Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Exploration: Disturbia

I've been talking a lot lately about my quest for disturbing movies. The truth is that I am not on the hunt to find the most disturbing movie out there --well not entirely anyways. One of my ongoing experiments as I write this blog is uncovering what it is about certain horror movies that makes us seek them out. Entertainment and the exhilarating feeling of being scared comes to mind but what about those movies that really push the envelope? The movies that have been banned, that have been partially responsible for the demise of a director's career. Why do we want to see a film that has made people physically ill?

Unfortunately, I do not know the answer to that question--not yet. In my journey to uncover the most disturbing films out there, I am slowly compiling my very own list. Somewhere in my beginning quest to seek out horror films, I became interested in those banned and controversial films. Reading about them filled me with a strange sense of cockiness. It was like reading about someone's magnificent feat of eating 24 donuts in 10 minutes and shaking it off as no big deal. "So what? I could do that....probably", is what you say, unless you're diabetic, in which case cockiness doesn't quite fit your persona (only cocky people can eat sugar). So there I was reading about how someone was SO disturbed by Cannibal Holocaust that they shut themselves in a closet for 3 days and all I could think was, "So what? I could probably watch that movie no big deal".

And so that's in a way the immediate cause for seeking out these disturbing films. But what about the underlying cause? What are we really hoping to achieve from watching a film like that?

Every "Most Disturbing" list that I have sought out has been responsible for building up my disturbing movies queue. Some movies I can agree with, others I find myself scratching my head about. In the long run, I hope to compile an ultimate list of what I think can actually be given the name "most disturbing". Of course, we all know after the Top 10 Willies experiment and Bravos 100 Scariest Movie Moments, that lists are very individualized. And to that I say---Oh well. I will make a most disturbing list because I want to.

Do you know what one of my most popular keyword searches is?

"Most Disturbing"

Of course, that keyword search always brings them to this post, which makes me a little ashamed. Maybe that's the real reason I'm doing this, to give those people who search for disturbing moments, really something to be disturbed by. Granted, a puppet puking up leeches IS still quite disturbing in my mind--but ah well.

So join me in my quest in exploring the bottom trenches of the film world. The movies that no one wanted to see twice and the films that made people want to gouge their eyes out. Exploration Disturbia begins now.

....well actually it's been happening for awhile, but now that we're all in the "know" it's kind of starting now.


Liam Underwood said...

I look forward to seeing what you come up.

I think, for some, the appeal of a "disturbing" movie is twofold. The media and reaction around it piques curioisity, and like you say, a sort of macho mindset kicks in where you think "I can watch that, no problem."

But also, those really disturbing movies that push the envelope and try to shock will occaisionally have an interesting message or something unique about them. I'm thinking primarily of Irreversible - which, yes, is a difficult watch - but is also amazingly made.

The 72 movies the BBFC banned in the UK is probably one of the best places to start. I've also heard that A Serbian Film uncut is a pretty torturous watch.

Christine Hadden said...

I'm psyched that this is finally starting up and can't wait to see what you choose.

For me, a disturbing film is one that hits me in the gut and won't let me forget it - perhaps ever. It's one that has me thinking about it long afterward, even when I'm doing something mundane like watering my flowers or making my bed. It will just pop into my head and I know at that moment that it is forever embedded in my brain and I wish I'd never seen it. Or, alternately, I'll feel the need to see it again just to make sure I was that put off.

Yay! Let it begin!

Anonymous said...

A Serbian Film - by far the most disturbing movie I have ever seen. There was a scene in that movie that made me feel the same exact way I felt when I saw one of the Iraqi beheading videos. The best way for me to describe the feeling is that it felt like I lost part of my soul.

matango said...

I've heard people are fainting in "127 Hours." Maybe you should see that.

Andre Dumas said...

Thanks all, I've been on the "exploration" for a while now, and if I ever manage to track down some of the supposedly truly brutal ones, the list will arrive shortly.

Thanks for the tip Liam, I don't think I've seen that list. yet.

You know I hear a lot about A Serbian Film but the general consensus seems that it "could have been worse" we'll see I guess!

matango- I did hear that but my sister was capable of watching it without wincing so it fails in my opinion...hehe

Emily said...

Awesome idea Andre! I can't wait to see your list :)

I think a lot of what disturbs us most is what our own personal fears might be- like your fear of sharks for instance. Also, where we are in our life (or how naive we may be) when we see a certain film also is important- for example, the first time I saw Lolita (1997), the image of a fat naked man running down the hallway scarred me for life, but that was because as an innocent and incredibly naive 14 year old, it was something I had never seen before. Now it most likely wouldn't effect me at all, but because I saw it back then, when I think of that scene I get the chills, mostly just due to the memory of how disturbed by it I was.

Michele (TheGirlWhoLovesHorror) said...

I have a disturbing movies queue, as well. The first movie I got from Netflix was Salo. I feel a little dirty about that. Something must be wrong with me though, because those "disturbing" movies on other peoples' list have mostly fallen flat for me. Hell, I don't even remember ANYTHING about Cannibal Holocaust.

Spooky Sean said...

Easy, we seek out things that are shocking because we know that many people would shun us for watching such things. It fills us with a giddy pleasure, with a feeling of mental toughness. I can handle anything, even this horrifying film, or book, that others could not stomach.
Its the classic desire to do something when someone tells you, don't do that, or don't see that.
It is the feeling of utter freedom, that you are free from anyone's restraint.
I've thought about this a lot, writing a serial killer novel from the first person perspective. Its been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life, and it is because of the freedom I feel in the writing of such horrible prose, not the horrific violent sentences themselves. Also, I find myself laughing a lot while I write it, especially at the really really fucked up parts I create. I think this is simply because I'm so excited, that I'm willing to go so far over the line. Rarely in life do we allow ourselves to be truly free with our expression. When we are allowed complete freedom of expression, we are truly free.

Unknown said...

Not to go all "old man" here, but part of the thrill of seeking out disturbing films was the hunt. Whether it was the "this guy could have a basement full of kittens chained to his wall" owner of a hole-in-the-wall cult video store in upstate NY letting me borrow a DVD-R imported copy of Cannibal Holocaust but cryptically reminding me that he had my address if i failed to return it, or finding a VHS copy of The Candy Snatchers in some weird mom and pop store while visiting my sister in LA, part of the allure was the difficulty in getting my hand son these movies.

With Netflix, youtube, torrents, etc etc, a lot of the allure and mystique has dried up. Now it's just another "shocking" and often shockingly poorly made film in a sea of others.

End rant.

Andre Dumas said...

Em- I think that is definitely true, although I'm getting worried that I'm associating willies with disturbing things. Like...I'm not sure if Jaws disturbs me. Actually I'm pretty sure it doesn't but Cannibal Holocaust definitely disturbs me, ya know? I'm going to have to do some serious thought to what goes on this damn list. It'll be tough stuff.

TheGirlWho-Salo was my really first disturbing film to get from Netflix too. Weird! You didn't find Cannibal Holocaust disturbing?!! You must be dead. Just kidding. Unfortunately I will have to watch Cannibal Holocaust again (maybe my 2nd a half time) to really understand what disturbs me so much. But I don't know, different strokes different folks!

Sean- Well jeesh why don't you just do my whole project for me! ; ) You bring up a lot of good points. I think ultimately why we seek them out is a combination of everything everyone has said, what I hope to find out however is some bigger picture. I think at this point, why people seek them out is highly individualized as are what we deem most disturbing....it will be interesting indeed.

Mike- I'm with you on that. I keep reading about what people find disturbing nowadays and it's all just a bunch of gross out techniques. And even--Hostel 1 and 2 (!!) Terrible, terrible movies that just put in horrible rape scenes because they want to be shocking. It looses its appeal when all of them are like that. I think people are now confusing ultra violence with something that is truly disturbing. Hopefully I can weed out those before making my ultimate list...

Sivan Nava said...

Loved this post! I just found your blog. It's a bit similar to mine. It's great to find another girl out there who is into horror and everything else creepy! If you have time, I'd love it if you checked out my blog!

Emily said...

You are totally right- I was definitely thinking along the lines of willies instead of the disturbing... hmmm, that is hard, although I think that I'm disturbed by more than actually scared. (Although I think I was actually disturbed by Lolita rather than got the willies due to it, although I was disturbed by the literal willy in it.) I have been thinking about what disturbs me today, and so far I've come up with rape and animal torture. That is what disturbed me in terms of Cannibal Holocaust, whereas I don't think I was really bothered by the cannibalism in it.... I don't think I was as disturbed by that movie as I should have been though. I think something must be wrong with me! I was more disturbed by Last House on the Left (original) and I Spit on Your Grave.

Andre Dumas said...

Yeeah I don't know what it was about Cannibal Holocaust that stays with me. More so even than last house and I spit on your grave. I still need to see Necromantik if I can ever locate a copy.

Spooky Sean said...

Yeah, admittedly a lot of stuff just is super violent to be super violent, but it isn't disturbing. The hard part with lots of violence, is still managing to go deeper then simply having a lot of blood, and reaching people on an emotional level.
I'm not even sure I've learned how to do it yet, but I'm going to try my damndest.
I mean, you can have a really disturbing movie with no violence or rape at all. I found Session 9 really disturbing, and they barely show anything in it. I'm sure there are a boat load more, I just can't think of them off the top of my head.

Blue Seven said...

For me a lot of the time disturbing=frightening. Monsters were scary when I was little because I wasn't sure whether or not the Foukes Monster or the Mummy or whoever was coming to get me. Now I'm far more sure they don't exist...although I will probably not go traipsing around Boggy Creek at night anytime soon. But sick people doing sick shit to one another is all too real, at least according to the stories from the Daily Rotten etc. and so that's like the new scary for me. Some horror flicks stay with me for some time but a whole lot more disturbing ones do.

Hannah May said...

I think that most of the stuff that has truly disturbed me is more psychological than gruesome, I definitely agree that your own personal fears influence what you find disturbing.

I watched Cannibal Holocaust for the first time recently for a blog post and I found it pretty ridiculous, there was nothing scary about it, just a hoard of unnecessary guts and gore. Oh yes and rape, can't leave that out.

Love your blog, keep up the good work! If you feel like checking mine out that would be much appreciated!


Andre Dumas said...

Thanks Hannah May for stopping by! I guess what I found most disturbing in Cannibal Holocaust was how realistic the gore and rape looked and felt. This is in many ways what sets it apart from almost all gore movies that are used primarily to shock. It just really makes me feel uneasy, dirty and sick even. The real animal torture especially is a sore subject for many, but I wouldn't classify it as necessarily scary. Just deeply disturbing...