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Thursday, 2 September 2010

Strong Stomach But Still Human

Growing up I enjoyed reading horror authors such as Stephen King, John Saul, and James Herbert, all of whom were deservedly renowned for paying attention to gory detail! I know I read many, many more authors in the same genre and although I can't recall their names now, I'm pretty sure that most of them probably went just as far as the abovementioned Unholy Trinity in their efforts to gross out their readership. Of course, the 80's were kind of horrific in general ... bat-wing jumpers, pineapple hairdo's, and Margaret Thatcher, does anyone really want to argue that those things were not the products of a deranged psyche? I loved horror movies too. Once upon a time, I could practically recite the script to 'The Evil Dead' by heart.
I still enjoy reading/watching horror today, in my fortieth year, with no sign of that growing-up I'm supposed to do happening yet ( thnak heaven, it's always seemed a little dreary to me, the whole 'adult' thing ), and I'm happy to say there are still many, many gorily good books and movies around to satisfy my bloodlust with! Jack Ketchum, Brian Keene, Bentley Little, and a host that I'm trying to get around to reading before my eyeballs really do explode. Stephen King ( " Bow to the Master!" ) has himself described Little as the 'poet laureate' of horror today and I have to say his work does remind me a good bit of the 80's slash-and-bleed style.
These dubious tastes of mine in blood 'n' gore-drenched reading and watching material are enabled by my having a particularly strong stomach for the kinds of imaginative violence it takes to produce blood 'n' gore by the bucketful, and by my being relatively unshockable. In fact, there is so little I have ever truly shrank from that fact in itself sometimes gives me pause. But not very often, and never for terribly long before the next hockey-masked psycho wielding a shiny ax comes along and distracts me from wondering what kind of human being I am that I'd have rather Edward just ripped Bella's mopey little head off from the get-go, drained every last drop of her blood, and discarded her limp carcass in a school canteen wastebucket for her giggling little friends to discover. That'd take their minds off their prom dresses.
But ... I am human after all, and in my lifetime of otherwise unshockable devouring of all things horrifically-flavored, there have been two things at which I have baulked. The one was reading James Herbert's 'The Rats' but frankly, once I read it again some years later I couldn't even recall what it was about it put me off so much first time. I can only surmise that I must have read it on On Of Those Days we all had as teenagers. The other was Wes Craven's original movie 'The Last House On The Left'. First time around that block I quit one-third of the way after realizing that even with judicious use of the fast-forward I was just never going to find it any less unreasonably distasteful a journey. This time it had nothing to do with a teenage bad-hair day either. For me, despite my lack of shockability and iron-clad stomach, there is nonetheless a line between enjoyable bloody, gory mayhem and the un-entertaining results of a director or writer just coming over all unnecessary, and this lady is not for crossing that line. I did give 'Last House' a second chance also ( the BBFC having lately decided to re-release it on an unsuspecting public after many years languishing in their video-nasty dungeon ) but, unlike Mr Herbert's work, the nausea-inducing impact of 'Last House' had not blunted with my ageing. I was still left scrambling for the Stop button and seething with a desire to find Mr Craven and just smack him around a little for taking what could have been a good horror movie and turning it into something even my strong stomach couldn't, well, stomach. Some people seem to like it though. Enough of them anyway for Hollywood to figure a remake would be profitable. I don't expect I'll tempt fate to test the strength of my stomach for a third time by watching it again though. I'll just get on with wading knee-deep through the enjoyable blood 'n' gore of all those other mayhem-makers still lurking in wait for me on the book and DVD shelves.
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Oh, just rip her head off, Edward...

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