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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Movies At Dog Farm Slips On A Bloody Banana Peel - Funny, Yes?

 "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die."
                                                                                                - Mel Brooks

Dead Alive (1992) fisting
Fisting in New Zealand!  Dead Alive (1992)
     I'm courting disaster by attempting to define a subgenre, but I struggled with devising post topics for the Gore-A-Thon  because I wasn't really sure what I felt defined a gore movie.  The term always makes me think first of movies that use graphic, over-the-top violence to comedic effect - movies like Re-Animator (1985), Evil Dead II (1987), or Dead Alive (1992).  So why is that?


Blood Feast (1963) eyebrows
How are those eyebrows not funny?  Blood Feast (1963)
     Well, maybe it's because Herschell Gordon Lewis is the undisputed Godfather of Gore, and I can't help but giggle every time I watch one of his movies.  Granted, he was initially just fishing around for a marketable hook when the popularity of the nudies he was producing began to wane, but I find it nearly impossible to watch his seminal Blood Feast (1963) and imagine that the absurdly exaggerated violence on display was seriously intended.  The campy, po-faced presentation of all that luridly colorful gore is precisely why his movies have endured.  You're either in on the gag, or you're not.  If you're not, then you're probably offended.

     To me, the key distinguishing characteristic of a gore movie is that it's more concerned with the aftermath than the action.  A gore movie isn't as concerned with the violent act as it is with the bloody red remains of said act.  A gore movie is determined to let the camera linger lovingly on the mess.  A gore movie is the cinematic equivalent of your buddy blowing his nose, then spreading the tissue wide and saying, "Hey!  Look at this!"
 
Cannibal Holocaust (1980) native impaled on stick
Doesn't like fart jokes.  Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
    You know it will be gross, but you can't not look.  It's a testament to your own constitution if you can look and just laugh it off - juvenile, but also comedic.  Comedic gore is a fart in a crowded elevator, intended to either make you snicker like a ten year old or to turn away in disgust because your sensibilities are too fine.  I like a good fart joke.  Funny is funny.  If you laugh, it was funny - no further analysis necessary.  If you've got too big a stick up your ass to enjoy a good fart joke, you're probably not going to like gore movies, either.

    So what's your definition of a gore movie?  Is it movies like Saw (2004) or Hostel (2005) that plumb the depths of photorealistic carnage?  Or maybe it's the elegant beauty of Dario Argento's stylized ultra-violence?  How about tacky cannibal gut-munchers like Cannibal Holocaust (1980) or perhaps the graphic extremities of nearly unclassifiable genre fare like Excision or American Mary (2012)?  If it's the indisputably comedic gore of Japanese genre movies like Machine Girl (2008) or RoboGeisha (2009), maybe you're seeing the same dark humor I am.

     A valid argument can be made for any of these movies epitomizing the gore genre.  I suspect my compatriots in the Gore-A-Thon will address many of these titles with their own posts over the next two weeks.  I look forward to reading them as much as I hope you do.  Shower me in blood, folks!  Help me up from the floor if I slip in the puddled gore!

     . . . but only after you've enjoyed a good laugh at the expense of my personal tragedy, of course.

     By the way, who farted?



Barbara Crampton getting head from Dr. Hill in Re-Animator
A head giving head - the funniest visual pun in any movie ever!  Plus, it gives me an excuse to show Barbara Crampton nude!  Re-Animator (1985) Click the title for an extended clip.







Posted by Brandon Early
    

5 comments:

Carl B said...

Happy Ultimate Gore-A-Thon kickoff! Great intro to the whole blog movement. I will have my appreciation for Braindead (aka Dead Alive) up tomorrow.
Reanimator is a classic! This reflection on the art of splatter will be a fun little outing!

Jonny Dead said...

What a perfect intro to the heart of the event. Thanks for such a great kickoff! Let the games begin :)

Brandon Early said...

Thanks, guys.

I have to admit that I thought this would spark a bit more discussion than it did. I'm referring primarily to its posting on Reddit Dreadit, where it was framed as an invitation for everyone to share what their own definition of a gore movie is. The Dreadit crowd usually seems pretty eager to share differing viewpoints.

Still, though, a lot of folks have had a look at it, so maybe it sparked a few discussions in the privacy of everyone's own homes.

This has been a blast so far, and I'm glad I prepped everything in advance so I can just spend the next two weeks reading and responding to everyone else's posts. I've already had a bout of "comment diarrhea" over at MK Horror about the term "torture porn". I hope I don't get banned from her Comments section. lol

Maggie Kay said...

I never considered "gore" as a sub genre of horror. (Am I too young??) When I hear "gore movie" I think of a style to which a movie was made. Any sub genre can be exceedingly gory.

Great article! :-)

initforthekills.com said...

I don't have anything intelligent to say about what gore is, but I can say that in order for me to enjoy it it has to be unrealistic. If I'm praising the special effects guys when someone's fist goes through someone's head, it's fun. But when it looks like it could actually happen, or worse, when I come across a picture of real life carnage as surfing the darker parts of the internet can tend to lead me to, I turn away.