The "Torture Porn" Debate Poll

Discussion in 'General' started by Ash28M, Mar 27, 2009.

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the great "Torture Porn" Debate

  1. I hate that term. It's condescending to genre fans.

    20.0%
  2. I don't mind it, it doesn't bother me.

    53.7%
  3. I love the term. The name fits.

    26.3%
  1. vampyr789

    vampyr789 9, 10. Never Sleep Again.

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    wow i didnt think you would make a poll, but okay lol :D
    the term really doesn't bother me at all...
     
  2. Harry Warden

    Harry Warden Well-Known Member

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    I don't mind it. I read the mini debate in the Haunting of Connecticut thread and I think that both Matt89 and Ash28M make very good points. So to sum up how I feel: I LOVE ALL TYPES OF HORROR FILMS - those that are mindless and don't make a point, and those that make a point and have something to say. I love those that some would like to label torture porn and those that consider them just good horror filmmaking.

    The most important part for me is whether I connect with the film in some way. If I can make a connection to the filmmaker and what I feel was their intent, regardless of the content, and I leave the theater having enjoyed myself, then I really don't care what people call it.
     
  3. X-human

    X-human I ate my keys

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    So what if they do?
     
  4. aoiookami

    aoiookami Demon Fetishist

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    My thoughts exactly. Sometimes the name just fits perfectly. To me Hostel is a definition 'torture porn' movie. Weak, weak premise padded between boobies and gore/death scenes that had more thought put into them than the story/characters/etc. I'm prefectly happy with a condescending name to "horror" movies like that.
     
  5. Matt89

    Matt89 Well-Known Member

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    But no seriously, who cares what other people think of horror fans? People who think that horror fans enjoy sadistic shit and actually enjoy seeing people get tortured are completely ignorant. They're the ones that ought to feel ashamed. It's not a derogatory term, it's just a name that's been given to a certain sub-genre of horror films.

    ~Matt
     
  6. Rockmjd

    Rockmjd Guest

    I don't like the term, but not because I think it is condescending. I just think it sounds dumb.
     
  7. Zillamon51

    Zillamon51 Member

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    I have no problem with the term, as I think it's accurate.

    'Sides, it's in wide use, and there's really nothing hardcore horror fans can do to change that. Any attempt to do so would be laughable, like Trekkies preferring the term Trekkers.
     
  8. dave13

    dave13 Well-Known Member

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    agreed....that's the only thing i can say against it. i have no problem with other people using it, but its not a term i would use, because i don't want to sound like a weeny.
     
  9. Anaestheus

    Anaestheus Well-Known Member

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    Well, I think the first thing really to do is define what "Torture Porn" is as a genre that separates it from other horror genres.

    To me, at least, "torture porn" is a film that basically centers on the fear of extreme damage being done to a surviving body. These films don't emphasize the fear of death that most previous horror films did. In these films, death is actually a sort of release from the fear. While there are older films that do capitalize on this fear, such as Corman's Poe films and the original TCM. The current trend tends to focus solely on this fear and will attempt to prolong the intended dread by prolonging the torture in extreme detail. Saw, Hostel, Cabin Fever, Ruins and the recent TCM all tend to do this. So, there is a current trend in horror that is different from the previous trends.
    And, the label is just a way of saying that this particular film is following this particular trend by focusing on this particular type of fear.

    As to the name itself, frankly, I find it no less derogatory than "slashers" or "j-horror" Both terms are going to be applied to films that may not be technically appropriate. But, they usually do adequately tag the overall psychology behind the film.

    In relation to the term "porn" I think the label IS actually very appropriate. Both "Torture Porn" and regular porn are extremely body-centric and both rely on visceral reactions to the visuals on the screen. In many cases it is the explicitness of the visuals that is used to garner the desired effect of the film-maker. Can the same be said about gothic horror or psychological horror? Even the slasher relies on the actions before the violence in order to create the fear that is then released with the shock of screen violence. Whereas, the films that tend to get labeled "Torture Porn" often rely on the visuals OF the violence, not the tension.

    In the end, all genres have good examples and bad examples regardless of the category. I love my chop-sockeys, and my grindhouse, and my exploitation films as long as they are interesting regardless of whether those labels are derogatory.
     
  10. aoiookami

    aoiookami Demon Fetishist

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    Interesting take on it Anaestheus, very well put
     
  11. Paff

    Paff Super Moderator

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    Interesting take, Anaestheus, but I disagree. I think other posters have it right that the "porn" title is not directed at the explicitness of the violence, but more of an idea that the viewer is excited to see the on-screen action and is living vicariously through the perpetrator. But I don't like when someone who doesn't care for a particular genre feels the need to explain why he/she thinks fans like it. "Torture Porn" (or "BTK", as suggested above) detractors think that fans of the genre are excited by the films, and thus the porn label.

    But as many have already said, that is simply not true. Do you want to know why I like these movies? It's because it's the only genre in horror that still gets under my skin. Someone's head is lopped off with a machete? I take another sip of my ale. Zombies are chowing down on intestines? Pass the popcorn. But put a bamboo shoot under someone's fingernail or slice the tendons on the back of their ankle and I am one squirming MFer. I'll be turning my head, covering my eyes, all that. Sadly, it's the only type of movie to do that anymore.

    I wonder if the people who coined the term "torture porn" would say the same about Witchfinder General, Mark of the Devil, or Salo. Wait, scratch the last one. This is NOT a new genre in horror.

    Before I post this though, I wanted to give Anaestheus props for his (proper) analysis of these films, in that the horror is not the fear of death, but rather that the victim will be made to suffer indefinitely. Succinctly put, and entirely accurate.
     
  12. Rockmjd

    Rockmjd Guest

    A lot of the 'roughies' of the 60's and 70's are very similar to the 'torture porn' movies of today, just not as explicit.
    Would Bloodsucking Freaks be torture porn? ;)
     
  13. Erick H.

    Erick H. Well-Known Member

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    While the term doesn't do much for me one way or the other,it is often missused by critics (and some viewers),which DOES annoy me.Not every violent horror film would rate as "torture porn" any more than every horror film with a woman in danger would qualify as a ''slasher'' film.The term started out by trying to draw a connection between this recent cycle of torture oriented pics but it's lost much of the relevence it had (if it ever really had any at all) by people tossing it around willy nilly.The term is overused to the point of being meaningless.

    I'm glad Paff mentioned THE WITCHFINDER GENERAL and MARK OF THE DEVIL.Certainly films have dipped into the realm of torture prior to this era's run of ''torture porn" films.Those earlier film's period/historical settings may have cobbled them into the ''gothic" horror genre with some viewers but to an extent they are trading on the same fears and emotional responses.You cringe in horror as the innocent victims or heroes are made to suffer and then wait (with guilty anticipation) for the shoe to be on the other foot (or the red hot poker to be in the other eye) as the good guys turn the tables on their tormenter and put him through the wringer.It's a primal response,everyone fears pain and everyone (whether they will admit it or not) has a thirst for revenge when they have been wronged.It's payback,we are allowed our bloody vengeance because we (or our stand in,the movies hero) have been mistreated,maimed and persecuted.That's the theory,anyway.

    It is odd though that most films that traffic in torture tend to spend a fair degree of time on seeing it laid down on the innocent characters but,when the hero gets to lay HIS vengeance on the baddie then it comes suddenly and is overy VERY quickly.What's up with that I wonder ? Is it a way of allowing the good guy to become less "tainted" by his horrible deed ? Perhaps it's to show that even though the hero may ''claim his pound of flesh" from the heavy he isn't so perverse as to revel in the carnage.He gets his revenge but isn't consumed with bloodlust. The ''revenge for a rape" type pictures,be they culty/grindhouse numbers like I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE or something as mainstream as the Dirty Harry pic SUDDEN IMPACT tend to hold to this format too.The rapes are agonizingly long,the revenge by comparison is rather swift.

    Back when the ''slasher"(another loaded term) films first became big news some critics compared the bloody murder scenes to the ''money shots'' in porn.The critics were certainly drawing a comparison between violent death and orgasm. It was meant as a slap at the genre (generally by critics who didn't much like horror to begin with),the implication was that horror fans got off on violence.The term ''Torture Porn" is implying the same thing,it's just more up front about it.

    As a genre it's not a favorite of mine.Some of the films have merit,some (perhaps) don't.It's in the eye of the beholder of course.Like all cycles it sprang up suddenly then began to fizzle.Right now it seems to be fading out.Unless somebody pulls the equivalent of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (which added a supernatural spin to the dying slasher cycle) and adds fresh blood to the genre,it'll likely go away soon.Like all cycles though,it'll come back some day,and some kid who's just being born now will write an article and coin a catchy new phrase to sum up the NEW cycle of torture films.Everything old is new again !
     
  14. scott71670

    scott71670 Well-Known Member

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    A couple of years ago I read in the New York Times that some people feel that the rise in "torture porn" may have to do with a collective subconscious reaction to concepts in war time, such as wartime torture concepts being absorbed into the public consciousness in the same way that society reacted with turbulent underground horror films during the Vietnam War. Horror has always been a reflection of the collective unconscious in unstable times, meaning that if you want to scare a roomful of at least thirty people in theaters around the country, you have to tap into a collective resonating anxiety. They said the same thing about slashers in the late seventies, and even so far back as some of the horror films of the 30s. When I look back at the wy horror was foundering in the late eighties to late nineties, with some even speculating that it was soon to go the way of the Western, I can see in retrospect that it was indicative of a much more untroubled time. As we react to torture, we make torture... porn, a name I am not liking as it is a reflection not so much as the content of the film (kudos to the Granny idea earlier), but what the "normal" people are feeling viewers (us) are presumed to be doing while watching it...
     
  15. Copyboy

    Copyboy Well-Known Member

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    I don't think "porn" necessarily refers to anything of a sexual nature and I don't think labeling a movie "torture porn" implies that the people who enjoy it are masturbating to the torture scenes. "Pornography" is a pretty subjective term which tends to be associated with hardcore sexual images only because that's where the term is most often applied. Pornography can be anything that is considered obscene and without any artistic merit whatsoever. The questions arise when someone defends the artistic integrity of a piece that's been labeled pornographic by someone else. One person's art is another person's porn and the debates will go on forever and never really be settled except in cases where popular opinion rules.

    When I first heard the term "torture porn" I was pretty offended until I realized that yes, what's shown in these movies could be pretty offensive to some people and right, a lot of these movies really don't have much artistic merit. But at the same time I totally agree with Paff in that these movies are the only horror movies that really get to me anymore in the same way that the slashers did when I was a kid, and for that I love them. If a movie is labeled "torture porn," it goes on my list of movies to see.

    So, for those of us who enjoy these movies, we need to just embrace the term and proudly tell people, "Hell yeah, I LOVE torture porn! It's FUN!"
     
  16. Mazurka Macabre

    Mazurka Macabre Member

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    I don't like the term because I'm not particularly fond of what it's used to describe. I wouldn't say that it is a subgenre (like "the slasher") so much as a convention of recent horror cinema.

    I do think the name, esp the word "porn", successfully pinpoints the fetishistic nature of films that dwell on physical torture. It is typified by close ups of bound/restrained/captured victims (predominantly female) being tortured by a (predominantly male) antagonist. Close ups usually highlight gruesome, effects-laden, and non-lethal bodily violence of the variety that we associate with the word torture--the infliction of mental, physical, and/or emotional pain to achieve some particular end.
     
  17. Ash28M

    Ash28M Active Member

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    What films are you referring too? The films that usually get pegged with this name are the Hotel and Saw films. I don't see woman being tortured in those films any more then the men. The people doing to torturing is also a pretty equal opportunity endeavor. This is the same misconception that slashers used to get when people claimed women were being killed in greater numbers. Where that wasn't the case. More men actually die in slasher films then women do.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2009
  18. Mazurka Macabre

    Mazurka Macabre Member

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    I was thinking specifically of the girl getting dry-iced in I Know Who Killed Me. I haven't thought of the Saw or Hostel franchises in terms of torture porn. They're full of gore, but don't fit the distinction of "non-lethal violence". I'd have to watch them again and read the arguments defining them as torture porn.
     
  19. Ash28M

    Ash28M Active Member

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    I think that's part of the problem. It's hard to pin point films that fit the definition of the term. There for everything with increased violence gets pegged with that label.
     
  20. Matt89

    Matt89 Well-Known Member

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    Personally, I don't see how Hostel DOESN'T classify as torture porn. The first half is like a porno, and the second half is just a torture frenzy.

    ~Matt
     

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