Archives for posts with tag: torture porn

Shallows

Blake Lively plays Nancy Adams, a medical student who, following her mother’s death from cancer, treks to the same beach in Mexico that her mother visited while pregnant with her. Hoping to enjoy a little sentimental surfing, Nancy instead finds herself the victim of a shark attack and ends up stranded off the coast on a rock as the hungry monster circles her. The Shallows is an okay survival movie and goes by pretty quickly, the dramatic limitations of its essentially one-person story notwithstanding.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Shallows is:

7. Propertarian! A would-be thief is physically removed by the natural order.

6. Pro-gun, if a flare gun counts.

5. Christ-ambivalent. Both good and bad Mexicans are shown with crucifixes.

4. Green. Sony Pictures hopes for “a greener world,” according to an end credits statement. Thinking of the environment rather than herself, starving Nancy opts to help an injured seagull rather than eat it. A hook lodged in the shark’s mouth could be interpreted as an indication that a revenge is being exacted by nature against humanity for some previous wrong.

3. Feminist. Nancy survives on her own, with little to no help from men. The film’s director, in one of the Blu-ray extras, claims that the shark is female; but the creature’s connotative presence onscreen is that of a predatory male, a giant, angry phallus pursuing a woman against her wishes. Poisonous jellyfish, with their dangling tentacles, mimic a threatening swarm of sperm cells that Nancy must avoid. End credits appear over shots of reddened surf, the menstrual coloring celebratory of the avoidance of pregnancy. Instead of raising a family, she will pursue a career as a physician. Her mother, it may be worth noting here, has been punished with cancer and death for procreation. Alternately, The Shallows can be read as a torture porn film masquerading as a women’s empowerment trip. Nancy’s tattoo and bizarre earring mark her as a typically damaged and self-mutilating young woman of her generation – and her carefree display of her body is sure to incense the girlfriendless members of the audience.

2. Anti-racist. The viewer is teased into fearing for Nancy’s safety as she rides in the company of a Mexican stranger, Charlie, on her way to the beach. So friendly is this man that he even refuses to accept money for the ride. Likewise, two young Mexican surfers are employed as red herrings of a sort. They make no attempt to molest the beautiful, solitary gringa, and her brief apprehension that the pair might steal the bag she left on the beach turns out to be unfounded. The only negative portrayal of a local in the film is a drunkard who does, in fact, intend to make away with her belongings. Recent news out of Mexico suggests that The Shallows is probably overly kind in its depiction of this Third World country’s hospitality.

1. Anti-white. The “shallows” of the title are, of course, the waters around the beach; but this word could also refer to those naïve, bumbling Americans who, like Nancy, expect there to be Uber service in rural Mexico. White is associated with death. The antagonist in the film is a “great white”, and the stinging jellyfish glow white at Nancy’s approach. An exception is the wounded seagull, whose company Nancy comes to enjoy. Weak, dysfunctional whiteness, it seems, is the only acceptable kind.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Green Inferno

Eli Roth, the sadistically grinning embodiment of the distinctly Jewish torture porn horror subgenre that flourished under George W. Bush, has never been one of this writer’s favorite moviemakers; but Rainer Chlodwig von Kook is big enough to admit when one of his cultural adversaries knocks one out of the park – one severed head, that is. Cannibalism, as practiced in remote and exotic places, naturally lends itself to action and horror cinema; and the cannibal film, which has an affinity with the “Mondo” genre, flourished especially in Italy in the seventies and eighties, producing such classics of controversy as Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and Cannibal Ferox (1981). It makes perfect sense that unredeemed gorehound Roth would eventually turn his attention to the limitless potentials of the Amazon rainforest to generate compelling and grotesque stories. The Green Inferno is Roth’s homage to Ruggero Deodato and all of the other filmmakers who stalked the forest before him.

Lorenza Izzo plays Justine, a naïve university student who finds herself drawn to a messianic community organizer named Alejandro (Ariel Levy). Wanting to feel that she can give something of value back to the world, but also hoping to spend more time with Alejandro, Justine signs on to accompany a group of volunteers to the jungle to stop a construction project from destroying the indigenous way of life. Once the rag-tag team of idealists has scored its media coup, however, the group finds itself in a world of pain when the local gut-munchers mistake them for the developers they had come to oppose. Worse, the mysterious Alejandro might not be the saintly soul they imagined when they began their journey. Drenched in jungle colors and the epic production values that can only be found in the natural world, Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno is a literally eye-gobbling experience!

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Green Inferno is:

5. Anti-gun.These are our guns,” says Alejandro as he brandishes a cell phone. The idea is that citizen journalism renders armed self-defense unnecessary. Justine has learned a lesson at the end of the film and prevents a mercenary from shooting her by convincing him that she has him on camera.

4. Politically incorrect. “Honestly, I hope they starve to death,” says frivolous college girl Kaycee (Sky Ferreira) of fellow students enduring a hunger strike out of solidarity with the school’s benefit-bereft janitors. (The Green Inferno, though not released until 2015, was finished in 2013, and there is an Occupy Wall Street feel to the film’s Ché shirt milieu.) She also taunts one of the hunger strikers with a big bagel. “Activism is so fucking gay,” Kaycee declares. Roth, in his audio commentary, indicates that Kaycee is “the voice of realism” in The Green Inferno. Her cynicism prevents her from taking any interest in the jungle expedition from which so few of her peers will return. The primitives are literally redskins who paint themselves with a bright red pigment, so that their communal practices can be read as a skewering of communism as ideological cannibalism. (See the Charlton Heston western Arrowhead for another example of redskins as subtexual commies.) “Maybe we’d have a chance [against the natives] if we hadn’t blown up the bulldozers,” one of the activists laments. Despite the story essentially being one of liberals mugged by reality and confronted with the ignoble nature of the savages they adore, Justine maintains the lie after returning to civilization. “I never felt afraid when I was with them,” she says. Justine even claims the natives saved her. Lefties, the movie suggests, will stoop to feeding false information to the public so as to perpetuate the myth of turd world people’s saintliness.

3. Pro-drug. A bag of powerful weed comes in handy once the activists are prisoners. They stuff it down the throat of one of their dead comrades, so that, when the natives inevitably cook her, they all get high and mellow, allowing for an escape attempt. Unfortunately, the natives also get a giggly case of the cannibal munchies.

2. Cynical and conspiracist. Alejandro, a representative SJW, is revealed to be an unfeeling cad and unconcerned with the safety of his fellows. Confronted with one of The Green Inferno’s worst atrocities, he proceeds to masturbate in order to ensure that he can “think clearly”. The whole expedition on which he has led the group turns out to be a ruse. Instead of being motivated by the dignity of the rainforest or the rights of its indigenous peoples, Alejandro is actually in the employ of a rival developer looking to frustrate a competitor’s project. “Everything’s connected,” Alejandro explains. “The good guys and the bad guys. You think the U.S. government didn’t allow 9/11 to happen? You think the war on drugs is something real?” Understandably, given Roth’s racial background, he situates 9/11 in LIHOP Land and has nothing to say about Larry Silverstein, Dov Zakheim, Odigo, or the celebrants spotted at the Doric Apartments in Union City, New Jersey, on the morning of September 11, 2001. Oil, it is suggested elsewhere in the film, is what motivates U.S. foreign policy.

1. Judeo-obscurantist. “The only things those posers care about is looking like they care,” fumes Kaycee. “It’s just some weird demonstration to appease that fucking white stupid suburban Jewish guilt. Hi, I’m Jewish,” she quickly explains, displaying her Star of David pendant to a passerby. “I’m allowed to say that.” Roth would have viewers believe that Jews are “white” and that their “social justice” agitation is motivated by “Jewish guilt” rather than hatred of Europeans and conscious promotion of social chaos.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY TWENTY-SEVEN

Eaters

Five friends taking a road trip through New Mexico find themselves reduced to four after taking a bathroom break at a desert rest stop. Assuming a gang of bikers to have been responsible for the abduction, the friends go in pursuit of the hellraisers in the desperate hope of locating the missing woman. What awaits them when they arrive at a literal tourist trap, however, is much more frightening than a bunch of drug-dealing motorcycle enthusiasts in denim jackets. Eaters is, as its title hints, essentially a rip-off of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre; but as rehashed Texas Chain Saw Massacre coattail-riders go, Eaters is passable fare, if not particularly meaty.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Eaters is:

3. Liberal, reinforcing the notion that the cities are the refuge of psychological health, while what lies out in the country is creepy, criminal, patriarchal, and pathologically white.

2. Anti-war. One of the friends (Robert Dean) is a Vietnam veteran (the story is set in the seventies) and recalls his loss of a friend in the war. He later draws a comparison between the inhuman brutality he observed in combat and the titular antagonists’ mean cuisine.

1. Anti-Christian. A discordant music box rendition of “Amazing Grace” plays in the redneck cannibals’ home, the insinuation being that they are some sort of religious nuts. Their clothing also vaguely suggests the Amish.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Scarehouse_poster

Sorority sisters, haunted houses, and nights of revenge are all typical slasher movie elements; but Killer Party this is decidedly not. A Canadian blast of cold gore porn, The Scarehouse is a story of two competing horrors: the tortures inflicted by its vindictive protagonists, on the one hand, and the vapid “21st century party monster” mentality of their bevy of victims on the other. As to which is more appalling, that is for each viewer to decide. Co-ed sadists Corey (Sarah Booth) and Elaina (Kimberly-Sue Murray) are out of prison and out for vengeance after taking the rap for a sorority prank that resulted in an involuntary manslaughter. Determined to torment their fellow sisters, the pair has designed a haunted house attraction to mask the actual torture laboratory within.

The lighting and atmosphere of the film should satisfy devotees of the genre, and genuinely homicidal psychos should also be entertained. The lead performances, particularly Booth’s, are strong; but The Scarehouse, like other torture-oriented horrors, suffers from lack of likable characters. The backstory explaining the night’s motivation is never sufficient emotional justification for the shocking degree of onscreen brutality, and serves only to ensure that even the screaming victims of the atrocities garner little audience sympathy. Occasionally humorous, The Scarehouse is more often disturbing, and this reviewer would much prefer to have seen a movie about these two characters not killing people.

2.5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Scarehouse is:

4. Homosexuality-ambivalent. From the perspective that there is no such thing as bad publicity, The Scarehouse is pro-gay for featuring homoerotic flirtation between young women; but the portrayal of the lesbian lead as a psychopath is hardly flattering.

3. Anti-Christian. Jesus freak Jaqueline (Katherine Barrell) stands for the film’s contempt for “fire and brimstone shit”. Other irreverence takes the form of the sadists’ appropriation of crucifixion symbolism: Corey has a cross tattoo on her back, while Elaina at the end can be seen wearing a crucifix.

2. Anti-drug. “You might want to stick to water.” Drinking, along with a rufie, results in the accidental death that sets the plot in motion, and drunks are also more susceptible to the torture porn treatment. One of the songs on the soundtrack also refers to alcohol poisoning.

1. Anti-feminist. Whatever The Scarehouse’s intentions, it shows something of a divided mind with regard to its array of targets. Elaina and Corey advertise no overt ideological motivation for their murder spree, but do demonstrate a distaste for traditionalism as it takes on grotesque, hypocritical forms. Jaqueline’s Christian good girl moral code is a lie, so she must be punished. Similarly, Katrina (Emily Alatalo), for “Frankensteining” herself in an exaggerated devotion to a male chauvinist’s hourglass figure ideal, must answer for her betrayal of her sorority oath to embrace woman’s “inner beauty”.

Corey and Elaina, if they are supposed to be radical feminist progressives, discredit their cause with their violent antics. The moon phases pictured on Corey’s tank top may mark her as merely a walking, talking, rampaging case of PMS. “Why does everyone think I’m a lesbian?” she wonders aloud, to which Elaina replies that “there is some truth in it”, the implication perhaps being that the political agenda of Corey and her type is motivated more by sexual frustrations than by reason or fairness. Elaina blunders through the sorts of clueless academic abstractions that cause social experimenters’ projects to fail. “You know I only have textbook theory,” she frets. “I built this place on a lot of theory, and this is a test run, so give me a frickin’ break on a few minor flaws.”

The fact that horny, drunken fraternity men appear as the gullible victims and not the perpetrators of murder and sex crimes undercuts the popular misandrist myth of an ubiquitous “rape culture” on college campuses. Women’s degradation and endangerment appears as their own doing in The Scarehouse. The sisters only degrade themselves by calling each other “cunt” and “bitch”. As women’s femininity has been eroded, their pedestal toppled by political empowerment, they no longer enjoy their previous freedom from violence and sexual mutilation at the movies. (“I am going to punch her in the box,” Corey threatens.) Just as a man can be kicked in the crotch with the utmost casualness, as has been the case for decades, “liberated” (i.e., dehumanized) women are now more apt to see their breasts removed or their eyelids ripped off on the big screen. A satirical indication of the degeneration wrought by the sexual revolution comes when the sight of the bloody and ravaged Katrina makes one character wonder if this is a “sex party”.

Infinite Santa 8000

Raise a generation on energy drinks, video games, Tarantino, torture porn, and perpetual war for perpetual peace, and what do you get? Crap like Infinite Santa 8000 – or, as it shall alternately be dubbed for the purposes of this review, Infinite Running Time 8 Hours. The cinematic equivalent of a twelve-year-old boy doodling weed-smoking skulls in the margin of a worksheet, Infinite Running Time 8 Hours is a crudely computer-animated post-apocalyptic adventure with cyborg Santa Claus battling robots and monsters for control of a futuristic wasteland. “You’re sick. All these things do is kill,” Santa at one point accuses his android-manufacturing arch-enemy Dr. Shackleton. He might just as well be speaking to Infinite Santa creators Michael Neel and Greg Ansin, both of whom this reviewer is led to suspect still gobble their boogers between bouts of World of Warcraft.

Set to a soundtrack of grinding, monotonous heavy metal music and ceaseless grunts, groans, gunfire, and obligatory jolly chuckling, Infinite Running Time 8 Hours is so dull and depressing it makes the experience of listening to Throbbing Gristle’s Second Annual Report feel like a life-affirming epiphany. A one-joke concept stretched to feature length, the story consists of little more than scenes of dismemberment, torture, holocaust, and other carnage as Santa whimpers and says things like, “I’ll get you, you scumbag turd!” and “Unwrap this, you bastards!” Worst, though, is that nothing of value is ever at stake in the story. In a world of nothing but robots and mutants – a world in which Santa Claus himself is ultraviolent, foulmouthed, and full of soulless wiring and circuitry – does it really matter if evil wins or if mad scientist Dr. Shackleton conquers what remains of the planet?

One star. Positively the worst movie this writer has had the poor judgment to pick for review since beginning his blog. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Infinite Running Time 8 Hours is:

3. Pro-gun. Survivalist Santa keeps an impressive stock of firepower for dispatching Dr. Shackleton’s minions.

2. Ostensibly antiwar in its depiction of a conflict-ravaged, post-apocalyptic Earth, Infinite Running Time 8 Hours nevertheless revels in the insipid spectacle of wide-scale annihilation for nihilistic giggles.

1. Anti-Christian. “Merry fucking Christmas!”

gut poster

Gut is a study of two friends, nondescript Tom (Jason Vail) and nerdy Dan (Nicholas Wilder), who have known each other from adolescence and now work together in stultifying office jobs.  Tom has graduated to conventional domesticity, with an attractive wife (Sarah Schoofs) and child, while Dan appears to be charmingly stuck in goofy immaturity, more interested in consuming horror movies and junk food than in making anything identifiably adult out of his life.  When Tom develops an enigmatic case of ennui that threatens to drive a further wedge between the two men, who have clearly lost a previous closeness, Dan makes the seemingly harmless but actually momentous suggestion that Tom should visit his home to watch an unusual DVD he has received in the mail.

Is the content of the disc, with what appears to be footage of an actual murder, real or merely a simulated snuff film?  Whatever its source, the (disturbingly graphic) imagery haunts and fascinates Tom, who has nightmares and is uncomfortable with what he and Dan have discovered, both on the internet and in themselves as more films arrive in the mail.  The stakes and danger, furthermore, are more than simply psychological when it becomes apparent that the party responsible for the snuff DVDs is active where they live.  Gut is not torture porn itself, but ponders the genre’s sources and ramifications; squeamish viewers are, however, advised to approach Gut with extreme caution.

Gut demonstrates an intimate knowledge of cubicle-bound despair and succeeds in giving the horror genre its Office Space, with perhaps a bitter tincture of In the Company of Men.  As is true of the music for the latter, Chvad SB’s minimalist score for Gut, which builds from subtle, bare, and repetitive to unnervingly abrasive as the film progresses, forms a compelling and integral component of Gut‘s personality and is indispensible to its storytelling.  The story told, tastefully if tenebrously lensed, is not an uplifting one, and if Gut can be called a horror film, it is, like last year’s Sinister, something of an odd, self-loathing example, with horror and porn the gateway drugs that lead to other, darker preoccupations and initiations.

Gut earns 4.5 stars and is highly recommended, with Nicholas Wilder one of the year’s most interesting faces and “Elias” a definite directorial talent to watch.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that this film is:

3. Un-p.c./state-skeptical.  Dan claims his regular mail carrier has been replaced by a mentally retarded man – affirmative action gone postal and run utterly amuck!

2. Family/marriage-ambivalent.  With emotional and genetic investment in humanity comes not just affection, but responsibility, insecurity, boredom, and, for men, diminished home entertainment sovereignty.

1. Effectively anti-feminist.  Tom and especially Dan are representative of the catastrophe wrought in American society by women’s liberation.  Dan personifies the national epidemic of unmanned men more interested in pop culture distraction, nostalgia, and mischievous male camaraderie than in honest work or mature relationships with women.  He finds, therefore, a less grim sociological cousin in Ed, Nick Frost’s character in Shaun of the Dead.

Dan dwells on the drawbacks of Tom’s family life and calls him a “pussy-whipped motherfucker”.  Lending potential credence to this assessment and to his characterization of Tom’s balls as AWOL is a scene of an inwardly smoldering Tom doing the woman’s work of washing dishes.  Tom approvingly describes his wife as “old-fashioned”; but later, when he becomes rough with her, she straddles and slaps him until he relents and apologizes to her, indicating that their relationship is not as “old-fashioned” as he has perhaps convinced himself.  Earlier, he is irritated when his wife takes the sexual initiative.  “So, what, I’m supposed to flip whenever you want me to?” he objects.  Television, as in Poltergeist, serves as an occasional babysitter.

Torture porn appears to be Dan’s principal sexual outlet.  The snuff films that captivate him are meaningfully misogynistic, with women’s bellies – the center of traditional womanhood in its reproductive capacity – targeted for mutilation and vivisection.  Motherhood is incompatible with women’s chosen roles as professionals and/or shamelessly pierced and tattooed fornicators.  Although a friendly waitress, Sally (Angie Bullaro), obviously likes him, a brief exchange with a chilly coworker suggests how women are probably more likely to respond to Dan.  The typical unavailability of the women he desires has fostered in him a deep resentment that sublimates as horror fandom but finds a more direct expression in his enjoyment of torture porn and snuff films.

Eli Roth, in his influential 2005 horror downer Hostel, made what appears to have been a bid for consideration as a serious artist by inserting one or two references to Franz Kafka.  Twenty-five references to Kafka would not, however, have changed the fact that Hostel was simply torture porn – a film trading not in suspense but rather in fetishistic sadism and fascination with the meat potential of human bodies.  Now comes first-time director Taylor Sheridan’s Vile, 897th bastard son of Hostel, which, like its pappy, has a pun for a title and, again like its pappy, makes reference to a serious thinker by featuring a Gandhi quotation as an epigraph: “The root of violence is science without humanity.”  A better motto for Vile would be, “The root of tedium is filmmaking without humanity”, as that, ultimately, is why Vile is so irritating and so disposable.

After a group of dirty, unsavory twenty-or-thirtysomethings is fumigated and kidnapped by an Avon lady in a gas mask, they awaken to find themselves sealed into a house with strangers.  An ugly woman on a monitor (who identifies the house as hers) informs them that they will be unable to leave until the tubes connected to their brains have been filled with chemicals that can be made into drugs.  These chemicals, unfortunately, are produced only under extreme duress.  “Pain will be your only way out of this house,” she says.  It is then up to the group to decide how they will go about dividing the torture amongst themselves before their time has run out.  What follows is more than an hour of people arguing, moaning, screaming, beating, and mutilating each other as shaky cameras record it all in gruesome and uninteresting detail.  Dimly lit and painted with a sickly, bilious palette, Vile is a difficult film to watch and an impossible one to enjoy for anyone not a certifiable sadist.

1.5 of 5 possible stars.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Vile is:

10. Anti-redneck.  From the moment the group stops at a rural gas station with an out-of-order pump and country music playing, the viewer is aware that the protagonists  have left the comforts of civilization behind and have taken the Highway to the Danger Zone.  A banjo is heard later in the film, having apparently been deemed the appropriate musical accompaniment to the subject matter.

9. Feminist/anti-family.  The setting is an apparently ordinary house, with the appurtenances of conventional domesticity – an iron, a fork, a grater, and a pot of boiling water – becoming in this context the instruments of torture.

8. Egalitarian.  Suffering is to be shared equally.  The man who says, “I am not splitting shit with any of you” is the first to die.

7. Anti-business/anti-capitalist.  Vile‘s representative entrepreneurs are drug dealers willing to maim and murder to manufacture their product.  Promotion of products  with free samples, as of perfume, is a ruse to lure people to certain doom.

6. Un-p.c./diversity-skeptical.  The group seems eager to attack the black guy before anyone else.  Asian bitch Kelly (Stefanie Barboza) is dubbed “Pineapple”.  “Shouldn’t you men take a little extra responsibility?” one woman asks.  The black guy, Greg (Rob Kirkland) objects to such “feminist crap.”  Salt conspicuously labeled “kosher” is rubbed into an open wound during the opening credits.

5. Pro-slut/pro-miscegenation.  Vile opens with a group of tattooed, sloppy, probably Obama-backing Occupy-type wastrels filthily lounging in grass like a pack of smelly dogs.  Pregnant bimbo Tayler (April Matson) says, “I’m gonna get tatted up all over.  It’s gonna be sexy.”

4. Multiculturalist.  Tayler wants a tattoo of Japanese waves.  Sam (Greg Cipes) has a tattoo in Hindi.

3. Anti-democratic.  The democratic process takes the form of incessant arguing with accompanying emergence of interest groups.  The character who suggests that the group’s strategy should be determined by equal votes is, as it turns out, a psychopath and in league with the drug farmers.

2. Anti-drug.  Users and dealers in drugs (and other products, presumably) are often unaware of the human suffering resulting from the satisfaction of their demand.  “People will pay anything.  They don’t care where it comes from.”  “I just sold the stuff,” says Greg, who claims not to have known how the drugs were made.  Whites thus turn blacks into criminals and unwitting murderers through the drug trade.  Greg also takes painkillers after his torture, indicating that blacks turn to narcotics only to relieve the distress and abuse they receive at the hands of oppressive whites.  Pills, however, only lengthen the ordeal of one of the victims in the film.

1. Nihilist/anti-human.  Sadism = survival.

django-unchained

Quentin Tarantino is a man with perhaps one great film to his name and who has managed to coast on the strength of that beloved opus for the better part of two decades; he does, however, have more than one very good film to his credit, and the gorgeously realized Django Unchained can, happily, be added to that list.  His love letter to the spaghetti western and blaxploitation genres, it is also his rabble-rousing death threat to civilization and as such is something of a triumph of self-loathing.

Jamie Foxx is affectingly earnest in his portrayal of Django, Rousseau’s chained man, suddenly presented with the opportunity of achieving his liberty and reuniting with his enslaved wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington).  Christoph Waltz is no less charming as the German dentist (who, in a gratuitous irony, has been named Dr. King Schultz) who offers Django his freedom in exchange for a profitable partnership in tracking bounties.  Leonardo DiCaprio, who shines most brightly as a villain, plays Calvin Candie, the handsome, debonair slavemaster in possession of Django’s woman.

The fabulous cast is, typically for Tarantino, filled to the brim with familiar character actors and pop culture favorites of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, with Michael Parks, Russ Tamblyn, Bruce Dern, Don Johnson, James Remar, and Franco Nero, star of the original Django, all putting in appearances.  Samuel L. Jackson, meanwhile, has probably the funniest role of his career in Stephen, Candie’s loyal but sassy domestic slave – the representative Uncle Tom, in other words – who resents freeman Django at first sight and who, in the race-baiting theology of Django Unchained, embodies what may be the worst of evils: the complaisant betrayal of his own long-suffering people.

That Django Unchained is so successful and involving is proof of writer-director Tarantino’s dangerousness as a filmmaker.  Tarantino, who bears major responsibility for foisting the torture porn genre on humanity through his endorsement (“Quentin Tarantino presents . . .”) of Eli Roth’s execrable anti-human hit Hostel, continues his desensitization of the American public with his obsessive fetishization of the splattered blood and played-for-laughs agony of bullet-riddled unprogressive white men.

With humor but also an unintentional irony, Tarantino has cast himself in a cameo as one of the slavers revolutionarily liquidated by Django.  It is ironic because what what the man is peddling is in effect hatred of himself – of successful whites and of the rich – as an unwitting accomplice in what Yuri Bezmenov describes as the systematic demoralization of Americans by useful idiots through cultural Marxist contamination.  Exhibit A: the critically heralded oeuvre of Quentin Tarantino.

This reviewer can sympathize with Django’s violent impulse to liberation and even the pleasure he takes in killing the men who obstruct his enjoyment of natural rights.  Where the film flies off the ethical rails is in celebrating the shooting not only of those directly imperiling Django’s liberty, but all of their associates, including Candie’s unarmed and mild-mannered sister.  Her crime is one of complacency and, one suspects, of blood relation to the oppressor – of having inherited slavers’ genes.

This is particularly reckless in a film that makes a point of alluding constantly to the contemporary – with hip-hop music, “fuck”-sprinkled dialogue, joking reference to the Holocaust, characters named after Martin Luther King and an Italian western hero, and Tarantino’s endless self-referential postmodern hipsterism – and through these conscious anachronisms advertises some imagined relevance to the race relations of today.  Designed with the express purpose of ripping open and poking the synthetic psychological wounds of crimes not experienced by anyone alive in America today, Django Unchained is nothing if not a wholly superfluous incitation to racial hatred, genocide, and redistribution of wealth.  It is all the more egregious for being so good.

4.5 stars with accompanying whip-scarred stripes.  Goodbye Uncle Tom remains the most incendiary and entertaining treatment of slavery on film, but Tarantino’s new contribution is certainly no slouch.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Django Unchained is ominous in its flippancy and:

9. Anti-Christian.  White slavemasters return from a funeral singing a hymn.  Religion that allows for such injustice is a fraud.

8. Anti-tobacco.  Monsieur Candie smokes from a cigarette holder like the bourgeois swine he is.  Rank-and-file southern hick psychos chew and spit.

7. Anti-police.  A racist sheriff turns out to be a wanted criminal.

6. Anti-science.  Study of human biodiversity is represented by pseudoscientific phrenology.  Science = racism.

5. Pro-miscegenation.  A Texas woman eyes Django with interest from her window as he rides through her town.  Black love is described as a tar pool that refuses to let go its hold on the fancy of those who enter (i.e., once you go black, you never go back).  The camera seems to want to lick Foxx’s nude physique.

4. Anti-business.  Thoroughly hostile to private property, the film’s representative forms of commerce are vengeful bounty hunting, the slave trade, and mining – the latter utilizing slave labor, naturally.  Wealth is accumulated through cruelty and murder.  A saloon keeper who objects to Django’s presence is chased out of his own establishment.  Private property = slavery.  “I’m runnin’ a business here,” Candie says during one of the most savage scenes of meanness.

3. Anti-South/anti-white male.  While critics will complain of what was previously the “whitewashing” of American history in films, Django Unchained demonstrates that, if anything, brownwashing and brainwashing are at present the order of the day.  Southerners are without exception vile sadists with bad teeth who live to beat, whip, humiliate, muzzle, brand, and castrate blacks.  The effeminate swagger of Billy Crash (Walton Goggins), the most vicious of Candie’s toadies, suggests that white loathing of and desire to neuter blacks is a function of white sexual inadequacy and salivating, latently homosexual penis envy.  Those not participating directly in these activities remain equally guilty for tolerating the status quo and therefore must receive equal punishment.  The conventional incestuous southerner smear receives a nod with what may be hints of Candie’s overly enthusiastic affection for his sister.  Black-on-black violence results from white manipulation.

2. Anti-slavery/anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn on both counts).  Django Unchained perpetuates the myth that slavery existed not as an economic expediency, but principally as the plaything of whites’ sadism.  Where anti-racist films have previously presented viewers with the “sacrificial Negro” archetype, Django Unchained breaks new ground by inventing the sacrificial honky, the man who absolves the sins of his racial inheritance by dying to liberate blacks.

1. Black supremacist/genocidal.  They mo betta.

Flippantly violent after the Tarantinoid tradition and frenetically ADHD-afflicted and visually gimmicky in the Guy Ritchie mold – with whooshing split screens, speed-up/slow-down action, and more than one trip to the old follow-the-bullet-in-slow-motion trough – Cat Run is a high-energy Euro-flavored action comedy graced with fine performances and a few good laughs but ultimately let down by its director, John Stockwell (Top Gun‘s Cougar, not the CIA whistleblower), its beat machine editing, and its pervading air of triviality and gratuitous vulgarity.

When upscale prostitute Cat (Paz Vega) witnesses U.S. Senator Bill Krebb (Christopher McDonald, whose face has always connoted an intelligent sleaze) murdering one of her coworkers at a decadent party thrown by arms dealer Branko Jakovic (Branko Djuric), she flees with the security footage and soon has corrupt police and ex-MI6 assassin Helen Bingham (Janet McTeer) on her trail.  Meanwhile, two dweeby American expatriates, wiz kid and bad cook Anthony (Scott Mechlowicz) and sex-obsessed Julian (Alphonso McAuley) have opened an amateur detective agency and hope to establish their credibility by locating Cat before anyone else can beat them to her.

Janet McTeer, whose Helen is a darker version of Helen Mirren’s character in Red, is, along with lovable comedic talent McAuley, one of the two biggest incentives to watch Cat Run.  Every laugh in the film belongs to McAuley, who has something of the energy of a young Michael Winslow or Richard Pryor; and McTeer is charming whenever the gruesome script and costuming allow it (with her cleavage utilized to commendable effect in the film’s climactic action sequence).  Another noteworthy component of the cast is Europe itself, with several beautiful locations lending the story a touch of class.

Ultimately neither horrible nor noteworthily good, the film earns itself a modest 3 out of 5 possible stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Cat Run is deeply conflicted and:

12. Egalitarian.  Bleeding-hearted Anthony sympathizes when Cat steals his car, saying in earnest, “She must really need it.”

11. Anti-drug.  Amputee secretary Dexter lost his first arm after using a dirty needle.

10. Racist!  Enter into evidence the segue from Julian to a chimpanzee.

9. Anti-Christian.  “I thank God every day for what happened,” Dexter says after explaining his disabilities and recounting how his wife was eaten by a shark.  His faith fails to save him, however, when Helen lops off the arm with which he brandishes his Bible.  Schubert’s “Ave Maria” grotesquely accompanies this scene.

8. Antiwar.  Neoconservative fearmongering with respect to Iran is a scam driven by defense contractors and greedy politicians.

7. Selectively xenophobic, with Slavs depicted as seedy and untrustworthy.

6. Multiculturalist/pro-miscegenation.  White Anthony and black Julian are best friends, and Julian has “saved him from many brutal beatdowns.”  Julian charms European women and at one point lifts his kilt to reveal his cartoonishly gigantic penis.  All of his ex-girlfriends appear to be white.  Polyglot black amputee and communications specialist Dexter has a Purple Heart and valuable services to offer despite his disability.

5. Anti-police.  The Montenegran police are all in the employ of Branko Jakovic.  One policeman fails to report an abandoned car, hoping he can sell it instead.

4. Anti-family/anti-marriage.  Anthony has moved to Europe to avoid his meddlesome family.  “My father used to beat me with a belt and make me sleep in the barn with pigs,” Cat recalls.  Evil arms dealer Jakovic is married with children.  Julian recalls a college dean whose wife shot him in the face.

3. Feminist/pro-castration.  Cat Run appears to fancy itself highly original in repeatedly depicting a woman getting the best of the various men who confront her: kicking their testicles, shooting them, punching them, stabbing them, blowing them up, making snooty quips at their expense, amputating limbs, and even removing a penis with a cigar cutter.  Helen also effortlessly relieves an overburdened porter of one of the suitcases he is able to carry only with difficulty.  Wimpy heroes Anthony and Julian are favored over macho men, who meet with bloody and painful demise.  A pornographer is an “exploiter” of women and dies the most horrible death.

2. Pro-slut/pro-bastard.  Cat Run presents a sympathetic portrayal of whore and single mother Catalina.  “A blowjob provider?  That would be like calling Caravaggio a housepainter.”

1. State-ambivalent.  Senator Krebb is a murderous lecher, alcoholic, and warmonger.  Intelligence agents delight in torture and mayhem (“We’ll always have Angola”) – which, however, seems to be intended as entertaining, giving rise to an ambiguity in the film’s attitude toward state crimes against humanity.  Cat Run is bizarrely indulgent toward ex-MI6 psycho Helen, who wears a ghoulish pendant made from the teeth of an Arab she interrogated, but is celebrated as a sexy and empowered heroine whose sadistic mutilation and killing of innocents (and implied willingness to murder even babies) are apparently forgivable and negligible in the grand scheme of things because she is “killer cool”.

If The Collection is indicative of the progress made by torture porn in its several years’ existence as a popular horror genre, the evidence suggests that very little has changed, except that the films are now apparently wearing their neurotic religious convictions on their sleeve.

Natalie Portman lookalike Emma Fitzpatrick stars as Elena, a rich, nondescript teen or twentysomething who, along with a couple of other nondescript teens or twentysomethings, decides to go to a “party” at a mysteriously hidden dance club tucked away in a seedy slum that even “rats won’t shit on.”  Unfortunately, after a little carefree techno booty-shaking, Elena sees her boyfriend with another woman and punches him – and then, alas, more unfortunate still, her friends and most of the other sluts are cut down on the dancefloor by a lowering matrix of blades that mows them into splattering mincemeat.  Elena evades this fate, but after releasing a captive thief (Josh Stewart) from a trunk, is herself captured by the leather S&M-masked man who runs the show.

Who is this man?  The Collector – first glimpsed during the opening credits, watching atrociously pixelated news broadcasts about himself that seem to suggest the trivializing dehumanization of mass media unreality – is a living illustration of Voltaire’s observation, “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”  Finding himself alone in a godless, loveless, chaotic, and poorly behaved world, the Collector, a genius inventor of Rube Goldberg mechanisms and a moralist of unstinting conviction, has set up shop in an abandoned hotel with a boobytrapped slut roach motel of sorts.  Here he plays both God and Devil (if such a distinction can actually exist), presiding over a labyrinthine, grimy, custom-built Hell and dealing death and cleverly contrived torments to anyone dumb enough to accept an invitation.

Fortunately for Elena, her father (Playroom‘s Christopher McDonald, wasted in a throwaway part) hires a group of mercenaries to go in and retrieve her with the help of Arkin, the thief she saved earlier in the film and whose occupation evokes the crucifixion of Christ.  Arkin, who agrees to help only reluctantly, proceeds to redeem himself over the course of the film; and one suspects that Josh Stewart may have been cast in the important role of Arkin not only because of the quiet, Christlike suffering conveyed in his face, but with a view to appropriating the actor’s real tattoos – a crucifix on one of his biceps and the Stewart clan’s Latin motto, “Virescit vulnere virtus” (“Courage strengthens at a wound”), on the other – as an integral component of the prevalent motif of Christian symbols utilized throughout The Collection.  Hellfire, purifying water and blood, temptation, betrayal, self-immolation, and limbs agonizingly transfixed by spikes and nails appear in profusion.

Unpleasant as all of this theological butcher shop imagery is, however, what ultimately prevents The Collection from being a good horror film is its mirthlessness, dearth of engaging characters, and emotionally sterile celebration of gross sadism in its depiction of the punishments meted out to the various sinners.  Few Christian films – and The Collection, make no mistake, is, even more than The Human Centipede, an unabashedly (albeit eccentric) WWJD t-shirt-wearing movie – have dared to present so bleakly psychotic a vision of God and Creation as the Collector presents to His audience.

Redemption from death is still possible through Christ (i.e., Arkin), but suffering is for everyone.  Obedience to the Collector’s whims earns misery for his slavish victims, but disobedience or failure earns misery and death.  One pretty young devotee of the Collector positively ejaculates her blood in an almost explicitly erotic epiphany when she stumbles into an iron maiden style contraption.  In one of the film’s few rewarding moments, Arkin, trapped in a cage again, appears to channel an oddly modern and vengeful Christ as he taunts His Father for cruelly forsaking Him, denouncing the Collector for being a “pussy”.  The Collector, of course, is eventually vanquished; but can one believe that His work is ever really done and that another will not emerge to take up His mantle, i.e., His S&M suit?

This is torture porn’s idea of religion: tattooed, vulgar, cold, sadistic, armed for twenty-first century spiritual warfare, and abandoning Sunday School in favor of educational evisceration.  Unfortunately, as a film, The Collection is, as its psychopathology might suggest, about as entertaining as some frowning sermon; effective ammunition for anarchist Mikhail Bakunin’s return of fire: “If God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish him.”

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Collection is:

5. Anti-drug.  The Collector, like all effective religionists, dopes his victims so he can operate on them.

4. Pro-gun.  Guns do the Lord’s work of obliterating sinners.  Also, Arkin strategically fires a gun to attract the authorities to their location.

3. Feminist, but within bounds.  Elena, who sports a mannish haircut, acquits herself well throughout her ordeal and seizes a phallic implement at the climax to bash some of the Collector’s sculptural handiwork.  Sluts, however, have to go.

2. Anti-slut.  See Romans 6:23.

1. Christian, sort of.

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