Right, let’s stop fucking about now shall we?
We all know why we’re here and we all have the same fascination… Our love for horror.
But more importantly out love of gory horror. Anyone that ever tells you that they love a good horror movie but doesn’t like gore does not like horror movies.
Seriously, if you took the gore from the majority of modern horror movies you would be left with either a supernatural thriller or a suspense filled action movie.
For example, remove all of the gory aspects from the film Hellraiser, that includes all of the grisly parts of the Cenobite make-ups and what are you left with?
Some weird love story about a dead bloke and a married woman with spirits that come out of the walls that look just like normal people that take the living to hell… Which you don’t get to see.
It would look like an episode of Tales of the Unexpected.
Do you remember the first time you saw Frank’s resurrection in that movie because I sure do? I remember watching at a sleepover with a mate from school and I believe we both looked at each other with that ‘what the fuck’ look on our faces.
So let’s get a few things straight, the rules if you will.
We’re going to start with the basics of a modern horror film… The characters.
For this we need a hero and these days the protagonist is usually a woman thanks to films like Halloween and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and recently films like Drag me to Hell or Cabin in the Woods.
Gone are the days when the big rough and tumble football player type dude or handsome chiselled jawed local deputy sheriff saves the day and gets the girl, in fact they usually die first. So we’ll save the machismo for one of those ‘guy with a vest on’ action flicks shall we.
Then you need some stupid people.
There are two types of stupid folk in horror, first up the lovable idiot that is thrown in for a few cheap laughs and, in most cases he/she is the guy that brings the weed. Usually this character is friends with the protagonist and the least likely to die or be the hero.
Then you have the annoying stupid people, the people that think that they have some kind of bead on every situation but really haven’t a clue and spend most of their time pissing of the other players and building up the viewer’s anticipation of their impending demise.
These people are the ones you want to die the hardest in the most horrific ways possible.
Then you have the killer.
This is the most important character in the movie whether it’s some insane stalker with a huge back story, a malevolent evil summoned by some ritual or a horde of flesh eating mutants, this is the reason we are watching.
Let’s face it, they can spend all the money in the world developing the characters into likeable/hateable deep personalities but if they fuck up with the killer then the film is going to nose dive.
Now we need a location which usually drives the plot in some way, think Friday 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street, where would they be without location.
We’re going to go with the classic ‘kids go on a camping trip’ scenario and the film pretty much writes itself. I bet you’re even thinking about plots and the killers back story… am I right?
So now we have characters, a location and a (flimsy) plot; we’ll go with the revenge seeking psycho for the killer I think, stick with the basics.
So we have the basis of pretty much every horror movie made in the 80’s, now we need some blood.
I always found that with franchises like the Friday 13th movies each death scene was set up to out-do the last. Each film became more bloody and outlandish than the last with fans falling over themselves in anticipation of the next chapter. I happened to be one of those fans, ha-ha.
If you have seen them I can guarantee you have your favourite death scenes.
My personal favourite is in the Final Chapter (part 4) when the female hitchhiker get stabbed through the neck and squeezes the banana… To this day I don’t know why, it just makes me laugh.
But why should we just make do with a few machete gags or the odd evisceration scene or an exploding head here and there, let’s take this to the next level and go balls out gore. Let’s just throw the blood around, all over the walls, up the camera, over the actors and the crew, everyone and everything is getting covered in the shit.
But we have to be careful, too much blood and people will switch off too soon, get desensitised to the violence on the screen and you won’t get the payoff in the big end sequence.
The Saw films really nailed it here and also split a lot of opinion on what modern horror really is.
I know a few people that love the franchise and I know a few that hate it, it really became the marmite of the horror world for a while but I for one thought they smashed it.
It had great writing and plots that could destroy the best of any young adult type horror with reoccurring characters and a developing storyline that could rival any TV box set. All this with the added bonus of some really gruesome set pieces and special FX designed to really make the audience wince; great seat wetting stuff.
And they came out at a time when horror was really on the upturn with the likes of Hostel, the Wrong Turn movies, Hatchet and the resurgence of the zombie movie with re-makes and re-workings coming from every direction.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with a horror movie not having a good level of splatter; they just leave me a little cold, a little empty. I want to see someone getting there head ripped off, I want to see a prostitute being decapitated mid-coitus, I want to see people’s heads exploding due to a barrage of psycho-kinetic power; it’s what makes horror stand out from the crowd.
And there are a handful of movies that I love that are light on the gore, The Shining, The Exorcist, Insidious, Halloween, the list is quite extensive but for the most part my favourite horror movies are still brutal, bloody and full of fun.
If you are a fan of jump scares then you will probably disagree with pretty much everything I find great in horror but I guarantee you this, some of your favourite horror movies are dripping with gore.
And I can’t believe I wrote an article about the fundamentals of gore without mentioning Herschell Gordon Lewis… Oh wait, what?
Save the godfather of gore for next time I think.