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The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

‘Torture porn’ portrays women as meat

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I live on a sticky sweet diet of George A. Romero and Sam Raimi horror films.

I cheered during “Dead Alive,” when Lionel wielded a lawnmower to dispatch enough zombies to fill an Olympic size pool with undead blood and guts.

And I howled with delight in “Day of the Dead,” when the evil Captain Rhodes was eviscerated by a horde of feasting zombies.

But there is nothing fun or escapist in the brutality found in a subgenre of films known as “torture porn.”

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The moniker comes from movie critic David Edelstein, who used it to describe films like “Saw,” “Hostel,” and “Captivity,” which feature sadistic, graphic scenes of torture and dismemberment.

With plots based around vivisection, one would expect such films to be rated NC-17 and play only in very limited release.

Instead, they are rated R, and are shown on thousands of screens nationwide.

Packed with blood, slime, and pus, films like “Evil Dead” and “Friday the 13th” maintain a healthy level of fantasy.

Torture porn, however, contains zero fantasy and is, in essence, high-budget snuff footage.

Most disturbing is the gleeful attention to detail with which these films depict sexualized violence toward women.

In “Hostel: Part II,” a nude woman hangs by her ankles like a side of beef, above a tile tub. She is slowly sliced open by another (nude) woman lying beneath her, who writhes and basks in the shower of blood.

Director Eli Roth once remarked at a press junket for the film, “Any time people see women in a horror film, they say, ‘Oh, these girls are just pieces of meat.’ And literally, in ‘Hostel: Part II,’ that’s exactly what they are.”

Ironically, Roth and other directors of this genre claim their films are feminist, citing how women occasionally succeed in overtaking their captors. Not, of course, before being subjected to substantial physical or sexual abuse.

For example, in “Hostel: Part II,” a female character literally castrates her rapist, but only after she turns the tables by pretending to enjoy the violation.

In her book, “The Feminist Dictionary,” author Cheris Kameral’s writes, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.”

Perhaps Mr. Roth misplaced his copy.

The good news: “torture porn” appears to be dying a fittingly slow and painful death.

The 2004 film “Saw,” which kicked off the phenomenon, grossed $102 million, and “Hostel,” which followed in 2005, made $80 million.

But “Hostel: Part II” and “Captivity” have seen significantly less success, bringing in $35 million and $9 million respectively.

While this trend is encouraging, what will Roth and other such directors do next to draw their bloodthirsty fans?

Perhaps they can find a way to film live executions.

And if women (preferably in various states of undress) flip the switch, they can call the films “feminist.”

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‘Torture porn’ portrays women as meat