  landscape of the day. Are we not in this day and age concerned with identity and belonging? The new “Post Horror” films seemed to stress the conflict within oneself and be reflective on modern social issues. More than a complete rebranding of the horror genre. In this sense, the term can stay but what the meaning of it is has to shift. What I mean to say is that the term, Post horror, is simply the style horror films that are currently popular today. 

References:

Reyes, X. A. (2014). Body gothic: Corporeal transgression in contemporary literature and horror film. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.

Wetmore Jr, K, J (2012) Post-9/11 horror in America cinema. America:Bloomsbury publishing 

Aston, J., & Walliss, J. (Eds.). (2013). To see the saw movies : Essays on torture porn and post-9/11 horror. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

McMurdo, S (2019) The problem with post horror. Retrieved from http://mediacommons.org/imr/content/problem-post-horror

Behi,E, N (2017) Cinema A response to post horror. Retrieved from https://www.walesartsreview.org/cinema-a-response-to-post-horror/

Brown, M (2019) The problem with post horror. Retrieved from https://overland.org.au/2019/05/the-problem-with-post-horror/

Steve, R (2017) How post horror films are taking over cinema. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jul/06/post-horror-films-scary-movies-ghost-story-it-comes-at-night

Week 4: Post Horror

Sophie Tse

Torture porn is characterized vulnerability of a group of body and sense by depicting a collective abduction, imprisonment, and torture. The space especially each torture rooms and prisons in a sealed environment built up the claustrophobia for victims.  Approach to understanding the character of a body. Healthy body represents the well-governed society. After the 911 attack, American lost faith on their security and the US government. Grievance, anxiety and anger regard to social injustice and moral corruption caused uprising sentiment of revenge and violence. That proved the physical, psychological and moral loss amongst American people. The later event of Abu Ghraib torture scandal emphasised a cultural paranoia around torture in foreign countries. The film Hostelquestioned the power, status and identity of civilian of arrogant Americans. Korstanje (2014) suggested that “innocent tourists are classified by their importance to the ethnical hierarchy…If United States is presented as the axis of civilization and security, the rest of the world is the opposite. It opens the geography of diversity into only one-sided gaze, the concerns of security” Demonstrating the concept of us and others (non-American people and place) then having American suffered from foreign settings in order to invoked 911 tragedies. “The main function of torture is thus to make the experience tangible.” Bodily exploitation has been a cinematic attraction through using prosthetics, simulated blood and body. Director often used close up on the moment of torture and body part to increase the sense of horror and disgust.

Body torture also represents the collapse of personal identity, social order and reveals sinful flesh. Both movies achieved to physically and psychologically deprived victims’ privileged identity, power, prestige, values, social status and order in order to be true to themselves, which means reveal the sins and crimes the victims committed and had been carried since the past. Aston and Walliss (2013) called it “Reconnecting to the “true” self.” Let individuals turned into merely a human and eventually, a material reality, meat.  Aldana (2014) supported by stating that “The idea that the body can be reduced to meat is tantamount to an enforced disavowal of human rights or civilian entitlement.” This “ritual” purposely helped victims/ sinners to approach their self-reflection and betterment. For example, Jigsaw often announced their crime and sin before his dreadful game began. But more importantly corporeal mortification could never be escaped since sacrifice, pain and trauma must be undergone in order to serve their long deserved punishment (even redemption wasn’t guaranteed). Kellner (2010) stated that “Jigsaw’s approach to his test subjects may be read as metaphor for American war on terror and foreign policy post– 9/ 11 in terms of its “Vengeance-Outside-the-Law morality” of pre-emptive war, racial and ethnic profiling.” Thus, torture became a barbaric and direct sentence and education motivated by the distrust of constitutional law and systems. The transferability of pain and empathy created the echo of the 911 event.

Personally I agree that story narration is no longer a significant role since torture porn values high expectation of the corporeal outcome. The explaining narration is mostly removed for the visceral fluent and maximum effort. Consequentially, it indeed changed the landscape of horror genre but its poor quality proves it’s just an abnormal graphical description to pleasure the younger audience.  

Aston, J., & Walliss, J. (Eds.). (2013). To see the saw movies : Essays on torture porn and post-9/11 horror. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Korstanje, M. E. (2014). Influence of Terrorism in Horror Movies After the Attack to World Trade Centre. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism12(1), 95–101. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.aut.ac.nz/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hjh&AN=97303039&site=eds-live

Aldana, R. X. (2014). Body gothic : Corporeal transgression in contemporary literature and horror film. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com

  1. In this lecture, I have briefly outlined how Hereditary contains elements of folk horror, cosmic horror and family drama. Using examples from your own readings and the film, describe how you feel these elements make up the film Hereditary and how it might fit into the larger canon of “prestige horror” from Rosemary’s Baby to today. 

Prestige horror celebrates more than just freak out audience in a sudden. It requires social and cultural engagement of current issues. Hereditary represents the conflict and struggle not just between traditional obedient and the modern independent values, most importantly is the psychosis and the management of stress.  Rosemary’s Baby represents the submissive state of women under the patriarchy in 60’s.  

Both movies used point of view to represent the psychological state, dramatize fear and exaggerate pain of being tortured physically and spiritually. Paranoia is shown along with the decline of morality and the losing of control. Devil worship is seldom or not often shown, in fact both movies captured the gradual change of people in daily life from moral individuals to monstrous human. We witnessed their transformation, family drama, invasion of cult and breakdown of conspiracy through mother’s POV. These procedures paranoise audience as we understand their pain and situation. Director of Hereditary, Ari Aster (2018) answered Riley that “What do you do with the suspicion that you don’t really know the people you’re closest to? What do you do with fear of abandonment? The fear of somebody close to you changing? The film is really feeding on those fears.”  In Hereditary, the different concept shown in advertisement and actual story caused criticism amongst audience. Indeed the death of Charlie was frightening and director had done well on its set up. For example, the devil mark on the telephone pole indicated the terrible manipulation of the cult towards the family. It’s fascinated to witness the gradually collapse of their mental boundaries. Annie had become more stressful and suspicious about Charlie’s spirit. Peter couldn’t escape from his sin and haunted fate since Annie had confessed her attempted miscarriage and hatred to him. Later, her summon of revengeful spirit of Charlie (Paimon), the devil smirk on mirror, a mystery blue light and the death of his father had all been increased his trauma and exposure of his vulnerability.

Hereditary is a horror movie trends to a drama genre. Family drama and horror are simultaneously and intensively developing thorough the narration. In the beginning the background and motivation of Annie were demonstrated in support group: she tried to protect her family from her psychotic mother however she wasn’t deserved compliment due to her increasing mental stress and sub-consciousness of murdering her son Peter, during sleepwalking. Psychological thrill was celebrated and slightly more expected than the supernatural power.

The concepts of demons were occupied in second place in both narrations which represent the outcome of events. In the fragile family of Annie and profoundly rooted inside her mother by joining a secret cult worshiping a devil based on Christian tale (Ars Goetia). Yet, Paimon was only revealed in the climate and immediately dominated the ending. Rosemary met demon in the beginning and the final scene after she gave birth to the son of devil. Annie’s narration or life was resulted in her competence of final mission (brought out Paimon’s identity). Peter took over her perspective and led to the reborn of Paimon. Rosemary was eventually compromised with the devil baby along side with the antagonists. Cosmic horror also related to this folk horror as we saw the mystery blue light in Hereditary and the nightmares that Rosemary had.

Reference:

Riley. J (2018). ‘Hereditary’ Filmmaker Ari Aster Answers Burning Questions (Spoilers). Retrieved from: https://variety.com/2018/film/awards/hereditary-ari-aster-answers-burning-questions-1202841448/

Week 4, Post-Horror and The New Weird – Question One + Three

According to Carroll (????), what is the role of torture in the torture porn franchises Saw and Hostel? Using references, explain this in your own words. How do you think these purposes might relate to the socio-political environment of that time period and such events like 9/11 and the Abu Ghraib torture scandal?

The role of torture porn focuses a lot on the physical body being put through massive amounts of pain and stress in both the film franchises of Saw and Hostel. Looking at Hostel first, the body becomes objectified to the point where there is a sense of disgust, uncomfort and revulsion in the audience. That emotion is channelled as a result of watching the film heavily emphasise the body being mutilated and destroyed past the point of tolerance. According to Reyes (2014), in the Hostel series, the torture industry becomes a profitable worldwide corporation at the expense that the “…victims in this trilogy are reduced to their material reality, to meat, and a random price is put on their heads.” (pg 134). Both the monetary aspect and objectification of the body through torture aspect of this subgenre relate heavily to the socio-political environment of the time period. For example, Hostel played with the fear that that if Americans left their country then they would be hurt. This was portrayed through the narrative of the film, the main characters were American and on holiday in Amsterdam before being kidnapped and subjected to torture. The main characters were “… passive spectators of their own dispossession and objectification…” (Reyes, 2014, pg 56).  Those fears related to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. The film also highlighted their extreme distrust in the elite members of society and their distrust of people from other countries in general. In the film series, the torture industry was a booming worldwide corporation, where the rich and powerful would pay for the poor and middle class to be tortured and killed for entertainment. So, without a doubt, the film Hostel essentially illustrated the fears Americans had developed as a result of 9/11.

Now, looking at the film franchise Saw, while Hostel focused on the objectification of the human body, Saw focused more on the actual torture aspect of the subgenre. Not too long after the events surrounding 9/11, there was a torture scandal involving the military from the United States of America, which was brought into the international spotlight by Amnesty International. Amnesty International had published reports about the United States Military abusing the human rights of Iraqi prisoners in the Middle East. That scandal was the first time many people around the world were confronted and presented to real-life torture, and was the event which caused ordinary members of the public to scare themselves for the enjoyment of it. That socio-political event which also heavily influenced the films in the Saw series. Reyes (2014) mentioned that Saw’s “… operations and intricacies are greatly responsible for the generation of a feeling of powerlessness that is essential to the films’ affective goal” (pg 139). The main purpose of this subgenre is to emotionally impact the audience who are watching the film – in this case it is done by creating a sense of sympathy for the victims in the film and then by making them screech in revulsion at the mutilation scenes. In fact, Reyes (2014) also mentions that “ the fact that it does not cut away but often zooms in on the moment of mutilation…” (pg 124) adds to that revulsion. However, while grossing out the audience is the ultimate goal for films like Saw to accomplish, this is subject to how realistic the torture scenes look on camera.

Question Two: Rose (2017) defines this modern boom of prestige horror as “Post-Horror.” What does he mean by this term? Find and read some critiques on his definition online and respond to both. Do you think Post-Horror is a valid term or not? Using examples and references explain your position.

Post-horror and traditional horror movies can be identified as two slightly different subgenres of horror. Post-horror films tend to place a focus more on the atmosphere, the drama and conflict between characters rather than jump scares and gore and blood. As a matter of fact, Rose (2017) agrees with this and distinguishes post-horror films from older and more traditional horror movies, he believes that modern horror films or post-horror films now have more of a focus on a person’s mortal and societal fears. Additionally, in an interview with the writer-director of A Ghost Story, David Lowery, Rose’s (2017) article mentions that if you “look at any horror film and you can trace it back to a particular social or personal anxiety…”. The 2017 film Get Out illustrates that idea perfectly. Set in America, the film uses the horror genre as a means of allowing the characters to explore the racial tensions faced in society. It alludes to the racial tensions Americans have been dealing with the past few years with racially motivated shooting as well as the Black Lives Matter movement. It is simply a horror film illustrating the issues Americans are dealing with everyday. Therefore, I agree with Rose’s statement, however, I only agree to his statement to a certain extent. While there is a clear difference between post-horror movies and traditional horror movies in relation to the cinematography and slime levels, a lot of film and literature genres have always had a focus on societal fears. For example, the 2011 film The Help is a period drama about a white woman’s relationship with two black maids. The drama film places a lens on racism in America during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. The book To Kill a Mockingbird an older Young Adult historical novel, published in the 1960s, also deals with racism. So, evidently, society’s fears and anxieties have always been illustrated into popular genres.

There are also a lot of critiques regarding Rose’s (2017) definition of modern horror films as ‘post-horror’. One in particular, Brown (2019) concluded in his article that “terms like… ‘post-’ horror are little more than marketing catchwords designed to rebrand horror and grow its viewership. It is too soon to determine where these horror-drama hybrids sit – only time will dictate where such films fit into the history genre”. While I agree with Rose’s definition to an extent, I also do agree with Brown’s definition for “post-horror” to a certain extent again. The idea that only time can define where horror movies fit into, logically makes a lot of sense. For example, films and movies that are considered as classics now, were not considered as classics when they were first written. H. P. Lovecraft’s work is a good example of that, he did not make a lot of profit by publishing his work, he also was not very well known for his work. However, after his death his work was under the spotlight more and now is the inspiration to many more modern day works – such as George R. R. Martin, the author of Game of Thrones was heavily inspired by Lovecraft’s work. To conclude, both Brown and Rose make good points about “post-horror”, and I agree with both of them to a point. 

References for both questions:

Brown, M. (2019, May 15). The problem with ‘post-horror’. Retrieved August 12, 2019, from https://overland.org.au/2019/05/the-problem-with-post-horror/

Reyes. 2014. Torture Porn. In Body Gothic: Corporeal transgression in contemporary literature and horror film.

Reyes. 2014. Body Horror. In Body Gothic: Corporeal transgression in contemporary literature and horror film.

Rose, S. 2017. How Post Horror Movies are taking over Cinema.

Week 4 Blog Post

According to Carroll (????), what is the role of torture in the torture porn franchises Saw and Hostel? Using references, explain this in your own words. How do you think these purposes might relate to the socio-political environment of that time period and such events like 9/11 and the Abu Ghraib torture scandal?

 

Torture Porn is a term coined by David Edelstein when critisizing the 2005 film Hostel, for “going too far” (Herbergs, 2013). Carroll (1990) suggests that characters in Horror films usually respond to the monster in two ways: in fear, and/or in disgust, and the films are designed so that audiences mirror these feelings from the positive characters. Torture porn films are films which ‘broadly belong to the horror genre’ and ‘centralise abduction, binding, imprisonment, and torture (mental or physical)’. It has been said that both Hostel and Saw can be see to glamorise torture (Aldana, 2014) and that they were then generating a new kind of effect due to the audience’s newfound exposure to violence in the reality.

 

This may have something to do with the idea that pain is an emotion that cannot be shared in a similar way to other emotions. People cannot partake in someone else’s pain and so torture porn, with its ability to bring to focus something that is usually private and incommmunicable, can open the lid on that chest in a way that couldn’t be done before. This comes hand and hand with how audiences may have been feeling post world terror attacks in 2001. Torture porn gave the illusion that pain could in fact, be shared and after experiencing something like 9/11, the communities may want to connect that way. It is mentioned that  “There was a lot of doom and gloom,” Whannell reminds us. “People were being accused of torturing . . . prisoners of war,” and he adds, “maybe the public— not ­ just in North America but around the world— was ­ . . . reacting to this stuff they were seeing on the news every night by somehow venting in the theater,” (Kerner, 2015 p. 76). Torture porn offers its audiences the opportunity to empathise and interact with pain from a ‘safe’ distance.

 

Aldana, R. X. (2014). Body gothic : Corporeal transgression in contemporary literature and horror film. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com

 

Carroll, N. (1990). The philosophy of horror : Or, paradoxes of the heart. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com

 

Herbergs, S. (2013). Horror Gore and Horror Tales: an Investigation of Noël Carroll’s Narrative Logic of Horror and the Role of Spectacle in the Narrative. Netherlands: Utrecht University

 

Kerner, A. (2015). Torture Porn in the Wake of 9/11: Horror, Exploitation, and the Cinema of Sensation. New Jersey, USA: Rutgers University Press

 

Rose (2017) defines this modern boom of prestige horror as “Post-Horror.” What does he mean by this term? Find and read some critiques on his definition online and respond to both. Do you think Post-Horror is a valid term or not? Using examples and references explain your position.

 

In 2017, Steve Rose dubbed some of the latest releasing Horror films, “Post-Horror”. He coined this term to describe a group of new films that he believes deserve to be categorised by a new subgenre of Horror. This is because these new films are breaking usual Horror genre norms and codes and exploring the “darkness” beyond. Edwards-Behi (2017) counter argues that there is no need to label these new films something new and believes what Rose is really saying in their article is “I don’t like horror, so these particular films must be something else,”(para 4) . She believes that the term post-horror is nothing more at this stage, than a cycle. Michael Brown (2019), goes on to agree that “the problem is the implications of such labels simply revive tired old assumptions that uncritically trivialise the genre’s legitimacy and fail to engage with horror’s rich and varied heritage,” (para 2). It seems other critics and avid fans of the horror genre do not appreciate the effect this term has had on horror as a genre. By disassociating the recent horror films that have found commercial and critical success, from horror’s very large and branching history, just reinforces the idea that many have, that horror is an inferior film genre. Personally I have no issue with ‘Post-Horror’ being a term for a “new” subgenre of horror; as a way to categorise these new types of films that break many horror stereotypes and conventions, but I think trying to establish the term as its own genre may be a mistake. I don’t watch horror or enjoy it, so I do not feel as passionately about Rose’s thoughts on modern horror as some critics. However there is already a reluctance among Hollywood executives to label their projects as horror’s (Brown, 2019), so I think making post-horror its own genre would only encourage this behaviour.

 

Edwards-Behi, N. (2017, July 9). Cinema | A Response To Post-Horror. Retrieved from https://www.walesartsreview.org/cinema-a-response-to-post-horror/

 

Rose, S. (2017, July 6). How post-horror films are taking over cinema. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/international
Brown, M. (2019, May 15). The problem with ‘post-horror’. Overland. Retrieved from https://overland.org.au/

 

Week 3 – History of Horror

Both Hendrix (2018) and King (2010) take us through the horror history of the 60s 70s and 80s. Using references, explain this process in your own words, then think about the current trends of horror movies in your life time. What kinds of social of political changes in the world during these times do you think can be reflected in the horror you’ve read/watched/heard from that particular era?

While the horror genre as of late is experiencing a resurgence in popularity with the critical and commercial success of films such as the recent adaptation of Stephen King’s It. The genre spent most of the 20th century trying to gain the recognition and legitimacy other genres held within the literary canon. When horror enthusiasts think of a notable era for the genre, the latter half of the 20th century from the 60s and onwards is often cited as somewhat of a golden age. With auteurs such as Dario Argento and authors like Stephen King being prolific throughout the period.

The 60s ushered in a wave of cultural change that came as the result of factors such as the civil rights movement, and ongoing political tension between America and the communist powers of the time. For written forms of horror however, it marked a time when publishers tried their best to shake off the genre’s stigma when trying to market it to the mainstream. Often resorting to cover art that suggested something was from a more accepted genre, or in some cases the absence of the term (horror) itself when describing a story on its cover or blurb (Hendricks, 2018). This perception of the genre arguably extended into filmmaking, as productions of horror films during the 50s and 60s (at least in America) were often conducted in a rushed manner that usually started without even having a completed script (King, 2010).

The 70s would see the beginning of America’s attempt at curbing the global drug trade with what is now known as the war on drugs, as well as the growing involvement of the west in the conflict taking place in French Indochina. Figures synonymous with horror’s modern era would also finally make mainstream debuts. With Stephen King releasing Carrie in 1974 and John Carpenter releasing the seminal slasher film Halloween in 1978. Films such as The Omen and The Exorcist would carry inherit religious undertones with them through their subject matter and arguably draw inspiration from the gothic romance genre mentioned in Hendricks (2018).

During the 80s, the trend of graphic horror films that started in the 70s with Halloween and Ridley Scott’s Alien would continue with films such as Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street. The trend coincided with a time when audiences around the world were accustomed to seeing the harsh realities of war or reports of grisly murders on their television sets. Growing up in the late 90s and early 2000s, horror films varied from ones which centred around the ideas of urban myths or folk legends such as Candyman and The Blair Witch Project, adaptations of existing Japanese horror properties, the attempted revivals of both The Omen and Exorcist franchises, and the torture porn genre popularised by franchises such as the Saw franchise.

Throughout the history of horror though, whether it’s from the early 60s or present time. Whether it was premarital sex, hysteria from serial killers on the loose, or even fears associated with atomic radiation. It wouldn’t be an unpopular opinion to say that horror films gave viewers a glimpse into the views of that society.

References

 

Hendrix, G. (2018). Prologue. In Paperbacks from hell: The twisted history of ’70s and ’80s horror fiction. Philadelphia, PA: Quirk Books.

King, S. (2010). Danse Macabre. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

week4 questions

Week 4

Torture Porn:

According to Carroll (????), what is the role of torture in the torture porn franchises Saw and Hostel? Using references, explain this in your own words. How do you think these purposes might relate to the socio-political environment of that time period and such events like 9/11 and the Abu Ghraib torture scandal?

  • The role of torture in the saw

When you mention torture in the torture porn, most of the first movies that come to mind are [Saw] horror series.

As a thriller enthusiast, my most intuitive feeling is to find the stimulation to watch movies in a virtual environment to a large extent – the life experience you want or afraid, and most of the sadistic movies just satisfy people’s feelings of violence maybe in their hearts, which are not all bad situations that are not imposed on others. It’s also a good choice to relieve stress by watching movies like this because people need to know why people need them mostly because movies like this release their discomfort more easily and let people forget things around them and integrate them into the atmosphere more quickly. Most people are curious about the psychology of being frightened for the first time, always thinking about how others can frighten themselves for the second time. Over time, seeing such a type of film, they come closer unconsciously.

Undoubtedly, the “saw” is the best, whether it is bloody stimulation, or the clues are coherent, revealing human nature is very in place, not empty bloody horror, but also with suspense, human nature and other characteristics. Several films are interlinked, quite coherent, and after watching the feeling of admiration arises spontaneously.

  • The Relation between the Terror of Torture and the Political Background at that Time

In my opinion, the [saw] also is the best of this question, because of its story.

In the story, behind the shock of the chainsaw, the messenger caught a group of people, but they were not good people. They come from all walks of society and have done bad things to society, but they have not been punished properly and have drilled the loopholes of the judiciary. At this time, like “heroes” like the back of the main envoy came out, seize them and let them pay for their crimes, let those who wander on the edge of the law get the punishment they deserve, although cruel. But it reflects the relative injustice of social order and law (McCalman, 2004).

More deeply, it also reflects people’s deep fear that the government at that time might not be able to guarantee their own safety. The works vented out in the form of words are precisely because they have a deep sense of insecurity, which is very exaggerative, thus making the audience feel that this is a kind of high-level terror (Debrix, 2016).

  • Post Horror

Rose (2017) defines this modern boom of prestige horror as “Post-Horror.” What does he mean by this term? Find and read some critiques on his definition online and respond to both. Do you think Post-Horror is a valid term or not? Using examples and references explain your position.

Definition in my words:

Some filmmakers are starting to let you imagine what happens when you turn off your flashlight in a dark, secretive room. What happens when you deviate from the established agreements and get lost in the dark? The answer is that you may find something more terrible. You may find that something that is not terrible at all can become terrible in this atmosphere. A new subgenre may emerge here. We call it “post-horror”. This is a new vague term, which is difficult to define or describe.

I think some critics are trying to define a new subgenre of terror, breaking the typical horror stereotype. It also implies that “post-horror” is more like a sub-type of director. Filmmakers use themes to create horror (in contrast, cheap special effects and bad scripts due to lack of funds, supernatural witches/exorcism stories, etc.)

It is meaningless that, over time, horror movies with larger themes tend to exist. But they seem to be getting a more mainstream/wider version, which is why critics have written articles about it, trying to sound avant-garde.

Valid? Or not?

Nowadays, horror movies which including the post-horror become something directors carefully to touch. In my opinion, post-horror is a valid word, like I said it is a kind of sub-genre of horror movie, it makes the horror genre more well-stacked but maybe my idea isn’t suitable for public nowadays. And here is an example.

Get Out can be a good discussion. In the Get Out (2017) trailer, there are jumping panic, glittering surgical instruments, unnatural movements, musical bites and roaring skeletal bucks. The trailer shows that it’s a movie that tries to frighten you, or at least make you uncomfortable. The Trailer positioned the film as a horror film.

After its release, Get Out received good reviews and four Oscar nominations (Best Original Screenplay Award). Whether it’s a Golden Globe comedy / music category or referring to it as a “social thriller,” it’s also curiously away from the horror genre (“Cinema | A Response to Post-Horror – Wales Arts Review”, 2019).

I like the difference here, how it is marketed and how it is appreciated. They try to distinguish it from the types of horror public outline here, which seems to be a deliberate strategy. The starting point of the so-called “post-terror” celebrations is always to contextualize the history and current status of this school as something lost, meaningless, low-level, simple or meaningless. Then it shows that although terror is now fatigued, it awakens an old and insignificant minority school.

In Nia Edwards Bessie’s article on Steve Ross, she outlines how this genre has been reflected in the history of literature and film. Time and again horror movies, filmmakers, cycles and trends have departed from it, away from a type that anyone who knows its history can trace back to. It’s hard to think of a school that, apart from occasional examples of independence, is subject to similar repeated debates (“Cinema | A Response to Post-Horror – Wales Arts Review”, 2019).

Reference list:

McCalman, I. (2004). The Little Ship of Horrors: Reenacting Extreme History. Criticism46(3), 477-486. doi: 10.1353/crt.2005.0010

Debrix, F. (2016). Horror beyond Death: Geopolitics and the Pulverization of the Human. New Formations89(89), 85-100. doi: 10.3898/newf:89/90.05.2016

Carroll, N. (2003). Philosophy of horror. [Place of publication not identified]: Routledge.

Cinema | A Response to Post-Horror – Wales Arts Review. (2019). Retrieved 11 August 2019, from https://www.walesartsreview.org/cinema-a-response-to-post-horror/

Week 4: Torture Porn and Post Horror

According to Carroll (????), what is the role of torture in the torture porn franchises Saw and Hostel? Using references, explain this in your own words. How do you think these purposes might relate to the socio-political environment of that time period and such events like 9/11 and the Abu Ghraib torture scandal?

 

Horror as a genre has always been an outlet for the fears and feelings of civilized society, allowing us to experience things that we are supposed to avoid, and engage with feelings that we otherwise would avoid. Torture Porn is a subgenre of horror focused on excessively violent acts and the gore that is associated with them.

As a subgenre, many critics believe that torture porn can be most easily identified as being inspired and influenced by the slasher films. The similarities in the excessive violence that they share are similar, but there are some key differences between the two, such as not establishing a key character who will survive, which makes the suspense and horror for the audience even more real as is is unclear whether any characters will still be alive when the end credits roll.” Jones (2013). The possibility that the character that you empathize with the most or feel the most attached to could die at any moment creates more fear than the more pre-scripted slasher films, were it is often easy to tell who will survive, so the fear is not as prevalent. They were often derided by critics, and the very use of Porn in the title added a dirty, unacceptable patina to those films that had that label.

Franchises such as Saw or Hostel used the shock and disgust factor of their excessive violence to draw in the audience, who at this time had been relieved of their innocent view of how the world worked first by the 9/11 attacks, and the subsequent war on terror that showed many of the dark extremes their own governments would go to. At the time that these films were coming out, there was a general fear of what the world was going through as the definition of the enemy changed from an opposing nation in a war to anyone who decided to commit an act of terror. The possibility that your neighbors, your friends, could kill you in an extreme act of belief in a cause was reminiscent of the fear of Communist infiltrators during the Cold War. Horror became the way for the wider public to cope with their own fears and worries by putting themselves in an environment that exposed them to fear but gave them a modicum of control over what was happening to them. These films explored the darker facets of humanity, and used the audiences superior moral position to create that sense of disgust in the audience. The fear that was felt in America in particular as they discovered how horrible real life was, and how hated Americans were in some parts of the world, were played on in these franchises. Hostel in particular played with the idea that to go outside of the United States was extremely dangerous, though it often was Americans themselves that were the ones paying for the pleasure of torturing other Americans. The sense of American superiority, especially their way of life in a capitalist society, are reinforced by the protagonist of Hostel II being able to buy her way out of danger, “a crowning indictment of U.S. consumer culture” Murray (2008).

The torture in these films was used both as a way of reaffirming the American belief of the rest of the world being more dangerous and less civilised than their own way of life, and also gave people an outlet to cope with their fears about the evil they now knew existed in the world.

 

All Stripped Down: The Spectacle of “Torture Porn”. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15405700802587232

Jones, S. (2013). Torture porn: Popular horror after Saw. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

JUMP CUT A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY MEDIA. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/jc50.2008/TortureHostel2/text.html

Reyes, X. A. (2014). Body gothic: Corporeal transgression in contemporary literature and horror film. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.

 

Post Horror

 

In this lecture, I have briefly outlined how Hereditary contains elements of folk horror, cosmic horror and family drama. Using examples from your own readings and the film, describe how you feel these elements make up the film Hereditary and how it might fit into the larger canon of “prestige horror” from Rosemary’s Baby to today.

Hereditary is a mix of multiple genres and sub genres, all working together with their own tropes and traditions influencing the creation of the film. While some had more of an influence than others, they created a film that was grater than the sum of its parts.

Based around the pagan beliefs and rituals of European tradition, Folk Horror is generally set in small towns or villages and plays with the sense of isolation as well as quite often a very religious society to create the horror aspects of the film. The small town cult aspect, with the worship of ancient/nature gods in these films, seems to have been inspired by “the hippie philosophy ‘gone bad’ as earlier hopes of man and environment in harmony looked, by then, unlikely to be realised.” (Folk Horror). The idea of living closer to nature appealed to many people, but the fears of what could be lurking in the quiet woods was always there. In Hereditary, the themes found in Folk Horror are used both in the setting and the monster of the film. The home in which most of the film is set is in the woods, surrounded by nature and separate from the civilization from which safety could be drawn. This helps to intensify the fear during the nighttime scenes, as there is no one nearby to help as things go wrong. The demon that the cult is trying to invoke, Paimon, is also very reminiscent of the pagan worshiped deities found in the folk horror genre.

Family Drama focuses on the interactions between the family. The family of protagonists face a large number of issues among themselves, and have to deal with that in addition to the supernatural problems they face. Each of the family members have issues with each other, with Annie nearly killing her children while sleep walking, which created a lot of resentment, and feeling guilt about allowing her very manipulative mother to get her hooks into her daughter Charlie. When Charlie is killed, Annie blames her son Peter, who in turn feels that it is his mothers fault as she insisted that Charlie go with him, adding more to the barriers between them. As more secrets about the family come to the surface, such as Annie’s attempts to have a miscarriage when she was pregnant with Peter, the relationships deteriorate, adding to the rising tension of the film.

Cosmic Horror is the fear of the unknown, of powers and forces that we cannot comprehend. In Hereditary, this manifests itself as a fear of the manifesting powers of Paimon. Be it the communing with the dead, the possession of characters or the reanimation of the dead, there are many examples of unexplained horrors within the film. One example of this is Charlies sketch book, which the deceased child uses to communicate, at first benevolently but soon escalating to images threatening Peter. When Annie tries to burn the book, her arm catches fire, and later when it is doused in flammable liquid before being burnt, her husband burns to death. The audience does not know why this is happening, only that some dark force is manipulating everything in the families lives.

Hereditary makes use of all the elements that it draws from extremely effectively, and creates a real sense of dread in any audience that watches it. I believe that Hereditary does belong in the canon of prestige horror as an excellent example of how horror can be done with a slow burning plot and more atmosphere than jump scares.

Folk Horror. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.folkhorror.com/

Hereditary as Folk Horror: Horror Movie. (2018, October 06). Retrieved from http://www.horrorhomeroom.com/hereditary-as-folk-horror/

Trussell, J. (2018, July 02). Prestige Horror Has Arrived. Retrieved from https://filmschoolrejects.com/prestige-horror-movies/

Week four

Torture Porn:

According to Carroll (????), what is the role of torture in the torture porn franchises Saw and Hostel? Using references, explain this in your own words. How do you think these purposes might relate to the socio-political environment of that time period and such events like 9/11 and the Abu Ghraib torture scandal?

I think torture porn plays the role of horror in both Saw and Hostel films. Because in these two films, there are scenes of kidnapping, bondage and imprisonment, which will make the audience feel horror. Torture porn is also a visual representation of physical reality that delivers a sensation of fear through magnifying moments of mutilation. In these two films, torture porn presents subtle and suggestive moments of repressed terror, presenting viewers with moments of torture. In the film Saw, it uses torture porn to directly appeal to the viewer’s body, making the experience tangible by inducing empathy through pain and disgust. In the film of Hostel, the plot shows that the body is a commodity to buy and enjoy, because it uses torture porn to satisfy its desire for enjoyment. At the same time, characters lose a right of control their body, so they become a tester. However, this kind of behavior will make the audience in front of the screen feel scared and even disgusted (Reyes, 2014). From certain way to see, torture porn is similar to splatter film. As stated by Arnzen(1994), the motivation of the splatter film is from the destruction of the body and the pain that comes with it. General horror movie focus on the destruction of the order from the social and moral. However, torture porn this kind of horror movie focus on the lack of order.

In my opinion, the horror from torture porn is different from the horror from the general horror film. Because the horror elements from a majority of horror films is basically around the element of unknown, cosmic horror and supernatural things. The horror elements of horror in torture porn is a violence from human’s body. It is a man-made behavior. When I watch those horror movies that is about a violence from human’s body, I will feel that the tester is not a thing but a human. It is a living thing. How human can torture another human even be violence to them. When I think in this way, I feel frightened. Arnzen(1994) says that, a majority of horror films mainly around the factor of unknown, horror from the cosmic and somethings beyond ordinary thinking. Torture porn is cold-blooded violence from people’s body.

I think the purposes of torture porn might related to the social and political issues at that times. There was a necessary connection between the torture porn and the socio-political issues at that time. As the purpose of the even 9/11 might be America’s massive military intervened in the Middle East, the proliferation of western popular culture (mainly an openness to sex and alcohol that was simply unacceptable to Bin Laden, al qaeda, the taliban or other fundamentalist islamists), and so on. The U.S. government still assumes that the main reason for the attacks was an outbreak of anti-american sentiment among terrorists (American Muslin Leaders, 2001). For the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, the reason might be the American military invaded the area of Iraq at that time. Therefore, torture porn became a contemporary horror’s center at around of 2000 (Reyes, 2010)

References

American Muslin Leaders. (2001). Muslim Americans Condemn Attack. Retrieved from: https://www.islamicity.org/1218

Arnzen, M. A. (1994). Who’s Laughing Now? The Postmodern Splatter Film. Journal of Popular Film and Television21(4), 176-184. Retrieved from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01956051.1994.9943985?journalCode=vjpf20

Reyes. (2014). Body Gothic: corporeal transgression in contemporary literature and horror film – Torture Porn

Post Horror:

1. In this lecture, I have briefly outlined how Hereditarycontains elements of folk horror, cosmic horror and family drama. Using examples from your own readings and the film, describe how you feel these elements make up the film Hereditary and how it might fit into the larger canon of “prestige horror” from Rosemary’s Baby to today. 

The folk horror is different from the other genre of horror. Folk horror is mainly based on folk tales, including religious horror of ancient early Christianity, disturbing pagan traditions, outdated rituals, and irrational fears of female and other “demon” influences. It was the pagan god of the anxious counter-culture of the 1960s and 1970s (The 10 Best Folk Horror Movies of All Time, 2019). In Hereditary this film, Charlie’s grandmother is the biggest boss. Grandmother Charlie was one of the original members of the cult that summoned the demons of Paramount This cult is believed to be one of the eight gods of hell, Paramount, the most powerful devil in the west. The demonic ability of Paramount is to give his followers knowledge of fame, artistic inspiration, science, etc. In the film, Charlie’s grandmother is very good at hand-weaving carpets. Annie made the dollhouse to life. Charlie’s DIY beheaded toys and paintings are also unique, suggesting that they were gifted by the dark art of Paramount. Paramount is a “pagan god from the Middle East” whose name describes a “ding dong” or “tick” sound. The tonguing that came out of Charlie was actually an implicit call to himself, because tonguing sounds a lot like tinker bell (How to evaluate the horror movie Hereditary, 2018).

Family drama refers to high tension conflicts between characters. The description of family drama makes the audience pay more attention to the characters’ personality, inner conflicts and emotions between the characters but not the description of horror themes. In Hereditary this film, Annie tried to get rid of Peter several times when she was pregnant, because Annie knew that her mother wanted to take advantage of him, but she was reluctant to have the baby out of maternal love. However, Anne seems to have no idea that her mother is a member of a cult, which explains her split personality. This split personality manifests itself in Annie sleepwalking and doing weird things like putting flammable paint on Peter and shaking his head violently. Sometimes Annie didn’t even know she was being manipulated by her mother. At the memorial service, Annie’s mother wore a necklace with the symbol of Paramount. Annie also wore the necklace, part of a plan by believers to make her easier to manipulate. For example, on the night of Charlie’s death, Charlie didn’t want to join Peter’s party, and Peter didn’t want to take Charlie with him, but Annie insisted that Peter take Charlie to the party. This is a very strange decision, which suggests that personality control, as it’s called, doesn’t have to be enforced, it’s subconscious control. After Charlie died, Annie went to the treehouse to sleep almost every night, ostensibly to miss Charlie, but actually she was cursed and controlled subconsciously (How to evaluate the horror movie Hereditary, 2018).

I think cosmic horror also appears in thus film. Nyugen(2016) claims cosmic horror is that there is no recognizable god in cosmic; the effect of human in the universe is not essential. Stanford (2007) explains that people feel fear about the things that are beyond their fundamental understanding of the world. The light in the film, in fact, is Paramount. Finally, Peter falls from the upstairs. In Peter’s half-dead state, Paramount succeeds in the upper body when Peter is the weakest (How to evaluate the horror movie Hereditary, 2018).

References

Nyugen, T. (2016). History of Humans. Is There a God? 3

Stableford, B. (2007). Cosmic Horror.

The 10 Best Folk Horror Movie of All Time. (2019). Retrieved from: http://www.tasteofcinema.com/2019/the-10-best-folk-horror-movies-of-all-time/

Chief executive officer Vlad Dracula.

Based on my readings of both The Nature of Horror (Carroll, 2003) and Danse Macabre (King, 2010) I have to come to a conclusion about the nature of “the monster”.

The monster is an evil of real life, be it true, or perceived, given physical form. As they often represent all the ugliness of the real world concept (usually a social issue present in the minds of the time it sprung from). One could argue that if Dracula were to be written by a contemporary American author, the count would more than likely be a CEO and his sucking of the life from his victims would be done through the private health insurance corporation he runs as well as his fangs.

Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth is very… of its time. to put it as lightly as possible. its central concern relates to Lovecraft’s own bigoted and entirely irrational fear of interracial procreation. Very ’20s and ’30s. As a time ruled by such ideas as eugenics and less than a lifetime after the abolition of slavery in the United States and the resulting American civil war such concerns, while terminally invalid, were still widespread. After generations of humans laying with Dagons, the town of Innsmouth is entirely populated by horrifying half-human, half-fish-monster hybrids. if you replace the Dagons with black people you get what Lovecraft actually meant and… oh bloody dear (Lovecraft, 1936).

Let’s go with this hypothetical Dracula retelling again. I consider it to be a fair assumption that all, or at least most, of the people reading this are New Zealand citizens or residents given the school this blog is run by. so I would like to first seed in your mind a uniquely American problem. An average of 45.000 people die in the United States per year due to lack of basic healthcare (Brayon, 2018) and 530,000 (Konish, 2019) families go bankrupt from medical costs. Seriously. This has become a major talking point of American politics in the last few years. As a present fear, this would be perfect for a horror story. in today’s political climate.

So Chief executive officer Vlad Dracula jacks his prices to absurd degrees causing the deaths of many people and the bodies of those who die in his care are wheeled off to his mansion to be devoured, at the same tie as he bankrupts their families to continue to find his lavish lifestyle. Only more horrors awaiting our modernized Dr Johnathan Harker, sick of letting die patients he can save and Abraham Van Hellsing with his knowledge f the supernatural and the entire vampire killing crew. Simple really, weave the real-life fears of the reader into the narrative and you’ve terrified a generation. However, while King would argue allegory is inherent to the horror story I would advise to have your allegory and themes all in mind and planned out before put pen to paper or finger to key for the first time (Stoker, 1897).

No you can’t take this idea, I thought of it first, thank you very much.

King, S. (2010). Danse macabre. Retrieved from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4908672-dt-content-rid-10075160_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/Stephen%20King%20Danse%20Macabre%20reading.pdf

Carroll, N. (2003). The Philosophy of Horror: Or, Paradoxes of the Heart. London, England: Routledge. Retrieved from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4908672-dt-content-rid-10061418_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/The_Philosophy_of_Horror_Or%2C_Paradoxes_of_the_Hear…_—-_%281_The_Nature_of_Horror%29.pdfhttps://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4908672-dt-content-rid-10061418_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/The_Philosophy_of_Horror_Or%2C_Paradoxes_of_the_Hear…_—-_%281_The_Nature_of_Horror%29.pdf

Stoker, B. (1897). Dracula.

Lovecraft, H. P. (1936). The shadow over Innsmouth. Everett, PA: Visionary publishing company.

Brayton, E. (2018, October 15). Study: 45,000 deaths per year due to lack of health insurance. Retrieved from https://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2018/10/15/study-45000-deaths-per-year-due-to-lack-of-health-insurance/

Konish, L. (2019, February 11). This is the real reason most Americans file for bankruptcy. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/11/this-is-the-real-reason-most-americans-file-for-bankruptcy.html