Thursday, February 13, 2014

DIRTY DEVIANT WEEK: When Mainstream Gets Dirty


What happens when a film with a decent budget, established actors and a wide release dips it's big toe in exploitation/grindhouse territory? They take elements from a notorious sub genre of film and weave it into its own. Well, today...we're gonna take a look at some films that do just that.

I was having a conversation with a friend about how a film like Pulp Fiction  blindsided us with its roots in exploitation films. I mean, we now know that Tarantino is a filmmaker that lives and breathes grindhouse...so, to be ambushed into a rape/revenge flick isn't so much a stretch as it is a common staple of his. To pepper in elements from older, more notorious films. When I first watched Pulp Fiction, tho...it certainly was a new thing to be watching Bruce Willis slice up a pervert after brutally raping Ving Rhames in a film with a healthy budget. Those were exciting times. But, then I dug a little deeper. Could one bring that same sort of mindset into recent films like the Saw  franchise or the Hostel  films? Could there be an argument raised about the validity of watching actors like Cary Elwes and Danny Glover in a film reminiscent of the days of Guinea Pig  films? I mean...say what you will about the entire torture porn movement in the genre...but, you cannot deny the sheer excitement that was ignited amongst the genre when it first started. Just like anything new and inventive, torture porn shined a light on stuff more reserved for late night Deviants than a wide audience. But, the fact was...a film like Saw  was packing audiences into theaters, at the time, and reintroducing a brand new generation to the twisted stuff that was shunned years ago.

I remember when that whole 2 Girls 1 Cup thing went fucking viral. It was stuff that I've seen when I was younger. Grant it, this was a whole new level of what I originally watched when I first sat down and witnessed Salo. But, it was kind of the same thing. Shock for the sake of shock. And yet...viewers could not avert their eyes from the screen. It was manic and raw. The same kind of energy found in most of the twisted films that find some sort of release every year. But, to see it discussed on major news networks casually, blew my goddamn mind. 2 Girls 1 Cup suddenly became part of the everyday lexicon. I noticed coworkers chatting about it at work. I noticed TV shows parodying it as if it was something much bigger than what it actually was...lesbian shit-eating. But, it was that same fucking energy.


Evil Dead  (2013) is a film that, whatever it lacks in pure substance, it more than makes up in repulsive grue and over-the-top bloody violence. I mean...it rains blood, for the devil's sake. But, what's most interesting about the new Evil Dead  film is that it topped the box office for a week. None of the original films could ever make that particular claim. I've written about how great that is for the genre...but, what's more impressive is that the film got made with a budget of around $17 million and made more than double that. Proving once and for all that there's an audience for this stuff. Grant it, the film already had its faithful fan base awaiting its release. But, the new Evil Dead  was seen by people that don't know who Ash is. I realize that that's a bit blasphemic to say...however, everyone has to start somewhere. And to introduce a brand new audience to the awesomeness of our beloved genre is a pretty magical thing.

This is the End  is a film that was made for about $32 million and grossed over $125 million. And that was about as twisted as you can get with that kind of clout behind it. The film basically deals with the end of the world by the hands of Satan. There is penis-slicing, man-rape (by way of demon), demonic vomiting, cannibalism, urine-drinking and many more deviant stuff going on in a film starring a list of well-known, established actors (including James fucking Franco and Emma fucking Watson!). Grant it, the film ultimately ends up in heaven with the fucking Backstreet Boys closing out the show and the film is generally played for laughs...but, goddamn...I felt like I was watching something that I wasn't meant to see. Kinda like someone snuck this shit past the big studio executives and released it onto thousands of theaters.


I guess what I'm saying is that there is plenty of room for all of that "dirty" stuff to exist well beyond the confines of old banned copies of VHS tapes and special edition DVDs that come out every now and then. Whenever Eli Roth makes a film like The Green Inferno  with a decent budget and it happens to be pretty good, we should all praise his efforts to continue pushing that kind of stuff out there and make it more acceptable to a wider audience. Personally, I feel like the genre has gotten soft with all these PG-13 found footage bullshit films. I don't foresee the mainstream public ever embracing the Guinea Pig  films or stuff like Cannibal Holocaust  and A Serbian Film. But, I do appreciate the fact that I can pick up a chai tea latte at the local Barnes and Noble, as well as grab a copy of the Criterion Collection edition of Salo without feeling like a complete outcast. I mean, I know that I'll always be a Deviant at heart...but, I find comfort knowing that our numbers are spreading and more great cult films will be made and there will be a new generation of Deviants unearthing A Serbian Film  years from now just like I did years ago when I stumbled upon Salo

You'll never catch me hating on the Saw  films or the Hostel  films...or whatever the mainstream happens to embrace at a certain given time. Because I know...deep in my dark heart...that whenever a film introduces an unsuspecting viewer to such twisted visions, our Deviant army gets bigger and stronger. Hiding in the celluloid shadows becomes less necessary. People actually stop shunning me for wearing my Martyrs t-shirt and actually ask me where I got it (Atomic Cotton). And that...brings a twisted smile to my face.

Anyway...here's Faces of Death  for no apparent reason whatsoever...






Stay Dirty and Deviant!



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