Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I've been watching an awful lot of movies since Ash Wednesday, and this is one of the stupidest. This is what squares who don't watch horror movies are thinking of when the term "torture porn" is proudly bandied about. It's basically 70ish minutes of watching people get tortured until they're dead. This isn't a new concept, of course. What makes Grotesque stand out, though, is just how little else happens besides the torture. There's 10 minutes tops of character development, which is (unless the subtitles did me wrong) banal and far too ironic to be believed.

The plot? A man and woman are out on their first date when a dude jumps out of a van and bops them each on the head with a sledgehammer. They wake up in the requisite amber-colored torture chamber surrounded by nasty-looking implements and the sledgehammer guy in surgical scrubs. The sadist delivers some spiel to explain why he's going to torture and kill the couple - in this case, it's particularly dirty as he says he's looking to feel some sort of sexual spark and that if he manages to get turned on by their fight to survive then he'll let them go. Sure. This leads to the most pornographic torture scenes since the days of Ilsa or Mark of the Devil. I suppose I should be glad that I didn't find them to be much of a turn-on.

The director is totally from the What's the Worst Thing I Can Think Of school. Fingers are chainsawed off, nipples are cut off with scissors, nails are hammered into testicles, an eyeball is poked out and a penis hacked off before the psycho decides he's felt enough of a tremor in his nether regions to let the hapless couple live. They are moved into a hospital room with fresh flowers and are cared for and told that they'll be earning 700 million yen for their pain and suffering. Then they drink medicine that they're given by the psycho and - holy shit - end up back in the torture chamber to suffer more indignities until the movie ends with what is supposed to be a madcap turn of events. And then a shocking twist that sets the scene for a sequel.

Of course I winced and felt bad for the characters and was impressed at the audacity of the filmmaker. It really is the kind of movie you'd expect a 13 year old misanthrope to make. It's like a giant fart joke or a version of Great Green Gobs of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts that goes on and on to the tune of 70something minutes. Sure, it's unusually cruel. Yeah, it's rare to see a movie where the villain has gnarly B.O. to blame for turning out the way he has. Ultimately, though, who gives a shit? There aren't really any characters to care about. Even Guinea Pig 2 had some weirdo art fag rhapsodies that were more entertaining than this - not to mention that it ran a good 30 minutes shorter. A movie like this makes Hostel look like a horror classic.

Tomorrow: Jonestown: the Life and Death of Peoples Temple

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