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10.16.2008

Cinematic Torture


We go to the movies to enjoy a few hours of escape. We go to the movies to appreciate art, to be moved by talented actors and photographers and composers to experience a range of emotion. We go for the purpose of education, and we go to experience the surreal.

And, as Stephen King posits in his instructive essay "Why We Crave Horror Movies," we go to the movies to enjoy an outlet for anti-social behavior. We go, as King puts it, to keep the gators in the back of our individual psyches fed.

Most of you probably wouldn't call Eli Roth's film Hostel a masterpiece. I certainly wouldn't. But it's more than serviceable as a revenge film and, with it's over-the-top nudity and violence, satisfies a pattern of recent horror-film production values that compels audiences to look at genre films over and over again.

This, by the way, is not a good thing. We watched The Exorcist this week in my film criticism class, and it really illustrates the fact that what we're getting in the last decade from Hollywood simply doesn't measure up. We'll chat about the mastery of Friedkin's finest in a separate post, but there have been very few films that come close to it in the last thirty-five years. Poltergeist, Jaws, Rosemary's Baby...all of these films are infinitely better than The Grudge, Hostel, Saw and their ilk.

But a comment from a man who knows his ways around the labyrinth of American movies was lodged on my post on The Serpent and the Rainbow. It's interesting food for thought, and Ryan Pence raises a heck of an interesting discussion.
What is the best torture scene you've ever seen in a movie?

Let's set some ground rules. No referencing The Passion of the Christ. Sorry, but we don't need to turn this into a religious battle. There are plenty of blogs out there where you can wage that particular war.

Here's a good one:



Deliverance (1972)

How about this one?



Reservoir Dogs (1992)

This movie had a brutal scene last year. Here's a famous one also:




Pulp Fiction (1993)

Here's my vote. If you haven't seen Audition, you have some 'splaining to do!


So let's have it. What's the worst single torture scene of all time? Which one makes your skin crawl? Which makes you look the other way?

1 comment:

Brian said...

Ellen page in the movie Hard Candy is absolutely brutal. I have never been so mortified while watching a torture scene as i was when Patrick Wilson's character was being tortured by Ellen Page's character, in Hard Candy.