Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hostel Part II: Ugh

Watched Hostel Part II the other night on DVD. Nasty is not quite the right word to describe that movie. Frankly, nasty does not do it justice. Crude, brutal, misogynistic, misanthropic - but well made enough to make you want to watch to the end.

For those of you who do not know the ever so slightly racist Hostel films, the premise is quite simple (oh, yeah, and spoilers ahead). A group of American tourist head out to the edge of nowhere (actually Eastern Europe) where they are abducted by a group calling themselves Elite Hunting. Elite Hunting are wealthy individuals who pay money to torture and kill other people. And that is pretty much the way the first Hostel film worked – a group of male young Americans being tortured and killed. The second film pretty much follows the same plot, but this time the victims are female. To give you an idea of the extreme imagery of the film – probably the most memorable scene occurs when one of the three female protagonists is hung up, naked, by her feet and pulled into the centre of a room over a bath. Another woman comes in, strips, lies in the bath and slashes at the back of the hanging girl and bathing in her blood. The scene ends with the woman in the bath slashing the throat of the hanging girl. It is probably the very definition of a horror movie. It is fucking horrific.

I’ve heard this sort of film – and other similar torture based productions – referred to as Gorno – a curious (and more than slightly unpleasant) hybrid of gore films and porno flicks. Of course, films that mix death and titillation are nothing new. Cannibal Holocaust sees the “heroes” killing a rainforest dweller in horrific style, before the female in their group is attacked, raped, and then beheaded. The Devils was all about a rather ghastly mix of sex, sadism and death. Crash (the Cronenberg version rather than the Oscar winning one) was all about fucking and dying, albeit in car crashes. And all the slasher movies of the eighties – particularly the Friday the 13th series – sought more and more elaborate ways for an unconvincing masked psychopath to despatch scantily clad teenagers. Gorno may be a new term, but it is nothing new. It refers to a disturbing style of film that mixes death and sex – and that mix has been around in some form or other since motion pictures came into being. And I enjoy the odd slasher movie, and think Cannibal Holocaust is much more intelligent than the title or a brief plot synopsis would indicate. However, Hostel Part II is something very different.

Joss Wheedon, of Buffy and Serenity fame, recently wrote an article condemning a Gorno flick. And part of me wants to agree with his ranting complaints, and part of me wants to find a way to ban this sort of nasty, shitty little film. I don’t think the Hostel films would make someone kill (unless they were already deeply disturbed) but I really wonder about what sort of person would make this sort of film, and what sort of person would enjoy it.

But then I remember that, politically, I am a Libertarian. I advocate freedom of choice So the fact that I find something deeply unpleasant does not mean that everyone else will find it deeply unpleasant. Hell, I find Strictly Come Dancing deeply unpleasant. But the viewing figures would suggest that others do not agree. Let’s not ban this sort of film, let it stand. Some people – judging by the Box Office returns – love this sort of thing. And who the fuck am I to say that what they find entertaining is in wrong and should not be seen?

And another aspect to freedom of choice is that people have a freedom to choose – not just to make the film and to watch the film, but also not to watch the film. So I will never watch Hostel Part II again. My choice. And if you want to watch the film again, well, fuck it, your choice. Eli Roth will get (more) rich off your choice, so fairplay to him for finding a gap in the marketplace that is making a fucking fortune.

The fascinating – and most difficult – part of being a Libertarian is accepting that your view allows other to make both bad (and totally fucking awful) choices. If you start to believe you know what it is the correct choice for other people then you are no better than a multitude of shite politicians, including the total cunt who claims to be our PM.

So Hostel Part II – let anyone who wants to watch it, well, watch it. Can’t understand where you are coming from, but hope you enjoy it.

‘Cos I certainly fucking didn’t.

19 comments:

Fidothedog said...

Not seen Part 2 as yet.

Thought the first was rather bland to be fair, although the feral children were amusing in a (this is happening in Britain - according to the Daily Mail) way.

Roger Thornhill said...

I think the key here is to not allow the watching of such movies by an individual be used as an excuse for any acts of violence that they commit.

mark gardner said...

Absolutely agree with roger thornhill. Just as punishment of criminal acts should not admit of mitigation because they were committed under the influence of drugs (whether recreational or otherwise).

Thomas Gordon said...

Interesting DK

I'm a fan of both Horror and Sci-Fi but this torture-porn shit leaves me cold.

I've always thought the mark of a good horror film has sutble psycological elements to it-Look at Alien,Psyco,,The Birds,The Omen,Blair Witch Project.....they are not too graphic but leave everything to the imagination.

There again I like Poe,HP Lovecraft (he was right you know),M R James,Ramsey Campbell,Dunnsay,Bloch all full of terror that goes into a good story without resorting to cliches.

These 'films' are more in the vain of Cannibal Holocaust,Texas Chainsaw Massacre,We Spit on your Grave,Last House on the Left,Cannibal Ferox and the infamous Sado (which actually made me sick)all needed shock but with poor production values and little plot.I suspect it appeals tom those with very little imagination really.

Would I ban it-no but I would certainly put a parental advice on it.

BTW:Alien and Threads are THE most terrifying films ever.

IA! IA! SHUB NIGGERATH-BLACK GOAT OF THE WOODS WITH A THOUSAND YOUNG!

ENGLISHMAN said...

Devil, why did you want such a thing in your head in the first place?

Wrinkled Weasel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wrinkled Weasel said...

The Nameless One says:

"
..The fascinating – and most difficult – part of being a Libertarian is accepting that your view allows other to make both bad (and totally fucking awful) choices. If you start to believe you know what it is the correct choice for other people then you are no better than a multitude of shite politicians.."

Absolutely the essence of being a Libertarian, I would say.

On a lighter note, how about this zombie/sex/techno vid from those wacky Scandis?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAQez6n48u0

Antipholus Papps said...

Like Thomas Gordon above, I call these films torture porn. I think that they are blatant propaganda aimed at normalising torture. Equally, I may be a political obsessive being paranoid. Either way, having turned off the first one half way through, I have no desire to subject myself to the sequel. Watched Return of the Living Dead last night though, and that's a hoot.

E said...

I haven’t seen this film so it is difficult for me to comment but being a libertarian doesn't preclude one from putting limits on the freedom of speech for others. No one has the right to cry fire in a crowded theatre and if this film can be said to have influenced some individuals making it more likely that they will act out their fantasies then there would be an argument for banning it.

Devil's Kitchen said...

E,

That would be true, except that all research shows that film violence and porn act as substitutes for such behaviour, not inspiration.

DK

Rory Meakin said...

I enjoyed both the hostel films. They are a bit crappy, but that's what adds to the... 'charm'. The fact that the business cards in the first one listed standard prices for an American at $20k, a European at $10k and Asian at $5k made me laugh. Presumably, the club managers do not believe the market will clear for others not listed! I especially enjoyed the skinny little German man's nervous eyes as he became overwhelmed with the realisation that he was about to torture an American. His patheticness was, to me, high amusing. In the second film, the grotesque make-up artist was similarly repulsively exciting.

I wouldn't want to watch them alone as they are pretty vicious and sick. But I would be quite surprised if they were "aimed" at promoting torture. I suspect their main, perhaps only, "aim" is to make people hand over money to watch them.

Travis Bickle said...

If you replace "a group of American Tourists" with "a group of MPs on a fully expensed taxpayer junket" or "Gordons Brown's Cabinet" then I could see some entertainment value.

Other than that seems pretty damn sick.

Richard Allen said...

Haven't seen part 2 and I can't say I really want to. The first one was okay (if only because the wussy guy who I expected to survive as the "hero" got killed while the jerk who I expected to die survived) but I wouldn't watch it again.

Anonymous said...

I respect a man who tries to live by his principles, but this posting leaves me dissatisfied on two levels.

You are a libertarian, which presumably means you believe in free speech, and yet you seem to be preventing yourself from speaking freely about this film. I would summarise the content of this post thus: "I think this evil film should be banned, but I believe in free speech so I will keep my opinions to myself".

The second problem I have with this posting is the implicit assumption that it is not films that depict the depraved slaughter of human beings that could lead to people engaging in the depraved slaughter of human beings, rather it is the attempt to ban such films that leads to the depraved slaughter of human beings (e.g. Auschwitz). On a simple analysis of like begets like, I don't follow that reasoning.

E said...

"all research shows that film violence and porn act as substitutes for such behaviour, not inspiration."

All research?? I am sure there is as much research that says the opposite it just depends what research you refer to. All I know is that television advertising is designed to change our behaviour so if adverts can influence me to buy one product as apposed to another then a film like this might influence a weak willed individual to act out his or her fantasies.

Also I read somewhere that the incidence of violence skyrocketed in Bhutan after the king there allowed satellite TV in the country.

The Nameless One said...

Anonymous,

You've completely missed the point of the post if you think I was saying "I think this evil film should be banned, but I believe in free speech so I will keep my opinions to myself". What I was actually saying was "I find this film unpleasant, others don't, so if they want to watch it and if Roth can make money from it, good luck to them." Let me be very clear - I do not want this film to be banned. And I don't think it is evil - just unpleasant.

Likewise, I have not seen any evidence to suggest that this sort of film makes people kill and do other unpleasant things to each other. However, if you do remove the right to the freedom of speech, then you find yourself on a slippery slope towards those who allow no dissension from seizing power and oppressing others.

Hostel Part II is a nasty little film, but the choice to watch it or not watch it is a personal one. There is no need for a ban.

Anonymous said...

Talking of evidence, I have not seen any to suggest that, during the period of (moral) film censorship in Britain in the last century, our liberties were in any worse state than they are now - other than the liberty to trade in certain types of film, obviously.

What kind of evidence would you consider acceptable as demonstrating that such films can influence people (for the worse)? It seems possible that by your current standards it could be argued, for example, that education does not influence people; nor incitement to violence.

Also, your doctrine of free speech would seem to permit someone to say that they wanted to ban a film, but not to lawfully act on that thought. Isn't that a kind of oppression? What I mean is that the absolute free speech argument is articulated in a manner that suggests a mutually satisfactory resolution to the dispute when in fact one side is actually imposing itself on the other, since the latter does believe that evil films can influence people for the worse.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Anon,

"Also, your doctrine of free speech would seem to permit someone to say that they wanted to ban a film, but not to lawfully act on that thought. Isn't that a kind of oppression? What I mean is that the absolute free speech argument is articulated in a manner that suggests a mutually satisfactory resolution to the dispute when in fact one side is actually imposing itself on the other, since the latter does believe that evil films can influence people for the worse."

I think that you misunderstand what libertarianism is. Libertarianism holds that a person is sovereign over their own life and they must take respnsibility for their actions.

If someone murders another person after seeing a film like Hostel 2, the film is not responsible for the murder: the murderer is reponsible for that murder.

It is demonstrably true that violence in movies does not cause violent actions in every person who sees such movies. Only the person committing the violence is responsible. End of argument.

To argue otherwise is to say that humans are not able to think for themselves and therefore must be controlled. And you are not, therefore, a libertarian.

Oh, and free speech is irrelevent. Someone can call for a film to be banned as much as they like, and I can call for it not to be banned; the default free position is that it is not banned.

DK

Anonymous said...

"Libertarianism holds that a person is sovereign over their own life and they must take responsibility for their actions."

Aren't these incompatible notions? If someone who is sovereign has to "take responsibility" - presumably by being punished - for his actions isn't he subjecting himself to someone else's sovereignty?

"the film is not responsible for the murder: the murderer is responsible for that murder"

Correct - but the inciter is responsible for the incitement. From Wikipedia (not the best resource I know):
"There must be actual communication so that the other person has the opportunity to agree, but the actus reus is complete whether the incitement actually persuades another to commit an offence."

"It is demonstrably true that violence in movies does not cause violent actions in every person who sees such movies."

Of course, but it is also axiomatic that people are capable of influencing each other through communication. That presumably underlies your desire to construct a Web site.

"To argue otherwise is to say that humans are not able to think for themselves and therefore must be controlled."

So would you say that an inciter should not be controlled? How about the man who cries "Fire!" in a crowded theatre? (At least some members of the audience will not react in panic.)

"the default free position is that it is not banned.... End of argument."

Only from your perspective. As I say, those of us who accept that it is inherent to human communication that it has the capacity to persuade are not, under the strict rule of libertarianism, allowed to protect ourselves from the dissemination of material that exhorts to sadistic violence.