Wednesday, November 18, 2009

litmus horror

There's a certain kind of horror film, which almost isn't really horror at all, but a weird combination of horror, comedy and tragedy, that I call Litmus Horror. It's a sort of funhouse mirror which you look into and see yourself, only distorted somehow, just enough to see the back of your own head. It's where I'm at with the movie viewing, and I'm starting to put together a person canon of litmus horror. It's very Burroughsian, very sour, very difficult to look directly at as it directly transgresses tabboos. So far I'd include Pickup, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Blue Velvet, Performance, Jacob's Ladder and Videodrome on that list, with a good chunk of Lynch and Cronenberg's other films in there as well. Films that I haven't rewatched but are on the list include The Hitcher (the original), Last House on the Left, In The Realm of the Senses, The Act of Seeing With One's Own Eyes, Cannibal Ferox, I Spit on Your Grave, Salo and Martyrs. I think "litmus horror" is a much more apt term than "torture porn", but I can see why the later took off. It's interesting how generational horror tastes are; for me my horror g-spot is late sixties to early eighties, and the slasher genre is where I first felt like I was too old to really get it (and at twelve I was sure I had seen everything there was to see). What's interesting to me, watching these movies at this point in my life and with the context of recent losses, is how satisfying it is to (I'm gonna use a Biblical reference here, but don't freak out, I'm intentionally messing with you), as John 20:24-29 put it, put your finger in the wound, or to put it as Gillian Welch would, let me see the mark death made. This is a tricky emotion, and it's easy to see why it makes people so uncomfortable, but that's where I'm at right now.

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