For the film in production called '
A splatter film
or gore film
sub-genre of horror film
deliberately focuses on graphic portrayals of gore and graphic violence
. These films, through the
use of special effects
and guts, tend to display an overt
interest in the vulnerability of the human
and the theatricality of its mutilation. Due to their
willingness to portray images society might consider shocking,
splatter films share some ideological grounds with the transgressive art
movement. The term
"splatter cinema" was coined by George
to describe his film
Dawn of the Dead
Dawn of the Dead
is generally considered by critics to
have higher aspirations, such as social commentary, than to be
simply exploitative for its own sake.
The combination of graphic violence and sexually suggestive imagery
in some films has been labeled "torture porn"
of "gore" and "porno"). By contrast, in films such as Braindead
, the gore is sometimes so
excessive that it becomes a comedic device.
Splatter films, according to film critic Michael Arnzen
, "self-consciously revel in
the special effects of gore as an artform." Where typical horror
films deal with fear of the unknown, the supernatural, the dark,
and so on, the impetus for fear in a splatter film comes from
physical destruction of the body. There is also an emphasis on
visuals, style and technique, including hyperactive camerawork.
Where most horror films have a tendency to re-establish the social
and moral order with good triumphing over evil, splatter films
thrive on a lack of plot and order. Arnzen argues that "the
spectacle of violence replaces any pretentions to narrative
structure, because gore is the only part of the film that is
reliably consistent." These films also feature fragmented
narratives and direction, including "manic montages full of subject
camera movement...cross-cuttings from hunted to hunter, and ominous
juxtapositions and contrasts." As a result, not only are the
characters fragmented, so is the audience.
Prehistory of splatter
The splatter film has its aesthetic roots in French Grand Guignol
theatre, which endeavored to
stage realistic scenes of blood and carnage for its patrons. In
1908, Grand Guignol
made its first appearance in England,
although the gore was downplayed in favor of a more Gothic
tone, owing to the greater
censorship of the arts in Britain.
The first appearance of gore—the realistic mutilation of the human
body—in cinema can be traced back to D. W. Griffith's Intolerance
(1916), which features
numerous Guignol-esque touches, including two onscreen
decapitations, and a scene in which a spear is slowly driven
through a soldier's naked abdomen as blood wells from the wound.
Several of Griffith's subsequent films, and those of his
contemporary Cecil B. DeMille
, featured similarly realistic
In the early 1920s, a number of high-profile scandals, including
the Fatty Arbuckle scandal
rocked Hollywood, leading to calls for reform of the "indecency"
being "promoted" by motion pictures. These resulted in the Production Code
, which set standards for
behavior depicted in Hollywood films and effectively censored gore
out of mainstream cinema for almost fifty years.
The modern era
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the public was reintroduced to
splatter themes and motifs by groundbreaking films such as Alfred Hitchcock
(1960) and the output of
Hammer Film Productions
artistic outgrowth of the English Grand Guignol
such as The Curse of
(1957) and The Horror of Dracula
Perhaps the most explicitly violent film of this era was Nobuo Nakagawa
(1960), which included numerous
scenes of flaying and dismemberment in its depiction of the
. Other noticeable and
influential films from the period includes the French Eyes Without a Face
(1959) and the
Splatter came into its own as a distinct genre of cinema in the
early 1960s with the films of Herschell Gordon Lewis
in the United
States. Lewis had been producing low-budget nudie films for several
years but the market for such fare was losing ground to Hollywood,
which was beginning to show more and more nudity in its films.
Eager to maintain a profitable niche, Lewis turned to the one thing
mainstream cinema still shied away from: scenes of visceral,
explicit gore. In 1963, he directed Blood Feast
, widely considered the first
splatter film. In the 15 years following its release, Blood
took in an estimated $7 million. It was made for an
estimated $24,500. The film has since become a cult favorite and
was followed by the exploitation
-style film, Blood Feast 2: All U Can
(2002). Lewis' next film, Two Thousand Maniacs!
remade as 2001 Maniacs
(with a follow up 2001 Maniacs: Beverly
in 2008). Both updated versions stuck true to
their predecessors in terms of theme and content.
As influential and profitable as it was, for many years
seen outside drive-in theaters
the Southern United States
Graphically violent imagery was starting to experience some
mainstream acceptance in films such as Bonnie and Clyde
The Wild Bunch
largely remained taboo in Hollywood.
The first splatter film to truly popularize the genre was George A. Romero
's Night of the Living Dead
(1968), the director's attempt to replicate the atmosphere and gore
's horror comics on film. Initially
derided by the American press as "appalling," it quickly became a
national sensation, playing not just in drive-ins but at midnight
showings in indoor theaters across the country. Foreign critics
were more kind to the film; venerable British film magazine
Sight & Sound
on its list of "Ten Best Films of 1968."
Its sequel, Dawn of the
, became one of the most successful splatter films,
both critically and commercially. It was released in United States
rather than with the X-rating
it would have received for its explicit carnage. Critic Roger Ebert
called it "one of the best horror
films ever made." Romero's film was also important in that it upped
the ante in terms of technique, special effects and the quality of
writing, characterization, and so on.
The 1980s saw the rise of the MPAA
board which curtailed the violence in many splatter films. Roger Ebert
in America and Member of Parliament
Graham Bright in the U.K. led the charge to censor splatter films
on home video with the film critic going after I Spit On Your Grave
politician sponsored the Video
which is a system of censorship and
certification for home video. This resulted in the outright banning
of many splatter films in the U.K.
Some splatter directors have gone on to produce blockbusters.
, now known for directing the
Spider-Man film series
became famous from creating The Evil
(1981), which he followed up with the sequels
Evil Dead II
Army of Darkness
, who is now best known
for The Lord of
the Rings trilogy
, started off his career in New Zealand
by directing splatter
movies like Bad Taste
These films featured so much gore that it became a comedic device
. These comedic gore films have
been dubbed "splatstick
", defined as
physical comedy that involves evisceration. Another example of this
sub-genre was Re-Animator
(1985), adapted by Stuart Gordon
a story by H.P. Lovecraft
Splatter films have proved influential in cinema in many ways. For
example, the popular 1999 film The Blair Witch Project'
similar to the 1980 film Cannibal
. The story in Cannibal Holocaust
told through footage from a group of people making a documentary
about a portion of the Amazon which is said to be populated by
cannibals. This "mockumentary
was later used in Blair Witch
In the 2000s, there has been a resurgence of films influenced by
the splatter genre that depict nudity
, sometimes disparagingly labeled
"torture porn" by critics and detractors. The Eli Roth
(2005), was the first to be called
"torture porn" by critic David
in January 2006, but the classification has since
been applied to Saw
(though its creators
disagree with the classification), The Devil's Rejects
the earlier films Baise-moi
(2000) and Ichi the Killer
(2001). Edelstein also included Mel
's The Passion
of the Christ
(2004) in the genre, due to its explicit
scenes. A difference between this group of films and earlier
splatter films is that they are often mainstream Hollywood films
that receive a wide release
comparatively high production values.
The so-called "torture porn" sub-genre has proven to be very
, made for $1.2 million, grossed over $100
million worldwide, while Hostel
, which cost less than $5
million to produce, grossed over $80 million. Lionsgate
, the studio behind the
films, made considerable gains in its stock
price from the box office showing. The financial success led the
way for the release of similar films: Turistas
in 2006, Hostel: Part II
, and Captivity
, starring Elisha Cuthbert
and Pruitt Taylor Vince
, in 2007. The
double feature Grindhouse
(2007), produced and
directed by Quentin Tarantino
, has also been
considered part of the trend, as has the Lindsay Lohan
thriller I Know Who Killed Me
Some films in the genre received criticism. Billboards and posters
used in the marketing of Hostel:
drew criticism for their
graphic imagery, causing them to be taken down in many locations.
Director Eli Roth claimed that the use of the term "torture porn"
by critics, "genuinely says more about the critic's limited
understanding of what horror movies can do than about the film
itself", and that "they're out of touch." Horror author Stephen King
defended Hostel: Part II
and "torture porn" stating, "sure it makes you uncomfortable, but
good art should make you uncomfortable." Influential director
George A. Romero
stated, "I don’t get the torture
porn films", "they're lacking metaphor."
other entries into the sub-genre included: Untraceable, starring Diane Lane and Billy Burke, the British WΔZ, starring Stellan Skarsgård and Selma Blair , its US counterpart,
Scar starring Angela Bettis and Ben
Cotton the French Martyrs, directed by Pascal Laugier, and
the Australian film Dying
(2009) and remakes of The Last House on the
(1972) and I Spit
On Your Grave
(1978) are set to continue the trend. Rapper
explored the genre in his 2009 music
video for the single "3 a.m.
filmmaker Lars von Trier’s
Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, was labeled
"torture porn" by critics when it premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film
Festival due to scenes of extreme violence, graphic sex, and
genital self-mutilation. The Collector
, a film
directed by Marcus Dunstan
co-written with Patrick Melton
writers from the Saw
series), was released in July
Torture films could also be used in comedy-horror films. Take for
example, Jennifer's Body
starring Megan Fox
Into 2009, the box office draw of "torture porn" films have mostly
been replaced in the U.S. by the profitable trend of remaking or
rebooting earlier horror films such as The Amityville Horror
(2005), The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre: The Beginning
(2007), My Bloody Valentine 3D
and Friday the
. An exception is the Saw series
, which has become the
most profitable horror film franchise of all-time.
Splatter and other genres
The term “splatter film” is often confused with “slasher film
”. While there is often overlap,
many slasher movies, like Halloween
(1978), are not
considered splatter films because they don’t have enough on-screen
gore (however Halloween
is considered a splatter movie). Other films, like
The Burning Moon (1992) and
(2003) can fall
into both subgenres.
Scenes of splatter also appear in other genres. Some examples are
(1970), a western
, and Kill
(2003), a revenge-thriller, The Final Destination
new supernatural thriller in 3D. Many chambara
films, a subgenre of samurai movies,
contain elements of splatter, where excessive amounts of blood
spray from arteries. Examples include Lady Snowblood
(1973) and the
films of the Lone Wolf and
The group of transgressive French films known as New French Extremity
include such films
as Haute Tension
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