Tag Archives: The Walking Dead

Gore as an Emotional Device

This is going to be FILLED with spoilers.

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The late Oberyn Martell represented righteous anger, rebellion and justice in a story marked by oppression and fear.

Although I consider myself a big fan of horror movies, I can’t stomach the senseless use of gory images. I don’t find blood-spattering funny, and I don’t enjoy watching death scenes that are meant to feel vindictive or cathartic. In filmmaking, using gore as a narrative device is a dangerous choice. Depending on the context, a gory scene (especially a death scene) can appeal to either the best or the worst nature in an audience. When it fails, a movie can end up in anonymous oblivion, joining the ranks of forgettable gore-porn and torture-porn films. When it succeeds, though…those are the scenes that stay with you. I’m always impressed with (and harrowed by) the choice to not only kill off a like-able character, but to absolutely mangle them in their last moments. What motivates scenes like this?

Let’s start with Oberyn Martell.

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I watched this episode with my roommates, and we all reacted EXACTLY the way Oberyn’s wife (lover?) did.

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Don’t Call it a Comeback: The Resilience of Women in Horror

This post makes double sense, because I’m returning to my monster blog after a long hiatus!09-unbreakable-kimmy-schmidt-cult-bunker.w1440.h957.2x The Netflix original series “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” premiered this week. I haven’t given it a try yet, because the trailer felt pretty manic to me, but the plot is intriguing. Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper, of The Office and Blowjob Girl fame) plays a young woman who was kidnapped by cult members and held in a bunker for fifteen years. Although it’s obviously not a horror comedy, I really wish that it was.

Here’s the thing about damsels in distress: A study led by the Center for Surgical Trials and Outcomes Research at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that women who had suffered traumatic injuries were 14% less likely to die post-surgery than men with equivalent wounds. These women also experienced fewer complications after their operations.

A protagonist’s ability to absorb stimuli and respond in an interesting way is tantamount to any story, so it’s confusing that so many horror films star female characters who aren’t capable of doing much. I’ll venture to say that male audiences became accustomed to watching the female form in duress throughout the development of horror. Contemporary projects have allowed us to pile on the gore, spraying the blood of innocents all over female protagonists while giving them something interesting to do in response. To me, there’s nothing more interesting and iconic than the determined face of a woman who’s been driven to the brink, whether by monsters or a slasher-murderer or some kind of ghost or demon, her eyes still steely with rage. Let’s see some examples!

youre-next-sharni-vinson-2Thank you, universe, for giving us 2011’s You’re Next, a horror movie that succeeds mainly because the writers tweak a single element in the story: the central character, Erin, is a sweet, unassuming, polite and loving girlfriend dating a guy who is clearly a loser with self esteem issues, but she’s also the only character who leaps into action when the house she’s staying in is attacked by masked murderers. There is a reason for her brutality, which is afforded to us in the second half of the movie, and the explanation is acceptable, although I would have preferred a character who just rocks at killing her way out of a dangerous situation.

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