Saw was a turning point for early 2000’s horror. There was a reactive change in the genre following the events of September 11th, and while it continued the trend of hopelessness prevalent at the time, it added something not really seen since the 1980s – buckets and buckets of gore.
While the phrase ‘torture porn’ was not coined until 2005 by writer David Edelstein, the original Saw film was most definitely the forefather of the trend. As Jigsaw torments cinemas this week, we look at some of the pictures you shouldn’t miss within the same genre…
No article on torture porn , or ‘gorno as it is sometimes called – would be complete without the inclusion of Eli Roth’s 2005 splatter pic. Combining classic elements of 1980s horror such as sex and grisly death, it is the story of three backpackers in Eastern Europe who fall prey to the allure of two gorgeous women and find themselves trapped at the hands of Elite Hunting, a company who charges to let people live out their sickest and most depraved murderous fantasies on innocent victims.
Boobs and blood are here in abduance and Roth never shys away, never cuts away. There is no need for you to use your imagination, the camera lingers on death the way it would on a naked woman. Check out the scene where the main character snips off a hanging eyeball.
The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
The second feature film of singer turned director Rob Zombie, it is the sequel to 2003’s House of 1000 Corpses and follows the psychotic Firefly family on a cross country murder spree as they try and evade the authorities. Zombie is not known for his subtly of touch, but The Devil’s Rejects is a huge improvement from his debut and arguably the directors best work.
The influences of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are evident, for example the scene where Otis (Bill Moseley) wears the face of one of his victims, and Zombie attempts to capitalize on the inherent creepiness of clowns with the character of Captain Spaulding (perhaps itself a reference to The Exorcist’s Captain Howdy).
Before Peter Jackson turned his hand to epic fantasy trilogies The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, he was making all out gore-fests like Braindead (also known as Dead Alive). When meek Lionel (Timothy Balme) discovers his overbearing mother is turning into a hungry zombie after being bitten by the fictitious Sumantran rat monkey, he alone takes it upon himself to try and stop the plague spreading.
More comedy than all out horror, it includes zombie sex, a zombie baby and a ninja priest as well as some truly insane moments such as an enormous zombiefied Vera attempting to pull Lionel back into her womb.
The Last House on the Left (1972)
Remake or original, take your pick. Two young girls are raped and brutally attacked by a gang in the woods. One survives and stumbles home to her horrified parents, only to be followed by the gang who seek shelter from an oncoming storm, When the parents discover the identity of the strangers in their home, the tone switches to a revenge flick.
It throws up moral dilemmas about justice, vigilantism and faith in the system. The remake gets bonus points for its innovative use of a microwave.
Wolf Creek (2005)
Based on real life Australian serial killers Ivan Milat and Bradley Murdoch, the tagline “How can you be found if no one knows you are missing?” sets the tone of this backpacking horror. Three friends run afoul of Mick Taylor in the Outback who orginally offers to help fix their car, before trapping them in his murder shack. The Outback itself and the almost mythical location of the giant meteor creator plays just as much of a role as any of the characters, including Taylor.
The vast expanse of the setting and the unimaginable isolation of the victims serves to only highlight the complete and utter hoplessness of the situation they find themselves in.
What is your favourite ‘torture-porn’ horror? Any of the above? What would you add? Let us know.