Rob Zombie made me ashamed to be a horror fan.

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Ben W.
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Rob Zombie made me ashamed to be a horror fan.

Postby Ben W. » Sat Oct 08, 2011 9:49 am

I just saw THE DEVIl"S REJECTS for the first time, and now I actually know what Harlan felt when he stumbled out of a showing of THE OMEN. Mind you, I've watched and appreciate the films that Rob Zombie is obviously trying to emulate (THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, what-have-you), but every time I attempt to articulate my problems with THE DEVIL'S REJECTS online, I'm derided and mocked like some sort of liberal-hippie-faggot by people who are no doubt Zombie fans. I guess it must be my fault for identifying with the victims in a movie that insists I shouldn't. Maybe my insecurity stems from the fact that I'm probably one of the intellectual softies Zombie's anti-heroes would humiliate and slaughter without a second thought.

Here's a pivotal difference between a film like TEXAS CHAINSAW and one of Zombie's: In TEXAS CHAINSAW, Tobe Hooper portrays his rednecks every bit as pathetic as they are terrifying. In stark contrast, Zombie idolizes his monsters, while the victims are treated contemptuously simply because...they're victims, apparently. Look, I can learn to accept the ugly reality that human society often operates on the Darwinian principle of predator and prey, but the odious glee by which Zombie embraces this reality is something else entirely, most evident in the sequence where (spoilerspoilerspoilers) Otis tortures and murders two men out in the desert, taking a sort of egotistical delight in his certainty of a godless universe in the process. Some time after the desert murders, there's an extended scene in the killers' van where they argue between themselves about getting ice cream, much like any average bickering family travelling on the road. One jump-cut later, we see two of them enjoying their ice cream, while the third drives the van in sullen silence. If Zombie was making an earnest attempt to humanize his inhuman heroes, it backfired: I felt more like I was watching a gang of Nazis playing a game of poker shortly after a shift at the gas chambers. But on the other hand, if THAT was Zombie's intent...damn it, I'm giving him way too much credit.

Then the scene of Sheriff Wydell tormenting the terrible trio finally arrived. In a flash I realized what Zombie was straining to do, not too different from what Wes Craven did in LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. He was attempting to toy with my sympathy by switching it around - in knowingly ironic fashion - to the three killers as William Forsythe dished out all manners of abuse, verbal as well as physical. But it just wasn't happening, for all of Zombie's efforts. I wanted to see these creatures destroyed, and Wdyell - the man Zombie wanted me to dislike - was simply channelling my own rage. (Interestingly, on the DVD commentary, Zombie remarks on the audience's positive reaction to Sheriff Wydell's death. I suppose where Zombie failed with me, he succeeded with the other 99% , so who gives a shit?)

But worst of all, Zombie made me hate my own desire to identify with outsider characters. It's not a surprise one of his favourite films is FRANKENSTEIN (1931), possibly one of the most well-known examples of ironic/inverted audience identification, but Zombie is more enamoured with the visceral aspects of such movies, glossing over their moments of genuine tenderness and compassion probably because they're too faggy.

Ultimately, this article does a far better job articulating my reaction than I ever could:

http://www.cc2konline.com/current-revie ... mbie-sucks

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Re: Rob Zombie made me ashamed to be a horror fan.

Postby FrankChurch » Sat Oct 08, 2011 11:53 am

Zombie just has zero talent. This is why today's capitalism is so noxious, because nobodies can be big stars while talented people eat from dumpsters.

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Re: Rob Zombie made me ashamed to be a horror fan.

Postby FrankChurch » Sat Oct 08, 2011 11:54 am

Rob Zombie is a very nice guy. Nice guys should finish last...in house or not.

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Re: Rob Zombie made me ashamed to be a horror fan.

Postby Steve Evil » Sun Oct 09, 2011 6:09 am

Ugh. . .spot on all the way. It's funny you mention Zombie, as my own Omen moment was with his House of a Thousand Corpses, for which Devil's Rejects is the sequal.

(Come to think of it, that wasn't quite my Omen moment, but it was definitely a warning that one was on its way. It was the moment I stopped enjoying horror anyway).

Before watching "Corpses", I formulated this idea that part of the thrill of horror was watching people overcome adversity. From all the mess, one character was bound to survive. They would suffer tremendously, but they would survive if they just stuck it out. That was the appeal to me, and how laughably wrong it sounds now. No sooner did I develop the idea when I found that almost no horror film of the last two decades actually followed it. Corpses made me realize that.

I realized something was wrong about three quarters of the way through. Spoilers, but does anyone really care?At that point, not one of the characters made an effort to escape or defend themselves. Not one rose to the occasion or reclaimed any semblence of dignity. There was not even a traditional "final girl", to find an inner source of strength and dish out justice. Nope, the characters are captured and tortured and. . .that's it. They're captured and tortured. That's the sum total of the film, and presumably the source of its appeal. Not to watch characters live, but to just watch them die, in as much agony as cinema can realistically protray.

It wasn't just Zombie either, but just about every horror film I tried watching since, until I just gave up. Whatever it used to be about - the dark side of human nature, or the superstitions of mankind, or just plain and simple atmosphere - it's been replaced by the spectacle of human desecration. Apparently that's all Zombie and his fans want from a film, undiluted by even the suggestion of dignity or hope.

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Re: Rob Zombie made me ashamed to be a horror fan.

Postby Steve Evil » Sun Oct 09, 2011 6:18 am

Very interesting article by the way.

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Ben W.
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Re: Rob Zombie made me ashamed to be a horror fan.

Postby Ben W. » Mon Oct 10, 2011 1:49 pm

Steve Evil wrote:Ugh. . .spot on all the way. It's funny you mention Zombie, as my own Omen moment was with his House of a Thousand Corpses, for which Devil's Rejects is the sequal.

(Come to think of it, that wasn't quite my Omen moment, but it was definitely a warning that one was on its way. It was the moment I stopped enjoying horror anyway).

Before watching "Corpses", I formulated this idea that part of the thrill of horror was watching people overcome adversity. From all the mess, one character was bound to survive. They would suffer tremendously, but they would survive if they just stuck it out. That was the appeal to me, and how laughably wrong it sounds now. No sooner did I develop the idea when I found that almost no horror film of the last two decades actually followed it. Corpses made me realize that.

I realized something was wrong about three quarters of the way through. Spoilers, but does anyone really care?At that point, not one of the characters made an effort to escape or defend themselves. Not one rose to the occasion or reclaimed any semblence of dignity. There was not even a traditional "final girl", to find an inner source of strength and dish out justice. Nope, the characters are captured and tortured and. . .that's it. They're captured and tortured. That's the sum total of the film, and presumably the source of its appeal. Not to watch characters live, but to just watch them die, in as much agony as cinema can realistically protray.

It wasn't just Zombie either, but just about every horror film I tried watching since, until I just gave up. Whatever it used to be about - the dark side of human nature, or the superstitions of mankind, or just plain and simple atmosphere - it's been replaced by the spectacle of human desecration. Apparently that's all Zombie and his fans want from a film, undiluted by even the suggestion of dignity or hope.


Something I've noticed about the current spate of "torture porn" horror (HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES, HOSTEL I & II, THE STRANGERS) is its infatuation with the idea of invincible evil. I think this stems in part from the attitudes of the filmmakers themselves. Where the older generation of Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, and John Carpenter employed visceral horror as a tool to emphasize a particular theme, or story, or atmosphere, the "fanboy" generation - which includes Rob Zombie and Eli Roth - are more enamoured with the splatter and general nastiness of such movies, and in turn make THOSE the dominant features of their own works, which leads to what Armond White coined as "hipster nihilism". (Just for the record, I'm not a fan of White, but I do think he hits the proverbial nail on the head time to time.)

I'm still wondering about what exactly Rob Zombie did wrong. Hell, DOWNFALL was able to make Adolf-effin-Hitler into a recognizable human creature (note I said "recognizable" and not "sympathetic"). At the very least, even a repulsive character should be intriguing to the point where the audience is prepared to endure him/her for the duration of the film. Maybe Zombie's problem is that he really did go all-out. Normally I'd think a decision like that would be commendable, but in this case Zombie's refusal to "pander" to his audience reeks of vain machismo than anything genuinely sincere.

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Re: Rob Zombie made me ashamed to be a horror fan.

Postby FrankChurch » Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:06 pm

Tarantino does defend these kinds of movies. His one noxious personality quirk.

-----------

Siskel and Ebert discussed these movies:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iz2N6BMO ... re=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9YgNA3d ... re=related

I have to mention one error: Friday the 13th's killer is not a man, it is Mrs. Vorhees. She doesn't just kill women, so it can't just be about killing women. The reason why they show the movie with the killer's perspective is because the killer is a secret that they want to divulge as a surprise later.

Then they pick a weak scene in Halloween to show how much better it was than other films.

I also don't buy the argument that films like these make you violent. I have watched many of them and I am as calm as a lamb.

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Re: Rob Zombie made me ashamed to be a horror fan.

Postby Moderator » Mon Oct 10, 2011 4:13 pm

Ben W. wrote: Something I've noticed about the current spate of "torture porn" horror (HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES, HOSTEL I & II, THE STRANGERS) is its infatuation with the idea of invincible evil. I think this stems in part from the attitudes of the filmmakers themselves. Where the older generation of Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, and John Carpenter employed visceral horror as a tool to emphasize a particular theme, or story, or atmosphere, the "fanboy" generation - which includes Rob Zombie and Eli Roth - are more enamoured with the splatter and general nastiness of such movies


Interesting thought. I knew I was somewhat repelled by the ideas of many of these films, but never really put my finger on the difference between these, such as SAW and HUMAN CENTIPEDE, and earlier forms of horror -- and you nail it for me. The newer films do feature that invincible force of evil or truly demented human soul, which is useful for little other than dispatching the meat versus the previous generation of films in which the meat was a human being and effectively fought back, somehow winning in the end. The current spate if films seem more preoccupied with the gross-out, and less concerned with story.

Gonna have to think about this...
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Re: Rob Zombie made me ashamed to be a horror fan.

Postby Steve Evil » Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:00 pm

Ben W is its infatuation with the idea of invincible evil.[/quote]

Invincible. Quite. Nothing at all will interfere with their mayhem. They will recieve no comuppance, will not be stopped, will never be defeated or even hindered. There is no possiblity of any human character pulling through. It's not a struggle at all, becuase there is no possiblity of the other side ever winning. And that's what the audience wants. We are not promised a dramatic escape, we are promised scenes of torture and pictures of people in pain.

A couple years ago, when I was wrapping my head around this, I asked myself what set "The Pit and the Pendulum" apart from Hostel, and it didn't take long to answer: in the story we are clearly meant to sympathize with the victim, and share in his apprehension. We do not gleefully await his next ordeal. We are not cheering on the inquisitors. Yet that is what we are suppposed to do with these films. I can almost picture Zombie and Roth rubbing their sweaty palms together and panting "oh yeah! Bring me some more of that!"

[quote="FrankChurch wrote:
Tarantino does defend these kinds of movies. His one noxious personality quirk.


I've noticed the same Nihilism in his films. Notice how many of them have extended scenes of torture? It's no coincidence that Eli Roth was cast in Inglorious Basterds. He was cast as a psychopath who laughs and jokes and bashes human beings into a pulp. We're not supposed to care because they're nazis (even if they do seem to be mainly teenaged conscripts). It was a movie that glorified the infliction of pain, not as a necessary evil but as an enjoyable past time. I digress. . .

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Re: Rob Zombie made me ashamed to be a horror fan.

Postby Steve Evil » Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:02 pm

Ben W is its infatuation with the idea of invincible evil.


Invincible. Quite. Nothing at all will interfere with their mayhem. They will recieve no comuppance, will not be stopped, will never be defeated or even hindered. There is no possiblity of any human character pulling through. It's not a struggle at all, becuase there is no possiblity of the other side ever winning. And that's what the audience wants. We are not promised a dramatic escape, we are promised scenes of torture and pictures of people in pain.

A couple years ago, when I was wrapping my head around this, I asked myself what set "The Pit and the Pendulum" apart from Hostel, and it didn't take long to answer: in the story we are clearly meant to sympathize with the victim, and share in his apprehension. We do not gleefully await his next ordeal. We are not cheering on the inquisitors. Yet that is what we are suppposed to do with these films. I can almost picture Zombie and Roth rubbing their sweaty palms together and panting "oh yeah! Bring me some more of that!"

FrankChurch wrote:Tarantino does defend these kinds of movies. His one noxious personality quirk.


I've noticed the same Nihilism in his films. Notice how many of them have extended scenes of torture? It's no coincidence that Eli Roth was cast in Inglorious Basterds. He was cast as a psychopath who laughs and jokes and bashes human beings into a pulp. We're not supposed to care because they're nazis (even if they do seem to be mainly teenaged conscripts). It was a movie that glorified the infliction of pain, not as a necessary evil but as an enjoyable past time. I digress. . .

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Re: Rob Zombie made me ashamed to be a horror fan.

Postby FrankChurch » Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:11 pm

Texas Chainsaw Massacre has no sympathetic charactors but we still love that one. At least I do.

We all have our quirks.

That movie warned us about the Tea Party all the way back in 1973...haha

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Re: Rob Zombie made me ashamed to be a horror fan.

Postby Steve Evil » Tue Oct 11, 2011 1:33 pm

You'll remember though that the girl got out in the end . . .nowadays, no one gets out.

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Re: Rob Zombie made me ashamed to be a horror fan.

Postby Ben W. » Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:30 pm

Steve Evil wrote:Invincible. Quite. Nothing at all will interfere with their mayhem. They will recieve no comuppance, will not be stopped, will never be defeated or even hindered. There is no possiblity of any human character pulling through. It's not a struggle at all, becuase there is no possiblity of the other side ever winning. And that's what the audience wants. We are not promised a dramatic escape, we are promised scenes of torture and pictures of people in pain.

A couple years ago, when I was wrapping my head around this, I asked myself what set "The Pit and the Pendulum" apart from Hostel, and it didn't take long to answer: in the story we are clearly meant to sympathize with the victim, and share in his apprehension. We do not gleefully await his next ordeal. We are not cheering on the inquisitors. Yet that is what we are suppposed to do with these films. I can almost picture Zombie and Roth rubbing their sweaty palms together and panting "oh yeah! Bring me some more of that!"


I don't think this attitude is entirely confined to modern horror/exploitation movies. The Oscar-winning NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, while being far, far more well-crafted than HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES/DEVIL'S REJECTS, I feel carries the same vaguely creepy infatuation with its lead psychopath. Throughout the film, Anton Chigurh is portrayed as a mostly invincible character. Even when he's physically wounded and bleeding, the Coen Brothers almost seem to admire the sheer intensity of his focus and drive. Chigurh also lives to kill another day. On the other hand, Llewelyn Moss, the film's protagonist, dares to deliver an open challenge to the unimpressed Chigurh over the phone, and his open defiance is punished with an ignominious death that takes place off-screen.

Sometimes I'm left wondering: Are these filmmakers projecting a viewpoint of the world where evil occasionally wins or consistently wins? And if it's the latter, why are the only two acceptable responses apathetic resignation or the shrill laughter of madmen?

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Re: Rob Zombie made me ashamed to be a horror fan.

Postby Ezra Lb. » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:24 pm

I don't think the primary issue is evil so much as what is the proper response to the utter indifference of the universe. These films assume the classic existentialist response of the Frankenstein monster.

Better to be evil than to be nothing.
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Re: Rob Zombie made me ashamed to be a horror fan.

Postby Ben W. » Thu Oct 13, 2011 11:22 am

Ezra Lb. wrote:I don't think the primary issue is evil so much as what is the proper response to the utter indifference of the universe. These films assume the classic existentialist response of the Frankenstein monster.

Better to be evil than to be nothing.


Maybe, maybe not. I'm personally more unnerved by what comes across as a borderline affection for that way of thinking by the filmmakers.


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