Can I Get Some Horror With My Gore?

I love a good horror story. The idea of someone or something stalking people and causing a gruesome death is a guilty pleasure I have. Especially when I’m placing odds on how and who is going to end up on the slab. Our minds can take the descriptions given to us and manufacture a world in which we see the grisly events unfold. Alas we all interpret things differently and thus the great debate begins when two or more readers start comparing notes on a story. 

Enter Hollywood to save the day. Adapting a story to the screen gives everyone the chance to see one person’s vision of the story. You can argue about the casting of the hero or heroine and how they don’t match your vision. We can see the villain (or hero depending on your view) stalking our hapless victims and dispatching them. The music score adding to the suspense and atmosphere of the events. 

Perhaps I’m old school but I do find a lot of new horror movies to be very tacky. It’s not the plots or scantily clad swim suit babes romping in snow that annoys me. It’s the depiction of the kills that has me wondering wtf? I love a bit of gore but when you have gore just because you can, it looses some of the impact. I use a gore factor scale out of 10 to identify the effects. Paper cut would be a 0, exposed bones and organs get a 5 while 10 is reserved for wtf moments. 

For example in many of the Friday The 13th movies, people are being killed in gruesome ways but the cinematography doesn’t always depict that final blow. When it does show the killing moment they range from a 2 to a 6. Then there are those moments of an 8 or 9 just for the sake of gore. In The Redwood Massacre, the heroine is punched in the face several times and the amount of blood shown makes it look like she’s on extreme blood thinners. Or a classic head stomp is shown in extreme close up until the head resembles a smashed jar of strawberry jam. The logic that more gore equals good horror is misguided in my opinion.

That being said there is a place for the whole range of gore in horror movies if used correctly. Alien and Psycho implement the assumption of death with the flash of teeth or a silhouette behind a curtain. Teenage slasher films mix it up depending on the style of director, extreme injury mixed with a range of deaths and gore in just the right proportions adds to the experience. Horror/comedy like the original Evil Dead trilogy use the whole range of gore to enforce the gruesome effects of the Deadites on our heroes (the flood of blood out of the wall over Ash and then having it vanish adding to the mind games they play). Now a truely great wtf moment has got to be in the original Nightmare on Elm Street when Glen (Jonny Depp) falls asleep on his bed and Freddy pulls him into it with a fountain of blood following. 

Gore for the sake of gore doesn’t always make a movie. Like any form of cinematography it needs to be used in a way that suits the story and setting. Just like good story, the effects can either make a winner or make you wonder.

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