Friday, March 28, 2014

Celebrating SIX Years Of Fear: Six Films That Wowed Me With Violence

Well, Fascination with Fear is six years old this week!  So in lieu of writing a post thanking everyone that ever lived (because I've done that before and those people know who they are), I've decided to do some lists.  This will come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis (yes, all seven of you!), because lists are one of my favorite things to do!

Over the course of the next few weeks, I'll bring you some favorites in categories ranging from "violence in film" to "movies that made me stop and think"
Six will be the magic number here.  It will be difficult to keep any list of mine down to six items, but I'm going to give it a whirl.

First up, I wanted to get down and dirty.  Here's six films that wowed me with violence. I've seen a lot of violent horror films.  A lot of gore.  A lot of ferocious brutality.  And that's all well and good.  But what I am talking about here is a violent film that had a plot.  Something that made me think and not just sit on my couch like a lump while someone's head was removed.  Here's my six picks for favorite violent flicks. (Hey, that rhymed!)

This is one of my favorite films anyway, but it fits here so nicely.  Like The Hunger Games after it, Battle Royale pits children against each other in a battle to the death.  Also a book first (same title, by Koushun Takami), it depicts a society gone awry, with the Japanese government each year forcing a class of students to fight to the death on a deserted island.  Its focus remains on a couple that want to stay together and find a way to escape their fate.  I prefer this film to THG for a few reasons. It is less flashy and decadent, it is raw and brutal, and I saw this movie first, so it holds a special place in my cold little heart.

 Words can't describe the first time I saw this film.  Well, I guess they's my reviewISTD is such a great revenge flick, and some may say there isn't much plot.  But I beg to differ.  There is a ton of raw emotion here, with Lee Byung-hun capturing my heart during his heartbreaking performance of a man on a mission to find, torture, and kill the maniacal serial killer that brutally killed his fiance.  And Choi Min-sik could possibly be my favorite villain in all of horror.  Astounding.

 A film I just saw and reviewed, The Seasoning House gets under your skin even though you cannot imagine how it accomplished it.  A young girl torn from her mother's arms is forced into a horrific life at a house of horrors where women are held captive as sex slaves for the use of soldiers on break.  At once a gripping, gut-wrenching tale, it boasts heaps of violence in the form of brutal assaults and rapes and living conditions the likes of which you'll never see.  But the heart of the tale lies with Angel and her quest for freedom from such tortures. Surprisingly effective. Surprisingly affecting.

MARTYRS (2008)
The French are well known for their violence, and I could have added any number of films from there onto this list (Inside, Frontiers, High Tension), but for a movie that reached down into my gut for a visceral reaction, Martyrs takes the prize.  Full of brutality and bloodshed, it tells the tale of Anna and Lucie, two girls that suffer in such unimaginable ways it's hard to wrap your head around it.  Controversial as hell, it compels the viewer to keep watching, as the somewhat complex plot (at least for a horror film) delves deep into the heart of darkness.  And it's very hard to dig your way out. Not for the weak of heart (or gut!).

Sam Peckinpah was known for controversial films, but maybe none as much as this particular 1971 thriller. Dustin Hoffman and Susan George star as David and Amy Sumner, a couple who move to her native England to escape the violence in America.  Instead, they get in over their heads with a group of locals from the small village where they make their home.  Part of the controversy was a scene in which Amy was gang raped and appeared to enjoy it.  Other dubious violence occurs in the final scenes, in which David gets his revenge, shooting up the villagers like it was free.  But no one will argue when I say it is a truly excellent film.

I couldn't leave my main man Dario Argento off this list.  While Argento is often lauded for his "beautiful death" scenes, there can be no doubt they are violent.  And though many of his films would qualify for this small list, I'm going with my favorite (and most likely the one with the most cohesive plot). An American writer on a book tour in Europe finds himself embroiled in a murder mystery that seemingly echoes the plot of his latest novel.  Boasting copious amounts of the red stuff, Tenebrae is actually what I would consider to be a near-perfect example of a giallo film.  A fine example of a film, period.


James Gracey said...

Happy Birthday Fascination with Fear! Here's to ANOTHER six years of great writing - and helping me keep abreast of new horror. xx

Emily said...

Glad to see The SEasoning House on here. I just watched it and was really struck by how well the 'exploitation' aspect was handled. I never felt like the filmmaker was going for an easy shock, and unlike the majority of films that portray rape, you NEVER get the sense that the filmmaker is trying to do anything but show the horrors of it. Truly well done.

Christine Hadden said...

Thanks so much, James! x

And yes, Emily - even though that film was brutal and tough to watch, it was really well made and like you said, I didn't feel like the filmmaker was exploiting rape. It was actually a lot better than I expected and I found myself enjoying it despite the content.