For some people, horror movies mean lots and lots of blood. Gory films have existed for decades in a shocking tongue-in-cheek way, but it wasn't until the mid 2000s that so-called "torture porn" flicks became popular again. This style - where blood and guts are the headlining feature - certainly has its critics, but it's impossible to deny that they've had a big impact on the horror genre. If you're looking to be grossed out (with a purpose of course), here are four movies to get your feet wet. With blood.
The movie that started it all. To be honest, it's much more of a detective story than blood fest, but when horror fans latched onto the movie's few scenes of extreme gore, it got all the credit for starting torture porn. The movie stars Carey Elwes and Leigh Wannell (who also wrote the screenplay) as two men who wake up chained to the wall of an old dilapidated bathroom. A cassette tells them that they can "win this game", that they can escape using clues hidden all around them. Let the game begin. Saw also follows the evil mastermind Jigsaw and the detectives on his tail, one of which is a fantastic Danny Glover. The resulting clustercuss of a film is a beautiful example of plotting, pacing, and gritty filmmaking at its finest. With a relatively small budget of $1 million and an emphasis on "The Script Is The Star", Saw will rope you into its tangled web of razor wire and leave you wanting more. The sequels are solid, but stop after the third movie - the first three make for a pretty good trilogy. The first, however, started a new wave of American horror cinema. Trailer
Riding that wave almost immediately after Saw was Hostel by Eli Roth. He had previously made Cabin Fever, a throwback to 80s teen movies with a modern twist, so nobody could have expected what came next. Roth, with Quentin Tarantino as his producer, made a movie that is 40% porno, 60% straight-up torture porn, and 100% ridiculous social commentary. At its most basic, Hostel follows three college kids as they backpack around Europe doing exactly what you'd expect: getting wasted and having one-night stands. In a remote Slovakian village, they stay in a hostel that captures them and sells them into a brutal murder vacation ring. What makes this movie so effective, and elevates it above bad-taste schlock, are the lead characters. The leads (relative nobodies in the film industry) are the most stereotypical Americans ever. You spend the entire movie with them as you see what horrible people they are, but as the movie reaches it's absurdly disgusting climax, you'll have find yourself rooting for them in a way that shouldn't make sense, but does. Hostel walks a very fine line between bad taste and making its point. Trailer
Fun Fact: Before Peter Jackson made arguably the greatest trilogy in cinema history, he made a whole series of bloody, campy movies in the late 80s and early 90s. My favorite of these forgotten gems is called Dead Alive from 1991. Set in New Zealand (big surprise), it follows Lionel Cosgrove, who lives with his overbearing mother, Vera. She is bitten by an infected rat-monkey and turns into a zombie. Lionel spends the rest of the movie coming to terms with his mother's transformation while also dealing with his developing feelings for a local girl… but mostly fighting the zombie outbreak that overcomes the town. The cinematography is insane. Zooms, Dutch angles, unflattering close ups, and unparalleled energy make Dead Alive a visual treat from the get-go. Even if it's not the most technically perfect movie ever made, an insane amount of care was put into making sure it looks unique. What's actually on camera, however, will blow your mind. Mind-bending puppets and prosthetics. Lighting reminiscent of a shitty local haunted house. Dead Alive holds the record for most blood used during a film production, with 300 liters of fake blood in the final scene alone. There is a lawnmower involved. Best of all, all of this is done in an extremely silly way, unlike the two previously discussed films. I can't overstate enough how much fun this movie is and the bizarre emotional impact it'll have on you. It's one of my all time favorite movies. Watch it. Trailer
*Also known as Braindead in some parts of the world. You know it's good if it has multiple titles.