Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Return of the Video Nasty

When I was in a charity shop a while back I was quite bemused to look at a DVD horror film about cannibals. The marketing team thought its chief selling point was that a board of people had decided that the world was better not watching 'Cannibal Atrocity' or whatever this work of genius was called.

So it seems that Human Centipede II is being banned, presumably for one of two reasons: 1) Someone might think it sounds like a sweet romantic comedy and go in and be horrified that a movie marketed as being one of the sickest films ever made is actually one of the sickest films ever made and not a film about puppies bounding through fields of dandelions 2) Modern parents know they don't have the spine to risk unpopularity in telling their kids they can't watch something so will secretly be grateful to the state for using censorship to stop it happening.

Frankly if the answer is '2' then as a society we may very well deserve censorship of films. But I'd still fight against it. No, I'm certainly not going to watch it. But I don't want anyone to tell me I can't.


  1. This is a tough issue for me. Normally I am not pro-censorship, but some of these newer horror films (sometimes aptly called “torture porn”) are so grotesque that I am wondering if some public action is perhaps called for. Today’s violent horror films are more realistically gruesome than they were in the 1970s and 1980s.

    But you make very good points about liberty and about the role of responsible adults in society. Furthermore, given that even very grotesque films like “Human Centipede” and the “Hostel” movies are make believe and involve adult actors, I am not sure I would want to see people punished by the State’s criminal law for having such material.

    Again, I am not sure where I stand on this issue, but you make some very good points. Great post.

  2. @John
    Thank you for your comment. I have quite a lot of time for the horror genre; maybe I am morbid but I think a lot of horror films made in the 60s and 70s in America really seemed to ask Western society a lot of questions about where it was heading. I feel more positively about some horror films with a Viet Nam subtext than about the worthy antiwar films that appeared in the 80s, when it was safe to do so.

    By contrast most of these modern torture porn films seem to have absolutely no subtext (or else it is clumsily tacked on) but if someone took away their right to make these films then they could stop films being made that do ask society genuine questions.

    Of course, the thornier issue is that a lot of children will watch these films, which is something I am less comfortable about. This is mainly because their parents will have trouble saying 'no' to their kids. But I think it would be counterproductive to respond to this problem by saying 'don't worry about being responsible parents, the state will look after your children by preventing anyone from seeing it'.