Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Red and the White: Hardcore Horror

I know it’s late, but for Halloween I painstakingly put together my Top 5 XXX horror flicks, and here they are. Horror and porn often find themselves in bed together; their fans, films, and theorists frequently overlapping and intersecting, while the films themselves destabilize gender, call sexual identity into question, and unsettle the status quo, if only temporarily. Feminist texts on horror, not to mention mainstream media and idle prattle on the topic, at some point invoke pornography as a genre that horror seems to brush up against. Horror theorist Isabel Pinedo puts it bluntly when she asserts that horror trades in the “wet death” while pornography trades in the “wet dream” and goes on to characterize both types of film as genres that “dare[] not only to violate taboos but to expose the secrets of the flesh, to spill the contents of the body”; genres that “are obsessed with the transgression of bodily boundaries.” Linda Williams also makes such connections in her influential 1991 essay, “Film Bodies,” in which she collectively refers to horror, pornography, and melodrama as “body genres,” looked down on as “low” due to “the perception that the body of the spectator is caught up in an almost involuntary mimicry of the emotion or sensation of the body on screen along with the fact that the body displayed is female.” The extent to which the genre is considered trash tends to correspond to the level of physical effect on the spectator – what Williams calls the “jerk.” Horror makes you cringe, jump, scream, or cower, while pornography provides the most visceral, messy, and blatantly sexual “jerk” of all. In other words, one genre appears to be about violence and one about sex, but in reality these lines of distinction are never so clear cut.

Yet in spite of such generic cross-pollination, or perhaps because of it, there aren’t as many horror-porn flicks as you might expect; certainly not in the latter part of the 20th century to the present. My suspicion is that an increasingly politically aware society simply isn’t that comfortable with unconscious fears and desires, capably displaced and suppressed in each respective genre, being exposed for all to see. Yet, for me, this nightmarish exposure of the more troubling contents of our collective unconscious is the exact reason why these particular hybrids are so compelling.



5. Hardgore aka. Horror Whore (Michael Hugo, 1974)

A young woman is sent to a sanatorium to cure her nymphomania, only to discover (by way of scalding vibrator-death, walls of blood, and levitating ejaculating rocket penises) that it’s a front for a Satanic cult. This is by no means a great film by traditional standards, but it’s a must-see for so many reasons, not the least of which is the blood-and-feathered massacre finale.











4. Waterpower (Shaun Costello, 1977)

Jamie Gillis turns in an ingeniously disturbing, and darkly amusing, performance as The Enema Bandit: a peeping tom who discovers the fetish he’s been waiting for after a lucky trip to a brothel catering to special preferences. Obsessed with feminine filth, asserting that women “must be cleansed,” the Enema Bandit goes on a rape/enema rampage around New York City while two cops are hot on his trail, building to a horrifying and truly bizarre finale. Not for the feint-of-heart.












3. Dark Angels/ Dark Angels 2: Bloodline (Nic Andrews, 2000/2005)

The only relatively recent selection in this list, these two flicks definitely do not skimp on the gore like so many other PC 21st century XXX horror flicks. While a blood-lusting pair of women (Sydnee Steele and Jewel deNyle), and their complex relationship dominate Part 1, Part 2 is really where it’s at for splashing red and white, brutal decapitations, and monstrous transformations, as Barrett Blade and Evan Stone attempt to populate the world with zombie-vampires, and Sunny Lane attempts to stop them. Watch both though – they’re a double feature treat for any trash aficionado.







2. Dracula Exotica (Shaun Costello, 1980)

Jamie Gillis was born to play Count Dracula, and indeed he did in this film and one other (Dracula Sucks). It’s this dark and funny film, though, that rises to the top of the myriad Dracula porn crop, with Gore Gore Girl favourites Samantha Fox and Vanessa Del Rio rounding out a heavyweight cast. Still undead in the 20th century, Dracula is living under a self-imposed curse for raping his 19th century virgin lover, which renders him unable to climax from sex. Bored by his Transylvianian home (now a tourist attraction), sick of his vampire-twin-concubines, and drawn to a mysterious American who resembles his dead bride-to-be, he leaves his castle for the States, leading to a complex network of subplots involving FIB agents, cocaine smugglers, Romanian cultural arts, and of course love.







1. Through the Looking Glass (Jonas Middleton, 1976)

Catherine Burgess stars as Catherine: a wealthy and sexually disturbed housewife, obsessed with her dead father, played with usual creepy, sophisticated eroticism by Jamie Gillis. Catherine spends ample time naked and fondling herself in front of the large mirror upstairs, when a demon in the shape of her father appears, crossing into her world in a memorably horrifying and powerful scene, and gradually luring her into a sexual hell that is unsettling, beautiful, and terrifying all at once. In my book, this is the greatest hardcore horror film ever made, and perhaps the greatest hardcore film period. Through the Looking Glass is a bona fide masterpiece.


5 comments:

Nio said...

"My suspicion is that an increasingly politically aware society simply isn’t that comfortable with unconscious fears and desires, capably displaced and suppressed in each respective genre, being exposed for all to see. Yet, for me, this nightmarish exposure of the more troubling contents of our collective unconscious is the exact reason why these particular hybrids are so compelling."

It does seem a shame that we seem to be becoming very much afraid of exploring our dark aspects in what are essentially forms of expression and fantasy, not reality.

These films sound really fascinating and just the kind of thing I'd like to watch and think about. Thanks for adding, once again, to my every growing list of strange films I'd like to get my hands on!

Gore-Gore Girl said...

Thanks! Don't blame me for Waterpower! Haha! ;)

Seriously though, let me know your thoughts on any of the flicks you end up watching down the line - I'd love to hear your opinion.

BlackSix said...

I totally agree with your picks, especially Waterpower and Through the Looking Glass.

Gore-Gore Girl said...

Tight! Glad we're on the same page as usual.

Lee Jones said...

Excellent selections. XXX horror is the best sub-genre of XXX. so many treats out there.

And yes, TTLG is the best XXX feature film ever made.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails